Let me set up a mental picture for you.....hmm.....let's say you want to get the oil changed on your car.
You take it to a mechanic who has a fairly good reputation. He (or she) is known for giving free safety check inspections while he has your car and the price is reasonable. You pull into the lot and he saunters out kind of casual asking if he can help you. You tell him you want your oil changed. He says, sure I can do that, would you like the simple oil change or would you want the deluxe version with everything? You decide to go with the deluxe. It will cost a little more, but hey, the car is worth it.
He goes to get his waiting list....which is a really long note pad with a list of names about three sheets long. He writes your name at the end of the list and tells you to just park it out back. You pull around back and there are cars lined up everywhere. Probably a hundred or more are parked in back. So you park your car and go back inside to give him the keys.
You ask, how long will it take to get your car back? He replies; oh.... I don't know....I'll give you a call when I get it done. I don't know how long any car will take until its done. I'm only one person.....I can only do so much....I do have a life you know. It may take me 6 to 12 months to get it done. WHAT? You find you have a decision to make. Do you trust the mechanic to keep your car safe for up to a year among all those other cars?
You decide to take your car somewhere else before leaving it there. You check around and find another mechanic only a few miles away. You stop by his shop. This time you are smart and ask about his turn around time first. This time the mechanic tells you he has a very long waiting list but prefers to not have the car until he is actually ready to change the oil.
He goes on to explain he prefers not to overbook his work schedule because he prides himself on being a good family man and a community volunteer as well as a good mechanic. Too much mechanic work means less time for his life. He promises.....when your car is dropped off it will get his full attention and be returned to you within a few days.
He goes on to explain...although this first oil change may take a while to get done; he can schedule you in for the next oil changes right now. The wait won't be so long next time. You can put your name on his list....right now....for when the oil is due to be changed at 3,000 miles and 6,000 miles, etc. But....if you aren't on the schedule, he can't guarantee an appointment. You get to keep the car while you are waiting for your oil changes.
So let me ask you......which mechanic do you prefer? The one who gave you a vague idea of turn around time or the one who explains the long wait and wants to be helpful?
Toppers are the only people I can think of who are willing to leave property in someone else's hands for months at a time? Without any idea when it will be returned. Machine quilters are the only ones I know of who can expect others to trust them that much. Honesty doesn't have anything to do with possible disasters down the road. Fires, floods, thefts, tornadoes....a lot of things can happen down the road. Would it be better to have a hundred quilt tops in your hands or only a few if a disaster happened? How would you justify so many to the insurance company? Would the insurance company pay for all of them?
Ok, now that I've set up a mental picture and I've run out of computer time. I will have to stop here and continue the rest of the story in a couple of days. In the meantime, think about how many quilt tops you actually get finished each week. Just a vague idea is ok. Is it 5, 15,or 30? If you are just starting out as a machine quilter try doing a full week of your practice tops to get a good idea of the number you are comfortable doing in one week. Make a note of what other things happen during the week to take you away from your quilt studio. These are important too.