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A new dilemma for me. What would you do?


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Two of my customers, 93 year old Mom and her daughter have been wonderful and very supportive of me and have been happy with my quilting. The last two quilts I've quilted for the elder customer have been full with wavy borders. After I quilt them I've been open and truthful in telling her about the tucks and puckers she may notice. Don't want my customers to think I'm trying to hide issues with their quilts and leave them to discover it later. Daughter called today and very nicely addressed the tucks and puckers and wanted to know if it could be fixed in some way. Her mama has been fussing and fretting about it. So she told her she would call me to see what I might suggest. I told her short of taking out the quilting, there isn't really any way to fix it. That was not an option she said. (Thankfully)

We discussed the correct method of border measuring and attaching. She said that is the way she does it but not sure how her mother does it. And said they would take more classes to prevent this in the future. I did the starch and steam method but at no charge. She's elderly and I was worried I'd hurt her feelings mentioning the fullness and waviness and yet I wanted her to know. I felt bad but she told me not to worry about it. Now I can't stop thinking about it. I can't help but think her age contributes to this as her previous quilts have been fine or at least manageable. Should I have offered to refund a portion of her final cost? What would you do?

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Bonnie, there's absolutely no reason for you to refund any of the payment made to you - you actually did more than you were paid for. And I think you're correct, that this is an age-related issue - and the fussing and fretting is probably an age thing, as well.  IMHO, everything you did was 100% right-on.  The only additional thing I might do, if the opportunity presented itself, is to reassure the mom that her tops are still lovely and to be cherished, and that you don't have any problem helping her to turn them into precious gifts for family and friends.  Go, Bonnie, go!!

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I don't think a refund is in order Bonnie.  Explaining the situation was the right thing to do.  I posted awhile back about how my mom"s beautiful hand piecing skills deteriorated drastially when she was in her 90s....it just can't be helped...we will all lose a few skills as we age!  Her family will love her quilts just as we love my mom's. Sometimes it is hard for older people to accept the changes they have to deal with but YOU did nothing that would call for any type of refund.

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The elderly often will obsess on somethng to the point they can make themselves ill. If you get a chance to talk about this with her again, mention that the border fabric is probably the culprit and that it looked "stretchy" .. Make something up so she can have another focus to blame that is beyond her control, and don't make it sound like its her sewing skills. 

I don't think you need to refund any money. 

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I ran into a similar situation a couple years ago..........a friend asked me to quilt for her.   I was honored that she thought I was good enough because she had turned out Blue Ribbon quilts all the time and paid another gal big $$ to quilt them.   Well, you can't believe how shocked I was at how her workmanship had deteriorated in a short time.   Missed seams, seams too deep, full borders.........just not her typical work.  I worked 2 weeks to get that quilt "passable" and pretty much redid every seam I could and fudged on the others.   I never told her what I had to do.   I did a couple more for her that way, but then had to stop.   At the time she had asked me again, I WAS really busy and didn't have time to do hers and I have eased myself away from her.   He eyesight isn't great, she's been in poor health...........it was sad to see.  She also absolutely hated and refused to have any meandering quilting which could have helped a lot in easing in fullness...........she wanted designs and that just compounded the problem.

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Thank you all for your advice and support. I will suggest the possibility of washing the quilt. And honestly the outside border fabric was cheesy and thin which I'm sure added to the waviness. I plan to send her a card of appreciation and let her know she's a wonderful quilt piecer and that some quilts are just a little more challenging. I did mention to her daughter that the seams were uneven from one to the next. And that her quilts from the past were fine. These ladies are very sweet and awesome. This 93 year old customer can still climb the stairs to my second floor studio! I can only hope I'm as mobile as her at her age!

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It's hard to distance ourselves and keep the "business" part separate from the "friends" part. You've been gentle and kind--it shows because you are so concerned about the feelings of the sweet lady and tried what you could to ease the piecing problems. I agree with Wendy-ON to look for further problems in future quilts from her. Lots of good advice here, and a refund isn't part of the solution.

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No, don't offer a refund.    You have done more than what you needed to in order to make her borders and quilt work.

 

I work with a group of seniors and if I notice something irregular with the top or backing  I will call them prior to me working on it to let them know.    I know the joy and pride they show when they hand me their top.  I can see how excited they are to see me.   Often at intake I have so many other things running through my head that I don't catch a few irregularities as when I'm by myself, calm and prepping for loading.   A quick phone call before loading up eases any uncertainties. 

 

You wear your heart on your sleeve and really enjoy this client of yours.  I can tell.  In the future, take a moment to examine her quilts just a little more prior at intake or prior to loading...and just informing prior to any tucks or corrections will alleviate some of the stress for her and for you.  

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