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.

Wonky Borders – Part 2

I have waited a while to add to the Wonky Borders Quilt saga – I wanted to wait until the quilt was done and delivered to my customer before writing about it. I feel that this quilt was jinxed from the beginning and, if I wrote about it before being delivered, even MORE would go wrong!

I did take the remaining borders off of the (partially quilted) quilt and wrestled with the “octopus” (also known as “the quilt”) and re-stitched the borders. I kept the zippered leaders on for about three minutes before I decided to take them off – which made things a little easier!

After the borders were re-sewn, I then put the quilt back on the machine and finished the border quilting. It is AMAZING how much easier borders are to quilt when they are smooth, flat and square!

Then, to finish this project, I trimmed the quilt and put the binding on the front of the quilt. My customer is stitching the binding to the back of the quilt.

Here are photos of the finished quilt. Click on any photo for a larger view

This quilt is 110 inches wide!

The quilting in the blocks. The green “points” are folded and I could not quilt on top of them.

Quilting detail in the side borders.

The re-pieced bottom border. SOOO much better!

The borders on this quilt were the main issue, but like I said above, this project was jinxed from the start! Here is why I say this –

My customer lives 1,700 miles from me and she shipped the quilt to me. No problem there. My problem was that when it arrived, I was in the middle of having new floors installed in my house. My quilting machine was wrapped in plastic and pushed up against a wall for nearly three weeks! Nothing was getting quilted during that time! (The floors look great and I love them!)

Here is my quilting machine, all wrapped up, and my son installing my new floors.

By the time I could get to her quilt, it was getting near fall, winter and the Christmas holidays. I knew that this was going to be a big project, so I waited until I could block out at least a week of my life to work on this quilt, which brought me to late January.

I got the quilt out and start measuring it – which is the first time I have looked at the quilt since taking it out of its original shipping box. I realize that the quilt is 10 inches wider and a few inches longer than what my customer said it was! I start measuring the backing fabric. You guessed it, it wasn’t long enough! After several emails with my customer and after a huge snowstorm, I go to the quilt shop and purchase some fabric and stitch the backing together. Then there was the border issue and I finally finished the quilt.

But wait, there’s more!

I had to ship the quilt back to my customer. No problem – or so I thought! I charged her for the shipping, but, because the quilt was so big it wouldn’t fit into the box I was planning on shipping it in. I found a larger box (15 x 30 x 8 inches!) at the UPS store for only $10! Because the box was bigger and the quilt weighed a little bit more, the shipping was MUCH more than anticipated and what I charged my customer!

At least the quilt was delivered safe and sound and my customer LOVES the quilting and the finished quilt. That is all that matters!

Here is the question you may be asking – With ALL that was happening with this quilt, did I charge my customer more $$$, especially for the labor with the borders.

The answer – No, I did not. Here’s why.

I have quilted several quilts for this customer over the years and this is the first one I have had any problems with.

When I first put the quilt on the machine and saw the pleats in the borders, I should have worked on the borders then instead of waiting until I did. (Note – it is MUCH easier to take off borders when the quilt is un-quilted.)

If I had measured the quilt when I received it, I would have noticed the difference in the size of the quilt and the backing and could have worked with my customer at that time to increase the price due to the larger size of the quilt and the backing fabric issues.

I “absorbed” the extra costs of the shipping

I feel that some of these problems were my issues and should not be charged to my customer.

No matter how good a quilter you are, no matter how long you have been doing this, there are still times when the Quilting Goddess keeps you humble. Which is what happened with me. BIG TIME!

The good news is that my customer is working on sending another quilt to me! You can bet that I will inspect, measure the quilt twice – or three times – when I receive it.

FWIW – the new quilt is also HUGE, 110 X 134 inches!!!

Wonky Borders – Again!

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been busy and “life” has been happening. I hope that everyone had wonderful Winter Holidays and a very belated Happy New Year to all!!

I finally had some time to work on a customer quilt and I want to share my experience with you. It has been a while since I have been surprised by wonky / bad borders on a quilt, but this one was totally unexpected!

Some details – The piecing pattern is Elegant Grace and this is a LARGE quilt 109 x 109 inches. My customer is out of state and sent the quilt to me way back in September. I knew it was going to be a large quilt and I knew it was going to be a big job and that is why I waited until I had a good chunk of time to work on it. And I am glad that I did!

Click on any photo for a larger view. (Because there are so many photos they are in Thumbnail size)

I did my usual measuring of the quilt before putting it on the machine and it measured “square” and put it on my quilting machine in my usual way. I was not sure what I was going to quilt in the borders so I machine basted the top borders. (I machine baste by changing my thread to a neon high sheen poly thread, turning off the stitch length regulator, then quilting longer stitches – about 3 stitches per inch – in a somewhat stippling pattern.) There was a little fullness in the top border, but nothing too drastic, so I thought!

I began working in the body of the quilt and pin basting the side borders as if I were “turning the quilt.” For a free video on turning the quilt Click Here

The side borders were having problems and there were several large-ish pleats showing up and lots of smaller pleats. I worked my way down to the bottom border, which had a little bit of fullness, but like the top border, it wasn’t too drastic, so I thought at the time.

After much thought – and a couple of cups of coffee – I decided to deal with the side borders before I did any more quilting. So I machine basted the bottom border,  took the quilt off the machine, gave it a quarter turn and this is what it looked like.

A long view. Can you see the pleat in the middle?

A closer look at the middle of the border and the several pleats. I did some measuring and realized that there was about 4-1/2 inches EXTRA fabric in the outer border and and undetermined amount of extra fabric in the green border.

I contacted my customer with the choice of quilting the border “as is” and making pleats, etc., to make it lay flat or to take the border off, re-measure and re-sew before quilting. She chose to have the borders removed and re-sewn. A decision that I agreed with and, if this were my quilt, I would have done the same thing.

So …., here we go! I removed all three borders.

 

 

 

 

 

I laid out the borders and this is what I found.  (I placed a piece of computer paper under the borders to show them better.

 

 

 

 

 

Unbelievable!!!!

I got to work and measured, sewed, trimmed and pressed and this is what I finished with. What a difference. The borders are a bit crumpled from the “man handling” it took to move the quilt around, but it is laying MUCH, MUCH flatter and smoother.

That was the first border! I had to do the same exact thing on the opposite border. I did that, put the quilt back on the quilting machine and then quilted these two borders. The quilting turned out really nice and I thought I was done except for the remaining two borders, which I had basted at the start of this project and that didn’t look “too bad.”

Boy, was I wrong!!!

I had to take the quilt off the machine because I was teaching a class. When I put the quilt back on the machine, assuming I could quilt the remaining borders and looked at the quilt. Here is what I saw –

 

 

 

 

 

These borders were as bad as the other borders!!! So, once again, I took out the basting stitches, and removed the border stitching. Before I went any further I checked the last border and … you guessed it! I took the basting and the stitching out of that border too!  I also took apart a seam and then overlapped the fabrics to see how much extra fabric there was. (I have not yet taken apart the blue inner border.)

My goal for today is to take off the last blue inner border, take the quilt off the machine – I have zippered leaders and I’m thinking I will try to stitch the quilt with the leaders on – re-do the border, reattach the quilt to the machine and finally, quilt the last two borders.

Wish me luck and I’ll show you the finished quilt.

PS-When I was stitching the first set of the borders, I felt like I was wrestling a huge octopus! If I leave the zippered leaders on the quilt, I may feel like I’m wrestling an alligator AND and octopus!

Why We Quilt – Part 2

After posting my previous blog about quilting a poorly pieced quilt, (for that post Click Here) I asked that you send any photos of badly pieced quilts and that I would put them on this blog.

Gail S sent these photos and the following explanation – (click on any photo for a larger view)

“Last year a client gave me 2 old tops that she wanted made into a duvet cover. I was to mount the quilt top to a large piece of cloth that would become the duvet cover. The quilt tops were very soiled and I had to wash them before quilting. On one, the white fabric shrunk and the colored fabric did not, resulting in a very wonky top.

blue-2 blue-1 blue-3

There was no way to ease in these many areas of poof. So if there was going to be tucks and puckers, I wanted them to be securely tacked down. I chose a freehand baptist fan design and I varied the orientation of the “fans”. The owner and I were both pleased with the result.

The finished photo (below) shows the quilt top as part of the larger fabric that would become the duvet cover. I made a binding around the edge of the quilt so that if the owner ever wanted, they could cut the quilt off the larger fabric with just a small bit of work to hide the raw edge. In the done photo, you can see a bit of the quilt I put on the reverse side of the duvet cover.”

blue-4

Gail did a GREAT job and the finished quilt looks wonderful!

If you have any photos of wonky quilts or poorly pieced quilts, send them to me as email attachments to longarmu@aol.com with an explanation and I will post them on this blog.

Why We Quilt

I belong to a couple of machine quilting YahooGroups. A few days ago, someone from the group posted some photos of a quilt she was working on. I felt the photos would be of interest to those who read this blog and, with her permission, I am posting some of them.

What would YOU do if this quilt was on your machine?

emily-1

And here is a close up of the sashing –

emily-2

The quilter has written about her experience in quilting this quilt and has many more photos on her blog.

To view the post about this quilt Click Here 

It is well worth your time to read the post and view the photos.

If you have any photos of poorly pieced quilts, send them to me at longarmu@aol.com and I can post them on this blog.

What Would You Do? Update

Thank you to all who made comments about the REALLY wonky quilt in the photos in the last post. (To view the post Click Here)

The “problem child” quilt is quilted and you can read about the whole process on the quilter’s blog.

There are two separate blog posts.

This is the post where the quilter describes the process of quilting the quilt. To view this post, Click Here 

To view a blog post, with photos, of the finished quilt Click Here

All I can say is – this was an amazing transformation of a seriously wonky quilt! And a big “You Go Girl!!” to the quilter!

Over the last few days I have received a couple of “problem children” quilt photos from other machine quilters. If you have any photos of your “bad” quilts – whether they are your own or a customer’s – send them to me as an email attachment and I will post them on this blog. I will not post your name or anything else to identify you or your quilt(s).

The “problems” could be piecing, quilting, construction, backing fabrics, or anything else. Maybe we can vote for the “Worst Quilt!” Let’s see what “problem child” quilts we can find!

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.