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  1. When I decided to buy a machine a couple of months ago I posted my 'wants' here and on the Longarm list thru Quiltropolis. Had almost a dozen replies in one day. One of my requirements was that it be within reasonable driving/hauling distance and I am in a small rural area! Put the word out and you will get all kinds of replies. Good Luck. Merry
  2. I did a super kingsize recently that gave me a lot of grief with the 'dull needle' syndrome. The quilt was totally made of heavy batiks including the back. The material is the only reason I can think of to cause the problem. I changed needles several times before finishing. I was told on another list that the fabric couldn't possibly be the problem, yada, yada, yada. I use the GB needles and have never had a problem before or since then. So it could be your fabric. Batiks are made with a 'wax' process and I can see where they would dull or grab or otherwise create needle problems. Mary
  3. Congratulations on your first! It took me a couple of dozen quilts before I quit having butterflies altho I still get an occasional anxious moment but once I start the feeling goes away. I have quilts come in from handquilters who are used to cutting the backing very close to the top and have never used a longarmer quilter before. I have them sew on 'bumpers' (strips about six inches wide) just like they do for the handquilting frame and this will give me enough to pin on and clamp and let me control how far to the edge I want to quilt. I don't want to mess with sewing the bumpers on so I tell them that if I do it there will be a twenty-five dollar charge. They also get a polite lessson in 'why extra backing is needed'. Mary in CA
  4. I think you need to figure out how much an hour you would be willing to work for. What is the average price in your area for meandering or E2E? That is your bread and butter income because while custom quilting is emotionally rewarding it doesn't bring in the income that the other quilting does.You charge more for it because it takes a lot longer. So back once again to how much an hour would you work for? How much do you have to do to make xxxxx amt per hour and how many hours are you willing to work per day? Figure in your expenses and be real. I doubt that people ever figure high enough. Is this primary income for you or 'play money'? The reason you hear so much about the quilters making big income is because they are the exception to the rule. Machine quilting is physically taxing and you have to consider that also. So you can pin on a queen size (pretty much the average size here) in x amt of time and quit it in x amt of time. Now for each quilt add at least another 30 to 45 minutes to that at least for pre-checking, time with the customer, repairs, frogging and re-stitching, answering the phone, potty breaks, coffee breaks, post quilting inspection, pita, etc. Quilters in my area are booked 8 & 9 months out. That sounds good but it still boils down to how many hours you will work for how much income. How many quilts a week can you do? I refuse to book more than 10 weeks out and it is very possible in my area to make a nice steady amt every month but it is definately supplemental income, not a living wage. Mary in CA
  5. Re practice - support your local guild or guilds if there are several in the area. You will meet wonderful giving people and they will be delighted if you volunteer to quilt some of their community service quilts. I had as many as I wanted to carry home each month and it paid off not only in practice but in advertising. I didn't make a big deal of it, just did them and turned them in. Since the quilts are displayed on the walls the day of the meeting, people were soon asking who did the quilting. Business boomed. A word of caution tho, I prefer to quilt for people who are not in my guild as I find that soon your meetings and social time there are taken over by ladies bringing, picking up, measuring, discussing, etc. I ask them to bring them to me at home now except for a couple of very elderly sisters who don't drive. All that going on before, after, during a meeting can lead to other members resentment so beware. Fortunately I was aware of potential problems so put a halt to it. In other words don't mix business and pleasure:-) Mary
  6. Giggling here at Jeri and her thousands of feet of butcher paper - cuz I did the same thing! Pantos - I started out terrified to work freehand so bought, bartered, traded and made a bunch. Now I rarely use them. I dislike the row after row look of most of them but they are good for inspiration. Can't give advice on thread because I am a threadhead, love those colors. Just be sure to get that ugly olive green both dark and medium shades, it goes with almost everything! In my area I have only been asked once if I carry batting. Buy some SewAid??? Several different names but it is a thread conditioner and you will need it at some point. Extra bobbins and bobbin case also. Canned air to clean out the lint and a Swifter mop. Wrap a piece of batting on the mop and it picks up everything! No more cutting thread out of the vacumn cleaner. My most treasured notions are a pair of 8" long tweezers, a skinny box cutter and a pair of forceps, along with one of those sticky rollers to pick up lint and hair. After frogging just roll it across the quit and get all of those small threads. Picked up several of them by the checkout counters in WallyWorld. And if you don't have Linda Taylors book get it now! One more thing - get a really syrupy CD of music like waltzes and put it on along with a practice piece and dance with your machine:-) You will pick up a smooth motion right away. Mary in CA
  7. It's a wonder I am working at all with my head spinning round with thoughts of an upgraded machine. Spent way too much time on the computer searching for used machines today. But, my sewing room (mobile) which was being redone is almost completed and looking great:-) It will be so nice to have the LA and all my sewing stuff in one area. I am busy with customer quilts, seems business is really picking up to the point where I may have to schedule my own quilts in there somewhere. Haven't had time to do any piecework but am halfway thru three different quilts. Taking a class on NewYorkBeauty next week so am anxious for that one. And biggie, I no longer get nervous about taking customer quilts. My ladies have all been delighted with the work and returns are coming in. I decided after two QFH last month that I can handle about anything, VBG. Mary in CA
  8. I posted earlier today whining about not being able to use the pretty varigated rayon thread. Hahahhaaa I can use it now! I finished a customer quilt today and decided to put on my practice piece and just sit and fiddle with the rayon thread. It broke repeatedly so I started changing things around. Finally found the solution by using cotton thread in the bobbin, bypassing several of the tension places including the one right after the tension spring, yep, go around the spring and right up to the eye that goes up and down. It is sewing like a dream. I am so happy, I can use all that thread I purchased at Sisters this year:-) When all else fails just start putzing with things........... Now if I can just find a newer model machine to purchase. Mary in CA
  9. Oh that is soooooooo frustrating!!! But figured out how to use Superior finally. First off I had to switch to cotton in the bobbin instead of the pre-wounds. I also work 'backwards' on the tension - I leave the bobbin tension alone. I loosen the top tension until there are loopies or very very loose stitches on the back and then start tightening it. Do a few stitches, check, tighten, until I get the stitch I want. You really have to loosen that tension waaaaaaay out to start this way. Hope you find a solution quick. Sigh, I still can't use the pretty varigated rayon thread:-( Mary in CA
  10. Sherry, I just looked at the colors of the Sewfine and WOW. But I don't understand something you said - if it is the same weight as the regular thread what would be the advantage of using it in the bobbin instead of what ever you are quilting the top with? I am a 'thread junkie' and just drooling over some of the colors now. Thanks. Mary & Sophie
  11. I love to piece, it is so soothing for me but I was only a 'piecer' for about three months before I got my longarm:-) So never sent out a quilt, didn't have a clue. This is where the boards have been such a help. I think that as newbies we get so hyped and impressed with all of the lovely show type quilting that we tend to overquilt once we get going and that progresses as time goes by. I love the look of the heavily quilted pieces BUT I don't care for the feel and definately don't like using them. Most of my customers are bringing me 'practical gift' type tops and thankfully one of them said early on that she wanted medium spaced quilting, not too heavy, blah blah blah. I find this to be true of all of my customers. The temptation to do some heavy custom work on one sometimes is almost overwhelming. But I stop and think, what am I getting paid to do here? Right now there is the most wonderful top with vivid batik dragons on the machine and I am dying to do varigated threads and custom work on it but customer wants overall 'nothing fancy'. The bread and butter in longarming in my area is everyday quilts with medium e2e or meanders. Shoot, I would do this one for the same price just to play with it!!! Have to find time to finish piecing mine so I can play again:-) Mary & Sophie
  12. You can look at for them. You can buy the ones for sleeping bags and successfully install and use them. Up to 120 inches for 5 & 6 dollars each set. I am going buy several sets so can keep one on a practice piece and the extras for customer quilts. Mary
  13. Thank you for the info:-) I remembered that I won the book raffle last month at Guild and sure nuf, it is a paper piecing book and the duck is there. Now to get into the stash for the right fabric. I am paperpiecing impaired or so says the instructor so going to try it on my own. Mary
  14. LOVE the geese (ducks?) Is it paperpieced? Is there a name for the pattern I could look for? Mary
  15. I am still waffling on zippers, do or don't. Wondering if anyone using them puts the quilt on by basting it. I know that the 3 thread sergers are very cheap and a fast easy way to baste. Just clip that one thread and pull and it unravels. Mary & Sophie Ult I