jameel

Long Arm Quilting in Canada

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Hi there,

I am based in Canada and after a few years of quilting on a Grace quilting setup and now a Millenium i am starting to feel confident enough to consider taking in customer's quilts for long arm quilting. I was wanting to find out how many of the forum members are from Canada and hoping they might be interested in connecting with me to share their Canadian longarm quilting experiences.

I live in a fairly under-populated rural area in the Prairies and to date have been doing mostly custom designs on my own quilts while I get up to speed on handling my new-to-me Millie. I am very artistic so the free motion and ruler work has been fun and hasn't been hard to learn (sketching skills over the years from formal training made the learning curve easy, especially on feathers!) and I am only now dabbling in design template work as I can see how much faster it is  if I ever hope to make an income off quilting, lol! So far, my efforts are yeilding good results and I feel like I could make customers satisfied with the quality of work I turn out (I am a perfectionist!). I have yet to master pantos but I am not sure if I am just too fussy with the results I am getting?

A few years ago there was an established longarm business in my little town that I believe did pretty well for itself. Unfortunately, the one owner has passed away and the second owner I believe is in a nursing home so I am not sure exactly what "pretty well" means in real financial terms. How those customers were sourced and where they have gone is also an unknown to me... I have only lived here for a few years. How I wish I could have mentored with these ladies! The nearest quilt shop is about 60 km (45minutes) away, the next is a Joanns that is 2 and a half hours away in the USA, and then another is 3 hours away heading north.

I have a lot yet to learn and could use an increase in speed of loading quilts and need to figure out ideas on how to attract customers (given my location). Money is extremely tight but I can use some credit to invest in strategic items that would generate an income. I am not looking to get rich or be super swamped in work as I have a family that means more to me than being on the eternal wheel of industry. I have a part time job to finance my quilting habit (and fill in the day with quilting and sewing practice) and that I would hope to ultimately exchange for a full time quilting business. I am aspiring to a moderate, steady, dependable income for quality work for the long run.

I am sure there are folks out there in cyberland who would be happy to give their opinions and share advice with me... and I would be very grateful for it!

I would love to hear from you! Thanks!

 

 

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5 hours ago, jameel said:

Money is extremely tight but I can use some credit to invest in strategic items that would generate an income.

Jameel:

I do not quilt for money, nor do I live in Canada, but I would suggest that if monies are tight that you do not use credit to grow your business.    I would hate to see you take on debt that takes years, if not decades to pay off.  The only group that makes money in those situations tend to be the bank or credit card company.  Since you already have a Millie, I have to surmise that you already have thread and all other materials to start you quilting business.  All you need now are paying customers.  That is probably easier than you think.

Start off by telling your quilting friends that you are taking in quilts for hire.  If small town Canada is anything like small town America, word is going to spread like wild fire that there is a new quilter in town.  Your quilting friends probably have UFOs that they would like finished, so they may just hand them off to you to do exactly that.  Post a picture of two of you work here, you never know what want to be APQS owner reads this forum every day.  You just may get a customer from sharing your work.

Are you a member of you local religious group?  If so, make a nice religious wall hanging, and present it to the pastor to hang on the wall of the facility.  Let the pastor know you would be interested in quilting for the congregation if they were so inclined.  Does the town that has the quilt shop 45-minutes away have a quilting guild?  If so, join it.  Bring in your best quilts you have made over the years, and show off your work.  Make it known that you would like to start taking in quilts to finish.  

Since you are not interested in getting rich or being super swamped in quilt sandwiches, start off slow taking in one or two quilts at a time.  Figure out over a few months what your family/work schedule will allow you to quilt for hire.  Charge accordingly for you work.  You do not want to end up earning less per hour for quilting than you earn working part-time to feed your habit.  You said you were a "perfectionist", get over that.  Turn out good high quality work, but there will never be a "perfect" quilting job.  

Since you have a family, I am sure you have had some of them baby sit or shovel snow for hire.  They did all that without a business license, marketing, or a real business plan.  You probably can do the same thing, though I would suggest having a business plan.  Also check with your insurance agent, as how to best protect your home from liability when customers pickup or drop off their quilt tops.  

It sounds like you are well on your way to having a wonderful quilting business.  I wish you the best of luck.  Keep us updated on how things work out for you.  Have a great day.

Cagey

 


May your threads be balanced, and your bobbin forever full….

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Hi!  Welcome to the forum. 

I live about 45 kms west of Ottawa.  I have a very limited quilting business that I have intentionally kept small because I have a full time job.  Word does seem to spread though.

It sounds like you have rulers and a few templates, so thread is the only essential.  Quilters can be as starry-eyed as brides or golfers, when it comes to getting every new gadget that comes along.  Stay with what you have to get you started and definitely don't go into debt getting accessories that you may only use twice.

Before you start attracting customers it would be good to build a pricing structure for the work you feel comfortable doing, maybe have some samples of various designs that you are proficient at, and create an intake form.  I'd be happy to share my forms with you; just send me a PM with your email address.

Does your community have a news letter, or a grocery store or an arena with a bulletin board for posting adds? Our post office has a bulletin board for community adds.  Make up a little flyer with your information and post it.  

Wishing you success

Gail

 

 


Gail Olfert

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of times our breath is taken away

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I cannot help you much. I will say the Red Snappers are a quick way to load and

unload. I hated pinning. I tore up my hands every time. I had bandaids all over my fingers. The Red Snappers allow you to load without pins and is very quick. Here is a link to a youtube showing how they work:

Also, if I were in business, I would only do edge to edge for customers. First of all, the customers want custom at edge to edge pricing. Don't give it away, you will never make money that way. If you do choose to do custom quilting for customers figure out how many hours it is taking to quilt your own quilts and charge accordingly. I was charging .03 cents per square inch several years ago, which was the going price in my area for custom. I was making about $5 per hour or so. Now I would just charge by the hour. Not sure many people do that, but I know I want to make $20 per hour. I have the ability, the knowledge from all the classes I have paid for, the skill, and the equipment, I don't think $20 per hour is unreasonable. The customer might. That is why I would do edge to edge only. Really, when you figure it out, you are probably making about $20 per hour on edge to edge. My other issue at the time, was that I was putting all this dense, awesome quilting on a quilt for a customer. I thought I should be saving that quilting for my own quilts. Maybe sounds selfish, but they didn't want to pay for it, so let them envy my quilts, lol.


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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I live in Central Alberta. Once I was comfortable with my machine and was wanting to do customer quilts. I approached my small guild and told them my shingle was out for business and to jump off my business I was offering a panto sale for 1 month I gave them 25% off which for me was 1 1/2 cents from my regular 2 cents. I selected 3 easier pantos for them to chose from. So from my guild of 12 people I got 10 quilts for that month. then told them that if they refered me to a friend and they brought me a quilt to have quilted I would give them a 10 % discount on their next quilt. This encouraged them to talk about my quilting business with others. This did bring  in new customers.  I also did charity quilts for my big guild (75 people) at this guild when the charity quilts are show at the meeting they give the quilter credit for their quilting this gets the word out without hounding people , at this guild there are about 8 quilters for hire so I let my work speak for me I started a facebook page and show my work on there  I was able to show a pretty special quilt that went viral and now i have a customer from the states sending me her tops. I also live on a farm and really enjoy piecing so do not want to be bogged down with quilting. Start small get business card  leave at your local or not so local quilt stores.  Alot to digest but do what works for you. Good luck with your business Jacualine


 

Terry

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Wow! Thank you so very much for the advice you have all so graciously shared! I will be reading and rereading it for a while to make certain I absorb it all properly.

It all looks like sound advice ( I appreciate your frankness and financial wisdom and I really like the ideas on how to get my work out there and the word out there ). I have a lot on hand to get started with for custom work but I can definitely see that it won't make a reasonable return on my time so i am looking to buy some Circle Lord and R&S boards for edge to edge work... looks like i wont need as many to start with as i thought... whew! That is a big relief. I don't know why I thought I had to be able to offer a large selection of designs? Fatal financial mistake dodged, thank you Cagey and Gail!

I will work on the perfectionisim trait And give my pantos more of a chance as i have a few of those that came with my machine. 

Gail, thank you for being willing to share your intake form. I will send you my email address!

Mary Beth, you're a wealth of practical knowledge so I am very glad you told me about the red snappers. I have a similar system that came with my machine ( blue tubes inside the leaders and opaque plastic snaps on the outside) but I hate using it on the take up roller so I have been pinning on that one only ( I take it too slowly, to avoid the blood!) But I may have to reconsider for the sake of speed and figure out how to make it work for me on that leader too. I figured out how many hours custom quilting was taking and I came to the conclusion that it wouldn't be worth doing for hire... our economy is in a major slump so I doubt anyone would want to pay for it.

Thank you for the marketing advice, I will pick one ot two methods at a time that you have all offered and implement them for a while and see what sort of response I get from each until I figure out which ones work around here. Our church ladies offer hand quilting services to raise money so I will tread carefully there so as not to upset anyone on that front... they do beautiful work for a rediculously low fee, all for a good cause and fellowship.

I will post a picture of my favourite quilt  later today... can't be shy if I want the work.

Thank you all for chiming in, please feel free to drop me a line if you think of anything more... I appreciate the help more than I can express. And I will keep reading what you have already sent to make sure I missed nothing. Thank you for taking the time to teach me.

Have a great day everyone out there!

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Years ago one of the ladies on this forum (sorry I don't remember who) suggested always have some handwork with you.  When you are waiting at the Doctor's office or waiting for your car at the dealer sit there and do some hand binding.  It may start a conversation and you never know where you will find a potential customer.

 

Nigel


Brenda Wells - Green Millie
Nigel Wells - Ultimate 1 with |Intellistitch & IQ

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3 hours ago, jameel said:

I will post a picture of my favourite quilt  later today... can't be shy if I want the work.

 

We all had to post our work for the first time. We all have been there. Post away we love seeing everyone's work and are nothing but encouraging. We can even help with design choice, thread choice, etc...we are just so much fun to hang out with :D


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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It isn't as easy as I thought it would be to get pictures that showed the feathers! The quilting is all free motion and straight lines done with a ruler. None of the quilts have been squared up with steam.  The back of the flying geese quilt has been pieced and also has my daughter's name appliqued on the back. My sons' unruly triangle quilt has a one-piece backing.

These are the quilts I made for my youngest two children and are the 3rd and fourth quilts I have done on my Millie.IMG_8690.JPG.6a7d38576be6ea96dd1961e91fb3da6a.JPGIMG_8679.JPG.329c75b8f1c8b4fb08202ce428585aa4.JPGIMG_8692.JPG.4d07a270ad56155bbd4c0d3dbcb14a6a.JPG

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Jameel;

I am not sure to call the last picture, but I like the very modern look of the quilting.  It looks wonderful.  You did a great job on the feathers.  I say if you going to go to that much work, you need to make them pop a little more with some contrasting thread.  Outstanding job on all of them.  Thank you for sharing.

Cagey


May your threads be balanced, and your bobbin forever full….

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Thanks, Cagey! Your comments are very kind and most appreciated!

Now that I know I can pull off good feathers I will use a higher contrast thread next time. When I did this one in the photos it was only my second time trying feathers (and first time doing hooked feathers!) And I was on a time crunch for my daughters birthday. I was pretty insecure about how they would turn out and didnt want to have to unpick them if they werent nice. Nothing like shooting for the moon as soon as possible and under pressure. I was very relieved by the result and wouldn't hesitate to do them again because they were FAST to quilt.

The other quilt was lots of fun but took forever, so it seemed, mostly because I exceeded the width on the table with each pass and had to keep scrolling forwards and backwards... live and learn experience. I think doing this with a desgn board for the lines, rather than a ruler, would be much faster. Thank you for the compliment on the quilting!

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I can see your border feathers in the first quilt, they look great for a first/second try.  I love the second quilt, great design! 


Connie
Port Huron, MI   48060
APQS Sales Rep and Educator
Millennium with Intelliquilter (IQ)

"Be a good listener, your ears will never get you in trouble" Frank Tygr


sewsweetgator@aol.com
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Both of these quilts are gorgeous. Good luck with launching your business.


signaturedimage

A good friend will come and bail you out of jail, but a best friend will be sitting next to you saying, 'Dang, that was fun'!

2017 Blissed Lenni and loving it!

 

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