Digitizing Imaging For Quilters
Written by: Ernie Ziegler, Memories On Tile , July 2004
Did you know that there is a significant market out there just waiting for an enterprising digital imprinter to tap into it?
The market consists of quilters in general and makers of Memory Quilts in particular. They are in need of someone to digitize their photos/artwork and transfer those images onto quality 100% cotton muslin.
LEARNING ABOUT QUILTERS
Before you can approach this potential market, you need to acquaint yourself with some quilting background information.
While stores like JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics sell material they are not stores of choice for the segment of the quilting market you want to reach. The quilters you are seeking will be found at the Local Quilt Shops (LQS). These are the stores that sell quality fabrics and carefully cultivate the quilters by publishing newsletters and offering frequent on-site classes by highly qualified instructors; some of whom are the authors of the most popular "How To..." quilting books.
The material of choice for quilters is 100% cotton. Therefore if you want to sell acceptable digitized images you must bite the bullet and buy the best 100% white cotton muslin that the LQS sells.
To get started you will need a few tools of the trade, namely:
- A 45mm rotary cutter. This size will allow you to cut up to 6 layers of material at a time.
- Extra blades for the cutter.
- A blade sharpener (blades dull fast).
- A good 24 inch quilters plastic ruler.
- A good cutting mat at least 24 inches wide.
With a little careful shopping you should be able to purchase these tools for $50.00 to $75.00.
Then there's the matter of ink/paper to make your transfers. You can conduct your own tests to determine which combo best meets your needs. For myself, after doing my own tests, I settled on Spectra-Bright ink/paper using the free ICC profile that comes with the ink, in an Epson C82 printer and printing from Corel (V10). I find that this combo provides me with the color accuracy and washability I desire and my clients want.
APPROACHING THE MARKET
My method of approaching the market was to select (from the Yellow Pages) a dozen LQS's within a 25 mile radius of my studio. I then visited each LQS and picked up their newsletters and class schedules. From these publications I made notes of when Memory Quilt classes were to be held and the names and contact information for the instructors.
Next I selected a half-dozen family full color photo images that consisted of:
The next step was to contact each of the instructors by phone to introduce myself and explain what "benefits" I can provide quilters and the instructors' students. I would then ask if the instructor thought what I was offering would benefit her students and if so, would she allow me to make a presentation of my images to her students in the next class.
At the appointed time/place, quickly make your presentation to the instructor and give her one of the washed and one of the unwashed image sets. Then offer to assist the instructor in setting up for the class (a little apple polishing never hurts).
That's all there is to it. Sit back and allow time for the instructors to continue telling students about your service and allow the power of your printed information sheet to do their work. The orders will trickle in at first and then start to swell. All this will probably take about a year to develop.
DON'T RELAX YET
You're not finished yet. Once you have a client base established, it's time to present "The Ultimate Quilt Idea".
This is where you really begin to shine by offering giant sized "Mural Digitized Images". Because of the expertise that you possess in using specialized software you can demonstrate the enlargement of a small image and tiling it into printable sized images that can be sewn into a beautiful seemingly seamless giant image/wall hanging.
Regardless of the size of the image being printed, cut the muslin two inches larger in all directions. You need to deliver the image with an one inch un-imaged border all around. This will allow the quilter to cut to the seam allowance she desires.
Deliver all images unwashed. This allows the quilter to decide if she wants to work with washed (softer hand) or unwashed (stiffer hand) images.
BENEFITS TO YOU
If you decide to pursue this market and setup an ink/paper combo to print onto cotton you will also be able to print onto denim (as in tote bags), it's an item that quilters can never have to many of, as well as 100% cotton t-shirts.
SUMMARY OF COSTS
Muslin cost: $.0023 per sq. inch
Ink cost: $.0063 per sq. inch (using refillable cartridge system)
Paper cost: $.0041 per sq. inch
Total estimated cost: .0127 per sq. inch
If you have any questions about entering the quilting market, you can e-mail Ernie Ziegler (please do not change the subject matter of the e-mail)
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