While Marie Kessler says there’s still a lot to learn about a new computerized quilting machine at Kessler’s Kreations in Hillsboro, she may know it a little better than she realizes.
“It dings at you when it runs out of bobbin or breaks a thread,” she was saying, when suddenly the machine did indeed ding, indicating a bobbin had run out.
It’s Kessler’s second foray into computerized quilting. The setup she tried a couple of years ago was better suited to home quilting than to shop production, she said. She got rid of that machine, but started looking for another after having shoulder surgery in December.
It wasn’t long before a used machine became available from an unexpected source. Ratzlaff Draperies in Goessel, where Kessler once worked and learned to quilt, had one for sale.
“It’s one of those God things where He puts everything in place when you need it to be there,” she said. “It was exactly what I was looking for and it was local,” Kessler said. “I didn’t have to pay the markups, we picked it up and set it up ourselves, so I had none of those charges on there. I had everything basically that I needed to put the computer on there. I got into this for about half or less than half of what I would have spent brand-spanking new.”
Kessler had been doing all of the quilting manually on a machine of similar size, but now she can take on projects that can be monitored by Kay Greenwood and Connie Selzer while the computer does its work. That allows production to continue, giving Kessler time to devote to other tasks.
“I’ve got a lot more obligations now with Chamber work, the Shop Hop stuff, other meetings and different things when I’m not here,” she said. “My work load in here has so increased. I would like to sit down and sew once in a while and do a project, but I don’t have the time now because I’m so busy quilting all the time. There’s ordering to do and classes to schedule and all of these things I need to do be doing that I don’t have the time because I need to make sure I have time to get the quilting done. Now it can get done and I can do some of those other things.”
There also might be a chance to carve out some personal time, she said.
“I would like to go fishing,” she said. “I love to fish.”
The addition of the automated quilter gives the shop a full range of customer options few other shops can offer, Kessler said. In addition to customer projects and making quilts for the shop, Kessler also makes quilts for her church group to donate to causes such as Mainstreet Ministries.
Whatever the project, Kessler said she likes bringing a personal touch to it by working with customers to accentuate their style and flair.
“I have been blessed with this God-given gift that fabric speaks to me,” she said. “Every quilt should be different. I can see a project and almost always see the pattern that needs to happen with it. I can point them in that direction. You’ve got to throw them options to be sure what they’re choosing is what they’re going to be happiest with.”
Kessler said she is investigating options for customers to rent time to use the computerized machine, receiving supervision and support from staff, so that they can have the satisfaction of saying, “I made it, I quilted it, I did everything myself.”
However, if speed is an issue, customers might want to eschew the computer for the human touch.
“I’m actually faster than that machine,” Kessler said. “It does little sections, it thinks, it backtracks. I don’t have all the steps that thing does.”