As I am busily finishing off the last quilts of the year before Christmas, I find that it is a good time to look back and think about the year that was and think about what is to come.
I wonder if you are thinking about the same things? Do you think you have grown your skills this year? What can you do now that you haven’t been able to do in the past? What steps have you taken to get there? Classes, books, DVD’s? Good old fashioned practice? I hope you all are progressing nicely with your quilting and always look to further your skills each year. When you look back, you may really be surprised, and dare I say, impressed with your achievements this year.
At this time, I like to look forward and plan some projects for myself for the upcoming year. Can you believe it is 2011 coming up???? Wow, time has really flown by. I hope to make another wholecloth (or two??) over the summer break (I take January off each year, if I can to do these things for myself) and maybe even finish off a few UFO or two.
AMQA is having another Quilt Challenge next year. It is open to all AMQA members. There is a pieced quilt category and a wholecloth quilt category. Details will be further on in this newsletter.I hope that everyone will give it a go and enter the challenge. Are you up for it?
This month’s newsletter features a profile of Raylee Bielenberg, our AMQA Inc Vice President. Sharon French of Morning Star Quilting has written an article about her experiences volunteering at AMQAS/AMQF. I have also written an article - with a wonderful contribution from Kathy and Geoff Adams of KoolKat Quilting - about maintaining a professional image when working from home, which I will admit, can be very difficult at times.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter. Please have a safe and Merry Christmas and get your thinking caps on ready for our 2011 Quilt Challenge.
Christmas is fast approaching and like many of you, I am busy finishing off the last of my Customer Quilts. Haven’t even thought about gifts or cooking at this stage. Guess it will happen, always does.
In October this year, we held the AMQAS in conjunction with AMQF in Adelaide. This was a wonderful Show and I again Congratulate all those that participated. In my eyes, everyone was a winner. So many original works both in piecing and Quilting. The categories included Domestic, Hand Guided and Computer assisted. We have some very talented Quilters here in Australia.
We Committee thought that it would be a good idea to have another Quilt Challenge for 2011. The rules and requirements will be laid out in the newsletter. I would like to thank Michele Turner and Raylee Bielenberg for putting everything together. I hope you take the time to read the rules etc., and enter this fantastic challenge. I know that many of you who entered the previous one enjoyed it immensely and have been looking forward to another one. So here’s your chance to showcase your work once again.
You will note that we have a For Sale section now on the web site. So if you have a machine you wish to sell, please send details to the Web Diva and she will include it on the web page. Also, we are looking at adding a Community section. This will be used for notifying our member of Charity Quilts or items that are required by different Organizations. AMQA will not be involved in anyway. This is for posting only with contact details etc., so that you can follow up if interested.
I wish to congratulate the Committee on the wonderful job they are doing. This Association would not function if it wasn’t for the dedication of these wonderful ladies. They are all running there own businesses and have families to look after and still manage to find the time to keep up to date with the running of the Association. So on behalf of myself and our Members. I Thank You.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2011.
Volunteering at AMQAS/AMQF
by Sharon French
When I originally put up my hand for volunteering at AMQAS I had no idea how much fun I would have and what an opportunity this would be to learn and meet so many new people.
I came down to Adelaide on the Wednesday before the Festival opened with the intention of doing some shopping and heading up to Murray Bridge for a couple of days with my good friend Val Towill. Val then put her hand up to be our wonderful volunteer coordinator and told me that we would be staying in Adelaide for Judging Day (Thursday) and set up day (Friday) before the Festival started. I’d booked my flights so I was in!!
Judging Day was a fantastic experience. If you ever get an opportunity to work on a Judging Day, take up the chance. It was incredible pulling all those beautiful quilts out of their calico bags – what a treat to see them all. I spent time sorting and organising the quilts, helping with the set up for photos and also in the judging room itself. This was the highlight of the day. The two judges, Susan Campbell and Tina Whittaker were amazing and what a job they had. They were both very willing to share with the volunteers what they were looking at and how they were making their decisions. Although as quilters we ‘know’ what judges look for, to have this first hand experience was a huge bonus for me.
Set up day – well that was busy! To see the whole Festival and Show go from an empty room to a full-blown exhibition and festival in just a few hours was wonderful. Didn’t it look great - the quilts all hanging and looking beautiful.
Other areas where volunteers worked were as classroom angels, vendor mall angels and white glove angels.
As a classroom angel I got to sit in on a class with Kim Brunner on the Friday afternoon. A classroom angel is basically the teachers assistants, marking off students names, taking money, passing out handouts, writing receipts, sorting out any problems which occur during the class (air con, equipment, lighting, etc). There really wasn’t much to do, other than be there if the teacher needed you. So I got to sit in on a great class, and for those of you in this class, you will remember what a great laugh we had teaching Kim which American slang terms NOT to use in our country. Kim got an education in her own class!!
Vendor Mall Angels, just roam around the vendor mall and if the vendors need anything (toilet break, drinks, etc) it is our job to accommodate their needs. This was a lovely opportunity to meet the vendors, have a chat, and help them out, where necessary. They were all very grateful for the support and thought it was a great idea for a show.
We have all seen white glove ladies at our own State and local shows, so I don’t need to tell you what is required in this areas, except to say, you have to be careful how hard you slap sticky fingers as they get too near the quilts. I wasn’t allowed to do this job!
“Angelling” was a great opportunity to actively participate in the Festival and AMQA Show. It was also an opportunity to meet a lot more people than I would have just attending classes.
I’d also like to say a huge thanks to all the angels who volunteered at the festival and show. It really was a case of many hands make light work. We had one angel, Belinda, who I’d like to say a special thanks to. She got us out of trouble on several occasions when we were short of angels. Thanks to everyone who volunteered.
Meet Your Committee Members
Vice President - Raylee Bielenberg
Last August I was pleased to step away from my computer after the AMQA AGM having been voted in as the Vice President, here’s an opportunity to help I thought. So here’s a little info about me.
I have been sewing for most of my life. It's a bit like reading, I don't remember not knowing how to do it, sew that is. I still have my first quilts, cut with scissors using a cardboard template, not many corners match, and quilting? What quilting? Buttons hold them together. These quilts are wonderful reminders of some items of clothing worn by our family as they are made from leftover fabric. Things are certainly different now.
As I have been sewing for many years I had collected a few projects that needed finishing, as we all do. Mum and I purchased a short arm machine to complete these projects though I soon found that I was thinking on a bigger scale and after much research I decided on the A-1 Longarm machine as I love the features it has. After a trip to Sydney to the Quilting Symposium 2009 where I learnt a lot from those already in the quilting business and was tempted by much fabric and sewing items, my machine was delivered and set up in its current position. That was a very busy weekend for us all. Now my Mum has a quilter she knows very well.
I haven’t always been a quilter; my previous work was in Pathology and then being a Mum. Thomas and I married in 1995 and we have four boys aged 11, 10, 5 & 3 years old. We have settled in Canberra and I use the studio out back for my sewing and quilting. My 11yo has made a small quilt this year and won a prize. I asked him how he wanted to quilt it, thinking of the domestic machine. “I’m going to use the big machine Mum!” And he did. After that I had to go shopping with the 10yo to buy fabric for the quilt he’s going to make. I’m pleased to say they all call them quilts (no rugs here!).
When I was looking into starting a quilting business I was pleased to find the Australian Machine Quilting Association on the web and be able to talk to some one if I needed to and also ‘listen’ to comments and questions posted online. Part of my role as VP is to improve the Mentoring Program so if you have indicated your interest in either mentoring or being mentored I will be in contact soon.
Sunflower Quilting is my business name and it is a flower I love. I had my first customer other than my Mum last August and I’m quite pleased with how my first year as a quilter has progressed. I have been fortunate to have quilts come my way which has pushed me to learn and grow in skill and technique. My work is mostly pantographs but I have also enjoyed the challenge of custom work. I love seeing my customer’s faces when they see their quilt top quilted, and I enjoy being part of the completion process.
If you are going to be in Canberra let me know, the kettle doesn’t take long to boil.
Article - Maintaining A Professional Image When Working From Home
by Michele Turner with contributions from Kathy and Geoff Adams of KoolKat Quilting
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I began my business back in 2003 was that I was running my business from home. To me, it was very important that I maintained a professional image with my clients. I wanted them to take my business as seriously as I was taking it myself. I did not wish to be perceived as a hobbyist trying to make a few extra dollars. Rather I wanted to be seen as a respectable and trustworthy place that clients could bring their quilts and receive a quality service for which they were happy to pay.
My situation was complicated by my having three small children at home and limited space. So what did I do to increase the professionalism that I presented, despite all client transactions taking place in my home? First of all, I made sure my home was clean, tidy and welcoming. I would not want to leave my precious quilt with someone who didn't care enough about their surroundings to clean their own floor, so I made sure mine was always clean. To manage this with small children who are not keen on clean, I had appointments scheduled only on certain days of the week and did not, and still do not encourage drop ins. Having clients make an appointment also added to the perception of professionalism.
Kathy agrees. She wrote, "The guiding principle for presenting a professional image as business people is to remember to keep seeing our businesses through the eyes of our customers. Home-based businesses face particular challenges – there is the potential conflict between home and business life. Matters such as business hours, who answers the phone, etc need to be discussed within the family and agreement reached. Children need to learn they can’t barge into your workspace or yell at the top of their voices when you’re with a customer or on the phone."
What Kathy said is very true. I have a dual line from Telstra and the business number rings a different tone so that my family know which is a business call and which is a personal call. It really helps.
It is also important that customers have easy access to your business and that your place of work is clean and tidy. Kathy says, "What does the customer see when they arrive – do you have a separate work area, clearly marked with signage so that you can be found easily? While it isn’t essential to have a show-winning garden, is the yard tidy and external appearance presentable? First impressions count." How often do you return to a store that is unkempt and uncared for? When we are at home all the time, it its easy to develop a blindness to your surroundings. Go out and take a look at what your clients will see when they arrive and meet you at your place. Is your dog overly friendly? Make sure they are away, not everyone is a dog lover. Will anyone trip over the cat? Likewise, ask kitty to rest on the bed while you have a client over. Yes, our businesses are in our homes, but we are asking people in and providing them with a service. How would you like to be treated and see if you were in your clients' shoes?
Communication is also an important aspect of your business, and one I personally struggle with often. Kathy has suggested to consider' "Do you answer the phone in 3 rings, give your name and business name? Smile when you answer the phone, even on those days when it hurts." and with regard to email, "Email – while we often are deluged, do you reply to customers that day? Electronic communication is instantaneous and websites are operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hence, no-one who is serious about giving good service should take a week to respond to an email or follow-up on a web-based sale if you sell products from your site." How do you manage communications with your clients?
Professionalism is maintained in your pricing and invoicing system. I always give the client a firm price when they bring the quilt to me. I feel this avoids any 'sticker shock' when they are expecting quilting for $XX and it costs $XXX. If I err and it takes me longer, then I simply take it on the chin. Believe me, you stop accidentally underquoting very quickly in this case. To me, it is better to wear the price difference than ask for more $$$ when the client picks up the quilt. I think it would be a public relations nightmare. I would not want word to get out that I had done this to someone. Kathy also gives a quote up front. She wrote, " Quoting – this should be in writing, preferably when the sale is made. Machine Quilting Business Manager (MQBM) is fairly good software for this – although at times it has some irritating foibles. Verbal quotes aren’t worth the paper they are written on." Clients need to know what they are getting, how much it costs and when their quilts will be complete. Following through on your promises will maintain your professionalism.
Kathy also adds the following points. "What do your customers see when they see you? Dress like you were going to your job – after all, that is exactly what you are doing. " Whilst I have been caught out once, I do dress neatly every day. It is easy for me, as I do have children and have to face the world each morning and afternoon. Think about how you might appear to your clients. Does the way you present yourself show them that you take your job seriously?
Are your brochures, website, blog etc up to date? Kathy says to think about, "communications materials – business cards, price-lists, brochures etc. Take a minute to look at the quality of the material that comes as inserts in your newspaper or as junk mail in your letter-box. Very little of this is now just black type on a plain sheet of A4 bond paper. Colour and graphics are standard fare." Again, I agree with Kathy. Professionalism means caring about each aspect of your business and promotional material is another aspect that is very important.
The most important professional indicator, I think, is what do you do when something goes wrong? I wrote a full business plan before I started my business, and it does contain a policy in this situation. Have you thought about what you will do? Being prepared for this situation will make it easier if you encounter it (I hope you don't). Do you have a refund/repair/replacement policy to enact? Kathy writes, "This is the toughest situation of all, but it will happen." It is appropriate to be prepared, even if you have taken all precautions and always do the best job you can.
Running a business from home is very fulfilling. It affords many lifestyle benefits that working outside the home does not. It is easy to become complacent, so I hope that I, and Kathy, have given you some food for thought.
AMQA Quilt Challenge 2011
￼AMQA is running a challenge in 2011. There are two Main Categories, Pieced Quilt and Wholecloth Quilt and two sub-categories in each. One for computerised quilting and one for hand guided quilting. Guidelines for the entries are as follows:
- Can be from any single piece of fabric.
- Any colour may be used. (However, black is not recommended due to its photographic qualities for magazines).
- Must be a 40” x 40” square when completed.
- You may use any quilting techniques and design you choose. No embellishments, crystals, beads or colouring.
- If a computerised quilting system has been used for ANY part of the quilting, you must enter in the computerised subcategory.
- Quilt must be completed after January 1, 2009.
- Pieced Quilt
- Must finish at 46” x 46” square. Quilt must be made according to pattern provided.
- No embellishments to be used, be creative with your quilting.
- Plain or patterned fabric using a three coloured palette of purple, blue and red. Any variation and as many variations as you like, in these three colours only. No other colours to be used.
- If a computerised quilting system has been used for ANY part of the quilting, you must enter in the computerised category.
The entry forms will be available for download in February. The pattern for the pieced quilt will be available for download as soon as practical. It will be available in the files section of our Members Only Yahoo Group and also from the AMQA Website.
Michele Turner is offering a prize for the first person who can correctly guess the inspiration that Raylee used for designing the quilt. Email me, email@example.com , your guess. I will publish all guesses in the Newsletter. The first to correctly guess the inspiration will receive a Moda Charm Pack.
Achievements in Longarm Quilting
Following are Prize Winning quilts from the Adelaide Festival of Quilts that were quilted by Longarm Machine Quilters.
Two Person Category
1st place Lone Star Quiltmaker Pat Schlemaker, quilted by Judy Simcock
2nd place Shades of Blue Quiltmaker Margie Crombie, quilted by Helen Campbell
3rd place Applique Quiltmaker Allan Moffatt, quilted by Elaine Kennedy
Predominantly Applique Category
2nd place Midas Touch Melissa Bull, quilted by Suzanne Akhurst
1st place Strike a Pose Quiltmaker Bernadette Robinson, quilted by Kim Bradley
2nd place Aztec Butterflies Quiltmaker Jill Lush, quilted by Sally McKenzie
Excellence in Long/Shortarm Quilting
Strike a Pose, quilted by Kim Bradley
1st Place A New Beginning Flerieu Quilters Committee, quilted by Val Towill
AMQA Web Site
Quilters and Their Machine Page
We would like to update this page to give you an opportunity to highlight yourself and your most important tool, your quilting machine. Please send me a few paragraphs about yourself, including information such as when and why you started quilting for others, about your machine and why you chose it, where you live and any other interesting things you have to say about your quilting life. Please include a photo of you and your machine that we can place on the website.
Find a Machine Quilter Page
Please have a look at your information on the ‘Find a machine Quilter’ page and check to see that it is current and valid. Some of you may have changed address, telephone number or e-mail address so please take a minute to check your listing. If you have a link, please make sure you take a minute to check that it is correct and your website is accurate and up to date. Sometimes we forget to update things on our web sites and any link to an invalid address or to incorrect information compromises the professional image of AMQA.
If you would like a web link attached to your name, please contact Suzanne, the Web Diva and give her the corrections to be made.
We hope that you take the time to check your information and notify us of any changes required. Thank You!
Behind the Scenes
We would love to hear of any local quilt shows or events near you! Please email your details to Raylee nd we will include it in the newsletter and on the AMQA website.
AMQA still needs a secretary to be on the AMQA Committee. The requirements are:
The secretary must be an individual residing in Queensland, or in another State but not more than 65km from the Queensland border.
Functions of Secretary
The secretary’s functions include, but are not limited to—
(a) calling meetings of the association, including preparing notices of a meeting and of the business to be conducted at the meeting in consultation with the president of the association; and
(b) keeping minutes of each meeting; and
(c) keeping copies of all correspondence and other documents relating to the association; and
(d) maintaining the register of members of the association.
(e) duties of the secretary may be delegated to other committee positions, such as minute secretary, membership secretary, as required.
Please, if you fulfil the residential requirements and are able to perform the duties of Secretary, please contact Terry Elverd. The committee ‘meets’ once a month via Skype linkup. There is an AMQA Committee Yahoogroup which the committee uses to communicate on a regular basis. You will find that the other committee members will welcome you with open arms and will give you all the help you need to get going. Thank you.
Coming Up Next Time…
We NEED more pictures - please share your triumphs and quilts that you are extra proud of - don't be shy. Email them to me please! firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission Deadline is January 31, 2011, so do it NOW!
Article –Hints and Tips on How to Stay Focused when working from home
Your 2010-11 Committee and Contact Details
President: Terry Elverd, WA email@example.com
Vice President: Raylee Bielenberg, ACT firstname.lastname@example.org
Secretary: Susanne Hughes, Qld email@example.com
Treasurer: Gayle Dayman, SA firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership Secretary: Gayle Dayman, SA email@example.com
Minute Secretary: Jo Northcott, WA firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Diva: Suzanne Cappello, NSW email@example.com
Editor: Michele Turner, NSW firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Nixon, SA email@example.com
Val Towill, SA firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon McGill, WA email@example.com
Tracey Browning, SA firstname.lastname@example.org
AMQA Corporate Members
Our Corporate Members are:-
Lorien Quilting - Australian publisher of machine quilting patterns by local and international designers. We carry block designs and motifs, pattern sets and a huge range of pantographs for all sizes of quilting machine. Our pattern clubs are a must for adding variety to your pattern stash while saving big bucks! Visit our website for discounts www.lorienquilting.com We would like to give a special thank you to Hermione of Lorien Quilting for allowing AMQA to use her design "Fantasia" on the background of the new AMQA website.