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Renting out my Long-arm - what to watch for?

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Hi all -

I am still pretty new, so want some advice on my business model and what to watch out for. My plan is to rent out my long-arm since I would rather make custom quilts for people and quilt my own quilts than take in other people's quilts, at least until I get in a lot more practice.

Here's what I've done so far:

- My husband and I are signed up for the Feb maintenance class

- I have property insurance on the machine and liability insurance for people to come to my house and use the machine

- I plan on being in the same room when they use the machine (sewing tops for my custom clients)

- I have a rental agreement made up

- I have determined pricing ($20/hour for beginners and $15/hour for experienced people (> 20 hours rental and can operate on their own))

- I have ordered rolls of Quilter's Dream batting - Blend and Puff to have available

- I have Bottom Line thread in neutral shades

- I have a class outline prepared on how to use the machine

- I have practice pieces made up

- I am advertising with all the local guilds and have a lot of interest

Anything else you can think of I need to do?

What are the pitfalls to watch out for?

Thanks for your input -

Julia Graves

Special Occasion Quilts, LLC


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I started typing, then erased it. Now here I am again. I probably should not respond because I am a firm believer that one should never rent out their machine. I just don't think it is ever a good idea. Maybe there are some other here that will be able to help you.


Mary Beth

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There's a shop in Anchorage and another one in the Portland, OR area, maybe McMinnville, that rents machines. Maybe you could find one in your area or contact one of these to find out how it works for them.

I didn't rent my machine but invited two other quilters to learn and use my machine with me when I first bought it. The deal was if they quilted for money they would give me a fair percent for use of my machine and space. Turned out great for me and they've both done me many favors in return. One has since bought her own machine and spawned a second business in our town, which we needed. The other has since moved to another town but I'm loading one of her beautiful hand appliqued quilts on my frame today.

Life is good. Do what works best for you. ~~ Eva H.

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I know that each state or community have a different requirement on insurances. So when I had my studio the cost of the Bonding insurance wasn't worth it for me. It was quoted to be over $2000 a year, which no way could I afford...so it wasn't hard for me to say no, to people who asked me if I would let them use it.

But before I knew this I did let someone help me in the shop work on a piece of her own stuff, and on the last day she did something under the machine that caused the bobbin and bobbin housing to blow across the room. Which in short really really messed up my machine, not to mention that it just missed her head. I had to get someone in from California to fix it. And I ate the $300 charge.

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Guest Linda S

In addition to your liability and property insurance, I would strongly advise you to buy a business policy. Also, are you a proprietor or an LLC? If someone sews through their finger and is seriously hurt, you could end up losing an awful lot. No one touches my machine but me.


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Before they are able to rent time on the machine insist they do a full day course with you for $150 then you know they will be able to operate it a little and your being paid to tutor them. I'm with Linda no one touches my machine there to expensive if things go wrong.

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Hi Julia,

There is a person in ELkhorn Wisconsin that rents her machines, she is also an APQS dealer. Her name is Sue Schmieden, phone # is

(262) 723-6775. I would call her and ask her how she has everything set up for renting the machine. Sue is a wonderful person and very helpful. I know that the people that rent the machine have to take a class with her prior to renting the machine. I hope you talk to her and good luck.


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My suggestion would be the same as Lesley's. The local APQS dealer, when she was just setting up her business rented out machine time at $15 an hour AFTER you took her $125 familiarization training. It sounded like a good deal to me.

She does not have her APQS dealership anymore, though so no chance of picking her brain.

I used to let 5 or 6 friends use my machine once upon a time. There were some mishaps that cost me time, $ and a trip to the repair shop, though. Now I only allow a good friend to use my machine every once in a while.

Please let the forum know how this works out for you.

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I took a class last month from a local shop on a Gammill Classic Plus. The shop only charged 75 dollars for a full day class with 4 quilters on two machines. I thought that was great. I just wanted a class on a stitch regulated machine. Now I can rent her machine for 15 an hour. I thought it was a great opportunity. I am in the process of wondering do I really need to upgrade to a stitch regulated machine. I do like my Ultimate 2. I'm only quilting my own stuff right now. The class idea is very important. You must plan out what is important for people to know. I think you also muct be a real master of knowing your machines to keep them happy with different opperators.

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I'll weigh in this topic from the user's perspective. I lease time on a Millie and am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity. The studio owner has three level of classes available prior to leasing. Upon completion, the leasing rate is structured according to your level of expertise, amount of leased time, etc.

It has afforded me the opportunity to learn from a professional, have some serious hand holding and make up my mind about entering the business. The studio owner has income from classes and leasing and still has time for own use.

We view it as a win-win situation.

Deborah Jett McVay

New Jersey

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Julia, I would definately require everone to use zippers. That's what Sue in WI does, so quilters can do the pinning at home, and if they don't finish, they can just unzip and come back next week. It saves them rental time, and saves you from watching them quilt through supper bacause it took them longer than they thought it would. Just a thought............

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Hi Julia...

Since I've done exactly what you asking about, I thought I should respond.

A year ago last November, I purchased my second Millennium, leased 2000 square feet of space and opened the Country Quilt Studio in Central Iowa. The sole purpose of doing this was to teach and rent my longarms. I also do custom quilting for my customers, but teaching and renting was not a possibility before I leased the space.

I learned a great deal from Sue Schmieden at the Quilting Connection in Wisconsin. She has the pefect set up for classes and workshops. Don't know where you're located, but you're always welcome to stop by my Studio at any time and I'd answer any questions I could.

All the students and subsequent renters I've had this last year have always been very respectful of my rules. I would never dream of leaving a novice to the machine in my absence.

If you love teaching as much as I do, this is a great way to extend your earning potential on the longarm. My beginning class requires 6-8 hours of intense training and NO ONE touches the longarm until they've completed this class. Some require more than others of my time and assistance when they rent the machine. Everyone is required to purchase renter set zippers. Although I've not had anyone not complete their quilt in one renter session yet, it is possible to return at a later date to finish a quilt if needed.

I have so enjoyed my longarm students. One of the things I have always missed being self employed and working out of my home was the interaction with other people. What more wonderful group of people can you interact with than quilters? And 2000 square feet of space is awesome.

Good luck to you. E-mail me if you like. I'll help as much as I can and will be more than happy to share my experiences with you.


Country Quilt Studio

975 W. Lincoln Hiway, Suite B

Nevada, IA 50201



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