Longarm Quilting: Troubleshooting Tips from Teresa Silva

Longarm quilting is the next step in quilt making I aspire to reach. The idea of easily moving the machine rather than attempting to maneuver my quilt through the small neck of my domestic machine sounds like a dream. Plus, I love that the thought of drawing with stitches that is much easier to accomplish with a longarm machine.

Choosing and maintaining a machine so I can begin longarm quilting had been overwhelming before I started reading Teresa Silva’s book Longarm Quilting Workbook. She explains the information a novice like me needs when it comes to choosing a machine, including common features and space requirements, in addition to the tools and materials needed to get started.

Don’t be fooled, though! This isn’t a book geared solely towards a beginner, but a workbook intended for longarm quilters of all skill levels. This is the book you open when you are looking for troubleshooting tips, a new motif to motivate you, or advice on where and what to quilt on a pieced project.

Here is a brief excerpt from the book about how to solve common problems that arise while longarm quilting:


“Medallion Baby Quilt” by Teresa Silva

For the best quilting results and a happy machine, it’s important to give your machine a quick cleaning and oil after each project. Lint builds up very quickly in the bobbin and tension spring and can cause your tension to be off and make your thread shred while quilting.

If you’re having tension issues, remember this: If the top tension is off, there most likely is an issue with your bobbin case. You may have lint buildup or you may need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your machine and adjust the bobbin tension.

If I’m having thread-shredding issues, the first thing I do is to remove the bobbin case and take the bobbin out of the case. Give the case a quick spray of canned air, or you can just pick out all the lint. A paintbrush works great to clean the bobbin area of the machine, as dust and lint sticks to the brush nicely. Then oil the hook-race area, which is the area your bobbin thread feeds into to make a stitch. The hook race is a moving part and needs to be oiled regularly. Also, unthread the machine from the top tension spring and blow out any lint that may have accumulated and then re-thread the machine.

Example of continuous line quilting by Teresa Silva

Oiling your machine is one maintenance step you absolutely don’t want to neglect. You have to oil the machine regularly due to the high speed of the machine and the numerous moving parts. Without oil, the machine will simply seize up and not work. Make sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for your particular machine.

It also helps to change out your needle when you start a new quilt. Sometimes if I’m working a large quilt, I will switch out my needle a couple of times. A nice sharp needle works wonders!

I’m sure this is going to be my go-to resource once I invest in a longarm machine. Who am I kidding, I’m already captivated by the different motifs and all of the advice Teresa has to share! Whether you are a long-time longarm quilter or an aspirational one like me, be sure to check out the Longarm Quilting Workbook.

Happy quilting,

Featured image: Longarm quilting on “Medallion Stars” by Teresa Silva

Learn more from Teresa when you order your copy!

Leave a Reply