If you are a long arm quilter about retirement age?

the hippie bus

the hippie bus

One challenge in Cuenca, Ecuador is that there are no long arm quilters.  If you make a quilt, you will need to quilt it by hand or machine.  There are no wonderful long-arm experts around.

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So I thought I’d note that if you are a long arm quilter around retirement age, thinking of moving to another country for your retirement dollars to stretch much farther, then please consider moving to Cuenca, EC.  You can read tons of information by searching blogs about Ecuador and specifically Cuenca.

Cuenca, in a nutshell, is high in the Andes mountains, 8300 ft alt, but people here have never seen snow or walked on ice.  It does not get too cold or too hot.  But it is NOT tropical = humid and hot.  It rarely gets over 75 degrees.  It ALWAYS cools off at night.  The months of July-Aug are the coolest. We often get a little rain each day.  Sometimes we get a few days of rain.  But the climate is wonderful unless you are expecting white sand and hot breezes.  Cuenca is a world heritage city with many very old churches and neighborhoods.  The water in Cuenca specifically is safe to drink for most people.  A few people drink bottled water just to be safe – its all up to you.


There is petty crime here – pick pockets, people who grab your phone if you have it out on the street, but remember there is petty crime wherever you are in the world.  The greater the poverty, the greater the liklihood that someone will grab your expensive phone or tablet.  And yet, I was more frightened of being harmed when I was in the Beaverton, OREGON social security office, waiting my turn.  Ironic, huh?

The US has a level of irritation, road rage, shootings that are not seen here.  People here ask me “How can your children be in a school and someone could shoot them?”   What do I answer?  It baffles me every time there is another shooting.  Remember when airliners were being highjacked often – probably in the early 1970’s I’m guessing.  Well, the US figured out how to manage that problem.  Come on, USA, you can find a way to resolve this excessive gun problem.  Pandora’s worries are out of the box but citizens must find a way to contain these huge problems.

Back to the long-arm quilter, there would be some work here for you.  It is not a large quilting community but you also could pull from Guayaquil (3 million people – some of them must quilt) and Quito (1.5 million people).

Please think about it.  It is an opportunity to live in another culture, learn another language or brush up on your Spanish, serve the ex-pat community which is mostly US and Canadians who quilt, and explore the most species-diverse country on the planet.


12 responses »

    • Many more imported items in Medellin, per mi esposo Lenny. However, sending Lenny to look for quilt shops is like asking me to go into Best Buy and get a new computer. Need an expert in the subject! We do that for each other usually. When I visit Medellin before long, I promise to look for quilt shops and fabric. Len will keep addressing tech stuff, which is his strength!

  1. Dear Sharon, Finding your blog this a.m. made my day. My husband and I first came to Cuenca in 2009 on a real estate tour. Moved there in June of 2010. Unfortunately family issues demanded our return to the U.S., but we are once again putting the wheels in motion to return to EC—specifically Cuenca. I came the first time with two machines, embroidery designs, a quilt frame, and more fabric than any one person should ever have. This time I will be returning with three machines, more embroidery designs, a new frame and long arm (if I can swing the financing), and even more fabric than any two people should have. (If you don’t believe me, just as hubby.) I am so excited that there are others out there like me, even in little old Cuenca. I hope to get to meet you and the others and share in the wonder and pleasure that is quilting.

    • SOOOOO happy to hear from you. Let me know when you return to Cuenca. You will find many good changes, in some ways. Lots more delicious restaurants but less having low prices. Better internet speed and more options regarding television viewing. Taxis have meters now and prices went down – not good for the taxistas who must make a living. Glad you plan to return! Sharon

    • Hello Karen:
      I posted a question about who has a long arm quilt machine in Ecuador. I hope you let us know if you made it to Ecuador with it. Safe trip.

      • Won’t be in EC until June of 2015. We will travel there for a few weeks in Feb/Mar 2015 to scout out a rental that will handle living and sewing. I look forward to meeting everyone I can when we come down for the house hunt.

      • Karen, next summer is coming very soon. Very hopeful. Please let me know when you will be here and I’ll keep my ears open for a rental or any way to help you transition. Ahhhhh, a person with a long arm quilting machine…what a dream! There are several people eager to connect, once you are here. Happy planning as you prepare to move!

      • Sharon, Was wondering what you and the others do for batting? Also, what are you currently using for thread to quilt your treasures? Trying to finalize a meet date with the outfit I will be buying my new longarm from. Hoping to meet on Thursday, Aug. 21st. This place has sold machines to quilters as far away as Africa. They provide service via Skype, PDF instruction, and YouTube videos. Longarms are notoriously simple machines, but there is ALWAYS operator error.

      • Thank you for your interest, Karen. It is exciting to hear about buying a long arm machine! You must be bringing a container, then? People here ferry down batting as people visit the US or Canada, or when visitors come to see family/friends. The quilters I know pay $175/extra bag, bringing one or more suitcases full of fabric, thread and batting. There is plenty of thread but I personally have experienced slubs. I like Aurofil the best so try to keep a good supply of that. Someone gave me a wonderful gift of fancy threads for creative stitching. One can buy polyester batting here but it makes the quilt too hot for many people plus …talk about puffy! It is THICK. It is possible Lima, PERU or Medallin, COLOMBIA have cotton batting or better fabrics. Both have better trade agreements with other places in the world and Peru grows glorious pima cotton! But I have not been to look with my own eyes. Ecuador, for a number of reasons, does not have much in the way of trade, especially with the US. Currently, el presidente encourages buying Ecuadorian made, even when there are no comparable products made in Ecuador.

        You can find cutting rotary mats, rotary cutters in limited selection, things like bobbin washers, measuring tape in cm if you want that, but all are much cheaper on Amazon, Fabric.com and places like that. I advise bring plenty of your favorite rulers, cutters, mats. A woman here has a cutting table she had made here for sale now. Things like that happen. Not everyone who lives here stays here.

        Hope this is helpful
        Which brand long arm machine are you thinking of getting? Have you done any long arm work before? This is all very exciting!
        Glad you are coming to Cuenca next year. Hooray

  2. Very helpful. I did look when we lived down there before, but all I found was the puffy polyester-YUKKY! I’ve been quilting since 2005 when a quilt shop opened across the street from where I worked at the phone company. Used to go over during my lunch breaks and drool. Retired 18 months after they opened, and went to work, part time, for the shop owner, running the register and longarm. She had an APQS, which I did not care for. Because of its sluggish response, I completely shied away from free-motion quilting. I have since learned that her model was not typical of what a longarm should be like, and am very excited to try free-motion again with my machine. For now, pantographs are my thing. We are bringing a container, so I will be able to bring plenty of batting and I’ve just started collecting threads for the longarm. As for notions, I have two or three of everything already. I am considering the Juki Virtuoso (it is the only home longarm that offers a thread cutter) but I’m not a fan of the Grace Co. frame it comes on. I’m also looking at an HQ and a Tin Lizzie. Going on the 21st to test drive every machine they have, so only time will tell which one I end up with. Will let you know. Thanks for the info.

    • Wow, thanks for your quick reply, Karen. You have had a great journey already. It is fun to hear a bit about long arm machines. I never looked at them and never used anyone’s services. I had only quilted about 5 quilts before we moved here. And I do my own machine quilting but know they could look so much more professional with long arm work.

      Affording it? You are moving to a community of retirees so some folks have lots of budget and some have very little budget, as you know from being here. But I am sure there will be some business for you if you want it and can price your services reasonably for a community of retirees. I understand you still need to make money, of course. It will all work out. I will have some marketing ideas for you if you decide you want to offer long arm quilting services.

      Fun to exchange info. Look forward to hearing more as you test drive those machines. I laughed when you said you have 3 of everything. Guilty pleasures. Hence the name QuiltGuilt. The first year I was here, I sold all of my completed quilts, mostly to Cuencanos, so there is a small but dedicated group of interested people who love “patchwork” as quilting is called in South America.
      Best wishes in your run up to moving.

      • Sharon, Sorry to give the wrong impression. Really was not planning on starting a longarm business. Have no problem doing the occasional quilt for others, but don’t want to tie myself down too much. Besides, I love making quilts myself (usually do about 30 quilt tops a year). My husband and I are getting antsy to move this process along, but realize that many of the documents we need are time sensitive. I do want to be here till June 1st, 2015 when my grandson turns 3 years old. Plus, we thought we were going to lease our house, but have not decided that we will try to sell starting in Jan 2015. If not sold by the time we leave, then we will put it up for lease. BTW, is the Cuenca Tech Life blogger Lenny your Lenny? I just found the site yesterday and thought what a coincidence it was that he had the same firs name as your husband. I hope that your husband’s surgery is successful. I had 3 surgery’s while I was there before, and I have the utmost confidence in the doctors in EC. Keep all informed about his progress. Take care and keep on posting.

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