Sadly, I’m here to ask for help. Let me clarify… I’m not sad to ask for help – and I’m certainly thrilled to have the collective here to ask my questions to! But I’m sad that this question needs to be asked, and I wish I had an answer:
What should you do when your long-arm artist won’t return your quilts?
A couple years ago, a group of friends and I sent a quilt out for long-arm quilting. This was a terribly important quilt… one we had made in secret to comfort one of our friends who had lost two family members in short succession. Soon after we sent it, the quilter in question went through a rough patch, and cut off communication. She would not return emails, messages, texts, or calls. It took us close to 2 years to retrieve the quilt top, and it was really only a threat to go public that got it back to us. It hadn’t even been taken out of the original shipping materials. We had sent money with it, which wasn’t returned, but honestly, we were grateful to just get it back. One of our members got it quilted up, and we hustled it off to our (very thrilled) friend.
Two other members of our group had similar troubles and worse. It took 3 years to get one member’s quilts back (and the quilting wasn’t the quality the quilter used to be known for), and another JUST got back 4 tops that have been missing for a few years – untouched. It again took a threat of going public to get them back. The quilter is unfriending and blocking anyone who tries to contact her, and is blaming them all with some choice language – while obviously missing the point that she needs to send these things back if she isn’t going to do the work she was hired to do.
My friends and I are sympathetic to her health issues, but not past her accountability to return work she isn’t able to complete.
At this point, my immediate friends have retrieved their tops, but I know of others that are still in this terrible limbo.
What should we do?
Quilting is an industry built on (mostly) women taking care of each other, and refreshingly, mostly done on a handshake. I would hate to have to pull out a contract on my beloved long-arm artists, but really, what other protection do we have when it all goes south? And isn’t it a shame that one bad situation could make us need such contracts. Do we draft a contract that protects both parties? (And long arm artists – what do YOU need to protect yourselves?)
Should we name this quilter to get her attention? Unleash the power of internet trolls?
When we see other people talking about wanting to hire her, do we step in and relate our horror stories? Do we owe it to them to protect them from our experience?
Do we take legal action again? I consider a top that won’t be returned to be stolen property at this point, but am unsure on the points of law, nor how to enforce them.
How do we protect each other through a long-arming arrangement?
Anyone got any ideas?
Truly – I would love to build a set of guidelines to help us all out – a contract template that protects BOTH parties.
And to the quilter that can’t finish the work… we are not bitches who hate you. We care that you aren’t well. We just want you to be a professional and mail back the quilts and tops with out a fight, OK?