This page was last updated: Tuesday, January 08, 2013


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The International Machine Quilters Association, Inc. (known as the IMQA for short) held their first annual meeting on June 12, 1999 in Springfield, Illinois on site with the Machine Quilters Showcase for 1999.  The IMQA web site list the current board members and their current email addresses.

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"Creative Techniques for Hand-Guided Machine Quilting" by Helen-Gene Eberhart, 1 hour 40 minutes, originally available from Gammill Quilting. This video is no longer available to our knowledge. We leave this information online however as it was one of the first (if not first) commercially available videos about longarming. You might run across a copy some day and just thought you might like to know the rest of the story so to speak.

Linda Taylor of Linda's Electric Quilters has 5 videos available at last count . Be sure to visit Rick and Linda Taylor's web site  where you can order the videos online.   


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Magazine and Newsletter

Machine Quilting Unlimited A Magazine for ALL Machine Quilters, commercial and domestic, published 6 times per year by Meander Publishing Inc, PO Box 918, Fort Lupton, Colorado 80621 Telephone 800-910-1925 ext 4,

"The APQS Ultimate Newsletter" is published quarterly by American Professional Quilting Systems, 8033 University Blvd., Suite F., Des Moines, IA, 50325, for owners/operators of the APQS line of quilting machines. Editor: Helen Smith Prekker of Duluth, MN. Visit and sign up for the newsletter by clicking on the Newsletter link in the upper right hand corner of the web page.  


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Human Contact

The section after this is about email lists. We are inserting a topic here concerning the loneliness and isolation that SOME longarm operators feel, because one of the solutions for loneliness and isolation is the internet and email lists discussed in the next section. 

One of the groups (as a good example) that is attracted into longarming is health care professionals. They tend to be around many people and get to talk to and listen to many people in a typical work day. Should a health care professional go into longarming at home full time as a business they can miss the interaction with people and find they become lonely and isolated. If you have a family that is around, you don't get as lonely as one who lives alone to begin with. So there are many factors including living arrangements, location, personality, stress, health, weather, etc. This can happen with other hobbies, avocations and professions, of course, and is not something unique to longarming. The point is we would like to bring this possibility to your conscience level so that should you be one of those who experiences these feelings, you will recognize them and know what you can do as a start to deal with them. 

Like the expression half full vs. half empty. Many longarm home based businesses find they relish the solitude and alone time, deal with it quite well, and actually wish they had more of it. Still others find they have so many customers, field trips, family, pets, neighbors etc. coming and going and find the interactions to be far from loneliness or isolation and in some of THESE situations the longarmer has trouble finding time to concentrate on quilting.

Thanks to Janet-Lee Santeusanio for suggesting we add a paragraph concerning this topic.


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Email Lists: the Short and Long of it!! <g>

ShortCuts or the Short Arm Quilting Machine List is dedicated to those who quilt with Short Arm machines. Many get started on a SAQM. There are many who use them in preference to all others. There are those who have both LA and SA machines and, some who no longer use a SAQM but have fond memories of them and valuable experiences to share. 

ShortCuts is open to anyone with an interest in Short Arm quilting, whether as a current practitioner or just interested. There is no cost for anyone join the list or to post messages. There are no restrictions on content other than common sense and common good manners. We do not restrict advertising as long as it is very firmly quilt related. If you want to say something "commercial" go ahead....but please...NO SPAM! 

There are two ways to subscribe to ShortCuts. If you have web access, go to  and use the automated form you will find on the first page. If you are behind firewall that restricts web access you can subscribe by sending an email message to  with the following single line in the body of the message:


A first and last name is handy when there is more than one Jackie for example. You will get a brief welcome message that tells you how to get off the list and how to yell for help. Please stop by and see us.

Jackie & John Peterson are List Owners of the ShortCuts SAQM discussion list
Jackie ("QuiltMom" Peterson (aka) The Faerie QuiltMother (tm) & John Peterson (DH and other stuff check out )
Electric Needleworks & Pumpkin Patch Quilts, Heckston, Ontario, Canada & Ogdensburg, NY, USA
Custom Quilting & Design Machine Quilting and Assembly

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The Quiltropolis Longarm email list

There are over 1,200 members to the longarm email list world wide. It is free and is composed of longarm, shortarm, those shopping and those who want to get into machine quilting. Every possible brand of machine is represented by owners and in some cases factory representatives. Most of the members are machine quilting for income and techniques, questions, equipment, tools, thread, needles, batting, fabric, etc. are discussed. Daily about 80 messages are composed by list members and these are sent to all the list members via email. You can reply to the list as a group or to the individual or just lurk for the information you want. You can receive the list messages individually as they come in or you can have them delivered daily as one big message (known as the digest format). You are encouraged to try out the list for several weeks to see how you like it. Remember it is free and if you like it we hope you will stay a list member, introduce yourself by sending a message with your bio, and participate in messages to the list membership as a whole. Bona J. Robinson is the owner of the list.

Joining, unsubscribing, changing to digest format or from digest format, getting the last several months of messages can all be performed on your web browser at address:

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Machine Quilting Professional (MQP)

This group has been formed to share ideas, problems and any issues that impact users of hand-guided quilting machines. Whether already in the business, considering the purchase of a longarm/shortarm quilting machine or just getting started, MQP will put you in contact with many others who share your interest. Whether quilting for clients or for the sheer joy of it, please join in the conversations. As an alternative to discussion groups which are highly controlled and censored, this group will allow members and suppliers to connect to discuss pertinent issues. Use the following link to join.

Click here to join Machine_Quilting_Professional
Click to join Machine_Quilting_Professional

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There are TWO Statler Stitcher email lists

One list is the Statler Stitcher factory moderated list located on the Quiltropolis site. Statler Stitcher Owners and Users have access to the Private Statler Stitcher Discussion Group. Here we share ideas, techniques and ask questions.
The list is not for Technical Support
      Join the List

The other list:  All members of Statler Sisters group are current owners of a Statler Long Arm Quilting system. Our mission is to share tips and techniques on the use of the Precision Stitch software and also the Auto Sketch software.

 Click here to join Statler_Sisters
Click to join Statler_Sisters

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Nolting Longarm Quilters email list

This group is dedicated to users, gonna-bes and wannabes of Nolting Longarm Quilting machines. This is not intended to replace any other longarm related chats or groups, but to supplement them. This group will be Nolting biased, with support, sharing encouragement and information specific to Nolting Quilting Machines, but all machine quilters are welcome and encouraged to join. This is intended to be a place for information, fun and fellowship!

Click here to join Statler_Sisters
Click to join Nolting Longarm Quilters

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The site of Northwest Quilters is a "must visit". They have the most comprehensive list of Quilting and Sewing Links we have ever seen.   A lot of work goes into keeping this site current. Please let them know you appreciate their efforts.  

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Longarm Manufacturers

Many of these companies have free VHS video tapes of their machines for the asking.

American Professional Quilting Systems; 2398 Hwy 30 East, Carroll, Iowa 51401 U.S.A. Phone 800-426-7233 or 712-792-5943, Jim Langland is Marketing Manager, email Bob Ketcham at or Amy Anderson at  The company web site is 

Gammill Quilting Systems is the world’s leading manufacturer of professional hand and computer-guided longarm quilting systems, which includes Statler Stitcher. The company's headquarters is in West Plains, MO, with a worldwide network of Dealers. Several machine models & sizes are available, with features and tools for different quilting needs. For more information about Gammill’s complete quilting product line (including the computerized Statler Stitcher and the entry-level Premier Home-Pro), or to find an Authorized Dealer nearest you: visit or Phone: 800-659-8224. Proud Sponsor of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

Nolting Longarm Quilting Machines; 1265 Hawkeye Drive, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233 U.S.A. Phone 319-378-0999 or FAX 319-378-1026; Dan Terrill, President, Dan Novak is the contact person for technical/service issues; email  web site Nolting Manufacturing has been in cooperation with Kasa Engineering Services developed the IntelliStitch stitch regulator. A web site dedicated to this product can be found at 

Legacy Quilting Machines, 600 North 500 West, Suite #C; Bountiful, Utah 84010 U.S.A. Phone 801-294-4800 or FAX 801-294-5466; new kid on the block is a high tech modified Commercial Bernina called Legacy II, email, web site

Proto Inc., 2608 Lowell Road, Gastonia, North Carolina 28054 U.S.A. Phone 704-824-3131 and FAX 704-824-8587; Carl Spradley, President,  email  web site 

A-1 Long Arm, 3232 E. Evans Road (Hiway 65 & Evans, between Branson & Bass Pro), Springfield, Missouri 65804 U.S.A., Phone 800-LONG ARM or 800-566-4276 or 417-883-6883 or FAX 417-883-2883, email and web site

Design-A-Quilt, Jeff confirmed the website, email address and telephone number for Design-A-Quilt have been discontinued, turned off, and/or is temporarily out of service. If you can provide us with current contact information for Design-A-Quilt please email us with their information. May 29, 2005  305 Jefferson Street, Paducah, KY 42001 U.S.A., Phone 800-346-8227 or 270-442-0105 or FAX 270-442-6495; this is also the home of the Bind-All Professional Binding Machine,, web site 

Handi Quilter, 445 N 700 W, North Salt Lake, Utah 84054 USA. Phone: 877-697-8458 or 801-292-7988. FAX: 801-294-3011; Mark Hyland, CEO, Email:; website:

KenQuilt Manufacturing Company is a division of Midwest Sewing and Vacuum Centers, 121 Pattie Street, Wichita, Kansas 67211 U.S.A., Kim Schake is owner. Phone 866-784-5872 or 316-303-0880  web site  Ownership change May 1, 2001

Machine Quilting Connection/KenQuilt Manufacturing and Supply Update - July 1, 2012 KenQuilt Manufacturing and Supply has changed it's name to Machine Quilting Connection and website to   This is a name change only and the ownership remains the same effective July 1, 2012.   Machine Quilting Connection, 4535 E. 61st Street N. Kechi, KS 67067

Nustyle Quilting Machines and Supplies, Hwy. 52, P.O. Box 61, Stover, Missouri 65078 U.S.A., Phone 800-821-7490 or 573-377-2244 or FAX 573-377-2833   web site Please note their website shows their OLD email address 

Prodigy Machine Corporation, 1310 West Main Street, Rock Hill, South Carolina, U.S.A. 29732; The new number is 803-327-2175 and the toll free number is 888-808-4583 or 888-UQUILTER. The FAX number is 803-327-2165; Web site is  and email is   Charlie Presler is the owner.  The Prodigy Quilter was unveiled at the MQS 2002, and one was given away to a lucky registrant.

If you are shopping for a machine and you are new to longarm or shortarm machines you might benefit from visiting the following web page as well. Click on Machine Quilting News or  and you will be taken there. In addition we have a web page of formerly owned machines. Check out:  


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Which Machine to Buy?

Below is an email from: Carol Thelen dated April 2, 1998 It is being reprinted here with Carol's permission. It originally appeared in the Longarm email list and was intended to help those shopping for a longarm quilting machine.

For those who are wondering which machine is the best to buy I offer this information. Decide which features, options, gizmos and gadgets you like, need or might use. Then go to one of the national shows such as the one coming up in Springfield in May. Check out each brand, talk to the people selling the machines and go on your intuition, your instinct, your impressions.

It is a good idea to spend a little money on videos showing quilting techniques on a quilting machine or one of the classes offered to teach you these. You don't need a machine to do this. These will give you a good idea of what these machines can do and how you might like to use them.

Call all the manufacturers and ask for their literature including supplies and price list. Study them before hand. Look at  to find a list of manufacturers. Try to ask specific questions on the longarm email list such as "Have you had any luck with.... What kind of Service have you gotten from ....Is the____ worth the money?".

Make a spread sheet with all the options listed in one column. Make one column for each brand. Or make a sheet for each brand so you can record your notes. Whatever is easier for you to keep track of. You will have a lot of information to work with and use to make your decision. These machines and all the accessories, patterns, attachments, batting, thread, etc. are a big investment. Take your time and think it through.

With that said, here are the features I think are important, and you should check them out for yourself. I state them in the form of questions to ask and answer for yourself.

Machine Location - Will you put it in garage, basement, bedroom, building? Is your space large enough? Is the floor level? My garage floor is not level so I needed a frame that had adjustable legs since I didn't want to use shims.

If I had the room, I'd have gotten the 14 foot but had to get the 12 foot.

Steel or Wooden Frame - I heard wood frames rot, but I take care of my stuff and it is in a climate controlled environment so this didn't matter to me. I got a steel frame because the wooden frame could not be height adjusted.

How is the quilt loaded? Are the rollers adjustable? Removable? Repositionable? How and why would you use these features? Ask the salesperson to demonstrate and explain.

How easy is it to advance the quilt on the take up roller? How fine can you make the adjustments on the tension of the rollers? Does this matter to you?

Throat Size - For the few years I dreamed and schemed to buy a quilting machine all I heard was that you wanted the larger throat size to do the larger quilts with the thick batting. You want to be sure that once it was rolled all the way on the take up roller, the bulk would fit in the throat.

No problem with the 18" throat. However, what I failed to learn, what not one salesperson told me was that the bigger machines also give you a bigger WORKING SURFACE. What this means is that if you have a 16" block that you want to stitch in the ditch you want to be able to start at the top of the block and complete the stitch in one motion. Or if you are quilting a large design in the entire block, you don't want to do half the design then advance the quilt and then do the other half.

If you want to get into the heirloom quilting, which takes more time but also brings in much more money, it is essential that you have an adequate working surface. My machine is an 18" throat and I cannot do 15" blocks without advancing the quilt. This takes time, and time is money!

Wheel Locking Device - This is a feature that allows you do draw a perfectly straight horizontal line from one end of the table to the other. Think about when you would use this feature. Some say you can do channel quilting such as straight lines in the borders or sashes. Your machine will stitch a perfectly straight line but most quiltmakers will not stitch a perfectly straight border or sash. You want your line to follow the seams.

The wheel locking device is essential if you want to do work for interior decorators. Usually they just want a few lines stitched from one side to the other or from top to bottom.

One stitch Switch - (Say that 5 times fast!) This feature allows you to take one stitch at a time. Some, I think, let you stop in the needle up or down position. I don't have this feature right now but I will have it on the next machine I get. This would be very useful when outlining patches, say triangles. You stitch in one direction and you want to stop with the needle in the down position, move your ruler then stitch in the other direction. Here again this saves you time (money) when outlining.

Bobbin Winder - I have had a smaller machine with a separate bobbin winder, and my present machine has a bobbin winder that works while you are quilting. With the separate winder I could have one spool of thread. I would wind 5 or 6 bobbins before starting the quilt then just pop out the empty and put in a full. Very fast until you needed that 7th bobbin then you had to unthread your machine and use the thread to wind the last bobbin.

With the attached bobbin winder you need two spools of thread, and it takes a little extra time to change bobbins. But this is about the same cumulative time it would have taken to wind the 6 bobbins before hand. If this were my one and only deciding factor, I would choose the winder on the machine and get the extra thread.

Laser Pointer - This is moot since all the brands have lasers now. Some have attachments where the laser can be mounted on the top of the machine and used for patterns placed on top of the working surface between two pieces of Plexiglas. If this feature is available to you, try it out. First, follow a pattern on the pantograph side with the laser in it's usual position. Use a simple flowing pattern. Now ask the sales person to move the light to the top and move the pattern to the top. Follow the same pattern and compare the design. Your level of experience is the same for both methods, so check out your work. If you're not sure, ask if this is something that can be added later.

Circle Maker - Some brands have circle makers. These are great if you want to make a perfect circle or make Baptist Fan designs. Try them out. See how easy it is to make different size circles from the same center point (Baptist Fans) and try them out making a row of circles from one side to the other. This requires moving the device along the table as you work. Decide how often you think you would use this feature.

Diagonal Lines - Cross hatching looks great on an quilt if the lines are marked correctly and the stitching follows the lines. Make sure your diagonal line tool can follow a marked line on the quilt.

Test Driving The Machines - If you plan to go to a trade show the machine will be loaded with a large piece of fabric with maybe a printed design and maybe a seam line. This is fine for playing with the machine, for getting the hang of moving the machine. But, it doesn't give you a clue to really doing fine heirloom quality quilting on patchwork.

Here is my suggestion. First tell the sales person what you want to do. They will know that you are serious, and they should spend the extra time with you. If you don't feel comfortable with the sales person ask for another one. If you can't get another one then go to the next booth and come back later.

Have ready a block design with squares and triangles, say Crown of Thorns or English Wedding Ring. Use a pen or other marking device to draw a 16" block complete with squares and triangles. Draw the block reasonably square. Mark inside some of the squares and triangles.

Now do the following quilting: 1. Quilt "in the ditch" around the entire block. Is the throat size adequate to get from the top to the bottom? What devices are available to you to help you quilt along the drawn line? 2. Quilt the outlines you marked. How easy is it to stop where you want to? To pivot? To reposition your quilting ruler or other tool? What tools are available to you?

Now mark a second square but leave this one blank. Do the following quilting: 1. Quilt a large circle in the square. How easy is it to position and use the circle maker? 2. Quilt loops or stippling just inside the circle and just outside the circle. 3. Quilt two or three diagonal lines from the top of the square to the left side and again from the top of the square to the right side. Stop when you reach the center stitching and start again on the other side. Again, which tools are available to you? How are they used? How difficult is it to accomplish this task?

Keep in mind that this test will not go smoothly. Especially the first time you try it. You are really testing technique and use of the machine. Don't worry about the quality of the work for now, that comes with practice. Make notes each time you try out something.

Bobbin Size - The double size bobbins are nice because you don't have to stop as often. However it is hard to find pre-wound bobbins in this size. I still have not been able to find the monofilament pre-wound in this size. Will this make a difference to you?

Misc. - Ask about warranties, service agreements and what you can fix yourself. Most of us can time our own machines etc. Can you use "off the shelf" parts or must you order from the manufacturer?

If you have another quilting machine ask about trade ins.

Ask about trading up from a smaller machine to a larger machine. One manufacturer will give you full credit on a smaller machine within 1 year of purchase to buy a larger machine.

Negotiate: - At the shows you can usually get free delivery and set up or some sort of "show discount". After you have talked to all the salespersons, sit down and narrow your choices to two or three. You will see that this will be the easy part. Compare the features, costs, etc. Have your negotiation strategy ready. Return to each of the three finalists and ask them what else they can do for you.

If #1 offers you something you like but you like #2 deal better, ask #2 if they will "throw it in". You get the idea.

Ask how long the offer lasts. Usually the "show specials" last for about 30 days after the show.

There may be other features, options or gadgets that I have not listed here, but this should give you a good start.

Carol Thelen Pearland, TX

P.S. Bought my machine at the International Quilt Festival and wish I had found the longarm email list before that!


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Now That You Have Your Machine

Below is an email from: Craig Campbell or "Grumpy" as he is called by his friends, dated June 3, 1998. It is being reprinted here hopefully with Craig's permission. It originally appeared in the Longarm email list.

Subject: Practice, Practice, Practice
From: (Craig Campbell)
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 22:11:05 -0700 (PDT)

Debby, Susanne, and forgive me for not remembering the rest of the names who emailed me since seeing the "drunken duck" at the Showcase. Debby, I like your approach. "Practice Practice Practice, so give with the details!"

I guess it is easy to say those words, and not really convey any real ideas or information. I will say this before you read any further. You will get so sick of practicing you will learn to hate your machine. But, usually by that time, you are noticing a difference and progress.

Get yourself a couple of sheets from Goodwill or out of the cubbard. Put some batting on and put the whole thing on the machine just like a real quilt. Get a pencil and use contrasting thread to the fabric. Get your tension set to a ball park range. You'll have plenty of time to tinker with it later. Turn your speed down to a crawl. You didn't learn to drive by going 70 through the parking lot did you? As you get better at what you are doing, you will speed up when the time comes.

Move to the front of the machine. Draw a bunch of straight horizontal lines about 1/2" apart on the top. Start quilting on that line. When you get to the end, don't stop. Quilt down to the next line you drew, and go back the other way. See if you can stay on it. When you manage to stay on those lines to your satisfaction, start backstitch over what you just did. Somebody a week or so ago discovered you don't have to watch the needle go up and down. She was right. In fact, you will quilt better if you don't watch where your needle is. Watch a inch or so ahead where you are going. With a little practice, you will get there.

Once you have the horizontal down pat, go to work on the vertical using the same approach. 1/2" apart, and then backstitch. Since most backstitching is only a matter of going short distances, I wouldn't try to do all the way across the fabric. Do little 3" spurts.

Once you have the vertical. and horizontal. down to your satisfaction, practice making boxes. Draw them on first with a ruler. Once you have the ruled boxes done, free hand them. The lines are so that you can have a reference as to how well you are doing. Also you have learned the feel of the machine, by doing these exercises. Eventually you will be able to do a perfect box without any lines.

The next exercise will enhance the "don't watch the needle" idea. Put a bunch of points on the top about 6" apart. Start your machine on one point, and keep your eyes on the next point. Just run the machine from point to point NOT watching the needle. Very soon, you will be hitting the points every time. This is very important for your diagonal quilting.

Now for the big D. It is probably the most difficult thing to do. Why? Because you have been told it is. The only "mechanical" reason is all 8 wheels are trying to do something different from each other. Remember you "have the feel" of your machine because of all the exercises above. Take it a bit at a time. Don't expect perfect at the start. Unless you are something exceptional, it won't be. Draw on some 5 pointed continuous line stars. Quilt them by watching point to point. If you try to watch the needle, you will very quickly get off the line.

By the time you have quilted a king size sheet, you will be proficient enough to tackle circles, diamonds, triangles, and even be able to script out your name without the use of fences, or guides. I have trouble with finding the lids to all of our pots, as they make great templates if I don't happen to have the correct size stencil.

Somewhere along the line, you can play with the tensions until you have them just right. Once you have them set, and if you don't change the thread gauge to dramatically, you shouldn't have to make any changes to it. I think that having to change the tension or timing too often means you haven't got the machine set up right from the git go.

When you really think you have it down, go on the big D and backstitch the line you just did. Once I figured out how to practice, it made it a great deal easier. I actually like my machine again. It took me about a month of doing this before I worked on a real top. But I had the basics by then, and was able to move to stitch-in-the-ditch without a great deal of trouble. The Drunken Duck was in essence just another "practice sheet". Draw on a bunch of lines and follow them.

Now, go Practice, Practice, Practice. You don't have any excuse now.



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From time to time some of us are asked to give talks or write something about "longarming". Lois has graciously allowed us to share her article with you.

From: Lois H Knight <>
To: <>
Date: Wednesday, July 01, 1998 4:33 PM
Subject: longarm article

Hi Jeff and Jackie:

I give you permission to put the article on your web page if you think it will be of good use. I just ask that I be credited with writing the article if anybody wants to use it in its entirety, or just take ideas from it. Thank you for your kind publication offer.

Lois Knight - G. Classic digest-er
Waltzing Needle Quilts
Broomfield, Colorado


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Longarm Quilting? What Is That?

By Lois Knight. Copyright 1998-2011. All rights reserved.

Until recent years, there have been two traditional ways of stitching a quilt sandwich. There's hand quilting on your lap with or without a hoop, or with the sandwich stretched in a frame. There's machine quilting on a home (domestic) sewing machine either placed on top of a table or dropped inside a cabinet or table to provide a flat sewing surface. When using a home sewing machine, the machine remains in a fixed position and the fabric is moved through a small throat. You must either baste the sandwich or pin it heavily prior to quilting to avoid sliding and puckering or pleating. Another method of quilting is becoming increasingly popular. This newer method is longarm quilting.

What is a longarm quilting machine?

It's a sewing machine head and table that eats up all the space in your basement or sewing room! Pictures in quilting magazines do not begin to give an idea of how huge these machines and their table frames are. A longarm quilting machine is a large-throat, mobile, hand-guided or computer-guided quilting machine. Most of these machines come with two sets of controls, on either side of the machine head, although not all of them have this convenience. The tables come in various sizes and can be custom ordered in 10 to 14 foot lengths. The heads also come in different sizes. A longer head can reach farther and the operator will have more quilt surface to work on at any given time. A longer head will also have a higher clearance to accommodate a larger quilt sandwich. The drawback to a larger head is more weight to move around and some fish-tailing when doing close (intense) quilting. The heads come non-stitch regulated, with stitch-regulation, or computer-assisted. The operator of the longarm can stand or sit to pin the quilt to load the machine and usually stands to operate the sewing head. There are some newer table arrangements where an operator can sit to quilt. On a longarm, the fabric is stationary, and the operator moves the sewing head across the fabric.

What does it look like?

The more popular sewing head sizes are 24, 26, or 30 inches with a 10 or 12 inch throat clearance. Larger machines are available for industrial uses, and some smaller size machines can be used to accommodate up to queen size quilts. The sewing head is made out of cast iron or aircraft metal by a handful of manufacturers, one of whom has been in business for well over 30 years (Gammill). One of the more popular table sizes is about 6 1/2 feet in width with a 14-foot length to accommodate comforters and other items used in the home decorating industry. One side of the table is a flat surface, about two feet deep and running the length of the table. This surface is covered (by some but not all of the manufacturers) in clear heavy plastic, open at least on one long side so that quilting patterns can be placed under the plastic so they don't move while the sewing head is in operation.

Running on either side of the flat surface are metal tracks. The sewing head moves on another shorter set of tracks which are at a 90-degree angle to the long flat surface tracks. The head rests on wheels which sit in the short tracks and allow for forward and backward movement of the head. The short tracks have wheels under them which move sideways along the tracks which run lengthwise along the outside edges of the flat surface. This wheel and track system allows for full 360-degree movement of the needle. Longarms can sew in any direction!

Some manufacturers include an extra roller under the table, dedicated to conveniently storing large rolled bats of cotton or polyester or blends. Over the flat surface is a take-up roller on which the top, batting, and backing sandwich is stored while working on other areas of the quilt. This take-up roller can be manually raised and lowered to accommodate the sandwich thickness as quilting progresses along the length of the quilt. Machines can be ordered with optional electric controls to advance the quilt and with different controls to raise or lower the height of the table. 

The other side of the table contains at least two rollers. Two of these rollers have canvas or muslin leaders to which the material is pinned. One roller is for attaching the backing. One is for attaching the top. Each has a ratcheting wheel system or electric control for tightening the fabric to the desired sewing tautness. The batting is brought up from the bottom batting roller or allowed to hang free if it is precut packaged batting and is placed between the top and backing rollers. A third roller (on Gammill machines) is called a carrier roller or "belly bar" which has no canvas leaders. The backing fabric, the batting, and the pieced top all meet at the front of this belly bar, and roll over the belly bar to attach to the take-up roller which has a leader attached to it. All three parts of the quilt sandwich can be pinned to the take-up roller, although it is now more customary to pin only the backing and baste the batting and top to the backing. The sandwich stretched from the belly bar to the take up bar forms the working area for quilting. The carrier roller is a feature of the Gammill machine and gives it the desired flat quilting surface. This flat quilting surface facilitates the use of a Gammill tool called a Gam-guide, which is essentially a very long ruler which helps align straight stitching. Most other machines have rollers that cause the quilter to be quilting in a valley between these rollers, and they have shorter tools to help them adjust to this different table arrangement. Depending on the size of the quilt or comforter, it takes up to an hour for a single operator to pin the sandwich onto the leaders on the rollers. Zipper systems are also available which allow the operator to pin while sitting and then the quilt top and bottom are zipped onto the leaders.

How does it work?

The sewing head can be operated from either end (on some machines), but each end has a specific purpose. Two types of quilting can be accomplished on a longarm: pantograph and custom to heirloom. The controls on the flat surface side are used for pantograph quilting primarily and can also be used for a single design to be placed in a block. A stylus or laser light is aimed at a starting point on the design and is used to trace the design. The operator watches the stylus or laser as it moves across the pattern and not the needle as it moves across the fabric. The controls on the belly bar side of the machine where the needle is located are used primarily for free-motion quilting and for single designs for individual blocks assuming the laser is movable along the machine head.

A pantograph is a quilting design printed on paper usually about 10 feet long and is a continuous motion pattern for all-over quilting. A single line pantograph can be used for borders and a double line pantograph sometimes has the design offset in the second row and is generally used for covering the entire quilt. Pantograph quilting is usually the most inexpensive, except for quilt basting, and has the fastest turnaround time. Custom/heirloom quilting involves much more thread usage and precision sewing on the part of the operator and can also involve the use of their own quilting patterns, which must be resized from quilt to quilt. Not all longarmers use pre-printed manufactured pantographs. Some design their own pantographs for use only in their own studios. Some use only custom designs used all over a quilt top and may incorporate a loop and star or flower or some other design placed continuously along a line of quilting and these motifs are placed by the operator while sewing.

Some tools which facilitate circular designs have been available for nearly a decade. Differing circle sizes were available and facilitated making a perfect spine for drop-in feathers. However, newer tools have become available recently which expand on the single circle idea. With the explosion in quilting in the last few years, new tools for longarm machine quilting are continually being developed.

Why use a "longarmer" to finish a quilt?

Hand quilting will never be replaced by machine quilting. Each type of quilting has its own distinctive look. But, if done properly, machine quilting can be more durable. Non-quilters can use the services of a longarmer to turn any inherited quilt tops into family heirloom quilts.

As a quilting customer, what is your time worth to you? Quilting by a longarmer frees the customer to concentrate on piecing more quilt tops, spending time with loved ones, and spending more time at a favorite quilt store buying more fabric! The customer does not have to try to wrestle that huge fabric bulk through a home sewing machine. Pleats and puckers are virtually eliminated, at least as much as is humanly possible, assuming the top and backing are pieced flat to start with.

The longarm operator is a professional quilter who does quilting for monetary compensation and whose reputation for quality is always at stake. Longarm quilters want repeat customers and their customers' recommendations to their friends. Longarmers therefore take care to see that their customer's quilt is as lovingly quilted as the quilt maker would do it. Consider a longarmer when you finish piecing your next quilt top - satisfaction is guaranteed and a quilting friend is waiting to greet you.

The author would like to thank Cliff Monk, a former owner/operator/dealer of Gammill Quilting Machines, for his contributions to this article. Lois Knight resides in Colorado and has owned two Gammill Classic quilting machines since 1997 and is an award-winning longarm quilter. Lois can be contacted at 


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From: Joyce Fratini
Date: Sunday, September 13, 1998 11:33 AM
Subject: Support Your Local Quilt Shop

Quilt Shops vs. Chain Stores

Recently our guild had a guest speaker, Bill Stewart, who is an independent fabric sales representative. He sells Alexander Henry, RJR, Hoffman, VIP and several other lines of fabric. He brought samples of many of his fabrics and the different grades of fabric he sells, and there is quite a difference when you have both there for comparison.

For instance, he had the quilter's grade of an Alexander Henry print which was absolutely gorgeous, vivid colors, closely woven fabric, with even dye coloration. He then held up the cheaper grade which, when they were not side by side, one might think was a beautiful fabric. Each fabric had the Alexander Henry name on the selvage. Then he put them up side by side: what an obvious difference. The cheaper grade had many misprints in it, the dyes ran together, they were not as vibrant, and when you held it to the light, you could see through it. Why is this? Alexander Henry makes the quilting fabric with the excellent dyes, etc., and is approached by a chain. The chain store says, "I'll give you XX dollars for XX amount of fabric, and I want the same design as this." The first thing Alexander Henry does is try to determine how to "cut corners" to save money because they can't manufacture the good
grade of fabric for the price being offered by the chain store. They select a lower grade of greige (gray) goods, cheaper dyes, and will probably use a different place to manufacture the fabric where the quality control is not so stringent. Thus, they can offer the "same fabric" to both the quilt shops and the chain stores, and unless you know your fabric or make a comparison, you think you have just bought a good grade of fabric just because you saw Alexander Henry's name on it. So, beware, just because the fabric has a known name printed in the selvage does not mean that it is a good grade of fabric. Examine your fabrics before purchasing!

This also explains why fabric costs more in quilt shops. They are paying much more for the fabric.

Also, in response to those who state that fabrics made in the 30's and 40's did not fade and held up better than the fabrics of today may be right. Mr. Stewart also explained why this is true. In the 30's,
40's and 50's, there were fewer restrictions on the dyeing process and they could use chemicals which set the dyes. They can no longer use these chemicals and sell the fabric in the United States.

I, too, buy fabrics from the chain stores, but I am also aware of what I am getting. I purchase the majority of my fabric at the quilt shops for several reasons, but three of which are:

1. I don't want them to go out of business. It is a struggle for them to stay in business when competing with the chain stores. The quilt shops are paying more per yard for the fabric then the chain stores
sell theirs for. I love going to quilt shops for the support and help I am given and also to see the many samples shown. I get such a warm, happy feeling just walking into a quilt shop and would really miss them if I no longer had the shops to visit.

2. I put a lot of time and effort into the quilts that I make, and I want to know that it will last.

3. And for a purely selfish reason: If I don't make my quilts using fabrics bought in the quilt shops, why should they refer anyone to me to machine quilt their quilts?

So, ladies, remember that most quilt shops owners are not doing this for the money. They are doing it because they love quilting and the nice people you meet. Most quilt shops struggle to pay the overhead and they need our support. We win both ways: by purchasing good fabric and keeping the shops open for our enjoyment!

Joyce Fratini
Quiltin' Bee
Memphis, TN

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Sales, Service and Supplies: of, by and for longarmers

Timing Tool for all brands of Longarm Machines

A timing device for virtually all long arm quilting machines used to easily, quickly, and accurately set the timing of the hook and needle of all brands of quilting machines. Comes with simple, easy to follow instructions. Developed and available from Fawn and Ron Hedelius of Quick Quilts, 4020 E. 300 N., Rigby, Idaho 83442, (208) 745-7966. Cost is $40 plus S&H or $42.50 total if stateside. 

Continuous line quilting patterns

Golden Threads, LLC TM (Jim and Cheryl Barnes, owners); 2 S, 373 Seneca Drive; Wheaton, Illinois 60187 U.S.A.; Telephone 630-510-2067 and Fax is 630-510-0491 Importers of continuous line quilting patterns by Keryn Emmerson of Australia and her twin sister Meredith England as well as Linda Taylor and Marcia Stevens of the United States. Email address is  and their old web site is phasing into their new web site (as of June 20, 1999)

Norma Sharp and Gail Broadwater, Simple Quilting Stitches, 208 Goldman Street, Hoxie, AR  72433; Telephone and Fax is (870) 886-7728; e-mail is  Catalogs are $2.00, refundable with the first order.  Their patterns are easy to use and many interlock.  They have created new corner and block patterns to compliment their continuous line patterns.  Designs may be used with longarm, shortarm, domestic, and computerized machines.  Norma has sent the following in reference to the commercial use of Simple Quilting Stitches Designs:  "Mass Production is not allowed.  Copying or altering the designs for resale or exchange for any reason is prohibited.  Restricted use for advertisement purposes are limited to:  leaflets, catalogs, videos, web sites, and brochures.  All copies of the designs for advertisement purposes must have copyright notice clearly visible as follows:  Copyright 1983-2005 N Sharp/G Broadwater."

King's Men Quilting Supply, Inc., P.O. Box 362, 2570 N Walnut, Rochester, Illinois 62563 U.S.A. Phone 217-498-9460; FAX 217-498-9476, David and Debbie Taft owners, web site , Signature 100% Cotton Thread, laser stylus, black lights and black light marking pens and powder, accessories, Nymo and Rheingold Heavy Metal thread, supplies, hangers & tables, Nolting Parts & Modifications (the hard nylon wheels, small eye hopping foot, thin wire hopping foot and small eye base plate), batting, patterns, & much more. 

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Rotary Cutter Blades - New and Resharpening

L.P. Sharp, Box 85, Gilman, Minnesota 56333-0085, U.S.A.
Telephone 320-387-3030

We all use them so why not recycle them, reuse them by resharpening them and save a bundle over the cost of new blades or buy new name brand blades cheaper than any other place we have found. This as a mail order business.   or better yet visit where all the prices and information are listed.


100% Cotton thread for longarm machines

A Quilter's Studio, Richard & Sandra King,  2418 S. Tyler Ave.,   Joplin, MO 64804; Phone 417-781-8550; FAX 417-781-1965;  e-mail Sandy and Richard carry Star Cotton thread, Dr Paper, 12 X 12 Dry Wax Paper, Spray adhesive, black lights, hidden glow pencils, etc.  Call or write for a complete list of supplies and prices. Be sure to ask Sandy about the Scissors Spot.  No longarm, shortarm or sewing machine should be without one or more if you have a 14 foot table. <G>


Wide-Width Fabric for longarm machines

Wilma and Jim Cogliantry own and operate Christian Lane Quilters, 44 Christian Lane, Berlin, CT 06037, telephone 860-829-2821. They specialize in "FatBacks®", pre-cut 108" x 117" backings. Their FatBacks® are cut at 3.25 yards and sold at the 3 yard price. They also sell those fabrics cut to the sizes customers request.

Watch for them at quilt shows throughout New England starting in 2004. Check out their web site for wide backings and wholecloth quilt kits. They currently stock over 100 color and pattern choices from name brand manufacturers. 

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If you have been around longarm quilting and quilt shows you have probably met Ike Winner. Or, you might have actually seen him on the television demonstrating the or Hartley Fence. Ike has become known as "The Quilting Cowboy" and has quilted all his life, having over 1800 quilts to his credit. Without doubt he is a legend in our industry. He is usually seen wearing his fancy black cowboy hat and a brightly colored cowboy shirt while quilting with one hand in his pocket while demonstrating in the APQS company booth at shows. Ike has his following, and they actually have an Ike Winner Fan Club Quarterly Newsletter that Ike gives out at shows along with a color photo that he is more than happy to autograph. The newsletter tracks Ike's schedule and is an interesting pulse of the industry. The newsletter is available on a yearly subscription for $7.50. Ike Winner "The Quilting Cowboy", 1347 West 228th Street, Torrance, California 90501-5029 or FAX 310-320-6435 Or, catch him at one of his many shows, and ask him for a complimentary copy of his newsletter.

All prices listed above are provided as a courtesy and are subject to change by the vendor. We do not sell any of these items ourselves nor do we get a commission <g>. However, any item on this list comes highly recommended from the industry as a whole.


Checker.gif (4338 bytes)Checker Distributors - Wholesale Only; notions, fabric, craft, quilting supplies, needlecraft, books & patterns; World wide shipping; ; Telephone 1-800-537-1060, FAX 1-800-258-6416; International Telephone: 001.419.893.3636, International FAX 001.419.893.2422


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If you have comments or suggestions, email us at:

This page was last updated:

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Changes: Machine Quilting Connection information added to Ken Quilts
Added ® to FatBacks for Christian Lane Quilters
Handi Quilter street address changed
Gammill information updated including Statler Stitcher
link to L.P. Sharp web page added
Handi Quilter information updated
Video: "Creative Techniques for Hand-Guided Machine Quilting" by Helen-Gene Eberhart is no longer available
LP Sharp information updated
Unlimited Possibilities Magazine
Proto information updated
Machine Quilting News new URL
Email lists expanded
Nusytle Quilting email and website added
Lois Knight article updated
Simple Quilting Stitches information updated
Prodigy information updated
APQS company information updated
"Unlimited Possibilities" newsletter information
Machine Quilters Professional email list info added
Christian Lane Quilters information added
Northwest Quilters information updated
ShortCuts information updated
Marcia Stevens videos no longer available
Proto web site added