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Thread: Quilting for Hire - To Be or Not To Be

  1. #1
    Member andifar's Avatar
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    In recent weeks I have been asked to quilt for hire. The first project was a hand quilting an antique feed sack quilt from the 30s (it is coming along and I am okay with how I am being compensated - it has to be completed by April 1st in time for the first granddaughter. But no more handquilting for hire - learned my lesson.)

    The second approach came today - I have been asked to do quilts for a team - the size is not yet determined - but each one will be unique. If the first team is sucessful, then the business is launched. I am feeling these repeated requests are a sign that it is time for me to jump into my own quilting business, with the goal to leave the corporate zoo behind as the activity ramps up. I would be honored to have your input - should I consider making a shift from hobby to professional. I have a mid arm quilting machine and frame, 4 sewing machines, serger, and low-end embroidery machine. Equipment is not an issue to get started.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    Senior Member crochetetc's Avatar
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    I would say no, reason being is that once it becomes a job you might lose interest and not enjoy your hobby anymore.

  3. #3
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    First of all, I'd strongly suggest that you do this on the side for at least 6 months. Making a living is terribly important these days, and all the benefits of your present job have to be figured in. Remember to write every single thing down that you spend money on, and every penny that comes in and what goes out. And every cent that is paid by your company for everything, medical, etc besides wages.

    Talk to a lot of the long arm folks on this forum, then go visit one and ask some sharp questions. When you quit a job that pays real money, there are masses of other people who will fight to get a chance to be hired, and it's unlikely you would ever be hired back in the same company.

    Then, if your mind is made up and family, if any, are agreed, then go with your dream and work at it.

  4. #4
    Super Member Sandee's Avatar
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    I'm NOT in the business, just a hobby, but from what others have said, you would probably do youself a big favor if you worked out how you will be paid for ea project before you start. Like how much up front before you ever start on a project, & who's supplying fabric etc. There have been several posts about people changing their minds, not paying up,etc. I'm sure you will get a lot of help from the board. Good Luck!! But I'd not give up a real paying job right now, I'd start part-time in my "spare time" first.Job benefits alone would make me think REAL hard about it.

  5. #5
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    It would suddenly go from something you enjoy doing to something you have to do. Working from home requires alot of self dicipline. Any business venture is a risk. If it dosen't work out can you get another job? To earn a decent income would you have to work more hours than you can realistically do? Do you have enough savings to get by on until the workload becomes steady enough to replace your current salary?

    I've been a business owner for many years. Alot of self examination is in order, a good solid business plan, and write down the pros and cons and be honest about both.

  6. #6
    Jim
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    Super Member Jim's Avatar
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    Being on the side of having an in home quilting business. If you have a job with an income, its best to keep it and continue to do the quilting art time. Have to warn you..there are times if you depended onthe quilting..you could starve, others that there's not enough hours inthe day to fulfil all the work. Also it gets to the point of "HAVING" to o something. It's not a choice or to do it for enjoyment anymore its a requirement. Luckily, It's my wife and myself so its best that way , not like I am doing it totally on my own.

  7. #7
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    Hi,
    One important question you need to ask yourself to is can you physically handle all the hours you would need to put in on a daily basis to do quilting full time. There are days when my shoulders and back ache from longarming too much. Plus if you happen to be lucky enough to have quilts coming in regularly than it cuts into your own sewing time. There are times when I haven't even been able to touch my own sewing for 6 weeks and then when I had the time I didn't have the energy to sit down to sew. There is alot to think about - plus the current economy does effect how much business you might have - people are tightening up everywhere they can.

    Good luck on your decision,
    Sherryl
    Candlequilter

  8. #8
    Senior Member quilticing's Avatar
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    You'll probably have all the work you want if the price is reasonable. If the price is reasonable, you won't be able to support yourself without that corporate job. Part time quilting is best for your back and shoulders. A computerized system saves the back and shoulders but not the feet.

  9. #9
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    My friend who started a full time LA business about two years ago has recently returned to her nursing job. Her LA business while mostly supporting her left her with no time, energy or enthusiasm to work on her own projects. Making quilting a full time business took a lot of joy out of quilting and "having to" spend long hours in the studio each day was different than wanting to be there to play with fabric and experiment with designs. Now she will quilt a little on the side for selected customers but mostly work on her own neglected projects.

  10. #10
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    I have been doing longarm quilting for several years. If I had to depend on the profit from it I would starve, lose my home, my business and be broke and barefoot.

    If you have a job, KEEP IT. The headaches of dealing with people who change their mind from original, and written, discussion of terms, patterns, threads, etc. to pickup time is not always worth any amount of money. I feel lucky to make .50 cents to a dollar an hour on a quilt top, definitely not anywhere near minimum wage usually.

    The sad thing is that although the prices on everything else is increasing my customers don't think I should raise my prices. When I did a very slight increase I lost cutomers. Plus there are more people doing this all the time because they see the ads saying they can pay for a longarm machines in weeks or months, always less than a year. (That's a laugh!) Customers also think I am making money like crazy because after all I've been doing this for years and it only takes an hour or two to custom quilt a king size, right? WRONG!

    If I knew then what I know now, I would never do it if I had the chance to start over.

    Longarm

  11. #11
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    I also got sucked into the ads saying the machine will pay for itself within a year. I have owned my Statler Stitcher for 3 years now and have made less than $3000. I would have to make over $100 per day for a year to pay for the machine. I know I do beautiful work, usually less then 2 week turn around (because I only get one at a time)am a really nice person, and don't charge that much. Our quilt guild has around 200 members and my business cards are at the LQS. I don't get it. Luckily I have my full time bookkeeping and tax return business to pay the bills. I guess the bright side to all this is that I have alot of time to make and quilt my own quilts!

  12. #12
    Super Member charismah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by candlequilter
    Hi,
    One important question you need to ask yourself to is can you physically handle all the hours you would need to put in on a daily basis to do quilting full time. There are days when my shoulders and back ache from longarming too much. Plus if you happen to be lucky enough to have quilts coming in regularly than it cuts into your own sewing time. There are times when I haven't even been able to touch my own sewing for 6 weeks and then when I had the time I didn't have the energy to sit down to sew. There is alot to think about - plus the current economy does effect how much business you might have - people are tightening up everywhere they can.

    Good luck on your decision,
    Sherryl
    Candlequilter
    I agree with Sherryl ,

    Long hours tied to machine..my shoulders ache...and when you have a job outside the home you can leave it....I don't ever leave my job.

    I find my job rewarding and I love being home with my kids..and I love working with quilters (the best bunch around for the most part)..I love the creative side of this job it offers me an outlet..plus I am attracted to many of the "same" types of things when I quilt for myself..when I have to get outside of my box and try to read a quilt and interpret someone else' work and they end up LOVING it I feel truly rewarded. However, I am learning through this blessing that I need to create more balance in my life and start fine tuning my business hours so I can be with my true love more ...my family.

    She is also right....I don't think I have worked on any of my own projects for about 5 months or so?? and I was pretty prolific before I started......

    YOu are going to get just as much positive and negative remarks on this thread...and nobody can make this call for you..I was stressed when I made the choice..and I just followed my heart...you will have to do the same.
    Blessings to you!
    Charisma

  13. #13
    Member andifar's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your feedback and input. Your wisdom and helped me make a decision. My initial plan is to do enough to pay off all of my outstanding debt (son's student loan and car loan) and keep the 9 to 5 for now. It is just me - no spouse, no kids, no partner. I am thinking this is going to be a part-time enterprise and test drive the road for a bit. I have the room to spreadout and do it right, but don't have to take on more than I can manage. I will keep you posted on how the first project for hire works out. I know one thing - I am tired of quilting for others who do not appreciate your talent and effort. NO MORE FREEBIES. :-)

  14. #14
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crochetetc
    I would say no, reason being is that once it becomes a job you might lose interest and not enjoy your hobby anymore.
    I agree....it's such a great hobby with so many things to try .that if I had to make a quilt as a job it would take all the enjoyment out of it for me.

  15. #15
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    NO....run screaming for the hills first....

    BUt if you think you want to do..do all the homework first. Becoming a biz is hard work. You have to know the tax laws, the zoning laws, what you insurance will require, it just goes on and on....jobs are hard to come by...be grateful you have one and keep it for a while longer!

  16. #16
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    I wasn't sucked in by any ads, I really wanted a longarm, but I knew going in that I would have to do it as a business if I wanted one. But if I knew then what I know now I would have continued quilting on my regular machine.

    Longarm

  17. #17
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andifar
    I am feeling these repeated requests are a sign that it is time for me to jump into my own quilting business, with the goal to leave the corporate zoo behind as the activity ramps up. I would be honored to have your input - should I consider making a shift from hobby to professional. I have a mid arm quilting machine and frame, 4 sewing machines, serger, and low-end embroidery machine. Equipment is not an issue to get started.

    What do you think?
    I personally would not see converting a hobby to a profession a problem by itself, some of the most successful entrepanuers are those that have pursued a passion. But it requires that you not just be successful at the passion, but at business as well. Marketing is key, you have to know how to market and sell yourself - where and how to advertise. Word of mouth may work in the short term, but it won't bring you to retirement. You also need to make sure that the income the business brings can afford the other expenses that were not present when it was a hobby - insurance, marketing, advertising, and any professional services (accountants, web designers and hosting, etc.). I still work for a living so I can provide insurance, our business could NOT afford health insurance for the two of us.

    And you have to consider the intangibles - will you enjoy being home all the time? Will you miss the interaction with co-workers? Do you have the self discipline to get the job done instead of playing? And will you still enjoy working on YOUR OWN stuff when your done "working"?

    After you've considered everything and figure you can make a go of it, I say LIVE THE DREAM!!!

  18. #18
    Junior Member Jeananne's Avatar
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    I just set up my Pinnacle Frame and Juki, for my personal quilting, but decided I might take in a quilt top here or there just to bring in a little money...nothing big. I don't want to lose sight of what I enjoy, which is piecing and quilting. I still have lots to learn, but don't ever think I would do this full time. Like the others said, I don't want to lose the Joy that all of my own projects bring me.

  19. #19
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Yes, be sure to do no more freebies!!!!

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