A Different Situation

I was contacted by someone earlier this week who was looking for some insight into a problem they were having. I think there is something to learn from this problem but I am not quite sure what it is. There are many questions that I can think of, most of which I have no answers. I am hoping that you can think about this and post your thoughts, suggestions, etc. Here is the situation as told to me –

The person who contacted me is a piecer, who pieced a king size quit for her daughter who is now at college. She took the quilt to a local machine quilter (I do not know who the quilter is or where she is located) for quilting. While at the machine quilter’s business, during the intake of the quilt, the customer insisted that the quilter write out a work order (which the quilter normally doesn’t do). The customer was very specific about what she wanted quilted and where it was to be quilted. According to the customer, this was all documented  and the quilter said that doing these patterns in these areas would be no problem. The customer has a copy of the work order.) The customer left a $200 deposit and waited patiently for the quilt to be completed.

After 5 months, the quilter called the customer and said the quilt was ready to be picked up. When the customer picked up the quilt, the quilter had quilted different patterns and designs instead of what the customer had chosen. The customer was not contacted about the pattern changes and did not approve of any pattern changes before the quilting was stared. When the customer asked the quilter why she didn’t do the quilting that the customer had insisted on, the quilter said “I felt that my choice of designs would work better on the quilt than yours did.”

The customer, who is very, very angry and upset about this, grabbed her quilt and left. The quilt is now in the possession of the customer.

The customer, who is the person who contacted me, is LIVID about this! She is saying the quilt is “ruined” and that she can’t look at the quilt without all these bad feelings, etc.

The customer was talking about contacting a lawyer and is wanting compensation for the quilting amount (which was about $500. I don’t know the exact amount), the cost of the materials of the quilt and the time it took her to piece the quilt. The customer says she can document the cost of the materials and that she knows how long it took her to piece the quilt.

In total, the customer is looking for “several thousand dollars” in compensation from the quilter.

Here are some of my thoughts on this situation –

If I were the quilter and this was my customer and I did not quilt what the customer insisted on – and which was documented – I would give back the deposit and offer to re-quilt the quilt for no charge.

I don’t know if I would offer to take out the quilting or have the customer do this. I would say (and document) that the quilt would need to be returned to me un-quilted buy a certain date, maybe three months in advance, and then give a date as to when it would be completed. I would do the re-quilting and give the quilt back to the customer as graciously as possible.

Hopefully, this would solve the problem and everyone is more or less happy.

When thinking more about this situation, especially where the customer wants compensation for the quilt, here are other questions / thoughts that I have. I don’t know if these are legal questions or if they would have any bearing on this situation or not. Let me know your thoughts about this –

The customer says her quilt was “ruined.” I don’t feel that the quilt was ruined. The quilt (I have seen photos of it) is nicely pieced, it is nicely / adequately quilted and it is in a usable condition. Even thought the quilt is NOT quilted the way the customer wanted it, but the quilt could be gifted or donated and someone would be thrilled to have it.

Even though the quilter quilted the wrong designs, the work was still done and the quilt is still usable. Should the quilter be paid for the work she did on the quilt?

Because the customer now has possession of the quilt (no matter how it was removed from the quilter) does that mean that the customer has “accepted” the quilt “as is”?

If there were holes ripped in the quilt or the cat or dog had babies on it, or something else happened where the quilt was totally un-usable, that, in my opinion, would be a different situation.

If the quilt is usable, should the customer be given / awarded compensation for the time and materials used to make this quilt?

If the quilt was un-usable, should the customer be given / awarded compensation for the time and materials used to make this quilt?

If the customer would be given / awarded compensation for the time and materials used to make this quilt, how much should it be?

Let’s assume there was $250 worth of fabric for the top, $75 worth of fabric for the backing, 100 hours of piecing time at $15 per hour = $1,500. The total documented time and materials is $1,825.

Let me know your thoughts by writing in the comments box below. If you would prefer to contact me privately, send me an email at longarmu@aol.com

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

26 Responses to A Different Situation

  1. Catherine Peterson says:

    I have removed all quilting stitches for a customer who was unhappy with the results of my quilting. She however had given me the “whatever you think is best” answer when asked about preferred patterns. Due to the fact that she is a bigwig, I felt it was better to do my best to make “nice”.
    When requilted – she paid all due and even above what was charged. And she has recommended several others to me since then. As it turns out, I’m happy that I swallowed my pride – it worked out well for me.
    Not sure if I would do it again though. And I have since changed how I accept a quilt.

  2. Knucks&Bows says:

    Unfortunately, there is no adequate recompense for the piecer. She at minimum deserves a full refund as the work wasn’t done as ordered. She obviously deserves more but the courts aren’t going to give her the several thousands she’s wanting simply because quantifying a piecers time/wage is difficult and unlikely to be accepted in a court. And the money and time she uses towards lawyer fees, receipt hunting, determining time spent on piecing and providing information that shows said time has a value of X dollars would all be wasted when the court maybe orders the quilt returned to the longarmer and done to the customers satisfaction. I’d then expect the long armer to spend 3 months unpicking (will she unpick nicely?? what if no matter how carefully she unpicks things the top and back are just worn and the new quilting just adds to the deterioration) and then another 5 months getting it quilted.
    The parties are better off splitting ways, and the quilter getting a bad review and that customers should be wary (or understand that it’s hire her at your own risk) when using her for custom requests.
    I also think the piecer should explain her story to a few other quilters and see if they can help whether with a credit for a future quilt, or a discount on this one.

  3. E Hoover says:

    The quilter messed up. When the customer expressed her choice of quilting design should have
    Honored that request. Any damage done to the quilt as a result of this is the responsibly of Tyne
    Quilter. I do not feel like the customer should pay for that quilting. Personally I would take the
    Quilt, bid the quilter farewell and never darken her doorway again, or refere her to anyone else.
    That quilter needs to be taught a lesson. She may have a bitter pill to swallow but she needs to
    Understand that the customer is always right.

  4. Jan Unghire says:

    The quilter doesn’t have the right to change the quilting designs ordered without customers consent. But the quilt is done and usable. The time it would take to remove stitching on a king size quilt is unbelievable. She can ask the quilter for a discount offer on the next quilt or the customer can not return to that quilter knowing how she operating her business. I am not a lawyer but I think there isn’t much the customer can do because the quilt is usable and not damaged.

    I am a long arm quilter and did make a mistake on a customer’s quilt.when explaining the quilting she wanted was diagonal lines going across the quilt but she didn’t say what starting direction. When returnin the quilt she wasn’t happy I quilted the quilted in the wrong direction she wanted. The quilt looked fine and usable just not the direction she wanted. I gave her 50% off the quilting because I felt she wasn’t happy and wanted to keep her as a customer. So if she tells anyone about the quilt not meeting her expectations she can say I was fairly treated her with a discount.

    • Linda Kimberling says:

      From both a customer perspective and a provider of the service, I think this is the best approach. There is no fixing the disappointment, but being treated fairly, and maybe even a little more, goes along way to repairing ones reputational capital with the customer and trying to salvage some goodwill that may influence her to not badmouth the quilter when visiting quilt shops, and other vendors in the industry.

  5. Pamela Schenck says:

    This is all very interesting indeed. First, I have learned if a customer wants me to do quilting that is beyond my ability I decline the quilt and refer to other quilters in my area. That being said – it seems this question has come up before about legal action. To seek compensation documentation is required all the receipts for the fabric, batting & backing. Proof of hours spent (which could be hard) and proof that the quilt is “ruined” again – not usable.. I don’t think the piecer would be successful. She did take the quilt.. word of mouth is the best and worst thing for a quilter.. Voice your opinion but she should also be careful to not find herself at the end of a defamation of charter suit herself. Having in the past gotten a quilt back that was “ruined” in my opinion is heartbreaking. But not the end of the world. Sometimes what we picture in our head and reality can be different . And there are two sides to every story. before final judgement of popular opinion is made I’d like to hear the quilters side of the story.

  6. Dawn K. says:

    Wow! First let me say that the quilter is in the wrong here by quilting the quilt with designs that the customer did not choose. That’s what the intake form is for, and I follow it. I only have a couple of customers that are truly “quilt as desired” people. The rest choose their designs, thread color, everything, and I quilt it as I’m told.

    Second mistake I see in this situation is the customer paid and left with the quilt as is. I would have refused it, and made the quilter fix it. She didn’t do this so not sure what legal recourse she would have unless she expressed her displeasure at pick up.

    So now ‘what’s done is done’. The quilter should pick out the stitches, redo the quilting, and refund her money.

    Is the quilt ‘ruined’? No, it’s still useable. She could give it to the intended recipient and they would be none the wiser of the error.

    If the customer does pursue legal action. The best she could hope for is a refund, and replacement cost of the materials used. She would not get anything for time spent making the top, because she isn’t doing this as a business so her time has no dollar value for making gifts.

    The real issue here is her feelings were hurt and she was basically betrayed by the quilter. She
    trusted the quilter to complete the quilt as she specified, and this didn’t happen.

    There are several solutions for this situation.

    She could pursue legal action to get her money back, but I would take the quilt back to the quilter. Explain how unhappy (pissed off) she is about it, and try to come to an agreement without the court system. That only causes hard feelings all the way around, and I doubt she would get everything she feels she deserves.

    The quilt isn’t really ruined. It’s just not quilted the way she wanted it. She could still gift it to the person she intended to give it too. Not say anything about the quilting, and move on. And of course, NEVER use that quilter again.

    She could donate it to a charity that would love the gift, and write off the donation on her taxes. If she can document her cost of material, and kept the receipt for quilting.

    She could also pick the stitches out herself, and take it to a different quilter to redo the quilting the way she originally wanted.

    So no matter which course she chooses. It’s best to be done with the situation as quickly as possible, and get back to quilting. Quilting is what brings us joy, and this quilt will not do that no matter how the situation is resolved.

  7. Deanna S. says:

    First and foremost, getting an attorney involved in this case will not make things better. The only person who will truly win is the attorney. Too much money and time will be spent trying to get the case through the courts. Small claims court would be a horse of another color. Perhaps that avenue should be explored, if the quilter and the piecer can’t come to terms. I believe it is totally unprofessional for the quilter to make changes to the signed work order without consent by the piecer. For making the unauthorized changes, the quilter is totally in the wrong and needs to do whatever will make the situation “right”.

  8. Debra Woods says:

    Based on having only one side of the situation presented, the quilter should return the money and offer to either take the stitches out or pay to have them removed so that the owner of the quilt can have the item quilted as she wishes.

    According to the customer, she was very specific with the quilter on what designs to stitch and where to stitch them and insisted on a work order. We do not know if the quilter did not like those designs or felt that the specific designs were outside of her expertise. If the quilter could not create the designs requested then the quilter should have stated that she was unable to meet the customer’s request. The customer intended this quilt to be something special. She doesn’t look at it in this way and probably never will even if it is re-quilted to her liking. But I agree that it is not ruined unless it is damaged beyond repair.

    Many of my customers tell me to do what I want with their quilts and I know my customers.( I require work orders and deposits for customers unfamiliar to me.) When I do have specific requests, I honor them, if I can and if I can’t, then I say that upfront. I have ripped out several quilts, not because the customer didn’t like the quilting, because I didn’t like how it turned out. I re quilted them, no one else knew, and my customers were thrilled with their final products. I have their quilt tops for a short time but they have them for life. When they look at their quilts, I want them to be satisfied with the finished products and enjoy them without remorse.

    Legal action for a bad business decision on a quilt is beyond punitive. No one was physically harmed or died.

  9. Vera Thompson says:

    I can’t imagine a quilter telling a customer that her ideas were better than the customers especially when a work order was insisted on with what she specifically wanted. Bad business practices. If she couldn’t do the work asked for she should have stated so up front and recommended someone who could do the work. I can see no other reason for a person to change a work order except she could not do want had been ordered. She should pay to. Have the quilting removed. I certainly would not take my quilt back to this person.

  10. Fran says:

    I am a long arm quilter and I too had a bad situation and will tell you what I did. I too fill out a custom form for my clients. I completed the quilt as agreed upon. One customer I had I did as instructed. She did not like it. I said I would redo it again after she ripped out the stitches she did not like. Well she said she would not do it I had to. In order to keep peace i ripped out the stitches and requilted it moving the pattern to a different spot. Same quilting only different place. I did charged her my normal fee and then she dropped me like a hot potato. So no matter what I did I could not please her. I had done many many quilts for her. She seemed pleased with my work. The long arm quilter should not have changed the design. I would never do that without talking to client. Client should take her to small claims court for not doing the job as requested by client. Longarm quilter should also take out the quilting and give the client back her money.

  11. I would NEVER….NEVER….quilt anything other than what the owner specifically asked for and what was agreed upon per a work order. Perhaps the quilter’s ideas and designs were “better suited” for the quilt but that is irrelevant. Unpicking the quilt will take time, effort and patience. If the owner is already upset I doubt she’ll want to do that herself. I feel for the quilter who has to do that…but to me that work order is a valid contract which she did not abide by. I believe the quilter should unpick and re-quilt as well as APOLOGIZE. I would not refund any money unless the owner would accept the quilt as-is as well as a return of the deposit. It is an unfortunate situation all around—but as a professional, the quilter should have quilted the quilt as agreed upon.

  12. deborah says:

    My 2 cents on this, the customer should NOT be responsible for removing any stitches the longarmer put in. She’s already inconvenienced, why would anyone inconvenience her more? IF the longarmer has any honor or pride in her work she would offer to remove or compensate the quilter for someone else to do it. Its very time consuming but doable. You remove from the back so you don’t cause damage to the front. Re-evaluate the top to see if any damage and re-quilt with new backing if necessary. The point is to make the customer happy any way you can. The longarmer is responsible and should make it right either by doing the work herself or paying to have it done. And no, she is not entitled to any moneys already paid her. She forfeited that by not following the customers instructions.

    Legally I think if the longarmer offered to make it right then the customer has to allow it before she can file for compensation against her. If she didn’t then the quilter is entitled to everything fair.

    good luck to both! I have had some very specific/demanding quilters and I always follow what they want. I want them to be continuing future customers!

  13. Dar in Mo says:

    My first question was — did the customer ever used this longarm quilter before? It sounds like the answer is ‘no’. Being a longarm quilter myself, I cannot imagine why the quilter did not contact the customer and suggest a different design if she thought it would look better on her quilt . If the customer strictly told what design she wanted and where to place it, then I would do it and not change a thing. I think the quilter should refund all monies and agree to pay someone to take out stitches. I have quilted a pass or two with a pantograph that had tension issues, and was able to remove stitches without any damage to top or backing. It DOES take FOREVER though and if you have a lot of customers, or a backlog of quilts, you might not want to take on this chore. If the quilter caused it, she should be responsible for undoing it. I certainly don’t think the quilt is unuseable or ruined. Maybe the customer is someone who enters major quilt shows and this is what caused the problem. My clients are less sophisticated when it comes to quilting designs and I do not quilt “show” quilts. That is beyond my skill level.

  14. Janice Jackson says:

    Keep things in perspective, this is a Quilt for crying out loud. Legal action is ludicrous. The piecer should place a scathing review of the quilter on yelp to vent off steam and put it behind her.

  15. Natalie says:

    This just keeps me thinking….
    Let’s try a different direction. Let’s say the long arm quilter agrees to the compensation for the quilt and time, the $1800+ talked about above (not “several thousand”)
    What if the longarm quilter paid the client this amount, then I think at that point part of the deal should be the longarm quilter ends up with the original quilt to keep. She/he could then have the possibility to sell the original quilt to recoup some part of the damages.

    ( can you tell that I think taking out a billion stitches won’t go well for anyone?)

  16. Pat Chapman says:

    I think that the quilter should remove the stitches or pay for someone else to. All money should also be refunded. If the customer allows her/ him to try again that would be a way to redeem themselves, but I would be surprised if the quilter was given that chance. A work order should be adhered to. If you feel that the choices could be improved upon you MUST get the customers approval. My favorite customers tell me to do what I feel works best. No issues there.

  17. Natalie says:

    The story as stated is absurd. I am a long arm quilter, in business for 17 years. I would NEVER change the quilting design agreed on, or thread color, unless I contacted the client beforehand. I always fill out work order, which I have refined over the years.
    Now, there have been a few times that I have called client later to discuss changes.
    If the long arm quilter makes changes without contacting the client and reaching a new agreement before any work starts, this is completely the long arm quilter’s fault.

    So, as far as what I would do, it is difficult to say. First, I can’t see how anyone could realistically take out all of the quilting stitches in a completed quilt. It would take countless hours, and the quilt top and backing would almost certainly be damaged. You could probably piece a whole new quilt top in that time. I would say the quilter should return all money paid. Like was stated, the quilt is not really unusable as it is.

    If all the quilter is out is the quilting fee, she should count herself lucky, because this situation will get heard all around town, and word of mouth is most quilter’s best advertising.

  18. justspoolingaround says:

    I’m just stunned that any quilter would just do as she wanted with someone else’s quilt without permission to do so. If the quilter had quilted the wrong designs by mistake, and apologised and tried to make it right, that would be a different story. But since she intentionally ignored the agreed upon work order, that puts her 100% in the wrong. She should bear the burden for removing the stitching and putting the customer back into the state she was in before the work was done. She should not be paid for anything unless she removes the stitching and requilts as agreed in the work order.

    If removing the stitches damages the top or the back, then there is a reason for other compensation to the piecer. The whole goal should be to put the piecer back into the same condition she was in before the quilter did anything.

    • Natalie Wenzel says:

      I agree that the desired result would be to have the Client in the same position as she started in. I can’t see how realistically anyone could take out all those stitches and have an intact quilt top by the time they were done. As a longarm quilter, I take out a few stitches, and it is terribly time consuming, and takes a lot of care not to damage any of the top or backing.

      I am wondering as far as compensation to the client, what if the longarm quilter made/pieced a whole new quilt top, using the same fabrics? Would this be more feasible? (this would include providing new backing and batting.
      Then, the client could decide who she wants to do the quilting on the new quilt.

  19. Lynne says:

    I believe that too much anger is prevailing now so I would not return it to said quilter. The customer should have a different person remove the quilting. The quilter should reimburse the customer for the removal of the existing quilting and any other costs paid to her by the customer. A tough lesson should be learned by the quilter for not sticking to the contract of the intake order. I don’t believe the customer should have to settle for what the quilter did when she had clearly indicated what she wanted for quilting and was not contacted to talk about changes being done.

  20. Judy Rich says:

    I totally agree with Joy. The quilter was completely wrong in what she did.

  21. In this case, the quilter should have contacted the piecer before changing the agreed upon design. Since she did not, and the intake sheet effectively is the contract, then the quilter should return all monies as well as take out all quilting. If that is not acceptable to the piecer, the quilter should pay for the quilting to be removed. Hard lesson to learn.

  22. Tonya Weizenegger says:

    My opinion: Since the designs were documented and approved by both parties the quilter should have to undo the unapproved quilting and requilt it as agreed. It should not be on the customer to do that as they clearly provided instructions on what they wanted. Or, the quilter should have to pay to have someone else remove the quilting and refund the customer. Then the customer can send it somewhere else to be done.

  23. Robin says:

    I don’t quilt as a business, but I follow this blog … just in case. As I was reading this I thought of a comparison. IF someone took a car to be repainted red with white stripes and the body shop decided that blue with yellow stripes would be better … how would that be handled?

    I personally think the quilter should take the stitches out. She put them in … of her own accord … not according to the client’s wishes.

    Hope to hear how this all turns out.

  24. Char says:

    In this situation, I would offer too requilt it if the customer removes the quilting. If the backing gets damaged in the ripping process, I would buy new backing. If the customer isn’t happy with that , I would return her money

    It appears that the quilter needs to assume responsibility for not discussing the design changes before doing the quilting

    The quilter could take out the quilting herself but as a longarm quilter in business I would just return her $ and learn from my lustake

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