Good Things About a Machine Quilting Business

The last few posts and comments may sound like this is an AWFUL business to be in. Trust me, it isn’t. It is actually a GREAT business and most people work from their homes, where their machines are located. As with any business, there are good parts, bad parts and the “in the middle” parts. In this post, I want to concentrate on some of the GOOD THINGS a machine quilting business can offer. It is NOT always about the $$$!

Personally, I LOVE my commute! My house is not incredibly large and my quilting machine is in the (former) family room. So my commute is from the front room to the family room/studio (about 20 – 25 feet +/-) and then from the family room/studio to the kitchen (another 20 – 25 feet +/-) then back to the front room. If I “travel” a little farther to the front part of the house (an “L” shaped rambler, all on one level) I am at my fabric storage rooms (bedrooms that were empty for only a few minutes after the  kids moved out!)

Before I became a full-time machine quilter, I drove school bus for nearly 20 years. No matter what the weather, I was “out there” driving the big (82 passenger) yellow bus all over town picking up and dropping off kids at school and doing field trips. I had a good time driving and really enjoyed my job. But now, I truly appreciate NOT having to go outside to commute to work. I can stand at the window in the winter, watch the horizontal rain and sleet and sometimes snow and “commute” to work in my slippers and robe with a cup of coffee in my hand. In the summer I will sometimes commute to my back deck and have a cup of coffee in the sunshine (or bright clouds) before starting to quilt. Did I mention that I LOVE my commute!

Now it is your turn, – leave a comment about what is the BEST thing you love about having a machine quilting business.


About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 11 and quilting forever!

10 Responses to Good Things About a Machine Quilting Business

  1. Sheri Mecom says:

    I worked in the corporate world for 25 years and I was so stressed out that both my Dr. and by gastrologist told me I needed to quit my job. I have been quilting since 1986 and always wanted to try longarm quilting, so I thought if I was going to change jobs, it had to be one I would love. I love longarm quilting! I started my business in 2005. My studio is in what used to be our master bedroom! I love being in charge of my schedule and what hours I want to work. Although I can come and go as I please, I am very self-disciplined and keep to a certain hours each week. My husband loves that I am not stressed out anymore. Although it is a low paying job compared to what I was used to earning, the other benefits make up for it. I love my customers reactions when they see their quilt! I hope I can do this for many years to come.

  2. My favorite part of having a machine quilting business at home is being at home! I only have this “job” because it’s fun … my first priority is life is being a mother and a wife. I love my house and I am lucky enough to have a granny flat to quilt in. Some day I dream of turning it into a beautifully designed quilting studio, but right now I share the bedroom with a bed … I have plenty of room and I’m at home … that’s all I need!

  3. H Davis says:

    Like most of you we have a very short commute to work. Ours involves going to the basement which is pretty much the only exercise I get so I don’t consider that a disadvantage. I used to have a “real” job that involved commuting on 2 different railroads and leaving the house at 6 o’clock to get to work at 8. Don’t miss that! Ok, the money’s not as good but I’ll still stick with the reduced stress and hours of our quilting business.

    My wife has outside interests and this business allows her to take several days off and travel without disrupting the business. While she’s gone I’m on vacation; well really, catching up on all the jobs that need doing around the house.

    We used to do craft shows for many years. Everyone got paid before us; the promoter got his fee, the motel got paid, the gas station got paid, the restaurants where we ate got paid, our suppliers got paid and IF there was anything left we celebrated our meager reward.

    No more, we’ve stripped the business down to the bare essentials. No more traveling. We have only 2 major suppliers for batting and thread. We gave up our merchant account and don’t even take credit cards any more – another expense eliminated. Our “books” are the check register and Quicken. Our accounts receivable is the pile of duplicate sales slips sitting on my desk. We have no accounts payable since everything gets paid as soon as it comes in.

    Flexibility is the greatest benefit of working for yourself at home. While we’re constantly busy we have few really close deadlines and as long as we schedule well we can take time off if we need or want to and still get the work out in a reasonable time.

    I doubt anyone is getting rich as a long arm quilter and I see that many of you have given up more lucrative jobs in favor of your new craft. But as the old joke goes; How do you make a small fortune as a quilter? Start with a large fortune.

    H Davis

  4. Linda Morris says:

    The best think is I have the flexibility to care for my 93 year old mom and don’t have to put her in a care facility. It also provides additional income to help with her expenses and mine. With the economy in the state it is, I’m happy for the additional dollars.

  5. Pat Goodman says:

    I live in Buffalo, NY and spent 40 some winters traveling through snow, sleet, hail, blizzards and just about every other kind of bad weather. I always had jobs north of the suburb where I live (which is considered part of the Buffalo snowbelt) and had to travel the worst section of the freeway. The last snow storm I drove through before my company closed took me a considerable amount of time to get home – 12 hours as opposed to 20 minutes (without traffic).

    I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to stay home when the weather is bad. Unlike people who have to travel to a workplace, I usually don’t bother to watch the weather forecast very closely because I only have to walk downstairs to my finished basement, turn on the lights, oil and warm up the machine and I am ready to work.

    I don’t have to ask my boss for permission to go to a doctor’s appointment, the hair salon, the supermarket, the bank or the post office.

    I will work 5 days a week if I have quilts in house to do but have no qualms about taking a day off if my back or one of my other joints is giving me a lot of trouble.

    I am MUCH more relaxed and have a MUCH better disposition than when I worked for an employer. I always had high stress jobs in the computer industry and my day often started falling apart around 8AM what with developers being behind and clients yelling about needing their software.

    Yes – I miss the high salary and the great benefits but I’m 64 and don’t even know if I could still handle that kind of stress.

    DH gave up his contracting business about 3 1/2 years ago and got a job because we could no longer afford to pay health insurance on our own and because the looming recession was having a dramatic effect on his business. He still works side jobs but his salary is a lot lower than when he ran his business. Somehow we have managed to cut back our expenses to match our lowered income. He also is a lot more relaxed. We have learned that consumer goods are not necessary to live a good life.

    DH plans on working until he is 70 to get a much better SS check; I will also not collect SS until I’m 70 but will keep my business open as long as I can still stand in front of my machine. There is something to be said for buying wholesale.. With our increased SS at 70, my 401k rollover, his (very) small IRA and the amount he is currently putting into his 401k, we will be better off than a lot of people.

    I love running my quilting business and now know why people in high stress jobs just drop dead unexpectedly. This is not a business where you can get rich but it is enjoyable and fairly stress free.

  6. Looks like I have the long commute- It’s close to 100 feet! My shop is in a separate building on the property next door, so I really do “go” to work. My favorite part of having a quilting business is returning a quilt that the piecer admitted to not liking and having them love it now. Sometimes quilting can make a lot of difference. i also love that I get to work on quilts I would never make on my own. One customer adores Kaffe Fassett (not my cup of tea, but it’s growing on me) and another does applique that is simply extraordinary… and I get to quilt it! *very big grin*

  7. Elaine says:

    It’s hard to pinpoint the best thing about having a machine quilting business. Like Cindy, I love my commute – I do have to go outside to my workroom but it’s only about 10 feet from the house. I love the creativity. I love to see my customers’ faces when they pick up their quilts. I love the fabric and being inspired by my customers’ quilts. I love it when UPS brings another box of fabric – it’s like Christmas. I recently quit my day job & I love not going to the law office (I was a legal secretary) & dealing with clients who aren’t happy.

    Yvonne, you lucked out that no one else is doing longarm quilting in your area! How wonderful! I live in a rural area too but there are plenty of longarmers around. I still get my share of customers & it is growing. I’m happy being involved in a creative industry & being around creative women.

  8. Joyce says:

    I Love My Job!!! I spent 42 years as a practicing Dental Hygienist. I loved that too, until about 3 years ago. Then I started to hate it for various reasons. Now, like Cindy, my commute time is seconds with the only traffic being the black lab in the middle of the hall. I am meeting all kinds of new people. Traveling to places that I couldn’t go before due to my work schedule. Each quilt is new and different.
    I Love My Job!!!

  9. Yvonne Young says:

    I am a newbie to the machine quilting business. I have spent the last 42 years working in the outside world and the last 20 involved a lot of traveling. I am in the process of moving from the city to a rural community, which is where my long arm is located. I recently went to a local quilt guld meeting, only to find out that I was the only one at the meeting that had any type of quilting set-up. All the qults shown during show and tell (except mine) were either tied or a simple stitch in the ditch. The women were immediately wanting to know if I would/did do qulting as a business. So, a thought is going to turn into a business and I am thrilled. I love working at home, especially here where the closest town is 10 miles and the closest shopping is 55 miles away.

    • Cindy Roth says:

      I am glad to hear that you may have a “ready made” business waiting for you with your local quilt guild. Before you start taking customer quilts, be sure to set reasonable (not cheap) prices for your quilting. Many times, especially in rural communities where machine quilting is not “valued”, the prices, in my opinion, for quilting can be way too LOW! Please, do not find out what other quilters are charging and then charge LESS becasue you are the “new kid on the block.” That is the worst way to set your prices.

      I will be writing (a lot) about pricing in the not too distant future.

      Cindy Roth
      Longarm University

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