Ordering a new Millie (gulp)

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My friend is a dealer and has let me play with her Millie.  Just put in an order and am somewhat panicking. Finding room, cost, etc. Husband said okay as long as you can pay it back by quilting. So am researching starting a long arm business. There are apparently many other long arm quilters in my area.  Can you all share tips on starting that business and truly making it work? And maybe calm me down in my fear that I'm making a huge expensive mistake. 


Tucson, Az 

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Congratulations on ordering your Millie and welcome!

This thread says long arm quilting in Canada that has good information. 

You can do a search for more information. 




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Yay!! Congratulations!!! It is a little scary when you see the price of the machine, but you can do it. Edge to edge is the only way to go, you make more money. There are a lot of tutorials and posts about starting a business on the APQS site. Look around and read a few of them. Lots of great information. Under Educations tab at

Mary Beth 

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Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes


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Congrats, and welcome to the family.  There are lots of advice throughout the forum and APQS has a great sample Business Plan.   How much you can make will depend on the area and how much you want to work.  Quilt guilds and shops are a great place to "get the word out".  Please come to the forum and ask questions.  Have fun, breath it's ok, you will do fine.  We have been there!!!!

Port Huron, MI   48060
APQS Sales Rep and Educator
Millennium with Intelliquilter (IQ)

"Be a good listener, your ears will never get you in trouble" Frank Tygr

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Pam,  you're going to love it.  Promise!  :)   (if you bought the 30" Millie and decide you made a mistake, give me a shout.  I may be able to take it off your hands) ... But before you despair, give it a good try. 

Breaking into longarm quilting as a business is going to be challenging, but with perseverance and LOTS of practice, you can make a go of it.  I'm in San Diego and there are tons of longarm quilters here.  You have to develop your skills so that you can compete, not only in terms of price and turn around time, but in terms of quality for your customers.  Find what you like to do best -- pantos, meander, freehand, or custom.  I specialize in custom quilting, but will also do pantos when my customers don't want to pay for custom work. 

You may want to go to a local quilt store that does charity quilts and ask them if you can quilt some of their charity quilts for FREE.  This is a good way for you to get some practice in on your machine.  Do a dozen of the free charity quilts (or more if needed) until you get to the point where your circles are round (you'll understand this one once you start playing with freehand circles), and your lines are smooth.  After you return the free quilts, ask the store if you can leave some business cards with them.  Most quilt stores have a display rack for this purpose -- usually near the register. 

Join a quilt guild, if you have the time.  The people in the guild are usually very friendly and helpful.  Many of them will already have a longarm quilter that they are using and are loyal to, so you need to come up with some enticement for them to give you a try. ..... maybe turnaround time or price will get some to give you a chance.  I know in my area most of the longarm quilters only do pantos, so with me specializing in custom work, I get a lot of customers that way and then the word spreads.  If you have an embroidery machine, you can offer to make a free custom embroidery label for first time customers.  I do this and find that my customers really like that little extra "thank you".  Then on future orders, they order an embroidered label for their quilts.  It's a win-win.

Make a very conservative plan at first -- how many quilts will you need to do to recover the cost of the machine and how long will it take you to get and complete orders.  In the beginning, your biggest challenge is going to be finding customers.  Your order quantity will be low, but as you become known, it should pick up.  Plan on recovering the cost of your machine over several years, not just one.  For example, if you spent $25K on the machine and will charge an average of $120 per queen sized quilt, and can reasonably expect to get three customer orders per month, you can recover the cost of the machine in six years.  Of course the three quilts a month may be difficult to find in the first year, but by year three to six, you may be doing many more than three quilts per month. 

I just read back over what I've written.  I hope that you don't get discouraged by the fact that at first things may be more challenging than rewarding.  This post was meant to give you a dose of reality rather than just paint a rosy picture.   Be patient and set realistic expectations.  Once you get going, I think you really will love it.  You can always post here to get words of encouragement as well.  I have found the men and women on this forum are EXCEPTIONAL!!!  They are honest, friendly, and always helpful.  Welcome!

Wishing you much success on your new adventure! 


Lora in California -  Ultimate I with IntelliStitch and IntelliQuilter.  The Thimble Bee

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