Why are Longarm quilting prices expensive - being computerised doesn't the machine do all the work itself?
Using a double quilt as an example, it can take nearly an hour to load the three layers of a quilt onto the machine. The backing fabric has to be loaded onto rollers first, once loaded it is then rolled back and forward to make sure that the fabric is straight and the tension is even. The wadding is then loaded, making sure that it is the right way up (yes wadding does have a right and wrong side - unless it is 2oz polyester) and then finally the quilt top is loaded onto a seperate roller.
Although the system is computerised, dependent on the pattern chosen, it can take more than 7 hours to stitch a whole quilt top with a complex pattern. Once a row has been stitched out then the whole quilt has to be rolled forward ready for the next row to be quilted, the sides have to be stitched down and tensioned, the quilt top has to be checked for loose threads, and the machine realigned to sew the next part of the pattern. This can add another 5 hours of work - so a large quilt could take over 13 hours to complete.
A longarm quilting machine is an expensive outlay for anyone to purchase and a computerised system can cost nearly the same as the longarm. There is also the hidden cost of running the machine, maintaining it, spare parts, threads, bobbins, needles, etc. A longarm quilter will also have put in many hours practising to use their machine and develop their skills. This all has to be factored into the prices that longarmers charge.