What’s it worth?

This morning I caught a post on a quilting Facebook feed… a member posted a picture of a delightful baby quilt and asked what she should charge the neighbor that just asked to buy it from her. She mentioned that the quilt was made from a panel with pieced borders, and that the quilting was done in threads to match the fabric colors (oh, the thread changes!). She mentioned she was thinking $85. A fellow poster thought $100 was better. Another said it depends on the closeness of the friendship.

First of all… I’m not naming names here because I don’t want this person to feel pilloried – far from it, I absolutely appreciate her question and have one heck of an opinion about how it should be answered… a rather, ahem, shall we say passionate opinion – you are warned! Her question, which I hear dozens of times a year, is absolutely legitimate. How does one price a handmade piece of work?

And to note – there is a difference between what it’s WORTH, and what you can ACTUALLY GET for it. So keep that in mind and I’ll address this difference at the end after I show you how I calculate the WORTH part of it:

1. Determine the cost of the goods involved. Fabric is averaging $12 a yard, and even if you bought the fabric years ago, it will still cost you $12 (plus sales tax) a yard to replenish what you used. Same goes for if it came out of your scraps. You still bought the original yardage that the scraps came from… they didn’t give you a 25% discount assuming that a quarter of it would head to your scrap basket! If you got it on sale, wonderful! The savings are for YOU. You hunted it down. And it’s probably the only “freebie” your going get out of this process so take it and run.

2. If you don’t want to count out the yardage of all the little pieces, instead calculate the total area of the quilt top (let’s say it’s 48″ x 60 for a generous lap quilt), and then multiply it by 3 for a simple quilt, and 4 or more for a more complex one – then divide it by 1440, the area of a yard of 40″ fabric. Why these numbers? The fabric it takes to make the top of a simple quilt is about double the surface area because of all the fabric lurking in the seam allowances – and don’t forget the binding! The other “one” is the backing. And use 5 if you paper pieced most of it (because there are way more seams and you have to cut bigger for paper piecing). So for this simple lap quit: 48 x 60 = 2880, 2880 x 3 = 8640, and 8640 / 1440 = 6. So 6 yards at $12 a yard is $72 for materials.

3. Do you wash and iron your fabric before you use it? Add 25% for the time and water and electricity and wear and tear on your (probably expensive) iron and your Netflix subscription for the movies you watch while you iron. Ladies… it’s 2012 and in 2012 we do not iron for free.

4. What did the batting cost? The thread? The embellishments? Add those in. Yes, the thread – because you have to replenish it! And you are probably using a lovely, high quality, long staple cotton goody that can’t be had on sale at the big chain store so yes, you must charge for your thread. And note that there are other consumable products that you could charge for here: machine needles, blades, template plastic, fusible web, etc.

5. Now we get to TIME. How long did it take? Not just the cutting, pressing, sewing, but the “sits and thinks” part of the equation. The pondering, plotting, and extra trips to the store for one more FQ of the perfect print for that corner. The stitching of the binding. The label. All of that. I’m going to, for the sake of easy numbers, say my simple lap quilt took 15 hours – in other words, about a day to choose, cut and piece (assuming all the materials were already in my studio), and another day to layer, quilt and bind. Yes, the binding you do in front of the telly at night is still hours spent on the piece.

6. How much do you think your hourly rate should be? $10? $20? $30? You are certainly worth more than minimum wage. You are a skilled craftsperson. In my case, I’ve been quilting for 25 years and sewing for 43. This is not an insignificant statement. If you hire that depth of skill to lay tile in your house or make cabinets for your kitchen, it will cost you more than $20 an hour. My years of skill ensures the quilt is well constructed, made of quality materials (chosen with a discerning eye and years of practice), and executed with knowledge and a passion for the artistry and craft. This is WORTH a lot. So I’m going to go with $20 an hour for my simple quilt (I would go up for something more complex, and add even more if it was a commission for a pain-in-the-patootie client). Thus – $300 for my labor, and I’m rounding up to $100 for my materials (high quality cotton batting, threads from Aurifil and Isacord, etc). So my lovely little lap quilt is $400.

WORTH vs. What you can get

And I hear you laughing. No one’s gonna give you $400 for that, you say. And you are probably right. But here’s the thing… the fact that society has poo-poohed our grandmas’ prowess with a needle while celebrating their husbands’ prowess with a plow is a sad history that we need to rectify. “Women’s work” has been terribly devalued. And ONLY WE CAN CHANGE THIS. It is up to us to educate the public that what we do has WORTH. And we have to do this with confidence. We have to OWN IT.

So the way I tackle this is to state the gist of my calculations to the person that offers me a department store sale price for my work. I state the price, and then I educate them on what it takes to make a good quilt. The fabric quality. The time. The years I’ve spent honing my craft. I point out that I don’t work for minimum wage as this is much harder than “do you want fries with that?” Then I re-state the price. I own it.

Most of the time they don’t buy, but that’s OK (and if I absolutely want them to have the quilt I give it to them for free). I won’t sell it for less because I feel so very strongly that to sell low is to continue the myth that our work has little value. Either I get what I’m worth or it’s a precious gift. I’m taking a stand for the team, OUR TEAM. Every time we let hours of work out of the house for $5 an hour and free materials without the educational part of the discussion we are letting down the team.

I truly get that our original poster might only be able to squeak $100 out of this sale. And that she might have to put aside any philosophical stands to get her hands on that $100 to shore up the grocery budget (and I have absolutely done this when I needed to). But I really hope she adds the “lesson” to her invoice when she picks up the check!

Update 04.04.13 – What’s It Worth Part 2 – A Bigger Picture

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190 thoughts on “What’s it worth?

  1. I know you and I have talked about this before but I guess I am a visual learner. Back in the day I would multiple my cost of materials by 3 and call it good. Now I see inflation and common sense means I need to recalculate! Thanks for putting it in Black and White for us.

  2. @ Lisa – it’s a “ten thousand hours” thing… practice, practice, practice… The more I do the better it gets – and I still have to warm up on some scraps if I haven’t quilted in a while :-)

  3. I completely agree with your calculations. When I take my quilts in to work to show to the fellow quilters there’s always someone who asks how much I would charge to make them one. I reply “you could never afford it”. One woman kept pressing so I had to tell her that though the one I was showing was not for sale, anything similar would be at least $1500. She hasn’t asked again.

  4. As a quilter who sells work often (but not as often as I’d like) I really appreciate your ideas, opinions, facts, and calculations. I completely agree. I know I don’t charge nearly enough for my quilts at times. I totally agree about them being precious gifts if I can’t sell it for what I believe is a reasonable amount. I’d rather donate to a charity raffle (Hospice, the local swim team, etc) than sell for less than I want on my queen/king sized quilts.

  5. Pingback: What’s it worth? « Madelin C. Wolf's Blog

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  7. Oh, if only we could charge “man’s wages” for our work. People really do balk when you quote them even a 50% fair price on a hand-made quilt! Great blog and great quilt!
    Alethea

  8. Thanks for saying this. We need to respect our talents and our work in order to get others to do so. I love giving away my quilts but no longer give them to charities that don’t work at getting an appropriate price for them.

  9. I agree with all you said about women’s work being undervalued. The biggest problem is that most QUILTERS will undervalue their own work. My quilting is therapy, but I still expect to be able to pay myself a decent wage for the skill I have. Thanks for this article

  10. thank you so much for stating this so eloquently. I have asked for, and gotten, $2500 for a double sized quilt, because that is what it was worth to both of us…vendor and buyer.

  11. well stated. This topic has been long standing in ALL arts/crafts arenas for decades. My only note here is that just because you have been sewing/quilting/painting for “X” number of years does NOT mean your worth is more than the person who has been doing it for 3 years. SKILL goes beyond time in service! I have seen many who have been sewing for years still not have the 1/4″ seam mastered, or the NO disappearing points mastered, etc. Skill is measured by the “quality” of the workmanship!

  12. Thanks for this, I’m going to post the link to it on my Facebook page. I just had this argument with my sister. She doesn’t seem to think anything is worth the value I assign, even when it’s just the materials! I price my work by the square inch.

  13. I am your newest follower. I love this! I make quilts and like you have sewn for a long time. Maybe not AS long.. but still many years. I am a careful crafter and I think my talent is worth something – In private anyway – to the greater public. I am a pricing chicken! So I recently added my first quilt to Etsy. It is a lap quilt and I think it is worth a decent amount of money.
    I agree – if I love you and WANT you to have my quilt – it is yours. If you WANT my quilt.. pay me for my talent.
    I am sharing this everywhere!
    Thank you. :D

  14. this is how ive always believed id rather give it as a total gift than sell for less than the real value im sure there are may who dont agree and yes they are letting the team down we are worth it all

  15. Thank you for your comments. I totally agree with you. I will GIVE one away before I will sell for less than what it is worth.. and less than what my time is worth. I do agree with Jacquie Campbell about her statement of “not how many years you have been quilting, but the skill of your quilting”. I have seen people that have been sewing for years do very sloppy work. I am going to share this on my FB page.. Great job!!!

  16. I totally agree!! We need to take a stand!! I have sold so many quilts for far less than they are worth. I have recently decided to make what I like, charge what it’s worth and don’t worry about selling it. If it doesn’t sell then I’d rather keep it myself and save it for a special gift. There is always an opportunity for special gift giving! It’s not worth it to me…unless we really need groceries!! I totally understand that dilemma!!

  17. Thank you!! When I tell people what I charge for a custom quilt they are flabbergasted. Then I kindly and gently explain that (in addition to what you’ve stated) they are comparing a product at the local store, which was made in a developing country with inexpensive fabrics under most likely slave-labor conditions, with a one of a kind quilt made by a professional artist that lives in the United States. There is usually a pause while they think about it. Most of them say, “I can’t afford it.” And that’s when I say, “I wouldn’t be able to either. That’s one reason why I do what I do. I would be happy to teach you if you’d like.” I doubly appreciate you pointing out that we have been undervalued and continue to undervalue ourselves. We are worth to!! The clients that recognize our worth are the clients we want.

    • What does a mason charge? A carpenter? An electrician? An architect? A tailor? An automotive mechanic? Our trade/craft/art should not be valued any less, or any differently!!!

  18. Good comments – but today, we’ve just about priced ourselves of anything manufactured in the U.S. – whether by hand or machine! Desiring every cheaper goods is our mantra. I work in retail, selling sewing machines and it’s visible as I see people pull out their smart phone and price the machine they are looking at, and then asking if I can match the “name of discount online retailer here” price! Even when the price of said machine ($99.00) is half what my mother paid in 1952 for HER Singer!
    A value on handmade by calculating hours by OUR culture’s standards… are we talking about our “standard” as maker or consumer? In the end, any commercial good is worth only what someone ELSE (aka the buyer) is willing (or able) to pay for it!

    • That’s a mantra in the real estate business, too: the buyer has to be ready, willing, and able to purchase the abode. Too, as in real estate, a dwelling’s worth is what a buyer is willing to pay. Our art can be valued the same way. Sux that there are not many buyers willing to pay what we may think is a worthy price. Monetary value to a buyer is often different (lower) than the worth of the piece to the artist!

    • Hiya Bill – thanks for stopping by to read. Can you point out to me where I said that men don’t value quilts, because I can’t find that in my post. To clarify… what I said is that “women’s work has been terribly devalued.” Not the same thing :-) And congrats on owning some antique lovelies!

  19. Well said. People just don’t understand how much work goes into homemade items. Years ago, when I was still working and quilting, I gifted a lap quilt to our work secretary. It was a bright quilt with snowballs jof funny cats fabric (she was a cat-love). She loved it. A week or so later, she commented on how much her cats loved the quilt (WHAT?). Then she told me that I should make more of these quilts and sell them on eBay…”I bet you could get $30 for one of these quilts”. She was so obviously clueless about it’s value, that I could only walk away shaking my head. You are so right. I need to work on my ‘education blurb’ so that it does not include the words “you idiot”.

  20. THANKS!!!!
    I now have the perfect statement to back up my work and the cost, value and worth. No matter if I am doing quilting, graphics or printed material.

    We also need to remember that we have skills that the purchaser does not have, we’ve honed those skills and should NEVER let them go cheap. Sure we can give them away or donate them, but it is solely our choice.

    Never lessen your craft by selling it cheap!!!!

  21. I could not agree more. We live in a society of always wanting something for nothing. Paying China sweat shop prices at Walmart. I do as you say and stand by my work when someone questions my prices or makes a face when they are told the price. I cannot work for free nor did the supplies just arrive at my door for free. If you dont want to work for mimum wage, Neither do I. And at least with my product, You know its made in the USA, high quality and Your supporting a small business and a mother. But generally speaking, People dont care any more if my item is better made but cost more, They rather pay less and get less and there is nothing that can be done about that. Lots will pass up my products because of their price and buy something cheaper, But I stand by my time, Materials and craftsmanship and feel like both me and my family deserve to be paid a fair wage for my products. It also saddens me whe I see so many WAHM (Work at home moms) undervalue their products and barely make $5 a hour. Some just break even. Its very sad. This post is great and I have shared everywhere. Thanks. Wish I could hang this on a sign in my store.

  22. I made quilts for my grand babies (which should have been handed down as heirlooms) only to find my daughter in law gave them away or sent to Goodwill! Honestly unless you know the person receiving your gift really appreciates the gift or you as a person, they don’t deserve the gift! “Nothing sacrificed ($$), Nothing valued!” Same thing at our last quilting meeting we are ask each year to sponsor a student for camp, we have found out that unless the campers family pays at least 1/2 the cost they cancel out after our group paid for them to go free! I also have the same attitudes from friends who want me to make their wedding cakes, but strangers referred to me are very happy with the price given!

  23. Wow…..so sad…to give as a gift to family only to have them given away or sent to Goodwill!! I used to wear out the quilts I was given as gifts by my grandmother that she handmade me…and even handmade dolls or clothes she made. Shameful how some people do not value quilts or other handmade gifts. Glad my daughter will appreciate the quilts I make her children as I know she valued what I have always made her (crazy rainbow knitted socks to boot…even such that her HS friends back in the day wanted some as well LOL). Guess it runs in the blood, but it can skip a generation…my mother is living proof…I inherited her sewing machine, her knitting and crochet needles…she tried at least…but I benefitted!!! Gifts of the heart are priceless….

  24. I’m probably just being oversensitive, so let’s cast aside that discussion and talk about the real reason why quilts are undervalued.

    Most quiltmakers work for free and give their work away, and most of them do so without ever getting their work appraised.

    As an appraiser, it’s interesting assigning values to the work of today’s quiltmakers, because the quiltmakers themselves have resisted establishing a market. Sure, there are people making a good living in quilts, but when you go to the guild meetings and talk to quiltmakers, they’re making quilts to give away to relatives or for charity.

    Quiltmakers are intelligent enough to know how to produce cost-effective quilts for the realm of commerce, should they wish to do that, but they don’t seem to wish to do that.

    So, going back to the original question from the person who didn’t know what to charge: it’s difficult to set a price for a quilt when you didn’t necessarily set out with the intent of selling it. If you want to sell quilts, budget from the beginning with a specific price point in mind. If you watch Project Runway, it’s the same concept as the Lord and Taylor challenge.

  25. Thank you for this wonderfully frank discussion! I so agree that we quilter’s seriously give too much away. I charge 100 dollars per month of time working on a quilt (I’m slow to finish one) but have yet to sell one.

  26. I am with you on this. The general public (and often the quilters themselves) never add up all the costs involved in producing a quilt….nothing is free and everything should be charged for. Making a quilt with the intention of selling it, and for a set price, for me would be an impossible task. I don’t ever know for sure how long it will take, I often change the design as I am working on it….and I hand quilt (try to get 20 dollars an hour for that when a quilt can have 1000 hours in it) It is sad that handmade goods are valued in comparison to manufactured , but I am not a factory and can never compete on price!!! Quality is a different story

  27. Interesting post. As I understand it, appraisers use a similar process when deciding on a replacement value.

    There’s something else going on in the pricing process that hasn’t been mentioned though, and that is taste. This calculation process might be useful in calculating how much to charge for something if you’re asked about buying it, but it’s not the same as pricing it to sell on Etsy or in a shop. If a quilt is not a style that suits a buyer’s taste, she won’t buy it, no matter what the quality. For the same reason, giving a quilt as a gift is risky unless you’re sure it fits recipient’s taste. I think quilters some times fall victim to what I’ve heard called “the Ikea effect”, meaning that because they made it, they overestimate what it is worth in the eyes of others.

    My philosophy has become : enjoy making it, sell it if you can, or give it away, but don’t expect any monetary award or appreciation of your “sacrifice.”

  28. I have gotten to the point that I don’t sell what I make unless a close friend asks. Then I preface the whole thing that they are getting the “friends & family discount”. That I am charging them for the materials and only a small portion of the labor. If I were to charge them the full price, they wouldn’t be able to pay. But mostly, I give away what I make for specific situations as an act of love. Maybe one day I will attempt to see a quilt at a value nearer to what is worth.

  29. I love your post . I quilt all the time, people ask me “do you sell your quilts” I say NO, you couldn’t afford one of them. Nice chuckle, but it’s the truth. What I know they are worth and what they want to pay is a whole different story. aka THE GREAT DIVIDE…..I recently made a really pretty black & white was very difficult to make, once finished I really liked it tho. Brought it to work (which I always do, show & tell) and a coworker fell in love, fell in love . She said “I have to have that quilt” I, of course, said. you know my quilts aren’t for sale, “she said, I know, but I have to have it. I said fine, $1000.00 and it’s yours. So guess what… she’s saving up….. fine with me.

    You know quilting is “Art Work” like the gal from Geez Bend said……you have to look at it that way. We are artist…………………from choosing the patterns (or designing them) to selecting the fabric, the backing, the batting, to quilting it. Start to finish.

    Thanks for your article, I’m lovin it.
    Paula Murphy
    Oklahoma quilter
    born2quilt.blogspot.com

  30. There is another spoke in the wheel that you didn’t touch on. The fact that some people try to buy low in order to resell high. This has happened to me many times.. To me it is unforgivable taking advantage of the maker. I am the one who made, designed, fretted, cried, and laughed over this piece of art, not to mention time and money. I now say “I do take deposits of half down of the full price”. Then I can find out if they are really interested.

  31. I absolutely love this article, I like Paula, also tell those who ask, that they couldn’t afford one of my quilts, but I so agree with you and the way you lay out the costs, it is so true and I am with you 100% that we need to educate people about the craft we do and the skill it takes to make it. Thank you for this, its brilliant.

  32. I too think it would be hard to put a price on a quilt. My husbands grandmother made a wedding ring quilt and quilted it by hand out of beautiful fabric. My grandmother made me a quilt out of material she had used to make my dresses. It was crooked, quilted with different colored thread, edges raveled and it is my most valuable gift i have ever received. I proudly hang it on my quilt rack next to the wedding ring quilt. Value is in the eyes of the beholder.

  33. Yes, yes, YES! I have been slowly increasing my prices to something approximating their worth, and am horrified now at how little I charged for my earlier custom pieces. At the time I viewed them as a way of making a quilt at no cost to myself and merely charged a little ‘pocket money’ over and above the materials costs.

  34. Before I made a quilt as a donation for charity, I passed around the kit I was planning on using. One woman noticed the price tag ($175.00) and was horrified, since she knows I give away 2-3 quilts to the club’s charities every year. “Is this what it cost?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied and added, “but that’s only for the top, I still have to add batting, a backing and the time to put it together quilt it and bind it.” Needless to say. even though they valued my work. they are not expecting me to donate every time they have a special cause because now they have an inkling of the time, cost and work involved.

  35. Relative to my earlier comments about quiltmakers working for free and giving their work away: when a quiltmaker makes a quilt more valuable than the market could possibly bear, the quilt is usually destined to be a labor of love rather than paid labor.

  36. I am so glad I saw this and that someone has finally spoken up. I have told many people that I do not sell my quilts because they cannot afford them and like so many of you I take great pride in “giving” the away to family, friends, new babies and charity.

  37. I totally agree with everything you have said in your post. But I am in a dilemma. I am a fabric addict and can’t stop making a new quilt as soon as my last one is finished. No UFO’s even. And in order to purchase more fabric, I must sell some (or even just one!) of the quilts I make. But even at a break-even price, it is near impossible to get someone who doesn’t make quilts to understand how much just the materials cost, let alone accounting for the hours it takes to plan and construct.

  38. Before AQS had an quilt appraisal program people asked for an appraisals. That was in the ’60’s. Mom & family sewed. Mom was paid .25 a dozen nansook baby dresses 1920. She always said it was better than getting nothing for Her sewing. Making Hand quilted items is like this. LovePieces v prices/value in replacing. Yes, I HandQuilt,buy good fabrics and am very confident giving replacement value or sale price. Years of learning textiles (SILK,linen,cotton,naturals and PollyEster )and touching/feeling fabrics has been a Gift. Sew We have to inform our 21 Million USA QUILTERS of this SEW necessary information.

  39. Pingback: What’s it worth? | Hunter’s Design Studio | Stuff-ups

  40. I just got one of my quilts professionally appraised and my sale price was bang on – sold for $1500 and appraised at $1600. (It was a King size Colorsplash, Trip around the world) I have sold many quilts and you would be surprised at what people will pay for a good quilt – my formula to sell is 3 times my cost – this works 90% of the time. It is difficult to charge more than $100 for a baby quilt but I have received $160 for a special pattern with personalized embroidery. Thanks for the article.

  41. I just received the reference to this article from Facebook. Very well done. As an AQS Certified Quilt Appraiser I appreciate your education of many quiltmakers. Please note that it is worth the cost of a quilt appraisal by a certified appraiser to learn the value of a quilt you wish to sell or give. Linda Hunter (no relation, I don’t think!)

  42. This is an excellent summation of figuring a formula. Many of my regular traditional quilts that don’t seem so special to people who would love to buy them from me because they would happily put them on their bed for free are priced for $1000 or more. I have sold 2 for that price in 10 years. I keep the rest or give them to charity after I have enjoyed them for a time. I refuse to undersell my skill. I had not considered the current price of the cost of fabric to replace what I would use and am glad to have that in my head for the next time I figure out the price of something someone really doesn’t want to know the price of. Thanks for your insights!

  43. I am printing this up for me to read when I feel I am “over-pricing” a quilt, or giving an estimate. It is sooo true. Why do I feel guilty for charging a fair price??? Most people who know I make quilts, think they can get one for $50-$75. (Go to K-Mart people!) It was so good reading one of the replies that said “You couldn’t afford it”. I have thought that so often, but bit my lip & just ‘thought it’ instead! But it is exactly how I have felt. Next time I will verbalize it. We are our own worst enemy & it’s time to stand up for our craft, like you said. Thank You for such a great article & inspiration!

  44. KEEP YOUR HOURS!!! Whenever I do a quilt, I keep my hours, by task. A 24×24″ quilt that is strip pieced is totally different from a 24X24″ quilt that is paper pieced, so it’s hard to do the square inch rule. .Knowing my hours helps me: I divide everything up by task: design, fabric procurance, prep, piecing, borders, binding, quilting, binding, label, admin, and put those hours in a letter of agreement (not a contract, that sounds too yuch for me). Then I add my labor cost (at usually $20 an hour…ever ask an appliance repairman to come in and see what she/he charges?)Finally, I add, you got it: fabric/borders/thread/etc. Those that want a quilt will give it up. The others will look at you in horror. I love those clients that get that we are artists and work hard for our money and creativity

  45. Spot on…Thank you for writing this article. I’ve been “preaching” this for years, so good to see it written on line for more people to read. I’ll be sharing.

  46. When I’m told by friends that I really ought to sell my crafts, I like to ask the person what they’d be willing to pay for whatever thing they’re looking at at the moment. It’s a good jumping-off point for a discussion of what went into it, and why the price they said they’d be willing to pay wouldn’t cover minimum wage for my time, much less materials.

  47. Awesome post!!! I recently made a baby quilt for someone who has done a lot of work on behalf of my son. Yup. I charged her dirt. Cost of fabric and a little extra. The only reason I did it so cheaply was that she really helped my son out! When I gave her the quilt, I told her just in case anyone asked that it would be at least $300! I told her I gave her the “gratitude discount”! And I mean it! LOL!

    Thanks for reminding myself not to undervalue my talents!

  48. Pingback: What’s it worth? | ButterflyAngels Quilts

  49. Absolutely true. Might I add that we all need to do this valuation for quilts we keep in case we need to claim from insurance or all you get back is the money for a Kmart comforter.

  50. Love your post. I have only ever sold one lap quilt and got $300 for it cause it was for a friend’s hubby. I advise people who ask if I sell them about all the cost and time involved.

  51. Found the link to this over at Park Hill Farm blog. Great article! I don’t sell my quilts, but give a lot away to charity. That way I can make what I want, how I want and not have any stresses over it :)

  52. Reblogged this on Coloring Outside the Lines and commented:
    That’s why I don’t sell my quilts anymore. I also don’t give many away these days, because, sadly, I don’t think most people have an appreciation for the amount of work (and money) that goes into quilts. Let alone the time to say thank you.

    It sounds terribly selfish but I only quilt for ME now. I would rather my quilts end up keeping a homeless person warm than sell it at a pittance or give it to an unappreciative person.
    “You can’t afford it” will be my standard response from now on.
    Thanks Doreen http://treadlemusic.wordpress.com for re-blogging this.

  53. Thanks for laying it out as to what to charge. I was just asked yesterday if I made and sold quilts. My standard answer is: I do not make quilts to sale as I do not want to lose my “amateur” status when I compete at the local fair. A graceful way of not saying “You can’t afford or won’t pay what the quilt is really worth”.

  54. Great information. Most people have no idea what a quilt might cost. I made one for daughter-in-laws family, a memory quilt for a fireman made from jacket logos,plus photo transfer pictures. I charged her $250. Told her she would have paid at least a minimum of $500 if she would have hired someone else to make it. If I would ever be asked to make one for someone, I’d tell them they would have to go buy the fabric and then I’d see if they ever returned.I’m sure the price of the fabric would scare them away!

  55. Thanks for this post!
    While I am a quilter, presently Knitting has taken my interest
    When people ask if I sell my knitted sox, I tell them that I knit with $30 a skein yarn and that my time would be added to that. I’ve yet to knit for hire. Folks want to pay the Wal-Mart price for a hand knitted creation.
    Again, thank you from another hand crafter.

  56. Carol at Just Let Me Quilt shared this post and I think you are right! Two weeks ago I rescued a quilt for $20. It was completely hand-stitched by someone who matched every seam. Even as old as it was, the piece was obviously perfectly constructed. The fabrics were original 1930 pinks and blues and I figured the selling price made the artist’s work about 3 cents per hour!!! Because I know how much work the creator put into the quilt, I appreciate it and feel lucky to have such a treasure at that price! Thanks for your post!

  57. I enjoyed a fun chuckle looking at your photo of the pins at the top of your blog and kept thinking ‘Hey, sista, sew sista, sew sista—he met Marmalade down in old New Orleans….” Sorry, it’s where a mind from the 70’s goes.

    Thanks so much for your post. It’s something we all deal with. Something like this recently came up for me. A lady I know asked how much I’d charge to make a baby quilt for her upcoming granddaughter. I like this lady pretty well, so I figured I’d throw in my labor and only charge her for materials. It was going to be a two-color houndstooth pattern and about $80 for ‘good’ fabric/supplies. That was too steep so I gave her a price of $50 for, well, ‘cheap’ fabric/batting. Still too high, so she passed on the idea altogether. And I hadn’t even had the chance to tell her I was throwing in the labor for free. Obviously I was not in line with her expectation, but seriously, what was that? I’d still love to make something for her/her granddaughter, but I don’t think it’ll be a quilt. Alas.

  58. i quilt by hand … so my process takes alot of time, which people don’t want to pay for … i also don’t use bought patterns…i usually make up what i want to do… so even a jelly roll quilt (to me) would have different width pieces just to make it different… i made an underwater baby quilt for my grandson and made all of the pieced fish myself (cut from coloring book pages) also made a pelican with about 30 individual pieces, a seahorse and my own sun… a friend painted waves onto it and it came out really nice…a woman said she thought i could get $40.00 for it…. ARE YOU CRAZY… i guess she wanted it for that price >>>NOT

    • OMG NOT is correct. Those kind of people I invite to my place to make a quilt I ask them to bring in 3 yards of fabric. Just for starters. I just can’t get over the price she quoted you. I am so sorry she did not appreciate your talent.

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  60. Really enjoyed your views stated here. l have reblogged your post over on my blog, and look forward to some interesting comments and stories. l have found a quick and effective way of stopping people asking me to make them a quilt. Don’t get me wrong, l make and gift plenty of quilts, but to those of my choosing.
    http://quiltsinthebarnaus.blogspot.com.au/

  61. I have only been quilting for five years but have taken lots of classes and made many different designs. A couple of years I was asked to make a baby crib quilt for a great-grandaughter. The lady who asked was an elderly friend who I knew did not have a lot of money. So I said yes and sold it to her for $50.00. She seemed pleased but I later heard some of her family members had made comments about how I “screwed her”. I sat down and made an itemized list and the final “worth” was $375.00. It was handtied not quilted and I only put $10.00 an hour. The next time I knew some of her family would be at her house I stopped by and gave her the list “in case they would need it for insurance purposes”. Everyone looked at the list and tripped all over their tongues at how nice I was to only have charged her $50.00. Needless to say I haven’t sold any since and don’t intend to. I make quilts for family and friends and Cancer patients. I didn’t go into quilting to make money. I started because I had retired for medical reasons and was bored out of my skull. I love quilting, I’m still taking classes and still replacing fabric in my stash…..ONLY FROM reputable quilt shops! Thanks for your comments and thanks for letting comment.

  62. I totally enjoyed your post. One time my sister told someone that “I” could probably make a baby quilt for her to give as a gift for $25.00. I about fainted when my sister offered my work for that price. So what I did was make a baby quilt and gave it to her for free. I have a couple people right now asking me to make a quilt for them and I know at least one of them can not afford to pay the price for a quilt so I just delay with an answer. You gave me some great info on how to approach this now.

  63. Thank you! Your time and effort to calculate the cost of the baby quilt should be added, as well! ;) Seriously, thank you for sharing this. I agree with Jenelle . . . great info on how to approach in the future.

  64. I too have struggled over pricing, so thank you very much. I recently took a couple of small quilts to a local shop that sells locally made crafts. You have to be a senior citizen to place things in this shop and they don’t charge the crafters anything. It’s in a tourist section of our city, Nice! When I was asked to price my items, I was looked at like I was crazy. I asked $50 for a set of 4 appliqued placemats w/ napkins. There was a set of 4 very simple placemats for $20. The lady taking in the items looked at me like I was nuts, lol. I said if they don’t sell, I’ll take them home and use them. I had a baby/throw quilt, the same lady said $40 would be reasonable for that, I laughed at her [there was at least $50 worth of quilting.] Another piece is a toddler bed/throw size and am asking $150 for that, again she looked at me like I was crazy, lol. When I told the woman how much was invested in the pieces, she was amazed. We’ll see if anyone knows what a bargain they are getting. If not, I’ll wait until someone I know has a baby or I’ll donate them to my guild for a charity fund raiser. Thanks again for the education.

  65. Plowman didn’t make any money either, and men do quilt, and they do not command different prices. There is no gender bias in quilting prices.

  66. Bravo! Most people have no clue of the time/talent/cost of materials involved. A long time ago, I decided to make quilts as gifts only–then I can control the process and make what I truly feel called to create. If someone expects me to make a quilt for him/her or asks me to make one for $50 (really??!!), they are crossed off my future gift recipient list! For some special friends, I have made things by request and I give them to them for free. When they insist on trying to pay me, I ask them to make a donation to the local food bank instead, which makes everyone involved very happy. When I calculate the worth of the quilts I make, I factor in $20/hr for time spent–this is simply a mental exercise to reinforce to myself the value of my talents.

  67. This was a great article. They have no clue how much this hobby cost. I will be sending my quilt club to your site to read this as we all this question asked of us…

  68. Thanks for sharing this was so helpful. I truly love the art of quilt-making and those who don’t know the work that goes into the entire process. My biggest disappointment in giving quilts to some people they don’t show much appreciation are definitely the ones who never receive a quilt as a gift, but at cost.
    Again thanks

  69. Very informative post, I didn’t realize the cost of better fabric, I only know of Hobby Lobby prices, or the rate per hour a skilled craftsmen should get. I guess just like any original handmade common item I will never be able to cover the cost and will have to buy it from Kmart. I don’t buy shoes, clothes, kitchen cabinets or any other item form craftsmen, I guess I shouldn’t expect to get a blanket for my bed handmade either.
    What a shame the commenters attitudes toward people that are uneducated about the monetary value of their pieces. For some of them you would have to subtract the lack of love that I thought was always in a piece. Keep getting what they are worth, for they are surely worth it but back off on the hate to the pheasants that you wave it in front of knowing they can’t afford it.

  70. For Robin: The love is in every piece ever made, otherwise, it would not be done. And I can understand how you can discern “an attitude” from some of the posts/comments. But it appears that your “attitude” in the last sentence is far worse than all the previous ones, no matter how cleverly written. But, please understand. If day after day, week after week, month after month and year after many years, you had been “slapped in the face” by a family member or friend with an amount offered that is far beneath even a reasonable amount of just your costs (including labor), then you, too, might have a right to an attitude. It isn’t hate…just a strong voice in trying to right a wrong that is long over due. If one is going to shop for diamonds, they should have an idea of the costs of diamonds prior to the shopping trip. They should know about the different grades, weights, clarity, etc. before going to Tiffany’s say, instead of Wal-Mart. The same goes for handmade quilts. And I’ve never seen any quilters standing on street corners waving their products to try to make anyone feel bad because they cannot afford to purchase one of these treasures. If one wants to purchase a Cadillac, don’t go shopping on a Chevy budget. Play fair.

    • Mam’mam thank you for your reply. I have been trying to find the words to respond to Robin. Everytime I wrote something it sounded like I had attitude and I did not want that. You put it perfectly. Thank you.

  71. Mam’mam: I didn’t say they had an attitude just commented on their position. One person crosses people off her gift list for their ignorance in price that she comments they have no clue about, others think it’s funny to tell people they can’t afford it and one takes hers to work for show and tell. The quilters that showed such upset at people’s ignorance in price are the ones that I was commenting about. On one hand they felt people were clueless and on the other put them down. If they were talking about the same people that once they have the price explained to them still tried to talk them down I would understand. My aunt quilts, if I would have ever asked her to make something for me I wouldn’t have offered enough, it would have been more than something from China but not near the true cost, I hope she would not have had the same thought about me and would have just explained it and let me say “oh, sorry I thought they were less than that.”
    I thought the post was great and it let me know that the $200-$300 that I have seen on quilts and thought was high and could not afford was actually too low. I don’t go to quilt shops but I do see quilts at craft fairs as the highest priced items there and in the local restaurant’s gift shop. Now I think they really shouldn’t be there, they are being sold in the wrong market.
    To be fair, I guess I did get to this post and comments through pinterest and it is somewhat like being a student in the teacher’s lunchroom. You all should be allowed to make comments to each other about your trade.

  72. I charge $50/hr for my time, regardless of the complexity of the pattern. If the pattern is simple then it takes a lot less time. I also charge for the cost of materials. If it’s a commission then I’ve made enough quilts to give an accurate estimate. If it’s something I make for future sale I base my price on time and materials and if it’s extra special I may charge just a little more. My quilts are expensive but almost all of them sell eventually. I appreciate the topic. Thanks for bringing it up. I agree 100% about recognizing our worth as skilled makers and crafters, and politely educating people who inquire. I’m also always willing to direct people to books, blogs, guilds, and workshops at their local quilt shop if they want to learn how to make one on their own, if they can’t afford to buy, or don’t have a loved one or friend to make one for them.

  73. I am standing to applaud you! Thank you for the math, that is really helpful. And your passion about the art is inspiring. I tried to price a quilt for an auction recently, and clearly, I should have asked/claimed MUCH more. I love your two options, either make it a very lovely gift, or stick to your guns.
    As a counter point, my husband is a “car guy”. And “car guys” just know that what ever you put into your car, you will never “get that out”. So part of their work is just for the love of it.

  74. You are so right! I teach quilting in Panama and the women are delighted with $3.00 an hour for their time which is a skilled artisan rate here. Some of them probably do not qualify for the “skilled” part yet but most of them definitely do. It is so difficult to price what they make and then sell it. They do not even think about the time spent and to get them to guesstimate the hours it took is close to impossible.
    We get our fabric for much less as it is years OOP but it is still expensive for them to buy. And I bring in the $12.00 stuff for special projects so we get up there.
    I also think there is another maxim you should add. A very wise lady told me this. “The right customer has just not arrived yet–they will come, just be patient” So if someone balks at your price just lay the object aside and be patient. Someone will value it enough to buy it tomorrow or at the next event. I sometimes rejoice when a difficult customer backs out of a deal. I can then make the quilt as I see fit and sell it at a price I like. I see quilts on Ebay all the time that are not selling for the value of the fabric. Sad but maybe someone will buy them and revalue them properly.

  75. Three years ago, a friend and I decided to make some home stitched items for the craft fair in our community. She was very sick from cancer and I was recovering from cancer. Thought it would be a great distraction for us both.
    So she set out to embroider tea towels, framed needle work, etc. I decided to make nice size quilted tote bags. I asked the local quilt shop what I should sell them for and she said $45-50 dollars would be a fair price. I didn’t think that was enough, but she sold them in her shop all day for that price. So I priced them at that price. I only sold three of the 20+ I made and then had to sell for $40 each. I had many who wanted them come by, but they walked off at that price. My friend didn’t sell any of her lovely work, even at $2-5 dollars.
    It cost me $25-30 dollars for the materials to make the totes. And each one took me 8 hours, and I’m a fast sewer. Not to sound conceited, I am a tailor and sew very well, so these totes were not made poorly. I even taught my quilt club how to make them. So at 8 hrs even $10 dollars, that’s $80 + $30 for the material = $110.
    So I packed up all my totes and gave them as gifts to family and friends for Christmas. I would have spent that much on each person and instead gave them a cherished homemade gift from me. The following Christmas, they were begging for more totes, so I gave them what I had left.
    I OWN MY WORK and won’t settle for selling too cheap.
    I am sorry to say I lost my friend to cancer last year. But had many days of friendship with her. I am still in remission and leaving a boatload of heirlooms for the family.
    I do longarm quilt for others. And feel bad charging my friends, but they would have to pay someone else to do the same, so never feel bad to ask what you are worth. Thank you for your great article.

  76. I really like the way you broke that explanation down. I am a retired art educator and we never stop educating where the arts are concerned. I too struggle with pricing and we do need to look at the market we are in. A quilt sale “across a neighbor’s fence” is a different transaction than one from an artisan shop or art festival. But pricing does need to be consistent. Another quilt artist shared with me that she priced by the square inch, especially after she was more established in her craft. Your explanation made complete sense. Thanks.

  77. I love how you calculated out the cost of making a quilt! I don’t really quilt but sewing can be calculated the same. Thank you for taking the time put what we (I) have been thinking for years, into words!

    In the 70’s I sewed for (children) dance classes and even then $10 for the materials and making a circular skirt was too much, according to the parents! Even back then I would charge 2 times the price of the fabric and notions! But I learned then that because it was handmade by me, I could sell it cheap! ha! I learned to only sew for those I wanted to because my sewing was a gift for them! Now, being picky and choosey, I will tell the ‘client’ how much I charge and if they agree, ok, if not, I give them a name of someone else who sews! I work full time (not sewing) and my sewing is my ‘calgone take me a way’ time! I now sew for ‘just because gifts’ and charity, I get much joy out of creating and the pay back is 100 fold!
    Jane

  78. My perspective has always been, if you don’t like the price I am offering, I will gladly tell you where I bought the materials, and you can make one yourself.

  79. One thing that wasn’t mentioned (and perhaps cannot or should not be included in pricing) is your machine. My machine was $7,000. I pay for tune ups. I buy rulers, rotary blades, templates, marking tools, stabilizers, spray baste, etc. In addition, I have spent many thousands of dollars on classes with top-notch teachers, bought hundreds of books, attended seminars, taken classes on Craftsy, etc. We certainly can’t figure these expenses into a quilt, but when you pay a mechanic or a dentist, part of the cost covers the tools and education of their trade. And keep in mind, someday we may need to repair or replace that machine.

  80. What abour factoring in the backing? Is it accounted for in the fabric calculation or in the extras? Just want to make sure while I’m sitting here calculting my next commission quilt. Thanks! Love this post. It’s extremely helpful!

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  82. This is a very good article…we do tend to forget the little things that add up to the big picture. All of the items I have made have been given as gifts but that does not mean anything I have used to complete the items was cheap, either in fabrics, threads or time. Most of us just don’t realize our worth…

  83. Such a great explanation of cost vs worth. I make handmade items for my daughter’s roller derby team and it is always hard to calculate the price. I have discovered that for simple “non-quilted” items that it is easiest to multiply the cost of the fabric by 3 for selling; but could never figure out how to calculate for a quilted item.
    My husband used to do leather work to sell at craft fairs and no one ever wanted to pay even the cost of the leather, much less his time and energy. Most people don’t realize what goes into a handmade item.
    Love the detailed calcuations. thanks so much.

  84. I’ve always valued hand-made quilts… emotionally (all the warm fuzzy feelings even the simplest of hand-made comforters evoke) and the amazing creativity and beautiful fabric designs. Now that I’m quilting myself, I really enjoyed your approach to explaining pricing and worth. And especially that “woman’s work” can only be valued for it’s worth if we value ourselves first. Amen. Good post!

  85. My late husband and I often made quilts together-He pieced on a treadle machine and I quilted on our Gammill longarm machine. We would enter them in the fair and often people would offer to buy them. I would often reply that we wouldn’t sell for less than $1000. One person took me up on it and so we decided to sell it.

  86. Great Article. I am a crocheter and I am currently writing a Selling Your Crochet Series on my blog. The last article was on pricing. I agree completely with everything you said, but I also want to point out one other fact that many people do not consider when they sell their work. Every time you undersell yourself you not only hurt yourself but the craft as a whole, as well as everyone else who sells their craft. You are devaluing the entire art of quilting (crocheting, knitting, etc). These are skilled professions. Not everyone is capable of doing it, even if they were taught how. Especially quilting. I sew a tiny bit, but I could never have the patience and attention to detail that quilting requires.

    But the point is that when you sell to low you make the price even lower for everyone else. Many people are selling their art for less than the materials alone cost, not even taking their time into consideration. Pretty soon no one will be able to afford to sell their craft if the prices continue to decline.

    My advice to quilters, or any crafter for that matter… Stand strong… know your worth and be confident. You deserve a skilled crafts hourly wage ($15-20 an hour at a minimum) for all of your hard work!!!

  87. I’ve heard also that most of the time The total cost of materials (fabric, batting, backing, thread), times 3 = the minimum you should charge for a quilt

  88. Oh my! I honestly just blogged about this very thing last weekend. I’m a new blogger so you explained it so much better than I did. Even in my small 4 years of quilting experience I still come across people who want to devalue the quality of a good handmade item. It is so hard to get the question “Do you honestly think you can sell something like that for the price you want?” from those I love. I don’t source my labor out to a foreign country, I don’t buy the cheapest materials, I ensure everything has a proper seam allowance so it won’t fall apart, I quilt all the quilts I’ve made and by the time I’m done, regardless of the simplicity of a quilt it should be regarded as a piece of art. It’s so difficult to know that others are selling us all short so we cannot place the proper value on our handmade items. I love that I came across your blog to see this. I’ll definitely be sharing it with my audience.

  89. This is the perfect post to explain why we price the way we do. I calculate how much it costs me to make a square foot of quilt and then charge per square foot on a fluctuating scale. (A charm pack sashed then bordered? easy peasy low end of the scale. A Quiltworx paper pieced 100 hr treasure with feathered quilting and hand turned binding? Top of the scale!) I do try my hardest to work with a potential client, especially if it for something like a memory quilt, but I will not give my work away for free. Many of us are busy with family and/or work, and quilting is done in our “spare” time =) Thank you for the post, I will be sure to share it!

  90. Awesome post. I love it when someone breaks down what it really costs to make a piece. I used to design jewelry and know it is so important to educate your buyers on your worth and the effort going into making something… and to pep talk yourself often, so you don’t fall into competing with others based on price.

    Thank you for continuing the soapbox lecture! I don’t think people can hear it enough.

  91. THANK YOU for writing this post!!!!!! I think we women can be our own worst enemy and continue to undervalue our work. Just go to Etsy and look at some of the dirt cheap prices of quilts and other needlework pieces. I saw a baby quilt, nine patch with a binding for $45.00, I was floored! How do you compete with that? And purchasing “the cheapest” stuff you can find that’s been imported doesn’t come without a price because someone is sitting behind a machine actually sewing it and I don’t understand feeling okay about that person (most times a woman) making barely enough to survive. There is a human and moral “cost” for the cheapest price.

    • It is almost always a woman behind a sewing machine making piece goods for almost nothing. I teach quilting here in Panama as a volunteer and the women are so surprised when I price their things. We use the formula above and it works out pretty consistently. The simplest quilts are .03 cents a square inch up to broderie perse and applique at .06 cents a square inch. People say “you charge prices just like the U.S.” Well, I import the fabric from wholesalers in the US and the shipping costs are frightful plus my time is involved. It make take longer to sell it but that is life. People here can’t replicate what we do even when they try at home so put your money down. We are making smaller items so the cost is less for the customer but if you want a bed quilt, the cost is the cost. Suck it up.

  92. Wow..I loved reading this!
    I do not price my Etsy items high enough for the time, materials, etc..it is something I struggle with.
    I have had several friends commision work from me who paid me generously…so wonderful when people appreciate the value of hand made items!

  93. Thanks for the info, I too have been struggling with my prices for i hand sew and hand quilt all of my quilts. And i do a very good job

  94. fyi, this info translates to other ‘craft’ media. i make jewelry. it is a pain to price adequately, as i cannot keep track of all the little gizmos and my education and design skills that contribute to the end product. when it is all said and done, i know someone who appreciates my work, will pay for it and not quibble. that is the ideal customer. in the mean time, i will try to keep my head as i educate others. perhaps sometime down the road, the ones i have shared with, will get it. thank you though for making it all seem so rational.

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  96. I have this same problem as everyone else. My solution has been to explain how much material is needed, and tell the person they can go to the quilt store and select the appropriate yardage them selves, the thread, batting and backing and pay for it. Then I tell them how much time it will take me to make the quilt and what I’ll charge for my time, and I tell them what a long arm quilter will charge to quilt it. I also tell them that if they do a little research on line they can find quilts that are made in factories where the workers are paid a few cents an hour. If they want to go that route, I tell them they can always come back to me or someone else in a year when they need a new quilt to replace the one they bought from a catalogue. The choice is theirs to make, and it won’t hurt my feelings if they opt to buy a generic factory quilt instead of something made to meet their desires. No hard feelings and you do get what you pay for when it comes to quilts. So that ‘bed in a bag’ of $80.00 you can buy every year for ever, or you can buy a custom quilt that will last more than their life time, and become a family heirloom. The choice is theirs. Either way I know I’m going to be quilting for a long time to come, and when I gift a quilt the recipient knows I’ve done my best work for them with love in every stitch. It’s a win, win. I’ve made at least a dozen baby quilts in the past three years, with nothing but a smile, a thank you and a photo of the baby with the quilt as payment. And now three years later, I still hear from the family about how much the toddler loves the quilt, can’t sleep without it, must take it everywhere, and how they are ask where they purchased it. Infact, hanging on my design wall right now is the 2nd baby quilt for one family. They insisted that I make the new baby a quilt. They bought the material, thread etc, and I’m giving my time and talent to make the quilt. Mom went into labor today, and the quilt should be finished this weekend. (I work 5 days a week at a ‘real job’, if they only knew how much of a job quilting actually is, not for the faint at heart…or the get rich schemer.) It my therapy, my sanity and my source for satisfying my need to make beautiful things. I’ve done painting, china painting, knitting crochet, needle point, cross stitch, scrapbooking and jewelry making in the past – this by far give me more satisfaction than anything else ever has.
    Hang in there, and quilt for yourself… If others like it and want to buy it, terrific. Maybe ask them what a month of time is worth to them? Or better – barter, need a plumber, mechanic, gardner etc… What is there time and service worth? Would they take less?

  97. I too am guilty of selling tops for the cost of material. Not having money for more fabric to create caused me to become desperate more times than I wish to express.

    I’m excited about your movement and am posting a link on my wall. The calculations are so appreciated!

  98. Thanks for a great article. I’m pleased to see that I’ve been figuring my prices pretty much in line with your guidelines! When someone asks me to make a commission quilt for them, I write out a very detailed cost estimate – outlining all the materials expenses, the labor expenses, with detail about how I calculated each cost. Not everyone buys from me once they see the estimate, but they certainly understand why it costs as much as it does. At least they’ve been educated a little bit on the value of hand-crafted items!

  99. Thanks for your great posts on value! I was discussing with my brother (an artist) possible designs for a quilt I’d like to make him…his wife chirped in about how she wouldn’t like *that* (artistic) design at all…and then told me all about the wonderful quilt she’d bought at Sears……..

  100. I make small quilted items for my craft market stall to supplement my income ie. I need to make sales. My prices barely cover fabric. I totally agree with everything said here and am trying to increase my prices. Last market I was approached by a fabric retailer I knew. She showed me a very poorly constructed zip pouch (the lining fabric was inside out, stitching hideous) and she asked if I would be interested in making them up for $5.00 (!!!) each. After commenting on the (lack of) quality of her product and assuring her that if I made them I would make them properly, I said I would have to make one up to estimate how long it would take (she had pre cut the fabric ready to sew). She was now slightly miffed, told me that it was only a “five minute job” and had been assured that that was all the sewing was “worth”. She then went on to say that she had presold them to stores in our resort town for $29 wholesale and if that is the case (which I”m hoping it’s not) the store will then sell them for approximately double that cost! These people act as if they are doing you a favour, I make each item with skill and love and I enjoy meeting my customers – but mostly, people only want to pay what they would pay for a cheap import which will fall apart. Thank you for all your great posts, they are most encouraging. (Oh, and sorry for the length of this post!)

  101. Just an update. We implemented the pricing structure suggested in the original blog and it works like a charm. We price rail fence and log cabin type quilts at the lower end of the cents per inch and the foundation pieced, double wedding rings, and “jigsaw” puzzle stack and whack type quilts at the high end. We do consider the scrap output of a particular pattern as it can be high for certain patterns and that adds a half cent per inch. Our quilting skills have improved and if the quilt includes feathers or hooks, etc. that is taken into consideration. We have not had a customer complaint or a quilter complaint and we take the quilter’s wishes into consideration. If you under price your work, people believe it is not worth much. It is basic psychology. Giving away your time and energy is not in your best interests. That said, quality products make a difference and it is always an education process. Shop owners tend to undervalue the labor part and some of them do not sew. Also, if they have never made that particular pattern or quilted anything what do they know, nothing. Consider the source and ask the question: Are you a quilter? Quilting is a slow process and quilts can take more than a year to finish so it is important to have a frame of reference.

  102. A.L.L.E.L.U.I.A. Thank you, THANK YOU for this post! Unfortunately most people have no idea the money and time that goes into a quilt, and we are not only talking about quilting here, we are talking about any handmade goods…It is ridiculous how low some of the quilts sell for online, I can’t just believe it sometimes…I don’t sell my quilts, I honestly don’t think I could, I give them away but only to selected people…Please, lets educate people and pass this article on.

  103. Thank you for your post! I find people balking at my very reasonable prices as a knitter, crocheter and custom repair person. I too would rather give away a blanket I have crocheted that I think is well worth over $500, that an interested party wouldn’t buy for the price I quoted, $400. It is offensive to me that they think I’d sell it for maybe 50 bucks, which wouldn’t even cover the cost of the yarn! I do sell my patterns on Etsy, and occasional finished objects, but rarely make any profit with the latter. Thanks for your sample invoices and such–great validation!

  104. You gave an outstanding determination on pricing! When strangers asked me how much it would cost to make a quilt, I said $10,000 because that is what it is worth it to me to give up my time – opportunity cost you might say. He laughed at me. I did follow up with – I can only give them to people I love. No one else is worth it to me to sell it on the cheap. And of course, yes they can buy them on sale but maybe not in their exact colors or design they prefer.

  105. Amen, preach. I feel similarly about my photography as well. I state what it costs and if they don’t care to pay, we can part as amicable contacts. I do also feel that those who need it, or a quilt, and absolutely cannot afford it can be gifted them with goodwill (and it is usually hugely appreciated).

  106. This is how I began to feel about knitting…there’s no way anyone would pay me, even minimum wages, for the time I spent knitting my goods. For a solid year I did knit none stop trying to keep up with orders for my knit goods on Etsy, I made many, many dresses and sold them for prices that were competitive with the typical catalog. And at the end of it all, subtract materials and not even factoring cost of labor, I made a whopping $300 in profits…hardly enough to purchase a low end kitchen appliance. I love to knit, and wish I had more hours in the day, to make things for folks, but my time away from my kids sure isn’t worth such a measly price.

  107. Excellent advice! And I know there are many of us who need this reminder often. Especially love the comparison of the needle to the plow. I’ll be quoting you on that…and quite possibly framing it to hang over my sewing machine :)

  108. Thank you for this post. I’m just in the process of re-working my prices to add in a profit margin and it helps to hear that ‘I am worth it’. You are so right on all counts and I love thinking of us as a team – I definitely don’t want to let my teammates down by devaluing our work. Thanks again!

  109. My mother bought the most beautiful king size quilt a few years ago. I feel in love with it and one day would like to have a quilt like that. When I asked how much she paid for it she explained the process the lady takes to make the quilt. It was $800 and this is a quilt that will last a very long time. I have never seen one as beautiful or well made. I think my mother made a very good purchase.

  110. WHile I agree with everything here – and I’m a quilter – we are not valued and honestly, it is very difficult to sell our “babies” at that price. People do not value our time. Constantly I am asked what my bottom dollar price is. I thought I was clear in posting that price. I don’t go to Dillards or Macy’s and look at a sweater and then ask the salesperson what the bottom dollar price is. Bottom line is – our time is not valued and I truly hate that.

  111. I agree totally. I used to makes stuff years ago and sell the stuff, barely making what the materials cost. I don’t do that anymore. I made a small quilted wall hanging for a friend a couple of years ago. It was embellished with buttons. I charged her $50.00 only because she was a friend. Had I sold it to a stranger it would have been closer to $100.00. At a workshop a year or so ago, one of the instructors said we are artists, not just crafters. Have you been to an “art” gallery recently? Check out their prices. Folks are willing to pay their prices, why not pay for ours?

  112. Amen! I too, have been sewing for over 55 years, and it does amaze me that we are willing to sell our product so inexpensively. My home ec. teacher use to tell her students that we should charge
    ‘3 times’ the cost of the materials, and that was back in the 60s. We are worth our talent. Not everyone can sew on a button.

  113. Pingback: Bill’s Star | Sewing by Moonlight

  114. I heartily agree with your pricing. I am frequently asked if I sell my quilts, I say NO, because no one would pay the price I would want for them. They then ask me what I do with all the quilts I make and I tell them that I KEEP them unless I decide to give one as a gift. Most people do not understand that attitude. By the way, I do NOT quilt for a living – that would make it WORK, which is a 4 letter word with me. I will do things for friends, either as an outright gift, or if they want something particular and buy the materials for it.

    • I do this too. So far I have only kept two quilts. All the rest I have given away or if close friends but the materials I’ll make it. But I’m still a beginner. :)

  115. I charge fully loaded prices for my quilts. It may take awhile for some to sell. I would rather give quilts to a charity than sell for less than their worth.

    For making food budget n such (yes i have been there)I have always found smaller sew-ables (pot holders, placemats, and even mending & alteration work, etc sell faster)

  116. People who look at art work (of all mediums) and quilts don’t think about the fact that you had to learn how to do the craft, pay for the materials and not to mention time to actually cut and sew each piece. I’m a professional artist for a while and I still get looks like I’m insane for my prices for my pieces. I got bills to pay to ((**GASP**)) and I went to school to learn my art form! Maybe I should offer for them to take a peek at my monthly payments for my tuition? But hey if they don’ t like it they can go to Walmart and pay for crappie prints by a machine or quilts that will not last as long.

  117. My husband just made a quilt, 110 x 120, a beautiful bargello. Very stunning. People keep asking how much something “like that” would go for. Then we start..$270 for the kit, $100 for the backing, $202 for the batting/machine quilting, probably 6 spools of thread, etc. We are at $600 not counting the time he o put in every single night from October to mid January! We’re talking weekends and EVERY holiday here! That quilt is priceless!

    • No, it has price, just a high one, probably $1500 to $2000 or more. If you say it with a smile and a serious look in your eye, people will believe you. If you ever have to sell it, time adds value as the price of materials, craftsmanship and other items rise. Never under price things as it hurts all of us. I always reply, well you can make it yourself, if the price is too high. They haave no idea the hours that go into this work.

  118. I have said the same thing as many of you have. I don’t sell my quilts. No one could afford them. Hence I give them to loved ones and charity…where they will be cherished and loved – for only love can pay the true price of a quilt.

  119. I hope you don’t mind but I shared your post on FB! I also included this quote from your post a I have many friends who under charge and mostly out of guilt. I am hoping that many artists, artisans, and crafters see your most excellent post!

    “And you are probably right. But here’s the thing… the fact that society has poo-poohed our grandmas’ prowess with a needle while celebrating their husbands’ prowess with a plow is a sad history that we need to rectify. “Women’s work” has been terribly devalued. And ONLY WE CAN CHANGE THIS. It is up to us to educate the public that what we do has WORTH. And we have to do this with confidence. We have to OWN IT.”

    Also don’t forget to include the cost of replacing your sewing machine in that final amount, the camera to take the photos, and the computer to edit the images, and share said quilt with the world!

  120. Hi Mary! Remember when your nieces were little and I hand smocked their First Communion Dresses? 125 hours per dress, (and that wasn’t including materials!) Somebody said I should sell them for $200 apiece, (as if!) but you were the sister that said I should frame the dresses and hang them on the wall as the artwork that they are!

  121. I enjoy making quilts but what’s the point of having dozens (as much as I want to keep them) – I’m not a salesman and would rather give them as gifts…it’s not about the money, it’s about the creation..

  122. So yesterday I bought a Baby Lock Tiera!! My excitement is over the moon!! I love your statement. No one actually knows the expenses involved in our craft but us quilters. All about the love of creating.

  123. A group of 3 friends made a quilt for a friend, we foundation pieced a queen sized storm at sea quilt. I daren’t think of the hours it took, fabric and quilting cost about )$500. It was valued at $2000. Our friend loved the quilt, her hubbie too… Tho he was stunned by the valuation. We got it valued before it was photographed for publication, so it could be insured during transit. The best reward tho was when the quilt was returned and our friends told us they hadn’t realised how much they would miss it … And I think that is the true worth. Otherwise it was a really expensive wedding present!

  124. Only fellow quilters appreciate the time and energy poured into our works of art … I don’t sell mine for I would never recoup the costs…. the few hand sewn large quilts I have made are gifts for those most precious to me, for those people are priceless.

  125. VERY well said! A friend of a friend approached me about 10 years ago about making a t-shirt quilt (my least favorite). I’d just worked on one and knew that for the size she wanted, it was going to take about 40 hours of work so I told her that I’d make it for $400 plus fabric. The woman looked horrified and said “but I’m supplying the t-shirts!” I asked her what she thought was a fair price and she said that she’d planned on about $50. I said “Well, just using that to calculate my labor would mean you think $1.25/hour is a good idea. What would you do if your boss offered to pay you $1.25 an hour?” She said “Well, I’d walk away.” so I told her “Yep!” and left the room. I was certain there was no possible way that we’d come close to an agreement and I wasn’t giving my time away. I make quilts for friends often and if they press me for a payment, I tell them “Ok, I worked X-number hours to make this. You decide what it’s worth and get me a gift card or gift certificate from one of the local fabric or quilt stores.” The pressure is back on them to decide what my time is worth and I can live with their estimation.

  126. I am an avid quilter and crafter. Despite my youth (I’m 26), I have been quilting and sewing for over 20 years. I also embroider, cross stitch, crochet and make jewellery. It is a skill set that few people my age share. I’ve had offers to buy my projects, but I just laugh and say that it already has a home. I know that those people are not willing to pay the hefty price tag that I would have to charge them. You are very right- the traditional crafts practiced by women are very undervalued. I save my projects for myself, for my treasured friends and family, or I give them as community donations. Undercharging people for handcrafts trains them to think that quilts are something they can pick up for Walmart prices. If people will pay a few thousand on a painting, they should be willing to shell that out for a quilt. You’ve expressed my opinion perfectly!

  127. Love it!All true and so upsetting sometimes. I have been sewing and quilting for many years and the part people really don’t get is that you made that quilt for a reason to begin with. Maybe the pattern caught your eye, maybe you wanted to try a technique, maybe you designed the quilt…whatever the reason, it becomes your baby and is worth a lot to you. Even if you undervalue your time, they still can’t usually afford it or want to pay it. Thanks for a great read!

  128. I need help, We were going through my mothers estate and i carefully packed 5 quilts which my mother and grandmother and one of my great grandmothers had totally hand quilted I was car jacked and they are now gone there was a little dutch girl full size quilt, a little dutch boy quilt, a double wedding ring quilt and two i dont know my mom put countless hours into every perfect stitch she and the church ladies were always quilting on something i now have to put a value on these items that were priceless to me, tell me how to do this, i would give anything to have them back, I remember so vividly the quilt rack hanging from the ceiling and her so patiently working on the quilts. can anyone tell me where to go to get the estimated value of such an heirloom. my address is melbehel1@gmail.com i would appreciate any help i could get thank you so much melissa

  129. First of all, awesome post!!! Though right now I’m a beginner and all my works of art and love are given as gifts, but one day….

    Second, I love your book! Thanks so much for writing it. I have a question but don’t know where to ask you. So I’m gonna do it here. Sorry! I’m just not sure where I’m supposed to do this.

    Page 32: step three. D = desired ht and length of space in my quilt.

    So if I’m making a pillow top that is 24″ square finished do I use 24″? Or do I know that since I want two inches on all sides the Space the letters will be occupying is really 20″ square so D is 20″ ??

    Sorry. This is probably really basic. But I’m new and save so long to afford fabric and I dint want to screw it up!

    Thanks!!

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