Batting Surprise

I posted to my personal blog about a quilt that I had taken apart and re-quilted for a church nursery. (You can view the post by Clicking Here)

I included photos of the process of re-quilting this baby quilt and I also posted photos of what the batting looked like when I took apart the quilt.

This baby quilt was well used and well loved in the church nursery and after each use it was washed and dried. In other words, it was “rode hard and put away wet!” Before I took the quilt apart, the batting felt pretty good and I felt almost a little bit guilty about taking the quilt apart. But when I did, I was very surprised at what I found.

Here are the results (click on any photo for a larger view)

W-BB-2

The quilt back is still (barely) attached to the batting. The quilt was “birthed” and tied. (Refer to the original blog post for the details on this)

I took the batting off the quilt back and put it on some cardboard so you can see it better.

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I can’t remember if the quilt was tied where the batting is or it was the other way around.

Why am I showing this to you? As a professional machine quilter, YOU can make the recommendations to your customers as to what batting can / should be used in their quilt.

Because this quilt was made by the “church ladies” I am sure they were not worried about the longevity of the batting they used. I am certain they looked at the price of the batting only and the batting may have been donated. (No, I don’t know what brand of batting was used, but it looked like a bonded polyester.)

To many people, batting is batting and it isn’t that important! But WE know that is not true and these photos show the results.

When I re-did the quilt I used Soft & Bright (S&B) polyester batting from The Warm Company. Soft & Bright is “built” the same way as Warm & Natural, with a layer of scrim between the fibers – cotton or polyester – to help the batting keep it’s shape and not pull apart. I have been using S&B for YEARS in my own quilts, customer quilts and quilts for my own family and Grand Kids. Yes, this is a shameless plug and no, I’m not affiliated with Warm Company, except as a happy customer of their products.

YOU, as the professional, need to find the battings that work well for you and your customers. Then you need to recommend them to your customers and maybe, at times, insist that your batting is used in their quilts.

Let’s assume you allow your customers bring their own batting for you to use and a customer brings some “nasty” batting. (You can describe “nasty” any way you desire.) You know that this nasty batting will give you problems when quilting AND it is not going to look good in the quilt.

Will you use the nasty batting or recommend / insist on using batting YOU endorse and have in stock?

Personally, I won’t use the nasty batting. And yes, many times, I have refused to use a customer’s batting! I do explain WHY I won’t use it and most customers understand and will use my batting.

If a customer absolutely insists on using that batting, and their minds can’t be changed, I would probably refuse the job. (Yes, you CAN refuse to quilt someone’s quilt.)

There are some professional quilters will not allow their customers to bring their own batting – they MUST use the batting the professional provides. And that’s OK too. That professional probably learned the hard way about bad battings!

It is OK to be fussy about batting. It is OK to refuse to quilt a quilt using nasty batting. It is OK to recommend a different batting that YOU approve and / or endorse.

Last but not least, here is a photo of the completed, newly re-quilted quilt with new batting, new borders and binding!

Click on the photo for a larger view.

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Quilting details – the blocks are about 3 inches square. I stitched free hand wavy lines about 1/4 inch from each seam and then one wavy line down the middle of the blocks, using varigated thread. I did turn the quilt to the vertical lines.

PS – If you would like copies of the nasty batting photos to show your customers, send me an email at longarmu@aol.com requesting them.

 

 

Situation Update

I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the last post about a situation that a quilter was in. To view the original post Click Here

I have talked to the quilter a few times and I recently received an email from her. She has given me permission to post her email on this blog.

I hope you take the time to read her email – it raises more than a few questions for us, as professional machine quilters, to ponder.

Here is her email –

Cindy its taken me awhile to get back to you because I’ve had a lot of thinking to do about my future. Making a decision that will affect the rest of my life is not something to do quickly. Let me give you a bit more history before telling my plans.

I used to get most of my customers from three different quilt shops close to my house and by word of mouth. I never had any difficulty getting customers. There were only a handful of professional machine quilters in this whole area when I started. I was the only one on this side of the county. I thought of all my customers as friends and everyone loved to come to my house for some quilt talk or help with troublesome patterns. I had a steady stream of friends.

The years go by and life changes. The three quilt shops close so no more customers from them. The remaining quilt shop is on the other side of the county. Customers get older and stop making quilts. Cheaper quilting machines come on the market making it easier for customers to quilt their own tops. Classes are taught for how to quilt with a domestic machine and classes are taught for how to make an entire quilt with an embroidery machine. That means fewer customers to go around at the same time as more people decide to become professional quilters for hire.

The neighborhood where I live goes downhill and the crime goes up. People start moving away leaving mostly boarded up houses and high crime. If I am afraid to live in my own home how can I expect customers to feel comfortable visiting? I got tired of my car being stolen so often and so did the insurance company. I gave my car to someone who really needed it and started using public transportation. We don’t have Uber here. It costs twelve dollars just to get into a taxi here.

Over the years quilting machines get cheaper and easier to own. With cheaper machines comes newbies willing to work very cheaply in order to attract customers. Everybody needs to start somehow in order to pay for their investment. In all the years I’ve been a professional quilter I have yet to see a single newbie who had a real business plan before buying a machine. Its very difficult to convince a customer to go to a high crime area and pay five cents a square inch when there are several newbies who charge only two cents and are closer to home. I never understood why someone would pay top dollar for fabric, spend hours piecing a perfect top, then look for the cheapest quilter possible. I refuse to work for less than minimum wage in order to have customers! I have too much invested in myself and my business to do that. I doubt anyone would agree to work for one or two dollars an hour at Walmart or MC Donald’s or Kroger so why do it as a professional quilter?

Enter a couple of new longarm quilting machine sales shops with machines to rent opening. The remaining quilt shop also buys a couple of machines and hires people to be quilters. So why would someone travel clear across the county to a high crime area just to have a quilt done when its so much easier to go a few blocks and do it yourself? Meeting customers at those places is not an option. Meet someplace else? Hire someone to take me? That means I’m going out of my way to accommodate a customer who is not willing to pay minimum wage. Yes, some people do meet customers at other places but why? Aren’t you and your work worth meeting at your place of business just like any other business? Would the manager of a fabric store be willing to take a carload of fabric to a Starbucks so the customer can shop? Would that same manager cut the cost of fabric to make the customer’s hobby affordable? I’m sorry if this offends anyone but for far too long professional quilters have accepted less than what’s fair just to be in business. This is not the 1800s where a woman’s work is worth less than a man’s. Professional quilting is not just income from a hobby. It’s a business and should be treated that way. We are SEW worth it! (Cindy’s Note: YOU GO GIRL!!!)

Over the past couple of months I’ve been exploring business options and making notes for a new business plan. I’ve read the comments given by readers and I want to thank everyone for them. I’ve been approved for a home loan and have started looking at houses. Moving is going to take a few weeks at best. Instead of stressing about getting customers I plan to take this downtime to practice my skills and narrow my focus. I’ll use this time to concentrate on a really good plan for when I move into my new house. Kind of like starting out new all over again. Its fun looking at craft storage furniture and lighting options or designing new business cards. Currently I’m thinking of other options in quilting. Its possible I may not stay with being a professional machine quilter for hire. I have other talent besides quilting and may do something else. Focusing my attention on the future keeps me from thinking about the crime going on outside.

Once again, thank you and everyone who commented. The future looks much brighter today than it did a few weeks ago.

Please feel free to post your comments about anything that has been written.

Happy 2016 and a Situation

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2016 filled with LOTS of customer quilts for you to work on!

January is typically a slow(er) month for machine quilters. This is the time to take a break and re-charge yourself, clean your quilting room (mine is a disaster), work on some of your own projects, and maybe make some samples of new techniques and patterns you have acquired last year. You can then offer these new patterns and techniques to your customers at a higher fee!

The start of a new year is a great time to raise your prices! Even if it is only half a cent raise, at least it is a raise. If you are normally charging one and a half cents per square inch (,015), change it to two cents per inch (.02). You just gave yourself a raise – which you deserve!

You also do NOT have to let your customers know that you are raising your prices. Just do it! The next time your customer comes to you, quote them the new, higher price and don’t say anything about it. I will bet that your customer won’t even notice the difference.

Here are some numbers – A Queen Size quilt, 90 x 108 inches = 9720 square inch (psi). The old price of .015 cents psi would equal $145. The NEW price of .02 cents psi equals $194.40, which I would round up to either $195 or $200.

By raising your price by one half a cent, you just gave yourself a $50 raise! And, if you quilted 5 Queen Size quilts per month, you would have an extra $250 for doing the same kind and same amount of work you did in the past!!

I now want to change subjects completely.

I have been talking and emailing with a professional machine quilter and she has a very unique situation. With her permission, I am going to outline what her problem is and see if you have any suggestions to help her.

This quilter lives in a medium sized metropolitan city. The area she lives in, over the last many years has changed considerably and it now considered “un-safe to live in” (her words) and her customers don’t and won’t come to her home to drop off their quilts.

She has enough customers, does quality work, charges a very good price for her services and needs her quilting income to help support herself.

Because her area is has a high crime rate, she has no vehicle (too many times her car was stolen or vandalized) and must use public transportation to get around. If needed, she can – and has – rented a car for the day, but must travel by bus to the car rental office.

She is in the process of moving to a different, safer location, but that is still several months away, if everything works out well.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for her and her situation? If you do, please write them in the comments section.

I have given her some suggestions (I’ll post them later) and now we both would like to hear from you.

This quilter does subscribe to this blog and will be reading your comments.

I thank you in advance for any thoughts, suggestions or comments.

Snowflake Serenade Mystery Quilt

For the last few years, on New Year’s Day, I have hosted an online Mystery Quilting Event, and the quilt for 2016 is Snowflake Serenade. I designed this quilt to match the FREE HAND quilting that will be done on this quilt. The class is open to ALL machine quilters with ANY kind of machine.

I actually created the quilting design first, then built a quilt around it!
For details on the Mystery Quilt Class Click Here

Snowflake Serenade Quilt

Snowflake Serenade Quilt

The photo above shows the Lap Size quilt – there are 2 table runners, a Twin Size, and a Queen and King Size quilt included in the piecing instructions.

Table Runner

Table Runner

Here is how this Mystery Quilt works. When you register for the class you will get a copy of the piecing instructions – and there is a video on how I pieced this block together. Piece your quilt top, you choose which size, and have it on your quilting machine, ready for quilting on January 1, 2016.

About 8 am Pacific Time (maybe a little earlier) the first “Part” of the quilting instructions will be posted online.( You will be notified via email when the Parts are online.) Throughout the day, about every 2 hours, another Part of the class will be posted. You can follow along with the class instructions and work on your quilt. By the end of the day, ALL the Parts of the class will be posted and you will see the completed quilt!

There is also a YahooGroups created for this class – and maybe a FaceBook group too – so that you can “talk” with other students and view photos of their progress.

This is a FUN way to start the New Year!

To Register for this class Click Here

I hope to “see” you in class on January 1st!

So God Made a Quilter

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.

I received this link in an email a few days ago and would like to share it with you. It is a video (which is very well done) titled So God Made a Quilter. I would recommend that you take a few minutes from your day to watch it.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was very insightful and even made me tear up a bit.

To view the So God Made a Quilter video Click Here 

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hope you have lots of treats and no tricks!

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Wonky Borders – Part 2

Last week I posted about new pages that I added to the Longarm University website about wonky / bad borders.

On these pages I showed how I fixed the borders, yes I took the borders off a quilt, re-measured them, trimmed them and then re-stitched the borders back in place.  I asked for comments and questions about this – and I got more than a few!

I have posted these comments, and more, on the Longarm U website. Here is a list of the Wonky Borders pages and their links.

To view –

One Way to Fix Wonky Borders Click Here 

My Thoughts on Wonky / Bad Borders Click Here 

Wonky Borders Comments Click Here 

I welcome all thoughts, comments and questions.

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