Buying a Long Arm Quilting Machine-Part 3, Final Installment
Hello again, everyone! You can check out the other posts in the series here. The first few are linked there. Welcome to the last installment in my "Thinking of buying a long arm quilting machine" series! Here's just a few final considerations to take into account when you are about to pull the trigger on your purchase. Let's tackle the elephant in the room first, Money.
So, I decided to create a real life business before I purchased my machine. I bought my machine as a business expense. Of course, as I explained in my original post, we still had to have the actual money to pay for it somehow. Many dealers and manufacturers offer financing for their machines, sometimes even for low or zero percent interest. I was also able to get a deal on a newer gently used machine from my local quilt shop which is a very reputable dealer. IF you are going to start quilting for customers to pay for your machine, please consider your skill, contacts and networking capabilities. I am very introverted, and I am not a big "joiner" so I knew that "drumming up business" is NOT my strong-suit and not something I really have any interest in doing, so I knew that that wouldn't be the way I would be able to pay for the machine. I am also not confident enough in my skills to take in a stranger's work. That may or may not change at some point, but for now, I am going to stick with paying for it in other ways if I can.
The other two things I would highly recommend considering are buying from a reputable dealer (rather than online) and maintenance. They kinda go hand-in-hand. The reasons are thus: If you are a relative beginner (which if it's your first long arm, it's pretty safe to say you are), even if you have rented time, there is someone there to help you out with your tension or if a needle breaks, or to watch you so you don't make a HUGE mistake. When you're running things on your own, it feels different. Trust me, I rented for two years before I pulled the trigger on my own machine! But, since I bought from a dealer that is 15 minutes from my house, I can run over to the shop whenever I have a question. They can tell me what kind of needles to use, if this thread is ok, and how to go about loading that new cuddle fabric. Trust me, I have asked ALL of these questions already (and more). What's the latest ruler to come out? I get that news within a week or so of it coming out.
Also, when you are renting, you don't have to worry about maintaining the machine. It's not a huge amount of work, but it's easy to slip your mind when you're really on a roll. But there are a few things that you really need to remember. Oil your bobbin hook. Do it as often as your dealer (HAHA, see how important the personal relationship is?!) or manufacturer recommends. Mine recommends doing it with every bobbin change. That is because sometimes you will forget, but even if you don't, you can't OVER oil my particular machine, but running it without oil, really really bad. Dust out the whole bobbin area and dust off the thread path. The other important thing to keep in mind, is that you have to take the machine in for cleaning and tune up about once a year or so depending on use. There are parts that need a different kind of oil that you only want a trained repair person doing (it's also a different kind of oil, so don't try it on your own, please!), they also know where to look for burrs, and they clean out the inside of the machine (that you should never be seeing), and they make sure the timing of your machine is in tip-top shape. So take care of your baby, it will last you a long time!
I'm sure there are other factors to consider. Do you have any? Leave them in the comments below!!!