Although long-arm quilting machines are super cool and amazing, they require a large investment of money and space. So before you buy a long-arm machine out of excitement, you need to think about whether you actually need one.
Imagine you bought one of those big quilting machines (long-arm machine) with a whole lot of money and you have no idea what to do with it because you only make quilts occasionally and your quilting projects are simple enough to be done with a regular machine. If that’s the case, the machine will just stand in a corner of your room taking up a lot of space. It would be a big waste of money too.
Longarm Quilting Machine: is it right for you to buy one?
Only you know if a longarm machine is right for you or not. Not everyone needs a longarm quilting machine. I know longarm machines are cool and awesome but it’s only right for you to buy a longarm when you need one. For example, you are a serious quilter who quilts regularly or you have a store where you sell or make quilts for others for a living. If that’s the case, a longarm machine may be the right choice for you. Otherwise, I would say it’s better not to purchase a longarm machine.
Many considerations go into buying a longarm. If you have kids, family, work, etc, you won’t get enough time to make quilts and the big machine will just be standing like trash for which you spent a great deal of money. So it’s for you to think whether you need a long-arm machine and if it’s right for you to invest in one. If you think you need one, buy it! If you don’t need one and are buying it to satisfy your fantasy, don’t waste your money.
Real Life Example;
I have been quilting since I was a teen. During my years of quilting, I’ve seen quilters who bought a longarm out of fascination by seeing such machines in ads, and magazines or being told about the cool features it has. There were also people who quilted for fun as a hobby and made quilts on holidays because they didn’t have enough time to do so frequently as they had a family, job, or kids, yet they bought longarm quilting machines just to fulfill their fantasy or to look like a professional quilter. Guess what happened to them? Most of them just used the machine only a couple of times and never had the time to devote to it since they didn’t have more than a few hours each week due to their jobs and family. Sadly, the longarm machine got buried under tons of fabric with half-finished projects, and they never had a chance to turn it on, much less try it out.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Longarm Quilting Machine
Buying a longarm is a big investment. Therefore, it is necessary to take some factors into consideration before making a purchase without thinking rationally. Here are the things you need to consider before buying a longarm quilting machine:
You should consider your quilting project before buying a longarm machine. For example, the size of your quilts. Do you make large quilts? Smaller quilts such as throw sizes are fairly easy to complete on any domestic machine. However, a longarm quilting machine is more suitable for finishing double, queen, or king-size quilts. Also, consider whether or not you quilt for pleasure or for business. If you quilt for business, a longarm would be worth the investment.
The Number of Quilts You Make
If you only make a couple of quilts each year, sewing them on your standard machine is more reasonable since you won’t get your money’s worth from a long arm. On the other hand, if you quilt frequently, i.e. at least once or twice a month or more, a longarm might really save you a lot of money.
Passion and Skills
The amount of skill you have and how passionate you are about free motion quilting will also play a role in your decision to purchase a longarm machine. Consider whether you know how to use a longarm before buying one. Having no experience with long machines is also okay if you have the passion and skills on your regular sewing machine since you can apply those to your work on a long arm machine as well. Besides, having a passion for free motion quilting will also make it more suitable for you to own a longarm quilting machine.
Do you want to become a quilting artist or display your quilts at a quilt show? If so, it may be worth buying a longarm. Owning a longarm machine is probably a good investment if you are aiming for something specific. The same applies if you want to run a business because you will have to make a lot of quilts, which makes a longarm necessary.
Longarm machines take up a lot of space since they require a foot frame that is at least 10-12 inches wide. If you make large quilts, you will need at least a 12-inch foot frame. Since you’ll probably need to access the sides and back of the machine as well as the front, you can expect this machine to consume a large space in your house. If you don’t have that much space, you shouldn’t consider buying a longarm.
Longarm machines are quite expensive. If you want to buy a longarm quilting machine, you can expect to pay between $5000 and $40000. That’s a huge sum to ignore. If you can afford to spend that much on your hobby, a longarm sewing machine is for you. However, if you are a serious quilter and you really love quilting but don’t have the money to invest in a longarm, it is completely fine to take out a loan to buy the machine of your dream.
A few other things to consider:
There are a few other things to consider as well. For instance, can you stand for a long time? Working with a longarm machine may require you to stand for hours. Besides, your arms may also get tired of being in the same position for long periods of time. In that case, adding a hydraulic lift system to a standing longarm may help by adjusting the machine’s height. The sit-down version of a longarm machine may be an alternative to a standing machine. Additionally, you can buy a computerized longarm machine if you can afford one, which will handle the rest of the process after you set it up and press start, so you won’t need to stand in front of it.
Routine cleaning is also necessary for a longarm. Don’t worry, it only takes a few minutes to clean up the machine but you should take care of it regularly. Besides, each time you use the machine, you must clean and oil it to keep it in good condition. Skipping cleaning and oiling regularly can negatively affect the machine, so only buy a longarm if you are willing to take care of it.
What if You Still Want to Buy: How to Prepare Yourself for a Longarm
Develop Your Skills
If you really want to buy a long a longarm, then develop your skills first. Without skills or experience, it would be pointless to own a longarm. Just because you feel confident about your abilities, it would be reckless to purchase a longarm. Buying something like this is a big deal, so you should think twice before making a decision. Otherwise, after the setup crew leaves or you put your screwdriver away, you will likely turn on the machine only to become overwhelmed or confused since you have no idea how to use it.
Invest time in it
No one can be a professional quilter instantly just by owning a longarm, it takes time to learn. The learning phase of a longarm is steep. So unless you have quilting skills on a regular machine and enough time to dedicate to quilting, a huge machine will not be of any help. Invest more time in quilting, so when the time comes to buy a longarm, you’ll be ready to take the big step and make the most of it.
Find Enough Space
Since you can’t make your house any bigger, you should relocate the furniture in your current house or sell a few if you don’t need them. This can free up enough space for a longarm machine. If that doesn’t work you should move to a new house. Talk with your family before putting a sign out in the yard, of course. Kidding! It won’t be necessary unless you plan to start a business.
As I said, longarm machines are expensive. So, you need to save money if you truly want to buy one. Analyze your household expenses and see if there’s a way to gradually save up money over time for a longarm machine. Use coupons, have a garage sale, sell unnecessary items, and avoid spending a lot on holidays and vacations to get that cool machine.
Set a Goal
If you are thinking of buying a longarm, you should probably set a goal. It’s not logical to buy a longarm just to use it rarely. It’s a lot of money you’re spending, shouldn’t you make the most of it? If you consider yourself a serious quilter and are passionate about quilting, focus more on it. Start a business or make quilts for others. This could be a good opportunity for you to become a quilting artist and your quilts may also get featured in a quilt show later in the future. Is there anything more rewarding for a quilter than this?
In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether you need a longarm quilting machine. However, keep in mind that having a long arm does not prove anything. It doesn’t matter whether you’re quilting on a $300 quilting machine or a $30,000 longarm machine. If you are quilting as a hobby, a regular machine is more than enough.
You should only buy a longarm if you have the need for it. Do you have the skills and make many quilts? The purchase is right for you. Additionally, if you want to run a business or quilt for others, a longarm quilting machine is surely a great investment. I hope you got the point by now.