The Care and Feeding of a Longarm

October 12, 2018


by Mary Beth Krapil

Once you have your longarm machine all set up in your studio and you are getting familiar with how to use it, you’ll also want to know how to care for it, so that it continues to run in tip-top shape for many years to come.

Handi Quilter machines require very simple maintenance.

Did you know that quilting is a dirty business? SO much lint! Where does it all come from? Lint is created by the friction of the thread and needle passing through the 3 layers of the quilt sandwich. Lint not only accumulates in the bobbin area of the machine, but also flies through the air and settles on all surfaces.

So follow this schedule to keep things clean:

Every bobbin change:

When you change the bobbin, use the small brush provided, or in the case of the HQ Amara, HQ Forte or HQ Infinity, a small puff of canned air, to clean out the lint from the bobbin area. Also check inside the bobbin case for lint and brush it out if needed.

Once you have the lint cleaned out, place one drop of oil on the bobbin race. This is the ONLY place you will oil your machine.

With every new project:

Clean the tracks and the wheels by taking a small piece ( approximately 3″ x3″) of left over batting and wiping the tracks, both on the frame and on the carriage. Then hold the batting against the bottom of the wheel and move the machine back and forth so that you wipe the entire rolling surface of the wheel. What comes off will be black. The wheels compress the dust on the tracks as they pass over and pick it up. The black gunk is merely compressed lint. At the same time check for threads wrapped around your wheels.

Occasionally (depending on how often you quilt):

Clean the display with a lint-free static-free cloth, like what you would use to clean your computer screen. Don’t use any cleaners, just the cloth is enough.

Dust the body of the machine. If you would like to make a dust cover for your machine, so you can cover your machine while not in use, you can find a pattern here.

Dust the table top and check for threads caught in the blue Pro-Stitcher rack (if you have a Pro-Stitcher).

Once every 2 years or 10 million stitches (which ever comes first)

Schedule a spa treatment for your machine. Either bring it to your local retailer or make an appointment to have them come to you.  This is the required maintenance needed to lubricate the inner parts of your machine. Your retailer’s service technician was trained at Handi Quilter to perform this service and has all of the specific lubricants to use. They will open the machine, clean out any lint and check that all the tolerances, including timing, are within specs and make adjustments if needed. They will re-lubricate the appropriate parts with special long lasting lubricants. Once done, your machine will be in optimal condition and good to go for another 2 years or 10 million stitches.

As you can see, Handi Quilter maintenance is really quite simple. We know quilters would much rather be quilting than having to perform complicated oiling and machine maintenance. You’re welcome!

Now you can go finish more quilts!


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October 12th, 2018

by Mary Beth Krapil Once you have your longarm machine all set up in your studio and you are getting familiar with how to use it, you’ll also want to […]

14 responses to “The Care and Feeding of a Longarm”

  1. This is helpful info but unfortunately, apparently I live in an area where I would have to take my machine in to a local dealer for maintenance. First, I’m 70 yrs young and second, my machine (Avante) is upstairs in my sewing room and third, I don’t really trust the people I talked to with my domestic machine so it’s really hard to fathom taking the long arm in to them. I think you need to have more technicians willing to go out to service these machines at home given the size and expense of owning one. I take very good care of her but there will come a day when I need her serviced.

  2. A really good reminder, Mary Beth! Handi Quilter machines work so well that people sometimes forget to do any maintenance at all until it causes a problem.
    I do want to elaborate on your advice about cleaning the bobbin area. If you are using a brush on the HQ Amara, HQ Forte and HQ Infinity be careful to avoid the wires that provide lighting or thread cutting, as wires can become disconnected with enough pressure. While the use of air is discouraged in Handi Quilter’s other machines, these three newer machines have a rubber or metal dam behind the hook that keeps dust from going into the hook shaft and bearings inside the machine. I would recommend wearing safety glasses to keep lint out of your eyes and using quick bursts of compressed air with short pauses in between. Longer bursts attract moisture to the area and as we all know, moisture is not kind to metal parts.

  3. I was so focused on cleaning and oiling when I wrote this post, I neglected to mention changing your needle. My motto: “Every quilt deserves a new needle.” Match the needle size to the thread you plan to use. For more information about needles and thread check out SuperiorThreads.com.

  4. Good point about the needle changes and I didn’t know about the 2 years or 10 million stitches…mine needs a check-up! Thanks for the information!

  5. I live near Charlotte, NC and would like to take my longarm hq 16 to be serviced and cleaned. Do you have a good place I can trust near my area?

    • Yes, Judy you do need to clean under the needle plate. You can angle your brush or canned air up there above the bobbin basket for everyday cleaning. Every so often it’s good to remove the needle plate and give it a thorough clean. If you quilt every day maybe once a week would be good.

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