Soap Box Rant July 7, 2018
As I have been standing over my quilt frame today I am trying to figure out why women so undervalue their abilities. I have spent the last 4 hours dealing with poor piecing, wavy borders, selvages left in a quilt top, puckered seams and just over all frustration. I just can’t believe that a professional longarm quilter would work with all of this for less than ½ of minimum wage. With everything that I have had to deal with on this top my hourly wage will be approximately $17.00 per hour. This comes to $105.00 for the quilting. Whereas if another longarmer was to do the same piece that I have done, her hourly wage would be approximately $8.50 per hour. That would be $50.00 for the quilting. Why would someone do that? This person is supposed to be a professional. She has invested in her machine, threads, designs……….yes she has computer assist. I just don’t get it. Does she so devalue her ability that she feels so inferior that she should charge so much less than the local going rate? And is doing so, devalues my work, knowledge, and experience. Someone please explain this to me and tell me, WHY DO I CARE?
I will say at this time that this ‘other longarmer’ is not in my area. For that reason, she really has not impacted my business, but, she will impact the businesses of other longarmers in her area. So, will she have these prices for a year to get quilters to bring her their tops for quilting and then try to raise her prices? Will she burn out on quilting because she has taken on so much business. Once she tries to raise her prices what will happen then. Who knows. Quilters do shop for quilting just like they do for fabric. What might she do/ feel, when another longarmer comes along and starts working on tops and cuts her prices even lower than the first one. WHY DO I CARE?
I know this all sounds like sour grapes. It may be, but, I’m just trying to understand the business of longarm quilting. I have been in this business for less than 10 years. However, I already know the costs both financial, physical, and mental. It’s not all chocolate and good wine, let me tell you that. Every time I put needle to fabric it’s someone else’s fabric that they have put money, blood, sweat and tears into and now it’s my responsibility to bring it all to life. I suppose that I really am taking all this stuff too seriously. Maybe I should just throw the top on the frame, line up the e2e, push the button and walk away. Then whatever happens, happens………… I’m not made that way. I treat each top as though it is mine and I am going to send it to a judged quilt show. Yep, maybe to seriously. WHY DO I CARE?
So, WHY DO I CARE?
I care because I want my new profession (I am a retired Dental Hygienist) to be taken seriously as a technical art form. This profession takes time, money, practice, continuing education, upgrading equipment, another stash of threads, batting, so much more than most people realize. Then if you do this as a LEGAL business, you have taxes, insurance, bookkeeping, more paperwork than you can believe, rent, electricity, heating and air…. Never mind that you might be in your private home..you still have these expenses. So, WHY DO I CARE?
I care because I love my new profession. I love the people, the art form, the fact that I am pushed to my creative limit every day. I love it when one of my clients cries tears of joy when she sees her finished quilt. If she wins a ribbon in a show I am just as proud of her as though I had won it myself. I love the fact that I can contribute to various charities by working on some of their quilt tops. I love it when I deliver that very first quilt back to that beginning quilter and seeing the look on her face when she actually ‘sees’ her quilt. Let’s not forget that I love being in a position to take some great people on quilt retreats where we all enjoy this wonderful artform.
I ‘think’ this completes this rant. I have said all of this before. The members of the South Carolina Longarm Group have heard me say all of this out loud and with extreme emotion. I really should just let it lie, but, I find that very difficult to do.
BECAUSE I CARE
Thanks for your time,
Joyce Greer-One Loose Thread Quilting, LLC