Business Software

A few days ago someone posted the question about what software do you use to track your business. Instead of leaving a reply, I felt the answer deserved a post instead.

I would recommend one of two programs for tracking your machine quilting business – QuickBooks and the Machine Quilting Business Manager.

The first one is QuickBooks. QuickBooks is an accounting program and is VERY powerful. I would highly recommend that you have your CPA/tax person set it up for you. QuickBooks (QB) needs to be set up properly and the way your CPA/tax person likes it for their records. This will cost a few $$, but it will be some of the “cheapest” money you will spend on your business.  There is a learning curve to QB, but it is not too hard. If QB is set up properly, you can create reports on almost every part of your quilting business to see if you are being profitable or not. I have used QB for years and really like it. I can also make a copy of QB and send it to my CPA who then uses that info for my taxes, etc. (I save my files to a thumb drive and mail it to my CPA.) QB will also print out invoices and you can even send the invoices as email attachments to your customers if you want.

The second one is the Machine Quilting Business Manager   www.eurekadocumentation.com which was designed by a CPA with the input of a professional machine quilter. (I think they were next door neighbors.) I know of many professional quilters who use this program and they like it. I think it is a little more user friendly than QB, but it is not a true accounting program. As I understand it, before sending the information to your CPA/tax person, you have to do some things such as run reports, etc., and give the reports to your CPA for them to use.

I will send an email to the creator of the Machine Quilters Business Manager (MQBM) and I hope she will post with more information about her program.

If you use another business program, or have comments about QB or MQBM please leave your comments.

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A Quilters Dilemma

I recently received this email from a blog subscriber and she asked my opinion of what I would do. I responded and also suggested that I post this to the blog. She agreed, and here is an edited version of her email

I have been at this quilting for over 5 years and I have had my share of disastrous quilts.  My question is:  Is it more important to keep a quilt square around the edges or to build in the puffiness that is created from piecing, possible pulling an on point quilt, or maybe pulling the borders too tight with an on point quilt?

I am very conscientious with the customer who is a meticulous piecer, it is easy to spot problems and I try my best to keep the quilt square, straight, and work as hard as they worked to in their piecing.  But, when you get a quilt that has strings hanging all over, not ironed that well, and is definitely not square, borders are a mess, what do you do?

 Question #1 – Is there a reasonable amount of time that should be spent on making the quilt the best as possible? 

 Question #2 – Should we throw out any idea of square along the edges, is flat more important? 

 Question #3 – Does the customer really appreciate the time used to make her quilt wonderful?

 I do try to trim loose threads and iron any major creases; I have an iron station that is set up to handle un-ironed backings, so I do take on piecing and ironing imperfections, charging of course for the process.  Many of my friends do not feel this process is necessary, but I find that it makes my job easier – I find a lot of piecing mistakes during this process and it gives me a clue if the quilt is going to have issues.

 This has been my dilemma for years, I have recently been basting my quilts completely, before starting the quilting process. This does help give me some idea of what I am actually tackling or fussing with such as creases, puckers, extra fabric, or the notorious wavy, wobbly, puffy border.

Stephanie P.

Now it is your turn – what would you do, or what do you do in this type of situation? I know that this is an issue that we all struggle with and I would really like to know what you think. I will post my response to Stephanie  in a little bit.

Teaching in Kansas City

Cindy Roth will be teaching a variety of machine quilting classes in the Kansas City/Overland Park area
October 18 – 21, 2011. She will be giving a presentation at the Mo-Kan Machine Quilters Guild on
Thursday, October 21, 10 am – 12 noon about Running a Successful Machine Quilting Business. This presentation is open to all machine quilters. There is no charge for Mo-Kan Guild members. Visitors fee is $5.00

 If you would like to attend this presentation, or any of Cindy’s classes, please go to the Longarm U website for complete details
http://www.longarmuniversity.com/traveling_classes.htm#Kansas 

If you have any questions, please contact Cindy at LongarmU@aol.com

For information about the Mo-Kan Machine Quilters Guild go to   www.mkmqg.com

Good Things About a Machine Quilting Business

The last few posts and comments may sound like this is an AWFUL business to be in. Trust me, it isn’t. It is actually a GREAT business and most people work from their homes, where their machines are located. As with any business, there are good parts, bad parts and the “in the middle” parts. In this post, I want to concentrate on some of the GOOD THINGS a machine quilting business can offer. It is NOT always about the $$$!

Personally, I LOVE my commute! My house is not incredibly large and my quilting machine is in the (former) family room. So my commute is from the front room to the family room/studio (about 20 – 25 feet +/-) and then from the family room/studio to the kitchen (another 20 – 25 feet +/-) then back to the front room. If I “travel” a little farther to the front part of the house (an “L” shaped rambler, all on one level) I am at my fabric storage rooms (bedrooms that were empty for only a few minutes after the  kids moved out!)

Before I became a full-time machine quilter, I drove school bus for nearly 20 years. No matter what the weather, I was “out there” driving the big (82 passenger) yellow bus all over town picking up and dropping off kids at school and doing field trips. I had a good time driving and really enjoyed my job. But now, I truly appreciate NOT having to go outside to commute to work. I can stand at the window in the winter, watch the horizontal rain and sleet and sometimes snow and “commute” to work in my slippers and robe with a cup of coffee in my hand. In the summer I will sometimes commute to my back deck and have a cup of coffee in the sunshine (or bright clouds) before starting to quilt. Did I mention that I LOVE my commute!

Now it is your turn, – leave a comment about what is the BEST thing you love about having a machine quilting business.