Longarm quilting (& more) on a budget!

Longarm quilting (& more) on a budget!

7th Jun 2024

Welcome everyone!

I’ve got some great money-saving tips to share with you today, but first a quick technical reminder. If you try to get to our website by doing a search for Quilting Connection and then clicking on the link, it will NOT work. (Your computer probably just sits there and spins, right?)

Look to the right of your search results. See the box displaying a picture of our shop and showing our address, hours, etc.? CLICK THE WEBSITE BUTTON under the picture, and you WILL connect with us. That button brings you to our new website, quiltingconnection.com.

So sorry for the confusion some of you are experiencing!

Thank you for your patience!

Okay … today’s topic. If you’ve been a quilter for even a short time, you know that quilting can be an expensive hobby. The fabric, equipment, tools and accessories, fabric kits and precuts, thread, patterns and books, digital quilt designs … it all just calls to you!

So, if your quilting wish list exceeds your quilting budget, let’s see if I can offer some tips to help balance the two. We’ll look at expenses specific to longarm machine quilting and then consider additional expenses related to quilting in general.

Longarm Quilting on a Budget

Longarm machine quilting involves more of an investment, so let’s start there.

Longarm Machine & Frame

Your longarm truly is an investment. Whether you’ve considered one of our Handi Quilter or APQS models or looked at other brands, you know there is a wide range of prices and options. Regardless, this is probably the biggest ticket item in your sewing room.

But you do have options. You can:

  • Start with a smaller model then upgrade to a larger one. (we take trade-ins)!
  • Start with a used machine then upgrade to a new model. (See the Used Longarm Machines page on our website for current availability.)
  • Start with a longarm machine and frame but add the computer system later.
  • Watch for manufacturer specials that either provide cost savings or additional options.
  • Rent time on our longarm machines rather than purchasing a longarm or sending your quilts out to be quilted by someone else. Learn about the machines and the longarm process while deciding which options are best for you. Then buy when you’re ready. (See the Classes page of our website for details on the Beginning Longarm Rental Class.)

Machine Maintenance

Protect your investment! Regularly maintain and service your longarm machine to prevent costly repairs and to ensure optimal performance. Follow the manufacturer’s/distributor’s guidelines for maintenance to extend the lifespan of your machine.

Energy Efficiency & Electrical Safeguards

Practice energy-efficient habits to reduce your electricity costs. Turn off machines and lights when not in use. When buying, look for energy efficient devices and consider using energy-efficient bulbs where possible.

Equally important, plug your longarm and other equipment into surge protectors when in use. Unplug your machine and the surge protector when not in use to prevent possible electrical issues.

Time Efficiency

If you quilt a lot or run your own longarm business, time efficiency is also a factor in minimizing your quilting costs and/or maximizing your income. Consider which tools or accessories you can use to maximize your efficiency.

One suggestion, install our Quick Zip System™. Quickly pinning zippers onto your quilt back and top, then even more quickly zipping them onto your longarm frame saves time. Plus, you can have several quilts ready to go, minimizing setup time between quilts. (See the Quick Zip System page of our website for details.)

Bulk / Wholesale Purchasing

If you run your own longarm quilting business, take advantage of bulk or wholesale discounts when possible. Purchasing frequently used materials such as thread and batting in larger quantities can help reduce your overall cost.

The Quilting Connection tries to help our professional longarm quilters with periodic wholesale batting sales. We can only offer this service to quilters who can pick up their batting from either our Appleton or Elkhorn locations. (See the Wholesale Batting page of our website for details.)

Any savings possibilities so far? Let’s widen the scope and look at ways to reduce costs when it comes to quilting in general.

Quilting on a Budget

The cost of a pattern or a few cuts of fabric may not seem like much of an expense, but when you calculate the total cost of a quilt, you may be surprised by the hit your checkbook is taking! Consider some of these suggestions to cushion that hit.

Discounts & Sales

Okay, yes, this seems like a no brainer. But while sales can be very tempting, watch the conditions associated with each item. Do you have to buy a certain number or minimum quantity? If it’s more than you need, is it really a buy? Check the quality and age of the products on sale, too.

And while it’s easy to watch for deals at area chain stores, consider joining the mailing lists of your local quilt stores. Many of our local shops have wonderful sales throughout the year (sometimes as part of shop hops), and you know you’re getting quality merchandise.

Plus, many quilt shops have a sale section, and some offer discounts on end-of-bolt purchases.

Impulse Buying

If you’re easily tempted to buy that cool new tool or a few cuts of the latest fabric line when scrolling online, shut down your device and walk away! (Harsh but effective!)

Loyalty Programs

Take advantage of loyalty programs offered by both brick-and-mortar businesses and online retailers. An occasional reward helps!

Thrifty Fabric Use

Be strategic when buying fabric for projects. Buy only what you need and only the size cut you need. (I know … where’s the fun in that!)

When you’re calculating how much fabric you need, plan your cuts so they make the most efficient use of each piece.

And make sure to use any fabric leftovers in fun, beautiful scrap quilts or other projects. (If that’s not you, no judgement. Just share your scraps with friends who do love scrap projects!)

Pre-Cut Considerations

Those gorgeous pre-cuts … jelly rolls, charm packs, fat-quarters, etc. … can be convenient, but they can also be more expensive than buying fabric off the bolt. Use them strategically … when they provide significant time savings or design benefits.


If others won’t be looking at your quilt back, don’t worry about buying beautiful matching fabric. Just find a workable economical cut. (This is a hard one for many of us!)

You can also consider piecing your quilt back from leftover fabric rather than buying another cut. (Apply this concept to binding, too. If you have leftover cuts from the top, piecing your binding from them can add a nice finishing touch.)


Use your leftover batting by zigzagging pieces together to use for larger projects.

Quality Tools & Equipment

While we want to spend economically, don’t be tempted to buy cheaply made products. Investing in high-quality tools and equipment can save money in the long run. They usually last longer and perform better.

Neutral & Solid Colors

Okay, there’s an exception to every rule. When on sale, consider stocking up … within reason … on neutral fabrics (e.g., white, cream, black). These colors can be used in a variety of projects and often make great backgrounds or sashings.

Apply this to thread, too. Neutrals work well for piecing. Have a reserve so you don’t run out in the middle of your project!

Basic solid fabrics can be used like neutrals. And you may notice that solids are often priced lower than prints.


Connect with other quilters in-person and online. Share resources and knowledge. This may include swapping fabrics, borrowing tools or participating in skill-building sessions. Learn tips and tricks from more experienced quilters that can save you time and money.

Free Resources

Fabric companies, quilting blogs and other sources often provide free patterns and other helpful resources. And don’t overlook your local library. Check out quilting books and magazines rather than purchasing them.

Practice Materials

Use less expensive fabric or muslin for practicing new techniques or quilt designs.

Plan Ahead

Planning helps you avoid rushed projects and the increased probability of making mistakes. It also allows you to optimize your time, reduce stress and maintain a healthy, workable pace.

Thoughts? My favorite tip is connecting with other quilters and learning from their experience. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’ve got an opportunity for you … just keep reading! Join me in Elkhorn or Appleton … and share YOUR tips for quilting on a budget!

Upcoming Events

We have a couple of special events on our July calendar, and I’d love to see you there!

Saturday, July 13th – 11 AM to 1 PM

The Quilting Connection 25th Anniversary Party!

Join us in Elkhorn!

See our website for details.

Tuesday, July 16th (Appleton)

Wednesday, July 17th (Elkhorn)

APQS Road Show Longarm Experience

Here’s your opportunity to learn more about our APQS machines.

Registration is required for this free in-person event!

See our website for details and to register.

And again, in case you’ve been having trouble connecting with us online …

The Quilting Connection Website Name Has Been Updated!

Please use quiltingconnection.com to connect with us.

If you are still trying to use https://stores.longarmconnection.com, you will not be able to reach our website!

Please update any saved web pages or bookmarks on your devices to quiltingconnection.com!

If you have ANY questions or want additional information about ANY of the products and services we offer, please call us at (262) 723-6775 or email us at info@QuiltingConnection.com.

You can also visit us online at QuiltingConnection.com or in person at 21 Adams Street in Elkhorn, WI (usually M-F 9-4, please call to confirm we’re open) or 1017 W. Northland in Appleton, WI (W, Th & F 10-4, S 10-3).

Finally, check out our blog at QuiltingConnection.com/blog and our Facebook posts.

Please share your thoughts and questions. I’d love to hear from you!