A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
I’m doing a late evening blog today. I skipped computer time this morning in favor of getting an early start on work. First I will show you the next quilt I finished. It is the other t-shirt quilt.
The last few days I’ve had several people ask me questions through email that were pretty close to the same topics. Instead of writing similar but different long emails I will put it here so I can save a little time. Answering emails and writing a blog all in one sure does save time. I like this kind of blogging! I’m much better at writing if I have specific thoughts to write about. I hope those who wrote to me don’t mind me answering this way. I’m not being impersonal, just being practical and organized.
I was asked how I stay so organized. Well, for years I read books and magazines, strolled through organizing isles at the stores, took classes, and bought countless items to get things organized. I bought hundreds of shelves, hooks, bins, boxes, calendars, address books, binders, file cards, dry erase boards, and almost any gadgets or gizmos out there that were advertised for organizing. Then I would spend what should have been vacation time or quality time with the kids at home sorting and purging and tossing things into the trash.
What a waste of time and money!! What I finally figured out is that I had to find what works for me. Not something designed for making someone else rich. How I figured this out was when I tried to organize my teenage daughter 17 years ago. I was throwing a tantrum for her to clean up all the junk around her room.
She had piles of clothes in one spot, piles of books in another and so forth. She calmly told me that her stuff was organized chaos. She knew where everything was. More importantly she could get at it quickly and also put it back just as quickly. I tested her on this. I asked her to find me her pink pajamas. She walked to a pile of clothes on her chair. Put her hand down into the pile somewhere near the middle and pulled out a pair of pink pajamas. I left her organized chaos alone after that. I got to thinking about it later that evening. I realized she never seemed to ask me if I knew where any of her things were like her brothers had. Maybe she really was organized in her own way? That’s when I realized there is a difference between ways of being organized.
If my daughter always knew where everything was then obviously her style of organizing worked for her. I’m more of a neatly cleaned up organized person. I like things lined up in neat rows. If I must hang things on the wall for easy access then I want it to look like a piece of art. All positioned the right way.
I no longer spend money to make other people rich on their idea of how I should be organized. Sure I do have things organized. BUT; I did what works for me. I buy something only after giving it plenty of thought about how it will work for me. I always, always ask myself…. is this a need or is it a want; will it save me money; will it save me time; and can I find an alternative.
Here is an example: Once, long ago, I got the tops and backs of two customers mixed up then quilted both. Ack! Disaster! Needless to say I had to face both customers and explain the problem. I gave them the quilts at no charge since this was agreeable to them. All that work for free!
Ok, I told myself, I have to find a solution to prevent this from happening again. I couldn’t afford to work for free and support my family. I had some unused plastic boxes in the corner of a closet that were too good (and too expensive) to just toss out. I started using those just to see if it would work. Yes, it did. As soon as a customer brought me a quilt to finish it went into its own individual plastic box.
I later bought some plastic roll around drawers that just fit under the machine table. It was a perfect solution so that I no longer had to unstack the boxes to get at the bottom one. Drawers allow me to pull out the whole thing when I’m ready or put it back if I can’t start it yet. I later added clear stick on business card holders to the drawers so I could slip a piece of paper into it with the customer’s name. Now I can see at a glance which drawer holds the next quilt to go on the machine. Here’s the drawers…
Another example: I had a really good pair of thread nippers I used everywhere in my studio. The problem was that each time I needed the nippers they were always where I left them on the other side of the room. This was obviously not working for me. In order to make it work I bought more nippers. Now I have a pair in each spot where I need them. See…
It is hard to see it in the picture but it is hanging on the household machine near the wheel.
The point of all this rambling is that in order to get organized and more efficient at machine quilting you first must find what is not working for you so you can start looking for something that will work. If something is already working…. don’t fix it cause it ain’t broke.
I’m way behind on answering emails. I hope to get atleast some of them read before my eyes get too heavy and I have to get to bed.
Tomorrow I will talk about my typical work day and how I keep from having machine quilter UFOs. If only I could figure out how to create a webring!! Please be patient…. the webring creation is on my waiting list for August.