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Thread: WHEN did you decide to purchase Long Arm?

  1. #1
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    There's lots of topics about what kind of machine to buy, what features to look out for and even where to buy them.

    I don't remember seeing any topics about WHEN people decided to buy a long arm machine. So here it is!

    WHEN did you decide to buy a LA?
    Like HOW LONG were you involved in making quilts before you decided you NEEDED a LA?
    Did you get tired of paying to have someone else quilt your quilts?
    Did you want to start up a business to make money at it?
    How long did it actually take to make the purchase? months? years?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i finished my daughter's HUGE dragonfly quilt and went to the lqs to find out what to do next...i knew it was way too big to do myself...i had no idea how...and i was running out of time (wedding gift)
    the lqs ladies gave me a business card and said..."call John, he will take good care of you-and your quilt."
    so i called John...and he did take good care of me, and did an absolutely fabulous job on the quilt!...when i dropped it off he told me..."I charge 2 1/2 cents per square inch" i just said...ok...not even realizing what that meant.
    when i went to pick up the quilt and was handed a $385 bill i about had a heart attack!
    i decided right then and there i had (2) choices...i could go buy my own long-arm and learn to quilt my own quilts or i could stop making quilts!
    since i didn't want to stop making quilts i went for the purchase. it took me 3 months between that 'moment' and my new long-arm arriving at my home.

  3. #3
    Spring's Avatar
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    I decided I wanted one before I learned to quilt. I have been sewing for years and always wanted to learn to quilt. Any sewing machine that is so big that it needs its own apartment is freaking AWESOME!
    Im tired of fighting the quilts with my machine and have thought many times that my husband could build me some kind of table that would turn my machine into a long arm.....lol
    I will buy one when my youngest graduates college.....she is only 6, so I will be saving for a very long time.

  4. #4
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    Hi, Decided it was time to buy a longarm when my quilts were getting bigger and my sewing machine was not. I enjoyed quilting on my machine but the big quilts were a hassel. Also, in the back of my mind I was thinking of starting a business when I retired. Also, I want to pay for the machine while I was still working. So I jumped in and have never looked back - except in awe at how I quilted on my sewing machine.

  5. #5
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    My house just isn't big enough for any kind of long arm, but the minute I saw an HQ Sweet Sixteen and had a short demo on it, I put the deposit on it the following day

    I never knew this kind of set up existed (and it didn't really, because what I tried was a prototype). I was already OK with FMQing, so not fased about still pushing a quilt under the needle, but all that space was/is delicious. I had to raid my savings, big time, but I haven't regretted it.

  6. #6
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltinghere
    WHEN did you decide to buy a LA?
    Like HOW LONG were you involved in making quilts before you decided you NEEDED a LA?
    Did you get tired of paying to have someone else quilt your quilts?
    Did you want to start up a business to make money at it?
    How long did it actually take to make the purchase? months? years?

    Thanks
    I was inspired by all the beautiful LA quilts I had seen at shows, on the internet and here on this board. Green Fairy had a very strong influence on me, but it will be years of LAing before I will be in her league, if I ever get there.

    I first started considering in early 2009. I found a not so local QS that had an HQ16 set up that they offered training and rental time but because the shop was 1 1/2 hour drive for me rental time wasn't really a viable option. I just wanted to get a feel for what it was like so I took their training class in summer 2009.

    I have been quilting since early 90's. At that point all I had done was hand quilting and only wallhangings and child size on my Bernina.

    Researched on the net and found a dealer for Innova at a local quilt show in September 2009. At that point I knew I wanted one just couldn't bring myself to make the investment. Test drove the Innova at the quilt show and was totally sold on it.

    I have only paid to have one quilt professionally LAed. Of course I chose Green Fairy to do it. Glad I got in before her waiting list got to be one year long!

    I took delivery of my Innova in July 2010. So basically I saved, researched, dwelled on it and obssessed about it for a year.

    Eventually I would like to make money at it. I am thinking a supplement to my retirement. In the mean time I do the beginners discount for people and don't make much money at all but it is enough to pay for thread and I am earning experience at the machine. I let potential customers know I am a total beginner and show them samples and they still entrust me with their quilts! That makes me feel good and I do my best. I think I will only get better with more time, more quilts and more experience.

  7. #7
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    a year or so of quilting on the DSM, I got a PC Quilter and Juki with a frame as well. Turns out that the Juki's 9" throat is not really big enough to do the quilting I wanted to do. Also, the PC Quilter is terrific, but my confidence increased and I found I wanted to do more free motion. So for a few years now, I've been dreaming of a real long arm. I've tried a few at fairs and talked to lots of folks. I've been dreaming of the purchase and have not decided on a brand. However, I recently took early retirement and money is now tight. Guess I'll be dreaming a while longer :cry:

  8. #8
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    I got my longarm five years ago. I bought a Nolting 24 2ISKN. I tried our every brand on the market at the time. and I just felt that the Nolting was best for me. It does have a stitch regulator, but I don't use it very often. My table is 12 feet long. I chose the Nolting because of its reputation for reliability and ease of use and because it is manufactured in America. I did buy it with the intention of doing customer quilts and I started doing that about a year after I bought the machine.

    I started with the original HandiQuilter frame and an old Pfaff sewing machine and outgrew that set-up in about two months. I sold that and bought the Super Quilter frame and used my old Juki on it. I outgrew that in about six months. Bless my husband's heart, he suggested that maybe I get a big long arm. In retrospect, I wish I would have had the confidence to just buy the Nolting right away instead of all the step ups. I would have saved a bunch of bucks. When I finally agreed to get the big machine, it took me about six months to really make the committment. I don't regret it a bit. I was able to quilt seven quilts last week and I enjoyed every minute of the quilting.
    I hope this anwers your questions.

  9. #9
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    in 2008 when I went to the Quilt festival in Houston, saw the awesome quilting they can do, tried a couple, dreamed about it for a year.I was working 50-70 hrs a week at the time and knew I would never have time to learn to use it, then in 2009 we had a major hurricane (IKE) that put my company out of work for several months so I figured I had plenty time to learn so I bought a 15" Bailey. I love it but wish there were a shortcut for practice!

  10. #10
    Super Member suezquilts's Avatar
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    We started quilting all together in 1994. Hand quilting/and a La or 2. I had more than 10 quilts of my own on hand before I purchase my machine. I knew I would have a business, I had the love of quilting in my blood.
    I had a Mom who pushed me and my sister with piecing quilts... she was dying and she had many quilts she wanted done in her last 18 mo. We worked all day long between treatments. My sister moved in with Mom, and they decided then, we needed a LA.
    But, we couldn't spend our Mom's money and couldn't afford it. My DS looked into the best machine and we dreamed awhile.
    Our Mom passed away and the inheritance was enough for each of us to purchase our first Gammills in 2004.

    Thankful to have it purchased for us, in a sad way.

    Then 2009, I had to make the choice, to upgrade to a Statler, computerized.

    I remember when I purchased the first machiine, I was an OUTLAW LAQ because I had a stitch regulated machine. Because I wasn't regulating the machine made me less of a LA.

    Times haven't changed, I somehow feel that many think I'm not a LA Quilter or less talented than another LAQ because I use a computer.

    Well the art will continue to change.

    I did take out an equity loan for my Statler. I'm so thankful for my Mom and Sister as they have helped me a long the way with this huge purchase.

    So maybe I should sign off.
    Outlaw LAQ

  11. #11
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    WHEN did you decide to buy a LA? after quilting for 1 year.

    Like HOW LONG were you involved in making quilts before you decided you NEEDED a LA? i knew from my first quilt that i wanted one.


    Did you get tired of paying to have someone else quilt your quilts? i've never allowed any one to do work on my quilts. i like to have control over the entire artistic process. otherwise its not a quilt made by me its a joint project.


    Did you want to start up a business to make money at it? i've always sold my art and had a business long before i had my quilting setup.


    How long did it actually take to make the purchase? months? years? within 12 months of my learning to quilt.

  12. #12
    Super Member bjeriann's Avatar
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    My DML taught me how to quilt back in the early 80's and I've been addicted since. We always hand quilted everything. In 1985 I was in a quilt shop picking up fabric and the owner was quilting on a LA and I hated it. To me she was just making a comforter. She was just running a pattern from the top to the bottom in rows. So I was not interested in that kind of quilting at all. About 5 years ago my LQS got in a LA, the lady wanted to show it to me, I told her no thanks because I didn't think that was quilting. She started showing me what she could do and I was blown away. I couldn't afford the setup they had but started quilting on my dsm and loved it. Last year I purchased a Mega Quilter with a 9" throat. It didn't take long to figure out it wasn't big enough. Great to learn on. So I've been saving like mad and will be getting a LA this fall. Can't wait.

  13. #13
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    WOW WOW WOW those are awesome stories!!!! Some sad and some happy.

    Thank you so much! $385 for a quilt - OUCH!

    I'm glad to read that some knew right from the start that they'd like to long arm quilt. I'm reading that starting on a smaller machine and stair stepping to a larger one is almost like a waste of time and money.

    I've been quilting a short time but the desire to get into long arming is almost as strong as piecing...practice, practice, practice. OBTW - room would not be an issue.

    Thanks again! Can't wait to hear more stories...

  14. #14
    Super Member btiny36's Avatar
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    I'm with Ckcowl, I had 3 quilts that had to be quilted asap...took them to be quilted, Fiance' picked them up for me and couldn't believe how much it cost...so him being who he is, did some calculations and said that I needed a longarm if I was going to continue on making quilts...Now I'm not saying that Longarm quilting isn't worth every penny they charge, because believe me now owning a longarm I see the work involved to quilting a quilt...so my hats off to all the longarm owners who do this for a living...especially when you receive a quilt that is less than perfectly square and the quilt owner wants you to make miracles......

  15. #15
    Super Member quilttiludrop's Avatar
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    I quilted on my home machine for about 5 years before we considered buying a long arm. My husband got on the agenda, and before I knew it we made the purchase! We looked at long arm sewing machines only a month or 2 before making the purchase. I had no previous experience with long arm machines.

  16. #16
    Super Member Quiltforme's Avatar
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    I have bad back I cannot sit/stand for long periods of time and decided that I needed something that would hold the weight of the quilt so i was just time to buy one. I love it and cannot wait to get my machine back from the Dr's to get back quilting!

  17. #17
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I've been quilting about a year and right now I'm on the fence. I really enjoy FMQ, but dislike wrestling all that fabric. My dealer has a floor model, so I'm trying to decide.

  18. #18
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    Thank you quilters for all your opinions and stories.

    Now I know I'm not thinking 'wrong'! :)

    I'll keep saving, keep learning and keep test driving.

    But I won't hurry ...

  19. #19
    Senior Member allie1448's Avatar
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    My husband is a quilter too and he pieced a beautiful quilt that he asked the local LA person to finish for him, it was a fabulous job of quilting but totally took away from the quilt design. All you see when you look at the quilt is the quilting and not the piecing. We both feel that the two components should complement each other. We also wanted to be able to fully complete out projects ourselves. We spent about 6 months looking around and checking out machines and finally bought one (HQ Avante) last November. We now do classes for customers to learn how to operate the machine and they can then rent time on her to complete their own projects. We will never make a fortune but we hope we are passing on skills, enthusiasm and opportunity to other quilters for a reasonable cost so that they too can fully complete their projects.

  20. #20
    Super Member happymrs's Avatar
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    I don't have a longarm, but I did have a midarm, & love it! After wrestling with quilts on my machine, I started bugging DH for a frame, & finally got one over a year ago! We have a small house & it's in the third bedroom, set up in crib size, which is perfect for me, as I haven't done & don't plan to do, many big bed quilts. I love my frame (Grace Mini Pinn) & I would tell anyone wanting a frame, check some of these out, even set up in the crib size, cause you can do big quilts in sections, then just sew them together! Quilting is so much easier on a frame!

  21. #21
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    My dh purchased my millenium for me several months ago...I am to afraid to use it..hehehhe...I have done a couple practice things on it but just not confident...I am going to MQX in April and hope to learn enough to feel like I can put a quilt on and do it...my stepson's wedding quilt is waiting to be quilted and I need it by May...after spending 20K don't want to turn around and take a quilt to the laq...heheheh..blessings

  22. #22
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    Too expensive here - it won't happen.

  23. #23
    Super Member grandjan's Avatar
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    I had been quilting for about ten years, was retired, had the space to hold a long-arm and we decided that, given that I was spending so much time and energy on my hobby, that it would be worthwhile to get the Gammill I had been drooling over. I don't quilt professionally, although I do the occasional quilt as a favor for a friend or for a charitable cause. I've never been sorry I bought it although the learning curve was lots longer than I thought it would be.

  24. #24
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    I decided to buy one about 20 years ago I just have never had the money to do it yet. :lol:

  25. #25
    Super Member soccertxi's Avatar
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    I decided the 1st time I went to a quilt show and got my hands on one! I started with a B-line frame (mine was a table top model) with a Juki and an add on stitch regulator. Pretty quickly I upgraded to an HQ16, but I JUMPED at the chance to purchase a gently used Gammill Classic Plus (the plus is the stitch regulator). I think I'm done! (upgrading..NOT QUILTING! what a silly thought!)

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