A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
This is the finished quilt for today. I didn’t think I would have it done by the end of the day but I did.
The other half.
I was asked how I manage to be both a topper and a machine quilter. How do I get my own UFOs quilted when it seems that the customer quilts are always waiting? Let me say first…. Machine quilting is my job, piecing quilts is my hobby.
Ok, about the job. Many years ago when I decided to go into the machine quilting business it was a struggle not only in getting customers but financially as well. I decided to take the risk to open this business even though very few people accepted machine quilting. I had been taught that in order to go into business for myself I needed to be a risk taker so that’s what I did.
A couple of years later I found myself in need of a loan from someone so I could buy my child a coat for winter. That person gave me the loan but also asked me “Why don’t you give up this quilting stuff and get a real job?” I replied “Excuse me!! This is my real job!” That conversation really got me to thinking. Apparently no one thought of my business as a real working job. They all believed it was simply a money making hobby. Only I and the tax man understood that what I did was really a business and not just a hobby. This included all my friends, my kids, my other family members, and even my customers. All of them believed what I did was nothing more than earn money from a hobby.
So let me ask you this…. How does everyone view your machine quilting? Is it a hobby or is it respected as a business?
Think about what it would be like if you actually left home each morning to go to work at an outside job. You are expected to be there at your scheduled time, you work a full day, and you leave to go home when your shift is finished. Right?
When you have an outside job you know when you are to clock in and when you are to clock out. At an outside job; can you stop work to chat with family or friends whenever they want and still get paid? Without giving notice to the boss; can you take several days off each week and keep the job? Can you expect your job to still be there for you if you constantly leave work to baby sit the grandkids or to clean house? Can you take long leisurely lunches with your spouse while the boss is back at work watching the clock? Can you sit and play on the internet when the boss wants a project finished? How would it be if you went to a fabric store and found a closed sign even though the hours posted said it should be open? What if you thought maybe it was a temporary closing so you go back the next day only to find it closed again? How many times would you return if you kept finding the closed sign?
I hope I’m getting the point across here. A job is a job and you are expected to work as you are scheduled. Just because you work at home doesn’t make your regular work hours any less important. Personally, when I go from the back part of my house, across the furkid gate, into my studio each morning it is the same as commuting across town to an outside job where I am expected to open the door for business. Home is left behind, no matter what didn’t get done.
If you are continually leaving your quilting machine in order to keep your friends and family happy it means your work is not respected as a real job. They are thinking this machine quilting stuff is just another hobby and they are humoring you. Or they are thinking your hours of operation are just for show; that you can take time off whenever you want and still remain in business.
Ask yourself, would they feel the same if you worked at home at… hmmm… owning a restaurant on the first floor and you lived upstairs? Wouldn’t the family and friends understand the restaurant must have regular hours in order to be a real job?
Getting the respect that what you do is a real job is probably the most difficult hurdle in being a professional machine quilter. I set my work hours early so my day is finished early. Yes, it is very hard to say no a lot! But, it is necessary if I want to keep my job and my paycheck. Just like working at an outside job, an occasional day off to do something special doesn’t hurt. So long as it is only occasionally or you have someone willing to do the work for you while you receive the paycheck. (grin, I wish)
Ok, let’s talk about hobbies. If you had an outside job…. when would you find time for your hobbies? It doesn’t matter what your hobby is… piecing quilts, watching movies, antique shopping, guild meetings, internet surfing, reading books, or whatever. Wouldn’t you enjoy your hobby after regular work hours or on your days off?
So why is it you are treating your quilt piecing hobby as part of the work day just because you are a machine quilter? Hey, my hobby is piecing tops too. (smile) I piece them before or after my regular work hours. My weekend off day is used like any outside job worker. I shop or visit or play with my hobbies.
I book my own finished quilt tops onto my waiting list the same as if a customer had brought it to me. My own quilts are no less important than any of my customer’s quilts. After all, someone is going to get my personally made quilt so they are essentially the customer. Even if it is a grandchild, they are the customer waiting for a finished quilt.
Internet time and writing this blog is also a hobby. I write my blog entry or answer list emails before or after work. I try to post early in the morning, while I’m drinking my coffee and getting ready for work. My computer has a clock on it that I glance at every once in awhile. When my time for work arrives the computer gets turned off; regardless of whether or not I have finished looking at pictures, shopping websites, answering emails or writing a blog entry. I’m a very good employee; I’m almost always on time for work. Hmmm…. You think the boss could give me a raise for that?