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advise needed on additional startup equipment to purchase

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Hi Everyone,

I have had my Millennium since Thanksgiving week but have just started to seriously use it. I have a lot of sewing related purchases that sounded good at the time and now are collecting dust. I don't want to spend excess money on things that aren't really useful.

I am finding out I have many questions with regard to how many pantographs I need for starting my business, what rulers are necessary and what acrylic templates I need. I am worried about buying things I won't really need. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

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Firstly - Hi Teresa and welcome.

I think all of us will have the same sentiment here................ a girl can never have too many quilting toys!!!!!!! :cool:;):P

Having said that, you are new to your machine and you really need to ascertain what type of quilting you really want to do. Are you a Panto girl, are you a freehand girl or a you a custom girl. It is no use spending a lot of money on pantos if you hate doing them! The same goes for rulers and templates. I am not a big template girl for instance as most of my customers do not like their quilts to be marked (leads to interesting and at times funcky eye-balling at times;))

Be selective in what you buy. The pantos I have in my collection are those that I really like or that where specifically bought for a customer's quilt. I see it as part of my business exense if I have to purchase a particular panto, whether I like it or not. I bought Briar Rose by Lisa Thiessen as just such a purchase but have found that I have now used it at least four times in the last six months - Roses are in I think ;) - and the design is really growing on me. (OK, unintentional pun here)

If you have even that slightest artistic bend or talent, for children's quilts for instance, I go to the different, free colouring in pages on the internet and download pictures and then make up my own panto. That way you can get exactly what you want or need for a particular quilt and theme it just right and create the size panto you need for the quilt.

Quilters and those related artists to the business are extremely friendly............ talk to them and ask them what they consider some of the easier beginners pantos to start of with. I know that Lorien Quilting ( lorienquilting.com ) have a whole section dedicated to beginners pantos.

A far as rulers are concerned, once again wait and see. I love Deloa's Castle ruler. I think it is a great size, not too big and not too little, but just right. I also have her small ruler and some of her curved ones. These are the rulers I turn to all the time and that never seem to be put back into the drawer. If you are playing on your own quilts remember that you can utilise everything and anything to mark a curve. It is amazing how many plates and tupperware tops end up in my sewing room. As Kristina said, you will need a good base plate to do ruler work. I have the Hartley one.

Sooo ..... my advice is to take it slowly and develope your own stlye of quilting and then purchase goodies as you need. Whatever you do, have lots of fun!


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I've had my machine for almost two years. My advice is wait until you see what kind of quilting you want to do. I love DeLoa's boomerang rulers for curved crosshatching, but you may never want to do that. I have the quiltazoid and use it for crosshatching and beadboard work all the time. I've seen gorgeous quilts on this forum with the circle lord long board templates, but I didn't buy them.

You need the itty bitty because that's for SID work. I love my stool and hydralic lift. I have maybe ten pantos. The longer you quilt, the more you'll get a feel for what you really need. Good luck with your machine. Don't hesitate to ask for help on this forum because these gals and guys are the best!

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Guest Linda S

I got one of those three-drawer plastic carts on wheels that I keep at the end of my machine for tools, rulers, oil, etc.

Janet-Lee's favorite Ruler (I use this for SID)

a small oval template for help in going around smooth curves

Thread, thread, and more thread

Pieces of Q-snap frame for clamping the sides of your quilt

Thats about all I can't do without.

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I have bought dozens of tools over the years and have sold most of them. I, too, love DeLoa's boomerangs, but have yet to use them for curved crosshatching, which is why I bought them. They are used constantly for going around applique. I have a straight edge and extended base. Before I got my IQ, I loved the Circle Lord circle maker. I used that on almost all my quilts, from making swags and arcs to just circles, which is the main element for feathered wreaths, flower centers, concentric circles.

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I like to do pantos, pattern boards, freehand and custom quilting, so I have a variety of tools.

I was given the same advise as you when I first started 3 years ago. It was good advise, but I found that I needed to expand and buy a variety of things so I could try them out and see if I liked doing that type of quilting. If I didn't buy the tools, I would not have been exposed to them and would not have them included in my "toolbox." There are things I do not use very often...right now, but may use next month for the customer quilt that needs exactly that tool.

In the beginning I loved custom quilting and hated pantos. I bought a few pantos and did a number of charity quilts using them. Eventually I decided I like them. I then bought quite a few more. I have them arranged in categories, such as leaves,. flowers, baby, Christmas & winter, patriotic, hearts and misc. (maybe a few others). Most of my customers want either pantos or very detailed custom.

I have quite a few of rather expensive pattern boards, but I have a hard time getting customers to select my pattern boards, even though I like them better than pantos. Most of them seem familiar with pantos, but not with pattern boards. Some will call them groovy boards and say they look like designs in a row and don't like that. I've explained that mine are not going to look like stripes across the quilt, but they don't want me to use them anyway. I find that very odd, but that's the way that is. Other quilters on this forum use them quite a bit and their customers love them. I am trying to educate my customers, but it seems to be a slow process. One of the other quilters in my area had "poo-poo'd" the boards, so I think that is where my customers are being influenced. This quilter only does pantographs.

I guess you need to buy the basics and expand as your budget allows. It is great to have a lot of tools so you have the right one at your finger tips.

This is just my opinion, as you must do what feels right to you. Good luck with your new business adventure.

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i don not quilt for customers, so i haven't many pantos. i really prefer working from the front of the machine.

i have the donita reeves extended base - it attaches permanently. i really like it and only remove for thorough cleanings. many have the hartley base that is easily removed and love it as well. you have to decide which is best for you.

my favorite ruler is deloa's little one. i also like the appliguide & castle ruler, but could not quilt without the little one.

i dont have a hydraulic lift, but i'm sure i would like it if i did.

i've had lola-baby for a year and half and still don't have a stool. i like standing while i work.

canned air, bright flashlight, teeny screwdriver, good snips, long tweezers, 2 curtain rods or yardsticks to hold up side clamps, flower head pins & magnetic dish.

the other thing i use lots is my quiltazoid. but that is pricey and you may want to wait as there are many brands of circle makers and it takes quite a bit of research to chose which is right for you.

good luck.

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I'm chiming in here again after reading some of the other posts. If you use pins, definitely the magnetic pin holder, but I recently bought the Red Snappers and have to say that is right on top of my list. I always hated the time it took to pin and now I can put on a quilt in about 8 minutes and take it off in about 8 seconds.

I had forgotten some of the items Meg mentions because they are a part of the daily quilting and I take them for granted. Gotta have that flash light, screwdriver, canned air, and don't forget a magnifying glass.

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The Hartley Base expander is a must for ruler work, easy to remove which is better than a permanent base ( in my opinion only) because leaving it on at all times causes drag and gets in the way and causes problems if you are doing pantos. A good air compressor is one of the best investments you can make if you are quilting as a business, canned air gets real expensive and you must blow out the bobbin area on a regular basis if you use 100% cotton thread. The stool, not so much for me, I can't quilt sitting as I'm very short and I guess my arms just aren't long enough to be any good when I'm sitting. The Itty Bitty is great and Deloa's Appliguide I use a lot. Towa gauge is another best investment for a new LAer.

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Theresa it is always a hard thing to decide. I would say that the things I find I use on a regular bases are:

1. The little One ruler by Deloa Jones (almost every quilt)

2. Love my Boomerangs by Deloa Jones for curved cross hatching which is very popular.

3.Pantos - I'd say start with about 10. Make sure they have varying density, some feathers (most popular with my customers) swirly, leaves, stars. I love Urban Elementz Panto of the month which was a great way to get a lot of bang for my buck. I have borders, squares and pantos all for 19.99 a month. The downside is that you might get a panto that you would never use. I have found that I have used just about every one that I've ever gotten. IMHO they are a good investment to get you started and give you some variety.

4. Ruler base is a must if you are going to use rulers. I have both the Hartley and Rulermate. I love the Rulermates 1 piece design but I wish it were wider. The Hartly is wider but has a gap behing the hopping foot that my rulers tend to hit while doing SID on the diagonal. Both are well made.

5. I love my Quiltazoid. I use it mostly for piano keys, cross hatching and longer boards for e2e designs from the front. I also have the spirograph that gives me a whole lot of design options. I feel like I've more than paid for it since I easily get great stitch-outs that would take me a lot longer if I just marked them or used a ruler.

6. thread - start with neutrals and then add as needed.

All of these purchases are based on my quilting style. I do a lot of custom work and if you know you will never do custom work then you won't need many rulers and other tools like that. I'd say start with a couple pantos and a couple rulers and see what works for you. If you know that you don't like custom work or SID then it would be a waste of money. You can probably gauge your likes and dislikes by really thinking about the kinds of quilting designs you like. Thread for example I know I prefer to let the qulting show not the thread. I buy mostly neutrals and have three typest that I use most often which are SoFine, BottomLine (bobbin) and Metro embroidery thread. I bought all the neutrals and then add colors that are popular or that I need. Metro you can buy the small spools that will easily do a quilt and it won't cost you a ton to have a great variety of colors. If I find that I use that color often I order the big cone. I'm not a big horder of things so I don't have thousands and thousands of cones. I do also keep a few other options in neutral colors such as cotton, varigated and more showy threads just so if a customer wants it I have it.

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I think before you buy alot of anything you need to get to know your machine a little better, and decide what type of quilting will work for you and your business.

Remember that pantos/ ETE designs, (whether they are done freemotion, following a line on paper with a laser or using a board and a stylus) are the bread and butter of this business and is where most of your profit will be comming from. So my advice is pick one of these first to get comfortable with then expand into the custom end of things slowly as your skills improve. Then decide which path your business will follow, 1) one that does ETE, custom and heirloom quilting, 2) one that only does ETE quilting, 3) one that only does custom.

The basic tools to start with are...

1) 3-5 pantos, very simple basic such as a meandering, an easy swirl, a simple leaf, an easy floral.

2) expandable base such as Hartly or Ruler mate (if you buy the hartly one it comes with 2 straight edge rulers)

3) the itty bitty ruler great for stitch in the ditch

4) for thread start with 3 basic thread colors white, beige and black (alot of us love the "Superior Thread" brand) colors and types of thread can be expanded over time and will ;)

After awhile and as you figure out what type of quilting you prefer best you can add to your tools or patterns accordingly...such as if you decided you like ruler work you can add CC rulers or terry twists rulers, the boomarangs from deloa are very popular and so on.

Also if you are in a position where taking longarm classes is not an option, a more ecconomical way of learning new skills is through dvd instruction... most of the good teachers out there do offer DVDs now.

Good luck and have fun with your new toy(s).

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I must say, I have been loving reading these posts! :cool:

I want to pick up all the pearls of wisdom out there and it is great to hear what people use and why.

It is waaaay to easy for me to think I may use something only to realize it was a major mistake and why oh why did I get that. ( or not ... as the case may be)

I am in a 'dry' area - no classes very close by, etc. I would be in the dvd crowd, so thank you, thank you for that pearl as well.

Please keep it coming

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