What Should be the Throat Space of A Quilting Machine?

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The throat space (or arm length) is the space between the needle and the controls on the right-hand side of the machine. It’s important to know because if you don’t have enough space, you’ll be limited in what sorts of projects you can do. 

Finding the right quilting machine for your own business or hobby to make the sewing process easier will depend on several factors, including your budget and the throat space of your machine, and the projects you are doing. Also, you can find a great quilting machine in your budget and according to your needs only if you know what is necessary. And the throat space is one of the important factors when buying a quilting machine. I’ve seen many people learn about the term for the first time and be quite shocked to find out that they have purchased an unsuitable machine.

Here below is the list of throat space (arm length) of different type of long arm quilting machines,

  • 7 to 9 inches arm length (throat space) for Short Arm Quilting Machines
  • 12 to 17 inches arm length (throat space) for Mid Arm Quilting Machines
  • 18 to 26 inches arm length (throat space) for Long Arm Quilting Machines

In this article will tell you all about what the throat space should be for your sewing machine, as well as how to determine its size and where to find it online.

Why is Throat Space (Arm Length) Important?

It’s very frustrating to buy a machine that looks good, has all the functions you want, and is great at quilting, only to find out that you can’t use it for your projects because the quilt throat is too small.

The throat space (or quilt throat) is the space area between the needle and the controls on the right-hand side of the machine, which allows you to move quilts through your sewing machine. If this area is too small, your projects will not fit through.

If you don’t have enough space, you will not be able to make a quilt with a backing or batting piece that is wider than the throat space. You will also not be able to do any quilting at the top of your project if the quilt is larger than the throat space. The reason for this is that a larger piece of fabric and batting will not be able to slide between your needle and the controls.

These restrictions mean that your hobby might simply come to a restrain! like being unable to do large quilting projects. As it’s unlikely that you want this. That’s why you should always look at the throat space on a quilting machine before you buy it. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about what should be the throat space of a quilting machine.

Check Also:

  1. Best Long Arm Quilting Machines
  2. Top Large Throat Sewing Machine For Quilting
  3. How Much Does A Long Arm Quilting Machine Cost?
  4. Can You Rent A Long Arm Quilting Machine?

What Should Be The Throat Space (Arm Length) of A Quilting Machine?

The throat space of a machine will specify the maximum width of the quilt that the machine can accommodate. The throat space is often measured by the distance between two vertical lines down the back (or right-hand side) of the sewing machine.

The throat space is usually measured in inches and, as with all things, it all depends on preference. If you plan to make small quilts, then a smaller throat area won’t matter as much to you. But if you want to make larger projects that require at least 9″ of fabric on either side of your work, then a machine with a broader throat area will be needed. The throat space also depends on the type of machine.

The throat size for each type of machine is listed below.

Short Arm Sewing Machine

The throat on a short-arm or domestic machine is usually up to 9” wide. On average, a short-arm or domestic sewing machine designed for quilting may only have a 6 to 9-inch throat space. Quilts of any size may be made using these machines, although bigger ones can be troublesome to work on because of the frequent repositioning of the fabric required by the smaller opening. However, they are often the most affordable choice also and are mostly used in homes.

Mid-Arm Quilting Machine

The throat space for Mid-Arm Quilting Machine is between 12 to 17 inches. They offer a compromise between the other two possibilities. Mid-arm machines are less expensive than long-arm models but have a smaller throat. The mid-arm type has a big neck area that makes it simpler to work on larger quilts and designs, given the fact that it could be more expensive than a short-arm model.

Long Arm Quilting Machines

Long Arm Quilting Machines have arm length of 18 to 26 inches on average. Since the majority of long-arm machines are installed on a frame. Rollers feed the batting and material into the machine. While the cloth is held in place, the quilting machine head rotates around the frame. The head can be steered by hand or by computer. These quilting machines are typically the most expensive and are mostly used by businesses, professional quillers, or non-profit charity organizations.

Who Needs the Large Throat Space (Arm Length) of A Quilting Machine?

The throat size is important to any quilter but critical to those who quilt for business or non-profit charities or are students or professional quilters. The reason is that these quilters may have to quilt several large projects in one day or overnight. If the throat size of a machine makes it difficult for you to work on a single large project at a time, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to make all your required money or fill your contract for charities and non-profit organizations.

As well for students learning quilting, if you are going to be good at quilting, then you need to practice working with different-sized fabrics and batting. If you don’t have enough space available on your machine, then it might not be possible for you to learn how to use the full capacity of your equipment. 

Non-profit charity organizations such as Cancer, Breast Cancer Charites, Childline, domestic violence, and other charitable organizations usually sew on the original donated fabric by machine. If they cannot fit their fabric through the quilting machine, then they can not use it! Due to this fact that donations might be restricted which means that projects must be completed quickly, which is why a large throat space is important.

FAQ about Throat Space (Arm Length) of A Quilting Machine

Why Throat Space (Arm Length) is Important?

If you’re considering buying a quilting machine, the most important thing to consider is the throat space. The throat space will determine how much fabric will fit in your machine, so it’s very important in deciding which quilting machine is right for you.

What Throat Size is Best For Quilting Businesses?

We suggest the 18 or 26 inches arm length quilting machine if you intend to quilt professionally or thinking about starting a quilting business. As the throat size determines how frequently you advance the quilt, and the larger the throat size, the quicker it may be finished.

What Throat Size (Arm Length) is Best For Quilting Churches?

If you want to do your own church quilt project, we suggest the 24” to 30” throat size in the quilting machine. As the larger throat size cuts down on how much fabric the work area of your machine is required to hold, it’s not as hard as if you would have chosen a smaller throat size.

What Throat Size is Best For Home Decorating?

For a home quilt project, you can easily do small quilting projects on your domestic sewing or quilting machine. On average, the throat size of domestic machines is 9” which is perfectly fine for décor items. However, if you want to build a larger project that might be difficult to achieve on a domestic machine, so you have to consider the mid-arm or long-arm quilting machine.

How To Choose Throat According To Projects?

In general, depending on the size of your project and how often it needs to be changed, you should buy a machine with a bigger throat space. This will enable you to set your fabric through quickly and change to smaller pieces with no problem at all.

What Should be the Arm Length of A Quilting Machine For Baby Quilts?

Considering the range of sizes when choosing a quilting machine, you need to consider what is the size of the project you’re making. If you are making a baby quilt or small projects, then the normal quilting machine is enough with 6 to 9 inches arm length. However, if you want to finish it quickly, a mid-arm quilting machine is perfect but not necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Finding the right quilting machine for your own business or hobby to make the sewing process easier will depend on several factors, including your budget and the throat space of your machine. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a great quilting machine with a large throat space; mid-arm and long-arm quilting machines come at an affordable price. Quilters can choose from different brands and models with varying features that fit their desired budget.

If you are planning to start your own business by quilting, consider buying a mid-arm machine. But if you are just a beginner, using the domestic sewing or quilting machine will be sufficient for small projects such as a baby blanket or home décor items.



I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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