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Thread: Should I invest in a long arm?

  1. #26
    Super Member quiltmom04's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Be sure you really want to start a business. It's hard work, hard on your back, and one of my friends who does this has not completed one of her own projects in several years. My guess is if you want to finish your own quilts and are trying to justify the expense by saying you can start a business - you aren't committed enough.

  2. #27
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Southeast Georgia
    I was all set to buy one, and then decided that I'd better practice FMQ on the machine I have now, a Janome 10001. It's not as easy as it looks. I finally finished a baby quilt that looks pretty good, but before I spend that much money, I'm going to get really good at it!!!

  3. #28
    Member petersdk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
    I purchased my Tin Lizzie 18LS long arm four years ago and have never, ever regretted that decision. I made the payments but never considered taking in others quilts. Nor would I ever allow someone else to use my machine. It's too expensive and like someone stated before, it's your cost if someone breaks it. Besides...that MY baby :-D
    I equally love piecing AND long arming but working full time doesn't give me nearly enough time for either but retirement is only a couple years away.
    I started out with a mid arm machine but quickly became frustrated with the small "play" space. So i fortunately sold that for what I purchased it for and got my 18LS. There are a lot of great machines out there and you'll find so much support here and on the blogs for the different brands.
    If you feel you need to do customer quilts perhaps you could limit it to doing pantos. they go pretty quickly and then you'd have more time to practice on your own.
    Good luck on your decision.
    Quilting is what grounds me. Better than therapy!

  4. #29
    Super Member margecam52's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Littlefield, TX, USA
    I would look long and hard at getting a longarm machine since you will have to finance it. When you see longarm quilter's out there making 400.00 for a full size quilt..that's not the norm. The pros can do it, a person new to the process needs about 6 months to just get used to the machine and learn to do a good job. There is more to using a longarm machine than what you do on a home machine.

    Join a Babylock Crown Jewel yahoo group, or several longarm groups. See what others are doing, how it's working for them.
    I can tell you now...there will be tension issues...it's normal, these are not home machines...the tension can change every quilt, every thread. Fun? Yep, once you get past the learning, it can be a lot of fun!
    I have a TL18LS with Qbot attached & love it.
    Another thing with joining a yahoo group for the Babylock Jewel...you can see if there are any for sale on there. Could save you a lot of money.
    Starting a business is not hard, but depends on your area...there are licenses in some states, and other fees. You need insurance. Do you have a dealer near you where you can rent a machine for awhile...to see if it's what you want to do? I get a quilt or two a month (don't really advertise at all)...sometimes more, sometimes none. If you can't afford the payment without quilting for others...I'd rethink the purchase for now. But, if your area has a lot of quilters & you know they can't find a longarm quilter...you may be ok. Is there a local guild? Join it and see what you can find on other quilter's.

    Quote Originally Posted by kcferrel View Post
    I am seeking feedback and thoughts on purchasing a longarm. I am considering the Babylock Crown Jewel and frame. I attended HMQS last week and have made an offer.
    My arguments for: I have the interest and passion for Fmq and I have the room in my house. I am fairly new to quilting, around 2 years. I have taken many hours of workshops in quilting the quilt and i am getting competent.
    How difficult is it to start a longarm quilting business?
    I am afraid that if I start taking in outside work I may burn out and be left with a large investment.
    I have been looking for a used long arm but honestly, this set up new cost less than most of the used machines I have found. Thoughts? Ideas? Gotchas?
    i would need to take in quilting to offset the cost of the machine, or I could rent time to other quilters?
    thank you, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience in this form.
    Marge Campbell
    TL18LS/Qbot V3 automated quilter

  5. #30
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Jozefow, Poland
    I recently went to see my first long arm "in person". The lady told me (in GA) that when she got her LA that she thought she could get customers. However, she told me that in her area, there seem to be many others, so she hasn't had much business.

    So, if you really need the customers in order to pay for the machine, make sure you do your homework. Otherwise, just keep saving til you don't and enjoy your machine for yourself and your gifts.

  6. #31
    Super Member ILoveToQuilt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    New Hampshire & Maine
    I agree with justflyingin. Research your market carefully. The area I live in has so many "professional" LA quilters the market is saturated and anyone starting up a new LA business would be hard pressed to get clients. Some of the gals have been in business for so many years they have the local market all tied up. I know of one woman who used to rent machine time in her studio, but I think this may have been more of a class on LA techniques while using her machine. That business didn't last long, so now she is just another one of the local LA "professionals" competing for the same customers that the other LA gals are competing for.

    If you can afford the LA machine, go for it. I wouldn't buy a LA machine if it would put me in debt. You will probably not be able to recoup your money over the short-term as there is definitely a learning curve in starting up any business. Please consider the following: How long can you afford a loan payment without money coming in from your "business" to help repay it? Will buying the machine impact any other aspect of your life and create a hardship? Making money in any business is not guaranteed, especially with the economy the way it is now. I know up here, many people do not have the "discretionary" funds (money to spend on things other than essentials) to spend on hobbies, etc. Basically, what I am trying to say is you can't "go to the bank" (or repay your loan/business expenses) with monies you haven't earned yet...and not to be a spoilsport, but it might be a while (if ever) before you start making money. Most new businesses fail in the first 5 years - at least in this area (northeast), not that I am saying that your business will fail, it's just one of the realities of start-ups. You also must consider the tax implications if you are going to start a business. Also, consider your city/town zoning laws. Does your neighborhood allow "in home" businesses? If you are filing taxes on the business, the city or town usually knows that you are running a business from your home, so you can't "hide" it. Since it will be in your home, what will happen to your home owners insurance? Rates may change and usually not for the better - premiums go up and you may have to buy more coverage. One woman I know sells soap and hand-made craft items from her home and must carry $1 million dollars in coverage just in case someone gets hurt while on her property. (Consider the person who is dropping off or picking up a quilt who slips and falls on your property. Can you afford this?)

    If you want to buy the machine strictly for your own pleasure and you can afford to do so...GO FOR IT! I say lucky you. I am not an MBA, lawyer, insurance or tax expert...I just play one on television...LOL...so the above is just my opinion.

    Good luck with your decision and keep us posted.
    Last edited by ILoveToQuilt; 05-18-2012 at 04:19 PM.

    The only place that housework comes before quilting is in the dictionary.

  7. #32
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Boston, MA area
    Quote Originally Posted by themachinelady View Post
    I don't have a longarm system, but hope to when I get the room. The house we own now does not provide me enough space for one. That having been said, hasn't kept me from looking at what is available out there. How many different longarms have you tried? I have tried a bunch and thought I knew which one I wanted and then tried an Innova at our State Fair this past year and my mind has been changed completely. You can move them with one finger they are so easy to manuever.
    Me too!! I went to the MQX show in Providence and tried them all. Once I tried the Innova, I knew it would be mine some day. My only hesitation at this time is when to pull the trigger! It is soooo nice.

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