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I've been longarm quilting for 5 years. Lately I've felt like I'm in a funk. Most customers are delighted with their quilts. Some wonder why it cost extra when you've done custom work. It takes more time typically to do custom work and time is money. Some customers do not understand the concept of measuring the quilt top before they add the borders. That of course eliminates rolling borders. Maybe I need to take a short break and evaluate. Does anyone have any uplifting thoughts! Thanks for your help!

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First of all, I don't know how you do it.  It is so hard to please people.  Usually they have no idea how much time it takes to quilt a quilt.  I have a computerized system and I have heard may times, "So you just put the quilt on the machine and it does it itself?"  Even with a computer it takes a lot of time plan and quilt each quilt.  Those who really appreciate the time you put into it have tried doing it themselves.  Do you have the luxury of choosing to quilt for the customers that produce quilts that you enjoy quilting?  I say take a break and quilt for that customer that is most particular about your quilting...you!

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I took a break for a couple of months to work on other things. It was so helpful.   If you can afford to just take a break from it,  I recommend it.    Can you diversify a bit?  Maybe do a few custom baby quilts (start to finish) or make yourself a gorgeous quilt in colours you've always wanted to try but have never done so?      

Sometimes it becomes 'a job'.  And that's the fine line and dangerous territory isn't it?   Take care of yourself....and if you can do so,  maybe be choosey for a few months of only particular quilters or styles of quilting YOU prefer to do.   


Andrea  http://www.urbanquiltworks.com

Motha Stitcha on an apqs millennium

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Coming form someone who had it!! Me. I bought my Millie in 2004, I quilted for 5 years, then I blew a gasket. I went back to work because our health insurance through my husband's job was out the roof. Also, we sat down and figure up how much an hour I was making at quilting, and it was poverty wages. After I went to work, I decided to quilt for 3 of my favorite customers, and leave it at that. One dropped me because her granddaughter wanted a side job, so she bought her a quilting machine. The second one, I called when my mom had the stroke, and told her what had happened. I had a quilt of hers that she wanted to enter into the fair, the next summer, so like almost 1 year away. She was fine with that and insisted that my mom was more important. Then she called me a week later wanting to know if my quilt was done. I reminded her that is was not and why. Two week later, I took a couple of days off work to dedicate to working on her quilt, and her daughter-in-law called and left a message wanting to know why the quilt was not done and where was it, yada-yada. That was my breaking point. I called my customer and asked why she had her dil call me. I told her she was my customer and I would no discuss our business with her family. Then I told her I would be right over with the quilt. I had one border done. I had stencil marks all over the quilt. I had batting attached. I was so mad my voice was shaking. When she came to the door, she invited me in. I loved this woman. She was elderly and probably the best piecer I have ever seen. Her quilts were edgy. Anyway, I did not go in. I just shoved the quilt through the door at her. She told me she would pay me for the batting. I told her to just take it. I was so mad. She said that she hoped it didn't hurt our friendship. I really did like her, and I wish I had not gotten so blown out of the water about it....but I did. Then I went home and paced. Then I sold everything. EVERYTHING!!! I bagged up fabric....like 7 trash bags full and donated it to charity. Wish I had some of that back, lol. It was all my breaking point. 

 

I say all of that, to say this. Please, take a step back. If you have quilts to get done now, just do what you can, then take a break. Do something for yourself. Schedule a massage. Get your hair done. Get a mani and pedi. Buy a new outfit. Get out of the studio and enjoy some nature. Start taking walks every day, no matter how many quilts are waiting or need to be finished yesterday. Make "ME" time. 

 

I have learned so much during my break from quilting. Here they are:

 

1. If you sell your machine, it is 100 times harder to talk your husband into buying another one  :)

 

2. Customer's are demanding, and want everything for nothing. I work at a GPS company in Customer Service. We have customers call in wanting new accessories for devices that are 10 years old. I have had to learn to say "no" and they are okay with that. 

 

3. When I first went to work in public, I hated telling the customers, "the price is..." . Sometimes I felt it was way too high. You know what, that was the price, they could take it or leave it. 

 

4. My time is valuable. I am a trained professional, who deserves to be paid for my job. 

 

Please don't let customers make you feel bad about how much you charge. 


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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I have always told myself if I'm going to quilt for free I'll quilt for myself.  Since I work full-time and quilt as well I have had to learn to be firm with my prices and not cut myself short.  If I'm not going to make anything then why quilt for others.  I also always book in time for me.  I think you can easily lose your creative juices if you'r always working on something that somebody else created.  It is ok to take a break and do something for yourself.  Mary Beth is right on with what she has learned.  

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Hugs are available here, good tips & advice as always for asking.

I have been long arming since 2007 and have the luxury of doing what I really want which is quilting my own quilts and then quilting for others. I do believe rut is inevitable in all repetitive & mundane activities of life, I experience that too.

Quilting for others is bonus for me, from day one of my business I made sure customers know I am a professional.

I retired from hectic office job since 2008 and now I learned that stress is something I could manage.

So I take time for fellowship with God, my church, read, do a little gardening, walk the dog for exercise and teach patchwork quilting/piecing.


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Corey Starkey

IQ & Bllissed Millennium

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For a couple years I was really, really busy with a back log of 8-10 quilts at any given time.  After I had been quilting for about 3 years, I raised my price--stopped charging by the square inch and charged by the hour, $20.  I could show my customers the price per square inch was not much different than $20/hour if doing edge to edge designs.  It was when they wanted custom quilting that the price for their quilts jumped significantly.  In the last two years, my business has died--I still quilt for a couple friends but that is it.  I travel from Montana to Arizona to spent winters in a warmer climate so I wonder if that is part of the reason business has gone--I'm not there to take their quilts.  But, I really feel it was a price issue as I see these same customers who were largely friends of mine send their quilts to places such as Missouri Star.  I'm totally NOT sorry I raised my prices and as I am fortunate enough not to have to quilt--I am OK with it.  

 

Take some time off if you can as Mary Beth said--and come back with a new perspective!


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Coyote Creek Quilting

APQS Authorized Sales-Service-Education

Millennium

406-930-0663

montanaclarks@gmail.com

www.tinteepeelogcabin.blogspot.com

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But, I really feel it was a price issue as I see these same customers who were largely friends of mine send their quilts to places such as Missouri Star.  

 

 

 

I think people send their quilts to Missouri Star thinking what-her-name will be quilting their quilts. That is a huge operation. I don't even think she is around most of the time. They told me they have a building, also their warehouse, and that is where the quilting machines are located. They are training local people to come in and quilt the quilts, like a garment factory. Good for the economy, and then your former customers can say they had their quilt quilted at Missouri Star. I am not sold on the entire idea. Anyway....I like the idea of charging $20 an hour, or just doing edge to edge only. Save the beautiful quilting for your own quilts, then your friends will be jealous  :)  :P


Mary Beth 

Powered by 2009 Freedom

Future winner of the Millie Sweepstakes

http://marysnutshell.blogspot.com/




 

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CQ:

 

If you have been quilting for 5 years, I would hazard to guess that you skill set and quality of quilting have greatly improved since your first quilt.  That being said, I for one would be charging more today for my "custom quilting" than I was five years ago.  I took a class this past week and the instructor said she charged $35/hour for custom quilting.  She asked for a budget maximum when she was taking in the quilt, and getting inputs/sharing them with the piecer.  This way she had a good idea of what the customer wanted and more importantly the customer understood what could be completed on the quilt in the amount of time budgeted.  If she wanted to spend a little more time on a quilt at the end that was her right, as she was giving part of herself to the quilter and not charging for it.  

 

My father used to fix all the cars in my neighborhood and their friends.  He has a saying, if you tried to fix it before bringing it to him, he charged double to fix your mistakes and then the real problem.  Over time, he came to be busy when certain individuals came to have their cars repaired.  You can quilt for the masses such as Missouri Star, or you can quilt for quality customers.  Your clientele will change, but would your rather quilt for 20 quilters of all skill levels a month making $X, or quilt for 4 quality piecers that value their and your time and still make the same $X?

 

Some may say the "customer is always correct", though my company does not.  You have to take the same stance.  If a customer's piecing makes quilting more difficult or slows down the operation then you need to charge accordingly in my opinion.  Your time is money, and a customer that makes you put in an extra hour or two correcting mistakes or doing what it takes to complete the job should expect to pay for your time.  

 

In the end, you may take time to prepare a standard form you give to all your customers.  It would address all the headaches that piecers do that makes you life difficult during quilting.  Provide tips on how to quality piece a quilt top, how to measure the quilt prior to cutting and sewing on borders, how to place seams to cut down on thickness, etc.  Maybe your problem children will actually take the time to read your suggestions.  If not, maybe you should be too busy to take on their work.  It is your life and your business, and life is too short for making your life difficult.  As old saying goes..."Be Happy!"

 

Cagey


May your threads be balanced, and your bobbin forever full….

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When folks gasp at prices, especially the custom quilts, with tongue in cheek say:

"Oh, Gosh!,  I can put it back on the machine, but then that fee would be

$40.00 per hour, including time to set it all up, select the right design, thread the top color on the machine,

get the right color for the bobbin, fill the bobbins, and get the quilting done.

I'm sorry I didn't do enough quilting on it, I thought it was plenty.  Let me get an intake sheet, with your John Doe on it."

 

Wanna bet they will do one of two things,  they will think about it, or Run

 

LOL

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