A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
I had a potential new customer call me this evening. I thought I would tell about it. Here is the way the conversation went.
Customer – I have a business card of yours in my purse. Actually I have a hand full of them. I don’t know where I got them but it says you do machine quilting, is that right? Do you know where I got your cards?
Me – I’m not sure where you got my cards, maybe someone gave them to you or you got them from a friend or from a fabric store. Yes, I do machine quilting.
Customer – Well I don’t know any other machine quilters; so would you tell me how I got your cards in my purse? You must know because they are your cards. (Reader, are you thinking what I’m thinking right about now?)
Me – I’m not sure how you got my cards…… but how can I help you? Do you have quilt tops you want quilted? I do have a very long waiting list and take tops by appointment only. I can put your name down for……
Customer – (she interrupts) your address says you are in the west end of Louisville, is that right? I don’t like going to that part of town because it’s too bad. (I wonder why she is calling me then.) Is there some way I can see a sample of your work before you come to my house?
Me – I don’t have a car and don’t pick up quilts; but sure, you can go into any fabric store anywhere in this area and ask to see what my work looks like. They will be able to show you something of mine along with samples of other machine quilters too. I believe it’s always best to shop around for a quilter that suits your particular needs. Or you could….
Customer – (she interrupts) the only fabric store I know about is out here in Oldham County. When can you bring something for me to see?
Me – I don’t go there, you would have to come here. To see samples of my work there are other stores too. There is Happy Heart over on the Outer Loop, Forget Me Knot on Bardstown Road, Among Friends on…..
Customer – (she interrupts) I called a machine quilter this morning but that woman said it would cost me about $300 for a king size and I had to furnish the batting and backing. What do you charge because I don’t have the batting or backing? (huh???)
Me – What I charge depends on what you want done to your quilt. I don’t furnish batting or backing either and my prices range from a penny and a half a square inch to five and a half cents a square inch depending on what details you want done.
Customer – Oh I don’t know about all that stuff. I don’t want anything special, it’s just a nine patch I’ve had finished for a few years and I don’t want to quilt it. What do you charge for a King size?
Me – What I charge depends on what the length and width measurements of your top is and how much detail you want put into it. My lowest price for a simple meandering design is a penny and a half per square inch. I use the square inch method of pricing because everyone’s idea of size is different. Do you know the length and width? I can figure up an estimated cost for you.
Customer – Oh I don’t know, it’s a king size. What do you charge for a king size? (I thought I had just explained all that?)
Me – Ma’am what size is a king size? Does it just cover the top of the bed or go halfway down the sides or does it go all the way to the floor? I really can’t give you an accurate estimate without measurements but just guessing at a king size I imagine it would be around $300 for me to quilt it plus you would need to bring the batting and backing. (I took a guess since she had already had a quote from another machine quilter.)
Customer – (loudly) Well I’ll tie it myself before I will pay that kind of money for just old machine quilting! (Here is where I started to loose control)
Me – (At first I talked calmly) Have you seen the look of machine quilting lately? Anyone who does machine quilting is in business to earn a living. It’s not a hobby for us like it is for you. The other machine quilter quoted you a fair price based on what she wants to earn for quilting.
Customer – Well I once worked for only 10 cents more than minimum wage and I lived on it.
Me – So obviously you believe machine quilters should earn less than minimum wage? We are not in the business to do free work. It may be a hobby for you but it is a paycheck for us. We also have overhead costs to pay in order to….
Customer – (she interrupts again) but I can’t spend that kind of money for just old machine quilting. I can tie it myself you know?
Me – Sure, you can do that. Or you can come to one of my demonstrations at Happy Heart Quilt Shop. I will even show you how to machine quilt it yourself and let you try the machine while I’m there to…..
Customer – (she interrupts again) what’s wrong with you people thinking you can charge that much for just old machine quilting….
Me – (this time I interrupt) you people? just old machine quilting? What do you mean, JUST OLD MACHINE QUILTING? (My own voice is getting loud now and making me uncomfortable) Well I guess you could also go into a grocery store and tell the manager his prices are too high for you because you can grow your own vegetables instead of paying his prices. You can also go into any fabric store and tell them you will weave your own fabrics before paying their high prices for fabrics. Or you could call a contractor and tell him you will remodel your own house before you will pay his high prices.
Ma’am I know you are about to get mad at me and I’m sorry but…. it is NOT just old machine quilting and it’s NOT a machine quilter’s job to make your hobby affordable any more than it’s a grocery store’s responsibility to see that you can afford to eat or a fabric store’s job to furnish you fabric for your hobby or even….
(I hear a loud click in my ear and the silence of no connection)
Thanks for reading my side of the story….
Right or wrong I’m glad I was able to defend our industry to yet one more person who doesn’t understand. Machine quilting is a profession the same as any other profession and should be respected as such. I’ve convinced myself that she was just a little old lady with a touch of dementia. Surely she wouldn’t be so confused and rude in normal circumstances? I hope she finds a way to get her quilt finished.