A question about a commissioned quilt


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Hello, I've searched the forum for the answer to this question, but didn't find it, and am unable to find an answer in Goole, so I'm hoping you all can help.  Please forgive me if this is an unacceptable question - as my name indicates, I'm very new to this process.

 

And as you can already tell, I am new to the forum.  :)  I'm not a quilter myself, but I've commissioned a quilt and it seems to be taking an awfully long time.  I've paid half the agreed upon price and purchased all of the fabric myself.  Anything else that needs to be purchased will be reimbursed on top of the over $1000 I'm paying for the expertise and time.  

Everything she needs is in place.  The design is finalized, some difficult panels have been completed, and now I wait.  

 

What's a reasonable amount of time (from receiving fabric) to presenting the finished product, do you think?  Considering that the quilter has a life, etc.?

 

Thanks for your input.  Not sure where to go with this.  I don't want to tell you how long it's been because I don't want to infuence any answers I get.

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Well, I don't know. What did you agree upon up front? How long have you waited so far? I have a quilt of my own that took 2 years to finish piecing because it was so intense it stressed me out to work on it too steadily. I personally would give a client a nine month time frame for piecing and quilting...by machine..a complex pattern. If it was hand quilted, that would be much longer because I am retired and DO have a life.

I think you need to call her and discuss an estimated completion date. Some people need a deadline in order to motivate them. Agree upon a reasonable one for both of you.

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I agree with Lynn.The thing any client can say that is the least helpful in commission work, is "There's no hurry." As a quilter and quiltmaker, I will require that we agree on a target date. If snags happen along the way - I will always call her to discuss it. Please call her and ask about status and discuss a target completion date.

Let us know how it works out.

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Hi. Thank you for responding. I've asked for a completion date but she says she doesn't want to guarantee anything. She's mentioned end of September as a possibility but says it could take even longer. I'm just wondering how unreasonable I am for thinking it's taking too long. I'm half ready to give her a completion date and tell her that I'm taking off $50 for each week it's overdue.

I should probably tell you how long it's been. I gave her a deposit of half the cost 11 months ago as we were plowing through the design process. She's had the fabric for 9 months and has completed the most difficult parts.

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Like the other's stated, a quilt can take months or years to complete.  She should give you a more exact date, with a fudge factor for problems.  Communication, communication, communication is a must.  Has she given you a reason for the delay?  Did you discuss a finish date when you commissioned her/him?  Do you have a contract, I always provide a contract when doing commissions?  Is she working on other peoples quilts along with yours?  How large is this quilt?  Do you have a picture of the design?  It's really hard to judge when a quilt should be done without knowing the size, design, hand or machine quilted, etc.  I understand your frustration but without anything in writing it's going to be hard subtracting from the agreed cost.  She has possession of the project.

 

We are here to help as much as possible.  Let us know how you make out.

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Hi.  I'd rather not tell you the exact pattern because the woman I'm working with is a member of other forums, and asked for help with a specific element of it which is distinctive, and I don't want anyone to recognize her or the quilt.  It is queen sized, and is an intricate pattern but the two design elements are each repeated several times, so only twice will she have to do any serious planning, and one of the design elements for the bulk of the quilt has all panels already sewn/completed.  Once she began sewing, those panels took about three weeks.

 

Here's the specific issue I'm troubled by.  There have been three periods of more than a month during which she did not work on the quilt at all.  She did not start sewing until almost three months after she had the fabric, then quit again for more than a month, then quit again now for three because she was upset with me about not wanting to pay for the quilt two months before delivery.  She has worked on other smaller projects and is now working on another quilt. 

 

My ultimate question is this - am I being unreasonable by being upset about the length of time this is taking?  I'm sorry for the vague posts, but was hoping to get a sense of how long this process takes generally.  I was too general up front.

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I think at this point, without a contract you are out of luck and at her mercy. It is absolutely unreasonable for her to want further payment before the quilt is complete. I think I would write her a letter stating the amounts you have paid her, the dates of delivery of the fabric and any conversations you have had with her regarding completion. State when you want the quilt and that the balance will be paid upon delivery..not later than..maybe October 31st. Tell her you have made a substantial investment in the fabric and pattern and you are becoming concerned that you will not receive what she promised..a completed quilt. Send it registered with proof of signature. That will set up some legal tracking if you need to take her to small claims court. If she is at all smart she will figure you are readying to take further action and she will get on it. There is really no excuse for this. If she is unable to complete the job she should return the materials to you and refund an appropriate amount of your deposit. I am sorry you have been taken advantage of. If need be..I know of a very ethical quilter who can finish it for you.

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Lynn has given you great advice.  Other things to think about, you can report her to the Better Business Bureau.  If she doesn't have a business license, it could be a reportable issue.  I would not pay her anything else until the quilt is delivered, she has the materials required all she needs  payment for is time (which she isn't giving you).  She has been very unfair to you, it seems you have given her plenty of time for your quilt, now that you explained more.  The majority of quilters are great people who will treat your fairly and go out of their way to please, so sorry this wasn't your experience.  Please keep us informed or you situation. 

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I don't know that I would want to escalate this to registered letters, the BBB and "must be done by" dates  - that may create a very difficult working relationship. And remember, she is in possession of your quilt.  You stand to lose it all if this goes haywire.  You said she's quit working on it because she is not happy that you won't pay her - I don't imagine that drawing a line in the sand is going to help this improve any.  It sounds like there are hard feelings on both sides of this transaction and grace and compassion from both of you will make it better. 

 

She would do well to understand that you thought it would be done by now, and so you are wondering "What's taking so long?"  You could benefit from trying to understand her side better.  Maybe she asked for the balance to be paid because she is having a crisis.  Maybe she is stalling because she is overwhelmed and finds herself doubting her abilities to complete it to your satisfaction.  Perhaps she is wracked with guilt every night when she goes to bed because yet another day went by and she didn't make any progress on this albatross around her neck.

 

If it were me, and I'm a softy - I'd be inclined to switch my tactic completely around. 

 

I'd send a note that says,

 

"Dear Quilter, Just wanted to check in and send some encouragement your way. The quilt top is turning out really well (if you have seen photos, or "you've got your hands full with some pretty difficult piecing" or something like that if you haven't seen photos.)  I especially like (fill in the blank here - "the way the colors work together"  "the placement of the design element"  "how hard you worked to incorporate my ideas and bring this quilt to life"  - choose something to compliment about her work)  Of course you know from our conversations, that I thought this quilt would be completed by now, but it seems that I underestimated how much work goes into piecing and quilting such big project, and how life gets in the way of the process too.   I'm excited to have it done, and I was hoping to have it ready for (fill in the blank again - "the local quilt show in October"  "to give my brother for his birthday in November"  "to display in my house this winter")  Would it be possible to send me an email at the first of September and let me know how it's coming along?  That way I can keep up with the project but stay out of your hair.  It's going to be spectacular when you complete it, and I can't wait to see it in person.  Sincerely, Customer" 

 

edited to add - I don't think you are being unreasonable to be upset Newbie Client, this is just a sticky situation.  I appreciate the lengths you are going to in your post to keep this private and protect your quilter.  It shows that you are a person with integrity & understanding - that is going to be what helps you solve this whole problem in the end :wub: !

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Hi everyone. Thank you very much for your responses, you helped enormously. We now have an agreement for delivery of my quilt that I'm satisfied with, mostly because I now have a promised delivery date - which my quilter offered without my having to demand one. It all worked out well in the end. Than you very much for your perspectives.

I wish this post could be deleted, but I understand if not.

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