SMELLY QUILT TOPS....was I wrong?


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I have a Customer who heats her house with wood. No problem, so do many people. I recently received a top. batting and backing from her that reeked so bad, of smoke, must, and who knows what, I put it out on the deck for a whole week in sub zero temperatures. After the week of airing, i put it on my frame and had a hard time quilting it, I was gagging at times.

I feel real bad, my customer said she has more Quilts for me. I suggested she air them out for a bit as the last 2 had a strong smokey/musty odor and I don't want to transfer it to my canvas.

Well, she is very upset, didn't know her quilts had a stink, she is not giving up her wood heat for quilting, yadayadayada.

Has anyone else ran into something like that? I am sure I have lost this customer, in a way I am glad, i couldn't stomach much more of that and I am sure other longarmers have turned her down too.

Thanks, just felt like telling someone.

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Monika...I've had several customers who smoke 2+ packs a day and would bring me their quilts. I would also have to hang them out in the air for a few days, and I would spray them with Smoke Elimiator a product made by ZIP....or I would hit them with Fabreez. As long as I could get the smell under control I didn't say anything, but as soon as I did I knew I would loose a customer. Which is to bad, as we all know that if we got a stinky quilt in and they saw one stray cat or dog hair on it that they would complain about our hair problem.

I don't think you were wrong in mentioning it, but like you said no one wants to be told they have a problem regardless what it is...piecing, smoke, short backs i.e......

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Don't feel bad Monika....you can't be expected to quilt something that causes you that much discomfort. And there is no easy way to tell your customer either. Being honest like you where is the best.

I won't take quilts from people who smoke. I have a lot of allergies and so does my family and they come first. I have also asked my customers to not bring me Bamboo batting as I react to it too. Not severely mind you but I still get a runny nose and cough a lot. Took me awhile to figure that one out but my customers have no problem with that request.

It is unfortunate that you lost a customer and that she we upset but it is for the best that you don't take her quilts if the smell bothered you.

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Look at all these gorgeous Avatars! Pretty Ladies, I will have to retake mine one of these days. Thanks, I don't feel so bad anymore. I have several customers who heat with wood, and none of them have that strong smell. I love woodsmoke, I used to heat with Maple and Birch, but nothing sells like this, so I don't know what this is all about.

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I think that the difference is the kind of stove/furnace that is burning the wood. My brother used wood in his cellar furnace and they always had stale wood smoke smell on the coats. We have had more air tight stoves in the living room and have had no smoke smell.

As for the customer, if the condition of the quilt gives you health problems (coughing and sneezing are health problems) then you have every right to mention it.

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Monika,

You definitely did the right thing. My business cards have on them, "Smoke-free, pet-free home" "Smoke-free, pet-free quilts only". I have actually had new customers say they do not smoke, or they don't have pets. But yet when they drop off their quilts, there is pet hair on them. When I tell them I can not take the quilt, their comments run from -- "My pet doesn't shed, (yet you can see the pet hair)" or " It really isn't that bad, can't you take it anyway?" My son, who is away at college, has allergies, so no I do not want to take those quilts.

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Hi Monika, I had a customer who sent me a vintage quilt for repair. It reeked of cigaretts so bad I could not breath. I called her to tell her I would need to give it a good soak first. She refused because I told her there wouls be a charge. I then went on to give her the charges for repair which she kept telling me don't do that I can do that ect. I finally told her I thought it would be better if I shipped the quilt back to her to find another person to repair it. She told me I was the only one on the west coast she could find. I held my ground and she sent payment for shipping. I don't feel a bit bad about this. I saw very clearly she was going to be the customer from hell and there are so many great customers to work with that I don't need this persons money that bad. Just my two cents.

Nora

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I had a quilt sent to me once that smelled so bad I thought a tomcat had a little accident al over it. There was even a little yellow stain on it suggesting I may have been right. I used an entire bottle of febreeze on it. That was unsuccessful as now I had a quilt that smelled like febreeze pee! Anyway, knowing that it had to get quilted, I had it on and off the frame in less than half an hour ;) which seemed like 10 hrs by the way. Every time my needle went through it i swear it's stink was released right into my nose. When I was finished , I bagged and boxed it up to ship it home to it's owner. I thought that if I didn't say something about the smell that she might think I put it there. I decided however not to say anything. I feel your pain!

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Oh my, I burn wood but never had a quilt smell like that. Maybe they need to clean out their chimney of creasote buildup. Burning green wood will set off creasote in your chimney and cause a fire. I would ask the customer to wash in cold wash on dilicate cycle. Then also wash the backing too in cold water. You may have to restitch up little but I think it would be worth it. That way it would not reek off smoke on your leaders or other tops. And would keep the customer.

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You did the right thing Monika, and you were straightforward and gentle with your customer. You put the ball in her court by stating what is acceptable for you as a quilter. It sounds like instead of standing up and accepting that there is a problem, your customer deflected the blame by making a stink (sorry:D) about you attacking her wood heating! Clueless. In her defense, she must not have a sense of smell-either blunted by age/injury, or by smelling these horrible smells for years--yuck! Makes you wonder if this surrounds her all the time and she just doesn't know. How sad...

All the kudos and applause for the wonderful and artistic work you do, and all the happy customers can be deflated by just one unhappy customer--for whatever reason. You did the right thing--which is what is right for you, not them.

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We are heating with wood this year.. mostly pine and oak... no smoke smell in the house, even though now and then we get a back puff when adding wood, and yes, even after having quit smoking for 50 years, I still have a very sensitive smeller. One thing most people don't recognize is unscented pipe tobacco. if around pipe smoke then stored in a dampish room, it can really amplify the odor on a quilt. Washing is best. IMHO

Ritar

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i received a bunch of unfinished tops from my mother in law after she passed away. Before I quilted them i hung in a separate part of the basement and fabreezed them. The air helps. The other thing is to put in a box/ bag with dryer sheets. then change the dryer sheets every other day. I don't take client tops that are stinky. I am allergic to cats and smoke. But I knew I needed to finish MIL's and pass on to everyone. once they were done and binded, I washed the hell out of them and they looked great.

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It is so true that when you live with a smell for years it is not noticeable to you.

I have now added "Smoke free but Pet friendly Studio - only Smoke free Quilts Please" to my business cards and will add it to my website as well.

I would never assume to put anything scented like dryer sheets or Febreeze onto customer Quilts, many are so allergic these days to various scents. Another great thing with anything smelly is to put it into a closed container with new coffee grounds. Coffee grounds will absorb any odor. We used to haul hides and fresh fish in reefers in my previous life, and after we got the trailers washed out, they would sprinkle pounds of ground coffee on the floor and close the door. It worked wonders to eliminate the smell.

As far as loosing this customer, well you loose some, you gain some, and I seem to gain more than I loose (for the time being anyway).

Thanks for all your support, suggestions and compliments. You are awesome!

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I have a neighbor who was just thrilled to learn I quilted!! She brought me boxes and bags of fabric she would not use anymore. (Don't now why she thought I needed it!) It reeked, I mean reeked, of cigarette smoke! On top of that it was the most awful cheap fabric I have ever seen!! Needless to say, I said "thank you", and tossed it out as soon as she left!!! I guess it's true,if you live with it, you don't smell it!!:o:o

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My parents have used a wood stove to heat their house and we never go away smelling of smoke. I agree that they must be using an open fireplace or something is wrong.

I have a customer that is a prolific quilter. I have done 16 quilts for her in the past 16 months. They are almost all large quilts. She smokes a lot and the quilts reflect that. I get them out of the bags immediately, throw the bags away and hang them up away from any other quilts. If they are really bad I will hang them outside on nice days. I have FOUR quilts of hers hanging in my garage right now. She brought them to me on Thursday and were smokier than ever. I think that it was because she has had them finished for a few weeks. Usually she brings them right when she finishes piecing. I may have to get some febreeze for these.

I wouldn't feel bad. We can't allow that smoke to transfer to our canvas or other quilts.

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Monika, you have recieved some wonderful feedback, support and advice from everyone.

Just remember this always ----- As a business owner, you reserve the right to refuse service at any time.

This is your business, your service. You decide which customers you don't wish to work with. Never forget that.

It's OK to say "No" every once in a while. You have that right, just as every business owner does. :)

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When I was in the judging room at MQS in 2008, there were a few quilts that had a foul odor to them. These quilts were brought in separately in their own individual plastic bags with a bar of ivory soap in there. The quilt was pulled out to be judged far away from the other quilts and then immediately placed back in the bag with the soap. These quilts were fairly judged (that also included a comment about having an odor) and even if they were beautifuly quilted, these smelly quilts were not allowed to hang in the show.

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So far, i haven't received a top that smells that bad. I've had a few covered in cat hair and while i'm quilting, my throat itches like crazy.

But a little trick that might help is to put Vicks (vapor rub) in your nostrils while quilting a smelly top. My Dad used to do this when he had to visit a landlord that had 10+ cats in the house!! (he had a very weak stomach)

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I used to be a smoker - didn't know how bad the odor was until after I quit (1981), then was around another smoker. Yep, when you are in the middle of it, it smells normal to you. Fortunately, no one ever told me how bad I stunk, so I never got my feelings hurt. But after I quit, I thanked each and every family member for putting up with my bad habit for all those years. :)

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