loraquilts

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  1. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from Gail O in Thinking about upgrading. Thoughts???   
    Thanks for the input.  You have all expressed things I have been batting around for some time now. 
    Q - will I ever do enough customer work to pay for the new machine and the new IQ (if I end up getting a new IQ)?
    A - definitely not.
     
    Q - will the new Millie30 be thaaaaaaaat much better than the Ult I with IQ that I have now?
    A -- probably not.
     
    Q - would I get enough enjoyment out of the new machine to make it worthwhile?
    A -- I think so.  I think the pride of owning the latest and greatest machine, the lifetime warranty, the bliss system, and some of the other features would be nice and that I would be pleased with them. 
     
    Q - will I be able to do that much more with a 30" machine than I can with my 26" machine.
    A - I think so.  There have been several times when either a quilt of my own or a customer quilt required rolling up and back several times during a pass to get the whole area completed because size of the block was too large for the throat space I have.  Not sure if 4" would make a huge difference, but on those occasions when I needed it, I think it would have really come in handy.  I know this wouldn't be the case for 90% of the quilts that I do.
     
    Okay - and here's the truly stupid reason that I am seriously considering upgrading.  My mother passed away two years ago and she had been encouraging me to get the new machine as a treat for myself.  I never did it while she was alive and regret that because I think she would have had fun with it.  My sister was in charge of getting the house cleaned up and sold.  I thought that when the house sold I would use some of my portion to get the new machine -- kind of a thank you and tribute to mom.  HOWEVER, my sister kept all of the money for herself.  She stole my inheritance!  There is a lot that I could go into here, but I won't (trust me it isn't pretty).  Anywhoo, I determined that since I can afford it anyway, I'm still going to get the new machine (of course tomorrow my resolution may be back to waffling). 
     
    Last question ---- L or M bobbins?  I'm kind of leaning toward M bobbins just so that I don't have to change them that often.  Has anyone had problems with the M bobbins?
     
    Thanks again.  Keep the input coming. 
  2. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from quilterkp in Just for Fun...Improbable Quilting Business Names   
    You could always try "Constitutional Quilting Company" with the tag line "We believe in the right to bear longarms!"
  3. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from MaryQuiltsTx in Trimming Question   
    Okay, I'm confused.    When you trim a quilt, why would you trim it 1/4" or 1/2" larger than the edge of the quilt top?  Why not trim even with the edge of the top? 
    If you roll over the backing to use as the binding, I can see trimming 1" away from the quilt top, but you'd still have to trim the batting away right up to the edge of the top. 
    What am I missing?  I'm always interested in how and why others do things differently, so please help me understand.  Could it be that I've been trimming my quilts wrong all these years?  
     
  4. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from LinneaMarie in Latest blog post is up - just some food for thought   
    Connie,  I'm sorry, but there's no way you did 27 years in the Navy.  In your picture your only in your late 20's or early 30's, so unless the Navy started hiring embryos, I'm going to call shenanigans! 
     
  5. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from dbams in Choosing designs for custom quilting   
    I found a very reasonable software program for just this purpose and it works great and is easy to use.  It's called Quilter's Lightbox.  You take a picture of the quilt and load it into the program.  Then you can bring in pictures of your quilting designs and overlay them on the picture of the quilt.  You can select thread colors, size the designs, and play play play.  I think it only cost around $25, so very reasonable.  
     
  6. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from dbams in Choosing designs for custom quilting   
    Another program that I use to organize and categorize my designs is Evernote.  There is a free version, but I'm using the paid version.  Anywhoo, you can add tags to each photo of your quilt designs.  That way if a customer says she only wants to spend a certain amount, I can search for designs that are in that budget and let the customer decide what they like from a shorter list.  This has served me well also.  
     
  7. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from Marie0722 in Choosing designs for custom quilting   
    Another program that I use to organize and categorize my designs is Evernote.  There is a free version, but I'm using the paid version.  Anywhoo, you can add tags to each photo of your quilt designs.  That way if a customer says she only wants to spend a certain amount, I can search for designs that are in that budget and let the customer decide what they like from a shorter list.  This has served me well also.  
     
  8. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from Marie0722 in Choosing designs for custom quilting   
    I found a very reasonable software program for just this purpose and it works great and is easy to use.  It's called Quilter's Lightbox.  You take a picture of the quilt and load it into the program.  Then you can bring in pictures of your quilting designs and overlay them on the picture of the quilt.  You can select thread colors, size the designs, and play play play.  I think it only cost around $25, so very reasonable.  
     
  9. Like
    loraquilts got a reaction from Gail O in Choosing designs for custom quilting   
    Another program that I use to organize and categorize my designs is Evernote.  There is a free version, but I'm using the paid version.  Anywhoo, you can add tags to each photo of your quilt designs.  That way if a customer says she only wants to spend a certain amount, I can search for designs that are in that budget and let the customer decide what they like from a shorter list.  This has served me well also.  
     
  10. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from LibbyG in Loyal customers. ???   
    Just a quick update.  I talked to one of my customers at the sewing club this morning and asked her why she was taking her quilts to another quilter instead of me (not in those words of course).  I just wanted to hear from her what I could do to improve my business, my relationship with customers, etc.  I could tell she was a little uncomfortable at first, but I assured her that I was not trying to coax her into coming back to me, just curious about the change.  She said that she uses the other woman for all over panto work, and would be using me exclusively for custom work - something the other woman doesn't offer.  She showed me an invoice from the other woman and her pricing was very similar to my new pricing, however, one thing she includes in her pricing is trimming the quilt and attaching the binding strips to the back of the quilt.  
    gkazee, I really like your idea of making a sample quilt with the pantos that I would do for 1 1/2 cents a square inch.  Linda, your suggestion of having a sale month is a great one too.   I'll make up the sample quilt and promote my sale for the month of November and the first two weeks of December.  We'll see what happens.  
    Thank you all for being candid with me.  I had checked around and found that my previous prices were about a cent below the average in my area.  I had been told by many that I wasn't charging enough, so I raised my prices a little after I got the computerized system.  Now I see your points about customers not caring that the stitching is perfect and just wanting to get the quilts finished quickly and as cheap as possible.  Also, I recognize now that showcasing all of my custom work probably scared some people off.  I think you are right - they see the detail and amount of effort in the quilting on those quilts and think $$$$$ cha-ching! and don't want to pay for that.  
    Next year, I'm going to try to show off two quilts a month (probably lap size) - one with custom quilting and one with an all over panto.  Hopefully, that will convey the message that I can do both.  
    Thanks again.  I really appreciate your honest feedback and input!!!!!  Thank you. 
     
  11. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Marie0722 in Loyal customers. ???   
    Just a quick update.  I talked to one of my customers at the sewing club this morning and asked her why she was taking her quilts to another quilter instead of me (not in those words of course).  I just wanted to hear from her what I could do to improve my business, my relationship with customers, etc.  I could tell she was a little uncomfortable at first, but I assured her that I was not trying to coax her into coming back to me, just curious about the change.  She said that she uses the other woman for all over panto work, and would be using me exclusively for custom work - something the other woman doesn't offer.  She showed me an invoice from the other woman and her pricing was very similar to my new pricing, however, one thing she includes in her pricing is trimming the quilt and attaching the binding strips to the back of the quilt.  
    gkazee, I really like your idea of making a sample quilt with the pantos that I would do for 1 1/2 cents a square inch.  Linda, your suggestion of having a sale month is a great one too.   I'll make up the sample quilt and promote my sale for the month of November and the first two weeks of December.  We'll see what happens.  
    Thank you all for being candid with me.  I had checked around and found that my previous prices were about a cent below the average in my area.  I had been told by many that I wasn't charging enough, so I raised my prices a little after I got the computerized system.  Now I see your points about customers not caring that the stitching is perfect and just wanting to get the quilts finished quickly and as cheap as possible.  Also, I recognize now that showcasing all of my custom work probably scared some people off.  I think you are right - they see the detail and amount of effort in the quilting on those quilts and think $$$$$ cha-ching! and don't want to pay for that.  
    Next year, I'm going to try to show off two quilts a month (probably lap size) - one with custom quilting and one with an all over panto.  Hopefully, that will convey the message that I can do both.  
    Thanks again.  I really appreciate your honest feedback and input!!!!!  Thank you. 
     
  12. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from gkazee in Loyal customers. ???   
    Just a quick update.  I talked to one of my customers at the sewing club this morning and asked her why she was taking her quilts to another quilter instead of me (not in those words of course).  I just wanted to hear from her what I could do to improve my business, my relationship with customers, etc.  I could tell she was a little uncomfortable at first, but I assured her that I was not trying to coax her into coming back to me, just curious about the change.  She said that she uses the other woman for all over panto work, and would be using me exclusively for custom work - something the other woman doesn't offer.  She showed me an invoice from the other woman and her pricing was very similar to my new pricing, however, one thing she includes in her pricing is trimming the quilt and attaching the binding strips to the back of the quilt.  
    gkazee, I really like your idea of making a sample quilt with the pantos that I would do for 1 1/2 cents a square inch.  Linda, your suggestion of having a sale month is a great one too.   I'll make up the sample quilt and promote my sale for the month of November and the first two weeks of December.  We'll see what happens.  
    Thank you all for being candid with me.  I had checked around and found that my previous prices were about a cent below the average in my area.  I had been told by many that I wasn't charging enough, so I raised my prices a little after I got the computerized system.  Now I see your points about customers not caring that the stitching is perfect and just wanting to get the quilts finished quickly and as cheap as possible.  Also, I recognize now that showcasing all of my custom work probably scared some people off.  I think you are right - they see the detail and amount of effort in the quilting on those quilts and think $$$$$ cha-ching! and don't want to pay for that.  
    Next year, I'm going to try to show off two quilts a month (probably lap size) - one with custom quilting and one with an all over panto.  Hopefully, that will convey the message that I can do both.  
    Thanks again.  I really appreciate your honest feedback and input!!!!!  Thank you. 
     
  13. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from dbams in Loyal customers. ???   
    Just a quick update.  I talked to one of my customers at the sewing club this morning and asked her why she was taking her quilts to another quilter instead of me (not in those words of course).  I just wanted to hear from her what I could do to improve my business, my relationship with customers, etc.  I could tell she was a little uncomfortable at first, but I assured her that I was not trying to coax her into coming back to me, just curious about the change.  She said that she uses the other woman for all over panto work, and would be using me exclusively for custom work - something the other woman doesn't offer.  She showed me an invoice from the other woman and her pricing was very similar to my new pricing, however, one thing she includes in her pricing is trimming the quilt and attaching the binding strips to the back of the quilt.  
    gkazee, I really like your idea of making a sample quilt with the pantos that I would do for 1 1/2 cents a square inch.  Linda, your suggestion of having a sale month is a great one too.   I'll make up the sample quilt and promote my sale for the month of November and the first two weeks of December.  We'll see what happens.  
    Thank you all for being candid with me.  I had checked around and found that my previous prices were about a cent below the average in my area.  I had been told by many that I wasn't charging enough, so I raised my prices a little after I got the computerized system.  Now I see your points about customers not caring that the stitching is perfect and just wanting to get the quilts finished quickly and as cheap as possible.  Also, I recognize now that showcasing all of my custom work probably scared some people off.  I think you are right - they see the detail and amount of effort in the quilting on those quilts and think $$$$$ cha-ching! and don't want to pay for that.  
    Next year, I'm going to try to show off two quilts a month (probably lap size) - one with custom quilting and one with an all over panto.  Hopefully, that will convey the message that I can do both.  
    Thanks again.  I really appreciate your honest feedback and input!!!!!  Thank you. 
     
  14. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Gail O in Loyal customers. ???   
    Just a quick update.  I talked to one of my customers at the sewing club this morning and asked her why she was taking her quilts to another quilter instead of me (not in those words of course).  I just wanted to hear from her what I could do to improve my business, my relationship with customers, etc.  I could tell she was a little uncomfortable at first, but I assured her that I was not trying to coax her into coming back to me, just curious about the change.  She said that she uses the other woman for all over panto work, and would be using me exclusively for custom work - something the other woman doesn't offer.  She showed me an invoice from the other woman and her pricing was very similar to my new pricing, however, one thing she includes in her pricing is trimming the quilt and attaching the binding strips to the back of the quilt.  
    gkazee, I really like your idea of making a sample quilt with the pantos that I would do for 1 1/2 cents a square inch.  Linda, your suggestion of having a sale month is a great one too.   I'll make up the sample quilt and promote my sale for the month of November and the first two weeks of December.  We'll see what happens.  
    Thank you all for being candid with me.  I had checked around and found that my previous prices were about a cent below the average in my area.  I had been told by many that I wasn't charging enough, so I raised my prices a little after I got the computerized system.  Now I see your points about customers not caring that the stitching is perfect and just wanting to get the quilts finished quickly and as cheap as possible.  Also, I recognize now that showcasing all of my custom work probably scared some people off.  I think you are right - they see the detail and amount of effort in the quilting on those quilts and think $$$$$ cha-ching! and don't want to pay for that.  
    Next year, I'm going to try to show off two quilts a month (probably lap size) - one with custom quilting and one with an all over panto.  Hopefully, that will convey the message that I can do both.  
    Thanks again.  I really appreciate your honest feedback and input!!!!!  Thank you. 
     
  15. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from MosaicsGirl in Ordering a new Millie (gulp)   
    Pam,  you're going to love it.  Promise!     (if you bought the 30" Millie and decide you made a mistake, give me a shout.  I may be able to take it off your hands) ... But before you despair, give it a good try. 
    Breaking into longarm quilting as a business is going to be challenging, but with perseverance and LOTS of practice, you can make a go of it.  I'm in San Diego and there are tons of longarm quilters here.  You have to develop your skills so that you can compete, not only in terms of price and turn around time, but in terms of quality for your customers.  Find what you like to do best -- pantos, meander, freehand, or custom.  I specialize in custom quilting, but will also do pantos when my customers don't want to pay for custom work. 
    You may want to go to a local quilt store that does charity quilts and ask them if you can quilt some of their charity quilts for FREE.  This is a good way for you to get some practice in on your machine.  Do a dozen of the free charity quilts (or more if needed) until you get to the point where your circles are round (you'll understand this one once you start playing with freehand circles), and your lines are smooth.  After you return the free quilts, ask the store if you can leave some business cards with them.  Most quilt stores have a display rack for this purpose -- usually near the register. 
    Join a quilt guild, if you have the time.  The people in the guild are usually very friendly and helpful.  Many of them will already have a longarm quilter that they are using and are loyal to, so you need to come up with some enticement for them to give you a try. ..... maybe turnaround time or price will get some to give you a chance.  I know in my area most of the longarm quilters only do pantos, so with me specializing in custom work, I get a lot of customers that way and then the word spreads.  If you have an embroidery machine, you can offer to make a free custom embroidery label for first time customers.  I do this and find that my customers really like that little extra "thank you".  Then on future orders, they order an embroidered label for their quilts.  It's a win-win.
    Make a very conservative plan at first -- how many quilts will you need to do to recover the cost of the machine and how long will it take you to get and complete orders.  In the beginning, your biggest challenge is going to be finding customers.  Your order quantity will be low, but as you become known, it should pick up.  Plan on recovering the cost of your machine over several years, not just one.  For example, if you spent $25K on the machine and will charge an average of $120 per queen sized quilt, and can reasonably expect to get three customer orders per month, you can recover the cost of the machine in six years.  Of course the three quilts a month may be difficult to find in the first year, but by year three to six, you may be doing many more than three quilts per month. 
    I just read back over what I've written.  I hope that you don't get discouraged by the fact that at first things may be more challenging than rewarding.  This post was meant to give you a dose of reality rather than just paint a rosy picture.   Be patient and set realistic expectations.  Once you get going, I think you really will love it.  You can always post here to get words of encouragement as well.  I have found the men and women on this forum are EXCEPTIONAL!!!  They are honest, friendly, and always helpful.  Welcome!
    Wishing you much success on your new adventure! 
  16. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Pat Adams in M bobbins   
    Wouldn't it be nice if someone invented a way to store an entire cone of thread under the machine and feed it through the existing bobbin mechanism.  Then you would never run out of bobbin again.   Ahhhhh to dream!  
  17. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from LibbyG in M bobbins   
    Wouldn't it be nice if someone invented a way to store an entire cone of thread under the machine and feed it through the existing bobbin mechanism.  Then you would never run out of bobbin again.   Ahhhhh to dream!  
  18. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from gkazee in M bobbins   
    Wouldn't it be nice if someone invented a way to store an entire cone of thread under the machine and feed it through the existing bobbin mechanism.  Then you would never run out of bobbin again.   Ahhhhh to dream!  
  19. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from quilterkp in M bobbins   
    Wouldn't it be nice if someone invented a way to store an entire cone of thread under the machine and feed it through the existing bobbin mechanism.  Then you would never run out of bobbin again.   Ahhhhh to dream!  
  20. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from quilterkp in Do you quilt off of the edges of the quilt top?   
    I baste the edges about 1/8" from the edge.  I used to use a basting stitch, but if the customer is going to be sewing on the binding, rather than rolling over the backing, I just use a regulated stitch and let it go.  Nice smooth edges and you'll never see the basting stitches once the binding is added anyway.  Sometimes I'll even do a little wiggle stitch on the edges.  If the customer is going to roll the backing over for the binding, I never sew off the edge of the quilt because it would show on the rolled edge.  For these quilts, I use long basting stitches about 1/8" away from the edge and then quilt within 5/8" from the edge of the quilt.  I love setting the IQ to clip the designs so they fit well within my parameters.  : )
  21. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Quilta93 in Batting Question - Warm and Natural   
    I love love love bamboo and bamboo/cotton blend battings.  They can take a lot of quilting and still result in a very soft supple quilt.  Many of the 100% cotton battings, including many of the Warm Co. battings, will get very stiff if the top is heavily quilted.  It can take a several washings before the quilt starts to become soft and pliable.  The ones I've done for myself with W&N and quilted with a medium dense panto are still quite stiff even after many many washings.  Many of my customers like W&N and other 100% cotton battings, but from now on I will only use bamboo on my personal quilts.  Sleeping under one of the bamboo finished quilts is like sleeping under a cloud.  Mmmmmmm, just delightful.  
  22. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from quilterkp in Vintage Quilt Tops   
    I've also done my fair share of vintage tops.  Some were my grandmothers (super duper special) a couple were my mom's, but most were from customers or quilt tops that I purchased on ebay for a song.  I started with the ebay quilts because there was absolutely no sentimental value to me on those quilts.  Unfortunately, the piecing quality on the ebay quilts was very inconsistent.  Most were hand pieced and not very consistently so quilting was a bit of a challenge.  I almost didn't want to machine quilt the DWR that was hand pieced, ..... still haven't quilted that one.  
    As for how I load delicate quilts on the frame, I always float my quilts.  I found that with vintage quilts, especially those that are hand pieced, putting them on the rollers puts way too much stress on the seams and often the seams will come undone.  I also take care to make sure the backing is not stretched too tight on the frame.  This won't have anything to do with the seams on the top coming out, I just find that after the quilt is finished it looks much better if the back is not super tight.  Not loose, mind you, but consistent with the top.  
     
  23. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from quilterkp in Batting Question - Warm and Natural   
    I love love love bamboo and bamboo/cotton blend battings.  They can take a lot of quilting and still result in a very soft supple quilt.  Many of the 100% cotton battings, including many of the Warm Co. battings, will get very stiff if the top is heavily quilted.  It can take a several washings before the quilt starts to become soft and pliable.  The ones I've done for myself with W&N and quilted with a medium dense panto are still quite stiff even after many many washings.  Many of my customers like W&N and other 100% cotton battings, but from now on I will only use bamboo on my personal quilts.  Sleeping under one of the bamboo finished quilts is like sleeping under a cloud.  Mmmmmmm, just delightful.  
  24. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Pepsi Girl in Batting Question - Warm and Natural   
    I love love love bamboo and bamboo/cotton blend battings.  They can take a lot of quilting and still result in a very soft supple quilt.  Many of the 100% cotton battings, including many of the Warm Co. battings, will get very stiff if the top is heavily quilted.  It can take a several washings before the quilt starts to become soft and pliable.  The ones I've done for myself with W&N and quilted with a medium dense panto are still quite stiff even after many many washings.  Many of my customers like W&N and other 100% cotton battings, but from now on I will only use bamboo on my personal quilts.  Sleeping under one of the bamboo finished quilts is like sleeping under a cloud.  Mmmmmmm, just delightful.  
  25. Upvote
    loraquilts got a reaction from Quilta93 in Bobbin Bits   
    I have several bobbins that just have a dab of thread on them --- wide range of colors.  I don't want to throw them out, and don't want to waste them, so what I do is use them when I need to baste the quilt.  It doesn't matter what color I use for basting because these stitches will either be covered up or pulled out later anyway.