What !?!?!?!?? It’s 2016 Already ?!?!?!??

Well, December blew through here like a tornado and I’m still trying to get my feet under me !!  How on earth does time fly by so fast ?!?!?!  That will always be a mystery to me.  So I apologize for not getting a schedule for December posted.  But, it was such a busy month, that I decided not to try to schedule classes.  We cancelled the UFO club and the Embroidery club decided on a project for the next year and picked out their fabrics and got all the instructions for January’s meeting. (so if you need all that, come in or call me)

Then on into the new year with much excitement. 🙂  There is lots happening this month.  We have all the beautiful, soft, high quality, 60″ wide, STOF cotton/spandex knits coming in !!  Sooooooo excited about them.  Perfect for tee shirts, leggings, baby clothes, skirts or dresses.  A very versatile and comfortable fabric.  I will post pictures when it comes in.

I am lining up classes for this month too.  For sure we will be having the serger class.  Still working on the teacher for a Free Motion Quilting class, a class on making all kinds of throw pillows and  an adult beginning sewing class.  Be sure to check the calendar often for dates and times and any other event that might come up.  You never know around here 😉

Also, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter, you might want to do that here on the website. (it’s in the right hand side bar toward the top) It’s full of lots of great information.  the class and events calendar, new arrivals and a new feature I’m adding in January, a “Valuable Info” column.  There will be a link to it here on the website as most emails can’t handle the size of most articles.  It will have great information to help you with tough topics and how-to info.  I think your going to like it 🙂

Here is the first article:          DSC_2428         “Valuable Info”

How to Price your Quilts for Sale

Over the past 2 years I have had a reoccurring conversation with customers about the cost of a custom made quilt, both quilters who are selling and customers who are ordering. As a whole, most people, even quilters, don’t understand the value of this art piece.   I am increasingly concerned about educating both quilters and the buying public about that value.

I was doing some investigation on Pintrest and I ran across this fabulous article written about the subject of pricing your quilts. I want to share it with you, she has graciously granted permission, and hope it clarifies a few mysteries about pricing custom made quilts. It’s a bit lengthy, but very will worth the time to read and note the information.

This is taken off of http://katiesquiltingcorner.com/2013/08/sell-quilts.html. It was written as you can see in 2013 so the figures are a bit low for 2016. (keep that in mind as you calculate). I have copied and pasted her article, word for word, and then I have added my thoughts after that.

“ ‘So you want to sell a quilt’

August 31, 2013 by Katie

That dreaded question we always hear when a friend or family member finds out that you’re a quilter:

“How much would it cost to get you to make me a quilt?”

It stops many a quilter in their tracks. We never quite know what to say. People are flabbergasted to hear the prices we pay for quilt shop quality fabric, thread, computerized sewing machines and longarms. Yet, they want to get a custom piece for the price of a quilt from Wal-Mart (by the way – you can get a King Size Wal-Mart quilt for less than $30). It pains me to hear quilters talk about their prices being based on what other quilts on Etsy are selling for. How do you know exactly how long and what sorts of material it took that other Etsy seller to make that quilt?  There are precious few people in the world that really understand and value the time and skill necessary to make a custom piece and are willing to pay for it. They exist but most consumers have no idea what all is involved.

Then we have the other end of the spectrum recently brought up via Crafty Garden Mom – the overpriced, cheaply made knockoff “designer” quilt a la Anthropologie.
What’s a quilter to do? I’m gonna offer some advice and food for thought on this subject. You are welcome to chime in with your own two cents in the comments section. I’d love to really get a good discussion going about this and share your thoughts in an upcoming podcast episode.

The Cost of Materials

Quilting cotton fabric prices vary greatly depending on where you are sourcing them from. Wal-Mart has a $1 a yard section of threadbare fabric and it’s not uncommon to walk into a quilt shop and pay upwards of $13 a yard for designer quality fabric.  Here’s a little estimate just for a twin size quilt. This is probably the most common size I see produced for others. This estimate is for “bargain prices” you can sometimes find for quilt shop quality fabric.  To calculate yardage needed for a quilt there is a good fabric calculator here.


Scan 1

The Cost of Your Time

Here is a sticking point I see with a lot of quilters. You’ve got two schools of thought here. One harms the other even if it’s unintentional.

“Selling quilts is a business for me” – You need to charge a reasonable hourly wage for your time. Personally, I consider minimum wage way too low for quilting. Think about it – you’re doing a skilled labor job. You had to learn how to use a specialized machine, acquire the correct materials, cut and put together those materials, and often quilt it yourself. Most quilters take classes to improve their skill. Why should we be expected to charge minimum wage for this skill? I think it’s ridiculous.

A twin size quilt can take 20-30 hours to complete depending on the complexity of the block(s) used. Let’s split the difference and say start to finish it took you 25 hours to make a twin size quilt;

25 hours at US Federal Minimum wage ($7.25) = $181.25

25 hours at $11/hr = $275

Some people charge less than minimum wage for their time. I’ve heard of quilters that charge $3-4 per hour for their time.  This is better than the other option that I too often hear which I find harmful to those doing quilting and sewing as a business:

“I sell quilts for fun and don’t need the money. I don’t charge for my time and only want them to cover material cost.”  This is a bad idea. Yes, you may get more sales on Etsy and Ebay this way or at local craft shows but by doing this you are undercutting every other crafter that is trying to barely scratch out a living selling quilts. The other thing that this does is create an expectation for buyers that your time  or any other quilters time will always be free. You’re also essentially losing money because you aren’t covering the cost of your equipment, space or electricity.  For people like this I always wonder why don’t they just quilt for charity organizations instead?

The Cost of Equipment and Electricity

A majority of quilters use an electronic sewing machine. Costs can vary from $50 to $12,000 for a sewing machine. A decent quilting/sewing machine combo will run you easily $1,500. If you are selling quilts, quilted items or sewn items you need to figure in a depreciation cost for the equipment you are using.

  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Sewing cabinet or table
  • Cutting table
  • Cutting mats
  • Rotary cutter
  • Rulers
  • Starch or sizing
  • Crafting lamps (Ottlights)

Add the cost of electricity and water into the mix and this equipment cost can add up. If you were a business you could write some of this off as an equipment cost. Most quilters do not formally file taxes as a business so they don’t usually figure a fee in for the use of all of this stuff when they sell a quilt.   All of these items depreciate and/or have an annual cost of upkeep. At some point they will either need to be replaced or worked on. If you are working for free you are letting someone have free use of your equipment and electricity.

I’m not suggesting you add a super high fee to a quilt but you need to add something. You can prorate it depending on the quilt size or tack it on to your hourly fee.

I have to sell quilts at the price the market will bear.  So does that mean a quilt that took you over $100 in materials and 25-30 hours to make should compete with quilts sold at Wal-Mart? They’re selling king size quilts for less than $30.  I’ve turned down tons of work because people expect me to lose money so they can get the quilt they want.

Etsy is a good example. Often sellers assume the reason why their items aren’t selling is due to the price. I usually don’t find that the case at all. Typically low sales are due to bad photography, a poor description or a combination of the two.  If you’ve got good photography, a good description and you’re still not selling you need to take a look at the market. Maybe baby quilts sell better than twin size. Maybe quilted placemats sell better than crib quilts. Find out what works in your area and online and make those items. What’s popular this season will change in six months. You often have to figure out what fabric is hot right now. It’s a moving target and your price point isn’t always the factor that makes it sell.

Losing money just to get sales doesn’t make sense.  I think setting the expectation of your budget-conscious clientele so they understand what they can get as far as size, complexity of the blocks and quilting design they will respect the prices you set.”


Wasn’t that a great bit of information? I really enjoyed reading it and applaud her for writing it. She is right on when it comes to the perception of both quilters and the general public. I have sewn for the public off and on over the majority of my adult life. (I started sewing when I was very, very young) And the biggest issue has always been pricing your time for the work done. You wouldn’t expect to pay a plumber or an electrician or an accountant nothing for their time. Yet it seems to be that no one, including the seamstress, values the time of a talented seamstress.

Educating yourself and the paying public is the key. I spent many years building custom stained glass pieces for people and the same problem exists. Women and men making stained glass pieces in their garages as a “hobby” because they enjoyed it. That’s great, it’s wonderful to enjoy what you are doing. But selling their work at a financial loss, creates an expectation that anyone doing stained glass is the same. It is an art form, requiring very expensive materials and many, many hours of hard work. If it is your business, you are expecting to get paid for your time and talents and skills. Just the same as a custom made quilt, they are all “one of a kind originals”.

In order to educate the public, you must first educate yourself and give yourself permission to charge what you are worth. Someone asking you to make a quilt for them, is asking because they can’t do it themselves, for whatever reason. You have mastered a very marketable skill that you can proudly expect to be paid for, just like any other skilled professional.

Over the past 2 years as people have ask me what the cost of a custom made quilt is, I have struggled for a simple formula to give them as an “estimate”. (it must always be an estimate until the final product is completed) I fell back on my experience as a stained glass artist and calculated a general cost to give the customer. Please keep in mind, this is for premium quality materials and your best workmanship. No short cuts or cutting corners in either case.

Multiply the width by the length in inches:

I’ll use the example in the article ~ 68” by 94” =   6392” that’s the amount of square inches in the piece.

Multiply the number of square inches by $.10

That is 6392” X $.10 = $639.20 + the quilting

If the piece has a very complicated pattern taking more time than usual, you can bump the cost per inch up to $.12 or $.15 an inch to cover the extra time and difficulty. Likewise, if the requested piece is a very quick and easy piece, able to be completed in quick fashion, drop the price per square inch down to $.08. I always look at the final price and compare it to the time I have invested in the piece plus the cost of the materials. I always time my work time with a stopwatch. And I am very careful to not charge the customer for time not dedicated to the work on that piece. (ie; answering the phone, going to the bathroom, getting a snack, etc.) You will find that this formula will be very close to your time and expenses. I always have to do a little tweaking one way or the other, but it is a good formula to start with.

Quilting…… Many “quilters”, have their pieced tops quilted by a long-arm quilter. If you are one of them, you will have to factor that into the cost of the finished product.

IF YOU QUILT YOUR PIECED TOP ON YOUR OWN SEWING MACHINE OR LONGARM, CHARGE FOR IT !!! Just like the long-arm quilter, you have invested in and are using your equipment and are spending your time, electricity, thread and tools to quilt the piece. You deserve to be paid for that effort and expense. Just like you would pay someone else to do it or for any other skilled service.

I hope the article I copied and my own thoughts and experience have helped you to educate yourself and your customers for a better understanding of the timeless art of quilting and sewing.

Keep Sewing !!   Donette



One comment to What !?!?!?!?? It’s 2016 Already ?!?!?!??

  • Chris Bullard  says:

    Thank you so much for this informational article. She hits the nail on the head! I making a copy of it to give to my sisters and friends who quilt and make stain glass!

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