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

There is still space available for my first ever, in person, online class, Finding Customers for your Machine Quilting Business on Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 1 PM Pacific Time (4 PM Eastern Time).

If you are looking for ideas on how to find customers locally, how to find customers from out of the area and how your customers can find YOU, then this class is for you!

If you are busy on Saturday afternoon, don’t worry!! The class will be recorded and you can watch the class at a later date when it is more convenient for you!

This is the first time I am doing a class like this, and I’m sure there are going to be few hic-ups during the class. Because of this, the class fee is reduced. The will be the only time you will be able to attend this class at this price!

For more information on the Finding Customers class Click Here

If you have tried the “traditional ways” of finding customers and found that didn’t work too well, you NEED this class!

I am extremely excited to share this information with you and this is the only place I am advertising this live, online class.

Register NOW for this class and get some great ideas on how to Find Customers for your Machine Quilting Business! 

For more information about this in person, online class, Click Here

If you have any questions about this class or need more information, please send me an email at longarmu@aol.com

I look forward to welcoming you to the Finding Customers for your Machine Quilting Business class on Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 1 pm Pacific Time! 

Independence Day 2019

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

 

I hope you are having a wonderful day with family and friends celebrating the independence and freedoms we have and enjoy!

One of my favorite quotes is from Erma Bombeck –

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

If you are a professional quilter, take some time off to relax and refresh this holiday.

If you are a causal quilter, start a new project or complete a project already in progress!

Don’t forget those who have served to make this country the best in the world!

Take a few minutes to visit the American Hero Quilts website www.americanheroquilts.com and help them provide quilts to our wounded warriors.

No matter what type of quilter you are, celebrate the independence and the freedoms that we have by living in this great country!

 

 

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!!!