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Archive for the ‘Longarm Quilting’ Category

Meet “Manquilter” Matt Sparrow

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The Winter issue of The Professional Quilter includes a profile with Matt Sparrow by Mindy Caspersen. Mindy originally met Matt on Facebook and when her attempts to connect at MQX (Machine Quilters Exposition) didn’t work out, she took the opportunity to learn more about Matt. Here’s an excerpt from the profile.

How did you get involved with longarm quilting?
Shortly after I basted and quilted my first quilt on a domestic sewing machine (DSM), I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing over and over again. I loved piecing but hated the quilting part of the process. After researching the price of longarms, the only way to justify the purchase was to take in customer quilts to recoup the investment. I had no idea it would explode into a full-time career in a short few months.

What is ManQuilter and how is it separate from the rest of your quilting business?
ManQuilter is the essence of my quilting business. I created Manquilter.com to market myself as a longarm quilter. It is my “brand” that I continue to grow every day. I am very committed to building my brand to a point that it is familiar with a large portion of the quilting world. Read the rest of the article nd share your thoughts here.

Tell us about your studio and machine.
I converted my front living room into my studio and run my longarm quilting business out of my home. I am the proud owner of a 2009 APQS Millennium and am one of the newest sales reps for APQS. I have had my hands on every major brand of longarm quilting machine and can tell you without blinking an eye that nothing comes close to the feeling I get when I start stitching on my Millennium Falcon (my pet name for my machine). The horizontal wheels and electronic stitch regulator allow me the joy of precision quilting that my customers demand.

How did you get started teaching quilting in general and also longarm quilting?
I went to MQX in April to take several of Karen McTavish’s classes and was fascinated by her teaching style and the energy she brought to the class. I became certified to teach her quilting technique and came home and approached a local shop about teaching a class. Several months, seven classes and two open house presentations later, I am now officially a competent and confident teacher.

Do you have any business tips you can share with us?
The most important tip I can give is that the sooner you realize that this is your business you are running the better. You are not only a longarm quilter but a business owner as well. Quilting often requires loads of emotion. You need to remove that emotion from the business side of it and make decisions based on a profit model not an emotional response to how you (de)value yourself.

You can read more about Matt and how he and his wife, Bradie, support thier family of ten from quilting in the Winter 2010 issue of The Professional Quilter. The Professional Quilter is one of the benefits of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilters. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here

Getting Through the Holidays in One Piece

Monday, November 30th, 2009

In the Fall issue of The Professional Quilter, Longarm Forum columnist Mindy Caspersen lamented about the year she was quilting for customers right up until Christmas Eve. For her that year was not as joyful as it should have been. She missed time with her kids, and says she let herself be cheated out of her holidays. Vowing never to let it happen again, she took four steps to insure that her future holidays were full of joy. Here’s an excerpt from her column:

Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do is to schedule properly. You must take into account the number of quilts you can reasonably do without overworking yourself. A lot of us just put the quilts on the list as they come in the door or as the customers call, but this method will really put you in a bind as the holidays get closer.

If this is your first year in business, it’s very difficult to estimate how many quilts you can do in a specific amount of time, and it will take you a couple of years to figure out how many quilts you can comfortably do in that specified time period. Just try not to overestimate. It’s better to underestimate than to book too many right now. Do not try to schedule more than you can handle. Most of us don’t work well under pressure; we become frustrated, and then we begin to resent the whole process and our customers. You must set limits for yourself and stick to them! Understandably, you want to be as productive as possible and take advantage of this extra earning time, but overworking yourself only produces poor quality work, which will cost you customers in the long run. If this is your first time for a new customer, it may be the last time if you return poor quality work. Returning customers may be more understanding, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy. It may end up costing you more than you bargained for by having to refund money or do the next job at a big discount.

You also need to allow time for yourself. If you have family that will be visiting for the holidays or kids that are out of school for a couple of weeks, you need to be able to spend time with them and enjoy that time without constantly feeling guilty or feeling the need to get back to your pile of customer quilts. If you don’t allow yourself this time to enjoy your family and friends, you’ll resent your customers, and it will show in your work and your attitude toward them.

Also remember to allow time for the unexpected. Never had to set the timing on your machine? You’ll have to do it in the middle of the rush season! Never run out of needles before? It’ll happen now. It’s the nature of the beast, one of those Murphy’s Law things – whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the most inopportune time! Maybe you don’t have that perfect color of thread and you’re waiting for your order to come in the mail. And guess what? The mail gets overloaded at this time of year and slows down too! Or family or friends unexpectedly decide to come visit, or the furnace dies or the dog needs surgery. A million and one things can suddenly come up and take you away from your work. You can’t deal with those things if you’ve overbooked yourself with customers and are already frustrated.

To read more of Mindy’s tips in her Longarm Forum column in Issue 109 of The Professional Quilter, your subscription or membership in the The International Association of Professional Quilters must be current. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

PQ Café Hosts Longarm Quilter/Teacher Linda Taylor

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Join us in the PQ Café on December 16 when I talk to Linda Taylor about starting a longarm business. Linda is well known in longarm circles for her quilting skills and her teaching. She has made more than 4,000 personal quilts and has been involved in the creation of more than 16,000. She began teaching longarm quilting more than 15 years ago. She has appeared on numerous quilting and sewing television shows; hosts her own show, Linda’s Longarm Quilting; and has written/produced numerous books/DVDs for the longarm industry.

The teleclass is scheduled for Dec. 16 at 8 pm, Eastern Standard Time. Here is a link to the details. Hope to see you then. And, if you have questions you want me to be sure to ask Linda, just drop me an email and I’ll try to fit them in.

Hosting a Longarm Special Event

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

In the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, Sue Moats discussed hosting a special longarm event as a way to market your business. She spoke with the organizers of two such events, one in North Carolina and the other in Ohio. While each event is different, the guild members accomplished the following goals with the shows:
– educated the public about longarm quilting
– offered longarm educational opportunities for quilters
– raised funds for future needs
– provided quilters with access to longarm supplies
– gave longarm quilters the chance to meet with potential clients and answer any questions/concerns, and
– celebrated longarm quilting
Both events were so successful that the groups are organizing shows for this year.
To read more of Sue’s article and learn how your group can sponsor its own longarm event, you can purchase Issue 103 or can start a subscription here.

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