Longarm U is Traveling!

Cindy Roth of Longarm University is traveling and teaching!

I will be teaching classes in North Carolina, Ohio, Northern Illinois and Michigan!

First I will be in North Carolina giving a presentation to the Carolina Longarm Guild on July 12. The meeting is being held in Fayetteville, NC. After the presentation I will be having a mini-class on the Business of Machine Quilting.

For details of this presentation Click Here 

On July 13,14, 15,  I will be teaching (all day) classes in Chapel Hill, NC. For details on these classes Click Here

I will also be teaching classes in Uniontown, OH on July 21, 22, 23. For the details of these classes Click Here 

Then I am off to Northern Illinois to visit with family for a few days. While I am there I will be teaching classes in Geneva, IL on July 29, 30 and August 1. For the details of these classes Click Here 

On August 2 I will be giving a presentation to the Northern Illinois Longarm Guild in Wheaton, IL.  Again, after the presentation I will be giving a mini-class on the Business of Machine Quilting.

For the details of this presentation Click Here 

Last, but not least, I will be teaching classes in Clinton Township, MI on August 5, 6, 7. For details on these classes  Click Here

It is going to be a busy few weeks and I looking forward to seeing my family – daughter, grand daughters, parents, siblings – and meeting longarm quilters!

I hope to see you in my classes or at the presentations. It’s going to be fun, inspirational, and educational!

Happy 4th of July!

From Longarm University and Longarm Classroom -

Happy 4th of July!flag-200px

Have a wonderful holiday with friends and family!

If you are a professional quilter, take some time off to relax and refresh this holiday.

If you are a causal quilter, start a new project or complete a project already in progress!

Don’t forget those who have served to make this country the best in the world! Take a few minutes to visit the American Hero Quilts website www.americanheroquilts.com and help them provide quilts to our wounded warriors.

No matter what type of quilter you are, celebrate the independence and the freedoms that we have by living in this great country!

 

From Worst to Great

A few weeks ago I wrote about the WORST quilt ever! I recently got an email, with photos, from Charlotte in NH, about a t-shirt quilt she had made. Charlotte’s t-shirt quilt is one of THE BEST t-shirt quilts I have ever seen!

With her permission, I am posting her photos and her story about the quilt.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Car t shirt 2

 

This all started when my husband was deployed to Kuwait. Somehow, Jim (co-worker) saw my Picasa album of my finished quilts. He said to John (husband), do you think there is a way to incorporate my collection of t-shirts into a quilt? John said – oh sure. John volunteered my services free of charge. I had never made a t-shirt quilt before but knew I could do it. Jim left Kuwait in May of 2013. Mid June I got a box with 15 t-shirts from Jim. These t-shirts commemorated road races that he participated in. He wanted someway to display and pass on his collection of t-shirts to his family.

Car t shirt 1

Because this is likely to be passed on for generations, I wanted a unique design. I took pictures of all the shirts and brought them into EQ7 to start the design process. When I spoke with Jim, he said that he wanted something like a ‘spoke’ with emphasis on the first race. The center medallion represents his first race then from upper left clockwise the others are positioned around the quilt.

Car t shirt 3

The backing of stars was chosen by John. He wanted something patriotic since both work for the Dept. of Defense. I quilted it on my HandiQuilter Fusion with ProStitcher using Quilter’s Dream Select Poly and Anne Bright’s design – Vanilla Cream. This is a big quilt – 100 x 110. I am very pleased with the finished product; I hope Jim is as well. The quilt was sent to him and he should be receiving it soon.  My charity of choice is Quilts of Valor. 

Cindy’s Comments – This is a beautiful quilt and you did an EXCELLENT job! I know he will be proud of the quilt.

Feel free to leave comments about this quilt. I will make sure Charlotte sees them.

Bad Quilt – Done!

My customer came and picked up her quilt yesterday. I think she was impressed with it but not overwhelmed by the quilting. She did say it turned out better than she thought it would. I think she was relieved that the quilt was done. Her daughter, who the quilt was for, came also and she liked the quilt!

I have had some emails about wanting to know how I worked on the quilt step by step. So, here is what I did -

I realized that nothing was straight on the quilt and, with no backing on the t-shirts, there would be a TON of stretching of the fabrics, so putting the quilt on my machine (Gammill Classic Plus) in my usual way would not work.

I took the quilt, backing and batting, to my daughter’s house and laid the whole quilt out flat on her front room floor and pin basted the quilt togehter. Fortunately, the backing fabric was relatively straight along the top and bottom edges.

Before I pin basted the quilt, I took some photos – this is the wrong side of the quilt top. (click on the photo for a larger view) Note the seam allowances and the hems on the t-shirts!

B-Tshirt-01

My daughter (who is six months pregnant) helped me position the quilt top on the batting and backing, but I got on my hands and knees and pinned basted the pieces together. (Thank you modern medical science and my orthopedic surgeon for hip replacements.)

Here is a photo of the quilt after pin basting.

B-Tshirt-02

When I put the quilt on my machine, I pinned the top and bottom of the backing fabric to the appropriate rollers and then rolled the quilt onto the backing roller.

The quilt top was so heavy and so stretchy that I couldn’t even float the quilt top.

When the quilt was on the machine and rolled up on the backing roller, it was so thick that the safety pins kept getting caught in my vertical channel lock. I had to put painters tape over the channel lock to keep it from catching on the pins. After I did a couple of  “roll ups” the pins didn’t catch anymore.

I was able to stitch a horizontal channel lock line across the top of the quilt, dragging my thread across the thick seams. When I did the stitching, I had to start and stop in each block and I changed thread to match the fabric. I did a medium to larger stipple – that was about all I could do in the space available.

I worked my way to the bottom of the quilt and did another horizontal channel lock line at the bottom. I had at least a straight line at the top and bottom of the quilt.

I took the quilt off the machine, turned it (I did NOT trim it yet) and then re-pinned it to the machine. I then did a horizontal channel lock line at the (new) top and (new) bottom. These channel lock lines gave me a pretty accurate trimming line on all four sizes.

Now I had to work on the binding. At this point the quilt was starting to look almost good! (I have photos on the previous post.) For the binding, I decided to make a 2 inch binding, which would act like a border for the quilt. I used a marbled black fabric and applied the binding with my home sewing machine.  Once the binding was on, the quilt was finished!

Here is a photo of the finished quilt.

B-Tshirt-10

The quilt was so big and heavy I couldn’t put it on my clothesline, I had to lay it on the ground!

To reward myself I got a Grande Mocha Frappachino at Starbucks and quilted an American Hero Quilt!

With all the challenges this quilt presented, I am glad that I did it. I know that this quilt will be loved and used for a long time.

Thank you for everyone who sent their stories of their worst quilts, I enjoyed reading them and knowing that I was not alone.

If you are a new quilter, just starting out on your professional machine quilting journey, this is not normal, but it does happen from time to time. There are lessons to be learned and I will write about them in the next few  posts.

Bad Quilt – Almost Done!

Thank you to everyone who posted a comment about this T-Shirt quilt. I was feeling pretty low about working on it yesterday, but your words of encouragement and also your own quilting horror stories made me feel that I wasn’t alone in something like this.

The recipient of the quilt is a High School Senior (female) who is graduating in a few weeks. Her Mother made the quilt top for her and the quilt will be going off to college in the fall.

Here are a few more photos -

Side border piece of lightweight poly jersey fabric before quilting

B- Tshirt-5

And here it is after quilting!

B-Tshirt-4

 

Not too bad, but not real good. I did the best I could.

I got the quilting done a few minutes ago and laid the quilt on the grass so you could see it all.  Click on any photo for a larger view.

B-Tshirt-8

 

It doesn’t look too bad, but …..

Now, it’s on to the binding!

 

A Bad Quilt

At this moment I am working on the worst customer quilt I have ever worked on! I have been a professional quilter for almost 20 years and haven’t seen anything this bad. Yes, I am whining and complaining and I could have refused to work on this quilt. The only reason I am working on it (and I have had thoughts of sending it back to the customer only half done) is that if this quilt was being quilted by a new quilter, the new quilter would quit the business!

Here are some of the details – it’s a t-shirt quilt that is made with all sorts of t-shirts – cotton, poly, sweatshirts, and anything else that has a stretchy fabric. There is NO fusible backing on ANY of the fabrics. The seams are not straight, nothing fits, there are pleats and puckers in the stitching lines. The seam allowances are anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1 + inches and none of the hems of the t-shirts were removed and they are in the seam allowances!!!

Here are some photos. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Here is the right side border. The red fabric was cut this way.  If you look at the seam between the red and blue fabric, the blue fabric has the hem of the t-shirt still attached.

B-T-shirt 1

Here is another photo – The beige t-shirt is 100% polyester and all the other shirts are heavy cotton or sweatshirt material. If you look close enough (expand the photo) you can see the red fabric seam allowance above the flag graphic. The seam is 1-1/2 inches from the top of the flag.

B-T-Shirt 2

 

A few more things – the seams are so thick that my machine can barely get over them, and that is just to move the machine back and forth. The seams are so thick that I CAN’T quilt over them. And, of course, this quilt is HUGE at 94 x 110 inches! I also have to trim the quilt to a rectangle and put binding on it.

I did talk with my customer and tell her of the issues, documented many of the problems on the worksheet and I’m charging for the work at custom quilting prices.  For this quilt, my motto is “I can only do the best I can with what I got!” And I told this to my customer too!

Why am I writing all of this – I need some sympathy and someone to tell me I’m doing the best I can. I am also trying hard to make a positive out of a negative.

As a  quilter – professional or hobbyist –  I know that you have had “bad quilts” that you have worked on.  If you would like, share your bad quilt experience by either posting about it in the comments section, or send me an email and I will post it for you. Please, no customer names or locations. If you have photos send them too.

If anyone can learn from our bad quilt experiences, then the bad quilt will be a good thing.

I’ll let you know what happens when my customer picks up the quilt!

Customer Discounts ?

Many professional machine quilters give discounts to their customers. These discounts are usually about 10 – 20%, sometimes more, and can be for a variety of reasons – new customer discount, returning customer discount, sunny day discount, rainy day discount, showing up at the door discount, etc.

Personally, I don’t give discounts. I feel that you loose way too any $$ with discounts. Let’s run some numbers.

Example – Queen Size Quilt, moderate density quilting, it doesn’t matter if the quilting is free hand, pantograph or computerized.

 If you charge $250 for this quilt, with a 10% discount ($25) your charge (to the customer) would be$225, with a 15% discount ($37.50) your charge is $212.50, with a 20% discount ($50) your charge would be $200.

If you charge $300 for this quilt, with a 10% discount ($30) your charge would be $270, with a 15% discount ($45) your charge is $256, with a 20% discount ($60) your charge would be $240

Note: If you would charge a different amount, your numbers would be different.

No matter what discount you give to your customer, it still takes you the same amount of time to complete the quilting. If you calculate your cost per hour for quilting – the time it takes you to complete a quilt divided by the cost of the quilting only = cost per hour. (We will discuss “cost per hour” in an upcoming post.)

Again, some numbers – The Queen Size quilt in our example above took 6 hours to complete.

At full price of $250 divided by 6 (hours) = $41.66 per hour. For the discounted prices, $225 divided by 6 = $37.50 ph, $212.50 divided by 6 = $35.41 ph and $200 divided by 6 =$33.33 ph.

At full price of $300 divided by 6 (hours) = $50 per hour. For the discounted prices, $270 divided by 6 = $45 ph, $256 divided by 6 = $42.66 ph and $240 divided by 6 =$40 ph.

Note: NO operating expenses or self employment taxes have been taken out of the cost per hour amount.

You can see that the amount of $$ you are making per hour decreases significantly with each discount given.

Before we go any further, I want you to think about your customers. I would be willing to bet that most of your customers do not come to you ONLY because you offer a discount. Your customers come to you because they like your style of quilting, the quality of your quilting, your personality, your lifestyle, etc. Price usually isn’t at the top of their list when looking for a machine quilter.

OK, I do know that there are some people where price is the ONLY thing they look for in a quilter. Fortunately, these people are mostly few and far between and YOU get to choose if you want to work with them. Personally, if someone comes to me and wants me to quilt “cheap”, I just tell them – nicely – that I don’t do cheap quilting and it may be better for them to take their quilt someplace else. And yes, I have had to do this a few times in my machine quilting career.

So, if price is NOT the only reason your customer is coming to you, and if you routinely give them discounts, why? You may want to re-think your motivation behind your discount philosophy.

But, you want to give your customer an incentive to return to you, or you want to reward them in some way. I suggest that you offer them FREE BATTING.

I know, you are saying, wait a minute Cindy! You don’t give discounts, but you give free batting? Yes, I do! And here is why –

Batting is tangible. Your customer KNOWS what batting is and knows what the approximate retail cost of batting. Free batting also saves your customer time by not having to stop by the quilt shop and they may be able to bring their quilt to you more quickly.

Best of all, by offering the batting FREE, your customer knows they are getting a great deal.

Note: Batting should be a separate charge and not included in the price of the quilting labor.

Here is the best part for you, the machine quilter. Free batting will cost you less than most discounts!

You need to purchase your batting wholesale or at a discount. A Warm & Natural Queen Size batting, pre-cut, wholesale is $16.30 (Price at EE Schenck, Portland, OR, May 2014.) The suggested retail price would be $32.95 +/- Prices will vary for other battings and sizes or if purchased/sold by the yard.

For a $16 (+/-) investment, you don’t loose any $$ on the quilting labor that you would charge to your customer. This means that there is more $$ in YOUR pocket!

I look forward to your comments

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