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Thread: Starting a Machine Quilting Business

  1. #1
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    Starting a Machine Quilting Business

    My husbandandIare thinking about Starting a small machine quilting business. Can recommend any good bsites, books, or classes? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    If you want to improve your LAQ, the craftsy classes online are great. You could also see if a member of a local guild will mentor you.

  3. #3
    Super Member knlsmith's Avatar
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    The first thing, do you have a longarm and do you have experience using it, and using it well? They are not the same as a DSM by any means. Unless you are planning to use a DSM, same questions: can you quilt well with it? Do you have cash reserves for time (6 months ) to build a client base? Do you have room (square footage) to devote to client quilts? Not to overwhelm you, but these are basics IMHO you need to strongly consider first and foremost. MQX will be in Kansas City in May, I believe, and there are oodles of classes to take, but they may already be filled. Is there a market for another quilter in your area?

    Also, and this is also very important, do you have passion and heart for quilting?

    This is just a teenie tiny list of things to consider. I'm sure others will also respond.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knlsmith View Post
    The first thing, do you have a longarm and do you have experience using it, and using it well? They are not the same as a DSM by any means. Unless you are planning to use a DSM, same questions: can you quilt well with it? Do you have cash reserves for time (6 months ) to build a client base? Do you have room (square footage) to devote to client quilts? Not to overwhelm you, but these are basics IMHO you need to strongly consider first and foremost. MQX will be in Kansas City in May, I believe, and there are oodles of classes to take, but they may already be filled. Is there a market for another quilter in your area?

    Also, and this is also very important, do you have passion and heart for quilting?

    This is just a teenie tiny list of things to consider. I'm sure others will also respond.
    Agree and can/are you willing to put aside any/all plans to do this?
    When life gives you scraps, make a quilt.

  5. #5
    Super Member sweetpea's Avatar
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    I;m with knlsmith and love-2-quilt: frist and formost make sure that you will have a client base in your area!!!
    is this something you will enjoy done and not get burned out.
    you should all so know that you may have client that will have you do a quilt for them and when it time to pay they don't have the money. have been holding one for 9 mouths . I have the time and money in it but not comeing back in to the busines to many of these and it not gone to work out to well. So you many think about some money up front.
    Scrapy quilts have more love in them.

  6. #6
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    First of all, are you a quilter? Have you pieced your own tops?

    If you have never pieced a quilt top, I have to be honest and say I would not bring my tops to you to quilt.

    There have been several very disappointed quilters here lately, posting about the disasters they had on their hands because the person who had quilted their top was someone who had simply started a quilting business with no experience and no creative vision.

  7. #7
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Write a business plan. Even if you don't use it to seek financing, it's the only way to examine all the aspects of starting any kind of business before you actually start the business. There are tons of websites on the subject, but the SBA is a good place to start.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  8. #8
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    Too many people sink money into these long arms and then think that they will quilt for other people to help pay fot it. Hence the problems we have heard about here.

    Do you have samples worked up? Do you enjoy trying new quilting patterns? Are you experienced at loading quilts and knowing how to fix problems?

    Have you investigated the finance aspects and tax situation if you are serious about a real business?

    If you are really serious and have thought this through, I hope you are wildly successful in your new business.

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    Thank you all for your responses. They are all very good and valid points that I have considered. However, I am looking for resources, specifically to the long arm quilting business; books, classes, articles, etc. I guess you can say I am doing my "homework" in order to get started and started well.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kaelynangelfoot's Avatar
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    I don't know about long arm quilting because I've never tried it but I really like Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. I do my FMQ on my little sewing machine (although not very well yet)

    http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com

    I was/am also considering starting my own sewing/quilting business and I picked up this book from Amazon. It deals with apparel production but has a lot of things that need to be considered such as location, hours, pricing, that are applicable to any sewing business.

    Sew To Success
    : How to make money in your home sewing business by Kathleen Spike

    Hope that helps.

  11. #11
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    I have a small at home quilting business, I am a stay at home mom and needed a little extra $...I fell in love with making baby quilts while expecting our daughter...quilting seemed to be one of those "at home businesses" that can actually work, its actually something you do, and if there is a demand in your area go for it. I did however work on my own quilts and designs and make quilts for friends and family for a year to practice free motion and patterns before I actually got my 1st customer who just wanted quilting done on her quilt. I have a business management degree as well. I wish you the best, as far as books and articles, I never bought any of those, I was self taught and had a very creative mind haha and it just kind of took off. Best of luck! Oh and I do not have a long arm, I have a Janome 1600P(mid arm) on a 10' Grace pinnacle frame. I learned all about it on youtube..and I also took a class on it to make sure I was doing everything right.
    LIVE ~ LAUGH ~ LOVE

  12. #12
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    Do you have a local quilt shop that hires out their quilting machine after lessons? If so go do that to get a feel for how you like it. Next go to some of the big Quilt Shows that have long arm machine demos and trials. Once you get over the sticker shock you can re-evaluate your options.

  13. #13
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    I own a Nolting 24" PRO on a 12ft table. I only quilt for myself. BUT I suggest you join these 2 popular longarm forums and ask those questions.

    http://mqresource.com/forum/ all makes of machines
    http://forum.apqs.com/ mostly apqs machines but others join too

    Most of those on these 2 forums are in business and have been for sometime. You will need to 'join' in order to view/post.

    There are many of forums for long/short arm machines on Yahoo also, here's 2.
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nolting_longarm_quilters/
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MQSG/


    Good Luck

  14. #14
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    Forgot to add .... your bread'n'butter will come from doing Pantographs ... big money makers. Custom quilt takes a long time and in order to make money on custom you'll need a fairy high price per inch.

    This young lady is self taught and one fabulous quilter
    http://greenfairyquilts.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rmgoode View Post
    Thank you all for your responses. They are all very good and valid points that I have considered. However, I am looking for resources, specifically to the long arm quilting business; books, classes, articles, etc. I guess you can say I am doing my "homework" in order to get started and started well.
    If you remember that it's a business first and a longarm business second, that would be a good start. If you're just looking to make a few extra bucks in your spare time, that's not a business, it's a hobby-for-hire.

    Talk to the folks at SCORE and the SBA, make actual contact with people who are successful in business, any business to start with, your focus on longarming businesses can come a bit later. There are a ton of resources for entrepeneurs available if you're serious about it, but the best is always face-to-face interaction with qualified, professional advisors, not books, articles, and message boards.
    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

  16. #16
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    Besides everything listed above check out Linda Taylor, professional machine quilter and teacher, on the web. She has a book about starting a quilting business. Then there is a magazine - Professional Machine Quilting that has a lot of information about starting a business and keeping it running. MQS is put on by IMQA which also publishes a magazine for the machine quilter. Go to IMQS.org and check out their classes. MQS has moved from Overland Park, Ks to Wichita, Ks and will be held May 15 through May 18, 2013. MQS has classes on everything from starting a business to making an award winning quilt

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    All the studying and research aside, you have not mentioned whether you have made quilt tops, quilted on a machine, hired a long arm quilter to quilt for you.

  18. #18
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    Contact your state university extension services. I know our UW has many resources available pertaining to starting a business.

  19. #19
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I think Craftsy has a class on starting a business from home. One thing to remember all it takes is one unhappy customer to cause a lot of lost business, especially if the customer belongs to a guild or quilt group. My town has seen two LAs go under in the last year due to poor quality quilting. Knots on the back, skipped stitches, poor quality batting, cheap quilting thread, pucker and pleats and the worst, the bubble of fabric in the quilting . The quilt when taken in to show at guild from a new LA is picked over with a fine tooth comb. Be ready to have your work judged.
    Got fabric?

  20. #20
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're doing your homework. From Bobbilinks: "check out Linda Taylor, professional machine quilter and teacher, on the web". I had a book and I think this might be the author. It was very good with what to expect, how to price, advertising, forms, etc. The best advise I found was to determine how much time and investment you plan to make, I think this is part of a business plan. If you enjoy quilting as a hobby, this step will make it a business.

    Think about your skills and appitude. If you determine this is what you want....Go For It. You'll meet some great people.

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