What Would You Do?

I belong to a few YahooGroups and recently someone posted photos of a “problem child” quilt.

The person who posted these photos is a professional longarm quilter and this is a customer quilt she was working on. I contacted the quilter and asked permission to post the photos on this blog for your feedback. The quilter is graciously allowing me to post these photos (and the results) so that we all can learn from this experience.

The quilt is 96 x 96 inches and I will let the photos do the talking –

The quit is on the machine – (click on any photo for a larger view)

1-Bias Quilt

Here is one of the borders –

2-Quilt Challenge

One more thing – the piecier doesn’t trim her threads well.

3-Tangled Threads

This is what most of the back of the quilt looked like.

So, what would you do?

All comments are welcomed.

In a few days I will post the outcome of this quilt.

About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 10 and quilting forever!

27 Responses to What Would You Do?

  1. Sherry says:

    What a mess! First, I’d refuse to do it, but if you do quilt it, let her know it has many problems that won’t quilt out… I’d use a thick poly batting to take up excess, Pull/stretch it to as straight as you can side to side and top to bottom. Pin borders and baste them. Use some starch and a hair drier to shrink what you can. It might end up bigger than 96 x 96. You may have to do some tucks also. If you clip threads, save them and return them to her with the bill and charge at least an extra $20-30 for clipping them. Good Luck!

  2. Joanie says:

    I got a quilt like that before. I did take pictures and showed them to the customer and her conment was ” it wasn’t like that when I gave it to you”. Can you believe that?

  3. Linda Morris says:

    I would not quilt this quilt as it is. My concern is not that many things could not be done to help it, but that no matter what I did MY name as a professional quilter would be associated with the outcome. How many potential customers would look at this and not know the piecing was the problem? Further, I would have to charge a fair amount of money to get this quilt into reasonable shape for quilting – it is going to take days of work to fix this. I would not risk my reputation for the money I would make. I would be careful to deliver this news as gently as possible.

  4. Deborah Cavanaugh says:

    How about giving it back and telling her your skill level is not up to dealing with the excess of the bias. I have dealt with a couple of quilts with way wavy borders. Piano keys and poly batting are my friends. I threw out a quilt top to see it and it made a semi circle because of it’s 7 borders put on with the sew and cut later method. I don’t sew down the edge, I let them deal with the excess and get the tucks.

  5. Pingback: What Would You Do? Update | Machine Quilting Business

  6. Joyce Austin says:

    This quilter must be related to my sister-in-law. She has given me a couple of bias quilts that looked this bad over the years. (they had almost as many threads too) This one looks like there are problems inside the quilt as well as with the setting triangles. Contact the customer with the pictures ASAP and let her know that her bias quilt is not quiltable the way it is now. You may want to send her pictures of how a quilt with minor problems looks when you put it on the frame so she can see the difference. I have heard customers in the quilt shop bad mouthing a quilter because their quilt was with the quilter for a year and nothing was done on it. Knowing the quilter, my immediate thought was that she ran into a problem trying to do the quilt, and did not want to try to deal with the quilt or the customer. You don’t want to be the quilter who does not get things done. If she takes this to someone else they will have the same problems as you.

    Give her the option of fixing it herself, or having you do it. Keep in mind when discussing the charges for you to do it that you need to price in an aggravation charge, I would go 50% more than my usual charge. Fixing my sister-in-laws quilts took more time than I expected, and it is always scary fiddling with someone else’s work.

    If she chooses to fix it herself offer to go over the quilt and point out the spots that will need to be made smaller, or larger if she has any leftover fabric. Be warned though, a quilter that can complete a project of this size will general not be very open to constructive criticism, tread lightly. .

    Remember that you are in business to do something that you love. If you put all of your energy into fighting with this quilt, you will not be getting other quilts done, and will lose revenue. Turning away a quilt is sometimes the best thing for you, and in the long run the customer will learn from their mistakes too. Good luck with this one!

    BTW, I just upgraded my quilting machine and my sister-in-law will be buying my old system. I expect that the quality of her piecing will improve dramatically in the coming year!

    • Cindy Roth says:

      It will be interesting to see if the piecing skills of your sister-in-law get better. I know that my piecing skills increased dramatically when I became a machine quilter!

  7. Leeanna Brunsell says:

    1. Cry
    2. Send it back
    3. Yell
    4. Punt
    5. Give quilter the name of a good quilt teacher

  8. Speak to the client and show the photos to her when it was on the machine. Ask her to correct the problems and discuss how to go about making the corrections. If the client isn’t informed of the need to produce a better pieced top, they think nothing is wrong.

  9. Leeanne says:

    Mmmm, sadly as long arm quilters we do see this problem. In my beginning days I would have removed borders, (no doubt the problem goes deeper) measured and re- attached the MUCH smaller borders. Problem is with this method the problem is ‘fixed’ on the border but moving it all to the middle of the quilt. The customer may say she is happy with any tucks and puckers that may occur……(guess what there will be no MAY, it’s a defiant!) My big problem at the end of the day it’s your name as “The Quilter” on this quilt. Just my thoughts. I am interested to read what the quilter will decide.

  10. Kathy says:

    I would lay it on a flat hard surface, figure out what and where the problems are. Sent photos to the customer and explained the problems and the different soutions. I would be willing to divide the cost of getting it ready to quilt. Pressing only does so much, darting the fabric in places so it looks like seams help. Working from the wrong side, press flat the tucks that are a problem, then sew along the press line to make a dart. I can’t see how to do a decent job without removing the border, flattening the top and putting the border back on.

  11. Virginia Isaacs says:

    It’s OK to say NO! When someone brings a quilt with so many ‘situations’, just say NO!

    • Leeanna Brunsell says:

      I agree. You can have her come over when the quilt is on the machine, or send photos so she understands the huge issues. If you want to keep her as a customer 🙂 offer suggestions, even marking the problem areas, if that’s possible. And as another LA-er reminded, your name will be indelible as “quilted by..”

  12. Lisa says:

    I had some problem quilts, but nothing ever that bad !!! I would send these pictures to the client and give her options what to do, spraystarch, fold in fabric etc. and tell what I charge for fixing it or she can pick it up again. I did that recently and it ended a nightmare for me, it had a adhesive batting attached to the top and a lot of wrinkles and excess fabric, she send it by mail…..

  13. Diane says:

    I just did a quilt like that with the threads, it took my a good hour and a huge ball of thread when I was done, I told her about it but didn’t charge her for it. Love the idea of extra batting in the wonky spots

  14. Patricia Chapman says:

    Just had this same problem. The quilt was made up of very large pieces sewn together randomly hoping for a modern look. But none of the pieces had been squared up, and the sashing varied between 1 1/2 & 2 1/2 inches wide on the same strip. Seam allowances were all over the place. I took it off the frame and sent it back with suggestions on how to fix the problem. Secretly hoped to never see it again but got it back, much improved but still not great. I took some of it apart to fix the worst areas and did my best. The backing was pieced just as badly and as I went along I kept pleats out by sticking scraps of batting between the backing and the roller where it was sagging. Turned out better than I had hoped, customer was happy and she has since gotten additional instructions on the proper quilting techniques. And I did charge, charge, charge.

    • Emily says:

      Patricia, I’m curious how you do charge for something like that? Thanks.

      • Patricia Chapman says:

        I did charge for my time reloading it the second time , but charged for a level above what was done, i.e. custom instead of semi custom.

  15. edna drakeford says:

    I would have refused it kindly tell her that her piecing was not done well.

  16. Vera Thompson says:

    I would contact the owner of the quilt and tell her there are some problems with her quilt top. explain to her as gently as possible what they are, maybe send her the pictures and explain what will need to be done in order for the quilt to look good when it is quilted. If the person brought the quilt in person, some of these things like the uncut threads should have been caught. However, I do have some that are just dropped off with the person saying do what you think best and leaving. I charge to trim threads and iron the tops.

    • Emily says:

      Hi, Vera. How do you charge for clipping threads? Hourly? Is that how you charge for quilting as well or do you charge by size?

      • Vera Thompson says:

        I charge hourly. I write down the start and stop time. I have thought it might be easier to use a stop watch.

      • Vera Thompson says:

        I charge by the square inch for quilting.

  17. Michelle Palermo says:

    Can the quilt be taken off the frame – do some spray starching – I’ve done this on the frame as well. Under the really full areas try add some high loft batting to help suck up the fullness – just spray baste it in place where it is needed. I would baste the quilt down in sections and try and ease in the fullness…charge, charge, charge

    • Emily says:

      Michelle, I’ve never added batting to take out fullness. Is that something you ask the customer about beforehand, and how does the quilt look when it’s completed? Does it have puffy spots?

  18. Oh my what a nightmare! I don’t think starch and steam and strategic tucking can rescue this. I’ll be interested in seeing what the outcome was for this “bless your heart quilt”.

  19. Sarah Brazzel says:

    Oh my gosh. I would try to struggle through this project as best I could….but I’d never take another quilt from that customer again. I might also try to figure out how to gently talk to her about how difficult it is to work with hanging threads on the back and also offer some tips on making her quilt less wonky. Good LUCK!!!

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