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Which Should You Buy, a Midarm or Longarm? Podcast #76

Which Should You Buy, a Midarm or Longarm? Podcast #76

Hello my quilting friends! This week we'll be breaking down the differences between a longarm and a so-called "midarm" sewing machine. Check out the podcast below in video format:

Or you can listen to the podcast or download it to your computer using this player:

Quick links to things I mentioned in this podcast:

Eversewn Sparrow 20

Grace Qnique 15 R

Leah Day Mally the Maker
Quilts as gifts

Three Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Longarm Machine

Purchasing a longarm machine and investing in your quilting hobby or business is a big decision. Here are the three questions I think are most important to ask yourself before pulling out your wallet:

longarm verses midarm buying guide1. What do you MOST want to create?

Bed quilts, throws, charity quilts, baby quilts, cuddle quilts, etc - All of these quilts will be easier and faster to quilt on a longarm on a frame. It's much faster to move the machine over the quilt rather than moving the quilt under the needle of a home machine.

Wall hangings and show quilts - These quilts could go either way. You don't have to have a longarm in order to make show winning quilts! You can actually quilt dense designs easier on your home machine because you have more control over where the quilting stitches end up.

2. How many quilts do you want to make?

1 quilt or more per month - A longarm will definitely help you achieve this goal. Again, not having to physically move the quilt under the needle is the major place you're saving time. It's also physically easier to stand and quilt (so long as standing isn't an issue for your body).

1 quilt every 6-8 months - You could go either way. Yes, it's absolutely possible to quilt even king sized quilts on your home machine. So long as time isn't an issue, rest assured that you can continue to use your home machine to quilt your own quilts.

3. How much money do you want to invest?

$1000 or less - For this price point, you can find many larger, higher speed home machines that can help you quilt your own quilts. You can also find smaller hoop frames and be able to experience moving the machine over the quilt rather than moving the quilt under the needle. The downside of quilting this way with a home machine is the limited space in the arm of the machine. You may find yourself spending more time shifting and advancing the quilt than actually quilting.

$5000 or more - For this price point, you can find huge home machines and hundreds of decorative stitches that can piece, do embroidery, and machine quilting. You can also find smaller longarms with terrific frames that can significantly speed up the quilting process. The price and complexity of home machines is steadily increasing while the price and complexity of longarms is slowly decreasing so they are more affordable for quilters that don't want to become professional longarmers.

Other things to consider when buying a longarm

This is a very large piece of equipment that requires at least 2 people to build. Even if you aren't a very mechanical person, please help put your frame and machine together. This will help you understand how the parts work and avoid being intimidated by it.

A longarm machine requires a lot more self-service than home machines. Be ready to check your tension, clean,and oil the machine every day, and troubleshoot issues that crop up along the way.

What is a Midarm Sewing Machine?

This is my biggest beef with the word Midarm - there is really no such thing!

There are only two types of machines - home machines that have feed dogs to move fabric forward in a traditional way and longarm machines that do not have feed dogs that are specifically designed for machine quilting.

Midarm is a term commonly used to describe either a semi-industrial, lockstitch home sewing machine OR a longarm with a smaller arm. The term is used randomly depending on who you're talking to which makes it very confusing - are you talking about a machine with feed dogs or without? Can this machine piece a shirt, or can it only quilt a quilt?

I hope you can see why the term Midarm is confusing. Let's just stop using that word!

Do you have a suggestion for a future Hello My Quilting Friends podcast episode? Share your idea or question in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


Thank you so much Leah for this podcast and all of the other ones you do too! I am also doing research about purchasing a Longarm machine. Your post really helps answer a lot of questions. I am looking online to possibly purchase a used machine to help with the cost. There are so many different brands, models etc to choose from. Very confusing. Thanks for taking the time to do this podcast. It really helps!


where did you get the little pouch that u have all your stuff in on the side of the machine

Vernetta P,

I would like to receive your email.

Alice Ellens,

Have really really enjoyed this podcast. However, my mid arm is a baby Tiarra II and does not have feed dogs. I Purchased it several years ago along with an extended table because I was not very successful on my domestic machine. That being said, I do have to move the fabric and have improved greatly but will never win a quilt show ribbon! Ha ha but I am OK with that. My reason for this midarm was

space and feat of a new learning curve with a long arm.But now, I am looking for reasonably priced long warm because a large Quilt takes me four hours plus to pin to make sure that I do not have pleats on the back. Fortunately, I do have a huge island in my kitchen to pin the Quilt so that I don’t half to get down on the floor. It appears that the long arm would make it much easier to not have to spend all that time pinning. Your podcast and videos have allowed me to re think my ability to use a long arm. Thanks so much.


Great question Paula! I have a table on my longarm page that includes the dimensions the machine takes up, but also the amount of space I think you need all around in order to comfortably use the machine. You can find it here:

Leah Day,

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