Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

Creating a paper trail

One of the things necessary for running a quilting business is the paperwork. I could pay to have these forms typeset and printed but why spend the money when I can do them myself?

I could do all this on the computer with Machine Quilting Business Manager…. but I don’t trust computers. They have a way of doing odd things when I’m not paying attention. I trust paper trails in addition to the computer. A double check so to speak. I’ll let the computer do the end of year paper stuff when I can sit down and watch it work.

I finally found NCR (no carbon required) paper for my ink jet computer printer. Yea! No more carbon paper!

I’ve been asking at several of the local office supply stores without success for a couple of years. I finally found it at Arvey’s paper and supply on Saturday. It comes with a white sheet then a pink sheet, white, pink… etc. It also comes in white and yellow.

I separated the paper to print my intake forms. I have a ‘thank you’ and other information on the second sheet which I didn’t want printed on the top copy. I took time to move things around on the form to better suit my needs and printed out 30 copies. This should hold me for a while. Yes, I could have used the computer to print both without separating the paper. This way just happened to work better for me. I can change it later. I print two intake forms per page then cut the paper in half.

I always give the customer a copy of the intake sheet. In case I loose my copy for some reason, the customer has a back up copy.

This is where I keep the finished intake forms. It’s a little 2 drawer plastic unit I keep on a shelf right under my intake table. Next to a 2 layer plastic paper tray unit that holds my current waiting list and note paper.

While I was in the mood for paper work I changed my waiting list pages. I really wanted a special day planner book. I didn’t find the one I needed. I’ll do an internet search as soon as I finish today’s post. A day planner is key to keeping myself organized. If I find the right one, I will change the waiting list again so I can print it to fit into the day planner.

As you can see…. I only have 16 lines on the sheet. This is the maximum number of quilts I plan to do in any single month. The highlighted lines are reserved for ME quilts or for CUSTOM quilts I make. I will only be doing 12 quilts (3 per week) for toppers and one per week of my own choosing. Yes, yes, I am a workaholic and could do more…. but that wouldn’t leave me time for a life. I might quilt a custom quilt or a charity quilt or a contest quilt or a grandchild quilt on my reserved days.

It’s vital that each individual machine quilter decide the maximum number of quilts they want to do each month. Would it be 4 a month (1 per week) or 40 or 100 or what ever is the amount of work the machine quilter is willing to do. People with computer run machines may decide to do more than 3 a week. People with smaller shortarm hand guided machines may decide to do fewer.

When deciding how many is the maximum….. first decide the number of hours and days you can quilt…. around your regular life. If you know you always go to a ball game on Friday… don’t take in a quilt for Friday. If you know you always shop on Saturday…. don’t plan to quilt on Saturday. In other words, decide the working hours and days….. around your life.

Ok, I’ve gotten away from the point of this post….

Next I did my custom quilt catalog over. I needed to simplify it! I separated it into categories and put a tab divider for the separations. I bought these tabs (self stick) at Walgreen a few weeks back.

I changed the prices form to one per quilt instead of one for 3 quilts. I also simplified the prices.

Instead of $147.50 by a math formula, it’s now $150. Rounded off figures are much more customer friendly. I took off the statement that prices are for labor only. It seemed to harsh for a customer to read it page after page. I don’t shop for the fabrics…. the customer does….. so there was no point of saying it’s for labor only.

Notice the letter in the corner? This is a price code for me. I came up with a formula based on these:
A-very easy
E-very difficult
F-OH MY! – I’ll try

I came up with a price for each…. that I could live with….. if asked to make one of them. Each new design I put into my catalog will go into one of those categories. The prices are already figured so I just write them on the price sheet.

You see the red “pattern file #” at the bottom of the price sheet? This is the file where I will keep my yardage charts to make each quilt. I’ll add the file numbers later when I’ve completed the files.

It’s kind of difficult to do a pre determined additional fabric yardage list with a t-shirt quilt…. but…. there is a backing which is fixed amount. Binding, is a fixed amount. Other quilts are much easier.

I didn’t get around to the printing of custom quilt intake forms with the new NCR paper. I will do that later today. Here is what it looks like….. so you will know. I plan to keep these forms right inside the catalog. No better place to keep them than right where they are used.

Ok, that’s about it for this post. Reorganizing… for me anyway…. also means changing forms and paperwork to better fit the way I work. I reduce routine tasks into the smallest amount of work possible. Anything that is repeated and repeated and repeated can be reduced down to one simple form to be used again and again instead. This takes up less space in my time box.

During the coming year; as I use these forms; there might be something that doesn’t work. I’ll make the changes when I do my next reorganizing. Or when I print more forms. That’s the reason I only printed out 30 copies of the intake form… so I can see if it works before using up all the paper.

UPDATE: I had a comment sent to me from Alycia which reminded me I hadn’t told how I created my forms. (thank you Alycia) I use MS word for my forms. I use the “table” tool. Anything on your computer that helps you create a form would work. My catalog price sheets are printed on 4 X 6 file cards. I did not throw away the old cards. I will reuse the cards by putting recipes on the other side and put them into my recipe box.

2 comments on “Creating a paper trail

  1. Karen (Misiz C)
    December 12, 2007

    I appreciate all the info you share. Reminds me I should treat this more like a business than I am.

    I do have an intake form …and if the customer is purchasing batting from me, a batt cutting form. It's a 1/3 sheet of paper… just lists the customer/quilt, type and amount of batt to cut and the cost. I group those slips together and cut several at once then attach the form to the cut piece.

  2. Alycia
    December 11, 2007

    Thank you for sharing all your organizing tips! Did you make your quilt list ( that says I can take 14) in Excel?

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This entry was posted on December 11, 2007 by in Quilting - business or hobby?.

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