Choosing the Right Quilting Machine

by Charlotte Colmon

Over the past few months, I've received several questions about choosing the right quilting machine. I've decided to include a couple of the questions and answers in hopes that they will help you if you're looking for a quilting machine for your own machine quilting business:

Which type of long arm quilting machine do you recommend? And which frame works best?


Here's my response to this question…

Hello Dinah,

Choosing your long arm quilting machine requires a little bit of research on your part. First of all, you need to determine your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your equipment before you even start your business?

Once you have a figure in mind, request information from all of the machine manufacturers who fit the budget range. There will be a wide variety of features, and you will need to determine which are important to you.

Once you have all the information, narrow your search down to a few different manufacturers – perhaps 2 to 4. Then, try to get some more information. Go on some machine quilting forums to ask questions. See if you can find someone locally who has that machine and ask them if you can “test drive.” And, you can contact the manufacturers to see if they will be having any demo days nearby where you can see and try out the machines (perhaps at a quilt show).

I hope this helps,


Here's another question:

I'm looking at all the quilt machines. I would like to start a small home quilting biz, and I ‘m also making them for my kids. Most of the quilting machines are too big for me, but the quilts I make are too large for my home sewing machine.

I'm looking at the HandiQuilt system as it has a lot of good features, it can be put away easily, and the cost is very user friendly. But I know that a lot of machine quilters use the Gammill system. It's very big, I can't put it away, and the price is very high! Is there something I've missed?


And here's my response to this question:

Hello Darlene,

What you need to do is determine what kind of business you are looking to start. If this is a part-time business, then perhaps a smaller quilting machine is sufficient. If you are looking to create a full-time income, then you may need to consider one of the larger machines like the Gammill.

But, first of all, you need to determine whether or not this business is right for you and your circumstances. First, is there a market for this type of busines in your area? Are there a lot of quilt shops and quilters?

Next, you need to determine what kind of financial resources you have access to. Do you have some savings? Can you get a loan at a bank (do you have good credit and are you comfortable putting together a financial plan).

One of the best places to start answering these questions is at the Small Business Administration's web site – There is a great deal of good information on starting and running a small business. You will be able to see the work involved, and also get a better understanding of financing and running a business.

Good luck,


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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