Welcome to Day 17 of How to Earn $ From Sewing and Quilting! This week we are talking about Quilting for Others, and today we are looking at what kind of sewing machine you need to quilt for others.
The first step to quilting for others is of course to have a good sewing machine. What kind of sewing machine is a “good” one, is always the the challenge! There are sooo many out there, all promising to be better than the others.
When I was in Holland I dropped in on a sewing machine shop…. they were selling all sorts of brands, but no Berninas… I said to the shopkeeper – “No Berninas?!” And he was like, no… these are much better!
Shock, horror! Fancy saying that to a Bernina lover! How rude!
But of course we are all used to our own machines, whichever brand they are… and the same goes with the machines we use to finish quilts for others.
Using a Domestic Sewing Machine to Quilt for Others
You may think that you need a special mid-arm or long- arm machine to quilt for others. This is not the case.
Remember Evelyn? When she started quilting for others, she did them all on her trusty Bernina 440 (which I bought from her last year and called Nina!):
This machine is awesome for quilting. Some machines, even those of the same brand, just quilt better than others. I have four Bernina’s and this one and Baby B (240) work best for free motion quilting.
You can get an extension table for some of these machines which makes it even easier to quilt larger projects.
The main thing you need to look at in a domestic sewing machine, if you are planning to use it mainly for quilting, is the throat size – ie the distance between the needle and the main body of the machine on the right. This is where it is hardest to squish the quilt through! The bigger the throat the better.
Using a Long Arm Sewing Machine to Quilt for Others
I started quilting for others when I had the opportunity to buy a second hand Gammill. Nora was upgrading to a computerized one, and a bigger frame. So I was able to buy her old one….
And that is Emmie G, before she was mine 🙂
As soon as I brought her home, my customers were asking me when I would start finishing their quilts! I was like… but I need to learn how to first!! A few of them said – practice on mine!!! Oh my, they had more faith in me than I had in myself! (Mind you, my quilting skills were much better by then than in the pics from yesterday’s post! I was even teaching free motion quilting…!)
For me it was an easy transition into quilting for others. I had the shop and taught classes. Ladies bought fabric, took my classes, and then wanted me to finish their quilts.
A Domestic Sewing Machine vs A Long Arm Sewing Machine
Since I have a long arm and a domestic sewing machine I can assure you that having a long arm is much easier! Now that I am in Arabia and my Emmie G is still back in Australia, I am missing her soooo much! I mean just the sandwiching alone…. having to go back to pinning on the floor or a table – seriously! How spoiled am I!
There are always pros and cons however…
The Pros of a Longarm vs Domestic
- They are made for heavy duty quilting and will most likely last you a lifetime
- Sandwiching a quilt – no more crawling around on the floor, you do it all on the longarm
- It is just so much easier to quilt a large quilt, no scrunching up of the quilt and getting sore shoulders!
- If your longarm is computerized there are sooo many designs to choose from and it is much quicker
- Even if your longarm is not computerized, the ease of moving the machine head to and fro is much easier than moving a large quilt under a domestic
How the Pros relate to me:
I just love Emmie G. There are so many pros that I would never consider getting rid of her. I would love to upgrade her to being computerized, but the cost for me would be too much at this stage of life. I would have to take out a loan and feel the pressure of having to quilt for others to pay it off. Maybe if I inherit some money or win the lottery…. haha! Neither is likely in the near future!!
The Cons of a Longarm vs Domestic
- The starting cost is high, especially with a computerized one.
- The size! You will need a large room just to have your longarm set up.
- The pressure – you may need to take in customers just to pay off your longarm. If this was your goal, then that’s fine. If you really wanted it for yourself and your own quilts, it may make you feel pressured to earn money from it.
- There is still a learning curve with a longarm – don’t think it will magically turn you into a great quilter! In fact I am still better at free motion quilting on my domestic than my longarm.
How the cons relate to me:
When I bought my Gammill, Nora sold it to me for a very low price… because she loves me 🙂 I paid the same amount for it as some would pay for a domestic sewing machine. So I did not have the pressure to feel I HAD to quilt for others. It was a bonus that I did…. but the pressure was not there.
The main issue I have with my lovely Emmie G is that she does indeed take up so much space…. whenever we have moved and been house hunting, the main question was – is there space for Emmie G?! Even now she is set up in the kids’ garage… thankfully they don’t have cars yet! In some houses she has had a bedroom to herself, in others one of the boys had to share with her (hahaha! I have such good kids!) and in yet another she was in the lounge room 🙂 (Priorities, right?!)
In the next few days I have three quilters to feature… the first one is tomorrow and she uses what is still called a domestic sewing machine… come back tomorrow for Quilting for Others – Featuring Fiona from Bubz Rugz!
PS Please remember I am answering your comments in the comment section below and not via email like I usually do. Sorry for the hassle, but I am hoping this month we can share ideas!
PPS The main page of this series is here along with links to each post for this series.
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