|BY Eve Mahr|
|If you are a machine quilter and are frustrated by the small sewing area on your standard size sewing machine,
an extended arm machine may be the solution for you.
|I used to daydream about the perfect sewing machine for quilting. It would have more space between the needle and
the upright to make maneuvering a quilt under the walking or free-motion foot easier. Fancy stitches would not be necessary because I only make quilts. A needle up/down button
and a knee lift would be helpful.
Several sewing machine companies are making my dream come true. I had the chance to test the latest models. Your perfect machine may be as close as a local dealer or quilt shop.
Extended arm or large harp machines are easily recognized. They are taller than standard sewing machines and have a wider space to the right of the needle. Extended arm machines have
about a 9″ x 5″ interior working area compared to standard full-size machines that are 7″ x 4″ or less. This extra space makes manipulating a rolled quilt under the foot much easier.
A free-motion foot is standard on every machine; a walking foot is included with most. These heavy-duty feet have metal claws that attach to the needle shank. They are stronger than the
nylon ones on some domestic sewing machines.
Although each machine has only a few buttons and levers, they include the most important features for machine quilting. Extended arm machines have a needle up/down button which
allows you to stop with the needle in the selected position. In the needle down mode, it’s simple to pivot, and my quilt doesn’t shift when I reposition my hands in the midst of free-motion
quilting. I use this needle stop down feature to make neat corners on binding. Two pushes of the needle up/down button form the “one more stitch” I often need to get to just the right
All these machines have a built-in carrying handle, but they are heavy at 25 to 30 pounds. The weight is due to the heavier motor needed for high speed stitching.
|To view the Adobe PDF of our 6 picks of Dream Machines, please click here|