What Would You Do?

I received the following email from a quilter a little while ago and with her permission I am posting it. At the end is my email back to her.

What would you do in this situation? Please feel free to leave a comment on her post or my response or send me a private email at LongarmU@aol.com I look forward to hearing your responses and reactions to this email.

Note: Unfortunately, I have no photo of the quilt described in this email.

There is more to this story which will be future blog post.

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Hello!

I work for a sewing machine retailer and I use their long arm to quilt quilts for them as well.

I had a lady come in and wanted me to quilt a wall hanging quilt on my long arm. I told her what she wanted could be done on a regular sewing machine but no, she wanted it long armed. So I said okay.

Simple stitch in the ditch, nothing else. She came in, hovered over me the whole time and she would scrutinize every stitch I made. We discussed before I agreed to take the quilt to be quilted that we were doing stitch in the ditch. I showed her exactly with my finger where I would be going along in the seams and she agreed. I get this quilt on my long arm, she scrutinizing every stitch I make and then she is upset because you can see the thread barely along the edge of the white fabric pieces that she had.( she picked black thread)

Her pieces were not cut correctly and I used a ruler to quilt her quilt. She watched me the whole time and only after it had been done and I moved to the next section did she say something.

I don’t normally allow someone to stand over me when I quilt unless they are a silent spectator or interested in the machine.

Her quilt gets done and I pull it off. She comments on how multiple things need to be seam ripped and redone. So I do them. Then she doesn’t like her side pieces because there is a “bubble” in the fabric. I advised her to have the center of the panels quilted because it was a long piece of open fabric. She didn’t want that and didn’t like the results.

She was upset it wasn’t don’t that same day (I never agree to do a quilt in a day no matter the size) and was angry that I took a lunch break.

I redid the side panels for her (still poofy) and my boss said to not remove any other stitching since she agreed beforehand and didn’t say anything till it was finished. (The customers words were “I don’t need all that extra”)

My question is, is it ridiculous to ask the customer to remove the stitching if they don’t like it? My only fear is she made it seem like she wouldn’t pay me after I spent 8 hours on it plus having to remove stitching and re-quilting it. I feel like she was trying to be dissatisfied with the job so she didn’t have to pay me.

Where her problem was, the stitch is barely visible on her white fabric, and I told her originally that it may not be exactly in the ditch because of her seams and the fact that her blocks were not square. (her seams are curved) she said she was okay with that.

She agreed to pick it up today and then didn’t show up or call. If she does show up and decided she still doesn’t like it, I will just agree to disagree and remove my stitches and give her the quilt back. I’ve already decided to not do anymore quilts for her.

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Here is my response –

Thank you for visiting the Longarm U website and taking the time to write about your nasty customer.

First of all, I feel your pain and frustration! I have had a few “bad” customers over the years and I know what it is like. It is gut wrenching! After the dust settles, take a deep breath, forget about this and move on!

To answer your questions – in my opinion, it is not ridiculous to have her take the stitches out of her quilt if she is not happy with it.

This is what I would do – I would insist that she pay you for your work (no $$, no quilt back. You need to be paid for the time you already have into this quilt) and she takes the quilt home with her. Tell her she can take the stitching out and you will re-quilt it for her, but, she needs to bring it back to you within a certain amount of time, maybe one or two months, not any longer. If she brings it back re-quilt it, but I bet she won’t. I would document this all and maybe have a “coupon” or certificate made up saying she has X number of days to bring it back for re-quilting. Have her sign this and make a copy for your records.

If she insists that you take out the stitching, I would say something like, “I have already taken out some of the stitching. Every time the stitching is removed the fabric(s) are weakened and may tear. I do not want to take the risk of damaging your quilt. I know that you can take out the stitching more carefully than I can.” This way, SHE is responsible for any damage to the quilt.

If she would bring the quilt back for re-quilting, I would inspect that quilt with a fine tooth comb and take photos of every inch of the quilt before I start working on it. I would also photo document the work you are doing on it.

Personally, I don’t think she will bring the quilt back and is probably scamming for free quilting.

Some other things I thought about while reading your email –

I would set up a “no go zone” around your machine and working area. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, except authorized store employees, goes into that area. You DO NOT need anyone at your shoulder watching you work! And the no go zone needs to be enforced at all times!!!

I have seen some shops where they have a (physical) fence around the quilting machine to keep people away from it.

What would have happened if she accidentally bumped you while you were using a ruler and the hopping foot jumped onto the ruler? Or she tried reaching towards the needle while it was running and the needle went through her finger?

Do you have a worksheet that you fill out when you intake the quilt? Is there somewhere on the workshop that says that payment must be received before the quilt is returned to the customer? Did she sign and date the worksheet? If so, the worksheet becomes a legal document which protects you and the shop you work for.

Hang in there, this will pass. This customer will probably never be happy with ANY thing you, or any other quilter will do for her.

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I look forward to hearing your responses and reactions to these emails.

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

4 Responses to What Would You Do?

  1. Karyn says:

    What a nightmare. I never quilt in front of my customer unless I am teaching them on their quilt or a practice piece and they are using my machine. I offer that to a few chosen ones. In this case, I’d hope I’d get paid and I’d do my best to give her a (non-confrontational) piece of my mind about the situation and then invite her never to return. I wonder what happened to the lady who wrote in – did the customer ever return?

  2. Nadine says:

    I agree with everything said here. We must be paid~~! Never allow anyone around your machine, and I mean anyone~~put up a fence, gate or a rope it off, say it’s a requirement for your insurance. and it may very well be. Folks don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and business.

  3. I would give her 2 options, the first being that she pays you for the quilting and only then will she get her quilt back. The second would be for you to take out the quilting and return the top to her and she pays nothing. She could then get someone else to quilt it. It sounds crazy to offer that much work for free, but this will keep her from scamming you for free quilting. There is absolutely no way that I would re-quilt it for her. That would be inviting more headache from dealing with her, and she still won’t be happy. It sounds like you’re already thinking along these lines. Do whatever you need to do to resolve it with as little drama as possible then move on. I’m so sorry you had this experience.

  4. Allen Penn says:

    Usually, early in the conversation I get good or bad “vibes” about a customer. If they are bad, I suddenly find I am too busy to do the work and suggest they find another quilter. If a relationship is bad in the beginning it never gets better and no matter how hard you try, they are never satisfied. I know it is hard to turn away business, but this is sometimes necessary and good for both you and the customer.

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