Each month in the Longarm League, we hold a call with one of our members to talk about their business. While we typically share those full calls only with League members, we have a treat for you this month, as we're sharing the full replay of our discussion here on the blog!
This month I sat down with Terri Neil of Quilting Rubies, to talk about her recent change from offering hand guided quilting to adding computerized quilting services. We talked about her pros and cons list while she was evaluating whether to make the change, what the learning process has been like, and how the change has positively impacted her and her business.
Without further ado, let's meet Terri...
Located: Farmington, Maine
In business: 3.5 years
Machine and software: Handi Quilter Avante with Pro-Stitcher
In the Longarm League: 2.5 years
Where to find Terri
Best way for someone to contact you for quilting? Through my website, Instagram, or Facebook
A full transcript can be found at the bottom of the post.
Links to the pantographs mentioned in our discussion:
Ikat #1 by Patricia E. Ritter
Easy Clamshell by The Quilting Mill
Tell us a little about your business and the services you provide at Quilting Rubies.
Quilting Rubies provides computerized quilting and specializes in great communication, efficient turn around times, and excellent design consultation. I provide services for local as well as mail in customers. My edge to edge designs are computerized - and I do free motion as well as some custom quilting.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out with their business?
Listen to and follow your heart. Take one step at a time, learning from others but building your own unique niche that is "you" and that will energize your every day. Each year have an "I dream of" list - no pressure, just dreamy possibilities. And amazingly these dreams have all made it into Quilting Rubies!
How did you get started longarm quilting?
I bought my longarm quilting machine after moving back to New England and returning to the art of quilting. The first time I tested a longarm machine at my local dealer, it didn't take but a few minutes to realize this was a special opportunity and would be a great addition to my burgeoning quilting hobby. After practicing for a few months, and gifting lots of quilts to friends/family (so I could have something to practice on!), I realized this could be a great hobby "job". So I opened my in-home studio 'Quilting Rubies' in March 2019. It's been a wonderful way to get to know the quilters in my community and, truly, all over the country. I hand guided my Avante until this past fall (2022) when I added Pro-Stitcher.
Could you tell us about a business "win" you've had?
I hesitated for MONTHS (YEARS!) to move into computerized quilting. I had a pros and cons list that leaned heavily towards not making this transition. But this summer that changed--I purchased Pro-Stitcher, and since September I've been learning my way through this dynamic program. It's a game changer. And my "fear of a huge learning curve" has never materialized. It's been pure joy and keeps my "hobby" from being a "job".
What pantograph(s) have you been loving lately?
I lean toward modern, though make sure to carry a wide variety of pantographs to meet customer needs. Time Warp was a huge WOW on a recent customer quilt. The Clamorama series by Quiltable makes fancy work out of a plain "clam shell". Hypnotic from Urban Elementz always adds a touch of joy to a quilt.
What is your favorite notion for longarm quilting?
Handi Quilter Zinger (clip on scissor holder).
What's your favorite part of making a quilt?
Everything but the binding!
Favorite snack while sewing?
What other hobbies do you enjoy aside from quliting?
Gardening, decorating, making cards (and sending them!), playing the piano.
If you'd like to watch our other interviews and coaching calls, or are interested in being a guest, we'd love to have you join us! You can learn more about membership here. And if you're interested in starting your own longarm quilting business, we offer our Rookie Season course. We're currently in our fall session; it'll next be available in early 2023. You can see all the details, get on our waitlist, and read about how the course has helped previous students here.
Thanks so much for talking with us this month Terri!
Hi Terri. It's so good, good to talk to you today. And I'm, I'm really excited that our conversation will focus on going from hand guided to computerized because this is such an interesting topic for those of us who start, you know, hand guided and think, do I really wanna, do I really wanna computerize or what does that process look like?
So this is all fresh for you and so I appreciate you being willing to kinda take us through what the last several months have been like for you. But would you start with just a background, like where do you live? What kinda machine do you have?
So we live in kind of the hills of Maine, Farmington, Maine. We're close to the ski areas and the camps and all that. And I have a Handi Quilter Avante, so it's the smallest standup one really. I mean, it has the 12 foot frame, but has just what, 18 inches of space? So it's a, we'll talk about that more later. But yeah, that's what I have. And we've lived in Maine many of our years, but we've only been back to this spot for six years, so.
Okay. Interesting. And you, have you upgraded to your computer recently, but how, how many years did you do, or when did you start your business and how many of those years have been hand guided?
Yeah, okay. So I think I started my business March 2019 and I think I joined the Longarm League like two months before that. Oh, okay. You had just started like the fall before that, right?
The fall of 2019, so I'm wondering if it, so, 2020 maybe.
Ok. Anyway, yeah, I, I worked at a little quilt store here in town and then I started really quilting a whole bunch, which I had sewn many years, but I had just come from kind of an executive job and hadn't had time to do anything fun like that. I didn't even know what a longarm was. So someone of course told me and I'm like, what? And I went and tried one out and like within moments I was hooked, literally hooked. So I did buy then, you know, the, the model, the lowest model there from Handi Quilter and I quilted for a year just for me. And I was just giving quilts away and just having, just having a fun time learning what my style would be and I thought, you know, this is kind of fun. So, so about a year into it. So that would've been March, 2020? Yeah, I started getting a few customers and it's just built up ever since. It's been awesome. But that was my start.
Okay. So that was about two or three, two years or three years of...Three, three years of hand guiding. Hand guiding. Okay.
Yeah, at first it was free motion. I, in fact when I bought the machine, you know, it came with one paper pantograph and she said, you're not gonna wanna use these. I'm like, okay, so I free motion quilted, which I wouldn't say is my forte, but I have some designs that I like, but it doesn't just rock my socks. So eventually I pulled out the pantograph, I'm like, well this makes it look even all the way, all the time. You know, I gave it a different look and I ended up with quite a collection. But, yeah.
Yeah, that's one thing that I wanna kind of visit with a little bit because I started hand guided too, but I never did use the paper pantographs. And I think that there is, if you're doing it as a business, I think there's such an advantage in having a path to follow with the pantographs from the backside because I would get so uneven in my scale. You know, like my quilting, sometimes I would have to take pictures of like the top of the quilt because if I wasn't quilting again for another couple days, I'd kind of forget the density or forget what I was putting in each design.
And so I think it's so smart that as a business you were using the paper paragraphs because that helped you keep it consistent and, and probably more profitable too, honestly, than if you would have just done your hand guiding. That's my, her Free motion. Yeah. Yeah.
And I had customers who were smart enough to be on Instagram, let's say, not not so many of my local ones, but some of my mail ins who said, I want Ikat #1 or however you say the word Ikat. Yeah. And you know, you have to have those, well that's not free motion, you know, so there was a little bit of that. My local people weren't quite as, they're a little bit more, they just don't care and they just don't know, they don't follow trends, let's say. Yeah. Yeah. So they're happier with the other. But yeah, I agree. And I really fell in love, I guess, with that consistent look, Right?
Yes. As an observer, if I wouldn't have known that you were hand guiding the paper pantographs from the back of the machine, I would've assumed that you were computerized. So you, you did a really nice job of giving your, your customers a, a really quality look. Definitely. When did, why did you decide just recently here then to finally go digital?
I know, well, I, I kind of had it on my, like every year I kind of did business goals, right? And I met kind of all of 'em. I didn't really wanna advertise anymore cause I got plenty of people and blah, blah, blah. Anyway, so I, I just saw my goals for this year the other day I just, oh, and it said computer? So, yeah, I guess, you know, Jess, the thing is I feel like I provide a really good service, especially in this town. There's other people that Longarm, but my turnaround is totally different than theirs and my communication style. And yeah. So I felt like to go with that, being computerized would keep me relevant.
That word keeps coming up for me. I could have done it without, but it really, it's the professional thing to do. And the biggest thing I've struggled with is that this, I never intended to start a business. I know we hear that a lot with people and I, I don't have to have it to eat food. So it's an option in our family and I don't want it to get out of a hobby level.
It's really a hobby for me. So I don't want it to be one of those things where, you know, if I don't work eight hours today, it's not gonna be okay. Or my, my queue is too long or, or I'm gonna get frustrated. So I was concerned that investing another $10, $15,000 into my business with just computerized equipment was like no longer fun.
It's expensive. And you know what? That hasn't been a problem. But yeah, I think the relevancy, there was something, oh, my body was telling me that might be kind of nice to not have to drive this thing every minute it's gotta move, you know? So that was good. And it's interesting cuz my husband has really noticed a difference. Like, you, you feel a lot better. You're, you act a lot better. It's just a more relaxed, you know, setup.
I did do a really big, I went one day to the coast this summer and I did a pros and cons list and the pros were minimal and the cons were huge. I mean, literally on my paper and it was, it was pretty much a financial thing and I was afraid of the learning curve. Cuz here, I've done this for three years. I know exactly what I'm doing now. I've, I've gotten all the problems kind of gone basically. And I just wasn't really sure I wanted to invest in lots of education, you know, and, and the whole learning curve thing.
And I really wanted a new dining room table set, dining room. So I went ahead and bought that. Quilting Rubies bought the, the new dining room set. So, and, and then I ended up getting a computer as well. But the pros and cons was kind of interesting and yeah.
What, what were, what were some of the pros? Did you have like body strain?
Yeah. And, and staying relevant piece and,
Okay. Terri, can I, can I stop you right there? 'Cause I wanna dig a little bit deeper into the relevancy thing because you were buying cute pantographs, and I feel like your style is so relevant. And you, you mentioned before maybe relevancy and communication style. Could you say more about that? What do you, what were you getting at there?
So, on the communication piece, I suppose, if you wanna just be clear, my competitor doesn't have a super great reputation for turnaround time or communicating, or honesty truthfully. Okay. So all of those things are very easy for me. And so I, I kind of built, I, I mention it a little bit in my website, you know, great communication, quick turnaround time, clear help with design, you know, picking or what those kinds of, yeah.
Okay. I think and the relevant piece for me was that truly in my heart I knew that there were so many more options with the computerized, you know, so if I've got Ikat #1, it is obviously one size and that's it. And it doesn't look pretty on this over here. You know, I see the basic things that all the people who already have computers know about. And so now when I have someone come in with a little table runner and they want bread and butter design, I can short, make it small and make it look good, you know, and it's not huge and big and bumbly so... Right. I guess that was the relevant piece and Okay. Trying to get beyond my fears of my learning curve.
Yeah. I mean, okay. I, I, this resonates with me so much because I have a tendency in my past to just see the negatives as being so overwhelming, but I don't ever give my heart a chance to, to know like, but what if, what if it's actually, great. Yeah. So I... Go ahead. Well I just love that you, even though it sounds like your pros and cons were a little outweighed on the cons side that you did it anyway, right?
Well, what happened is I knew that there was the, the main quilt show just down here in the capital in Augusta. And I knew that my vendor would be there and I figured that I could chat with them a little bit and say, Hey, here's, and they've been bugging me to upgrade anyway, not bugging, but Terri is it this year? No, it's not this year. And so I walked over to Gabrielle and she was right there working on a demo.
And I said, all right, right, just tell me, tell me what you could do for me. So we went right over to the owner and you know, when they start giving you $500 off for this and $200 worth of free designs and no shipping and free financing, you know, I just said, that's it, I'll do it. Sign me up now.
And I really have, even when I left that place, I could have turned around and said, wait a minute. I was good. And I have not felt bad about it at all. Good. And what did you say what month that was Terri? That was July this year. So I didn't get the, I didn't get the Pro-Stitcher until, I wanna say I went down, I had them, I had them install it for me like middle of August, late late August. And then I was on vacation so I couldn't use it. So I really didn't start until like two and a half months ago.
Okay. Okay. Maybe you, maybe you don't know this answer and if not, that's fine, but I had heard that Handi Quilter has the Pro-Stitcher Lite now. Would that be even an option for your machine or because it's Avante you have to get the regular Pro Stitcher? I don't know, I didn't, I felt like Lite was for Moxie or something, you know, That was my question. Okay. Because the, I had talked to a few folks in the last week or so that mentioned having Pro-Stitcher Lite for Moxie and Sweet 16.
Oh, okay. But I didn't know if that was like an option for the larger machines with fewer features or if that was relating to the frame size only. But it, that's, it's fine. It's, it's just more of my curiosity. Yeah. Yeah.
Do you wanna talk about like what was your learning curve like and how, how long did, did it take before you started feeling really comfortable with it? Sure. Yeah. So, I mean, even yesterday I got completely stumped, but that's cool. Cause it's, it's a different kind of stump than it was two months ago. Right. So I I, I did a lot of just YouTubing, you know, of, of Handi Quilter, excuse me. And I actually called MK University. Yes. Down in Florida. And they were wonderful. And they, they'll give you a free, is it a free week, seven days, 10 days, something like that to look at anything you want online. And so I just devoured it. Yeah. And so I felt like I was getting a good feel.
And I also went to a class in Vermont for a one day and actually was a little bit of a bust. In fact, I just felt like, oh my word, these people have had these machines, the computer for like a year and they still don't hardly know how to run this. Why would I wanna do that? It was a little discouraging.
But, so when I got it delivered, I, I just took pretty much I was gonna take a month off of, of sewing and I didn't have, I didn't have a big queue anyway of longarming. So it was perfect. I just got some muslin that I have and I just put pieces up and I started, well I've started downloading all the Longarm League designs that I've never been able to use, which was so awesome. They were in my, I have all of them in my emails and I've downloaded every single one. Oh, Lovely. So that's cool. So for a couple weeks then I just really, I'd come down every day and I'd play around and I'd, you know, I, I would write then like the size, you know, Easy Clamshell, the company and the size that I had done. Cause I was trying to figure out like, okay, you get this on the, on the screen, what is that really? You know, that. And I think in my third week I went ahead and did a customer quilt. I did a couple of mine and then I went ahead and did a customer quilt and it turned out fine.
And I've just kept going since truthfully, all I'm doing is edge to edge. I haven't done some fancy little border or individual blocks, which I'm sure I could do, but I, I'm kind of having fun and nobody's requested it. And so I just feel great that I'm able to do edge really well. I love that.
And I think it is a benefit to like having, like you've had your business going for a while, so you didn't have to learn anything new there necessarily. You've had your machine for a while, you didn't have to like get to know that. So adding the computer, like it does does sound like a really good timing that you were, you had everything else down and this is just a pure upgrade.
Absolutely. Yeah. And I was, I was gonna mention that, you know, I see I do follow some Facebook pages, you know, you know, Pro-Stitcher Posse or all these different ones. And actually the girl down at my, my vendor, people say, don't watch those because pretty much if you think about it, all that people are doing is saying, I can't figure out how to do this and I just had trouble with this and my machine won't even turn on. And it gets discouraging. And I actually think her advice was kind of good.
But I, I watched those and what was I gonna say? I lost my train of thought. Oh, just that, yeah. I already had my machine and I, you know, one of the other reasons why I didn't want a computer, this is silly, but I have, I was still having tension issues and I would just, it was more than I, and you know what, I finally just decided to let go of the Magna Bobbins or whatever they're called and try winding my own, which I tested because I don't wanna waste my time winding bobbins and it fixed everything.
Oh. Doesn't mean I don't have tension troubles, but I mean it's, it is like 90% better. Yeah. For some reason I had heard maybe like Handi Quilter might be the only one that like recommends you do not take your, your spring out of the bobbin case. Yeah. So I've seen pros and cons of that. I mean, I had my spring out. You had it out?
Yeah. And I think I put back in when I kind of heard people talking about that and I still didn't feel like it was working. Okay. So I have a few Magna Glides I need to sell, but, but it's good. The most, The most, most important thing is that it's working for you. You aren't, yeah. That's so great.
Do, did you communicate this change going from, you know, hand guided to computerized with your clientele? You know, I thought about it. I don't have an email list. Again, I think it's cuz it's a hobby, you know, and I'm not like, if Instagram goes down, I've gotta have a way I, I'm all good. But anyway, I didn't communicate that necessarily. So like, I had a few people contact me early in September and I said, you know, I'm not taking quilts and you know, for a couple weeks and here's why. And they were all excited for me. Oh good. The deal is, most of them really don't know what a longarm machine is or how it works or what it does, right? So like I, this one lady that mails in lots of quilts, she says, oh, I figured you had a computer. I had no idea. You know, so that's cute.
Yeah. So I would just explain to them that, you know, if anybody, nobody asked me about pricing at all. But if anybody asked like, how's it gonna be different? I said, well, you're gonna get so many more options. Let's, let me just show you a few things. You know. Yeah. So really didn't, haven't had anybody goo goo gaga. What's different for me now is the whole, how do I show them designs? Cause you know, I'm lugging my two big baskets upstairs every time someone comes over of my, all my longarm things of my pantographs, and I'm laying them out. Sounds archaic to me now. I roll 'em out and lay on their computer, I mean, on their quilt, they see exactly the size it's gonna be, you know, and it's a great visual. But now I, I pull out my computer and we go in and to my Docs document where I have a PDF of each one and yeah, we're, we're doing it. Yeah.
That's so great. Now did you think that was gonna go a little bit differently? Were you, did you have like an outsize concern about what your customers would think? Or were you, were you, did you know that they would adopt whatever change with, you know, just take it in stride? Yeah, I figured they would. I think I have some that are, you know, a little bit more staid in, in, they always like to have a feather of some sort on theirs or whatever. It would have maybe a harder time, but, but I've just said, Hey, let's try this. And I, I try to put them up as big as I can on the computer and when I get my book out from Pro Stitcher if I want, you know, they've been very adaptable.
And again, I think when I tell them that we can resize this as much as you want or combine it with other designs, right. You're like, well this is cool. You couldn't do that before, you know. Yeah. Good. Yeah, that, I think that's some feedback that I had heard from other people kind of wanting to know how, how people are gonna take the change or if it, you know, if it's, if they're gonna see it as a negative or a positive. So I'm, I'm really glad that they are able to see the increased options and, you know, the service and the design that you're able to offer now that you didn't and, and be happy for you.
Like, that makes my happy to know that they care about you and, and your service and, and they're, they're happy with it hand guided and they're happy this way too. One lady, one, one customer came yesterday and she's the one that likes these certain feathery things. So I bought her several. So yesterday she says, so I want you to know I'm gonna leave you a big tip this time so you can buy a new design.
And I'm like, that's fine if you want to. And I think her, she thought it was gonna be so expensive, I said, Ella, you know, they're $15., Oh, oh, that's, fine! They just don't have a, a clue, and that's, that's okay. That's okay. Yeah. Have you, it sounds like maybe you changed your messaging a little bit on your website or maybe that was more about the communication.
Do you feel like you're talking about it a little bit differently now? Yeah, I mean certainly, certainly I kind of touted the free motion and the, I used the word on on my website, you know, hand guided partly too because I wanted people, if they ever looked at the website to, to understand that. But most of 'em really don't catch it anyway.
So I, I have gone through, I probably need to look again now at my website and just make sure it's really the wording now that I've been doing it a couple months. Is that really how I want it to sound? Yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the things I wondered about, you know, pricing-wise, did you have any inclination if,because you were doing the work, you know, physically they're at present at the machine, that it should be priced higher or lower than computerized? Because I've heard people think about it both ways.
Yeah. And I'd love to know what other people are doing. I have not a clue. So what I decided to do is just spend a couple months charging what I normally charge. It's a little harder for me to, I, I like to keep track of my hours, like, like minutes basically. And so I, I've been just tracking that. But, but I mean, like the biggest pro that I absolutely love is being able to multitask. And I, I'm a multitasker anyway, so now I can wind the bobbins while that thing is print, you know? Yes. Stitching out, and I can bill, and I can trim a quilt and I can package up one for the mail. And so now actually free motion quilting doesn't sound good cuz I can't be doing something else while I'm free motion quilting. But, so I haven't changed my pricing. I, I am being better at, you know, making sure that when it's like, oh, if, if I charge 2 cents, let's say, or two and a half cents per square inch, it's gonna be this per hour, that per hour. I'm doing a little bit better at being up instead of going, oh well it's no big deal.
So I, I think I've told you this before, I, I try to bring in $35 an hour. I think that's wonderful. Yeah. And so I don't charge extra for the thread, and I don't charge extra. Well I add trimming into my time now, but, so I, I charge according to That. Okay. Now does that mean that your client base, they may get a different charge depending on what design they choose. And so I try to communicate that a little better.
So yesterday, for instance, the quilt that I did, she wanted a hexie or a little bee meander kind of a thing. And I tell you what, I looked at both of them and I thought, she's not gonna wanna pay for this cuz they'll take more time. You know, it's just gonna be real short and, and it's gonna be a lot of lining up and I wasn't sure it was gonna line up very well.
I just opted to choose something else. She's pretty good about me doing that anyway. And it was one that went really quickly and when, when she comes back, I'll explain it to her that way that it was one that would be efficient. And I know she appreciates that efficiency and likes to pay accordingly. And so, yep. I think she'll be very pleased.
Yeah. So you, it's fair to say you don't charge per square inch. I do. So on that one I do charge per square inch, but I do it from the point of view that I need to make $35 an hour. Right. So let's say, let's say the quilt takes me four hours and it's gonna come out to be $31 per hour.
I will upcharge, I will not charge 2 cents per square inch. I'll charge 2.0225. Or that's what I'm saying, I guess. And to me that that is also dependent on the fact that that was a more dense design or a hard, you know, more takes more to go across and. Right. I, I'd love to hear what other people are doing in that regard, especially since now okay, I'm, I'm double am I double dipping cuz now I can do this over here while that's happening over there and I'm really getting paid more. But I feel like that's being wise with my time. Yeah, Well yeah. And if you are, so, you know, the advantage of having a a set price per square inch would be for, you know, your customers would know exactly what, how much it's gonna be pretty much before you would work on it, you know.
But if you're, but I love that you're maintaining your, your value or your, your price, the amount that you're making per hour. And if your clients don't mind having, you know, some of them charge 2 cents, some of them two and a half or or more, then that makes sense. Do you, you, we kind of talked about like you bringing the baskets of your pantographs upstairs and like, people coming over to your home. Would you say most of your clientele is local?
Yeah, I probably have six to 10 really consistent mail-in customers from, all over the country. And it's, it's pretty much through Instagram. The rest are local within an hour to an hour and a half from here. Okay. And even the mail in folks, they are open to that price per square inch fluctuating based on what they're choosing and, and based on the quilts that's coming in. Okay. Yes.
You know, I mean I get a new, new client probably once every 10, 15 days. I don't even know, but I explain it to them or I send them back to my website or, Yeah. Or if they're looking at, you know, I've, I've just been inundating my Instagram story feed so I can have a highlight and I'm sure people hate it, but whatever. Now my highlight,
No, no, no, It's smart. I have some more to go. But anyway, I send them there and they can just rifle through the hundred or so, you know, designs that are sitting there and you know, if someone picks, like someone came in with a more of a, a background filler that they wanted for a big quilt, and so I just explained the difference and said, you don't want me to do that on your big quilt, it will be like, like a custom price because it's gonna be so dense, you know, so on that one I'll try to expand it and see what it looks like. Right. And then I'll say I'm new enough. I'm not exactly sure that's really gonna look great, but I'll try it and I'll stitch something out and see if it works.
And if it doesn't I'll let you know. So, so yes. I just feel, I hope I answered your question. I feel like my customers are consistent enough. They know that they're, they may be a very, it's not gonna vary from like 2 cents to 3 cents per square inch.
It'll be very, you know, Okay, well that, yeah, that range. I feel like that is a narrow enough range that's not gonna catch anybody off guard. Right. And then, so it sounds like you're very used to tracking your time, Terri? Do you use any special tools for that? Do you have an app? Do you have a notebook?
How do, how are you doing this and Yeah, I wish I was, wow. I just used a clock on my phone, my iPhone. So I mean, and I, sometimes I just mess up and I forget. Right now I write down, you know, in a, in a little book I feel like I have things written down in too many places.
But someday I'll work. So in a small, you know, a medium size spiral bound, I put each person's thing and, and the date and the size and the top and the bottom measurements. And then I have like categories like set up and then I have consult time, trim and bill and I have all those there and what's the other one?
And then I have stitching, stitch-out, you know, so then I add that all up at the end and I've already found out what it's gonna cost at 2 cents a square inch. I've already added that up and I, as I'm going along, I like refigure it, I'll go, oh, this is turning out to be longer, whatever. So no,
I just write it down in this notebook and I'm just watching a clock on my Yeah, on My, it's, I mean there's so many good things about that Terri. Like I feel like we all have this, what is it? Time, not time, blindness time optimism. We never think it takes as long as it actually does. And you're giving yourself really great data to work with on an ongoing basis.
And I love that you're factoring in consultation time. Billing time. Because we all know like just working at the machine is, is just a fraction of what goes into Yeah. The start to finish. So that's great. That's wonderful. What I was a little kind of concerned about is, so if I'm gonna be, you know, some, I've got a row stitching out for the next 12 minutes, I'm gonna be over here measuring the next quilt to make sure whatever, how am I gonna, I can't time two things at the same time. So I've just estimated on the, the one that, I'm not the one that's stitching out, but the one that I'm prepping and cutting the batting for, I'll estimate like a 15 minute measure and cut batting and I just write that down.
Yep. And do you, how do you handle the rip out sessions? Rip out sessions. I mean, assuming that you've had to do that, maybe you've never had to rip out a pass. Not horrible. Like you guys have your little methods of holding it at what, but yesterday I did do my first one. It's on that one there, that log cabin.
And I was so bummed. I, I've done so many quilts for this lady, but I, I had forgotten that she did have a top. I thought it didn't matter what I put in, she, she makes that quilt with borders on all sides except one cuz she doesn't want a border on the top. Well, so I had loaded it wrong, so I only got a half of a row done, you know, like at the very top. And then I realized it, so I did kind of peel back and then with my seam ripper and it didn't take that long. I was so, so pleased, so pleased I found it as fast as I did and that it really didn't take long.
So yes. And then do you charge the person for that? I wasn't, no. Yeah, I didn't think so, but I, I thought I would ask for, I mean to make sure. No, and that's one one thing I've been a little concerned about is like, as I'm, I'm still learning how to set up the design, right?
Yep. And so I struggled with this when I, it was when it would start to stitch out, it went going all the way. I said forget it. I just, I started again and I moved it over cause the start and stop seemed to be odd. And finally I got anyway, I just, I don't charge the stuff like that either. Because I'm learning.
That makes sense. Cause eventually I won't probably be making as many of those, they're not mistakes, but just not as long a learning time and Yeah. Yeah. I try to be fair. I think that is fair. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So you mentioned your intake process kind of changing with, you know, going to flipping through the PDFs in your, in your, on your laptop versus the, the other. Has, has any other part of your intake or return process changed?
I don't think so. No. I don't think it has. Like I said, I'm still a little frustrated that I, when I have an intake, if they've done it on the webpage, I have that, that's, excuse me. But when, when they come in, I have a clipboard and I, I write down stuff while they're there. But then when I actually quilt the quilt, I do another form. It's just, just this, you know, spiral bound notebook and I just hand write in there and stuff. There's gotta be a way to not have so many, many things, probably for another time.
I wonder could you fill out their, your form online for them while they're with you? Would that like simplify your process? Maybe. It could. What I love so much about when I'm actually stitching out the quilt is I, I keep a lot of notes there. Like this, this, this panto really wasn't as efficient as I thought or the calculations for the batting price and the,
the actual size I ended up using for the Easy Clamshell. You know, I did do the, or I only did a four inch, you know, I don't know. Yeah. It's, Yeah. Something to play with in the future maybe if, yeah. Has there been any part of this process that was unexpectedly challenging that you didn't really think it was, that you didn't foresee?
Well, it's funny, one of the things that, no, I really liked it a lot. One of the challenges is silly, but because I was gonna start standing on the other side of the machine more, I wasn't gonna be on the back. Well yes, I turned the whole machine around and I did that a couple weeks before I got the computer and I was like lost.
Cause you know, the way you have everything set up and where you have your notebooks and whatever, it was all spun and I didn't have the room quite ready to go. I still am a little, like, I have waste baskets everywhere. I don't know, you know, thread. So that was a little weird. Just it felt like, and I was able to expand the whole area.
Like I was able to double my area. My husband finally took the canoe off the roof in the basement, which allowed me to like have, so that's been so much fun. I actually can do everything down here now. I don't have to go upstairs and trim my quilts and then I have a printer upstairs, but otherwise everything's here and that's good.
So yeah, just kind of re-getting used to my new space. But that really was, cause I had the computer. But working from the other side, like I, I just kind of forgot that that was a thing. And I, I remember in this room when we first moved in, I had the machine position the other way and like after just, you know, maybe a week or so, I was like, well this, this is no good. Let's let's back it out and try it again. But you do wanna be comfortable and you do wanna be like, you know, have that familiarity with your workflow or whatever to feel the most comfortable, you know, as you can. Yeah. Yeah. It's worked out really good. I, I'm, I'm fortunate I, I call this my industrial spot, but I'm fortunate I have this, this basement. I actually love it. I hung the, the patio lights recently and I'm still, still could use a little more lighting, but it's, it's added a little flare and I got some new rugs and I love coming down here.
Good. Well that's the important part. And you take great photos, Terri. We, I don't any, oh my gosh. You do. And, and you are bringing them to the surface of the earth when you, you you're mostly using pretty backdrops and featuring the quilts in, in daylight, which makes a huge difference for that, for your Instagram feed.
And I'm not surprised that people are contacting you to mail in because you do such a good job of featuring the beautiful work you're doing. It's fun. And I've, I've been able to let go a little bit more of Instagram partly cuz I have, I just have enough work and I'm, I'm good still really good where I'm at right now. Good.
Good, good, good. What's been your, like the best part of adding the computer? Well I I really of course love to be able to adjust the size of the scaling. Yeah. And I remember watching YouTube videos and you'd see like on, well Easy Clamshell. I mean all you get in the file is this little thing and you're like, oh my, what do I do with this? It's taken a little while. But, you know, I love that. I truthfully, I love being able to use the Longarm League pantos.
I've, I've had several customers who came because of the Longarm League and of course then they would ask me, well, you know, can you do Oh sure. Easy Clamshell, let's say. And I like, yeah, no. And so, so that's, that's fun. Cause I, you know, saved all those emails for all these years and yeah, now they're good. And, and like I said earlier, that whole multitasking thing, I just feel so much better about how I use my time. I don't have to use move that machine every inch that it goes.
Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I just, it just feels freeing I guess. Yeah. Do you think with the extra, with the additional options that you have now, you know, all over the internet, do you feel like your style has changed a little bit or you're just able to adapt, like what your style would've been just in, in new ways to take advantage of the, of the digital part?
Well, certainly I had learned that on the paper paragraphs. There were certain things I absolutely couldn't make nice. Any parallel lines or there was, I can't remember the name of the one, you know, it was, it was kind of parallel lines at an angle. Aba Abacus exactly. Love it, but couldn't do it.
Oh, I did it on one my owns like, it was a, you know, again, most people wouldn't see it, but I saw it. So how awesome that I can can do any of those, you know, I'm a little nervous about the ones that have to nest absolutely perfectly and. Sure. But you know, they'll come. Yeah.
It will come. Or you don't have to do those at all. Yeah. And it's not really, I don't have the same body stress, you know, I don't have the feel like I was hunched over all day or something. Right. So That's been, yeah. And you're, you're six feet tall, right? I Am tall, yeah.
So I, my, I have my machine pretty high in, put it a little higher. I might try that. Maybe that'll be next year's goal. Raise My, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I did wonder if you were able to raise your table enough to, to comfortably bend over while you were doing the hand guiding, but now you don't have any of that.
That's gotta be a big stress relief on your body. Yeah, and I hate to give up completely on free motion. Oh, no one's given up. But like I said, that's all I can do during that moment, you know, wanting to do my multitasking. But yeah, the, the machine can raise even further. I think so, Yeah.
I'm good. As long as you're comfortable, that's all that matters. Yeah. What, what advice if, if any, would you give someone who has been, you know, debating, considering, you know, adding a computer and they had been doing either, you know, pantographs from the back of the machine, or free motion quilting from the front of the machine.
Do you have any advice on whether or not to go computerized? Yeah. Or maybe considerations that you, things you'd pass along? Yeah, I mean, well the first thing that came to my mind was the pros and cons list. But then that didn't really work for me. But that outta the water. Yeah. It got me in touch with myself. And I'm,
I'm a real proponent of really listening to my heart, my gut instincts. You know, like when I went into the quilt show, it felt like this is the time to move forward. Let's do this. So, you know, I guess listen to that space, whatever that is for a person. And I, I have to say, I do feel,
I don't know, this might sound dorky, I do feel more like a professional in, in my little longarm hobby. Right. Just, you know, I I I've notched it up a bit. So is that something that would be important to somebody? Do they feel like it would add credibility to their business or not? You know, and, and I appreciate your compliment.
I feel like I was doing very well with what I had and that was great. But I would, I was capable of doing the next thing and the fears have pretty much never materialized. That's all about my own little fear thing. That's so great. And, and I think that, I do think that advice I got from the lady I bought my machine from was don't watch those, you know, help place pages on Facebook. It, it was discouraging. Although I, I still watch them and it's so cool to see somebody say something on that, well I know how to do that. Well I know how to do that, but you know what, I just used it yesterday. I got stuck on something.
Well it was the Easy Clamshell and it was the simplest little thing, but it took 30 minutes, 45 minutes. Finally I said, forget it. I'm putting this on Facebook. And within moments I had my answer. Oh good, good. You know, maybe not gluing oneself to that. I suppose the other thing too is to watch YouTube videos and see if what you're seeing on there looks interesting or not. So not,
it can be overwhelming I think, but maybe just do a little bit at a time. Does this look fun? Does it interesting. I think that's great. And sometimes those free Facebook groups, you know, it depends on the moderator, depends on the group of individuals. Sometimes people can come across as nasty and it's like, but I think that those groups are great for like using the search bar to see if that question has already been answered.
Like you don't even have to talk to anybody. Yeah. There's always somebody that will say, you know, you can find that in the search bar. Oh, well I've asked questions before like that are maybe mundane. It's all good. It's, Yeah. Is there anything else you wanna share that I didn't ask about? Ooh, you have any special projects or promotions or anything fun in your business coming up?
You know, I did a birthday promotion once and that, that was great. And it took the girl like a year and a half to, to send me her quilt. I should put a time limit on that. I, I'm, I don't, I I have my next quilt that I'm gonna put on is an interesting quick story. I did the whole quilt for her.
It was probably a queen size and she decided she wanted it bigger. So she came over to my house and we talked through how she could add borders to this blasted thing. It already had a, a binding on it. Took the binding off. So she has added borders all the way around. The bottom is the same material as the back is the same material as she had before.
And it extends so I can add it to my machine. And so I have now cut strips, 16 inch strips of batting that I'm gonna stuff in there, lay in there and I'm gonna attempt to restitch it for her, just the edges. But the cool thing was because I had free motion quilted that quilt, oh I can simply now take this modern one that I had done everywhere and pull it into these sides and bottom and top.
That's the theory. And anyway, it's been an interesting project and I'm, I'm not looking forward to putting it on, but I think it's gonna work. That's so funny. It, it kind, it makes me think like, man, it's never too late. If you, if you have the binding on the quilt. Had they been using it?
No, she, no. And when I, when I stitched it, I realized this is a funny size quilt. I don't think she's interesting. Be happy she really wasn't happy. But you know, all things are possible I guess. Yeah. I get You wanna, maybe I can do that. Most likely. I dunno. And It was probably a learning process for her and it's going to be for you.
I'm sure you're gonna learn a lot about your machine as you're trying to do part of this retroactively. Yeah. Fortunately it's free motion, otherwise I don't, I dunno if I would've done it, but Yeah. So otherwise that's, that's where we're at over here in little old Maine. Well, I love it. Do you tell us where, what your website is and how to get in touch with you on Instagram?
Yeah, I think I'm Quilting Rubies everywhere. Quilting Rubies on Facebook and Quilting Rubies on Instagram. And my webpage is quiltingrubies.com. Awesome. Well Terri, it was so great to catch up with you. I'm glad that you made the jump just because it sounds like it's been very positive for you and we've enjoyed having you in the Longarm League all these years, even though you weren't computerized. I feel so lucky that you went against my best judgment.
No, I, I always had a hard time thinking like, well I didn't want people to feel bad that they weren't gonna be able to get all of the, you know, the benefits. But look, you have eventually been able to save all those designs and, and use 'em just a few years, you know, after they came out. So it's all good. The League has been so supportive and so it was perfect when I first started especially, and I'm just Oh good. Really pleased to, I'm just, it's perfect. So I'm very Oh good. Well thanks so much for taking the time again today to talk to us and ans and answer some of my questions.
I'm sure this is going to be useful some for someone else who is, you know, in that position to, of considering, will she won't she. Yeah, right. The dice. See what happens. Thank you. Right. Thanks so much. Take care. All Right. Bye. Bye.
We'd love to share a little bit about how we support longarm quilters through education and community. Updates typically go out on Wednesdays - we'd love to stay in touch with you!
We'd love to share a little bit about how we support longarm quilters through education and community. Updates typically go out on Wednesdays - we'd love to stay in touch with you!