Stages of Buying Equipment

Like many other Americans of my age I am staying close to home this year. Even my quilts seem to be sheltering in place because of exhibit cancellations. I had hoped this year to begin to lecture and teach but this goal has to be put aside. Now I am working through a new plan to take advantage of this unusual period of time.

Last year I entered many more of the traditional quilt shows. Typical art quilt exhibitions are judged on a digital images. Prizes (if offered) are based on criteria not tied to the traditions of craft. In traditional shows I realized that the quality of my quilting was an area I needed to master.

I also started taking some cues from the modern quilt movement. Their quilts are known for an absence of fabric pattern and an excess of quilting. The surface pattern is a key marker of the modern quilt. It fits in a niche between traditional and art by taking visual cues  from both approaches to quilting.

As I write this post, my quilt studio has a new addition. A small frame long arm machine. I selected the Handi Quilter SImply Sixteen with a Little Foot Frame. I want to share with you the process of making this decision and how it will expand my portfolio.


5 stages of change : Pre-contemplation. Contemplation. Preparation. Action. Maintenance

“The trans-theoretical model of behavior change is an integrative theory of therapy that assesses an individual's readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual.”  Wikipedia


The 5 stages of change are associated with behavior change. They are applied in therapy for habits including additions, anger management, eating disorders, smoking etc...

I am going to use these 5 stages to the art quilter in general and specifically to my process of buying new equipment.


The 5 stages of purchasing equipment.

Precontemplation: This is the point where a project is a struggle, excessively time consuming, has to be altered to accommodate the equipment within the workspace. This is the phase where projects that go beyond current skills are and beyond the comfortable use of current equipment. It’s the “what if...” stage 

Contemplation: In this stage the workarounds with equipment are either impossible or too cumbersome. This stage is often sparked by new learning. A week-long  workshop, a trunk show or a studio tour may be a spark needed to consider a new purchase. It should be clear the skill set needed to accomplish the goal is not the primary concern. It’s the level of frustration where the need to make an additional investment is clear. 

Preparation: The first step in this stage is research. That is the point where a network of quilters is important. Ask for suggestions. Make a short list of equipment. Remember to select only equipment that  has a solid support system. (Dealer, Service Center, Online Help, etc..)   Carefully consider the compromises.  (Will you need to sell or move something? Will you have enough walking space? Give up storage?) Understand the number of hours needed to feel competent using the new equipment. 

Action: Now is the time to figure out a budget. This may mean waiting until a floor model is available or going to a show to get a deeper discount. It may also mean selecting from your shortlist based on price. Consider seeking out used equipment. Reconfigure your studio space  before placing an order.

Maintenance: Once equipment has arrived be prepared for the learning curve. Having a series of practice pieces ready. Make sure that you allow yourself time everyday to learn and become comfortable. Having a support system readily available is key to maintaining the commitment to this investment.

My long arm arrived a few weeks ago. Before it arrived I moved my computer, printer and cutting machine to another room in the house. I consolidated my thread collection and measured out exactly where I wanted the new machine and frame placed in my sewing studio.

Before it arrived, I purchased some cheap cotton and batting.  I watched numerous videos on how to load the backing, batting and top. Within a few hours of my Simply Sixteen's arrival I had my first practice quilt sandwich completed.

My plan is to try to empty my dwindling stash of commercial fabrics as I play and learn. In the future I hope to create a new series of art quilts which combines my painted digital designs with a modern background.


It’s a good year to invest in the future.
Until Next Time.....