Take the Challenge!

Usually around the first of the year I write about raising your prices – which you should be doing –  but this year, I want to do something a little bit different.

I have a challenge for YOU! For the next 30 days, I want you to TIME yourself when you are working on ANY quilt.

No, this is not to play “beat the clock,” or “I can quilt faster than you can!” This is to show you how much time you are taking to quilt a quilt. By tracking your time for at least 30 days, you should see some interesting trends developing. Before we talk about interesting trends, let’s talk about what to “time.”

FWIW – I time myself on 98 % of the quilts I work on, and yes, I can give you all sorts of timing details on the quilts I have done!

What to time  – I break my timing into three major sections – putting the quilt on the machine, actual quilting time and “after quilting” time.

Putting the Quilt on the Machine – Why is this important information? Remember back to when you were a beginning quilter (even if you weren’t quilting as a business.) How long did it take you to put a Queen size quilt on your machine? If you were like me, it took about 3 hours, maybe longer. My thoughts were, there is SO much fabric and SO many big pieces and where to do they all go and what gets pinned, etc., etc. Today, after putting (literally) a thousand + quilts on my machine, I can put a Queen size quilt on the machine in about 35 – 45 minutes, if there are no major problems.

If you are a fairly new quilter, after more than a few quilts, you should see a decrease in the amount of time it takes you to put a quilt on the machine.

Once you are aware of the time it takes you to put a quilt on the machine, you may be able to figure out more efficient ways to put a quilt on your machine.

Even though you are not “quilting” when you are putting a quilt on to the quilting machine, I do consider it as “quilting time” and include it in the total time it takes to quilt the quilt.

Actual Quilting Time – This is the time you are standing at the machine and actually working on a quilt. It makes no difference if you are quilting with a computer or hand guiding the machine. It also makes no difference if you are quilting pantographs, doing free hand work, working with templates or doing super duper over the top super dense custom quilting. If you are touching the machine, the needle is moving, stitches are being made, bobbins are being wound or you are moving the quilt from workspace to workspace, this is actual quilting time! This will be the bulk of the time you are working on your quilt.

For many years, I drove a school bus and I had to keep track of my time on the routes, etc., Instead of counting minutes, we counted hundredths of the hour. Here is how it worked – the clock was divided into 100’s, so 15 minutes was .25, 30 minutes was .50 and 45 minutes was .75 of an hour. For simplicity’s sake, 5 minutes is calculated a .08 of an hour. This makes things so much easier to calculate and I continued doing this when I time my quilts. Example – if it took me 45 minutes to put a quilt on the machine, I would write down .75 hours. If I was quilting for 55 minutes, I would write down .91 (45 minutes = .75, 10 minutes = .16. So, .75 + .16 = .91) If I was quilting for 1 hour, 30 minutes, I would write down 1.50 hours.

Most smart phones have a clock / timer/ stopwatch function on them. Some people like to use the stop watch function, some people prefer to set the time for a specific amount of time and work until the timer goes off. However you like to track your time, do it and write it down.

Many times when I’m quilting I listen to podcasts, each of which is about 40 minutes long. I will keep track of the number of podcasts I have listened to when I calculate my time.

If nothing else, write down your start and finish time and figure how much time it was.

Note: I like to add the date to my times. Many times I am working only a few hours a day on a project – the project may take only 6 hours, but it might have taken me 4 days to do them!

While you are timing yourself, you can break the time down into categories / sections / repeats / rows / techniques, etc.

For example, when I quit pantographs, in addition to the time I am tracking on the whole project, I will time myself on the actual quilting time – the time the machine is moving – on at least one row of the pattern. Let’s say that for a queen size quilt, from raw edge to raw edge, one row of pattern took 30 minutes of quilting time. It took another 10 minutes to do the “roll up” and re-setting of the pattern, etc. You can calculate that it will take 40 minutes (.50 + .16 = .66 hours) to quilt one row. If your pattern is 10 inches wide and your quilt is 100 inches long, that will 10 pattern repeats. At 40 minutes /.66 hour per row that would equal about 6-1/2 hours to quilt.

I do a fair amount of template work. When I am working with templates, I will time myself per block / motif / border section / etc., when using that particular template, in addition to the total time it takes to finish the quilting.

As you can see, in addition to your actual quilting time, you can break your time into as many “pieces” as you want to determine all sorts of things.

Those of you who “float” the bottom of the quilt top, I would love to know how much time you take to “fuss” with the quilt top to keep it straight and smooth each time you do a “roll up” of the quilt. If some of you could send me this info, I would greatly appreciate it.

Then there is the “After Quilting” Time – What is after quilting? To me, that is things that need to be done to the quilt before the quilt is taken off the machine and before it is either ready for binding or to be given back to the customer.

For example – After the main quilting is done, and before the quilt is taken off the machine, I inspect the quilt both top and the quilt bottom / backing fabric to make sure the stitching is good, that there are no tension issues on the back, no un-quilted spaces, etc. If anything needs to be fixed with the machine, I do it at this time. Many times when I use templates I will drag my thread from place to place. These “dragged threads” need to be trimmed from the back, and yes, I time this too! The threads have already been trimmed on the quilt front during quilting.

I trim my quilts so that there is about 1-1/2 to 2 inches of backing fabric and batting from the raw edges of the quilt top before I give the quilt back to my customer, if the customer is applying the binding. (All the trimmings are returned to the customer, unless they are very small.) I generally don’t time this, but I will allow an extra 15 minutes (.25 hours.)

I like to make a chart and write everything down.

Here are some numbers from an actual quilt I did – click on any photo for a larger view


Starry Night Quilt, 73 x 84 inches
click on the chart for a larger view.

I like to round my numbers, so this quilt took me (rounded up) 5 hours from start to finish. This quilt was free hand quilted.

Here is another quilt – the photo is of half the quilt.

All My Scraps are Stars, 91 x 108 inches
click on the chart for a larger view

This quilt was quilted free hand, but there was a TON of quilting , LOTS of detail work and it was HUGE!! As you can see, this quilt took me 14-1/2 hours (rounded down slightly) over 6 days to complete! I also had some stitching issues that had to be taken out and re-quilted and those were included in the times above.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with more details, so I will end here by saying – accept my challenge and time yourself for the next 30 days and see if you can see some interesting trends in YOUR quilt and quilting.

I will write more about this in 30 days. Until then, keep on quilting!

Feel free to leave a comment and if you would rather send me an email, please do so at longarmu@aol.com

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

A Post on Pricing

While I was on a FaceBook group, someone posted this link to a blog about pricing items for sale. I read the blog post and it is a great post and brings up many different thoughts and comments on pricing. The pricing that is talked about in the blog post is for hand made items such as knit, sewn, crocheted, jewelry, etc., but the information is just as accurate and timely for a machine quilting business.

The blogger who wrote this is in the UK so the pricing is done in “pounds” not dollars – just substitute a $ for the pound sign.

To view the blog post Click Here 

PS Usually summer is a slow time for machine quilters. If it is slow for you, what a GREAT time to raise your prices. Then, when things pick up in the fall, your prices are higher and you will be making more $$$!!

Let me know your thoughts about this blog post.

 

You Don’t Have to Justify!

A few weeks ago I was teaching a class about the “business end” of a machine quilting business. In this class, along with a lot of other things, I talked about offering additional services, such as binding quilts, to your customers. In my opinion, binding quilts is not that hard to do and you can make a fair amount of $$ at binding quilts.

In my quilting business I have four different pricing levels for binding. They are –

Binding #1, $2.50 perimeter foot – Trim the quilt, make the binding (straight binding, cut selvedge to selvedge) and apply the binding to the front of the quilt using my home sewing machine. The customer is responsible for hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt.

Binding #2, $3.00 perimeter foot – Trim the quilt, make the binding (see above) stitch the binding to the quilt, front and back, using my home sewing machine. (This binding in totally applied with the home sewing machine.)

Binding #3, $3.50 perimeter foot – Same as Binding #1 except that I hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.

Binding #4, individually priced – This is Custom Binding such as bias binding, piped binding or any other type of binding that is different from Bindings #1 – 3. There is no “upper limit” to the price on this type of binding.

Example – a Queen Size quilt is 90 x 108 inches (the size of a pre-cut Queen Size batting) which equals 33 perimeter feet. (90 +108 x 2 divided by 12 inches per foot = 33 perimeter feet) Of course, the number of perimeter feet would be different on different sizes of quilts.

Using the example above my prices would be –

Binding #1 – $82.50 – and it takes me about an hour to make and apply this binding
Binding #2 – $99 – it takes me about 1-1/2 hours to make and apply this binding
Binding #3 – $115.50 – it takes me at least 2-1/2 hours, probably more, to make and apply this binding.
Binding #4 – is not included in this example.

I stated that of the customers who have me apply binding, they usually chose Binding #2. And, I love the $$ I can make applying Binding #2!

Everyone in the class seem receptive to the idea of charging for binding and for the prices I was suggesting.

Note: If you are NOT offering binding services to your customers, please think about doing so!

I would also like to say that in my business, only about 15 – 20% of my customers have me put the binding on their quilts. I don’t tell my customer how much time it will take to apply the binding to their quilt – I also don’t tell my customers how much time it has taken me to complete the quilting on their quilt.

A few days ago I received an email from one of the students in that class. Among other things, she stated that, in her opinion, I was “gouging” my customers in my pricing for my binding, mainly because it takes me such a short time to apply a binding (Binding #2)!

Fair warning – I am going to rant for a little bit!

In my classes, I tell people how I run my machine quilting business. I am not saying that my way is the “best” way or the “right” way to do things – it is the way that is working for me, at this moment in time. YOU are an independent small business owner. If you feel that my prices are too high or too low, you can charge what YOU want in YOUR business! I am NOT going to come and re-possess your quilting machine, or do harm to your quilts if you don’t charge the same as what I charge!

Here is a definition of “price gouging” from www.LegalDictonary.net  https://legaldictionary.net/price-gouging/

Price Gouging – The practice of raising prices on certain types of goods and services to an unfair level, especially during a state of emergency.

Also on the same page is this –

In most states with price gouging laws, the act is defined by the presence of three criteria:

Emergency or Crisis Situation – applies to abrupt price increases during a time of disaster or other emergency
Essential Items or Services – applies exclusively to items or services that are essential to survival
Price Limit – sets a limit on the price that can be charged for essential goods or services

In my mind, “gouging” the customer is also when you are the ONLY person in an area who can do “something” and you charge a huge amount of $$ to do so.

Personally, I don’t think my charges for my binding services fall within the legal definition of price gouging. (I am not a lawyer – if you are, and I’m wrong, please let me know.)

I do feel that something should be said about experience. I have been applying binding on my own quilts and customers quilts for well over 20 years. I am efficient at applying binding and I almost have a “system” when I do so. Because I can apply the binding efficiently in a relative short period of time should I charge LESS for my binding services? I say No!

The same could be said for my quilting. Because I can quilt some patterns efficiently and in a relatively short period of time, should I charge LESS for those quilting designs? Again, I say NO!!

Here is an example in my own life – In my backyard I have a tree limb that is broken and hanging in the branches of the tree. It is about 20 – 30 feet in the air. I am afraid that someday this branch will fall and wipe out my fence and possibly hurt someone or the neighbors dog. I can’t reach the branch, my son can’t fix this, neither can the handy man I hire on occasion. I have to hire an arborist to come and get this dead branch out of my tree. I will have to pay him $$, probably a lot, to fix this for me. He has experience doing this and will probably get it done in a short amount of time. Is the price he will charge me “gouging”? Probably not. Will I pay his price, YES! Will I grumble about it, possibly. But the job will be DONE!! And I don’t have to worry about that branch anymore! (He is coming and fixing the tree on Saturday.)

If my customer is willing to pay the $$ for me to bind their quilt, it is their choice. I do a good job and the job is done well. In my opinion, it is NOT gouging!

I am now finished with my rant and I hope that you will feel free to post your comments about this.

Cost of Longarm Quilting – Response

A few days ago I posted a link to a blog article about the cost of longarm quilting. (To view this blog article Click Here) I also posted the same link on two FaceBook groups, Quilting Friends and Quilters Show and Tell. Both of these groups are open to all quilters and piecers who are at all levels of quilting. From the absolutely raw beginner to the very experienced and professional quilters.

After posting the link about the cost of longarm quilting, there were MANY responses and comments to that post. Most of the responses were encouraging and appreciative of what longarm quilters do for their pieced tops.

Then there was a somewhat negative response –

 If a longarmer ruins a pieced quilt top, does he/she carry insurance to cover the (at least) the cost of materials back to the customer?

Which another person replied –

Not likely!

Two responses to a post, SO MUCH to write about!!!!! Where do I start???

Let’s start with business insurance. If you are quilting as a business, YOU NEED BUSINESS INSURANCE! If you are working from or in your home, DO NOT  assume that your homeowner’s insurance will cover any business “problems!”

Note: I am not an insurance person and I don’t know anything about insurance except what I have learned the hard way. Always talk to an insurance professional with any insurance related question or problem.( If you are an insurance person, feel free to comment on this or contact me privately at longarmu@aol.com)

Talk to your insurance person and tell them you have a quilting business. They will probably have NO clue as to what you do, that’s OK. Invite them over to your home/studio so they can see what equipment, supplies, etc., that you have. Make sure your coverage includes your equipment and the customer quilts you have in your possession. You need to KNOW what the (insurance) definition of “ruined quilt” is, what is covered for a ruined customer quilt and how a value of the ruined quilt is determined. If needed, get this information IN WRITING from your insurance person and keep it in your files.

Tip – if your insurance person doesn’t know what kind of insurance you need, the magic words are “Inland Marine.” I have no idea what this means, but say that to an insurance person and their eyes light up and they know what to do!

Let’s assume that the insurance definition of a “ruined quilt” is where the quilt is destroyed in a fire, flood, or other type of disaster – which I hope and pray NEVER happens to you. In other words, the quilt is totally un-usable in it’s ruined/destroyed condition.

In most cases, it is up to your customer to provide receipts and records to document the $$ they spent on the fabrics, pattern, and any other supplies needed to complete the quilt top.  Generally, there is no allowance made for the time it took to piece the quilt top. Even if your customer says that the quilt top is worth several thousand dollars, if they can’t DOCUMENT that amount, the insurance company may pay only a fraction of that amount!

Now let’s assume that the “ruined quilt” is not destroyed in a fire or flood. For whatever reason, your customer is not happy with the quilting and she is saying that you “ruined her quilt.”

This is where you have to play detective and find out why your customer is saying this and what can be done to fix things.

There can be MANY reasons for your customer to be unhappy – from machine and tension issues to unrealistic expectations. YOU have to talk to your customer and find out what (in their minds) is wrong.

Did your customer say “do what you want” on the quilt and is not happy with what you did? Did you document that statement on your worksheet – that the customer signed and dated before leaving their quilt with you?

How long after picking up their quilt is the customer saying they are unhappy with it? Is it within a day or two or has it been six months or longer?

What is happening in your customer’s life at this time? Is she taking out her frustration from another situation on you?

What does the customer expect you to do about this situation? Her solution may not be as drastic and you think it is?

Hopefully you can work with your customer to come to a resolution of this problem.  This may mean re-quilting some areas of the quilt, or possibly giving the customer a refund, discount, or credit for future quilting.

I have a booklet, “Your Customer Worksheet” where I have an article title “The Unhappy Customer – What to Do!” (This booklet is available on the Longarm University website. For details Click Here)

For a short time, I will send you a FREE copy of the the Unhappy Customer article if you send a private email to me at longarmu@aol.com and request a copy.

You WILL, at some time in your professional quilting career, have an unhappy customer. This situation should be handled in a professional way and your customer (hopefully) will be satisfied with the solution.

I look forward to your comments.

Why Does Longarm Quilting Cost So Much?

I found this on FaceBook and I think it is important for all professional longarm quilters to read.

The writer of this blog post is spot on!

To read the blog post “Why Does My Longarm Quilter Charge So Much?Click Here

 

 

Timing App?

I am a firm believer in timing yourself when you are working at your quilting machine. I keep track of the time it takes to quilt nearly ALL the quilts I work on. If the quilt is customer quilt, it is critical that I keep track of the time, and if the quilt is a charity quilt or even a personal quilt (what is that!) I keep track of the time. At a later date, I look back on these records and see if I can find any trends or information that is important to me and to my business.

For example, many years ago I was doing a lot of sampler style quilts – many different blocks, most of which had borders and sashing. Not to mention the several outer borders, some with piecing and / or applique. By timing myself, I found that I was spending several more hours of my life completing this type of quilt than I was for a non-sampler type of quilt.

Because of this information, when I quote a price for quilting a sampler quilt, whatever my base price would be, I will ADD at least and extra 25%, maybe more, to the price. Why? Because I KNOW, from past experience, and from timing myself,  it is going to take me longer to complete this quilt.

Here is the math for this – Queen Size Sampler Quilt, 90 x 108 inches = 9,720 square inches. My “base price estimate” of cost is $300. (9,720 si x .03 cents per square inch = $291.60, rounded up to $300.) Because this is a sampler quilt, I would add at least 25% more ($300 x .25) which equals $75 for a total labor price of $375. If there is an applique border or any other “special” things that need to be done with the quilting, I may even round that up to $100, or more, for a total of $400. (Yes, you CAN charge this much for your quilting and YES, people will pay you for this.)

I have been timing my quilting  for nearly my whole life as a professional longarm quilter (20+ years), and now I want to come into the modern age!

I KNOW there has to be a app “out there” that can track my time for each quilting project.

I usually use the stopwatch function on my “clock” app on my (Android) smartphone. But, the last few times I set my stopwatch, I also was using a radio app on my phone. When listening to music from my phone with my earphones, somehow, the stopwatch function shuts off!

I have checked in the “app stores” and there are a ton of timing apps! They all say about the same thing and the reviews are pretty much the same also.

So my question to you is – do you use a timing / project app and if so, what is it’s name? Is it easy to use, do you like using it and is there anything else you would like to share about it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is a little confused about the timing / project apps and options there are “out there.”

Please leave your comments, app suggestions and any other information in the comments section. Thanks in advance for your advice and input!

 

 

The Cost of a T-Shirt Quilt

I recently was helping a professional quilter to figure out what to charge for a start-to-finish T-Shirt quilt. Together we did a cost analysis and it was very enlightening! Then in an online group, someone else asked how to charge for making the same kind of T-Shirt quilt.

I wrote out the cost analysis, posted it to the group and I thought you would be interested in seeing it. And here it is –

T-Shirt Quilt, Start to Finish, Cost Analysis (or What to Charge a Customer for this Type of Quilt.)

This quilt is to be made using 15 T-Shirts, cut to 12 inches square – 3 shirts across, 5 shirts down in a traditional horizontal setting – with 2 inch sashing and 4 inch, straight set borders.

The approximate finished size of the quilt is 52 x 80 inches.

Let’s start with the quilting –

Backing fabric, 4.5 yards @ 10 per yard = $45
Batting, 2 yards @ $10 per yard = $20
Thread = $15
Binding, 22 running /perimeter feet at $3 per foot = $66.
Applied with home sewing machine, front and back. More if hand stitched to the back
Quilting Labor, 4,160 square inches @ .04 cents = $175
Yes, I know that this is high, but there can be ALL sorts of problems quilting on T shirts, even if you do all the    piecing.

For the quilting, my total would be $321

Now for the piecing –

Interfacing for behind the T shirts, 4 yards @ $4 per yard = $16
Sashing and Border fabrics, total of 4 yards @ $10 per yard = $40
Piecing labor, 15 hours @ $15 per hour = $225
I have made T shirt quilts and there can be a LOT of time involved even with “simple” piecing.

The piecing total would be $281.

Add the quilting total ($321) with the piecing total ($281) for a grand total of $602. For simplicity, let’s round that to $600. This would be the MINIMUM I would charge for this quilt.

Now, lets take $600 divide it by 15 T shirts used in this quilt, for a total of $40 per T shirt.

Let’s take this one step further. Let’s assume that you customer is not satisfied with 12 inch blocks in a traditional horizontal setting. She wants something “different” and you have to come up with a unique setting and work with MANY different sizes of T-Shirt logos, etc.

I would start at a price of $40 per T-Shirt then ADD A LOT of extra $$$. How much is a LOT EXTRA?? Only you can answer that question, but I would at least DOUBLE what I have priced in the traditional setting.  I would charge at least $1,200 for this type of quilt. If there was extra supplies / fabric / interfacing, etc., then this price would also increase.

Here is something else to remember. Be sure to receive at least HALF of the amount you are charging  – which is non-refundable – when the order is placed. You have to purchase supplies and your time is valuable! When the quilt top is ready to be put on the quilting machine, another one quarter or the cost is required and when the quilt is completed, the remainder of the fee is to be paid.

Be sure to document EVERYTHING about this custom order, from start to finish!

Let’s face it, making a quilt from start to finish can be a lot of fun, but it is our WORK! We should be paid a reasonable fee for our time and our skills to make a special, unique, one of a kind quilt that is going to last a long, long, time!

I look forward to reading your comments.

Wonky Borders – Part 2

Last week I posted about new pages that I added to the Longarm University website about wonky / bad borders.

On these pages I showed how I fixed the borders, yes I took the borders off a quilt, re-measured them, trimmed them and then re-stitched the borders back in place.  I asked for comments and questions about this – and I got more than a few!

I have posted these comments, and more, on the Longarm U website. Here is a list of the Wonky Borders pages and their links.

To view –

One Way to Fix Wonky Borders Click Here 

My Thoughts on Wonky / Bad Borders Click Here 

Wonky Borders Comments Click Here 

I welcome all thoughts, comments and questions.

Playing the Pricing Game

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups where people post photos of the projects they are working on or have completed. These groups are open to quilters of all skill levels – there are some professional machine quilters but most are “regular” piecers and (home sewing machine) quilters. Some of the quilt photos that are posted are quilted, most are not.

As I was cruising the photos I noticed photos of a very, very nicely, professionally quilted quilt. Then I read the caption with the photos, which read in part,

“The quilting took 10 days and 15+ bobbins…. the client is thrilled.” That REALLY caught my attention!

Note: I am specifically NOT posting the name of the Facebook group or the name of the quilter, who I don’t know. I have NO issue with the quilting that was done on this quilt and I am not criticizing the quality of the work.

From what I saw in the photos, and making a few assumptions, the quilt looked like it was a larger quilt, maybe even a King Size and it had a LOT of quilting on it. From looking at the photos, there appeared to be no ruler work, just all free hand. (The caption also said ” I don’t have a computer, this is all hand guided.”)

With this all stated, let’s begin to play the “pricing game.”

The quilter states that it took her 10 days to quilt this particular quilt. To me, that is worthless information. Did the quilter work on this quilt 10 – 12 hours per day or, did she work on this quilt when she had family visiting and could quilt only one hour a day?

(The quilting, which is very nice, is not THAT difficult to quilt and I probably could have done it in about 10 hours. There were a lot of feathers and free hand horizontal and vertical line fill in stitching. Also, in the Comments section, someone asked how long she had been quilting and she stated she has been quilting for 18 years.)

Let’s assume that the quilter DID work on this quilt for 8 hours a day. Let’s also assume that during that 8 hours she took a couple of potty breaks, a lunch break and had a couple of phone calls, for a total working time (standing at the quilting machine, actually working on the quilt) of 6 hours per day.

So with the assumption of 6 hours of working time, multiplied by 10 days equals a total of 60 hours working on this quilt.

Let’s do some math – Let’s assume she charged the customer per hour for this job.

60 hours x $10 per hour = $600
60 hours x $15 per hour = $900
60 hours x $20 per hour = $1,200
60 hours x $25 per hour = $1,500
60 hours x $30 per hour = $1,800

I am willing to bet that the price she charged was NO WHERE NEAR these numbers!

I looked up her name on the internet and found a website that had her name on it. (I am assuming that the person on the website is the same person who quilted this quilt. ) On her website she had her quilting prices listed.

Here is the price posted on the website –

“Custom quilting – $0.025 to $0.030 (per square inch) depending on the intensity of the quilting.”

Let’s do some more math –

Let’s assume that this was a Queen Size quilt, 90 x 108 inches, which is 9,720 square inches (si). At her high end of 3 cents per square inch, the total labor cost would be $291.60! (9,720 x .03 = 291.6) Let’s be nice and round that up to $300.

Let’s take the (assumed) 60 hours of quilting time and divide that into $300, which equals an hourly rate of – drum roll please! – $5 per hour!!!

Let’s assume this is a King Size quilt, 120 x 120 inches, which is 14,400si. Doing the same math as above ( 14,440 x .03 = $432) the hourly rate would raise dramatically to ….. wait for it ……… $7.20 per hour!!!

FWIW – the national minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm, the minimum wage in Washington State where I live is $9.47 per hour and in Seattle, the minimum wage is now $15 per hour!

You can draw your own conclusions about this!

Why do I bring this up and write about this? I feel that many, if not most, professional machine quilters FORGET to add the numbers of hours they take to complete a quilt into their pricing equation.

Using the King and Queen size examples above, if the quilter could have done the quilting in 10 hours, her hourly wage would be about $30 per hour for the Queen size quilt and about $43 per hour for the King size!

And remember, you need to allow for your business expenses from these numbers!

I highly recommend that you begin to time yourself when you are working on EACH and EVERY quilt. You are not playing “beat the clock” to get a quilt completed in a certain amount of time. You are trying to determine how much TIME it is taking you, on average, to complete a quilt.

When you are standing at your machine, working on a quilt, write down the date and your start and stop time. Then, when you are finished with that project, total your hours and then divide that into the $$$ you are charging to find out how much you are earning per hour.

I know you will be amazed at the (low) hourly wage you are making.

How can you change this? I’ll write about that in the next post.

For the record – the last quilt I worked on was a large 93 x 110, Yellow Brick Road flannel quilt. It took me 4 days to complete the quilting. I did free hand feathers and swirls in the body of the quilt and a little more detailed free hand feather design in the borders. I put the quilt on the machine so that the long edge was attached to my leaders.

Sherrees-Quilt

Click on the photo for a larger view

Note: I drove a school bus for nearly 20 years and we did our time cards, etc., in hundredths. So 15 minutes would be .25, 30 minutes would be .50, 45 minutes would be .75. This is how I keep track of my time when working on quilts and it is easy (to me) to calculate.

Day 1 – put quilt on the machine – .75 (45 minutes)

Day 2 – marked and quilted most of the top (as attached to the machine) border – .75

Day 3 – remainder of top border and body of the quilt – .75 + .75. Total of 1.5 hours.

Note: I was having problems with a sore muscle in my right arm and could only quilt about 45 minutes at a time before having to stop and rest.

Day 4 – two sessions of .75 each and 1 session of 1 hour. Total 2.5 hours

Total time worked on this 5.5 hours and I added an extra .5 “just because”, for a grand total of 6 hours working on this quilt.

I charged my customer $375 for the labor (93 x 110 = 10,230si x .035 = $358, rounded up to $375) which I divided by 6 hours = $62.50 per hour!

You can draw your own conclusions about this!

I welcome your thoughts and comments!

—————————————-

I received a comment about quilting the borders and I have been trying to post a photo in the comments reply section and I couldn’t do it. So I’m responding here –

No, I did not have to turn the quilt. I was able to quilt the border design at the same time that I quilted the body of the quilt.

Here is a photo of the border design drawn out on the quilt border.

Feather Design in the border

Feather Design in the border

I used the Expo Bright Stick markers on top of Plexiglas to draw the design. Click on the photo for a larger view.

The white lines are registration lines I marked on the quilt top and the pink lines are the quilting lines.

I used Signature cotton thread “Latte” for the quilting – you can’t see the stitching lines, just the texture.