Where to go to find the keys to be successful in this niche industry.
Running a home based machine quilting business is a wonderful and rewarding art and craft business, but there are pitfalls to watch out for along the way. This blog will explore the benefits and pitfalls of running a home based machine quilting business and help you get the education and information to get started and succeed in this niche industry.
What is machine quilting?
Machine quilting is quilting done using a sewing machine to stitch in rows or patterns to stitch through layers of fabric and batting in the manner of old-style hand-quilting. Quilting or stitching together layers of batting and fabric, may date back as far as 3400 BCE. While sewing machines are commonly used to piece such quilts as patchwork tops, it is rare to find a vintage quilt that was not hand quilted. Regular (domestic) sewing machines have been used to hold layers of a quilt together since they were invented, however, it wasn't until the 1990s that this productive skill became acceptable and has now replaced hand quilting in popularity.
Quilting in the past was primarily a practical technique to provide warmth, although decorative elements were often also present. Quilting is now a very popular hobby and spans all ages, genders and continents
Longarm quilting is the process by which a longarm sewing machine is used to sew together a quilt top, quilt batting and quilt backing into a finished quilt.
The longarm sewing machine frame typically ranges from 10 feet (about 3 metres) to 14 feet (about 4.25 metres) in length. A complete longarming system typically consists of an industrial length sewing machine head (19 - 30 inches,) a 10 to 14-foot frame, a table with a layer of plastic under which is placed a pantograph, and several rollers on which the fabric layers and batting are attached. Quilting using a longarm machine can take significantly less time than hand quilting or more traditional machine quilting. This time saving is a large factor in the gain in popularity of longarm quilting. Over the last 20 years technology has continued to grow the computer driven quilting systems which has seen a massive increase in turning a hobby into a viable home based business for many.
The speed and ease with which a quilter can have a quilt top finished by a longarm quilter has caused an increase in recent years for quilting. These machines allow quilters to have their quilts finished without going through the time-consuming process associated with normal machine quilting or hand quilting. Sewers (or sewists, piecers, or quilters) can now take their finished quilt tops to professional longarm quilting businesses and pay a fee to have their quilting done by a longarm quilter.
The availability of relatively quick and reasonably affordable quilting services has helped to cause a surge in the quilting business and an overall growth in interest in quilting as an art form. The price to have a quilt sewn together by a longarm quilter varies depending on the type of quilting requested, the size of the quilt, the expertise of the longarm quilter, competitive pricing in the area of quilting services, and other factors. It is usually calculated by square inch or square foot. Imperial measures are still strong in the quilting world though metric, such as in Australia, is also recognised and quilters will use either.
What is the size of the quilting industry?
The estimated size of the quilting market is $4.2 billion, up slightly from $4.1 billion in 2018 and $3.8 billion in 2014. North America has between 9-11 million quilters, a number that’s been stable (between 8-12 million) over the last decade. 98% of quilting consumers are female and 65% are retired. Between 2020 and 2024 the population will see a 2% annual growth of females at retirement age which leads to an anticipated corollary growth in the quilting market. The age band in which quilters started quilting more actively was in their mid-40s.
NB: These facts are from The Quilters Survey by Premier Needle Arts
Consumers say they quilt in order to relax, relieve stress, be creative, and connect with family and friends through gift-giving. Personal observations with my own business here in Australia is that during COVID my turnover has doubled with so many isolating at home and using quilting as their therapy to focus on.
What are the benefits of having a home based machine quilting business?
Being in control of your own work schedule whilst supporting your family and responsibilities
Wearing pajamas to work
Time to volunteer and give back to your community
Multitasking home duties with quilting jobs
Staying safe from COVID
Mental health benefits of being a creative
The Challenges of running a home-based business.
Not being taken seriously. … having your friends and family ignoring your working hours just because you are doing it from home.
Separating work and family life. … this can be a really tough issue HOWEVER, if you are good at multitasking, then you can truly achieve more in this area because you are actually home to put that load of washing out (5 min)
Lack of space. … definitely something to consider. You will need a dedicated room that is large enough to accommodate your machine(s) and supplies, as well as consultation space that is not in your home to present a professional appearance.
Working too much or procrastinating. … we have all done this I believe. You will know which one you are!
Lack of privacy. … if you don’t have a separate space then this can be an issue.
Strain on family relationships. … Working from home these past 18 months has definitely put a strain on families. Not just those with a home based business. It is more accepted now however, so all members of the family may be attuned to this better.
You can feel isolated. … It can be lonely!
Lack of experience can be scary...
What are the steps to take to become a successful quilter?
Find a mentor
Choose the right equipment for you
Observe, read, draw and practice, practice, practice until you are satisfied with your own skills before taking on customer work.
Find your 'style' and create lots of samples to share
Learn how to start a business (not just skills of quilting)
What are the keys to success for quilting businesses?
Understanding your skill sets
Continually adding to your knowledge
Be professional in your business dealings, keeping good records and relationships with your customers
Learning to educate and inspire your client base
Find a mentor and BE a mentor to share experiences to learn from
Good marketing skills
If you are a home based quilter or want to know more about starting a quilt business, be sure to visit our MQA Gold Membership Group to learn more about the business of machine quilting.
With the right steps, you can have a successful home-based business.
We hope you enjoyed our article about running a home based machine quilting business. We know that there is a lot of hard work and time involved in running a successful business, but we also know that it can be very rewarding.
Have you ever thought of starting a home based quilting business? If so, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us at (+61) 0448256214 or email
Thank you for reading, we are always excited when one of our content pieces is able to provide useful information on a topic like this!
Have you joined our community here on Academy or on the FREE Facebook Group for IQ owners? Click on the Facebook icon to join in and see all the amazing designs that everyone has come up with already, building on what they have learned inside this membership. If you are a paid member of IQ Summit or the Gold Members group then we also have a private community inside this platform as well. You can find the link on the top of this page to explore the community you are enrolled in here.
Would you like to have more information at your fingertips to help you with your Longarm Business? Then head on over to check out the Resources I’ve prepared for you. A really valuable article with a downloadable pdf is a Longarm troubleshooting checklist that everyone should print and use when having machine issues!
We discuss many relevant topics in our monthly live Q & A sessions where we all learn something new and useful each time. From these, courses and articles are created, to build out our library of resources for members to find and utilise when needed.
Then join us in the Gold Member Group of Machine Quilting Academy. If you are already a paying member of IQ Summit then contact me for a special discount voucher to sign up to this service.