How to Start Your Quilting Business

Do friends and family members ask for you to make quilts for them? Is someone asking where you got that pillow that you quilted yourself? Sometimes, when we get good at our craft, we find people who want to buy our work. That’s when a business starts to grow, so where do you start?

Today we’re going to dive into how you can start your own at-home quilting business. Now, a quilting business doesn’t mean you have to create projects endlessly; in fact, there are possibilities in pattern creation, custom requested works, and more. In this post, we’ve pulled together some steps to make your own quilting business and how to start.

Create Your Business Plan

While a business can start with some scribbled plans in your notes app, creating a successful one without a real plan is much more challenging. Businesses, large and small, begin to see success when some serious planning and budgeting is put into play. A business plan is a roadmap you create for your company.

Business plans should include:

  • Description of your business
  • How do you plan to manage it
  • The products and services you plan to sell
  • Market and competitor research
  • Budget and finance plans
  • Marketing and advertising plans

All of these things can be completed by you, but if you decide to build your brand and go legal, look for a professional who focuses on small businesses. They can help you decide on a business structure that’s best for your plan and are more likely to have contacts that can help you in finance and marketing matters when you need it. Need help creating your plans? Keep up with JUKI Business Plus blog posts to help you start your business here.

Getting the Right Equipment

Now that you have your business idea in motion let’s start thinking about the equipment you’ll need for your small business.

The Machines

The best thing about quilting is it doesn’t require a specialty machine. There are two basic types of machine quilting that quilters can access on most sewing machines—straight line and free motion.

Straight-Line

This type is best accomplished by replacing a regular presser foot with a walking foot and even feed foot. A walking foot is a specialized pressure foot that grips the top of the quilt sandwich, advancing it through the machine at the same rate as the quilt’s back, which touches and is moved along by the sewing machine’s feed dogs.

A machine like the TL-2010Q is perfect for basic straight stitches and piecing. However, a free motion quilting machine like the TL-18QVP or Miyabi J-350QVP is required for designs like curves and intricate patterns.

Free Motion Quilting

With free motion quilting, you’re able to create intricate designs as if you had hand-stitched them into the quilt. Learning FMQ takes time, but many resources are available that teach you to create unique designs.

For FMQ, the machine’s feed dogs are lowered, meaning nothing is in place under the quilt sandwich to guide it along. The quilter is in total control of the motion. Now your speed and how fast you run the sewing machine work together to determine stitch length. You have options on sewing feet like a darning foot or a special foot for machine quilting. Remember that special feet resemble a darning foot but have larger openings.

A machine like the Miyabi J-350QVP is perfect for free motion quilting since you have a large workspace and can use the machine bars to move and design intricate pieces.

What to Sell

If you’ve thought about opening your quilting business, you probably already have some ideas set aside on what you would sell in your shop. However, there are so many ways to make money with your long-arm or sewing machine, so let’s review some options for what you can do with yours!

Quilts Commissions

Not everyone has the skills for quilting, and that’s where quilters like you come in to help! With so many quilt lovers in the world who don’t have the time and skills to create their ideas, you can offer services for making custom quilts. A venture like this is excellent because of revenue, as shoppers pay well for handcrafted personalized items.

Mass Production

Use that machine! Mass production doesn’t have to mean creating 100’s of quilts, but instead using simple designs and creating multiples of the quilt to sell in marketplaces or e-shops. Also, not every quilt has to be unique, as many homeowners enjoy simple pieces they can add to family rooms and bedrooms.

Patterns

Owning a quilting business doesn’t mean just selling quilts. Many quilters love to try their hand at creating new projects. Create patterns and upload their PDF files onto your site! By selling physical copies to your local quilt shop, you now have a product that people can continually purchase that doesn’t require you to quilt!

Long-Arm Rentals

Do you have a long arm at home? Many quilters work on domestic home machines, meaning they don’t have that large workspace long-arm quilters have. Offer long-arm rentals to local quilters for hourly rates, and enjoy that time to work on other projects. You can also offer your skills for rent and finish quilts for others on your long arm.

Teach Quilting

If you’ve been quilting for years, attended quilting classes yourself, and find yourself teaching friends and family, look into teaching! Contact your local quilt shop’s favorite sewing brands, or start your own social media channel. There are always new quilters in the world looking for instruction, and with technology, you can offer online and in-person education.

How and Where to Sell

Now that you have an idea of what services and products you can offer let’s discuss how you will reach your audience and sell to them. In our day and age, many small businesses begin on social media platforms or e-shops.

Social Media and Sales

The best way to reach your audience is through social media platforms. Easily accessible and free to use, sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and more have opened up new sales channels for small businesses. One of the first things you should do when starting a side-hustle is set up a business or company page. Many customers now run to social media sites to see if your company is legit before ordering. In addition, these sites offer customers the opportunity to see what kind of products and services you offer, customer reviews, and so much more.

Social media sites now offer selling points for businesses as well. Facebook marketplace, for example, is perfect for selling home goods. Anyone can post an item for sale, and you can hit niche markets easily by discovering pages and groups for specific topics. Facebook marketplace does hold guidelines that sellers must abide by when selling, and can be found here. (link guidelines)

Instagram offers its version of an e-shop now as well. With Instagram shopping, you’re able to post products for sale directly onto your Instagram account. Think of this as a digital storefront for your shop. You can include graphics, videos, shopping tags, and more to drive sales. It also allows you to place full product descriptions, advertisements, and more. However, unlike Facebook, there is an approval process for selling on Instagram’s shop. To have a shop on Instagram, you need a business page, Instagram shop approval, and a small fee is applied.

Remember that you don’t need to invest money when selling on social media off the bat. Instead, you can focus on organically growing your business by word of mouth, using engaging posts, and attaching hashtags to your descriptions.

E-Shops

If you feel you’ve outgrown selling on social media sites and want to upgrade, the next step we recommend is researching e-shops. Now there are multiple options when it comes to opening an e-shop, so we gathered a few of the top ones below:

eBay: This eCommerce site has been a go-to for sellers since 1995. With the ability to sell any form of product and service, you can sell services like finishing quilts, or you sell your hand-made projects. Their fees include non-refundable product/service listings and fee charges if you’re placing your product in multiple categories for sale. The perks of this site revolve around its popularity. With eBay constantly having high traffic, your items can easily be accessed by customers all over the country.

Etsy: Artisan-focused and highly popular, Etsy is the perfect e-shop location for someone opening their small business. This site allows you to promote and sell your handcrafted products at low fees. Listing fees are $0.20 for each item and will last for four months. This site is great for upgrading their shops but isn’t ready to fully commit to a website.

Shopify: Shopify is an excellent option for those opening their first e-shop. With Shopify, you can create a website to sell your products and customize the site to your aesthetic. This is a significant step when building your credibility as an established business! Everything is now done on this site, from placing products and selling to handling inventory and processing payments. Shopify comes with a monthly fee from a Basic package of $29 to an Advanced package for $299.

In-Person Sales

If you’re someone who enjoys selling in person, research your local farmer’s markets and artisan fairs! You can purchase a shop space and sell to new customers you wouldn’t have reached online by communicating with these event planners. These events do require a larger budget and should be planned accordingly. Keep in mind the furniture you’ll need to showcase your products, how you’ll handle money, and other variables like food, inventory, and more. ‘

Get To Work

Now that you have a basic rundown of what you need to start your new side business, it’s time to sit down and plan! Circling back to the start of our planning, it’s time to create that business plan. Remember to include your product/service plan, marketing plan, budget plan, and finance plan. Starting a business plan is like building a roadmap. Follow the roadmap, and you’ll have a much higher chance of reaching your destination, a thriving business, than trying to jump into this with a few notes written down.

We hope this has been able to help you get a clearer vision for your future quilting business! So if you’re looking to start your own quilting business, join us here to learn more about JUKI Business plus and how we can help you today!

Let’s Create A Quilt Pattern

Have you been dreaming of a quilt idea, but you’re not sure how to bring it to life? At JUKI, we want to help you elevate your quilting skills, which comes with learning how to create your own quilt patterns and designs. So we created a base for you to start with different methods to make a pattern and applications that can assist.

Start from the Beginning

Before we can dive into creating a pattern, let’s touch base on the creative process it takes to get there. One of the best things you can do is begin a design journal, where you can jot down notes, attach scraps of fabrics, place photos, and more that will lead you to create the design you’re imagining.

Learn to upload your ideas into a digital surface. You can redraw and clean up your designs from their sketch versions here. Create a library and label it with a title like ‘New Patterns’ to keep up with your ideas. With this digital organization, you can keep a hold on pattern ideas and add touches as inspiration comes until you have a quilt design you’re ready to work with and bring to life.

If this is your first time designing a quilt, and a blank page seems daunting, lean into the power of self-imposed limitations. Create with quilt size in mind, limit yourself to fabrics already in your arsenal, hold yourself to only using 6 fat quarters. When you start off, creating limits on designs creates a constraint on specific variables, allowing those free variables to make you think outside the box and design quilts you wouldn’t have created otherwise.

Breaking Down A Quilt

Let’s begin by breaking up the layout.

Look at your design and find the repeating elements. Here is where we’ll start forming the blocks. Figuring out your blocks is usually an easy process; however, working more towards modern or complicated patterns can be more challenging. When you first start creating your patterns, start with repetition and begin building your blocks for the quilt and pattern from there.

As you design your quilt, figure out the arrangement style you plan to work with. While some block designs need to be in even numbers for the quilt to come out right, other times you can create symmetric blocks that allow you to use either odd or even numbers. Remember that patterns can be built with one size in mind or edited for different size options. If you’re someone who plans to sell their patterns, customers look favorably upon having the option to choose sizes.

Once you’ve determined the design and size of your quilt, you can choose between adding borders or not. Borders are an excellent addition for multiple reasons; cleaner finish, more breathing space when creating, or as an addition to the size of your quilt pattern. Depending on your design, you can widen or tighten the border size and allow those who use your pattern the option to decide what best fits them.

Keep in mind that a quilt block size averages 6″ to 18″. You have the option to create other shapes like triangles, rectangles, and more if you want to venture away from traditional squares.

Guidelines for Pattern Creating

Now that we have a design idea, we can begin writing instructions. As you start creating the instructions and erasing and creating some more, you’ll begin to build an instruction guide that others can follow along with. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing out your pattern instructions.

  • Who is this pattern being marketed to?

Break down your pattern and think about who will be trying to follow along. New quilters will need more instructions than advanced quilters that don’t need much detail. Keep this in mind as you add instructions, tips, and illustrations to your work.

  • Instructions

Patterns don’t usually have instructions on basic techniques, like baste, quilt, and bind. Still, it usually includes instructions for advanced techniques like binding corners and adding curved piecing. To keep patterns from being overfilled with instructions, you can include links to videos and blogs that dive deeper into specific techniques.

  • Keep A Pattern Piece Library

Your first pattern creation might be complex, but once you have a few under your belt, you’ll find that it’s easy to re-use previous patterns when creating new ones. If you keep up with past projects and use them as foundations for new ones, you’ll save time, and your patterns will begin advancing.

  • Be Consistent

If you’re writing patterns to share with others, make sure to be consistent in quilting terms. When it comes time to patent your patterns if you’re choosing to sell, not having the correct terms can cause you to lose the patent. The consistent format also includes focusing on writing your measurements, quilting terminology, and your action and verb tenses. Keep in mind to label your fabric pieces, like Fabric A and Fabric B, so that the instructions are easy to follow.

Breakdown the Quilt Measurements

Now that we’ve moved on to instructions, math is the most crucial factor. Follow along as we go over a quilt example to show you an easy way to calculate your quilt squares and cutting requirements.

Step 1: Quilt block and Cutting instructions

Let’s begin by breaking down the block into its individual components. Our example quilt comprises a 3 x 3 arrangement of components.

Let’s break down these pieces further! Include pieces like HST components here.

You are now at the individual fabric pieces if you’re creating a simple quilt like we’re showing here. However, if your designs are more complex and have more components, keep breaking it down until you’ve hit every piece you need for each block.

Now that we know the individual pieces needed let’s multiply the fabric pieces per block and place that in its own column. Our example quilt will have 12 blocks in a 3×4 block placement, so we will multiply by 12. Once you’ve calculated how many blocks you’ll need, your last column should showcase how many fabric pieces you’ll need for the project in total.

Now that we have the pieces planned for our quilt, let’s move on to creating cutting instructions.

A. Charm Squares: 24 are used as-is for making the HSTs (6” x 6”) and 12 trimmed for the centers of each block (5 ½” x 5 ½”).

B. Minimum background fabric required:

                1. Figure out how many pieces can be cut from a single width of fabric (WOF) strip for each of the fabric pieces:

Dividing 50” (our assumed WOF) by 5 ½” you get 9.09 so round down to 9. You can get 9 squares 5 ½” x 5 ½” from each 5 ½” x WOF strip.

Dividing 50” by 6” you get 8.333 so round down to 8. You can get 8 squares 6” x 6” from each 6” x WOF strip.

                2. Divide the number of fabric pieces needed by the number of pieces you can get per strip to figure out how many strips are required.

Our example pattern requires 48 background squares (5 ½” x 5 ½”) and you can get 9 squares per strip so 48/9 = 5.333 which rounds out to 5. In this case, to cut 48 squares, you will need 5 strips of 5 ½” x WOF.

Our example pattern also requires 24 squares for the HSTs (6” x 6”) and you can get 8 squares per strip so 24/8 = 3. To cut 24 squares (6” x 6”), you will need 3 strips of 6” x WOF.

Step 2: Let’s Add a Border!

A finished quilt looks great with a border! Let’s go over how to figure out the strips you’ll need for the border.

Here’s how to figure out your yardage for the side borders:

# of blocks x-height of blocks (unfinished) – ½ times [# of blocks -1]

To create the top and bottom borders, use this equation:

Quilt top width + side border thickness + the side border thickness – 1″ (for seam allowances).

Step 3: Find The Yardage For The Quilt Top

To calculate the yardage of background fabric needed, multiply the number of strips times the thickness of the strips for all of the strip sizes you use.

Step 4: Include Binding Fabric Measurements

Calculate the binding fabric (for a straight grain), by adding up the lengths of the 4 sides and adding 10″ of safe space before dividing by the width of fabric.

Step 5: Don’t forget the Backing!

This is a simple measurement; we recommend adding an 8″ overhang, 4″ on each side, to your quilt top width. This is basic for all quilts and what’s usually required by quilters. The best thing to keep in mind is that programs available on your phone and computer can assist with calculating these measurements. For example, Robert Kaufman has a free mobile app to calculate borders, binding, backing, and more.

Let’s Create Our Pattern Sheet

Once you’ve finalized the sizing needed and the designs you’ll create, we can begin putting together a physical pattern. There are programs available to quilters that can help you create patterns. Whether you choose to use programs you might already have, like Microsoft, or invest in higher-tech ones like EQ7 or EQ8, we broke down a few you can look into.

Design and Pattern Layout Programs

Microsoft PowerPoint: This program can be found in most electronics and is universally used. It’s great for the basics when starting off and is very user-friendly. The only setbacks are aligning blocks can be complex, and vector images aren’t accepted.

Electric Quilt (EQ8): This is an excellent program for editing quilts, and it allows you to break down quilt designs so that you can export portions at a time. However, it is challenging to create HST’s and can result in low-quality images in the export process.

Adobe Illustrator: This program is perfect for those that enjoy advanced artwork. You can create vector images and obtain high-resolution photos, and there’s an extensive resource library available for any learning curve. The cons of this program is that it does come with a fee of around $20 per month.

Adobe Indesign: This program is best for pattern layouts and offers the most professional quality. Like Illustrator, it does come with a monthly fee and learning curve.

Corel Draw: Perfect pattern designing and layouts, Corel Draw allows you to create art, export in vector files for high-quality images, and hit a lower cost point.

Images and Graphics to Include

Illustrations:

  1. Cutting: if you have an efficient way to cut, include how in the instructions
  2. Block Piecing: The majority of your illustrations will show the pieces assembled together. We recommend starting from the finished block and breaking down from there.
  3. Quilt Top Assembly: Showcase how the blocks go together into the quilt top.
  4. Optional: Include how the backing is pieced, bonus tips, and templates.

Text:

  1. Introduction/notes: Describe the pattern, inspiration mentions, and more.
  2. Material requirements: List all material requirements, including sizing.
  3. Cutting: Include the calculations and measurements needed for cutting.
  4. Block assembly: Walkthrough creating the blocks and assembling the quilt.
  5. Quilt top assembly: Walk through the instructions of piecing the blocks together and assembling the quilt.
  6. Finishing: Walk through the backing, binding, batting, and more instructions.

When you’ve completed creating a pattern, creating a PDF file is the last step. This file format is the most commonly sold in pattern networks and is the easiest to access across platforms.

Get To Testing!

Lastly, before selling your pattern creations, it’s time to go through some trial testing. Share this pattern with trusted friends and family members who can review your work and provide feedback. Request that they confirm the measurements were correct, that the pattern was readable and that they’re able to follow, and more. Use this as an opportunity to spruce up your creation for potential buyers. Then, build the pattern yourself and see what could be added or removed in your work.

Time to Publish!

Once you’ve triple-checked your pattern and decided it’s time to publish, take time to determine how you’re going to sell and where. Digital PDFs are the easiest to share and sell online, and printed patterns can be sold at markets, shows/events, and local quilt shops. Look into E-shops like Etsy and Craftsy when starting off your online shop, and if you choose to go physical, contact your local artisan markets and quilt shops for possible sale opportunities.

Things you should know before you pick up sewing

Where do you start when you find yourself interested in a new hobby? You start looking up everything that has to do with it. You scroll through blogs, watch videos on YouTube to learn techniques and projects, and Pinterest becomes an obsession. Now, what do you do when it’s time to start? We have the answers for that!

Explore your options

The world of sewing and quilting is not singular. There are so many ways to immerse yourself; exploring different genres of sewing is something we recommend people should think about first.

Are you someone who thrives off fashion? Look into learning clothing construction! From creating one-of-a-kind swimsuits to beautiful dresses, the world of sewists who focus on creating personalized looks is a niche in itself. Make adding details easy with presser feet that are versatile for projects that require zippers or piping. Look into machines for fashion like the JUKI HZL-F600, which helps you create garments from start to finish. Fashion has no rules, and its purpose is to make you feel great in what you wear.

If you’re someone who enjoys interior decorating, look into sewing for home décor! Creating custom curtains, table runners, ottomans, and fabric ornament is easy with the TL-2010Q! This machine can handle thicker, heavier materials. Accessories like a piping foot and gathering foot can bring a sense of personalization to pieces like curtains or pillows! Learn about textiles and fabrics like velvet or leather that are durable for home use but still handle beautifully and bring comfort to your space.

One category that is a beloved hobby is quilting! A family tradition, quilting is perfect for those that want to create art on a different type of canvas. It’s a magnificent way to immerse yourself in various fabrics and textures and allows you to have free range in what you can create. A machine like the Haruka TL-18QVP is perfect for beginners. Built like our industrial machines, it can handle heavy fabrics well and has settings for regular sewing as well when you decide to venture out from quilts. Since traditional quilts are made with three layers, you’ll need to learn about pieced tops, insulation fabrics, and backing fabrics. Look into wadding fabrics for your insulation layer like polyester wadding or cotton/poly to keep the warmth. For backing fabric, look into a popular option, such as quilting cotton.

Upcycle

Personalization and recycling old clothing is something that everyone loves to do. If you’re someone who enjoys embroidery and personalization look into machines like the Ricoh Ri 100 or Tajima Sai. They’re easy to use for beginners who want to add graphics to pre-loved garments. Whether you’re printing images you’ve created onto clothing or embroidering your brand logo onto hats, anyone can feel welcomed to the world of sewing through the vast options of what you can do.

Take a class!

Once you have an idea of what kind of sewing you want to go into, look around for sewing classes and expos in your area! The best way to learn is to dive into the community of people that have been doing this for centuries. Check out your local sewing machine shop for classes near you! Also, check out JUKI’s page for training and in-store classes.

Fashion Designer In Studio

Visit your local dealers!

When it’s time to take your place in the sewing world, visit your local shops that sell sewing machines, accessories, fabrics, and more. Those in the community who work in these shops are a great resource when you’re learning. They offer information on the best sewing machine for you and your projects. Also, these experts can provide you with options on fabrics for your projects and can set you up with the tools for success. Don’t forget! Many locations that sell sewing and quilting machines offer classes as well, and there’s no better way to learn than to hang out with the professionals.

If you’re interested in sewing or quilting, take the time today to figure out what you want to create! It’ll bring you one step closer to the fun part: bringing your vision to life!