Why I’m starting a long arm quilting business 

Starting  a long arm quilting business has been a dream of mine for YEARS, and I’m finally moving forward with my plan!  I cannot tell you how excited and nervous I am about this whole process!

Usually when I tell people this, they ask me similar questions.  I’ve done my best to answer them below, so now whenever someone asks me about this, I can say “I wrote a blog post about that – you should go check it out!”  

Please enjoy the below fictional discussion between me and literally any person I have ever told about this (except other long arm quilters…)

“Um… don’t you already have a job?”

Yes!  I have a successful career with a pension and benefits and job security- all the things! But I feel a strong push to move away from this comfortable position and create a long arm business from the ground up.  I’m not going to quit my job tomorrow – I hope to build the business to a point where it can replace a substantial portion of my current salary and then move into full-time long arm quilting.

“But is a long arm quilting business even a real thing?”

It is!  I have spent years on Instagram admiring the work of people like Abby Latimer, Julie Hirt, Stephanie Romney, Kaitlyn, and more recently Jess Zeigler.  All of these ladies use a computerized long arm machine to create beautiful, precise stitches in modern patterns.  If they were local (or even in Canada), I would send my quilts to them in a heartbeat!  When I finished one of my first throw-sized quilt tops, I looked around to find a long arm quilting business to send it to, and I came up frustrated.

I could find people who would do amazing custom quilting.  It was easy to find people who would trace pantographs by hand. There were even businesses that would accept my quilt top by mail and would use a computerized machine to stitch out patterns, but no one felt like the “right fit”.  Where were the long arm quilters who were interested in the same style of quilting as me? The people who liked the same kind of patterns as I did and shopped at the same stores as me?  Where was my tribe??

Ma Tante Quilting - Starting a long arm quilting business.

“What did you do when you couldn’t find the ‘right’ quilter?”

Nothing.  I couldn’t figure out where to send my quilt top, so I put it in the closet and started the next one.  Eventually I had a pile of tops that represented hundreds of hours of work and over a thousand dollars of material.  This is not the goal of quilting!

I imagined that if I was having this problem, others would be, too.  And I decided that I would do my best to become the go-to resource for Canadian quilters who are seeking modern, computerized long arm quilting services.  

I want to help people turn their pile of quilt tops (because I know they have them) into the beautiful, cuddly COMPLETED quilts that they were meant to be!  We can’t wrap our loved ones in handmade goodness if they remain in the closet, so let’s work together to #liberatethetops.  I wonder what you would find if you actually looked up that hashtag?  Maybe don’t try it at work!

“So why now?”

It’s taken a long time for things to “line up”.  When I solidified my goal to start a long arm quilting business, I lived in a small condo that didn’t have room for a long arm (although I guess I could have put it in the dining room and sold the table and chairs??)

Then I moved into a charming house with my boyfriend (where we still live).  This house is perfect for a long arm – it has a large finished room in the basement that is not currently being used for other purposes.  But when I moved in, we decided to renovate the entire upstairs of the house.  The dusty rose wallpaper and honey oak everything were loooooong overdue for an update.  That meant we had to completely clear out the upstairs and move all of our possessions into the basement while the renovation was ongoing. No room for a long arm at that point!

We spent the entire winter living underground, making all of our meals with a toaster oven, a slow cooker, and a hot plate.  It was well worth the inconvenience, as our upstairs is now much more functional (dual vanities in the bathroom, anyone?) as well as beautiful (hellloooo neutral paint colours, clean white trim, and gorgeous quartz counter tops!)

I’m a hardcore homebody, and having this amazing house has really made me want to get on with my dream of working from home in my very own long arm quilting business!  

“Isn’t it a bit scary to start a business?”

A little bit, but not too scary!  It’s much scarier for me to imagine living the rest of my life with the regret of not pursuing my dreams.  Plus, it seems like lots of other people can do this, so why not me!?

Since I started working on this, I have learned A LOT about business plans, financing requirements, client priorities, wholesale accounts, profit margins, taxation rules, and many other things I didn’t even know I had to consider!  I’m feeling energized and excited to tackle all the unexpected things that will come my way, but mostly I just want to be QUILTING already!!

“When will you be open for business?”

Great question!  I’m currently at the stage of finalizing financing (say that five times fast).  I thought I had a loan secured to pay for a shiny new machine, but that fell through at the last minute.  Since then I’ve changed my game plan, and am in the process of sourcing a quality used machine and a computer system to be able to stitch beautiful, precise patterns. 

Although I could have considered this a setback, I’m choosing instead to view it as an opportunity to save money on start up costs.  This will make my little business profitable sooner, which means that I’ll be able to move into full-time quilting more quickly.  This should have been my plan all along!

In my search for the perfect machine and computer, I have contacted a TONNE of long arm quilters.  Without exception, they have all shared valuable information, tips, reviews, and advice with me.  This community never ceases to amaze me with its generosity – although I should be used to it by now, I’m not!

In summary….

And that’s why I’m starting a long arm quilting business.  I want to:

  • Be a helper in this quilty space. 
  • Help modern Canadian quilters to feel like someone out there “gets them”. 
  • Help people get their tops out of the closet and turn them into family heirlooms!
  • Spend my days touching beautiful, inspiring, glorious QUILTS!!

If you would like to receive updates about my long arm quilting business (including opening date, sales announcements, and opportunities to become “testers”) please sign up for my email newsletter.  I promise there will be no spam – just quilty news!

Ma Tante Quilting - Starting a long arm business
Ma Tante Quilting - Starting a long arm quilting business

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  1. I came across your integral and enjoyed reading your blog. You sound a lot like me, except I just jumped feet first recently into getting a long arm, so i’m still learning a lot about the business side. I also work full time and dream of being able to quit my job and have more time with my daughters and quilt more!!

    1. Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for taking the time to write a comment. This whole idea of quilting for a living is so exciting and wonderful, but the idea of leaving the security of a full-time job is terrifying! I’m such a planner that I will no doubt analyze the situation from six different angles before I ever leave my job. I admire your ability to “jump in” – I could use more of that!

  2. I follow you on Instagram and love everything you post. I’m so excited for your business plan. What a great venture. I just signed up for your newsletter, I’d love to be a “tester”… Can’t wait to hear more announcements as you move forward.

    1. Hi Holly!
      Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m BEYOND excited to get this thing off the ground!! I will definitely put your name on my list of testers and will contact you directly when the time comes to bring in some beautiful quilts!

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