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Anderson Fabrics Outlet has quilting machine in place

Mary Larsen works on a quilt using the computerized quilting machine that was moved to the retail location.

The Anderson Fabric Outlet store has always provided custom quilting to quilter's from around the country and Canada.

Typically, a quilter will bring in or ship quilt tops and backing to the retail store. From there it would be made into an order, shipped to the Anderson Fabric's plant just several blocks away.

Once it would arrive there it needed to be received in the receiving area, the actual paper order would be sent up to the office area where it would get entered into the computer and then the production ticket would go back out to receiving for the actual quilt top to be pulled from a shelf and start making its way to the quilting area. Of course, this process is efficient within the realm of a production plant.

Now multiply this process by 500 quilts done last year. Approximately, 25 percent of the retail store business according to store manager Karen Forbes and growing.

The time that a customer would have to wait to get their finished quilt back was certainly much longer with this process. As business started to increase it made sense to move the computerized quilting machine to the retail location.

In late January they did just that. "Max" as quilting machine operator, Mary Larsen named him was partially taken apart and moved on a trailer up to the store. Larsen has worked at Anderson's for 21 years as an outline quilter and moved along with "Max" to his new home in the retail store. Larsen enjoys the creativity that comes with using this machine. There are about 1,000 patterns available. And custom drawing patterns is an option.

Now, with "Max" at the retail location, the lead time for a completed quilt is 4-6 weeks. Also customer's are able to actually see the machine working if they would like to. Right now there are 87 quilt tops waiting to be quilted.

The outlet store is also a part of the Quilter's Shop Hop. Quilter's from all over the U.S. and Canada travel to different quilt shops.

There are four regions with a total of about 75 stores in Minnesota that participate. They all offer quilting fabrics and services but according to Forbes, few is any others offer what they do.

There are in-home quilter's who offer quilting services, however, many have a waiting list of up to a year before they can even take the quilt tops to be quilted and the cost is much higher. Typically they charge per square inch. Anderson's charges per longest running yard.

Gone are the days of only simple squares, diamonds, onions and shell patterns, though they still exist the options are almost endless.