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Longarm recommendations?

Longarm recommendations?

Old 09-05-2020, 09:59 AM
  #1  
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Smile Longarm recommendations?

Hello,
I am a quilter and general sewist considering the creation of a home-based longarm quilting business. I have sewn since I was a child, and have quilted since the early 2000s. Right now my sewing practice is made up of garment, home dec, pet and quilting projects. So I feel that I know my way around a home machine pretty well. But I don’t really know much about longarms.
I have rented a Gammill at one of our LQS, and I did really enjoy using it so much so that I am now starting the process of researching what kind of machine setup would work best for me. I have many questions, but I will start with one in particular: computerization. Since I am interested in starting a business with this machine, how “essential” to the bottom line is it to have a computerized setup? Right now for myself I am more interested in doing free-motion work, but I can see how having a computerized machine could be very valuable in working on customer quilts. For those of you with experience, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And also, I’d like to know what brands you all are liking and why. Another huge topic.
Thanks everyone in advance. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.
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Old 09-05-2020, 10:12 AM
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I have no experience with long arming as a business, but I have met several gals who do. They love their Innova's with the computerization. One lady that I saw her setup was 3 of the Innova's. She had all three running when I visited her to pick up a friend's quilt. And had at least 30 or 40 quilts ready to load. She said she could do at least 6 a day if they weren't huge. The cost of the computerization is big, but how much is your time worth? You still have to load and roll the quilts, but it seems to save a large amount of time and the designs are extremely accurate.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:14 AM
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If you want to go into business....you want a dependable and sturdy machine. You also want to think about repairs and maintenance of the machine. You don't want to have to pull the machine off the frame and send it back to the company for repairs. I have an APQS Lucey but I do not quilt for others. However, a lot of maintenance and repairs can be done by the owner as the company offers a lot of video's and a manual. Also the techs can often help over the phone. One of my friends had a longarm which she had to send back to the factory for anything but simple fixes. When you have to do that....you are down for weeks if not months. The best longarmers in my town have APQS machines....some are used for freehand work and one is used for computerized. If you truly love freehand work, you can always start there and add the computer later. I would probably checkout and use if possible, APQS. Innova, and Gammill's. When I was trying to decide, it was between APQS and Innova. Basically, I chose APQS because they had a demo sale and I got a good price and also, I like the looks of the table better. I am glad I got the machine I did although it is one of the lower models. I do mostly freehand overall designs which are fairly quick to do and get the job done of quilting the quilt. Most fancy custom work is also done freehand and with the use of rulers. I basically like either of these two methods rather than the look of computerized quilting. Oh, and I did upgrade to "bliss" which makes it super easy to move the machine.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:55 AM
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If you go to YouTube Lorena of Lorena’s quilting has a video on the pros and cons of a longarm business. She did another on how to continue during this Covid isolation thing this year.
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Old 09-05-2020, 04:02 PM
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Automation generally adds about $10K USD to the cost of the setup. Plus it does require the user to learn to operate it. You may want to factor in the cost if you are looking at doing this to have the setup pay for itself.

Also research what services already exist in your area - you may find more longarmers than work (or vice versa).

And do some serious soul-searching as to whether you would be comfortable quilting for someone else, on their schedule.

The longarm companies love to show you how "quickly" your quilting will pay for itself, but in reality, is there that stream of unquilted tops and potential clients to make it a viable business in your location, and do you want to deal with customers?

Also understand that if you use a longarm for business, you homeowner's insurance won't cover it.

As to brands, which is better - GM, Ford, Mercedes, Tesla? Longarms are like cars - highly person-dependent as to what is good, what fits the budget, what is comfortable. And just like cars, never buy without test driving first to make sure it fits you and your needs. And by fit, check ergonomics and vibration. I cannot stand an Innova for more than a few minutes (although on paper I love the brand) because every one I have tried at a dealer translates a lot of vibration into my hands and wrists and causes pain in my joints.

Last edited by mkc; 09-05-2020 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 09-05-2020, 08:21 PM
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This is a good read. https://www.colorwaysbyvicki.com/the...-matter.html#/
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:33 AM
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Default Food for thought is right!

Peggi,
Thank you so much for sharing that link! The issues she discusses are very much in my mind as I go through this process. Having a machine that does what it is designed to do without a lot of drama is a huge part of having a positive sewing experience for me. There is such a difference between having to cajole a machine to do what you want it to do and having one that does the same things without a struggle. I will never forget the feelings of liberation (and elation) I had when I sewed on a Bernina for the first time in the Leary 2000s after mostly knowing my mothers 1970s Kenmore. For me, it felt like I no longer had to battle the machine and I could just happily sew to my heart’s content. Since then, I have had similar experiences with other makes and the feeling is always the same when you and the machine are in sync.
I will keep this and the advice others have shared in this thread as I dive deeper into this journey. I am very grateful to all who have taken the time to comment.
Sibyl
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:48 AM
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Talking Cost Recoup

Originally Posted by mkc View Post
The longarm companies love to show you how "quickly" your quilting will pay for itself, but in reality, is there that stream of unquilted tops and potential clients to make it a viable business in your location, and do you want to deal with customers?
.
My motivation in this endeavor is not to get the machine to pay for itself ASAP, but I get why the manufacturers stress that potential in their sales material because it helps people to justify the cost. For me, I want to develop the skills so that I can offer a service I can feel proud of. My interest in computerization is more so that once I really get going in businessI will still have some time to do my own thing. Right now, I am leaning toward going robotics-free for a while and then adding them on once I am ready to do so.

Thanks so much for weighing in on this. I

i will admit that I am increadsi gay looking forward to visiting our local Innova dealer.
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Old 09-06-2020, 06:06 AM
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I was fortunate enough to purchase a used LA about 3 years ago. It has the computer and I love that. The computer work is gorgeous. I have tons of sewing experience, was a home ec teacher and have had great success at quilting. But, I tell you, learning LA is a whole different thing. I thought I could pick it up easily and I do okay but I'm still not where I'd like to be. It's not the machine's fault. I need to spend more time at it, true, but I'm not good enough to do quilts for other people yet. Will I ever be good enough? I don't know.

The one thing I'd suggest to you is that you're going to need a LA dealer close enough to help answer your questions as they come up. And, they will come up. I've been in the middle of a quilt several times when I needed to call my LA dealer for help and they've been awesome to give me instructions over the phone, etc. I have a Handi Quilter machine and the techs at Handi Quilter are pretty awesome, too. My quilt guild at my summer place has a Tin Lizzie and it has never worked well since the day they bought it. And, they can't get the company to fix it, they are so unhappy. Who needs to spend that kind of money on a LA and then not be able to use it? Check on dealers close to you, that's all I'm saying.

And, good luck.

Last edited by nanna-up-north; 09-06-2020 at 06:16 AM.
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Old 09-06-2020, 10:12 AM
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Regarding starting a longarm business: What is the longarm quilting community like in your area? Do you have guilds, local quilt shops, other longarmers; how much demand is there for longarm services? Have you written a business plan, figured out what you want to make, how much you need to charge, how many quilts you need to quilt each month to hit your target gross? Are there a lot of other longarmers in your area, or are there hardly any? Do you plan on getting most of your customers locally, or are you willing to promote yourself and get customers by mail? In my area, there are a lot of longarmers who are computerized or do pantos by hand, so pricing is fairly low. On the other hand, hardly anyone here does really good custom quilting, so that can be quite lucrative. Custom is almost always hand-guided, often with ruler work. Some computerized systems can be programmed with custom stitching, but be aware that can get very time-consuming.

Please don't think that you will buy a longarm, load a quilt on it, and start quilting and making money immediately. There is a huge learning curve even with computerized systems. You.Will.Need.To.Practice. How good you get and how fast you get that good depends entirely upon you and how much effort and time you put into learning and practicing. Practice every day and take classes.

Regarding purchasing a longarm: People will tell you to go to shows and test drive them. First of all, since shows are being cancelled left and right, that's hard to do. When I was test-driving machines, I invested in classes. A good 5-hour class will take you through loading your own backing, batting, and quilt top, winding bobbins, adjusting tension, troubleshooting and solving issues, then doing some actual quilting. I had a great teacher who also brought a bunch of rulers so we were able to test out different kinds and styles. She had a sampler quilt of all different kinds of quilting patterns and techniques, and she challenged us to replicate it, then helped us when we struggled with how to. You don't get the experience of loading your own quilt, adjusting the tension, etc. on a machine setup at a show. Invest in classes.

I have a little gang, a group of about 15 local longarm quilting friends. We get together monthly and have meetings, we have day-long sew days, we have week-long retreats. When we first started meeting, a lot of our discussions centered around issues we were having. Our machines ran the gamut - A1, Gammill, APQS, Tin Lizzie, Nolting, HandiQuilter, you name it, someone in the group owned it. There were a lot of frustrations with some of these machines. Gradually over the years, the Tin Lizzie, Nolting, and A1 machines were replaced by Innovas. Right now, our membership consists of 1 HQ owner, 1 Gammill owner, and the rest of us are all Innova owners, and we are very satisfied with our machines. The conversations have moved off of "how do you handle this problem" to "check out what I did". The great thing about Innova machines is they are designed to be owner maintained, meaning you can service it yourself instead of shipping it off to a dealer for service and being down for several weeks. The 24/7 support is excellent and they will walk you through how to do anything.

Here's another article to read. https://longarmuniversity.com/Inform...ne-Choice.html
After you read that, click on "machines for sale" at the top of the page.
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