Considerations for a Longarm purchase

As I prepared to retire in 2010, I decided to go ahead and buy a Longarm quilting machine and I pretty much just plunged right in.  I tried a few, selected one and bought it.  It was delivered to my house a couple of months later and much to my surprise I didn't immediately jump on it and start quilting like a pro.  Nearly three years later, I am very happy with my machine but boy, that was kind of a numbskull way to go about it.  I decided to come up with a list of considerations for a Longarm purchase I wish I had had before I bought my Gammill.

  1. How wide do you want it?
  2. How much can you spend?
  3. Where will this machine go?
  4. Is the dealership less than an hour away for lessons and maintenance?
  5. Do you plan to use it to make money and is that realistic?
  6. Are you planning on sitting or standing while using it?
  7. Will you ever need to move it in the room?
  8. Will you ever want to change the height?
  9. How comfortable are you using big, really big, pieces of machinery?
  10. Is completing each phase of the quilting process important to you?
  11. Are you prepared to spend years becoming competent?
  12. How comfortable are you stretching your arms out and stitching and how far is it comfortable?
  13. Do you know other longarm quilters who you can visit or get advice from?
  14. Are you prepared for your friends to think you are slightly crazy?

My longarm, dear Gladys the Gammill.  longre

Here's what I figured out were my answers to these questions.

  1. I wanted to be able to do King sized quilts so I got mine 12 feet wide.  I have never done one but by golly I am prepared.
  2. I spent a lot, think about that.  It's like buying a boat.
  3. I had a sewing loft but it took 3 men to get it up there.  Take a 12 foot two by four and see if yours will fit.
  4. This was one of my mistakes, I bought at a national show and my dealership, while I love it, is over two hours away.  I wish it was closer.
  5. NO WAY!  This was a hobby.
  6. I thought I would sit but the chair I bought didn't work out.  I stand so I had to buy an anti fatigue mat.  Think about it.
  7. Yes, so I am super glad I bought the wheels extra.
  8. This is one of my biggest regrets, I didn't get the Hydraulics so I could set it to for my sitting height and then change it to standing.
  9. I was kindof freaked out when it was actually in my house.  Be prepared to be intimidated.
  10. This was my main motivation, I wanted to do every step of my quilts.  I didn't want to piece the top and have someone else do the quilting.  I love that I do it all!
  11. No, quite frankly I wasn't prepared.  But I did and now I feel competent.  But before I felt really incompetent and wondered if I had made a huge mistake.
  12. I bought an 18 inch throat and sometimes wish I had a 24 for less frequent rolling.  But I just realized I couldn't stretch my arms that far.  I am very happy with 18 inches.
  13. I knew no one but I met one at my guild and she was fabulous.  I should have talked to more Longarm quilters ahead of time.
  14. People probably already thought I was crazy, this confirmed it.

I am now very happy with my Gammill, I feel competent but I would never want to do this for money.  I have no desire for the customer service, I want to quilt my quilts!  I would love to hear your thoughts on Longarm quilting or any questions/ideas you have.  Share them on my Facebook page.

Sew happy!

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    Kathy Mathews

    My passions are quilting and sewing. Add to that French, Spanish, books, swimming, travels, new restaurants, yoga and chocolate and you have me. All of these are best shared with family and friends. Except for chocolate, don't touch my chocolate. You can email me at QuiltingSewingCreating@gmail.com

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