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Good Morning everyone,

I've had my Millie for a year & a half and have been doing customer quilts now part-time, not rushing, but keeping busy enough. I hope to get better at pantographs so I can offer them to my customers. I find that free-motion is definitely what I do best and I enjoy it. I am comfortable with the easy stuff like meander, paisley, fern & other leaves, but find following a marked pattern or designs like Pam Clarke's Designs With Lines are more difficult than they look. I guess I need more PRACTICE! I have built up a good collection of books, DVD's, etc. for instruction & inspiration and I do refer to them. But, I think I need some feedback from other longarm quilters.

When a customer tells me to quilt whatever I like, I go blank. I need some design inspiration that's not too difficult.

Do you set limits on types of work you offer? (Example, no SID) Work involving the acrylic guides really slows me down. I also find I can't do SID well anyway so I'm not doing it yet. So far my customers are ok with that. Maybe in time...

After reading many, many posts on this forum about how to charge, I charge by-the-square inch, with categories like one design all-over, mutiple designs, & so on. Some work takes much longer than others. Do you sometimes charge by time rather than by size?

About thread: I have found that with some threads I spend more time adjusting the tension that I do quilting. It seems no matter how good the stitches look on the practice strip, it still doesn't look good on the bottom at times, so I crawl under the quilt with a magnifier & a flashlight frequently to check. I learned to do this after I spent hours frogging out eyelash-looking stitches a year ago. Now I keep a separate bobbin case for the wirey thread type but I still don't like the results no matter how much adjusting I do, so I have stopped accepting that thread anymore.

Thanks in advance to any of you who respond. I love my Millie and I do want to improve and continue quilting. When I look at the pix on this site and see the work you all are doing, I'm in awe. I can't even imagine at this time that I will ever be turning out quilts like them. I will be happy to just move up to the next level, LOL!

Quilting in Indiana,

ConnieW :D

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Connie, I am so glad I'm not the only one who crawls under the quilt with a light to inspect and is willing to admit it. I seem to be the opposite of most quilters, I keep practicing freehand designs but, can't seem to get them. Meandering and loops are about my limit in freehand. But, I seem to end up doing more straight edge work (SID, cross hatching, using my rullers, etc) and wishing I could get the freehand so, it didn't look so whatever. I do love pantographs and picked it up fairly easily. When I have a new one, I typically practice it on a charity quilt and by the end, I have a sample and it's looking pretty good. Still hate the SID especially if there is a big contrast in thread colors because it is not perfect but, like you said, I think it just takes practice.

When my customers ask for "whatever" I really try to talk thru some ideas with them before they leave. Sometimes I'm inspired after they leave and call them to confirm it's OK we change. And so far, I'm probably not even breaking even because I'm in a rural area and it's either take the quilt for below suburban prices and use it as good practice and/or advertising or, price it too high and they MAY (I wonder if they really do) eventually go some where else.

If I'm doing something way outside of my experience (I've only been quilting since Nov) I make sure my customers know that up front and make no promises. I've even put it in writing to them. For example, my very first customers quilt was a 16 block sampler that she wanted something different in every single block. Took me 32 hours and turned out really good but, I about had a mental breakdown in doing it.

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Hi Connie,

How about making a small sample quilt with various freehand stitching done on it. You could show it to your customer who get an idea from it.

I usually look at the fabric and pattern to get an idea as what to quilt. No affiliation, but Dawn Ramirez new DVD, Pajama Quilting, has some good beginning freehand ideas. You can get that DVD thru Kingsmen.

Now, I don't crawl under my quilt. But what I do is have a small scrap of quilt that I stitch on before actually stitching on the quilt itself. That way I can make any adjustments to the tensions before actually stitching on the quilt. I stitch several circles as it seems like if the tension is off, it will be noticeable on the curves.

You may find that you prefer one brand of thread over another. I have a Millie, have to do more tension adjustments with cotton thread over poly coated thread, but that may be just my machine. Also found that I have to store the cotton thread in the freezer overnight to prevent breakages.

I don't charge by time, just the square inch. For me it would be hard to charge by time as would forget to pay attention to the time, with interruptions. I think I would also feel rushed to stitch it. You will find that in time, you will be quicker. You might want to think about charging a thread charge, say $5 which will help get your thread stash started and you will be able to offer more colors.

Have fun, Char

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