Longing for a Longarm · Personal Crap · Sew-a-long Goodness · Workin blues

Look! I’m here once again!

I've been nearby all along, but it's been a really intensely weird summer on so many levels. Mostly, I've been working my backside off in the office as well as freaking out about it. Business relationships can be quite tricky, and the politics are often difficult to navigate. I used to like my boss, before he became my boss. Now, I'm not sure if he's trustworthy in some matters. Not that he's a bad guy. He's just looking out for himself more than his employees. Hey, we've all got families, so I genuinely get the self-preservation motivation. Yes, I am looking around for another job, but good ones that include good insurance are hard to find.

I'm also on the verge of making my longarm decision with the hope of supplementing my income a bit eventually. Ultimately, I'd like to quilt full time, but I know that's going to take quite a while to work up to. So what machine am I looking at the most seriously? I think I've driven an example of each one, at least once. I am incredibly fond of Hazel, my regular sewing machine that I use for piecing and other sewing tasks. She's a Juki HZL-F600. She does everything so well! Naturally, I've looked at Juki's Longarm. It has a thread cutter! I haven't seen that on another machine, which surprised me. I've taken a couple of classes from Juki's chief educator, Karen Pharr, and she is a wonderful, kind, helpful woman who has taught me to trust my instincts and just quilt on. The Juki has an 18" throat and comes on a solid Grace frame. I've had the most experience with it, I can operate it well enough to feel mildly comfortable, and it's probably the one I'm going to go with. The price quote I've been given (with the fancy robotics even!) is also VERY attractive, but…

I really like Handi Quilter machines. I thought very seriously for a long time about getting a Simply Sixteen. I really want to spend time learning custom work, and nearly all my IG quilting friends have HQ machines. They also love them. Then I decided I should go with something on a bigger frame with more throat space because this is going to be my future, right? Go big or go home, and all that. I'm now seriously considering the HQ Fusion, but it's pretty expensive once you put the robotics on it. Hmmmmm. A very, very nice salesman at a show made me a terrific offer on an Infinity. Wow. Still way more machine and price than I'd originally considered, but it had robotics and I'd probably never need to upgrade my machine.

The Innova that I drove was lovely and smooth and freaking pricey. Plus it didn't look like the dealer wanted to deal at all. She wasn't especially friendly or helpful when I saw her, but she might have been having a lousy day. I may go back and give it another look. Our local Innova dealer used to be the local Gammill dealer, but that changed a while back. No idea what happened there. The Gammill is like a luxury vehicle. Too intimidating.

APQS really knows their stuff, but they don't have service out this way. The machines were also extremely noisy, but maybe that was circumstantial. I can't see myself giving them another look just because they're quite far from me. Same with Nolting and A-1 machines, although I couldn't find an A-1 to drive.

Decisions, decisions…

I've learned that there's an interesting way to get a start-up business going, but it can put you on the IRS' radar. It's perfectly legal, but you have to be certain to keep business and personal separate. It's called a ROBs transaction, which is an amusing name, since you sort of rob Peter to pay Paul as my mom used to say. It actually stands for Rollover Business Startup. You form a C corporation (which can be a tax issue on its own) and you use your own 401k to fund it by rolling it into the 401k plan of your newly formed company, and you pay no tax penalty. It needs to be a 401k that's eligible for a rollover, not necessarily current employer. As owner of that new company, you can use the funds to get your business started. I'm consulting my attorney about the concept and process. Also a CPA. It's all very complicated. And I know it's going to be a good long while before my skills are even profitable. If nothing else, I've learned that I love the entire longarm quilting process and want to do this even if I lose money, but I find the prospect of possible failure to be quite daunting. Do what you love, and it doesn't feel like working, right? The only job I've ever had that never felt like work was mothering, and I still had to work full time. I probably always will, but maybe I can at least get some job satisfaction out of my working life instead of being chained to the Matrix.

I'm also considering buying a GoPro and filming my entire learning curve and posting it to YouTube or another platform ,if there's something else out there. Is there? I wouldn't be doing these as tutorials, but just so that others can see what it's like and maybe appreciate all the work a quilter goes through to develop skills. Heaven knows I'm never going to be cute and funny like Angela Walters, and likely never as talented a quilter. I wouldn't appear on camera except as a pair of hands connected to forearms, but I think it would be a lot of fun and maybe be another way to make friends. Maybe it's time to go with the hosted version of Word Press and get Kristi to make me a logo.

So what do you think? Have you got a longarm that you love or hate? Why? How's the service if you have a problem? I want to know everything! Anything! Mostly, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

See all the photos below? Mewie and I finished our Long Time Gone quilt! (My quilt top collection is ever increasing) I made a Hapsburg Lace bookmark, started a Moonstone Quilt, started a new quilt in Sugar Pie fabrics for a friend of my sister's who lost both her parents in a freak accident, started a pretty needlepoint project, saw the moon pass in front of the sun, and all kinds of things. I just haven't blogged about it. I'll get better. Really, I will.


6 thoughts on “Look! I’m here once again!

    1. Mewie is an old girl and very shy generally. My sister probably hasn’t seen her in the last ten years, for example. The sweet guy in the basket is technically my daughter’s cat, but he loves to help with sewing. He’s BIG guy, long haired, all black, and part Maine Coon. His name is Xerxes Fluffypantalones, and he interferes in nearly everything I do!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a used APQS Millennium (circa 2004). I also test drove a lot of machines and purposefully avoided any long arm with a lot of “robotics”. I was looking for something that I could pretty much service myself with my husband, and it has been a fantastic machine (and it has a thread cutter, although I disabled that as I like to bury my threads and not cut them!). I think that you should continue to listen to your inner voice and test drive the customer service along with the machine.

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  2. I have a used Gammill I found at an Innova dealer an hour from my house. I didn’t do all of the test driving. I found one in my price range and bought it. I didn’t want robotics, but I am starting to see the value. My closest Gammill dealer is five hours away, but they will send me a technician when I need one. I’ve had him come out one to change out some worn parts. I don’t anticipate seeing him again for a few years. Most longarmers learn to maintain their own machines.
    I would be worried about tapping into retirement funds. After a whole six months, it feels like building up and maintaining a profitable business will be a big challenge, especially with the expense of a new machine. Your area may be different, but mine feels pretty competitive. Most of the quilters around here seem to use their computers, rather than freehand like I do, though, so there is room for me in the market.

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    1. Strangely I’m not worried about the retirement funds, as this isn’t the entirety and it needs to be rolled over into something. It’s not nearly enough to retire on! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to retire. I also don’t expect my business to make a profit any time soon. I’m figuring on a pretty big learning curve.
      I think there are a metric ton of people interested in longarm quilting these days. I’m hoping not all of them in my area are going to be my competition, but who knows? I also don’t expect to quit my job any time soon, so this money is going to buy me a machine and rulers and batting and backing. Not much else! I won’t be going into debt to do this, so any profit is good!
      It’s kind of a pain in the ass to be (almost) 54 and (almost) single.
      The version I’m looking at is “lightly used” and still has a warranty since it belongs to a dealer about an hour away. I don’t think anyone gets truly good service on longarms unless they live a block from Handiquilter in SLC. It’s my understanding that learning your machine and bonding with it is half the learning curve, so I’m planning on loads of practice. The price I got on it is very reasonable and includes the robotics, so I feel good about that, although it’s a lot to learn both freehand and computer programs. We’ll see how that goes. Really, I’m not counting on anything.

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