QuiltingComforts

Longarm for personal or profit????

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Hello to all!

I'm happy to be on here and hope to learn lots of stuff. I am considering purchasing a longarm. I have been quilting with my Bernina 180 but my last piece for a wedding was 96X110 inches and it was a bit much but I made it through and gave it for a wedding gift.

My small group of quilting friends think I do a good job with machine work and I know I'll get some quilting work from them whether I want it or not. How do you know if you'd like it to be a business before ever really doing any longarm work???

My question is how did everyone come to the decision of purchasing for personal or business use? Did you start with a smaller machine and upgrade after knowing that it was something you'd like to do for profit or jump in with both feet and go for it right from the beginning??? I'd like to avoid the trading up process IF possible with some good advice from this group.

Are there any APQS owners in Ohio???

(New to all this type of computer use so please bare with me.)

Thanks.

Cindy

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Cindy,

You have come to the right place, there is a wealth of infomration here and everyone is willing to share. There are a number of previous posts that are good reading on how to select a machine; for profit or personal; yada yada.

It is a good idea to check supply and demand in your area. Also, don't rely on the people in your guild or your friends using you as thier quilter. There are some here that can tell you horror stories on that subject. However, that kind of thing may work for you.

When I bought my machine I knew it would be use for business. For me, it was a huge expence and I couldn't justify using it for hobby, although some do and that is terrific that they can do that.

You will get responses. Also read through some of the previous posts. I think you will find a lot of things under the Starting a New Business tab - or whatever it is called....that is close ;)

Good luck with your decision.

Mary Beth

P.S. Welcome to the forum.


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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Welcome!

Like Mary Beth said most people end up going into business (full time or part time) because of the expense. But there are a few that have bought just because of their hobby.

I also have a Bernina 180 and found that quiting anything over a 60" sq quilt was too much for me to fight with which is why I wanted a longarm machine. My DH said the only way I'd get on if I built a business around it. So that's exactly what I did and it has been more successful than what my DH ever thought it would be.

I decided to go with the Liberty when I started mostly because starting up a business requires a lot of $ that does not involve the machine itself, like thread, pantograghs, stencils, threads, needles, batting, website costs, registering the busines, domain names, tax ID #, advertising, etc... I only had a limited amount of $ and I had to make it stretch.

The Liberty allowed me to do all of that.

Some day I do hope to upgrade to a Millie which has a larger stitching field but only because I want to get the Compuquilter and from what I have read you really need a larger machine to be able to utilize the CQ to it's fullest. But if I didn't want the CQ then I would never trade up because the Liberty is a great size to reach across and is plenty big to do a business with.

Good luck...BTW how soon do you plan on buying the machine?, within the next few months?

Joann

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Thanks for the warm welcome.

I am trying to take my time to decide which machine and what size to go with. There are only so many opportunities to play with machines at shows that are relatively close to me so that makes it difficult to purchase in a timely manor. I'd like to be up and running by this fall/winter if possible. I have narrowed the list to APQS and two other manufacturers though since attending the NQA show. APQS reps Lisa and Sherri were terrific. Disappointed though I requested more info through website and received an immediate reply that it would be in the mail the following day (6/11) and nothing received yet.

I am aware of 2 longarm gals, one full-time and one part-time, within 1 hours drive who are booked up for months. One local gal that is very cost competitive but her work reflects that also so my cheap friends will keep using her in the end I'm sure. Friendships turning into nightmares would be terribly disappointing. With my work I'm pretty much a perfectionist trying to always remember 'finished is better than perfect'. Sometimes I think that is a blessing and other times a curse.

I am very personally committed to doing Quilts of Valor Foundation projects. We have exhausted the goodwill of local longarmers and it is expensive to ship back and forth so this would solve that issue.

I will go do some searches as suggested.

Many thanks.

Cindy

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I got a big machine and it cost as much as a car so I do this as a business. I have to say that since I quilt of others to pay for my machine I nardly ever get to quilt my own quilts. This year so far I have done one for me and the rest for other people.

As far as friends goes in the beginning I was pretty happy to quilt for them at a discount as I was starting out and wanted to increase my customer base but many of them have gone back to the cheap cheap quilters as my prices have gone up. I am always amazed at how people expect you to do beautiful quilting for them for a cheap price just because they are friends. Right now At this point I simply ask those people their budget and then offer them options in that range. I am done with the custom quilting at the panto prices!

You also have to be aware of the cost of doing this as a business as well, there are taxes, liscences, supplies and lots of bookwork.

There is a great book written on professional longarm quilting I suggest you find a copy and read it from cover to cover and then decide if you still want to proceed.

Geographical area and other quilters in your area will also dictate how successful you can be. YOur area may have more or less quilters and people looking to send out their quilts.

My goal is to someday quilt only for me and maybe a few high end coustom jobs here and there.

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Hi Cindy, I am in Mansfield Ohio. I started with a domestic machine

that was split and stretched. Was only planning on doing my own

quilts. But people started offering me money to do their quilts. So

I decided to make it a business, which officially started March of 07.

I upgraded to a used Ultimate II and loved it, it is now for sale because

I found another great deal and couldn't pass it up.

Before any of the business I was a homemaker, domestic engineer,

whatever you want to call it. So I am still at home with my kids and

now have a good excuse as to why my house is a mess. I am toooo

busy quilting. LOL.

Later, Michele

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I do not have a long arm yet either. But when I get it, I will try to get a business going when I do get it just because the expense is high. I have read recently in one of the quilting magazines that it is hard to get customers because quilts made in other countries are so cheap. Is this true? I hope not coz I am counting on getting enough business to supplement my retirement income when I retire. Please tell me this isn't true!


Laura/Jazzsmom

Chicago, IL

A fat quarter is not a body part!

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I considered quilting as a business but decided it wasn't for me ..... You might want to use the SEARCH feature above and search on "setting up a business" or something similar and see what others have said previously.


DixieQ

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Originally posted by jazzsmom

I have read recently in one of the quilting magazines that it is hard to get customers because quilts made in other countries are so cheap. Is this true? I hope not coz I am counting on getting enough business to supplement my retirement income when I retire. Please tell me this isn't true!

Jazzmom;

I heard that too but I don't know where they got that info because as long as there are quilters/piecers in the world there will always be a need for longarmers to quilt them. Besides whether you will have customers or not when you open a business depends on whether or not you are in a good location, you are in an area where there are lots of other quilters, you get your name out there with other quilters and how fair your prices are. There's some other stuff as well but the above is the basics.

Joann

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Hi Cindy,

First I toyed with the idea of purchasing a larger arm machine after doing my quilting with a domestic machine, and then I purchased a 9" arm machine and sat and used it for several years.....even though I now have a used Ultimate II, I still like to sit and machine quilt at times. It depends on the size of the project, and the quilting design.

I truly love machine quilting--it has evolved to the point that I find myself machine quilting now way more than cutting and piecing projects.

I also do a lot of community quilt projects for our large guild, and I also purchase quilt tops on eBay to quilt on. It's getting bad!:o as I have a lot of my own UFO's I could be working on, but I love standing at the frame thinking about designs I could do, thread choices, and the actual quilting process so much more! and taking time to make tops seems to not be as much of a priority or as much fun as the machine quilting process---or so it seems this past year. I have a lot of unfinished tops.:) yep, I got the quilting bug! :)

However, even though I do a lot of charity quilting, I avoid turning this passion of quilting into a "business" I never pursued doing it with the "job" factor in mind. I occasionally do a few quilts for friends, and that is the extent of making it a paying venture. I basically don't have thousands of dollars invested in equipment either, so no pressure in that respect. Thankfully.

I started quilting as a hobby, and I machine quilt for the sheer pleasure-fun factor!:D and never planned to make it a business.

I once upon a time had a fun hobby that I loved---that I let turn into a business (kick-self)--- and I learned a lot from that experience which I conclude was more negative than postive.

I think it depends on how you want to look at your quilting experience now ---and years from now. How good you are at time management, commitment, and self discipline. What your budget is? Room for a long arm? and if you want to truly do it as job? Your age and health should not be left out of the equation either.

I also have a friend that just closed her long arm business because she said it was a very "alone job", and she missed going to work and spending time with other people on a regular basis. So, that's another aspect to consider that I have never even thought of. Your own studio is a very solitary existence day in and day out with the exception of interacting with clients, which really is not that long or that often. I don't mind alone time---but, it bothered her a lot I guess. She didn't sell her equipment, but she is back to working outside her home at her previous career and loving it.

I don't know what the outright income is from quilting as a business. Considering all the expenses I read about and listening here and from others in the quilting business, I think you have to definitely love the work--- as it surely isn't one of the most profitable career choices after all is said and done, and it can take years to get a good client base going.

Just some personal observations. I don't want to discourge you, but these are some of the reasons I chose to not take this hobby to the "work" level. It may work out very well for you, though. Good luck with whatever you decide. :)

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Hello,

I bought the millenium right off the bat. I knew I loved machine quilting. I had been doing it on my DM for many years. I wanted the best machine on the market. I went to the inovations show in tacoma washington last year and tried all the top machines. APQS was the best hands down. I have completed five quilts so far and am getting ready to use my new circle lord and giant template on the next quilt. Buy the machine that you think handles well and everyone here will be here to help you. Best of luck and enjoy the journey.

Nora

Washougal Washington

Millenium


Nora Alquraisha

Columbia Gorge Quilting

Quilting with my new HQ Fusion"Baby"

Washougal WA

www.columbiagorgequilting.com

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Cindy

Don't forget to look at George in your searches. For those of you who have taken the time and put in the practice on your DSM, those skills transfer directly to George.

Just a thought.

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Hi Cindy,

I bought my Millie because the waiting list was so long to have a quilt done.

I sent my "special" quilts out and did my own "utility" ones. I don't have alot of time so my progress has been somewhat slow and my learning curve is improving slowly. I figured if I quilted a certain amount of my own it would cover the expense of the machine.

I just did my first quilt for payment and what pressure to do a good job! I am sure if I do more it will get easier. But that is not the reason I bought the machine so I don't look for work.

It is a great tool to have! Believe me, I never get bored!


Norma V

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Hi Cindy, Welcome to the chat site. I too am currently debating/looking at longarm machines so I know where you're at. I have quilted too many machines on my DSM and get fustrated with the process of using the smaller throat size. I have a queen size quilt that I'm just about finishing piecing that will be next to quilt, I'm dreading the thought. I make quilts, start to finish some for myself, some for sale. The queen one is custom made for someone and already sold. So if I purchased a machine it would be both for my hobby and a side business. These machines are not cheap and they take up alot of room so you have to decide if the cost and space devoted to them is worth it. Another thing, and I think it was already mentioned, was if you go into business you end up with less time to complete your own quilts. I have a pile here that I can't even think of getting to because I'm busy with the ones to sell. I wouldn't count on a quilting business paying for your machine with out having back up funds, because as Jazzsmom mentioned, people are cheap and compare quality quilts to the ones from China in catalogs and chain stores. I've had people who were interested in purchasing a quilt, shown them some well pieced quilt, made with $10.00/yd fabrics, with custom quilting, only for them to say "I can get something the same size with shams for $69.00, why are yours so expensive?" I don't mean to sound negative, because like I said, I'm also debating buying a longarm, but mostly it would be because quilting is something that I love to do. Good Luck, DB

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Hi Cindy, welcome. I started on a Grace frame with a mid-arm Brother, discovered that I really loved iLAing and after 2 years went bigger. Conversely, I have two friends who did the same thing and didn't like it. They ended up selling their set-ups and now send me their quilts;) I'm the cautious type, so I would do the same thing over again, i.e. be sure I liked it before I invested huge amounts of $ in it. I don't think I'd get the Grace frame and Brother though...I think you'd get a better feel for it with a used Nolting or a HQ set up. Maybe that's just my look before you leap mentality though. In any case, take every chance to go to big shows and try out the big girls. In so many ways they're so much easier to use than the mid-arm systems!

Lynne in Ann Arbor

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I found using a long arm was so natural after having quilted on a Bernina 180 for such a long time. I also quilted at a quilt shop for 3 years before going out on my own. My best advice for you, if you do decide to buy, is to be very upbeat, complimentary where possible on customers' quilts and do quality work . I keep trying new designs that are different than the other quilters in the area. Go to your quilt guilds. Be open and make friends. It not only brings customers, it makes your life delightful with special people.

After show and tell a few times at guild, I was asked to speak about preparing a quilt for long arm. I got tons of customers after that and now have a speaking engagement at the other guild this week. Good luck on your decision.


www.webshots.com/user/victoriasews

www.Fiberobsessive.blogspot.com

Innova and Intelliquilter

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Welcome Cindy,

My sister and I jumped in with both feet and bought a Millennium in March of 2004. We didn't need to earn a living at it since we had husbands supporting us, but we did need to make payments on the machine. We each came with some cash, and put the rest on zero interest credit cards. We each paid off our half. We sent "discount" coupons to the quilt group chair at almost 400 churches around us. That got us some customers that paid for the mailing and still quilt for some of those ladies today. We got connected with a Christian camp that has quilting twice a year. Attended first, then attended and offered a discount to the quilters at camp and offered to give part of the proceeds back to the camp. The response was incredible. Brought home 40+ quilts the first time. We have been doing that for 3 years now, twice a year. I also belong to the quilting group at church. That is where we started. Took all of their quilts, did them quite cheaply as we were learning the trade. They were happy to have their quilts more than "tied" and we were learning on customers quilts while making a bit of money.

We still are not able to make a living at this, but don't have to. Our main goal is to be together, have fun, have the opportunity to do our own quilts for free, and earn some extra money. Now a little over 3 years later, my sister comes on Mondays, we quilt, she stays overnight, and we quilt Tuesday also. Have a terrific time together. When a quilt is done we "zip" it off Milly, "zip" a new one on and she keeps going. Milly almost never stops in those two days. I mostly pin the quilts on the zippers, take the pictures, make out the bill, talk to the new clients, receive the quilts, call the clients for pick up, do all the paperwork, sales tax stuff, etc. and she is able to do non-stop quilting. It works great for us.

We keep good records so we know that after these 3+ years, 3% of our customers came from our original church mailing, 7% have come from the signs at the end of our driveways, 42% from the camp affiliation, and 34% from referrals. We have done 830+ quilts and have loved just about every one of them. That's our story. I think a big part of the fun is that we get to do it together, plus there's no pressure to "have" to make a living at it. From experience, some parts of the country absolutely will not support long arm pricing as it should be charged. My sister lives in a more rural area and the quilters from her area are much much more tight about spending money on quilting. From my area, closer to the Twin Cities, the quilters are more willing to spend money to get their quilts done the way they want it.

We made our decision to purchase APQS after talking several times to a competitor and not getting answers to the specific questions we had asked. When we called APQS on a weekend, we got an answer from an owner of the company who was in his car traveling with his family and he called us back to answer ALL of our questions. That made up our minds for us. We love APQS, love our Milly and love the business. We started in our minds with a much smaller set up - long arm machine mounted on some kind of frame, but in our discussion, it took only about a week to decide to jump in with both feet and have never regretted it.

Good luck to you. I think one of the big things to weigh will be ifiyou "have" to make a living - will that put pressure on you and take some of the fun out of it? Can you afford to have the machine and not make much money with it for awhile? It takes awhile to get on your feet - practice time and all. If you start smaller, would you be able to trade up later? I know you'll make the right decision, and the ladies (and men) on this forum are absolutely wonderful in helping with that decision - but I bet you've found that out already.

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Hi - I too have struggled with should I or shouldn't I spend the money on a machine to quilt as a business (because I can't afford the LA for just a hobby). I am getting a Freedom SR in September 2007 and officially starting my business. I've already got charity quilts to practice on and a few potential customers lined up. I've also got my local quilt shops willing to give out my business cards and such. I think the key component to making it is to advertise yourself and get out there and meet quilters and really network to get your name and services to the people who need this work done. I'm a newbie and convinced I can do this (hopefully I'm not kidding myself!) Good luck!


Renee Henderson

Covered Wagon Quilts

Gilbert, AZ

480-813-4503

Freedom SR 2007

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Greetings to Springfield, Ohio!!!! My birthplace! I am now in North Carolina, but was just back in Springfield last month visiting family and friends. I am an APQS believer and dealer, just got back from IMQS last week. I have been going to the Daisy Barrel for 25 years!!!!!!I would love to talk to a fellow quilter from Springfield.....my phone number is 704-983-1544, or email me your phone number @ ncquilter@ctc.net. Looking forward to talking to you. Gone Quilting, Susan Harter

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Hi Cindy. I quilt as a hobby. For me, quilting as a business would take the fun out of it and I would never have time to do my own quilts and I am way too selfish for that! Long arm machines can be expensive (as much as cars as someone mentioned) and that's why I chose a machine at a size and price that I was able to pay cash for mainly because it's a hobby and not a business. Have you checked out the new Lenni? The set up looks great and the price is nice, too :) Good luck.

Gable


FC06CB1A4E1BB90CC02814317BE0F0C6.png

Gable

Nolting PRO 24

 

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From the standpoint of a DH, we bought our Milli and CQ, Dec '06, with the sole idea of my DW having fun. After 50 years of sewing, both garments and embellished items, I felt she earned it. We took a loan against a rental property and purchased "top of the line" with "all the bells and whistles". If she makes some money, which she does on ocassion, fine. If not, oh well. She runs our county 4-H Quilting Project and finishes the quilts that our kids make for shipment to Walter Reed Hospital / Fisher House, plus her own, some customer quilts, and some "exchange time" with a friend who helps her bind.

On the subject of machines, this is our third, AND LAST, machine in 18 mos. We started with Viking MegaQuilter / Inspira combination (too small a work field), tried a MegaQuilter / Hinterberg / Max-Throat / PC Quilter set-up (electronics didn't work correctly) and finally realized that "you get what you pay for" and got the Milli.

Johnmach (pushED 60, and then some!)

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Hi Cindy,

I'm Jeannette from the Netherlands.

I am in the same position you are and I wanted to take a year for this, but... I am about to buy a Liberty.

In 3 weeks time a collected a whole lot of information on the machines in this business and yahoo groups etc.

I narrowed my choose to 2 brands, Gammill and APQS because they give me a 220 motor and with a stitch regulator I just rather have a 220 motor.

Gammill did not even bother to send me a brochure, they said they did not have one at this moment. I mean for a product that price..... :mad:

Last Monday I went to an Open House of our European Rep of APQS and I am quite enthousiastic.

I am definately NOT going into business and that is why I think I should not buy a Milli. That would kind of may me feel more guilty, although it is my own money!

Do I hear some saying that I might regret that???

Regards,

Jeannette from the Netherlands


JEANNETTE (the Netherlands) - Liberty

Weblog: http://quiltqueen.web-log.nl

Webshots: http://community.webshots.com/user/thequiltqueen

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My wife and I are both retired. I really wanted a Millie. Many people said that knowing me I would not be happy with a smaller machine. I decided that I could make the monthly payments even if I didn't get any business. I want to be able to do work for others as well as make quilts for my own family, friends, QOV, and other charities. I don't want to be a slave to the machine and the business. I am so very happy that we got a Millie. It is Wonderful!

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