Cheeky Cognoscenti

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About Cheeky Cognoscenti

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  • Birthday 05/27/1973

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    Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.

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  1. With IntelliQuilter on order for my Millennium (YAY!!), I'm planning to launch my quilting business within the next couple of months. Would like to start off well organized and in control of paperwork and inventory. I've been looking at Quickbooks as well as the industry-specific Machine Quilters Business Manager (MQBM) program from Eureka, but please tell me if there are other options I should consider. What software do you use in your business, and what are its pros and cons? I really like that MQBM is already set up specifically for a home based long arm quilting business, calculating your per-square-inch rate and various ways of charging for thread, batting, binding services if offered, etc., as well as how it enables you to keep track of the quilts you have in house waiting to be quilted or delivered, which designs those clients have selected, etc. And it also tracks your thread and batting inventory, which it appears (looking at the QuickBooks web site) that you can only get in Quickbooks if you go with the $70/month plan. Ouch! MQBM software is a one-time cost of only $225. The one thing that intrigues me about Quickbooks is that it looks like it can be set up so that clients can pay directly from the electronic invoice they receive, but there's a footnote disclaiming that "this feature requires the Quickbooks Payment Service, sold separately." Was leaning heavily towards the MQBM software to keep startup costs reasonable and because this software would be so easy to set up myself, allowing me to focus my brain cells on learning my new IntelliQuilter system rather than spending a lot of time trying to learn how to set everything up in Quickbooks. But when this topic has come up in other forums periodically, I'm surprised by how many quilters are using Quickbooks for their businesses. Has anyone written a current guide on setting up Quickbooks for a long arm quilting business, and if so, which version of Quickbooks is recommended? Thanks in advance. :-)
  2. Gail, which version of Quickbooks are you using for your inventory? Looking at the Quickbooks web site today, it looks like you only get inventory tracking capability with the $70/month subscription based version. The desktop version of Quickbooks seems much more affordable with a one-time purchase of $299, but Inventory is not listed in the available features with that option.
  3. Beatrice/Marie0722: What did you want to do for your invoices that you could not do with MQBM software? Was this with the most current software version or an older version? If you're using MQBM software for project management, what are you using for your bookkeeping? Thanks.
  4. Katydids, you misunderstand me -- I have a 2013 Millennium with the older hopping foot style, two tiny screws at the back of the hopping foot and the feed have a long, skinny ankle. My original hopping feet look like this peek-a-boo foot: I ordered the parts kit to retrofit my "Legacy" style machine so that it can accept the new quick change feet after the conversion. The instructions from APQS for doing the conversion are 37 pages long, (all different models are covered in the same instructions), and the conversion kit includes the new Quick Change style True Quarter Inch foot. I'm looking forward to being able to change the hopping foot "as easily as changing a needle!" :-) Here's a link to the Quick Change Upgrade Parts Kit in the APQS store for Legacy Millennium, Lucey & Freddie machines:
  5. Okay, considering removing the thread cutter from my 2013 Millennium because I don't use it and suspect I would find my machine even easier to move if she dropped a couple of pounds. The only reason I hadn't done that yet was because my acrylic Hartley ruler base wouldn't fit anymore without the thread cutter -- but I saw a thread in the forum from 2012 with several members talking about "Donita's ruler base" that you use instead. I googled "Donita ruler base" and came up with Donita Reeve's site -- is that what you're talking about (see pictures of Donita Reeve's ruler base below)? There are no dimensions given for her APQS ruler base and I'm not sure how it attaches to the machine. I'm wondering why people chose this ruler base instead of the clear acrylic Hartley base that APQS has, and what the advantages/disadvantages would be. I see that she says the beveled edges of her base do not get hung up on the side clamps like the Hartley base does. Is this ruler base big enough to support larger rulers, like Bethanne Nemesh's French Curve rulers in her Garden Lines collection? Does this actually screw on through the stitch plate screw holes, or does it clamp onto the machine in some way? And finally, if I remove the factory installed thread cutter from my Millie, will Donita's ruler base for APQS machines without thread cutters fit my machine without additional modification? The main thing I dislike about the Hartley base is that if I accidentally lean or press down too hard near one of the front corners, the whole thing tips up while I'm quilting.
  6. I just discovered that there’s a kit available for converting my 2013 Millie to accept the new Quick Change feet. I hate changing the old style feet on my machine with the two fiddly screws but haven’t had a chance to see how the newer feet work. The conversion kit is $200 but it comes with the true 1/4 inch foot that I really want ($140 if I buy the version that fits my machine now). So not much more to upgrade to the newer style. Has anyone else done this? Anyone seen the difference in person — is it really faster/easier to switch the new style feet? I usually just leave the same foot on my Millie all the time, but would definitely use specialty feet if they were easier to change out without disrupting my creative flow.
  7. I can't figure out how to delete this ad, but my 2013 APQS Millennium is no longer for sale. It's all Jessica's fault at APQS Tech Support -- decided to upgrade to the 2019 style Quick Change hopping feet and remove my thread cutter, and I am so much happier with my machine now that I decided not to sell it, after all. APQS has the best tech support ever! And I LOVE that APQS makes these newer features available so we can update our older machines at such a reasonable cost. THANK YOU! :-)
  8. Oh my gosh, Jim, thank you SO MUCH! I am sending you a great, big bear hug over the Internet. That was my problem -- I'd watched Jamie Wallen's tension video on YouTube where he recommends a really loose tension, and I had my tension balanced with my bobbin set at about 160. I reset my bobbin to 200 per your suggestion and increased upper tension to rebalance my stitch, and the problem disappeared instantly. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help. Two related questions: 1. I have been using my TOWA gauge on a stable table surface when I take my readings, but I recently read where another long arm quilter was recommending holding the gauge vertically against a wall to take a "correct" reading. I can see how that better mimics the way the bobbin case is oriented in our machines and the impact of gravity, etc., but it results in a very different tension reading (by about 50) versus taking the reading with the TOWA laid flat on a table. My suspicion is that, when I'm consulting a bobbin tension guide from Superior Threads or getting TOWA tension recommendations here in the forum, those are based on readings with the TOWA set on a flat surface. Is that correct, or am I the only person on the planet who hasn't been holding her TOWA gauge up against the wall? 2. I have the M hook on my Millie, which has a little pigtail guide that APQS recommends "in most situations," per the user manual. But I'm finding that, if I thread that little pigtail, it puts significant additional tension on my bobbin thread and limits my ability to fine-tune the bobbin case tension. Should I just ignore that little pigtail altogether or am I missing something about how to use it properly? I think I remember reading that the pigtail guide is meant to ensure that the bobbin thread is aligned correctly when the hook comes around, to prevent skipped stitches, but I have never had any skipped stitches on my Millie, regardless of whether that little pigtail guide is threaded or not. Thanks again for the help -- this forum is such a wonderful resource! Rebecca Grace
  9. I know that a long arm machine is never going to stitch identically in all directions, but I've been seeing drastically different stitching in a ruler work border that I was stitching yesterday and it's making me nuts. What can I tweak to improve this? This is quilt shop fabric top and bottom (both from Free Spirit Fabrics), Quilter's Dream Cotton Select batting, new 3.5 needle, So Fine #50 in the needle and Bottom Line in the bobbin. Bobbin case tension was adjusted to Superior's recommendation for Bottom Line using a TOWA gauge, then adjusted top tension per Jamie Wallen's method (so you see the bobbin thread pulled to the top, and then back off slightly until the bobbin is just barely visible through the needle holes so you know it's going to settle inside the quilt sandwich). I'm doing ruler work so I'm running the machine fairly slowly, and have tried slowing down even more (in case this is a needle flex issue) but it doesn't seem to make a difference. The stitches look great in both directions on the back of the quilt but if I try to solve the flat line stitching by lowering my top tension, then the opposite line of stitching gets messed up. I have also tried loosening my quilt on the frame. I know I've heard mention on this board of inserting the needle turned slightly to the left or right rather than dead centered. Would that help with this issue, and if so, which way should I tweak my needle -- to the right or to the left? What else might help?
  10. Also, I found that I was able to get better stitches with King Tut on my Millie when I combined it with So Fine #50 in the bobbin.
  11. Hi, Jim. My quilt top is very heavily pieced and scrappy, so lots and lots of seams and seam intersections to stitch through for the SID (see photo below). Fabrics in the quilt top are mostly Free Spirit Fabrics printed cottons like Kaffe Fassett Collective and Anna Maria Horner, etc, with a few hand marbled fabrics from Marjorie Lee Bevis mixed in here and there -- those are similar to batiks. My quilt top is also heavily starched throughout the piecing process, not sure if that makes a difference for dulling needles (but it definitely makes a difference in helping me piece a square, accurate quilt top with nice, sharp points). Quilt batting is Quilter's Dream Select Cotton, and the backing is another print from Free Spirit Fabrics. Nothing crazy there, either. I'm using a 4.0 Groz-Beckert needle, regular kind -- my APQS dealer advised against the titanium needles on the grounds that IF they do break, they can cause more damage than the regular needles. The only thing I can think that would have dulled my needle faster than normal is SID through all of those thick seam allowances. Also, since this quilt is a skill-builder for me, I'm quilting it a lot more heavily than i would if it was a customer quilt. In the photo below, only the SID has been done in the area you can see but after that I started adding ruler work and FM. I know this would look great with a panto and it would be a lot faster and easier to do it that way, but I specifically wanted to practice and improve SID, ruler work, and free motion fills, so I'm in the process of "quilting it to death," as they say. Using Bottom Line in the bobbin with So Fine in the needle, if that makes a difference. And I know that the timing, hook/needle bar etc are good because we just went through the whole battery of Spa Maintenance with Tech Support before this quilt, when we changed my hook from the L to the M and retimed. Everything that can possibly be checked, adjusted, worn out or replaced has been done to this machine and she is purring along like a happy kitten! :-). Of course, it's possible that the needle was a dud right out of the package, too...
  12. When I had my new owner training, I was advised to put in a new needle at the start of each quilt, but my dealer said that sometimes if they are small quilts you can wait until after 2 or 3 quilts if you're not experiencing problems. That's great advice if you're doing typical pantograph quilting, but I've learned the hard way that dense custom quilting through lots of thick seam allowances wears out a needle a lot faster. I put in a new needle at the beginning of this quilt, did all of the SID, and then got about a third of the way through with ruler work and FMQ when I started thinking that the stitching sounded different, like the needle was punching through the quilt sandwich instead of gliding through easily. If I'd been on my domestic machine I would have changed the needle right away, but I thought I must be imagining things since my APQS uses "industrial" needles that are so much stronger... And I was remembering that "new needle with each new quilt" advice, so I thought I was imagining that the stitching sounded different and kept quilting. Well, within another hour or so of quilting, I started getting white threads showing up on this purple print as I was quilting it, from the dull needle twisting the fabric yarns as it struggled to get through the quilt (this was most noticeable on fabrics that were significantly lighter on the wrong side compared to the right side of the fabric). And then, when I advanced the quilt, I saw batting pokies where the dull needle point pushed batting right through the needle hole. Lesson learned! I'm still very much a beginner, and this is my first quilt that I'm quilting so heavily. So I'm curious -- those of you who do a lot of heavy custom/heirloom quilting, how many needles do you go through on a single quilt? Is it normal to wear out multiple needles on one custom quilt? I'm not using the titanium needles -- my dealer advised against them because she said they cause more damage to the machine if/when they do break or something like that.
  13. Jim, here's a video from Jamie Wallen (Quilter's Apothecary) that explains this hybrid operation mode: On HandiQuilter machines it's called Cruise Mode, on Innova I think it's called Start Speed, and on APQS it's an upgrade option called Quilt Glide. You're operating the machine with stitch regulation, the only difference is that when you stop the machine head, the needle pulses up and down rather than coming to a complete stop. I tried it last night with some tight back and forth fills and really loved it -- much smoother operation than quilting that particular fill in pure regulated mode, yet the stitch regulator is giving me those beautiful even stitches. Love love love!! From the APQS Facebook forum feedback I received, it looks as though you cannot adjust that idle needle pulsing speed independently of the stitch length on the new style APQS machines, but that's okay with me because the pulsing speed that the machine defaulted to worked just fine for me. :-).
  14. The only video I could find on the APQS YouTube channel for Quilt Glide was about 10 years old, and they were demo'ing the brand-new Quilt Glide feature on the old style beige Millennium. On that machine, Quilt Glide had a button that you turned slightly to engage the feature at a slow speed, but then if you turned the button more you could increase the needle's idle speed and fine tune it to what you were doing. I have a white "new style" Millennium, a 2013, and instead of a button or knob like that I just have a Quilt Glide button to engage or disengage this feature on my touch screen. On my machine, the same buttons that increase or decrease stitch length in stitch regulated mode are used to increase or decrease the motor speed in manual mode. Surely APQS did not take away the ability to adjust stitch length and Quilt Glide idle speed independently when they came out with the new touch screen interface, did they? What am I missing? To clarify, I am trying to figure out how I could set a low Quilt Glide idle speed in conjunction with a relatively short stitch length, so that the machine doesn't cycle up and down quite so fast when I stop moving it. Is there some other knob somewhere that does this? Is there a newer video or tutorial that I overlooked?