It’s Thursday and you’re here to link up your quilting process. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the cost of quilting please read on and add your comments, if you’d rather link up and run, feel free to scroll to the end
First up, a big thank you for sticking around this year. I have had so little time to devote to my blog. I have always found that the first twelve months after an international move are pretty tough. I hope that by the end of this year my blog will be getting a lot more love from me!
I’ve been home with the flu this week and have been generous enough to pass it on to two of my children. Although one could argue that I caught it from their school… Either way there hasn’t been any quilting going on, but there has been a lot of thinking.
Did you see Molli Sparkles post from 22 August? TGIFF – No Value Does Not Equal Free … It Equals $2,252.40
Essentially Molli breaks down the final costs of the No Value quilt. It’s a very clever idea and one that has generated much discussion on his blog. I totally agree that we need to be more realistic about what our quilts are worth and what they cost. One particular aspect of Molli’s cost breakdown that I want to talk about is the one off design concept fee.
Molli has a $250 line item for the design concept. Now this item originally received a lot of attention in the comments. I TOTALLY agree with charging a design concept fee. I rarely make a quilt following a pattern, I dream my designs up over time, sketch them in pencil on paper, work out any quilt math and then turn it into a quilt top. As for quilting, I generally make up the quilting design as I go. This doesn’t work when you’re quilting for other people.
When clients bring me their quilt tops we discuss thread colours and quilting designs. I ask who/what the quilt is for, I explain that I only use the two brands of thread that I consider to be the best quality available and I start to suggest quilting designs. I seek feedback, modify my suggestions, continue this process and then sketch up the agreed quilting design. I always reassure my clients that I quilt much better than I draw!
Without wanting to sound self righteous, the key to my business is my quilting talent. People bring me their quilts because they like my work. All my custom work is hand-guided, in fact, until recently I didn’t realise/understand that you can custom quilt using a computer. In my mind that was semi custom or something similar. Don’t worry, a bunch of longarmers let me know exactly how wrong I was! ;)
I’m not in anyway undervaluing the creativity that goes into designing a custom design ahead of time, feeding that into a computer and having the computer stitch that out. It takes incredible talent to be able to do that, a talent that I most definitely do not have! I guess I just see my computer as a trained monkey to do the edge to edge work (note: my computer does not have the ability to do custom work, I bought the basic package). My custom work is never going to have the perfection of a computer guided custom quilt. And yes, I have been told there are quilters out there that are good enough to be mistaken for computers. Um, that ain’t my goal!
Any longarmer will tell you that they need edge to edge (all over) work to keep their business going, I will tell you every time that I LOVE custom work. I will even tell you that a large part of me regrets buying a computer system (it ain’t cheap!!). I’m just not a natural business person, I’m an artist, conversely, I want to turn my art into a business. I’m constantly trying to work out how to turn this passion of mine into a successful business. How do I best divide my time between making quilts to sell, quilting for others and making quilts for me/friends/family/charity. Let’s not even mention that this is “business time” which is what’s left after my day job, looking after my family and giving quality time to my husband and kids. Don’t even ask my friends or extended family, I am a BAD friend, no one hears from me anymore, I have no time.
So what it comes down to is valuing my time and skills. And you valuing your time and skills too!
And that’s where I come back to Molli’s post and concept of the design fee.
When you contact me to quilt a quilt for you we will arrange a time for you to visit the studio or start an online discussion. Before you are sure that you want to leave your quilt with me I will give you at least half an hour of my time. I have had clients in my studio for 2.5 hours discussing their quilting. I LOVE to talk quilting and I’m happy to give you that time (edited to add: noting that I anticipate a half hour consultation).
Once we’ve come up with a design I’ll fill out a worksheet that breaks down the cost of quilting. Longarming in Australia is pretty standard and my rates are in line with those of everyone else. Which sounds fine until people who’ve been in the business for a couple of decades tell you that their prices have DROPPED. That’s right. Over the last 15 years the cost of longarm quilting to the client has decreased.
I would say 50% of the time I have to trim quilt back before I can load them, often I trim wadding. I won’t make a fuss, but I will bury threads or try and invisibly fix really bad sections that are coming unstitched. Often I’ll leave it for the client, but if it’s going to cause a problem quilting then I have to fix it. Guess what I charge for that? Nothing.
Loading a quilt onto the frame takes me anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour (probably more, actually, I’m new and I’m fussy). Winding bobbins and basting takes time too. Did I mention that I will check the wadding and pick out any seeds, dirt or fluff that will cause a problem later? That all takes time and there is no line item attached to it.
Then I’ll quilt. I’ll take as much time as it takes and I’ll unpick and fix any problems without mentioning that extra time. It’s just part of my job and any longarmer will tell you that we spend a lot of time unpicking. If I’ve grossly underestimated the cost of quilting in the quote I’ll just live with that. We agreed on a quote and that’s what I’ll be paid.
I usually take a few progress pics and email them to my clients and/or share them on social media. Quilting is exciting and I want my clients to enjoy the process.
Once I’m done I’ll write up an invoice and send an email. We’ll arrange a time for to collect the quilt or I’ll travel to the post office and select the best and safest shipping method. Don’t worry, I’ll call and double check whether about paying for extras like express postage. All I charge is the shipping costs, no extras for my time or petrol.
If clients are local and pop over to the studio to collect their quilts I’ll lay it out on my display bed and talk through the details. Seriously, this bit is fun. I love seeing people excited about their beautiful quilts!
What I don’t charge, but should is:
$250 quilting design concept fee
$30 postage and handling (minimum)
$30 loading and preparation fee (based on $30 hour which is what I think that I’m worth with my experience and skills and is inline with Australian payscale – less than I earn in my day job which also includes superannuation, sick leave, parental leave, annual leave etc)
$30 per hour consultation fee for extra time
So that is going to be a minimum of $280 (if a client is local) before I even start to work out how much a quilt is going to cost to quilt. And I’m not even going to tell you how awful I feel charging clients more than my base rates for quilting.
Ain’t no one gonna pay me that!
So what is the moral of the story? I quilt because I love it. I need to value my time and skills. I hope that you value the time and skills of your longarmer (and yourself!!) a little more. And PLEASE, please, please, don’t ask me to quilt for free, for “mates rates” or to tell you how you should quilt your quilt. And if you don’t agree with the fees above, consider this:
I am an artist, a business woman, a part time worker, a mother of three (young children!), a wife. I have an autoimmune disease that impacts on my life. I have good days and days where I need to lay down a lot. I have made a significant financial commitment in buying my longarm quilting machine and computer system. I have made significant investment of time gaining my technical skills and knowledge and experience. My quilting designs are original, beautiful and deserving of a fee. I have to work a day job so that I can afford to quilt. Time spent quilting is not spent with my children or earning a fraction of what I can in my day job.
Quilting has a tiny profit and a surplus of unpaid opportunities. As much as I love quilting I have to make tough decisions about what my time is worth. If I’m going to give up family time then I need to be paid. If you want to talk quilts with me, then please come to one of my classes, a guild meeting or come say hi if I’m volunteering at a quilting event. Otherwise it’s just not fair to my family that I’m spending business time giving away my time for free. I feel guilty every time I say no to a request for quilting advice, blogging, discount quilting or even free quilting for exposure. But I am running a business and I’m good at what I do and SURELY I deserve to be paid. I’m telling you this because I want you to understand that I’m not trying to be rude or offend you, but I have to be able to say no to people. And more than that, I have to be able to tell people that I am SEW WORTH it. And sew are you!!
Have you notice that button? Go check out Hunter’s Design Studio and specifically the page on We Are Sew Worth It. Because we are, all of us who quilt and make art and gift quilts and love what we do. We really are. And we really need to start telling people that we’re worth it.
And please link up your quilty process below because it’s Thursday and process rocks!! Don’t forget to visit three other linkers <3
I spent today at the local quilt show. I wasn’t planning on going on the first day (I volunteered for set up and white gloves on day 2) until WON THREE RIBBONS!!!!! And then I was all like, “wild horses couldn’t keep me away”. I really had to see those ribbons first hand on the first day, I even took a leave day from work. Crazy, right?!
If you’d like a sneak peak at the quilts, pop over to instagram. I’ll share better quality photos here on the weekend I’ll take my DSLR next time
I belong to three local guilds and regularly attend two. The third one is super friendly and I love it, but they meet on Friday nights and it’s almost impossible for me to get there at that time of week. Small kids, exhausted parents… You know the drill!
The Canberra Quilters are Australia’s oldest quilt guild and currently have over 300 members (I think). There are lots of subgroups and we have permanent rooms in a community hub. Everyone knows everyone and it can feel VERY intimidating when you don’t know anyone and no one knows you. I kinda solved that issue by getting on stage in front of 150 quilters and telling them about my potty mouth quilt. They all remember me now!!!
Single Aunt mini
Seriously though, they are a great group, a long established guild and very professional. The annual exhibition is a big event with around 17 categories and a number of awards. I entered hoping that I would do well but happy to just see my quilts hanging (it’s my third time in an exhibition -all this year- and first time in a judged show).
I was lucky enough to help out on judging day (moving quilts around for the judge to see, etc) and really appreciate the experience. I learnt so much!!! It’s all conducted in silence (relative – there’s a bunch of quilters trying their best not to talk!!) with very strict “nothing said in this room may leave this room” rules. I spent the day on the verge of vomiting and trying not to squeal in delight!
We don’t have a modern category, we have a modern award. Essentially that means that any/all quilts can be put forward for the modern award. There were a LOT of quilts put forward. And my quilt won. Writing that makes me cry. Seriously. It means so much to me to have my work recognised. The same quilt also placed third in the professional bed quilt category!!
I put two quilts in the show and whilst the one that won the modern award was not the most modern of my quilts, I thought that it’s simplicity yet skillful (if I do say so myself! ) colourplay was a good reason to enter it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it! But I had a feeling that it had a broad appeal and I should put it forward (only two quilts per person can be judged). I’m so pleased that I did. I know that the work in it is excellent and now I have a ribbon to pet and look at I think it’s going to take a little while for the excitement to wear off I also feel a little like that mocumentary “best in show” Although it’s many years since I’ve seen that, so don’t hold me to it I never thought I’d be collecting ribbons for anything in my mid thirties!!!
Star blocks & improv strips by: Janice of Better Off Thread, Elisabeth of Woozy Quilts, Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts, Jess of The Elven Garden, Adrienne of The Windy Side, Midge of Ms Midge, Lara of Luella Bella, Fiona of Finding Fifth, Kristy of Quiet Play, Marieka of Bespoke Bites, Gina of Party of Eight and Jane of Where Jane Creates
My bee quilt, known for this show as “Dance the Night Away” (I’ve since renamed it “50 Shades”) placed third in the Group Category. YIPPEE!! I LOVE this quilt, I love the ladies who sent me blocks and strips, I love how heavy and densely quilted it is. And I LOVED seeing it hanging on a frame! It gives you such a different perspective and is quite overwhelming.
So there you go. All that angst about entering them. About whether they would be accepted. About how it felt to have my quilt babies judged and on display. I’m SOOOO glad I did it! Sure, it’s easy to be happy when you have won something, but putting aside the ribbons, it is an absolute thrill to have my work hanging among the other brilliant quilts! We certainly do have a breadth and depth of quilting happening here locally!
The other big thrill of today was spending it with some lovely and talented local quilters who I feel lucky enough to call my friends! There’s nothing like a day spent with good company and lovely quilts! Thanks for keeping me company Michelle, Angie, Caroline, Danielle, Georgie and Janette!
It’s Thursday and it’s time to get quilty! Don’t forget to visit three other linkers Sorry for the Oscar-esque blog post but I’m rather excited And it’s quilty so it qualifies, right?
It’s Thursday!! Put your foot on the pedal, choose your favourite thread and quilt your worries away! I will certainly be spending Friday quilting my heart out It’s a much calmer week now that my quilt babies have been handed over for the local quilt show!!
Last weekend I dropped two of my favourite quilts off ready for the Canberra Quilter’s Exhibition. I honestly had no idea how emotional that would be! I have had quilts shown twice publicly (both this year) but for some reason this time feels most important. I’m only showing quilts that I’ve quilted on the longarm, I am considered a “professional” for judging purposes, my (local) peers will all see my work AND a gaggle of non-quilters who love me will head to the exhibition to see my work on display in a context vastly different to my home. It’s the truth when I say I’m not in it to win it, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about whether my quilts might place.
I know that we quilt because we love it. it makes us happy, it’s an escape, a refuge, an emotional release at times. Gifting a quilt can show love, friendship, concern. A quilt can speak for you. I have certainly found my voice through quilting.
As a professional quilter, I have to face up to the fact that my work will be judged whether I enter it into a show or not. As an artist I don’t make quilts for the purpose of winning prizes or pleasing other people. But holy heck, handing over my two quilts last week left me raw. I like my quilts at home where I can pet them, where they’re loved! I am also super excited to see all of the quilts on display, including my own. There’s nothing quite like seeing your quilt hanging in a public space!
Improv placemats quilted with a computer guided edge to edge pattern
Have you entered your quilts into shows? How do you cope handing over your quilt babies? Am I the only one who thinks about them sitting in the cold and dark all alone?
Link up your quilty process and remember to visit three other linkers <3 Thanks for stopping by xxx
Happy Thursday! Thursdays are always happy for me as it is the last day of the week in my day job and the beginning of three days of quilting! This evening was double-bonus Thursday as not only did I go along to the Canberra Quilters Guild meeting, but I presented with the lovely Michelle of Button Tree Lane. We talked about Modern Quilting and in particular our modern group and showed some of our work.
Canberra Quilters are the oldest quilting guild in Australia, they’re a big group with many smaller “interest groups” that meet throughout the month. Tonight was the big meeting, it is held in a former school hall and we were up front with a microphone and about 70 people in the audience.
Single Aunt mini
I hotfooted it out of there as soon as it was over. I often feel so far on the edge of modern quilting that maybe my quilts aren’t appealing to the broader audience. I mean, I love them and I think I’m awesome, but my potty mouthed mini (above) raised a few eyebrows as did the reference to scrap vomit… I was just so scared of someone telling me that I don’t know what I think about that I just had to run and hide (I’ll go into that in more detail soon, but last week I was reminded of how mean people can be online).
Fifty Shades – my most recent and most modern quilt (bee blocks provided by Janice, Elisabeth, Alyce, Adrienne, Jess, Midge, Marieka, Jane, Lara, Gina and Fiona)
I love all quilts. I genuinely do. Every quilt I see I fall in love with, even the ones that don’t appeal to my aesthetic or that the makers claim are badly made. I just LOVE QUILTS. I make modern quilts but I LOVE ALL QUILTS.
modern bee quilt
One thing that comes up again and again with regards to modern quilting is how to define the term itself. Many people don’t care, just as many have very strong opinions. But I wonder how many people feel like me, feel nervous to say what they think, feel anxious to raise the question, “how are modern quilts judged if seemingly no one can define what is or isn’t a modern quilt.” I hope that going to QuiltCon will provide a forum to discuss this further. It’s so tricky to discuss online where feelings are easily hurt and statements read out of context and without tone or facial expression to convey opinion.
Me in front of one of my modern quilts and Molli in front of his modern quilt (featuring batiks) that won best in show at Australia’s first modern quilt show.
What I will say is this: I am a modern quilter who loves all quilts. I value originality, perfection and colour play. These are some of the factors that shape my modern quilts. I want to see more discussion and education on modern quilting. I want to confidently enter my quilts into shows that I know will appreciate the modern aesthetic and have judges who understand modern quilting. I want to discuss all of this with other quilters and I don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt. Modern quilting can be described as a spectrum, there is room for all, but I also feel that there is nothing wrong with (and in fact a great deal of value in) defining and clarifying that spectrum. We might go through the whole process and decide that by defining modern quilting (and the multitude of subcategories) limits it. Or we may just find that the modern quilting movement matures by looking at itself in the mirror.
Now let’s get linky!! Big love to all you quilters and please remember to share the love by visiting three other linkers <3
Welcome to I Quilt! I have been quilting non-stop this week but I’m wondering, when do I get to sleep?!?!
I’ve finished quilting both of my quilts for the Canberra Quilter’s exhibition, forgive the fast photos, but here is my HUGE quilt, trimmed and ready to bind. I’ve renamed it, “50 Shades” Tonight is just a sneak peek, better photos to follow soon
Fifty Shades, ready to be bound
It’s all about the quilting this beast.
I used two layers of wadding, bamboo and wool. I love the texture but holy heck it was a challenge to get it done!
Primary Plus (below) is bound. The stripy binding gave me a migraine. I love the look but it was so hard on the eyes.
Just another sneak peek tonight. I had a few tension issues quilting over the organic fabric below. I’m glad I figured it, I LOVE this quilt!
Have you been sleeping or quilting this week? Is it possible to do both???
Please link up your quilty goodness below. Don’t forget to visit three other linkers <3
It’s Thursday – yay! Time to link up your quilty process <3 This week I’ve had a lot of time to think, I’m under the weather and have been doing lots of little jobs and taking it easy. Having time on my hands has led me to pondering. I’m not used to having free time and as much as I claim that part of my drive to become a full time quilter is to have work-life balance, I am certainly nowhere near achieving balance! I read a quote somewhere that said something like, “Business owners will work 70 hours a week to avoid working 25.” That pretty much sums it up really!
This week I caught up on some bee blocks This improv block for Jess of The Elven Garden.
Bee block for Jess
And this cat block for Adrianne from On The Windy Side.
Both blocks were fun (they’re both around 24″ x 30″) and both are for the same bee. The cat block was not in my comfort zone at all, I not only got out the graph paper but gave myself detailed cutting instructions. I love the block and it turned out just as I’d hoped (but much bigger – my quilt math sucks) and most importantly, Adrianne loves it too The block for Jess was totally in my comfort zone; improv all the way baby! Both she and I love it and I need to pull myself together and part with it
Having all this thinking time has made me realise that I constantly need to be productive. Today I sorted scraps and tidied up the studio. I admit that I even cleaned the house over the past two days – I really am desperate for outcomes! Usually my complete focus is on quilting but I don’t like to quilt when I’m overtired or not well. That’s when mistakes happen and I do enough unpicking as it is!
School quilt on one of my favourite rugs <3
I finished binding the quilt for the school fair this week and washed it yesterday (I ALWAYS pre-wash quilts in cold water with no detergent on a quick cycle and then put them through the drier. It means they are colour fast and pre-shrunk which is really important to me. If the colours run I wash until the water runs clear. I throw in a couple of colour catchers to pick up any dye.) I can’t get enough of the texture post-laundering.
Lovely quilting crinkle post-wash.
Now it’s your turn to link up your quilty goodness! Please remember to visit three other linkers and share the love xxx
Hooray for Thursday! It’s nearly the end of the week and it’s time to link up your quilty goodness. This week I have been quilting without a plan, I know lots of people sketch out their designs or even draw them on clear plastic and then lay it on top of their quilt. For some reason my brain doesn’t get beyond vague ideas before I start stitching.
The quilt that I’m working on is one of my entries for the Canberra Quilters exhibition. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt this week is not to quilt after a quilt has been accepted into a show! I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect and every mistake is a rude shock. And trust me, there are a lot of mistakes, I’m terrible at stitching in the ditch and this quilt has a lot of that!
I mentioned last week that going to the quilt show in Sydney was somewhat intimidating, the quilts were amazing, I thought I was pretty awesome, but I felt completely dwarfed. I wish I had the time to talk to some of the quilters about their quilts, to ask how they developed the skills that they have. To hear that they are human too.
As it is I have come to the realisation that I have a long way to go in my quilting career. I have been watching a tonne of youtube videos this week and am thinking about going to the Australian Machine Quilters Festival in Adelaide later in the year. I also hope that I’ll learn a lot at QuiltCon (I have two classes booked with Lisa Sipes). I guess that longarming can be somewhat solitary and I like to talk about process and brainstorm with others!
At the end of the day (or mid quilt) I am happy with where this quilt is going. It isn’t perfect but it is very me and I am using it as an opportunity to learn new skills and push my quilting just that little bit further. I’m also reminding myself that I’ve only been longarming for 6 months!
So now it’s your turn to link up your quilty process. Have you ever made a quilt for a show? Do you plan your quilting or just jump in and see where you end up?
Please remember to link up your quilting process and visit three other linkers
P.S. Just to keep it real, I’m typing this post in the dark in my kids bedroom. We have two extras sleeping over tonight and there have been tears (the youngest is 3) but as I type this, it has just hit 10.15pm and I think everyone is finally asleep. My life is very hectic right now and my blog is not getting the love from me that I’d like to give it. Thank you for your continuing support and for linking up every week xxx
It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your Quilty Process. This week I’ve been to the Sydney Quilt Show and did my best not to drool on any of the beautiful quilts on display!
The lovely Angie of Gnome Angel and I traveled to Sydney yesterday for the Quilt and Craft Fair. It is an event that travels around Australia and combines the state Quilt guild Shows with a quilt and craft fair (ie. stalls). Yesterday was the first time I’d been to one since I’ve been a quilter so you can rightly argue that I am not particularly well qualified to give you a rundown of the show
Iconic Sydney Harbour! My first visit to the city in 9 years!
I was blown away by the quilts in the show and in particular I was impressed by the number of modern quilts on display. Unfortunately I cannot share photos with you as they have a very strict “no photography” policy, but I can say that the modern quilts did not stand out as a minority, they were well represented. You can view the winners here.
The show featured many amazing quilts and my mind was blown time and time again with the use of colour, intricate hand quilting, the amazing longarm quilting, the fantastic applique and the absolutely stunning thread painting. Most quilting categories that you can imagine were represented and in general the standard was very high indeed. In fact I came home having felt like I’d walked among giants. It was a humbling experience and a good reminder that I am still serving my quilting apprenticeship.
Angie and I on our big quilty day out!
It was fantastic to meet some lovely quilty peeps and I was reminded of the strong quilting culture we have here in Australia and that my personal passion, modern quilting, is warmly welcomed but not in the majority.
The Sydney Quilt Show is really big, there are 17 categories including a modern category which is described as: “Modern -New Traditions From Old Favourites - Modern quilts including those inspired by traditional block structures but reinterpreted using non-traditional layouts. Maximum size 290 x 290 cm”. You can view the Modern category winners here. It was very exciting to have Canberra so well represented with a number of locals placing including two in the modern category!! Yay Michelle (of Buttontreelane) and Jo (of Jo Loves to Quilt)!!!
Some of the quilts were absolutely breathtaking. I encourage you to visit if you can (the show runs for the rest of the week). It was a fascinating insight into use of colour, pattern and design.
So in the vein of sharing amazing quilty goodness, let’s get linky! Link up your quilty process and visit three other linkers <3
Thanks for stopping by xx
I’m going to the Quilt Fair in Sydney tomorrow! Angie of Gnome Angel and I are taking a road trip (sans enfants!) and planning to meet lots of wonderful quilty peeps at the show. The fabulous Molli will have his own stall featuring his Big D that I quilted (let’s make it about me…) and I’ve lined up rendezvous with some quilty besties. It’s going to be a SUPER day!
Image stolen from @lorena_in_syd she’s fabulous and on Instagram, go check her out!
I’ll be wearing bright pink (I think) and a huge grin. Stop me and say hi if you’re there!
It’s Thursday and it’s time to head over to Blossom Heart Quilts to link up your quilty process.
The lovely Alyce, an Aussie expat living in Japan and quilty-blogger extraordinaire is hosting I Quilt this week. I’m sure you’ve heard of Alyce, but if you haven’t, now’s your chance to get to know her She’s a designer, quilter, blogger, mummy, wife, expat and as her tag-line says, “Modern Colours, Traditional Design, Me.”
A little while back I had the pleasure of quilting Alyce’s Bright Sky quilt for her <3
She was very generous and gave me free reign. I had a ball
Thanks so much for hosting Alyce!
See you back here next week quilty peeps xx