Hi Guest, Welcome to the quilting forums, register now —or—

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
  1. #1
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Michigan Center, Michigan
    Posts
    3,608
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    Hi,
    My DH John and I spent a lazy afternoon online ( me looking at quilts and whatnot and John, who knows ? ) .....The subject turned to purchasing a long arm quilter, and learning to use the quilter to quilt for others.
    So, my question is do those of you who have Long Arm machines quilt for others ?
    2. What kind of a learning curve is there (to learning how to operate one of the long arm machines )

    3.If there is other information that you think I need to know, please advise..

    4.Also is there a certain brand of machine that is better than the other? ( or is it just what you get used to ? )

    5. Anything else that you might like to share, I would appreciate it.

    Smiles,
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Garfield .jpg 
Views:	25 
Size:	6.1 KB 
ID:	143574

    Jacqueline ( Sugar ) Dorer-Russell
    http:\\www.sugarssmilinpapercrafts.BlogSpot.com


    "I miss the me I was when you were here"

  2. Thanks Annababy thanked for this post
  3. #2
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Spring, TX
    Posts
    3,243
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I have a Tin Lizzie ESP 18". I purchased this machine because it has a great stitch regulator and it's what I could afford or some would say the max I was willing to pay for a hobby. When I bought it I thought maybe I could use it as a business later on when I retired, but over the 2.5 years I've had it, I realize that I don't enjoy quilting for others very much. I've only done a handful. I'll do it when a close friend asks usually.
    There is a level of stress that goes along with someone else's creations. Will they be happy? What if I mess up? etc. etc. So for the most part, I purchased it for my toy. I like creating a quilt from start to finish.
    Some will swear by the brands of the machines they have. I have used various brands in several classes that I've taken at quilt shows and longarm retreats, and yes I do like some better than others, but I think it's more important for you to try out several and decide which you like best. Is there a learning curve, absolutely. The most important thing is lots of practice. There are lots of online learning, both free and pay for training. There may be actual classes in your area or you may be required to travel for more advanced training.
    I definitely recommend Linda V Taylor's "The Ultimate Guide to Longarm Machine Quilting". She has many tips on using the machine as well as starting a business, insurance, etc. I have other friends who do it as a business, who have on a rare occasion had to give someone their money back because they were unhappy with the quilting. (not that it was bad, they just didn't like it). If you do it, be sure to develop a detail intake sheet to keep all details regarding each top. Be true to yourself and your client of when you could have it finished by.
    I would definitely recommend taking a training class before purchasing. Maybe you could find a place where you can take a certification class and rent time on a machine to do a few quilts and see how you like it. I have quilted many charity quilts to get more practice in. Good luck with your decision.

  4. #3
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    8,251
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I have a table model LA -- the Baby Lock Tiara II, which has a 16" harp. There are more pics of it in my sewing room album. I have no plans to quilt for other people. At my age, I'm not interested in having a business. I already had been doing FMQ on my DSM for 3 yrs. , so I did not pay extra for a stitch regulator. I was not interested in a stand-up frame LA nor do I have the room for one. I want to be able to sit down. I've been very satisfied with my machine. It was a floor model which I bought when it was discounted to make room for the Tiara III. Probably my biggest learning curve was adjusting the tension in the bobbin & on the top so my stitches looked right. I think it was $ well spent. Paying a LAer anywhere from $150. to $200./quilt adds up in a hurry. Go to a shop & try out the machine you're interested in. Is there local repair & service? Do a product review. Check YouTube for tutorials. I know there's one on the Tiara. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Tiara II - Sept. 2015 002.jpg 
Views:	31 
Size:	80.7 KB 
ID:	143578

  5. Thanks SLK, SuzanneOrleansOntario thanked for this post
  6. #4
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Missouri, but not close enough to MSQC!
    Posts
    20,293
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I have had my long arm machine for about 5 years. I have a Pfaff Grandquilter 18.8, which is a Tin Lizzie clone. I upgraded the control system 2 years ago to a Perfect Stitch system, which greatly enhanced the performance of the machine. This machine is on the lower end of the pricing spectrum for longarms, but was at a price point that I felt comfortable with for a hobby machine.

    I thought this might be a stepping stone to quilting for others as a business. Even with a lot of experience under my belt, I still don't feel comfortable quilting for others. Seems like my FiFi gets cantankerous at times, and this seems to happen when I am quilting someone else's quilt!

    One thing that affects the price of a longarm is whether you want to use the machine as a hand guided machine, basically FMQing with you providing the control of pattern and design, or do you want a robot on the machine where a computer controls the designs. I opted to NOT have a robot on mine because I like designing and controlling my designs myself. There is a learning curve to using a robot, as well as a price jump. I recently looked at a Baby Lock Crown Jewel III and the robot jumped the price of the machine up $10,000.

    You asked about brands. Seems that Gammill is the gold star brand that is at the top of the brand name contest ( This is what Missouri Star has 16 of! ). other brands are Baby Lock, APQS, A-1, Innova, HandiQuilter, Bernina. Best go to a large quilt show to try a variety of machines before deciding which is for you.

    I think a long arm quilter needs to be a bit fearless when it comes to troubleshooting and maintaining your machine. You will need to be bold in adjusting tensions both top and bottom. Some machines are picky about thread. My FiFi only likes So Fine! When I try to use other brands, I have a lot of thread breaks and tension issues.

    My whole philosophy on buying a longarm is this -- get one that you feel comfortable with as a hobby machine. Do not think of it in terms of " Paying for itself". you quilt for enjoyment, you use your machines to enhance your enjoyment. I usuallt throw back to someone who questions me about my giant machine is like this--some people have expensive hobbies, like wood working shops, or big fishing boats, these cost more than my longarm! So if you want a longarm, and have the space for it and funds to purchase it, go ahead and take the plunge. Enjoy your hobby. I know I get a lot f enjoyment from my longarm machine and am glad I purchased it!
    Last edited by Jean Sewing Machine; June 5th, 2017 at 04:56 AM.

  7. Thanks quiltingaway thanked for this post
  8. #5
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,208
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    A little history: Yes, I do have a long arm. She is an ancient Homesteader that I put a robot on because she didn't have a stitch regulator. I can FMQ on her, but I mostly depend on the robot which I have found to be incredible. I mostly do edge to edge and enjoy it for myself! I have been approached to do quilting for others and flatly, but nicely, said no. I don't want to be responsible for perhaps damaging someone else's hard work and investment.

    One individual (who is an incredible long-time quilter and business owner) and I had a great discussion on quilting for others recently. Not only do you have to have a machine which you enjoy, understand and maintain, but you are also faced with quilts that might come in to you very wonky, edges unraveling, poor quality fabrics and "you" are expected to fix/repair their mistakes or "just quilt them out" (like inches which automatically go away so the top is squared...really?). Of course you would have the option of refusing the job, but that's a whole other story of how it would impact your business and yet not "insult" a potential customer!

    I wish you lots of luck in your potential venture and choice of machines!
    “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ― John Muir
    “We can be many things in this life, choose to be kind!” ― author unknown

  9. Thanks SuzanneOrleansOntario thanked for this post
  10. #6
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    West Viriginia
    Posts
    3,993
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I think there are several learning curves involved. Of course the actual techniques of quilting is one. Getting use to your particular machine is another and even within brands there is a learning curve for your individual machine within the brands. Less talked about is the learning curve of dealing with customers and also how to tailor your business to your own needs. The latter can take years and can fluctuate within fads. Ive always had a business on the side since I was about 28 years old. The most successful was the weaving/spinning/dying business which was a total sheep to shawl business and involved both retail and wholesale and required finding angles that made sure it was a 4 season business. I also did quite well with a candle business I had when the children were young.

    When I purchased my Blockrockit it was mainly because I knew I needed to quilt all those things I love to piece (and I prefer the piecing process) I knew I could not afford to send things out and I do not like hand quilting nor could I get the feel for the sit down FMQ techniques. So the main reason for the purchase was so I could occasionally sell some of my quilts and get a higher profit margin and still be able to quilt for myself. My initial outlay was $4500 which I had set aside from a sale of property. I'm on social security (minimal) and retired so I knew I didn't want a full fledge business but hopefully I could figure out a way to make an additional $300 a month on the side. I'm more inclined now to think in my area which does have it's business flaws for a variety of reasons that slowly starting a service where others can use/rent time on my machine would be the way to go if I want the machine to "pay for itself" (not that I really care that it does).

    At my age and with the business experiences and knowledge I have from the past, at this point, I prefer to keep only the creative aspects of a business. I really, really don't need stress or drama. So far the few custom customers I have had are happy with me having total control over the creative design. So far they're happy, I'm happy and stress free and only have the joys you get from feeling the hobby aspects. No I'm not hitting my dollar goals but it's slowly getting there. (Hope I'm not dead before that happens!)

    Women are Angels.
    When someone
    break's our wings
    we will continue to
    fly...usually on a
    broomstick.
    We're flexible like that.
    - embroitique

  11. Thanks SuzanneOrleansOntario thanked for this post
  12. #7
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4,903
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I'm nervous about quilting for others. They usually have to twist my arm to do it. So far everyone that I have quilted for has let me choose whether to do a panto (edge to edge) or custom and I choose the designs and thread. I doubt that I have made enough money in the last couple of years to make one monthly payment on my machine. My DH reminded me that he has two motorcycles and neither one of them generates money - just the opposite and one of them cost more than my longarm. In addition to my own quilting I do a lot of charity quilting. One lady told me that you should quilt 30 charity quilts before quilting for profit.

    As stated above, you can't be afraid to clean/oil/play with tension. One thing that does aggravate me is no warning on low bobbin thread like the sewing machines have. I just try to keep track of how many times I roll the quilt per bobbin. The more dense you quilt the more thread you use. Lots of variables.

    Please try to do more than meander quilting - lots of videos out there on youtube. Plus, if you subscribe to QNNtv you get to watch the Longarm Quilting Show hosted by Jodie Davis.

    I highly recommend purchasing a dry erase board and practicing designs on it. Doodling helps with muscle memory. If you can't doodle the design you won't be able to quilt the design.

    Figure out your price range before you start shopping. One of my considerations was that the store I bought from is only 2 miles from my house and they have a great reputation for customer service. I bought a Babylock Crown Jewell II. Very similar to the HandiQuilter (They are not owned by the same people - they just use the same manufacturing plants to make the machines) and the cost a little more but I'm glad I figured in customer service when I bought it.

    And the computer does just about doubles the price of the machine. I did not buy the computer - I'm like Jean - I want to quilt my own designs. I use a lot of Lori Kennedy's designs: http://theinboxjaunt.com/quilt/free-...ing-tutorials/ They are very easy to do on a longarm also.
    Vonnie

  13. Thanks SuzanneOrleansOntario, Carlie Wolf thanked for this post
  14. #8
    The Guild President

    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    783
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    I am currently in the process of purchasing a long arm, so maybe my perspective would be helpful.

    I plan to quilt for others because basically spending the money that could buy a car for a long arm machine is an insane extravegance if I only plan on using it for myself.

    Like any sewing machine, figure out which machines interest you, and go and test drive. There are less machines available in Canada, but I have test driven the following: HandiQuilter, Innova, Gammill, Bernina and APQS. I even finished two quilts on a HandiQuilter machine which was how they got eliminated from the mix. My decision is to purchase Bernina, which will be happening currently.

    I researched the long arm quilters in my area, and while there are some, there are not a lot. Do I think it's going to be easy attracting customers, nope. I know I'm going to have work hard at this, at both getting my quilting skills up there and advertising.

    You can also buy a fully computerized long arm which works like an embroidery machine. You set up the quilt on the frame, set up the pattern on the computer and press go. While this is attractive, it also adds a LOT more money to the purchase price. I figure if I get that good at this and I have paid back DH the loan to purchase the machine, I may go there. Will have to see.

  15. #9
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4,903
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyndaj View Post
    My decision is to purchase Bernina, which will be happening currently.
    I just noticed in your signature line that it's a 24 inch! How long will your frame be? Mine is a 10' because that is all the space that I have and my machine is an 18". You will love all that throat space. What a lot of people don't realize is that roll up bar takes up space. Even tho I have an 18" throat, I can only comfortably quilt a 12" block. Less if I have a ruler base loaded on. But that also depends on the frame. My ruler base butts up against the roll bar for the backing fabric which takes away a couple of inches of quilting area.

    Do you have a quilt guild near by? That is one way to get started. You could do a lot of charity work for them and they will get to see your quilting and want you to quilt their personal quilts. Also, some fabric stores will let you put up a business card. I'm not confident in my quilting skills to go pro. It seems that every time I or my machine messes up, it's on someone elses quilt.

    Congratulations on your new machine.
    Vonnie

  16. #10
    Missouri Star

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    4,903
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Questions about Long Arm Quiliting Machines / Owning One

    Forgot to mention. A friend of mine has an old APQS and she said that she never has problems with tension.
    Vonnie

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •