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Long Armers: no time to quilt their own quilts...

Long Armers: no time to quilt their own quilts...

Old 12-24-2013, 07:10 PM
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Question Long Armers: no time to quilt their own quilts...

Do you think that the long armers who do not have time to quilt their own quilts because they are too busy working--quilting others quilts, would fare well by raising their prices. i.e. quilting less, but for more $ ? How does one find the "break-even point" to maximize revenue? Do you think that quilting is an expensive hobby for piecers, but the professional person quilting it can "only make so much." What professions do you think do make comparable money? Are long- armers in the same arena as manicurists? ...massage therapists?...hair stylists?... Think about it: if your clients get manicures, do they pay the long armer more or less than the nail tech for her/his time? If clients get massages, do they pay the long armer more or less than the massage therapist for her/his time? Just curious what everyone thinks!!!
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:32 PM
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I can tell you without a doubt that it takes the longarmer a lot more time than the customers realize to complete even a simply quilted quilt. Most of the time I have at least two hours into the quilt with loading it onto the frame, basting down the sides, setting up the pantograph for the first pass, practicing that pantograph without stitches, etc. etc., before I ever make the first quilting stitch. And I use leadergrips, so no endless pinning is involved here.
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:48 PM
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Angela Walters from Quiltingismytherapy has started another web site that deals with the business side of long arm quilting. It is interesting reading.
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:04 PM
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Ditto that JustAbit ... I just finished my first long-arm quilted quilt today and I was amazed at how little actual quilting time there was to the total amount of time spent on it. Loading it (and I have zipper leaders AND I floated the top and batting - so loading was the fastest method possible), and the constant adjustments of the take up roller (NOW I know the value of a dead bar!), and just rolling the quilt (no automatic advance here). I still need to remove the zippers from the backing.

Let's see ... I think I spent a total of 5 hours (I'm guessing at the amount of time it will take to remove the zippers). I did a large lap size (50 X 80) and I did an all-over pattern of loops and leaves (free-hand). Easy and quick stuff. Bear in mind, this was my first quilt ... it will probably take at most 2/3 the time once I get a rhythm down.

I pay $15 for a haircut (my stylist is CHEAP) which takes 30 minutes. If I use 5 hours it would come out to $150.00 to quilt this quilt. If I use a more reasonable 3 hours for my quilt (2/3 the time) it would equate to $90 which is about the max I would pay for this size quilt with this type of quilting.

I get a simple "all-over" hair cut for about the same amount of money to do a simple all-over quilt.

If I were to get color and highlights ... I would pay more. Accordingly I would pay more for custom quilting.

I want to end by saying that I have no plans to quilt for $$.

Last edited by DogHouseMom; 12-24-2013 at 08:07 PM.
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:18 PM
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I float my quilts, too, but I pin them. At first it seemed like it took forever to pin, but now it goes fairly quickly. I use side leaders and pin them, too.

Nonetheless, the entire process takes so long that I would never quilt for money.
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:51 PM
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It is hard to compare to the jobs you listed. A longarmer needs to come up with designs, deal with machine and tension issues and all of those things can disrupt a profit. I think being a stylist or masseuse does compare in the physical stress issues of standing for hours.

I know that simple designs and pantos are usually where a profit can be made because custom quilting is so time consuming.

If something goes awry then you can't complete the work in a timely manner. Things that have happened to me: tension issues or design not looking as good as I envisioned and having to rip out stitches, a pulled muscle making it difficult to stand at the machine, etc.
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Old 12-24-2013, 09:55 PM
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I think that it's a pretty broad spectrum: some longarmers make a good hourly wage, and others not so much. Part of the difference is due to skill, but there are also regional differences, and then there's marketing, which can make a huge difference. Some longarmers are also not very good business people, and could probably make more money if they paid attention to longarming as a business. Some just look at it as an extra income that they can then spend on their hobby. Some quilters are willing to pay for good quilting by a professional, and others won't, or can't. I took a short course at MQX West about longarming as a business and the instructor assured us that you could make money at it, but you would not get rich. She mentioned the hourly rate on which she based her charges, and it indicated that she was very well paid. But she was also very efficient in her quilting, so she wound up spending less time on a quilt than others might, while still producing the same result. As far as a longarmer not being able to quilt her own quilts - well, that's a matter of prioritizing and scheduling.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:10 PM
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I think if long arming is your business, then you would have to do your own quilts at time off from work, just like anyone else who has a full time job. Business hours are for making money.

And I don't think you can compare the salary of longarm quilters to massage therapists or manicurist or hair dressers. Manicurists and hair dressers have to spend time and money getting certified by the state. In NY state, massage therapists spent 16 months or so, full time, to get their state license, and the tuition generally runs about 20k. A long armer needs a machine - no paid education or license. Many longarmers I know do it to help pay for their machine. Which is fine, and it does take skill and lots of time, but it is hard to compare to the examples you gave.

I think a better comparison might be to the cost of a painting, or work by another artist. We don't value artists in our culture and always want to pay the least we can for anything artistic. So as an artist, a longarmer might make more or less than other ones depending on perceived value.
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Old 12-25-2013, 05:12 AM
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I agree with Nancy Lee! quilting should be compared to other artistic venues- not service industries- it is creative/artistic. there are many artists out there who do not make a living- but then there are plenty who do- it all depends on how you choose to do it- make a business of it- or keep it a hobby that may help pay to support your hobby. I long arm a lot of quilts for customers- but I also quilt my own quilts- my business has business hours- that work for me, on my own time I work on my own things. my mother is a commercial artist (painter, portraits, ect) who managed to keep 5 kids clothed & kids through our lives- she also managed to give wonderfully artistic/creative gifts to loved ones, make costumes, dance/prom dresses, suits, wedding dresses for all of us as needs arrived- she has always been good at 'budgeting' her time- so I guess I had a good role model. I do not take in a 'backlog' of customer quilts- if I have one loaded and another comes in- then I get a call for another one I let that person know- I have these 2 to finish up- should be ___________this amount of time, so, if you want to bring me yours on __________this date I can get it done for you. ... only maybe once or twice a year I may have someone requesting a rush job I can not meet- when that is the case I always share contacts with her to help her find someone who can meet her deadline- I do not get 'bogged down' or over run- I make a fairly good profit- bottom line; support my 'habit', manage to pay for long weekends, little get aways, extras- and save. I don't worry about comparing what I do with my hair dresser- they are 2 totally different worlds.
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Old 12-25-2013, 05:58 AM
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Pricing for longarmers in my area is competitive. I cannot charge too much or they will just go down the road to the next longarmer. Fortunately, I only longarm for my extra quilting and retreat money. I would be hard pressed to make a living at it. As far as my own quilts, I do them during slow periods or I schedule them in after every 3rd quilt. The custom quilting, although fun, is very time consuming and I couldn't charge for my time because it would be unaffordable for most. I feel like I'm slow anyway so charging for my actual time wouldn't be fair to the customer. I charge per square inch based on what the customer wants. I will only take in 4 quilts a month (and only 1 custom) because I want to give my customers a two week turn around. If I keep a quilt too long, it stresses me. Yes, I think quilting is an expensive hobby for the piecer and not that lucrative for the longarmer.
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