TwitterPinterestInstagramGoogle PlusMembers login

Posts Tagged ‘Longarm Quilting’

Book Review: Longing for a Longarm?

Sunday, February 9th, 2014


Longing for a Longarm: Should You Purchase a Longarm Machine?
Sue Allen Clayton
Manorville Press; $4.99 (Kindle)

I work with professional quilters, including many longarmers, as well as a lot of people who would like to have a successful quilt business. In this book, Sue takes a light-hearted and realistic look at owning a longarm, whether that is to start your business or to quilt your own quilts. From her own personal experiences, Sue shares the pleasures and pitfalls of owning a longarm. You will learn about physical and space requirements, the tools of the trade, and money matters – what your longarm costs and how much you will make. A plus is the good introduction to the emotional challenges that go along with running a longarm quilting business. Sue also shares her personal resource list. This should be your first read if you are serious about buying a longarm.

Look for the book at your local quilt shop or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Meet Debbie Wendt, Longarm Quilter, Teacher, Pattern Designer and Notion Inventor

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The Winter 2012 issue of The Professional Quilterincludes a profile by Mindy Wylie with Debbie Wendt, a longarm quilter, teacher, author and pattern designer. Debbie is also known for creating Brilliant Bindings, a tool available in sizes for both longarms and domestic machines, her fat-quarter friendly 4-3-2-1-Done patterns, and her method to construct and produce quilts right on the longarm. Here’s an excerpt from the profile:

When did you start quilting and how did you get into it?

My first “official” quilt class was in 1984 when I took a Continuing Ed class in the town where I lived. The class was Amish diamonds in the center, all by hand! I started with templates and even made my own feather stencil for one of my borders. I have always enjoyed sewing, and quilting felt comfortable – much easier than fitting clothing. As a young girl, I listed sewing as my hobby. My grandmothers were both seamstresses, and I admired their work. It feels natural to have sewing and now quilting as my business. I continue to take classes because I want to continue learning about my passion.

How did this lead longarm quilting?

I started longarm quilting in 1998 when I worked in a quilt shop in West Monroe, La. The owner asked if I had interest in learning the longarm so she taught me the basics. I quilted 22 lap quilts that fall as Christmas presents, which gave me a lot of time learning the machine and techniques. I then graduated to pantographs, as that is what was most requested by the customers.

How did you get started teaching quilting?

I started teaching quilting while living in Cairo, Egypt.  When I moved there in 1993 I helped start a quilt group, Quilters in DeNile. Several people in a cross stitch group wanted to learn to quilt, so I taught classes for the quilt group and at CSA (Community Service Association) where expats from many countries gathered. “Good cotton” quilting fabric was hard to come by so my summer visits home were spent buying fabric and filling my suitcases. We could get solid cottons in the souks and small shops along the Street of the Tentmakers, but it was a lesser grade as the high quality Egyptian cotton was exported.

You self-publish your books. Tell us about that process.

Self-publishing was the means needed to a quick end. I wanted to put my techniques into print so I could share my ideas with my students but didn’t have time to go through the proposal process. Thanks to my husband’s editing and computer skills we actually printed the first versions of my longarm books on our home printer. After their debut at my first teaching show I had them printed professionally. With self-publishing, complete instructions are crucial. I always have other quilters walk through the instructions to make sure they are easy to understand. I also have my husband, a non-quilter, read it for logical sequence.

Do you also self-publish your piecing patterns?

Yes, I also self-publish all my patterns. I am basically self-taught when it comes to computers. With some tips from my husband, I do all my own diagrams and layout. I worked with a graphic designer to re-design my logo and help with the Brilliant Bindings cover page. She also runs a printing business in the town where I live, so it fit to have her do all my printing. It made it very convenient to proof layout, photo colors and determine the best paper choices. Getting the perfect lighting and angles for my cover quilts proved difficult so I now trust those photos to a professional.

Speaking of marketing, are you active on the Internet and with social media?

I have a website to support my products and teaching engagements. I recently went with a company to re-design and upgrade my site to offer more to my customers, for example, a free patterns section and newsletter sign-up. I have had a blog address for a couple years, and I’m excited and determined to make it into a “real” blog. I will be working with it more in the coming year to stay connected and show my personal side of traveling and quilting. Facebook has been a wonderful tool personally, reconnecting with high school classmates. I started a business page just last month and look forward to exploring ways I can use it to connect with quilting friends, students and customers. I have not used Twitter.

What new projects are in the works? What can we expect from you this coming year?

I have many new projects in the works. It just so happens that my binding tool is a common shape in many quilt block patterns, so I’ll be releasing several new quilts in the coming year. I’m also in the design phase of a couple new tools. I look forward to releasing one at Spring Quilt Market in my hometown of Kansas City, Mo.

Please share your comments below.

Meet Longarm Quilter Barbara Dann

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In the Winter 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter, Mindy Caspersen interviewed fellow longarm quilter Barbara Dann about her business. Barbara began her longarm business 10 years ago and specializes in hand-guided quilting. She also represents Alto QuiltCut2. Here’s an excerpt from the profile:

I know that you were working from home and then moved your business to a store. How long did you have your business at home?

My business was in my home for the first nine years, and I moved to a store downtown about a year and a half ago.

What prompted you to move to a storefront?

I wanted to get out of the house. I have teenage boys and wanted to use that space for a family room for them. I also wanted more separation of my business and personal life. It’s too easy to let the business take more of your time when you’re working from home. And I wanted a more professional business appearance. I felt that a store would give me more presence in the community and people would view me as more professional.

How has this changed your quilting business?

My attitude about work has changed. I’m more focused at the store than I was at home. My business has also grown because I get more walk-in clientele, and I do have more presence in the community as a business.

Has this affected your family life in a positive way?

Absolutely! My time at home is more focused on the family now, and I am not pulled away by the business. My boys are now learning to help out more at home and be more self-sufficient. They’re even learning to cook!

Has this affected your business hours? Do you find yourself working more or less?

My business hours are much more defined now. It feels like I work less hours but much more efficiently. I’m not also trying to squeeze in the laundry and household chores at the same time, so I’m much more focused when I’m at work.

Do your family, friends and customers treat you more like a business now that you’re in a store?

Yes, except my mother. She still likes to call during the day to chat! My customers do see me more as a professional now, and they treat me more like a professional now. When you’re working from home, your customers don’t always see a distinction between work hours and family time, but now they do. I used to get calls and drop-ins during the evenings and on weekends. That issue has completely resolved itself because I’m not in the store at those times, so my personal time is not disrupted.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. This article was excerpted from The Professional Quilter, the IAPQ membership journal. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Tips for Working With Your Quilter

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

We are lucky today to have so many wonderful longarm quilters at the ready to turn our tops into masterpieces. Of course, our tops have to be “ready to quilt,” too. And, from talking with longarmers, the tops don’t always arrive in that condition. They might have wavy borders, threads or open seams. How can you expect your longarmer to create a masterpiece when she starts with something less than perfect?

In the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, Mindy Caspersen discussed the problems that the longarmer must address when the quilt top needs work. And to guide the piecer, she included tips for preparing the top, back and batting.

Here are Mindy’s tips for preparing your top:

  • Piece accurately.
  • Choose a neutral thread color for piecing.
  • Remove any stray threads, especially those that might show through light-colored fabrics.
  • Secure seams, especially on pieced outside borders. These may pull apart on the machine frame.
  • Press carefully. Make sure your seam allowances are pressed well and do not flip back and forth. (This is extremely important for stitch in the ditch work.)
  • Attach borders properly so they are not wavy.

To read the rest of Mindy’s article and her tips for preparing your batting and backing, see the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter. If your membership is not current, you can join or renew here.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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.

Try an Open House to Market Your Business

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Business can sometimes be a bit slower in the summer. I like to take advantage of the slower pace and the warmer weather to relax more outside while I’m planning marketing activities.

open-houseOne idea for marketing that Sue Moats covered in her Longarm Forum in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter is perfect for the slower-paced summer. She looked at holding an open house as a way to market your longarm business. While many people like to hold the open house at a holiday time, I think summer is perfect. It’s less hectic, your customers might be more relaxed and eager to start a top and conflicts are probably fewer. Sue interviewed several quilters who found open houses to be a successful way to market their businesses. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s a checklist to get you started:

  • Select dates, hours
  • Solicit help if needed
  • Check on insurance
  • Decide on any incentives/coupons
  • Advertise and/or send invitations
  • Arrange for refreshments
  • Prepare machine and studio for visitors
  • Put out guest book to collect names and contact info
  • Have adequate supply of business cards/flyers
  • Take care of any needed follow-up.

If you plan an open house for the summer, be sure to let me know how it goes.

You can read Sue’s complete article in Issue 107 of The Professional Quilter. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our Order Page.

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.

Summer Issue is in the Mail

Monday, July 14th, 2008

The Summer issue is out and in the mail. I’ve heard from subscribers that it’s showing up in mailboxes. Here’s a peek at the cover:

Articles include a profile by Eileen Doughty with Alaska quit artist Linda Beach, tips for developing a blog as a marketing tool by Maria Peagler, a studio tour with longarm quilter Paula Rostkowski, guidelines for business recordkeeping by David Nagle, help with phrasing judging comments by Scott Murkin and a primer on understanding DPI for good digital printing by Gloria Hansen. We will have some excerpts in our ezine later this month.

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.

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).