As a relative newbie to my quilt guild, this is a question I’m often asked when I meet fellow guild members for the first time.
I do not own a long-arm.
I was asked the same question by a member sitting next to me at a recent guild meeting. I responded that I didn’t and she quipped, “Well, don’t buy one.” Seeing the surprised look on my face, she mentioned that several guild members had a long-arm machine but didn’t use them enough to justify the expense. Her recommendation was that I turn in my completed charity quilt tops (lap & twin size) to the Community Service table and let the committee take care of the quilting and binding as several members in the guild donated those services for free. I should continue to quilt anything baby quilt size and smaller, but send anything larger out to a long-arm quilter. I’d be more productive and enjoy the parts I like about quilting (planning & piecing) more.
This seasoned quilter is very astute.
I already send out anything larger than a lap size. The last quilt I sent out was a full size quilt and it cost about $200.00 to be machine quilted. It will take me 6-8 hours to baste and FMQ a loopy meander on a lap size quilt. E2E quilting with a fancier design would cost about $75.00 per quilt and no basting required! Definitely something to think about.
One of my retirement goals is to take the long-arm training certification class offered by a local quilt shop ($100) so that I can rent time on the longarm machine. This is more to satisfy my curiosity than anything else. If I do enjoy the process, it would be worth it to buy blocks of time to complete my own quilt tops rather than invest $30k or more for my own long-arm set-up.
If I could get a straight stitch machine with a tall head, stitch regulator and about 15 inches of thread space, I MIGHT be tempted to buy it.