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Thread: Long armers, do you think there are enough customers...

  1. #1
    Junior Member acesgame's Avatar
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    Most of the pictures I have seen are of heavily quilted complicated patterns. I love them and aspire to be that good. My question is do you think there are enough people who just want their tops quilted with a nice even all over pattern or simple patterns well placed?
    I don't want to go into this in debt for the machine and then not be able to support my habit. I have saved about half of what I want to spend and I am not good at waiting but the joy will go out if I feel slave to the payment.
    Thanks in advance.
    Stacey

  2. #2
    bj
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    Super Member bj's Avatar
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    I'm not a longarmer, but you might could check with your LQS or JoAnn's to see how many inquiries they get about longarm services in your area and how many longarmers are already in business there. I found the friend who does my quilts through my guild, but I'd gotten a couple of cards from the LQS. The lady at JoAnn's told me they keep a file of folks who drop off cards there as well.

  3. #3
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    I am having a hard time getting a start in this business even though I was told that all the shops have a 6 month - 1 year wait list. The competition is fierce and my experience so far is that those that have lots of customers are very reluctant to refer anyone to another quilter for fear of losing the business.

    I am in a small guild and there are three Long Arm Quilters already, before me. I asked for some feedback on one of my quilts and not one of them would offer any..

    Also, more people are quilting on their domestic machines than ever before. And the home quilting setups are very popular right now also.

    I am not trying to discourage you, but you need to be realistic. It will take a while to build up enough clients to keep you busy. However, I believe that once you get the clients, you will be turning away work too.

  4. #4
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    And yet, I have a friend that does ONLY the easy meandering designs and he is so busy he can't see straight!!!

  5. #5
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    If you only charge.015cents a sq. in. for ameander you will have more bussiness than you can handle. But you can work yourself to death. You need to charge a substantial amount to pay you for set-up[ it takes approx. 30 to 45 min. to set up a queen size quilt.] Also you have your patterns you've bought. I checked prices on the internet and just came up with prices that I thought people in my area would pay. So far I have my customers coming back. If I have heavy custom quilting I charge from 3 to 5 cents a sq. in. Loose to tight meandering .02 to .028cents. STD is custom work. You need to charge for your work because those large quilts wear you out on a home machine. Most people don't want to give out their prices but you have to start somewhere. There are thousands of quilters and piecers. Not everyone wants to quilt

  6. #6
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    Honestly, I don't think anyone should go into debt speculatively, unless they can afford the payments without getting any work. You seriously need to do the market research for the are before going into business. Realistically, how do you know you'll get good enough at it to get enough customers to make the payments? How stiff is the competition. There times are economically challenging for everyone, and honestly quilting is a hobby. I'm certain the number of people able to afford long-arm services has declined as the economy has tumbled. It's probably best to save up the money for the machine without going into debt.
    I bought a crown jewel for my own personal use but I can see it's not going to be nearly as quick or as easy to become accomplished as I had thought. Some take to it much faster than others, but there is a LONG learning curve before you will be qualified to take in quilts for others.

  7. #7
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Stacey, I think most people would only be able to afford an all over pattern. Anything fancier, and the cost would be too high for those just wanting a few tops done.

    But as others have said, do your research so your heart isn't broken. For example, when I buy a long arm it will be for me. If I get a few customers down the road, great. But, I'm not going to purposefully get into a "business". Then it's not a hobby, but work. I don't want to ruin quilting for me and get burned out.

  8. #8
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    Working from home and doing something you love AND getting paid for it--that's a dream come true. But there is a reality to it. DH lost his job 2 yrs ago and started a consulting business from home. Thank God the work is there. But-there's always a but--you have to be prepared for down times. He may work on a job for 6 months and not get paid until the end of the project. Can you do this? The regular bills come in on schedule but the paychecks don't. It really takes discipline and financial planning. If this isn't going to be your only source of income and you can still pay what bills you must on time. then go for it. Don't count on future, steady, continuous income. We don't--it's more like feast or famine: too much work for a few months, now none. Don't forget, after the Christmas rush of people getting their quilts done, there will be a drop off of business. Can you survive that?

    I really hope if this is something you want to do that you do it!! Just thought I'd point out some pitfalls of a home-based, owner-operated business. There's lots to think about. Good luck!!

  9. #9
    Super Member luvTooQuilt's Avatar
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    Everything said here sounds so very true.. I would like a Long arm but for my own personal use. So until then I take them to be quilted but there are soooo many quilters out here that one can be very picky.. their work is awesome and their prices are super cheap as they are struggling to find business.

  10. #10
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace
    Stacey, I think most people would only be able to afford an all over pattern. Anything fancier, and the cost would be too high for those just wanting a few tops done.
    (snippage happened)
    One of the busiest longarmers I know does not do any all over patterns at all. She says they're ugly and boring. She's not cheap but she's always booked for a solid year out.

    I think claiming "most people" for anything is generalizing.

    If you're good enough the business will be there. It takes major practice and it takes going to classes and learning new techniques once in a while to get good enough to charge more.

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