Machine Quilting Quilt Shop Business Quilting Business

Quilting Business Costs

NOTE FROM CHUCK: This week's article is inspired by a question from one of the Quilting Biz ezine readers. With her permission, I've reprinted her question and my response to her for your benefit.

QUESTION: “How much would a venture in ownership of a quilting business cost approximately. For example to start up a quilt shop or a machine quilting business. Each estimate would be helpful to me.”
Sharon in NE TN


Hello Sharon,

Sorry for the late response, but being Spring and kid's tee-ball and softball seasons, it's been a busy time here at the Smith household.

Here's a few thoughts to help you in your decision-making about a quilting business:

In any business, there are going to be some constants that you will need to take into account when starting up. The fixed cost of starting a new quilting business will include:

Filing and Legal Fees: There will be a cost to get your business license and a cost to set up your business. Depending on how you structure your quilting business – Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Corporation, Corporation, etc. – you could have legal fees ranging from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand dollars. This cost will also depend on what part of the country you live in.

Building or Leasehold Improvements: If you are setting up a quilt shop, you will need to have a building. Depending on whether you build a new building yourself, or lease a space for your quilt shop, you are going to have to pay for either the building or the improvements to the existing space. This can run from a few thousand dollars for leasehold improvements (shelving, paint, carpets, etc.) to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands if you are building a brand new structure for your quilt shop. Again, a lot of this will depend on where your new quilt shop is located.

A machine quilting business can be run out of your home (if it is allowed by your local zoning board) as long as you have a room that is large enough to house the quilting machine. And you will need a good-sized room (at least 12″x18″ – so many basements are a good fit).

Office Supplies and Equipment: You will want to have at least a filing cabinet, a space to do your paperwork, and some basic office supplies (paper, pencils, stapler, phone, etc.) for your quilting business. In addition, you should have a computer. All together, these can run from a few hundred dollars to almost 2 thousand dollars with a computer.

Advertising: When you start any new business, you are going to want to get the word out. You should definitely make use of the power of the press to get the word out about your quilting business via press releases or stories in your local paper, but you are also going to want to advertise your new venture in the yellow pages and possibly the newspaper. But be careful – you should look long and hard at any advertising opportunity to figure out how long it will take to pay back that investment.

Equipment: In a machine quilting business, you will need a long arm quilting machine. These can run anywhere from around $5,000 to over $25,000 and up. Take a look at as many models as you possibly can to narrow your choices to 2 to 4 finalists. Then, figure out a way to get some hands-on experience with each finalist quilting machine. Look for the local distributor, go to quilt shows where the manufacturers are exhibiting, or talk to your local quilt shop to see if they know someone who has that model. This way, you can make an educated decision.

For a quilt shop, you will need to have some equipment for quilting classes (some basic rental sewing machines), as well as plenty of tables and electrical outlets for your quilting classes.

THE BOTTOM LINE: This is a long-winded way of getting to the heart of your question. So…

Machine Quilting Business: Depending on how you structure your business, where you are located, and what type of quilting machine you are purchasing, your start-up costs will range from:

$5,000 – $35,000 or more

A good average range would be $7,500 – $18,000

Quilt Shop: Again, depending on how you structure your business, where you are located, and whether you build your shop or lease the space, your start-up costs will range from:

$35,000 – $120,000 or more

A good average range would be $50,000 – $90,000

Hope this helps. There's a lot more information about starting either of those quilting businesses in my books:

I go into a lot greater detail in these books about how to start, run, and market a machine quilting business or quilt shop, but the basics are right here.

Thank you, and please feel free to send your quilting questions to me.


Chuck Smith

If you have any questions about your quilting business – whether just starting out or looking for a boost with some solid marketing or business advice – feel free to send me an email at

Chuck Smith is the owner of, the web's only site dedicated to helping you make money with your quilting. Visit today to sign up for the FREE email mini-course: “7 Unique Ways to Make Money with Your Quilting.”

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3 replies on “Quilting Business Costs”

Long-time-no-see….I have yet another problem with my plan to start quilting for hire….about the time I had everything set up, my health went kaput…and even after 5 years, I am barely able to quilt my own tops…the level of artistry
and competance leaves much to be desired. I have plans to get back to the machine and likely will have to start back at square “1” learning it all again. I
hope to be able to daily make one or two swipes with the machine, although this will take me over a week to get a top finished. I’ve wished many times I hadn’t purchased the machine…and it was one of the ‘high-end’ machines..they kept it a secret that the $5000+ machines would be on the market in a couple months…
and they would have been more than sufficient for my use. So…I’ve got over $20,000 invested in a project that I can never get off the ground. I mainly was just wanting to know if there are any others having a similar problem…unable to fulfill their sewing dreams…maybe some input from them would help with this despondency I have over this whole situation. Thanks ML

I know in a small way how ML feels. When I started my business in 2000, I was healthy and working as a schoolbus driver. I did the quilting part time to supplement our income. In 2005 I was injured on the bus and since 2007, I’ve been home and quilting full time. Because of chronic pain I had to computerize my quilting machine or close down the business and sell the machine. I got the Intelliquilter this past September but have yet to use its full potential. I’ve also been fighting chronic depression brought on because of my condition.
If ML would like, she can contact me directly. I would be more than happy to talk about whatever she needs to talk about.

To MaryLou Ross,

I know you have made a great investment in your machine, and due to your health you are unable to use it, and I know how you feel, I’ve been there having a bad back and all sitting or standing for long time is not easy.
I know Eileen has talked about using the computerized machine quilting (which would once again cost money and don’t get me wrong it is an awesome idea too), but have you ever thought of actually having others use your machine, that have experience using it but are unable to buy one. Perhaps you can charge a nominal fee per hour to rent while you recuperate and gain both strength and update your knowledge.

Just a thought,

Happy Quilting


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