Long Arm Quilting, Machine Quilting frames, sewing machines, Tools of the Trade

The Work Horse


This post continues our series on what to look for in a sewing machine that you want to put on a quilting frame. In the first post we considered space. Today we’ll be looking at strength and speed. Professional long arm quilting machines come in two parts. There is a very powerful industrial sewing machine head that does the stitching. This ‘head’ is fixed on a large frame. The frame has 3 fabric poles that tension the layers of the quilt and a tracking system allowing the sewing machine head to glide every-which-way over the top of the quilt. Long arm sewing machine heads are designed to go at high speeds for long periods of time. If we’re looking for a sewing machine that behaves like a long arm, we need to look for strength and speed.

Horses for courses.

Sewing machines are designed to accomplish many different tasks. Most domestic sewing machines are light weight and made of plastic parts. They do many things well like general sewing and piecing, but they are not strong or powerful enough to tackle the demands of machine quilting on a frame. To put it simply, if you put a light weight sewing machine with plastic parts on a machine quilting frame it will perform poorly and probably burn out. The long arm industrial sewing machine heads are strong and powerful. We need to look for just that sort of strength and power in the sewing machines that we put on our smaller machine quilting frames.



Juki makes sewing machines for industry and this industrial know-how goes into the construction of the Juki TL QVP Mini semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machines. These machines are constructed of die cast aluminium parts giving them the power to work hard for long periods of time. No nonsense machines built to last a life time; they have the strength and power to tackle the hard work of machine quilting on a quilting frame. The TL QVP Mini semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machine is a domestic machine with the same kind of strength and power as a long arm, just smaller.


Stitches per minute. Speed is an indicator of strength. The stronger a machine is, the faster it will go. Let’s compare the stitches per minute of various well known sewing and quilting machines.

APQS long arm machines can go  up to 3500 stitches per minute

Gammill long arms can so up to 2700 stitches per minute

Juki’s TL 2200 QVP long arm goes 2200 stitches per minute.

Innova 22 inch long arm goes 2000 stitches per minute

HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen runs up to 1800 stitches per minute

Juki’s TL98P semi-industrial straight stitch  1500 stitches per minute

Juki’s TL QVP Mini semi-industrial straight stitch 1500 stitches per minute

Bernina 820 goes 1100 stitches per minute

Janome Horizon goes 1000 stitches per minute

Most domestic sewing machines go under 1000 stitches per minute. That’s NOT very fast because they’re not very powerful. For general sewing and piecing, they don’t need to be powerful, but for machine quilting on a frame the sewing machine does need to be powerful. It also needs to be fast.

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Speed is what gives the long arm machines the beautiful fluid line of stitching. Speed is what makes the curves curvy and the feathers feathery. It’s a bit like riding a bike, if you go too slow you’ll wobble and fall off. Most domestic sewing machines just don’t go fast enough to create a smooth and flowing line of stitching. They lack the power. If you do man-handle them into going up to their 1000 stitches per minute limit, they whine and scream. You can tell that they’re not happy.

The Juki TL QVP Mini straight stitch machine goes 1500 stitches-per-minute. That’s 500 faster than most other domestic sewing machines. What’s more, she does it effortlessly. She purrs. So when you’re looking for a sewing machine, be sure to listen to the sound it makes when you run it fast. The sound the machine makes will indicate the power and quality.

The Juki TL QVP Mini semi-industrial straight stitch sewing machine is powerful and fast. It’s heavy die-cast aluminium body and long wearing metal parts make it a work horse – powerful, reliable and easy to handle. It’s fast too! The strength and speed, as well as the space under the arm make the Juki TL QVP Mini the optimal sewing machine to use with a machine quilting frame. In the next post in the series we’ll talk about simplicity – how doing one thing well makes all the difference.

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