Is it the weather? Is it the economy? Did the longarm bug bite everyone at the same time? In the past two weeks, I’ve had more quilters contact me with inquiries about a longarm than in any two week period I can remember. There are so many questions and rightly so. Buying a longarm is a huge investment. Not only does it cost a whole lot of money, it takes a whole lot of room in your house and some amount of time to start producing great results. Even with a computerized machine, there’s a bit of a learning curve, especially insofar as knowing what threads to use, what designs look best in which areas of a quilt, loading, tension, etc.
The first questions for many involve how much money they can earn quilting for others. In my opinion, as much as quilting for others, is the fact that you can quilt your own tops. You can do as much quilting as you’d like without having to pay $300 to $500 or more for the quilting.
These two quilts are the quilts that I feel really got the ball rolling for me, which resulted in two books, several magazine articles, and teaching.
This quilt is the first quilt I dsigned on my own, totally came up with the quilting design and entered in shows. Bonnie Browning saw this quilt at the AQS Expo in Nashville and asked to use the border design and feather design in her book, Borders & Finishing Touches 2. That is when I was introduced to the publishers at AQS and you know where that ride has taken me.
This quilt has a ton of quilting on it and it opened a few doors for me too.
Think of how many quilts I make per year. If I were paying someone to quilt my tops, I doubt I’d make half as many quilts as I make now and I surely wouldn’t be able to donate as many as I donate.
Often when I’m doing a trunk show, it isn’t even the design of the quilt that gets the most attention, but the quilting. Then that gets a discussion going and then patterns and books are sold, and my card is taken to give to another guild to see if they want me to come and speak there. I’ll always believe that without a longarm, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, even though I’m hardly quilting for others at all now.
Yes, when considering an investment in a longarm, you need to consider whether you can earn back the money you’ve invested but you also need to consider that you can quilt your own tops, with as much or as little quilting as you desire, and that may take you much farther than the quilting you do for others. Please don’t back yourself into a corner trying to figure out how you can earn your money back within 3 years or 5 years or whatever your goal may be. Yes, you may be able to earn your investment back in 1 year, but don’t forget to look at the big picture.
There are longarms, midarms, shortarms . . something for pretty much everyone.