Hey! Welcome back for the next post in the Business of Machine Quilting series. I am so glad that you are joining me. Today we are going to talk all about location, something that is just as important as the kind of machine that you pick out. Depending on the machine that you choose, and your living situation, the question of where to quilt can be easy or difficult. The good thing is that there are a lot of different options available…..depending on how creative you want to get!
~Quilting from Home~
This is the most obvious, and probably the easiest option. Working from home allows you to keep overhead low (which is good) and allows you to be close to your machine. When I started quilting, there was no question that I would quilt from home since I was just doing it for myself. While it is cheap and convenient, there are some drawbacks. I hate being along in my quilting for long periods of time since I am an extroverted kind of person. I also struggle with the work/home boundaries. I always feel like I should be quilting, and when I am quilting, I feel guilty for not being with my kids. It’s the whole mommy-guilt thing.
Even if you are fine with long periods alone and you feel confident that you can have healthy work boundaries, space may be an option. Having a Longarm quilting machine (should you go that route) takes up a lot of space obviously, but you will still need to be able to store customer quilts (as well as your own stash!). You also need to be comfortable with customers coming into your home.
If you decide to quilt out of your home, you will need to check with local ordinances and see if you need an occupational license.
~Quilting from a Quilt Shop~
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to quilt out of a shop for 6 months and I loved it. Being in a public setting allowed me to please my extroverted nature. I also really loved the work/home boundaries. But, as much as I loved it, I eventually made the decision to return to quilting from home. Another big plus is the great possibility of customers. You would already be in an established business and able to take advantage of their customer flow.
Should you entertain the thought of quilting from a Quilt Shop, there are some other things to think about. First you have to find a quilt shop that is close and willing to rent you space. That is probably the biggest hurdle. Renting a space within a shop also means that you might have a higher overhead. If you are really fortunate, you might find a shop owner that is willing to trade quilting for a rental fee.
There is also the trust factor. You would need to find someone that you would trust leaving your machine (not to mention customer quilts) with. So, if you are able to pursue this option, do it very carefully.
~Your own rental space~
Of course you don’t have to quilt out of your house or another shop, you could rent a location. *Sigh* This is my dream. A lovely studio of my very own to quilt from…..then my husband reminds me that I have a nice studio at my house and snaps me back to reality. This option would be awesome, but it also the most expensive option. If you have an established customer base, this could be an option. But watch out for the maintenance fees, and long-term lease contracts. I tend to think that this makes the best sense if you are planning on adding a retail component or can find someone to split rent with. My husband is a business owner, and at one time, we toyed with the idea of splitting a space. Half for me and half for his office.
The above options are fairly basic, but they might not fit into any of your circumstances. Usually this is due to someone not having the space at home and being unable to rent another location. I have heard of some interesting senarios. One gal that I know had her husband finish out there garage so that she could make it a quilting studio…wow, there is no way I could talk my husband into that. Tia, last week’s featured quilter quilted out of her garage so we know it is possible.
Another quilter that I know, had her quilting machine at her mom’s house. At first thought, I don’t think that is such a bad idea. My mom could watch the kids and make me lunch all while I happily quilt away…..ok, maybe not. Maybe you have someone that you love and trust that you could store your machine at their place. It would have to be someone that really loves you though! Oh and I almost forgot, I gave a private lesson to someone who put their quilting machine in her attic! That is dedication to the dream in my opinion!
So those ideas range from practical to far-fetched, but hopefully it will help you brainstorm some possible locations. Today’s interview is with Lisa Sipes, longarm quilter and all-around awesome gal who knows a little bit about quilting spaces. She quilts from a quilt shop and she graciously agreed to answer some questions.
1. What made you decide to start quilting for others?
I didn’t really decide to start quilting. The decision was made for me! My mom suggested that I try quilting when I was close to burnout on life. I thought she was insane. I had no idea what quilting was even about. Didn’t know what a quilting machine, fat quarter or rotary cutter even was! I actually spoke the words, “A fat quarter is a half a yard cut in half? Ummm, that’s just a quarter yard, though.” But the first time I saw or touched a quilting machine, I loaded a quilt and started stitching in the ditch (It was a Boston Commons or Trip Around The World or something). Then I quilted some flowers in the border. And then… and then… and then… Yeah the rest is history.
2. What is something that you wished you knew when you were starting?
I wish I knew that quilting was actually an art. I wasted so much time the first year or so before I started realizing that this was what I was meant to do. All of my clients just wanted their quilts held together with stitching. It wasn’t until after that first year that I started searching online to see what other people were doing and realized that the quilting makes the quilt. After that I started doing a lot more custom quilting just to play around and it made me realize that quilting is my love!
And as much as I don’t like to talk about money, I wish I’d had a better grasp on the financials. I was NOT charging enough! And I still don’t. It’s so hard to raise your prices!
3. Tell me about your studio?
Ummmmmm. I’m not sure what there is to say about my studio other than the fact that it is a MESS! Things are pretty insane right now and I tend to be a messy worker. When I’m working on something, I tend to throw batting and thread tails and selvages all over the place so that I can just focus on the work. I usually try to clean up once I’m done so I can start fresh with the next one but right now I have so much to do that I haven’t cleaned up in weeks. I do at least pick up the thread tails laying around the machine so that they don’t accidentally get picked up by a batting or backing and inadvertently stitched into the next quilt!
As far as what my studio looks like when it’s presentable, it’s a rainbow of threads hanging on the wall, shelves full of tops waiting to be quilted and two Gammills that are always humming. And music. Very loud -sometimes inappropriate- music!
4. What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who is thinking about doing this for a business?
Do it. Stop worrying so much and just do it. Dive in. There are so many “what ifs” in life. The questions that I get from most people when they’re thinking about buying a quilting machine and quilting for hire are things like, what if I suck at it? Can I actually make any money? Will I stay busy? Things like that. First of all, nobody sucks at quilting. Quilting is quilting and it is what you make it. Yes, you can actually make money. I don’t have any other job. And you can be as busy as you want to be. You’re the boss!
Quilting for a living is one of the funnest jobs you can have. I wasn’t even a sewist before I became a quilter and I love it. I love that I get to quilt every day. Granted, it’s not for the faint of heart at times to quilt for others, but it is so awesome to see the smiles on the faces of customers when they pick up their quilts! Being able to quilt for a living is a gift. DO IT!
Great advice, Lisa! Thanks so much for joining us!
What do you think? If you started quilting for customers (or if you already do), where would you quilt from? And don’t forget to pop back in for next week’s post. It’s going to be all about the plan…the business plan! It should be an informative post for sure!!
In the meantime, Happy Quilting!!