For years people have been seeing me post my quilts on Facebook and have asked me if they were for sale, or if I would make a custom quilt for them or teach them to quilt. With the help of BA Strategies, I finally said “yes” and had them build me a website. It has been a wild and crazy month.
First, I finally purchased a HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen mid-arm machine. I have been free-motion quilting using my domestic for years and struggling with larger quilts, but now I feel confident quilting up to a queen size. I prefer moving the quilt to moving the head of the machine because I feel I have more control and can do a better job with free motion. Now I am working to master the use of rulers and the stitch regulator.
We decided to convert the loft of our summer home into a studio for the new machine and my new business, which required insulating, since our Cape Cod cottage was built as a seasonal home with no heat and no insulation and the upstairs gets very hot in the summer. My husband Steve installed a window air conditioner and suggested I purchase a roll of insulation for the wall that the sun beats down on the most. One roll turned into four rolls, bead board paneling, dry wall ceiling, a pegboard for my tools, and two new light fixtures, all while I am trying to make quilts. The new machine has been living in the guest room and I have been piecing and teaching in the dining room through all of this.
I am loving working with the owners of some of the local shops on Cape Cod. My first custom order was for Quiltish of Cape Cod, who wanted a sampler of their Row by Row and other panels in time for the Bayberry quilt show. The finished quilt is the featured photo here. I absolutely love their Cape Cod inspired panels, and am planning to design quilts around a few of them in the future. My friends might recall the Mermaid Guild challenge that I was a part of last year. My current project is to make myself a quilt from this panel (I gave the quilt from the challenge to my friend Martha as a birthday gift) using rulers instead of paper piecing for the storm at sea blocks and a redesigned wave based on the Snail’s Trail block. I have also been working with Cape Cod Quilts and Cottages, who displayed my baby quilt in their shop last week. I helped out in their shop last Saturday and plan to again this Saturday. It is a beautiful shop with lots of nautical prints and batiks, and it is a real pleasure to spend time there.
One of the exciting benefits of being in business is the ability to purchase fabric at wholesale prices. Quilters appreciate the cost of making a quilt, and I am keeping the prices of the quilts I sell close to what a quilter would pay for supplies and sending the quilt out to a longarm quilter. I would like to be able to earn the equivalent of minimum wage for my time plus the cost of supplies, but the general public seems to believe that the cost of a quilt should be the equivalent of what they would spend in a big box store for something made in a sweat shop overseas. At least if I can buy supplies at a lower cost I can pass the savings on.
As I enter into my second month in business, I have so many goals! I am working to build up an inventory of quilts for my website before attempting to reach a wider audience. I am adapting the Wave to the Crowd pattern for length of fabric cuts and thinking about offering it in a class, and I am working on the Mermaid Guild quilt before experimenting with quilts using other Quiltish panels. Guess I had better get back to the cutting table!