Getting Started with a Janome Quilt Maker Longarm Quilting Machine

Did you just purchase a Janome Quilt Maker longarm quilting machine, or are thinking of getting one? I am learning so much about my Janome Quilt Maker Pro 20 and wanted to share some insight, and little tips and tricks to help get you started.

First off, don’t worry if you don’t the same machine as I do. Janome has many machines in their Quilt Maker line so there’s a longarm quilting machine for every space, experience level and budget.

There’s longarm quilting machines with a 15-inch throat space, a 16″ throat space, an 18-inch and even a 20-inch throat space for those extra-large quilts. More throat space means turning the quilt less often, which saves time and effort in the end.

When choosing and sizing your quilting design, whether it is by pantograph working from the back or working with the ProStitcher computer software, you should always take into consideration the size of the design that will fit on your quilt once it starts to roll towards the bottom of the quilt.  A good rule of thumb is subtracting 6 inches from your throat space, which accounts for the size of the rollers. So, if you have the Janome Quilt Maker 15 work with a design that is 9inches high and you are sure to have enough space to quilt from the top of the frame to the bottom bar, or roller, in one pass. For the Janome Quilt Maker Pro 20 you obviously get more space with 14 quilt-able inches.

A very useful accessory tool is the acrylic ruler table.  Even if you do not do ruler work, I recommend you add it on the machine as it allows you to rest your hand on the quilt while you are basting or free motioning quilting.  It adds a bit of stability while working. The table is easy to attach and remove whenever necessary, and there’s an acrylic ruler base table for every Janome longarm quilting machine.

Choosing the right backing for your quilt is very important. When working with a large quilt, using the wide, 108″ backing is always a good bet so you don’t have to take the time to piece and worry about seams. Always make sure the backing is square before loading it onto the leaders. This will save so many headaches once you start!

When possible, load the backing fabric with the selvedge to the leaders. This means the most stable grainline will be running across the quilt, with the more flexible grainline running the length of the quilt to accommodate a little wiggle room while rolling up the quilt on the leaders. If the backing is pieced, try to load the backing with the seams parallel to the bars to avoid the seam allowance building up on itself, creating extra thickness as you roll up the quilt. The seams tend to be tighter and if they run perpendicular to the bars, there will be a dip on both sides of the seam. 

My biggest tip for backing fabrics is to use a “busy back”, meaning a fabric with an all-over print. The busier the print is on the back, the less your little stops and starts or travel lines will show. When possible, try to match the thread colour to the backing fabric of the quilt.

No matter which Janome Quilt Maker longarm quilting machine you choose, they all take the same big “M” class metal bobbin. Ever wonder which way to load the bobbin or do you always forget?  I quick tip I teach all my students is to think of the letter Q, a lower-case q, actually. Q for quilting, lol! 

When holding a bobbin, place the end of thread to the right so it’s coming off the bobbin clockwise, making the letter q. Load the bobbin into the bobbin case and pull the end through the guides. Bobbins vary in dimension, specifically, the height and thickness, so be sure to ask for the EZ-Wind Bobbins sold by Janome dealers as they’re designed to work perfectly with your machine. The EZ-Wind Bobbins have a little slot on the side that makes the winding process foolproof.

When looking for more information about each of the Janome longarm quilting machines, don’t forget to check out our Janome HQ You Tube channel, and Janome America’s You Tube channel. You will especially love the Facebook Janome Long Arm Users site for everything to do with your Janome Long Arm quilting machine!

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks as I learn this new machine.

Happy Quilting!


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