Thursday, March 3, 2011

Overwhelmed.............

When Clint and I moved to Saint George 2 1/2 years ago we had a dream - it all started with me and my quilt patterns. After I had gone to a couple quilt shows and figured out that this little hobby of mine could be more than a hobby - we sold our house, packed our bags and moved, just like that. It was a split second decision and looking back - it was totally crazy - but with a lot of hard work and a whole lot of prayers we have been blessed so much to have a fully functioning work at home business. We owe a lot of that to all of our wonderful customers.

When we moved we bought my A-1 long arm - big ticket item as you all know - and we hoped for some business. I took my business cards to all the quilts stores around here and it wasn't until I was in one store that I met Linda who overheard that I was new to the area and that I was a quilter (at that point I was only doing my free hand allover patterns) so Linda asked for a card and had me quilt a quilt for her right away. I then started getting a few more quilts, then I met Emily and she had me do this quilt - I had a 2 week turnaround and this point - (Crazy, I know) but she requested to have bikini's in the quilt and it really required that I be creative. I remember praying that I could improve my quilting really fast so that I could continue to get customers. In the mean time I was still designing my quilts and Clint got some of my patterns into Moda. One of those goals that I just couldn't believe happened.
But as time went on, I got more and more quilts - they didn't seem to stop coming and then I realized I had to "schedule" quilts - what? Anyway, long story short, I am booked a year in advance. Really??

Now - add to the mix a baby and you have gotten behind on your quilting and continue to get behind with each quilt because things come up and you have four little kids that seem to need you more than ever. (sorry - I moved to 3rd person? is it 3rd? I never paid attention in English class).

But all this time I can't help but just think about the goals I made a long time ago and that I want to design, - quilts, stencils, fabric - I have booklets of graph paper full of new quilt ideas and tons of fabric ideas - but now I am looked at more as a long arm quilter. (I am not complaining - just trying to figure things out).

So - what do I do? Do I embrace my quilting because I do love it, realizing that one day I will be able to design like I want because the kids will be in school and I will have more time - or do I just keep trying to do it all and never getting to everything.

I find myself thinking about the designing all the time - it consumes my brain to the point where I don't even hear when Clint or the kids call my name the first few times - it has gotten to the point where I need to make a choice, or hire a million people to do the work that I can't get to.

Quilting? Patterns? Fabric? Where do I go? I know I am not considered a serious designer if I am not coming out with new patterns all the time - it's tough because I have a ton of things designed, but no way to get to them all because my kids take up most of my time and the rest of my free time is now quilting.

Anyway - just rambling on - I felt like I needed to get it all out and get your opinions about which direction I should head.

Maybe I should just shut up and realize that "I have it all" with a husband who loves me and four amazing kids.


PS - Don't get me wrong - I love to quilt and I will continue to finish my customer quilts, I just ask that you be a little bit patient with me as I try to get them done asap.

46 comments:

wendysquilting said...

Wow what a post! First thing, as you mentioned you are where you are due to lots of prayer.....so keep asking for direction.
here is my two cents, not sure if it will help so take it or leave it :)
Keep your priorities in line sounds like your main ones are Clint and your children.
And speaking from personal experience, in a blink of an eye my little ones are suddenly 25,21,19 and 16 and I have lots of time to do what I want. So don't miss out on these very special years with your babies.
You are a working Mom, and most working Moms use a daycare or babysitter when they are working. Is it possible to find a caregiver for a set amount of time a week that you could devote to your designing? I know when you work at home it might seem silly to pay someone to watch your family when you can do it yourself but it might be a wise investment.
If you do something like that make sure the time is used for work, not the never ending pile of laundry etc..
That way you give yourself time and permission to design even if its one afternoon a week or whatever you decide. It sounds like a huge part of who you are, so allow it!

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Seems like a very pleasant dilemma to be in, but frustrating nonetheless. Have you thought about planning a day every week or two weeks and set it aside for designing only? Or maybe if you need a bigger chunk of time, do one week a month dedicated to designing? It would be a shame to let this part of your creativity slip, but like you said, someday your kids will be in school. There will always be family stuff which will take precedence, as it should, but it would be nice if you could work a little bit of the designing into your schedule so you can keep your foot in that creative door!

Good luck working this out, but with the support of your wonderful husband and family and all your fans out here, and lots of prayer and hard work, I am sure you'll come to a workable solution.

MGM

Anne said...

There are some good suggestions in the previous posts already - balancing family, doing what you are so good at, and doing what you so desperately want to do requires a fine balancing act. Obviously family has to come first, especially with young children. But if designing is such a passion, it is a shame that you can't work it in a bit more.

However, as I read your post, it occurs to me that the work of designing is largely done already if you have notebooks filled with sketches of ideas. Have you ever thought of getting others to help translate those ideas into quilt tops? You get to have the fun in designing, others get to have the fun in piecing, and still others might get to have the fun of technical writing to make sure the pattern is of professional quality. You retain final oversight and credit for the design (hopefully giving acknowledgment to your assistants somewhere). Most importantly, you keep your name and new products flowing into the marketplace. I'm sure there would be many people willing to work with you, and there would be ways of setting up equitable agreements for all parties involved.

Janet said...

Sounds to me like designing is where your heart is....maybe you should hire and train one or two people to do the quilting so you can focus on designing.

karenfae said...

you are very busy indeed and yes because your family is important to you and the children are so very young they take time. I do think that you need some "me" time and that would involve hiring someone to care for the children for periods of time. Maybe a half day once or twice a week so you can work on your designs.
All mothers need a little help now and then, your hubby is busy with the business end so you don't want to take time away from him - wouldn't a little help from someone with the children be helpful to you - it doesn't have to be a long time, but half day once or twice a week might be something to look into it -- either that or cut back on the long arm business.
Karen
http://karensquilting.com/blog/

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Hi Judi...you sound tired and frustrated. Just remember; babies first....then the rest will fall into place...Stick with your quilting; your are wonderful at it. \But put aside a day here and there...maybe one day a week to look at your designing; since that is what you love. Don't lose it whatever you do' but sit back; rest...and be so glad dear that you do have it all.....and you deserve it.....i wish I could longarm quilt like you...don't have the machine....and I love my hand quilting; but I kind of long to go farther...but it's not in my future....not enough need for it here.. sorry to say. take care.....and be happy

Pat said...

What ever you do, and what ever direction your talent and business take you, never ever let go of the joy. Ever.

greelyrita said...

A lot of people feel that "you've got it all" with envy in their voice. It's not like that. This can be too much of a good thing. I hear that you're overwhelmed right now and frustrated. The 'get help' ideas are definitely excellent - some farming out and some childcare. Asking people to wait longer: yes. Working smarter in any way you can is good. All of these things. Don't take on anything extra. Get some good sleep, eat well, drink healthy teas and take vitamins!!! It will all sort itself out. All you can do is cope the best you can.

Sherry said...

You will find what you need to do. You have done it this far and you will know what to do it will tell you this is it. Good luck and you do GREAT work and I love to see what your up to.

Joan said...

I do admire what you do, I can also understand your weariness and questioning of yourself. I have four children - grown up now with children of their own. Try to make some time for the designing, which seems important to you, as you have so much to offer. I had heep with housework and child mininding as i worked to help my children through college, but aways made time for the creative side that I felt I realy wanted to make the life I REALLY needed. Your children and DH are so important and you seem to have a wonderful family - but it can be so tiring. I know how difficult it can be to schedule time. I wish you well and hope you continue to do things that you need to make you happy. Enjoy those children - they do grow up so fast. Sounds like your husband is great too. Good luck and many prayers.

Barb said...

Oh....my young friend.....you are too awesome of a person to let these dilemas to sidetrack you.

You have a wonderful husband, he has designed a quilt, why don't you give him your sketches and have him go at it with your imput?

Or.....have someone come in and do some long arm quilting for you....give them the ones that are not as hard or time consuming.

YOu are so lucky to be able to work from home and have that support you need to be creative.

Someone suggest one or two days a week....

But...take care of yourself...and I am sure everything will fall into place....prayers work wonders and before you know it, wham!!!! the answer comes in a still small voice....do some listening.

dq said...

Your children and your family are the most important no matter what! It is normal for all mothers to forego some of their needs for those of their family. I remember being in your shoes a few years back. I too was overwhelmed with design ideas and a desire to publish them. Looking back I have regrets that I didn't spend more time focusing on my children's needs. I have great kids, but I wish I would have hugged them more, played with them more, listened more. I was quilting instead. Now they are in high school and I'm looking at an empty nest in a few short years. I missed some time with them that cannot be recovered.
If your business is your livelihood, maybe you need to do what will provide for our family. If you can make it with less business, schedule in less quilting.

Good luck and continue in prayer.

Karen said...

Judi, it's so strange to be offering serious advice to someone I've never met but feel like I know. As a Christian I feel like God is concerned about every part of our life. It sounds like you may need to take a break from quilting at least for a while and try designing. Your family is most important. Someday you will have more time than you do now. You just need to let people know that you have a very long lead time on the quilting projects. You are an extraordinary quilter, I would hate to see you quit that altogether. Good luck, I'll be praying you find the right balance.

Jackie said...

I have every confidence that you'll find that balance. It is something that we moms have to work at. It just doesn't come easily or naturally. Keep focused on your priorities. Family first.

Just because your business is home based does not mean that you can't have the kids go to play dates or preschool for just a few hours a week. You could then devote that time to the creative process. I also really like Barb's idea about having Clint help with getting your ideas on paper and prettied up. What ever you do, schedule that time for your designing and stick to it!

marilyn said...

Good advice so far from very wise women. I have 4 kids, work full time and don't feel guilty that my kids spend time with others. I am a teacher and know that God has called me to this work. I spend time working and spend time with my kids and love every minute of doing both. I have a friend who hates her job because she can't be with her kids, but then complains that she has to spend time with her kids because they drive her crazy! Love on your kids when you are with them and love your quilting and desiging when you have that time too. Your kids will love having a happy mom too. And the kids will need you just as much when they are school age, especially when they hit middle school!

Lisa said...

Hi Judi, For me the most important thing is to find enjoyment in what I am doing right now. As you know, before long those little ones will be grown. Maybe the designs can stay on file for a little while until you have time to come back to them? I understand how designs creep into one's mind because it happens to me too. I have a drawer full of sketches and swatches and some days I am so compelled to design that I have to interrupt whatever I am doing (I work full time at a college) to make a quick drawing so I don't lose it and even more so that I can focus on what I am doing right now. It's wonderful that you appreciate all you have and that you understand the gift you have in your creative abilities. With customers willing to wait a year that's saying something about your gorgeous quilting! I wonder if changing your policy about how far out quilts are scheduled would decrease that overwhelmed feeling?Perhaps a trusted friend can take the children to the library/ park/ other attraction once a week and you can have some design time for a couple of hours (or some take care of yourself time if that's what is needed). Hopefully your overwhelmed feeling will be quelled with time and your priorities will establish themselves. Above all, know that you are an amazing and talented woman who deserves peace and comfort. ~~Lisa

Joanne said...

Things will work out the way they are supposed to.
How wonderful for you that you get to follow your passion.
All the best.♥

Sarah Craig said...

Hi, Judi! It seems to me that Anne had a good idea in allowing others to bring your designs to life by taking them from paper to fabric - since you've already done the hard part of creating the design. I'd hate to see you quit quilting, since you do such amazing work, but maybe cutting back on it a little would allow you to feel a bit less stressed. And remember - everything will work out in the end - it always does! Love those babies and tell your hubby you appreciate him - he sounds like a keeper!! I'll keep you in my prayers!

Julie @ Jaybird Quilts said...

"I know I am not considered a serious designer if I am not coming out with new patterns all the time" Says who?? Who decides who is a serious designer and who isn't? I love your work... your quilting and your patterns.

Kelly Cutrone says it best.... “… it’s not actually that hard to have it all; you just can’t have it all in the same proportion or at the same time. Sometimes your career is winning, sometimes it’s your peace of mind, sometimes it’s your faith, sometimes it’s motherhood, and occasionally, if you’re lucky, it’s your love life.”

It isn't wrong to want more... but also at the same time don't beat yourself up! You are a great person Judi!!

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Your children are only little once. I wish I had taken more time off work to spend with them when they were little....just my two cents worth. Prayers for your answers and the struggle to be easier for you. Your work is amazing (and I've never met your children).

liberal sprinkles said...

Hi Judi, Delegating work helps but I don't think anyone you trained would be as fabulous a quilter as you. So perhaps you could delegate work where design is concerned, maybe hire someone to execute the technical stuff and draw up the patterns for the ideas you have. I don't think anything should take time away from your family, it sounds like you're a wife and mum first.
Good luck finding the balance. best wishes,
Grace

Val said...

Seems like you have lots to do and you are not concentrating on any of it because while you are doing one thing you are thinking about the next job. Make a simple schedule for a week or a month that covers all the things you need to do. Leave a bit of leeway for moving or swapping things. Have the schedule so you can easily check it. I do mine on the computer. While you complete a task you can give it your full attention because you don't have to remember or think about all those other things on the schedule. If your schedule says 10pm - read latest quilting magazine for 15min then go to bed you can relax because you know the schedule has it covered for tomorrow. Obviously small children can't read the schedule so it won't always fall into place perfectly. Don't you hear it said that children like routine? Well you need routine too. It is also said that people study better if they take a break - 20 mins on 10 off for 2 hours is less tiring than two hours straight. You may not get quite as much done but you are more fit for the next task. So to begin with list 5 things that have to be done and fit them onto a schedule and go from there.

Contented Caroline said...

Judi, Judi - do you know you are my guru. I admire you greatly and wonder how-on-earth you can possibly do all you do with all the challenges of life - ie, husband, home, children .. I really was starting to wonder if you really were a fairy and maybe had little fairy helpers to get all your work done .. but alas no Judi .. you are simply human!!

I can really understand your dilemma, when you are feeling over-whelmed the best thing to do is prioritise. Usually being 'mom' will be at the top - you are exceedingly lucky and have it all - right now .. enjoy. Fame and fortune can be fleeting, whose to say you'll even like it ... your children are young .. you are young, believe me your time will come.

Embrace those beautiful children, your gorgeous husband and enjoy your business for what it is, the rest will come later.

from a very big fan xxxxxxx

Carol said...

I posted, but lost my post, so here I go again!

Since you and Clint depend on your business for your income, it's obvious you can't let the long-arm side go...you have to continue with it. So...all the advice here to get help watching your kids sounds great--personally, I'd try two days a week and see how that goes. Your kids won't hate you, trust me! You can figure out how to schedule in family time, even vacation time after a while. It will tough at first, but everyone will get through it. I tend to think you may also need help with housework, having someone come in a couple times a week to do laundry, etc. Yes, it all costs $$, but in the long run, it will help you both to keep your sanity.

I may be crazy, but it might be worth it to try to get in touch with quilting professionals/teachers such as Bonnie K. Hunter or even Ellen Burns. Why? So you can ask any questions you may have about getting fabric ideas out to market, or any other design questions/problems you may have. I may be wrong, but i don't think these ladies are so competitive that they would be able to at least email you and give you some advice from their years of experience. Who knows, maybe they know of some people who can help you with fabric designing? The worst they can say is 'No'. You could try other people in the 'quilting world' as well. Remember, you are now part of this professional world, you have an online business! That's not a little thing! Give it a shot...you already have done great things...moving on the spur of the moment and getting your business going. Many, many people fail at this, you have NOT!

I for one would love to see your fabric ideas out in the market. Good luck!

Carol said...

Sorry, forgot to add: Since you took the financial hit to buy your long-arm machine, I would not train anyone else to do the quilting side of your business. You know your machine and you have an instinctive ability to know which designs go well on quilt tops, so I'd stick with the long-arm work yourself. This way you know the quality of the work that goes into the quilting and you will continue to attract business. IF, in the future, your pattern designing, fabrics, etc. end up becoming the bigger part of your business, then you can phase out the long arm work.

Denise said...

Hi Judi, I haven't commented before but I've been following your amazing work on your blog for more than a year. You have inspired me to take the leap into longarm quilting with the way you make it all work. I have 5 kids so I know how demanding it is trying to take care of them & satisfy your need to create. For that reason, I invested into a Statler Stitcher/Gammill machine.( Just got it a week ago!) Have you considered a computer guided system? It can allow you to quilt faster & leave more time for designing. Maybe you could digitize some of your designs (love your feathers!)so you can reuse them. This could allow you to devote more time to what are the most important things you need to do...

Stormy Days said...

Tough decisions. Of course you want to spend time with your children and you deserve to be successful in your business. Work at home mom sounds wonderful, but I think you're still looking at your business as something you do on the side. If you went out to work where would the children be? Daycare may not be an answer, but do you have a neighbor or someone who would like the extra income of taking your children for a little bit? Sure, you'll take a financial hit, but the mental wellbeing should be worth it. Time to yourself and doing work you love will make you a better mother. I've never seen anyone with more of a gift than you have for quilting, so I hope you hold on to that. I wouldn't hire someone for the quilting, people want you, and training someone else will take even more time. Treat your business like a business, time to work, time for family and hopefully time for designing.

Rocknquilts said...

There's a time for everything...that includes a time to work and a time to be with family. Those of us in office jobs working 9-5 Mon-Fri have children in daycare or home daycare or preschool, sometimes are even lucky enough to have an au pair or nanny or relative helping right in the home, but it sounds like you need two separate times in your day; one to focus on work for a set amount of hours; one to focus on family. Don't forget a time to rest, reflect, relax and regain your strength. Perhaps one day off a week from any work (or two) would be a very good idea? Make a list: one of priorities/necessities and one of wishes, then combine them to see how much time you need to spend on things during the week. Seek balance. Best wishes to you!
To whom much is given much is required.
http://likemylife.homestead.com/muchisrequired.html

Micki said...

If your heart is into designing, o for it, as that will make you the happiest.
Micki

Deborah said...

Judi,
I have seen all kinds of crazy good quilting and you the by far the BEST I have ever seen. You have a gift. Don't be afraid to raise your prices, which may cut the volume, give you more time, but maybe yield the same profit. You have to at least keep quilting until I get my American quilt top finished! Be happy, enjoy your kids. I swear my son was just 7 years old and his 24th birthday is next month.
Deborah

Jackie Davis said...

You have gotten responses all across the spectrum with most saying what I wanted to say, family first. I had a business that I dissolved months before giving birth to #3. I do side work or really some volunteer but now I just had #4 and really know I need to focus on my hubby, kids, and home. The 'work' will always be there.

Now specifically for you, I think keeping your sketch books going is great. But if you think they are designs for now (may seem dated later) then transition from machine quilter to designer or learn to say NO to some of the quilts to have a more realistic schedule. you don't have to cut anything off 100% or do if it helps.

I know just for me personally, this (full time) 'mom' season is not for very long, even if its another 18 years. Fabric, sewing, quilting, patterns, and such will always be around! Our family is going to come/go! I like to live with NO regrets. and yes even personally too.

So if your sewing goals are stronger than your mothering goals, then persue your sewing goals! You have to live with your choices, but then since your working from home, your family does too.

Keep us updated on your ideas/choices your heart. It's not easy and we all have to make these life-balancing decisions to make things sane!

*HUGS*
Jackie (at) jackiesue.com

Molly said...

I am also a young mom and a quilter, (not as good as you.) I also like to design quilts, and have in the past ran a blog with my sister. When I finally decided to let designing quilts, and blogging regularly go...things got better. I can do those things again when all my kids are in school maybe. It is still stressful a lot of the time.

Pamela said...

Wow, you have gotten a lot of good advice. As a grandma and very busy, mind always racing and feeling overwhelmed myself sometimes I just encourage you to follow your heart and take a deep breath. I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed. I sense you are very hard on yourself, relax (easier said than done) and enjoy life today. Learn to set priorites and schedule some design time in. Kids grow up way too fast but I'm sure they know you love them, it's ok to take a little time for yourself too. May God give you grace and peace and joy in your journey, keep your focus on Him and He will direct your path.

Becky R said...

You are so talented so not being able to expand feels like constricting to you. I would start by slowing down. You are booked a year in advance but that means don't schedule so much from that point forward. You have committed to doing those between now and then but going forward don't take on so many. Continue keeping your notebook of ideas so when you are able to steal some time away you know what to focus on. Your quilting is so wonderful too bad a computerized quilting program couldn't be utilized (even if that meant a new quilting machine) even though it would be something new to learn in the long run it should help you out. You need a day at a spa or something to "chill out", you deserve it!

The Rx quilter said...

The first comment says it best..your 'babies' will grow up in a blink of eye. Is it possible to cut back on the quilting part for a bit and focus on the designing? Do you have an opportunity to 'rent' out time on your longarm...if you lived close to me, I would definitely sign up! The quilting will be there waiting when you are ready. Don't get overwhelmed by trying to make the right decision, it will paralyze you. Remember that your 'babies' will only be little once...I didn't miss out on anything of my twins, but I so would like to have one day back to enjoy it all over again. Lisa in Texas

Joan said...

You are the most amazing quilter I have ever seen! You have been blessed with a wonderful talent. I am not creative at all and can't imagine having those qualities. Just hang in there doing what you can. My kids are grown and gone - it really goes fast!

Zany Quilter said...

OK...either give up longarming because it involved a lot more thime than people realize and your hourly pay isn't worth the trade-off with your family. Or raise your longarming rates to such an amount that you decrease your amount of customers to a reasonable level and you make so much money doing it that you don't mind it as much. I gave up and sold my longarming business for all the reasons you cited...I just like the creative side more. And just because you are an awesome longarmer doesn't mean you have to be guilted into sticking with it...let your family win, take a break from the LA, and turn your skills into something you will enjoy more! You could be the next Camille Roskelley!! She probably couldn't get half her stuff done if she was longarming for others! LOL...Good luck!

Blogless me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogless me said...

Dear Judy,
You are the most awesome and inspiring long-arm quilter, light years ahead of the best ones around! I saw your work (unfortunately not in person, but on the web) when I "met" Emily through her blog more than a year ago. Since then I follow your blog and feast my eyes on your one-of-a-kind work. I have passed the link to your blog to every quilter I know and brag about your extraordinary quilting art any time I get the chance, just like proud parents often do about the achievements of their kids :-).
I really think you should not stop quilting - it would be a real loss for the art of quilting (I deliberately insist on using the word art and not craft because yours really is). I must acknowledge a vested interest here: for already a couple of years I've thought of making a Dear Jane quilt for my daughter. I bought the book, chose fabrics for the background, started gathering civil war repro fabrics since I love their charm and a month ago joined a european DJ club to have the moral support during the long journey ahead (I am doing everything by hand). One of my dreams was to have the quilt hand made by me but quilted by you. Here, it's out my little guilty secret ;-) !
That said, I have no doubts that in your place (I'd love to be in your place, not that I don't like my own one :-)) I would first and foremost enjoy my kids growing up and my family. I am in the process of doing exactly the same with my 7 year old daughter and would not change it for the world!
I very much hope you manage to find the right path for you - both personally and professionally - and have joy, satisfaction and pleasure along the way!
Just please, please, please do not completely abandon your quilting, even if you decide to scale it down! I would be happy to be put on a waiting list for my DJ, as long as it can be ready for when my daughter leaves home ;-). And of course, we can always find reasons to convince her to stay with us a couple of years more!
Good luck and thank you for bringing happiness to so many with your talent!

Beema said...

You have had a lot of comments posted on here - and I have not read them all, but as an LDS mother and wife, having raised 6 children, now all grown, I would tell you that you can never get those years back of enjoying and teaching and loving your children. They go by all too quickly - seriously! I now also quilt and am glad I didn't find this wonderful talent until my children were gone from home so I didn't have to have the same questions you're having now! Just remember "Family First" and then everything else will fall into place!

Jen said...

Coming from someone who has had a quilt quilted by you, I would hate to see you give that up because you are so talented. At the same time, you need to be happy in order to be the best mother and wife that you can be. If designing is where your passion is and where you would be the most happy, then I would make a conscious effort to spend some time on that.

I've seen a lot of professional quilters dedicate specific times of the year to designing or personal quilting time. Maybe you could do something like this. Similar to what others have suggested such as dedicating one day a week to designing, you could always dedicate two to three months out of the year to designing. You wouldn't schedule any quilts during this time and would be able to focus on your passion. Think about when market is typically and work backwards from there to see what you would need to do to showcase your patterns at market to be seen as that professional designer that you want to be. Maybe you stop accepting quilts for a couple of months to figure things out.

You are also admired by quite a few people all over the world for your machine piecing, so while it might not be where you initially thought your quilting career was going, you have a bright future ahead of you should you choose to continue with your long arm quilting. That is such a rare gift.

Not to downplay being a pattern designer, especially because I have often thought of doing so myself, but there are so many pattern designers out there and very few long armers of your skill level out there.

In the end, you need to do what is best for you and your family. That should be your number 1 priority. Do I hope that you continue to long arm? Of course, especially because I hope to have more quilts done by you in the future.

Kristen said...

Family comes first. Do what is right for you, not us out here.

I will say I am saving up so I can send you a few quilts. I would gladly wait a year for your lovely talent on my quilts!

Thearica said...

I found you through SewCalGal's Golden Quilter Awards and I wanted to comment on your post here.

When I moved to NC I was a hand quilter. 3 years in, carpal tunnel took that away from me so I purchased my 1st longarm. I started out doing only pantographs, mainly because I could not get custom to look anything like hand quilting. I finally took some classes and I found my niche with custom. I soon found myself quilting for several ladies in the community and getting work via 3 shoppes. My rack stayed full of quilts continuously. I never wanted for customers. As the customers saw the custom work I was doing, more and more of them wanted it until I was doing 90% custom. Needless to say, I fell behind.

Then, the inevitable happened. Someone in my family got sick. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next 3 years I found myself in a whirlwind of dilemas. I had numerous quilts hanging on the rack and no time to do them. My customers were very patient and understanding but it bothered me to see them hanging there and no ability to quilt.

During my mothers sickness I became depressed to the point that I could not "design" so I stopped going into my studio all together. One by one most of the customers picked up their quilts and sought a new quilter. This year I am re-opening my studio but with a lot less customers. But it is a good thing for me.

I am like you... I have designs on paper and in EQ that I have not had the time or desire to get patterned. I want to design some fabric too.

The past 3 years have taught me a valuable lesson. We simply cannot do it all and be wonder quilter too.

Through some of your photos I see you do a lot of the hard core custom too. My advice to you is to draw a line between how many customs you will do in a month and let the rest be your allover freehand work. Yes, this isn't as awesome as that fabulous custom, but it will open up a lot more time for your pattern and fabric designing.

I have finally realized that not all quilts deserve custom. I have made myself ask "Is this quilt for a show?" "Is this quilt for a bedspread?" "Or are you simply using it for cover?" "Or is it even going into a quilt cupboard?" If it isn't going on a bed for show or going into a quilt show, I do not do the hard core custom any longer. This has opened up a lot of time for me, myself, and I.

Your family should always come first.... And if you remain so bombarded as you are now...it would make it even tougher on you to face such a serious illness in your family (as we all do eventually) and then you will become even more upside down than you are right now. We all hope that never happens to us but as our parents age, it will come.

Sit down and take stock of all of your world. Your life as it is now... think about how it would influence your life as it is now to have someone very close to you to get ill...

Think about where you want to be 5 years from now..."Will continuing on the way you are now get you any closer to that?" Seriously consider your future with you and your family in mind... NOT your customers...NOT anything else..

Continued on next reply..

Thearica said...

I feel your pain because I was right where you are 3 years ago but it took my mom's illness and death to show me where I need to be.

I still quilt my custom...it makes me happy... I just don't quilt so much of it.. I have already designed my first custom pattern and that feels good.. I have yet to pick up my quilt patterns (piecing) but I will do that by summer. Right now I am finishing up the few quilts from the customers who have stuck out the entire ride with me and I feel good that I am down to less than 6 quilts now and have already started taking in new work to do once those are out the door.

But I have made myself a solemn promise not to take in as much work as I did before and not to do near as much custom work on customer quilts. This way my designing can begin and I can be well rounded as a quilter/artist/designer all in one package and feel good about it all.

I know you will find your "place" and where you exactly want to be right now. It will require much thought and no matter how much advice you get, it will directly come down to you and exactly what you want to do.

Good luck in whatever you decide and I wish you a fabulous career!

~Susan~ said...

Hi, Judi
I've been custom quilting for about 11 years. When I was about 2 years in, I had a 60-month waiting list and the pressure was killing me. People would tell their friends, ``Oh, don't call her. She won't get to your quilt for 6 months.'' Then my mentor told me anytime you have an out-of-control waiting list, it's a clear sign that you need to raise your prices. That immediately cut the wait down to 3 months. Much more manageable and reasonable. The clients who want your best work will stick around; those who would be happy with some other quilter will be happy with some other quilter.

When I ask God for guidance, I always get it.

Susan in Texas
http://customquilter.blogspot.com

Maggie A said...

Hi Judi

Lots of wisdom in these replies. My thoughts are that you schedule YOU into your life. You are an unbelievable quilter (I want to be as good as you when I grow up). You need to slot your designing into your work life. Your quilting list may grow longer but you will always have a steady stream. Wor out your dollar target for each week and let the rest flow from there. If you don't do your designing you will begin to resent the quilting, lose interest and burn out. Can you schedule one day a week for you and your designs? Set up a design wall near your quilting area so you can see it all the time. Don't stifle your talent.