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Thread: Gammill Owners - Questions and Thoughts

  1. #1
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Gammill Owners - Questions and Thoughts

    I have a quilting pal who is a Gammill owner (bought hers about 10 years ago) - also a rep - who was kind enough to invite me to her home last evening to share with me her setup and talk to me all about her Gammill. I have a few questions for you Gammill owners and really would love to have some honest feedback (while I'm not standing in front of the machine and under it's spell!)


    - Did you purchase your Gammill with the intentions of opening a long arm business?

    - If you have other long armers in your area and given the economy, do you think it's unrealistic to purchase a machine like this hoping to quilt enough quilts to make the monthly payments?

    - How soon after purchasing did you feel comfortable charging others for your quilting?

    - How do you feel about Gammill versus other setups, namely the Handiquilter, APQS, or A1 machines?

    - I'm interested in the Vision 22, what kind of monthly payments am I looking at if I finance something like that, and what does that mean in terms of how many quilts am I going to need to quilt to make that payment?

    I am really conflicted as to if I'd like to purchase one of these and open a business. I would definitely like to do some quilting for others but I'm just not sure if I could drum up the business or not to pay for a new machine. We have several long armers who literally live just up the road from me and have really great reputations and solid foundations in our local quilting community. When I started looking at these I didn't know what I wanted to do with my quilting but the more I think about it - long arming seems like something I'd really love and could get good at. But I don't want to regret jumping into something too quickly.
    Last edited by pumpkinpatchquilter; 12-10-2012 at 05:26 AM.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  2. #2
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    I have a Gammill, love it and bought it used, which is what I'd recommend for you. You will pay alot less, and that will resolve alot of your worries about monthly payments. I believe Gammill only finances new machines, so you'd have to make financial arrangements on your own. I know some buyers got home equity loans in the past, not sure if that's an available option now, what with today's economy and how banks are loaning right now. You can call Gammill and ask them about their financing program. ALso, when looking at used machines, get the serial number and Gammill can tell you the manufacture date.
    As far as other machines go, I can't tell you anything about the Handiquilter, but I didn't care for the APQS machines because the ones I tried/saw always stitched a few more stitches after stitching was "stopped". I tried an A-1 machine this past spring at a quilt show because it has a good reputation and I know many quilters consider that machine and the Gammill to be the two best machines out there, and I liked it alot. I found it to be very smooth running and very quiet, a machine I think I'd like.

  3. #3
    Junior Member homebody323's Avatar
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    I've had a Gammill Classic since '96. It's a real work horse. My only problems with it are tension, tension, tension. I struggle with it if I change threads. I looked at APQS when I bought mine, was at a show, saw that they weren't interested in answering questions from people who already had them- just potential buyers. That turned me OFF big time. That could have been a singular event. I was told by an onlooker that it was the owners mother that made the statement, don't know if that was true.
    I have long since paid for my machine but didn't do it with the money earned from the machine, because I didn't want the pressure. I bought because we had an "at Home" business and I thought I could use it if my husband got hurt and needed care. It is a "bear" to move so plan carefully. There are many longarmers nearby and we each have our special niche. It took me 4 months of heavy practice before I was confindent enough to charge.
    Sally Dolin
    Rock Island, IL

  4. #4
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Thank you I really appreciate your insight!

    I live in a small town and I have some time to research before I buy but the reality is, where I'm located, I doubt I'll get to test drive too many machines before purchasing so I'm relying heavily on the feedback of others and my own research. I really liked the solid feel of the Gammill and it has really lured me away from some of the machines I had been looking at previously.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    I bought my Gammill Vision 18/8 about a year and a half ago. I purchased it from savings so I did not have to finance it. I did buy it with the intent to quilt for others. I previously had a mid-arm from Wow without a stitch regulator and had gotten okay at overall quilting. I did quilt for a few friends at that time per their insistence but was very nervous about it. I took a 2 day class that came with my Gammill purchase and I would highly recommend that. I am slowly building up my business thanks to the afore-mentioned friends. Showing my quilting at guild Show & Tells has brought me more business. I do not want to get too busy, but would like extra money for my quilting hobby and retreats. I have found that at this point, it is either feast or famine. I will have too much work for several months in a row and then nothing for a couple of months. There are a lot of good longarmers in my area, but most are just doing it for extra money not their livelihood so there does seem enough work for all. Gammill has tremendous support. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I think what you really need to ask yourself is do you want to open ANY type of home-based business? I would talk to an accountant who specializes in small businesses to see what the ramifications are. How comfortable are you with debt in general? Your friend/rep should be able to give you a ballpark idea of the monthly payments. on a new machine. You can then determine if you can still make the payments during your learning curve, or in slow months.
    Sounds like there's lots of quilting going on in your area. I would contact the other Long Arm quilters and your rep and see if someone would rent you time on their machine (after Christmas of course!). I'd try to see if I could do an entire small quilt. This should give you an idea of how long your learning curve will be.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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    I wouldn't buy something that had the pressure of having to sell my work to pay for it. Especially quilting. I can't stand pressure.LOL I never could. I quilt when I want to and have the time. If I Had to, it wouldn't be fun. What if you can't make the payments? Would you have the help to make them?

  8. #8
    Junior Member OCQuilts's Avatar
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    We have been renting Gammill's for 6 years in our shop. We have been selling them for 2 years. We have 5 machines to rent. We quilt for others and have sold many machines....as far as I can see there is still a demand for long arm quilters. I think the demand is still growing. Styles of quilting may be the change that some quilters may have to make to keep busy.
    One of the country's largest yet unknown quilt shops! http://www.oldecityquilts.com

  9. #9
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I had an additional thought. if you notice, a lot of the regular posters who have LA businesses on this board are not giving their opinions here, or actually posting on any threads. It's not because they don't care I'm guessing it's probably because they are sooooo busy getting gift quilts out the door they don't have time for anything else. Is this something you want to add to an already busy time of the year?
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  10. #10
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Those are true and valid thoughts!! Thank you all so much for your insight, I truly am listening (er, reading) all of your thoughts and taking them to heart.

    About running a business from home - this is a biggie. To be honest, I'm in the middle on it. That's part of why I'm asking here. If I finance something, then without a doubt that means I'm going to be going into a full blown business. Where as, if I buy something used and have no loan, then I can move things at my own pace, but I will likely have to settle for what I can find rather than what I want. We have worked really hard to be smart with our money and if I buy something new - more expensive than my car - this will be the riskiest purchase I have ever made.

    Can we afford the payments? Yes, but we don't want to. We paid off both of our cars so if there's a month that I can't make the payment from business then we can swing it, but it will be a strain, like having car payments again. Ideally I'd like to not have to take from our regular budget if I can swing it, but I am realistic that things rarely go as planned.

    Also, with the business, I may be ready and willing to have a home based business, but I'm not sure if my family is. This is something to ponder.
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  11. #11
    Junior Member Xtgirl's Avatar
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    I bought my innova with the intentions of starting a business immediately. I think that it will take some time before you feel comfortable doing customer quilts and that is based solely on how much time you will have to practice. I bought mine with a computer system thinking I could start right away. And while it didn't take me too long to put out quality work..it would have if I was doing hand guided work. I started accepting customers 6 months after receiving my equipment. I'm making payments but not relying on my business to make the payments and that has worked for me. I'd probably be scrambling and putting a lot more effort into finding customers if I needed that income to pay for the equipment it but I'm active duty military with a 2 year old so I still work full time too. Doing charity quilts is a great way to get some experience without quite as much stress...good luck!
    The Potomac Quilter
    Innova 26 with Lightning Stitch and Autopilot

  12. #12
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xtgirl View Post
    I bought my innova with the intentions of starting a business immediately. I think that it will take some time before you feel comfortable doing customer quilts and that is based solely on how much time you will have to practice. I bought mine with a computer system thinking I could start right away. And while it didn't take me too long to put out quality work..it would have if I was doing hand guided work. I started accepting customers 6 months after receiving my equipment. I'm making payments but not relying on my business to make the payments and that has worked for me. I'd probably be scrambling and putting a lot more effort into finding customers if I needed that income to pay for the equipment it but I'm active duty military with a 2 year old so I still work full time too. Doing charity quilts is a great way to get some experience without quite as much stress...good luck!
    This is such great feedback, thank you!
    Valerie Smith - pumpkinpatchquilter
    Obsessed Quilter and APQS Long Arm Machine Quilter
    www.pumpkinpatchquilter.com

  13. #13
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I started with a table top frame (B-line) and a Juki machine. No one in my area had the same set up, so I was on my own. About 2 years later, I upgraded from the Juki to a Handiquilter16. Mine was a sit down model..I modified the carriage on the frame to hold the HQ16. That machine was a work horse. I found a Gammill used, local to me. My husband agreed it was time for me to jump up. I sold the other set up to a friend and she is still using it heavily. I am not sorry I started with a smaller set up. I learned alot - its a process for me. Some people can jump right in. That was not the case for me. I do have customers, but I dont' have to quilt for others to pay for my frame. I have a Gammill Classic Plus (the + is the stitch regulator). I doubt if I will ever upgrade to a computer assisted machine..... I like guiding the machine myself and am getting comfortable with free motion , SID and light custom designs. I think I may be ready to quilt more for others as my youngest just started driving. I will be free-ER to set up a routine to get more quilting done. Maybe one of the long armers who are close to you would be willing to share about their workload/opportunities in the area/etc. Some will not be willing, but in my area, they are very helpful. I guess it boils down to what will work for you. For me it was worth working up to my current set up. I would have been unhappy to spend all that money, only to find out that I didn't like it or was awful at it. Let us know how it works out!
    Beth in AZ
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    Innova 22' with Lightning Stitch and Pantovision
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

  14. #14
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    I have a Gammill Premier Plus, and I love it. It's on a 12-foot frame and has served my needs well.Bought it new about three years ago, and to be honest with you, I have been sorely tempted to upgrade to at least the Classic, possibly with the Statler Stitcher. I bought mine new, from a dealer in Snellville, GA and have not regretted the purchase for a minute. And I am sure if I carry out my temptation for the Classic, this will be the same dealer I will use again. And they will take trade-ins...oh, and I paid cash for my system so payments were not an issue. Just as a side note; we have a Babylock dealer here, and I almost bought one from them until it came to the setup in my home details...they wouldn't! I told them I was a widow and didn't have anyone who could help me...and it didn't make any difference to them...so apparently, my purchase didn't either. I felt like, if they had that attitude about a $10,000 cash sale...it would be a lot worse if I needed help with a ten dollar part. So...no way! The GA dealer I bought from is wonderful...anything I need help with, I just call and my help is there!
    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even if you get a smaller system or a gently-used one,I would recommend Gammill both in terms of quality and support. Good luck, let us know what you do!
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  15. #15
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    My experience with Gammill support has been great, too. The dealer closest to me is about an hour and a half drive away, but if I have a problem, Doug will coach me through it on the phone to take care of the problem myself. He really knows what he's doing, and is a really great guy. I also took a Gammill Maintenance class from him once, and highly recommend that to you if it is available.

  16. #16
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    You mentioned in another thread that your budget is rather limited. I didn't even realize you could get a used Gammill for just 3-4000. I've used a Gammill several times, but the one I rented time on was one of the top of the line 30,000ish models. I liked it, but not as well as others that were much, much less expensive.

    The dealer from whom I rented time had problems several times with the tension. Once I had to stitch down some loops in the back that we didn't notice until it was too late to go back and another time she only charged me for supplies (batting and thread) rather than the quilting time because I had loops in multiple places on the back. It worked out okay for me because that one was just a scrappy for around the house. She actually rescheduled another time I was supposed to use the long arm because she was waiting on a part to fix the tension. I think tension sounds like one of the biggest problems with multiple brands of machines though so that might be normal.

    If this one is in your budget and is in good condition, you're probably getting a really good deal. I hope it works out for you! I understand your worry about spending so much money. I'm struggling with the same thing. It really is a lot of money, but Gammill certainly has a good reputation.

  17. #17
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    I love Gammills but more the older one than the new ones. That being said I would never pay the price of a Gammill. there are too many less expensive machines that are just as good and IMHO one or two are better. You will have to decide if you can make a go of the business in your area. How many quilters are already there and what do they charge per inch? It took me 3 months before I started quilting for money and about a year and a half before I started to have a good following. There are only 2 other quilters that are competitors and we are all friends. If you think you would love it than find a way to quilt. It does not have to cost what a Gammill costs! Try a Nolting I love love love mine. I bought it for about half the price of the Gammill.

  18. #18
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    I bought my Gammill Premier Plus with me only in mind...I was paying a fortune to have my quilts quilted. So I decided to buy a smaller machine. My husband thinks I need to do others quilts however, I still have 27 more of my own to go an I don't want to do anyone elses...LOL. Actually I am a tad afraid to work on someone elses quilt. I think I am confident enough as I haven't messed up on anything of mine. However this year I plan to do at least 1 to 3 other quilts monthly with pantographs for others as I have owned my machine now for 5 or 6 year and it is time...LOL. I'm not looking to make a fortune off these people, just enough to supplement my thread and batting.

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    Hi,
    I have a room above my garage I would like to move my longarm in to. Does anyone know if I can put it in a room that will freeze?? Will this hurt the machine?? How about the minimum temp?? It's a great room, I would like to not have to heat it all the time. Thanks

  20. #20
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    Just a comment from a quilter who considered a long arm.
    1. make sure you enjoy the process and have no physical impediment to doing a lot of work on the machine. A good friend tried for a year to do stand up work and her back could not stand it. She now has a sit down machine and is in heaven.
    2. source your accessories and additional items like batting, backing and thread. There will probably be inventory. Decide ahead of time what batting and backing you will work with and how much work/time you will do with and without pay to resolve customer issues. You will be surprised what they will expect of you. Inventory takes room.
    3. understand the business and sales tax items applicable to your state.
    4. please be honest with customers about your ability. I appreciated one long arm quilter who was upfront on what she was comfortable doing. Note: I do not yet do feathers etc.
    5. Consider doing as many charity tops as you can to learn how to use the machine and resolve issues before you start doing for money.
    6. Have a written contract ahead of time and make sure all costs are explained with a written document that you can hand to a customer before doing any work. So many problems are due to misunderstandings. Know how to explain to a customer that you cannot do her quilt for the .......reasons.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by vittumhill View Post
    Hi,
    I have a room above my garage I would like to move my longarm in to. Does anyone know if I can put it in a room that will freeze?? Will this hurt the machine?? How about the minimum temp?? It's a great room, I would like to not have to heat it all the time. Thanks
    You really need to talk to a dealer but one here was very specific about heating AND cooling due to oil and electronics in the machine.

  22. #22
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    I used to rent a Gammill, and I loved it. The cost was based on the hours you used the machine. Most quilts that I did cost about $40.00. I loved it, but all I was able to do were pantos. Sadly the shop went out of business and she sold her longarm machines. It was fun, but doing it for others would be too much like work, and if I wanted a job, I would still be working not retired. I think quilting for others would be difficult, many "customers" are very picky when money is involved, although quilters are probably the best to work for. Good luck with your endeavor. The shop owner told me that her machines were hard to get serviced, but I found out that there are no dealers in Michigan, so maybe that was the problem. Good luck with your endeavor.
    Sue

  23. #23
    Senior Member Michellesews's Avatar
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    I've been longarm quilting since 2006 for the public. I purchased my A1 then but am now looking very seriously at a Gammill. I've enjoyed the a1 but feel I'm ready to move up to the Statler Stitcher. My work is as described earlier...feast and famine. I'm always happy when a customer quilt comes in and even happier when it goes out...lol. I'm retired and home all the time so I can do the work when I please, in my PJs if I wish. I love my "job" but you cannot count on constant income. Also, once you purchase your machine it is difficult should you decide to sell it. They aren't easy to move and they do require quite a bit of space. Best of luck to you in your decision!
    Michelle Guadarrama

  24. #24
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    I read the first post, realized it was 2012....and recognized the name/pic......I think you have jumped in and are now longarming.....am I correct...are you happy with your decision? It's a tough one to make.....

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