News Ticker

How To Tell Your Customers “No” Nicely

It’s inevitable, one of these days you are going to have a customer request a quilting design that is above your skill level, won’t work for the quilt, or is just plain impossible. Handling those situations correctly is important. You don’t want to offend a potential customer or lose their business entirely.

Here are a few ways to say “no” nicely

1. Try Redirecting

Sometimes, it’s as easy as pointing them in a different direction. Try saying something like this:

“That would look nice, or I could……”

A real life example of this would be the time a customer asked me to quilt a large spiral starting at the center of the quilt. Something that isn’t impossible on a longarm, but I knew it wouldn’t be fun. So I said,

“The would look nice, or I could quilt some radiating lines from the center. It would really draw your eye towards the center of the quilt”

Thankfully, she ended up going with that option.

2. If that doesn’t work, try advising.

This is the time to let them know the drawbacks of the design.

“I could do that, but it would fall within my custom quilting rate”


“I could quilt a large spiral starting from the center of your quilt, but I am afraid it won’t look as smooth as you would like it. “

This can open up the conversation and can help you both come to a mutual agreement.

3. If you have to, say no….but offer an alternative option.

Sometimes it’s better to just say no. You know your skills and limitations, don’t be afraid to stick to them. It’s better to lose a customer now than to upset them later.

“I am so sorry, I don’t feel comfortable quilting a large swirl on the quilt. I know it won’t look as good as I want it to look. If you would like, I can try to find another quilter that would be willing to do that.”


“I’m sorry, I am not entirely comfortable with quilting that design and I would hate for you to not be happy with the quilting. Would you like some time to think about it and get back with me?”

No matter what the outcome, just make sure you are on the same page, it will save you a bunch of trouble in the long run.

What about you?

Saying no to a customer can be hard, but handling the situation carefully will help make sure that everyone is happy! What about you? Is there a time that you wish you would have said “no” to a customer?


8 Comments on How To Tell Your Customers “No” Nicely

  1. I was the first professional longarmquilter in Austria and the most boring quilting order was a very big and nice colurwash-quilt made of 3 inch hexagons. The customer wanted me to quilt each hexagon individually 1/4 ” from the edge. It was very boring and took me several days. The tragedy was I did not charge enough for this work. Maybe a higher price would have changed the customer´s mind!? But I did it and the result was quite nice. Now I am retired and out of business, but I still am interested in all aspects of quilting .
    Edda from Austria

  2. Still haven’t gotten a business up and going, but offered to do a quilt for a friend to help be a learning experience for my machine and I. Some learning experience, didn’t get the edge quite tacked down well enough and caused a jam of the machine and a hole in the quilt. $150 repair cost, but thankfully I had the same material and could repair the quilt. Still learning!!

  3. I’m curious how lines radiating from the center of the quilt is better than a spiral, other than not being as noticeable if it’s not completely consistent. But wouldn’t you still have to spend a lot of time moving the quilt back and forth in the machine to quilt the radiating lines?

  4. Adrean Thomas // September 4, 2014 at 10:37 am // Reply

    I learned a good lesson in saying no when I accepted a quilt from a customer through another customer without evaluating the quilt. This customer wanted custom level quilting like I did for her friend’s quilt however, the quilt construction was poorly done which severly limited what I could quilt without creating tucks or puckers or even damaging the quilt. To help her understand what I was up against, I loaded the quilt on my longarm using the float method and then had her come over. I spent an hour showing her what would happen to the quilt if I tried to quilt it as densely as I had her friends and that if she wanted quilted that way what would need to be corrected in the piecing. she was so happy for the information especially about piecing. Thankfully it all worked out.

  5. Yes, wish I had said no, after dealing with a problem quilt. Now, I evaluate the items more closely and if I feel I could not do the quilt justice or do not want to do the quilt, then ‘ I offer to refer them to a fellow quilter as my schedule is booked through xx month/year. ‘ In most cases, my schedule is full and to spend the needed amount of time a particular quilt could make it cost prohibitive for the customer. Someone else may have an opening in their schedule or are more qualified to meet the specific customer needs.

  6. The stitching area of the long arm has limitations. If they wanted something outside the quilting frame area,such as the spiral, I would point out the machine limitations. No way would I try to stitch something I had to roll forward and back to complete.

I love comments!