We Are $ew Worth It

HDS Sew Worth It LOGOI’d like to invite you to become part of a new way of thinking about quilting – one that values our skills, talents, and the beautiful things we make.

I know I’m not the only artist that has ever been offered an amount for my work that didn’t cover the materials. And I know I’m not the only artist to have accepted that lesser amount because I really needed the cash.

I’ve written two posts about the value of quilts. In the first, I give you a formula for calculating the actual time and money you invested in a project. In the second, I talk about why I think we get lowballed. Go read them because they give depth and reason to what I’m asking here. Go on… I’ll wait for you!

It’s time for the tide to change, and I’d like you to help me do this. We quilty gals and guys need to stick together. We are the keepers of our worth, and we have to claim it as a team for all. We absolutely MUST have each others backs. Every time one of us gives up a quilt for far too cheap because “I don’t need the money” or “I already had the fabric” or “I made it from scraps” we are perpetuating the cycle of having our work undervalued FOR ALL.

Yes, I know that we can’t triple our prices overnight and expect the market to bear it. But we CAN educate our buyers on what goes into our work, and we CAN let them know just how good the deal is. And I think if we start doing this, our prices will go up and we’ll start seeing our work respected – which will help our prices go up… which will increase the respect some more… and so on.

So I’ve created an invoice template for you. In it, I give you space to state the value of your materials, and the value of your time. And then a space to state what you’re asking. No, I’m not asking you to charge $4000 for the quilt, but I am asking you let them know that $4000 is what it’s worth, so they can see that the final number you’re agreeing on is one hell of a deal. These two numbers are crucial to the education. Some of the people we work with really have no idea what it takes to do what we do – they’re not trying to be mean, they just don’t know any better, bless ‘em. Only WE can help them understand.

And as for the meanies and slime-balls? I’ve found that a simple “You can’t afford me” usually does the job, along with a refusal to do business with them. Don’t make a deal that’s going to make you feel like dirt, ok? You are worth so much more than that.

So go spread the word. Let’s do this. Because truly, we are SO worth it.

Add this image to your site linked to this URL:

http://huntersdesignstudio.com/ew-worth-it-2/

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

NOTE: on the invoice templates I typed in SAMPLE numbers. Please change them to what works for you!

The invoice in MS Word is here (you have to do the math and type it in) >> Sew Worth It – Word InvoiceTemplate

The invoice in MS Excel is here (does some math for you) >> Sew Worth It – Excel Invoice Template

The PDF version of the Excel Invoice is here, just in case you don’t use MS Office, and want to see the format to make your own >> Sew Worth It PDF Example

The custom Sassy Buttons for this are here.

47 thoughts on “We Are $ew Worth It

  1. Yes, we are so worth it. And it is ultimately up to us to educate our consumers about our art, just like they do in galleries. Our time has value, our materials have value, our education has value, our CRAFT has value. We are so worth it!

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  2. I totally agree with and support what you have said, in both posts. I’ve been guilty of saying the same thing myself!

    Oddly enough, the biggest pushback I’ve received has been from quilters … perhaps they don’t value their own work? I’ve found it very interesting, and a bit disheartening. Every guild has a “charity” group who work as quickly as possible, using the cheapest materials possible, to churn out as much as possible to give away. This has led, in our town, a barrage of requests from even for-profit hospice care for quilts to give the family of every patient! I know they know not what they ask … but even education takes time, and as a quilting professional, time is money.

    So keep on talking, respectfully, openly, honestly … I see the “handmade” movement gaining momentum, even if it is only “handmade” in theory. It’s difficult for people to value time these days as our time is increasingly cluttered with nonsense and meaningless information. Thanks for you taking the time to keep the subject open!

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  3. What I have learned is that if I want the value of the quilt it will have to go to an artist gallery, but even there we are facing a 40-60 percent gallery charge, which gets added to the value calculation. Sigh. I do tell people the value price, and most just get a shocked look on their face. So, I only give my quilts to the people that appreciate and resonate with the work.( In my more cynical moments I ask the ‘buyer’ what their job is and ask if they would be willing to give me the same ‘discount’ on their services, for the true value price, that they are asking me for my quilt. )

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  4. I came up with an Excel sheet much like yours. What you have left out and that needs factoring in and that I include: Wear and tear on your sewing machine and a prorate on yearly maintenance cost. Cost of needles.

    Yes, we need to own this and demand that if people want unique as well as custoim stuff, they need to pay for it. Amazingly, you will get close to that price. If you lowball yourself, it raises the suspicion that the quality is in fact not there.

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  5. Thank you for doing this!
    I’m in total agreement, we do need to own this and stick to our prices. I am guilty of lowering my price as part of the negotiation process, but I also start off saying “You can’t afford me” and pull a figure out of thin air which is usually rather high. I’ve had 8 commissions this year and am happy with the results financially and otherwise.

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  6. This was a great series of articles – I think your article applies to any art that is not manufactured. My husband has the same problem with his paintings after studying art for 8 years at a major university he has to compete with manufactured prints etc.
    Thanks for putting it out there!

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  7. I couldn’t agree more, I am fortunate in that I don’t need the money, so if someone doesn’t want to pay me a fair price for my time and materials, I simply walk away. Our fellow quilters are our own worse enemies, continuing to undervalue their own (and the rest of ours by association) work because they insist no one will pay them a fair price. I gave up trying to educate my fellow longarmers in my area, that at 1 cent psi they were either giving away their time, or their equipment.

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  8. I so agree with the statement that our fellow quilters are our own worst enemies. At a recent quilt event my guild sponsored there were quilts available/for sale. The items ranged in price from $65 (for a large lap size) to $150 (for a ‘full’/dbl size). These were not made from cheap fabrics and the quilting, in some cases, was quite elaborate. They represented quilts that the owners had made/accumulated over their years of quilting and they felt that they had saturated their immediate family gifting. The most expensive one was selling for less than I would charge just to do the quilting!!!!! Yes, I did address this with a couple of the sellers (guild members) and they told me that they wanted whatever they could get….even if it was way undervalued. My frustration level was probably at its highest after these exchanges. I am afraid situations such as these are way too frequent and those involved seem to miss the larger, and more important, point BUT the “education” must go forward and I, for one, will not/cannot remain silent!!! Hugs, Doreen

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  9. Sam, thank you so much for your words of wisdom, and for the invoice templates you created! It makes it a whole lot easier to have the “pricing” discussion with a potential customer when it’s professionally laid out like this. You da bestest!

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  12. Thank you! Thank you!

    I would like to comment in reply to a comment on your original post about scraps and pricing. When I designed and constructed wedding and bridesmaid dresses, the amount of fabric purchased was based on the pattern or the muslin created. However, there were also minimums in ordering fabrics. Just because I had a yard or two extra did not change the billed price of the fabric as it was still a necessary expense. Any “scraps” left behind were not reduced from the fabric bill. They are a cost of goods sold. If there was yardage left over (not scraps) they could have it; as it had been charged to them at full retail price — not my wholesale price. I liken that to the “fat quarter” of the quilting fabric. If a fat quarter is the minimum that can be purchased, then that is what they are charged.

    If you you bring your own fabric to an upholstery shop, they will add at least 20% onto the bill because they didn’t make any money on the fabric. This also creates a predicament as there is no extra fabric in case there is a flaw in the fabric. Yes, you get to pay for the cost of “fixing a possible mistake”. I stock my own batting for quilts, just as I purchased the interfacings and and interlining. How does the customer know what is best? If they did why would they be hiring you?

    I’m not surprised Molly Sparkles is a man. Women are notorious for under valuing themselves. I don’t know that I have ever heard of a woman pricing herself out of the market. I constantly hear about women who “earn less than her male counterpart” or have to “break the glass ceiling”. Duh. Women are constantly blowing their own glass ceilings!

    Likening a home-based seamstress, designer, quilter or artisan to a home-schooler is incorrect. Liken them to a professional teacher. They are making a living, not fulfilling a hobby.

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  14. (partially in response to Leslie)
    One of the biggest problems with hand made goods is that many people see crafts, such as quilting, as a hobby. As something older women do to have fun (which is why there are few men or <45-50 yr old women quilting). The same perception is inflicted upon crocheting, knitting, and tatting.
    During the early 1900's sewing was something you did to make money. We did not have easy access to 'Made in China'. Both men and women sewed, tatted, etc. to make money. It was a job. If you took in mending or tailoring to make a little extra, you were helping out your family. The only 'hobby' was whittling.
    It is frustrating to see how devalued hand work has become. Many have become used to paying a pittance for clothes and quilting. They get the quality they are used too and I think some do not realize that there is a quality difference. I know I spent a year doing research before I started quilting. (i hate making mistakes) When I started out I did not realize that there are at least 3 different quality levels for quilting fabric (super thin Walmart $2/yd, ok thickness Joann's $6/yd and the nice thick LQS $10-12/yd). We are all still learning that you get what you pay for.

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  15. Pingback: Do you want to price your quilts?

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  17. This is essential for everyone,not just if you are planning to sell. By doing this, you can give recipients an idea of what they could insure it for, so your quilt will be appreciated by those who are not aware of the work involved, and your quilt hopefully will not end up as a picnic quilt or the “blanket” under the car unless you have made it for those purposes!

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  18. What a fantastic discussion and an excellent point. At this stage, I have never made a quilt for sale, but I am beginning to put a great deal of thought into how much effort I want to put into those quilts that I gift. My time is a finite resource, and I have come to regret the scale of difficulty involved in some of the quilts I have gifted. 3 years ago I made what my husband referred to as the $7000 wedding gift, which has sat in a box in the bride’s mom’s basement since it was made. I am approaching the point where I want to ask for it back, assuming it is not ruined.

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  21. For “April” I would SO Ask for the quilt back! I really gave some thought, my husband and I are from huge families and we have lots of nieces/nephews in the “Marrying” age. I decided not to do quilts as wedding gifts. First of all, the young couples need money or “things” to start their households. Second, I do not want one of my quilts being that thing that gets used as a beach blanket, dog bed, etc. I make quilts for the new babies, and will do some quilts for family members/friends with serious medical issues. These are all throws. The queen size ones I do as part of my block of the month club are so far just on beds in my house! at some point I’ll run out and perhaps give as gifts to my grown children, who at this point, appreciate my art.

    I’ve only sold one, and really short changed myself. Guilty! But I have bartered a couple for services that I would have otherwise paid more than I figured someone would pay me for a quilt.

    Buck up and let them pay! (I have also responded to a few people that wanted me to make a quilt the cost of materials alone, before my time) and sent them running back to Macy’s!

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  23. I think there might also be room in the conversation for pricing a quilt that isn’t quite at full value. Seconds are discounted goods that are still of some value but not quite at the expected level for full pirce. Thanks for the articles!

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  25. Great comments on a sometimes touchy topic. I am a weaver and know the problems all handcrafted pieces require to become finished and treasured items!!!

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  26. I’m tasked with embroidery in the family business, though it isn’t as in-depth as garment customization, mostly clothing embellishment.

    Still, what you’re doing is a great thing, and if you can find a way of generalizing this, you’ll find people of all interests, hobbies, and jobs of all shapes and sizes backing you on this one, ESPECIALLY on the web.

    What most people don’t understand is that you often need to work from speculation, they show up and while there, then they decide to figure out what it actually is that they want you to come up with, and if it so happens to more or less fall in line with what they’re imagining, then you need to figure out how to get it on paper (or on quilt, in this case). Especially fully-custom articles.

    I myself, am not connected with many people who would benefit from this article, but the reason for it is something we deal with every day.

    I wish you the best.

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  27. Our guild is entering a show where half of the quilts must be for sale. We are trying to set a price on them to be somewhat consistent and also be paid what they are worth. I’ll be trying out your spreadsheet!

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  32. I get soooo p’d off when I see people at markets selling work for material cost only that I actually have been known to go up to someone and accuse them of devaluing our work. I quoted someone $3500 – $5000 for a particular quilt once, knowing that she was not going to get it made but I thought that was the value because the pattern and material came out to about $800 and there was about 150 hours work involved. I appreciate other people realising that our work is valuable. Have enjoyed reading this thread

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