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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Circle Lord Update!

Circle Lord Michael was kind enough to send me a new stylus pin that was shorter from the holding pin to the knob. This helped a great deal; yet, I still had trouble with it hitting the take up bar and falling into a grove while moving the machine on the freehand side.

I had my brother move the holding pin up closer to the knob. I also had him put a small grove into the plastic piece the stylus fits into. With this small grove the stylus will stay put in the up position.

Now the stylus is PERFECT!! I can work with the templates and do freehand work all at the same time. No more going across the quilt with the templates then rolling back to the beginning to do the freehand.

The stylus pin can be raised to the up position and will stay put in the groove. It sits perfectly above the template groves yet still moves easily under the take up bar while the bar is in the best position for freehanding.

I finally got the table set up to perfectly go from one type of quilting to the next without alot of hassle.

Ok, here is the reason I wanted everything to work together easily. I used the giant crosshatching template for the center. Raised the stylus to do freehand borders before advancing to the next area. (#1; 9 every row) It all works the way I had hoped! I gotta get back on the machine to finish this quilt.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Arrrr!! Need to vent

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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Circle Lord Day

For quite awhile now I’ve had the Circle Lord device with some of the smaller templates and I’ve had some of the giant templates. I found it difficult to go from using the moveable device to using the giant templates. Too much time involved in setting up and taking apart as far as I was concerned. So sometimes the device collected dust. BUT not anymore!

I finally got around to setting up my machine table so I could quickly and easily remove the giant template guides and use the setup device. Now I’m a much happier machine quilter AND it saves me time! Time is just as precious to me as diamonds or gold.

It did require me to drill holes in the table. Yes, I know some people don’t want to put holes in their table. But, I figure, what the heck. I’m the one using MY table so it must work for ME. It is no different than doing any other alterations to the machine to allow me to do better quilting. Besides, IF I ever decide to sell my machine to get a newer model the CL things will be part of the deal. I will buy new ones to go with a newer machine. Though selling this machine is not likely to ever happen.

So.... what I did was buy some furring strips. These are the thin strips of wood used to hold paneling to walls. I bought two 12 foot lengths and had them cut in half. So I have 4 six foot lengths for my giant template guides as I have a 12 foot table.

For setting up the guide strips in the correct place I used the zigzag giant template. I used it because among the giant templates that I personally own it is the widest one front to back. No, they are not all the same size. This one is about a quarter of an inch larger than the others.

I lined the zigzag template up in the panto area of the table that works best for me. This area is just a little closer to the needle side on my table. Yours may be different. Once the giant template was in the correct position; I put double sided tape in several spots on the furring strips then lined it up along the sides of the template. This tape was only to hold the wood strips until the holes were drilled.

I put four holes in each strip going through wood and table at the same time. This way I can be sure the holes will all line up correctly each time.

I marked the wood strips with left front, left back, right front, right back so I know where each one goes when I’m ready to use them.

I use screws that are 1 inch long as the holding pins. These are not screwed in but just dropped into the hole to keep the furring strips in place. So now I can put the furring strips on when I want to use the giant templates and remove them when I want to use the set up device.

The zigzag giant template does have a pin plate to allow the user to move it back and forth. I did screw this pin plate to the table. I don’t need to remove this in order to use the other templates. If a person wants to remove it; then, holding pins would work on this too.

On my table you will notice that I have removed the plastic used for holding paper pantos in place. I removed it because the CL device was always catching on the dividing line of the plastic and preventing the device from moving from place to place smoothly. I plan to replace the divided plastic with one whole piece of plastic. When I do, I will drill holes in the plastic to match the pin holes of my holding strips.
There is one more thing I did. I hot glued my stylus holder so it will remain in the same position all the time. This prevents it from slipping out of position when I happen to bump the stylus along the path. I know.... we aren't supposed to bump it; but, it does happen sometimes. If the stylus holder does not stay in the same position it will cause the patterns to line up wrong.

Well now, I believe my machine table is set up to use which ever panto device I choose to use; giant templates, paper panto, or CL smaller templates. So no more dust collecting on anything!

Hmmm…. Now if only I can get Circle Lord Michael to make me a stylus with a shorter top on it so it doesn’t set so high in the holder. Yes, I'm sure he will help me with the stylus, Michael is always willing to listen to our ideas and create what we need.