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.

After the Quilting

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah and a great New Year!

The holidays are over, now it is time to hunker down and survive the winter weather! And to think about our machine quilting business.

January and February are usually slower months in the quilting year so enjoy this down time to work on a charity quilt or two or even quilt some of your own quilts! If you need a good project for both piecing and quilting, check out the Uneven 9 Patch online class. For details of this class Click Here

After a recent machine quilting group meeting, I received an email from an attendee who wrote –

How do people keep track of quilts (especially customer quilts) that they have completed? Do they use any special software? If so, what is it and what do they like / dislike about it.

I told her that I would write about it in this blog and see what YOU do “after the quilting!”

Please post your comments below or contact me privately via email at longarmu@aol.com

Here is what I do “after the quilting.” I am old school and I don’t have any special aps or programs for this.

When my customer brings a quilt for me to complete, I have a worksheet that I fill out and they must sign. As I work on the quilt, I refer to the worksheet and make notes, calculations, etc., directly on to the worksheet.

When I am completely finished with the customer quilt, I will make an invoice for the quilt, print out two copies and make a PDF of the invoice. (I use QuickBooks for my business accounting and it is easy to make invoices and PDF’s of the invoice.) I staple one of the invoice copies to the worksheet and these are stored in either a 3 ring binder or a large file folder and filed (usually) by date.

On my desktop computer, I have a file for customer quilts. There are sub files for each year, example 2018 Quilts, 2019 Quilts, and now 2020 Quilts. Inside that folder is where I have individual folders for each customer quilt.

I will save the invoice PDF in the customer folder along with any photos that I have taken of that quilt. Many times, I will take photos of the quilt “in progress” and send them to my customer as I am working on their quilt. Those photos are in this folder also along with the finished quilt photos.

Note – I could take a photo of the worksheet, both front and back and any notes, and include them in the customer file on my computer.

I like to send an email to my customer letting her know that her quilt is completed. I will attach to her email a zipped folder that contains the invoice PDF along with some photos of the finished quilt. I try to make a blog post with photos of her quilt on my personal blog before I send the zipped folder to her. (To view my personal blog Click Here

Here is a screen shot photo of the inside of a customer folder showing the invoice PDF and photos. (I have not yet put these photos on my personal blog yet! I know, I am WAY behind!!!) Click on the photo for a larger view.

In the Quilt Year Folder on the computer, I also have a file for Charity Quilts, Family Quilts or any other projects I am working on. If you do quilts for several different charities, you may want to make a special “Charity Quilt” folder and have sub folders for each charity.

Once you get started with this, it is fairly simple to keep track of customer information and customer photos “after the quilting!”

Let me know how YOU keep track of your customer information “after the quilting!”

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas full of joy, peace, love and happiness. If you celebrate any other Winter Holiday, I still wish you joy, peace, love and happiness.

Take a break from your quilting business and enjoy the day, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends and be thankful for the life you have.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Cautionary Tale

Two weeks ago, I was working at my desktop computer, in my office, when I got the notice that I needed to “update and restart” my computer (I am running Windows 8 on a Dell computer). I did the restart and left the room for a cup of coffee.

I came back to my computer and ….., my sign in screen was totally different and my desktop was different too – and ALL my desktop files and folders were GONE!!! I searched deep in my computer and couldn’t find the files!! I wasn’t panicked, yet! (All my programs were still loaded on my computer, just the files and folders were gone!)

Fortunately, for the last 10 years or more, I have used Carbonite.com for my constant, in the background, back up and restore service. I can’t say enough good things about this company and their services. But I am getting away from my story!

I contacted Carbonite, did what they said, and restored ALL my files that I thought had been lost! But wait, there’s more!

When I went to upload information to my websites, the “connection” that is between my hosting service and my computer was lost along with a few other connections that I need for my business. These could all be re-connected, but it would take time and some phone calls, etc. (I can handle doing that, sort of!!!)

A few days later, I realized that one of the programs I used (Quicken, for my personal finances) wouldn’t work – I was using a 2013 version of the software! So, I upgraded my version of Quicken to a current version, and, of course, after it was finished uploading / upgrading I had to do a restart to get Quicken to work. Of course, I did so and went for another cup of coffee.

When I got back to the computer, my old (before all this started) sign in page AND desktop were back! Woo hoo – so I thought, but.., my desktop files and folders were ALL GONE AGAIN!!!! I couldn’t find then anywhere in my computer!

And, this was all happening the day before I was teaching several days of classes!!!

A few days later, after the classes were over, I took a deep breath, contacted Carbonite, again, and this time one of their people “took over” my computer, found my files, and reloaded them for me. Then I had to get information onto the websites and realized that the “connections” that were previously lost, had all re-appeared and seemed to be working, along with all my other connections that I thought were lost!

I am now a REALLY happy camper!!!

How does this relate to quilting??? If I did not have the Carbonite system on my computer, I would have lost (literally) 20 years of my business financial records and 20 years of quilt designs, pattern, writings, articles, etc., etc.

My plea to you is this – get something like Carbonite.com, or any other off site, secure storage system for YOUR computer files. There are several different companies who do this sort of thing, choose which one is best for you. JUST GET IT!!! You don’t know when YOUR computer is going to go “crazy” or, in the case of the California wildfires, tornadoes in the Midwest, flooding in the East Coast, or any other natural disaster,  you have to leave or evacuate your house with little or no warning!

Ask yourself this question, if something happened and ALL my computer files were lost, including family photos and other precious things that are on your computer, could you get them back???

I live in earthquake country – if there were a devastating earthquake and my home was destroyed (I think my fabric collection would keep the house upright) I CAN get my computer files back!!!

I truly hope that nothing catastrophic happens to you or your family, but please, with the way today’s world is, protect your computer files!!!

FWIW – Carbonite.com costs less than $75 per year, it is a legitimate business expense and, with TWO desktop restores in less than a week, this is a price I can – and will – gladly pay!!!

One more thing I have to do is to restore my computer again and see what happens! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything comes back the way it’s supposed to, but, if it doesn’t, I’ll be contacting Carbonite.com!!!

Please feel free to post any comments below. I would love to hear from you about this, especially if you use a different back up system.

Charging for Thread Live Online Class

This is the second in a series of LIVE online class about running a successful – and profitable –  machine quilting business.


As a machine quilting professional, are you charging a separate fee for thread that is being used on your customer’s quilt?

If you are not, you should be!

If you do, are you charging enough to cover the cost of your thread? And to make a profit??

Join Cindy Roth, who has been machine quilting as a business for over 25 years in this LIVE, in person, online class, Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 1 pm Pacific Time as she talks about this subject.

Cindy will talk about –

  • Why you SHOULD be charging for thread used in a quilt.
  • How to determine how much thread is used in any quilt.
  • How to determine the wholesale and retail cost of thread used.
  • How to present this information to your customer, especially if you have not charged for thread in the past.
  • Invoicing thread charges to your customer.
  • And a whole lot more, along with an opportunity for questions and answers!

This is not a class about what kind of thread is best or what thread to use on a quilt. Those are questions that only you and your machine can answer. This is a class on the “business end” of a machine quilting business!

This is the class that will give you the information YOU need to make YOUR business more profitable!

This class will be about 60 – 90 minutes in length.

If you can’t join the class on October 12, the class will be recorded and you can view it at your convenience.

With the busy Winter Holiday season fast approaching, NOW is the time to see if  your thread charges are accurate, or begin to charge for the threads used in your customer quilts.

For more information about the Charging for Thread in your Machine Quilting Business class or to register for this class, Click Here

If you have any comments or thoughts about charging for thread please feel free to leave a comment.

Finding Customers Online Class

I want to thank everyone who responded to the question on my previous post of “what is custom quilting.” I am still working on my custom quilting article and hope to have it completed soon!

Last month I hosted my first ever LIVE online class, Finding Customers for your Machine Quilting Business, and it was great! The people who attended were wonderful, there were several lively discussions and we all had a great time. Everyone who attended, including me, learned a LOT! 

I was able to record the class and it is now on the Longarm Classroom website. To view the information about the Finding Customers class Click Here When you register for this class you have 90 days of 24/7 access to the online class.

In this class we talk about finding local customers, customers from out of the area and how customers can find YOU!

If you are just starting on your machine quilting business journey or you have been quilting as a business for a while, you NEED to attend this class!

To register for the Finding Customers for your Machine Quilting Business online class Click Here

If you were a student in this class and would like to comment about it, please feel free to do so. I look forward to reading your comments. If you would like to send me a private comment, please send it to me at longarmu@aol.com 

I am planning on having another LIVE, online class in the not too distant future! When that class is ready, I will be sure to let you know about it! If there are any topics you would like to see in a class,  please let me know.

 

Custom Quilting-a Definition

I am in the beginning stages of writing a blog post about custom quilting and I have been thinking of the words “custom quilting.”

The words “custom quilting” has a HUGE scope to it! What one person considers custom quilting, may be someone else’s “regular quilting.”

My question to you is – In your business or in your quilting life, what do you consider to be “custom quilting?”

I am hoping that there will be several / many answers and responses and that we can come up with a definition of the term custom quilting.

You can post your answers and responses in the Comments below or send me an email at longarmu@aol.com or cindy@longarmuniversity.com

I am looking forward to your thoughts.