Time flies when you're having fun!

The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.
— Mark Caine

Wow does time fly when you decide to jump into a new business.  I went through photos from the first year and was surprised how much is a blur.  It's been fun, it doesn't feel like a year at all.

We have a logo!  It was pretty exciting how quickly a concept can become a logo, then how quickly it can become a brand when plastered on many things. And to think it all started with a sketch on a yellow legal pad. Below are just a few examples. 

What will we think of next to slap our logo on ?!

What will we think of next to slap our logo on ?!

Can’t have a business without setting up the infrastructure so there were a few (ahem, many) trips to City Hall to get set up.  Even a hearing to have a variance granted since “long arm quilting” isn’t in the zoning books – yet! 

It started getting real when I saw this!

It started getting real when I saw this!

St. Louis City Hall and its' beautiful ceiling.

St. Louis City Hall and its' beautiful ceiling.

Once we got the long arm set up mid-July, time to start practicing quilting.  Luckily, we have a large family and luckily they love quilts. Everyone got a quilt for Christmas!  Making these quilts helped us learn the machine, try various techniques, and trouble shoot when problems arose. 

Thirteen were quilted in the first month of having the long arm.

Thirteen were quilted in the first month of having the long arm.

The first custom order was really exciting.  A queen size pinwheel.  There were many photos along the way as this customer lives in Texas.  Here are a few as it evolved. I would still be happy to get a phone call that says, “We changed our mind, can we send it back?”  Loved this quilt.

Organizing the pattern on the white board, all the Rifle Paper fabrics arriving, the back having been washed, and sewing the blocks.

Organizing the pattern on the white board, all the Rifle Paper fabrics arriving, the back having been washed, and sewing the blocks.

The photo below is the pattern used on the first “customer” quilt.  The Mariner’s Compass that was a king size.  There were numerous borders, so we experimented with different designs that were already loaded on our computer.  A challenging first quilt, but what a great way to build confidence! Below shows the final pattern.

A grainy photo of the computer screen, but red shows completed stitching. It's all done - over 338,000 stitches!

A grainy photo of the computer screen, but red shows completed stitching. It's all done - over 338,000 stitches!

One of the great benefits of our type long arm is you can design patterns original patterns.  We’ve done a simple paper airplane design to complete the theme fabric used in a baby quilt to a Celtic cross for an Irish Chain quilt, and a family coat of arms for a family heirloom.

We have a piece of yellow fabric with a variety of designs to show customers.  The Celtic Cross is from the quilt it was quilted on.

We have a piece of yellow fabric with a variety of designs to show customers.  The Celtic Cross is from the quilt it was quilted on.

Besides getting hugs when a customer is pleased with our work, we have received many cool gifts. Magazine subscriptions, plants, work supplies, etc., the collage below shows how our space began to feel like home.

The gentleman & lady are often commented on by visitors, the art work is always a conversation starter, and believe it or not, there is a seam ripper in the last photo.  Even though it's beautiful, I never want to use it. :)

The gentleman & lady are often commented on by visitors, the art work is always a conversation starter, and believe it or not, there is a seam ripper in the last photo.  Even though it's beautiful, I never want to use it. :)

We also have time to have a little fun - like making a Christmas wreath for our door.  Why go conventional when it’s cheaper to decorate with sewing supplies you have on hand? We decided to mix it up with the logo and changed the colours to green and red with a Santa hat replacing the top hat. Below is a photo our wreath.

Christmas wreath.jpg

The one thing we’ve learned is key?  Tension. The good kind, the kind necessary to make a quilt pattern last for years, the stitching look perfect, and this is achieved with this little gizmo.  Life has been so much better since the Towa gauge got added to the mix!

towa.jpg

The key to keeping a well run long arm is changing the needle every quilt so we grabbed some packing material to collect the dead soldiers.  A few of my broken pins and sewing needles have found their way to the bone yard as well.  I think it's time to start a new boneyard, see below.

Check out the bent pin above! You can also see how we generate lint above.

Check out the bent pin above! You can also see how we generate lint above.

This first year has brought us nearly 50 customers.  125 quilts as of today!  So many wonderful new friends because really, are there any nicer people than those who quilt?  I think not.  It was a leap of faith and I think the quote this post opened with sums up the change in direction. Speaking of quotes, one of the best was when I was at a fabric store and talking about TGQ and she asked, "How many employees do you have?" I laughed and said, "None."  She said, "It sounds so busy." Our space may only be 400 square feet, but we're making it happen.  It has been a great first year and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for TGQ!  We hope you will join us!!