Yesterday I went back to the sewing machine shop (I wish they had a batter name, but they really don't) to pick up a free pack of needles courtesy of my recent purchase of the new machine (which I still love). They had the big computerized panto longarm machine up and running, so I asked questions about it and how long it takes on average and so on.
They do all the setup for you and then you babysit the machine in case it, I don't know, runs out of thread or snags or something. If you babysit it then it can go faster. Complicated designs take longer than simple ones, natch. They said a "big" quilt can usually run 4-6 hours, which I thought seemed like a lot. At $25/hour that adds up.
Now, the lady who was doing mine previously, she moved, and she said she's ready to take on quilting again. Except I'd have to mail it to her (and get it mailed back) and then you worry about if anything happens in transit and so on. Getting it done locally would remove some of that worry, not to mention the shipping expense.
Long story short, the local price might be a little higher than the lady previously doing it, but there's shipping and time and so on. It probably comes out to a wash in the long run.
I asked about binding, though - that's the edge of the quilt, and something I don't enjoy AT ALL. I can do mock binding but I am not good at double-fold binding and I refuse to hand quilt the binding on. They don't do that at the SWP. Previous Lady did it at about $20/quilt, cheaper for smaller quilts. Other local prices are about $40/quilt, so you can see how PL was a good deal in so many ways.
However, it turns out there's a binding foot you can buy for my machine, which makes double-fold binding easy-peasy. The staffer showed it to me and omg it is so easy and makes such a neat binding. And it only costs $250!
I checked online later and actually that price is pretty good. Now, I have 6 quilt tops waiting to be turned into full quilts, plus two in process. At $40 each, that would be $240 right there, making it worth the cost of buying the binding foot. I can also earn some store credit and get maybe up to $40 off if I get a good deal.
So we are looking at that. It's an expense, no two ways about it. But it could def be worth it to actually GET THESE QUILTS DONE and maybe get some of them up for sale. Not to mention clear out the backlog of quilt tops!