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Quilts are Expensive

This blog on quilts being expensive is my personal experience and observations as a quilter and consumer. The opinions expressed are mine.

Have you wondered why?

Quilts are expensive when a quilter takes pride in her art, values her time, and buys the quality materials needed for the quilt to be used and hold up for numerous years to come.  Mass produced quilts seen online and in big box stores come from factories where labor is cheap, quality materials are not used, and quantity is the goal.  These quilts do not withstand heavy use and laundering.  

Hobbyist or Professional

Confusion over pricing is understandable.  There are many quilters who are talented and are content to sell the quilts they make for the cost of the materials in it.  It is my impression these women enjoy the process of quilting so much they just want to sell a quilt to support the purchase of materials for the next quilt.  Doing so, these hobbyists do not put value on their time or talent or the cost of doing business.  Generally their quilts would not fall in quilts are expensive category.

Professional quilters are in the business of selling quilts they make and express the value of their time and talent in their pricing.  They buy quality, do quality work, and include reasonable time/talent charges when calculating how to price their art.  Quilting is an art and should be priced accordingly. These quilts are costly in camparison with the hobbyist quilts.  

No Written Rule for Pricing

Even among professionals, there is no standard or written rule for pricing.  Each quilter must determine her own value to add to cost of materials. 

Hourly Rate

Some quilters have in mind an hourly rate they want to make and then keep track of their time.  Two equally talented quilters can make the same quilt using the hourly rate method, yet the price they put on their quilt can be significantly different for a variety of reasons.  One may sew more quickly than the other or keep track of time more accurately.  They may have a different hourly rate they use.  Even the cost of the same materials is dependent on where they buy, when they buy, and how they buy.  As you can see, there are a number of variables to affect pricing a quilt.

Rate Based on Size

There are quilters who have a standard rate based on the finished size of the quilt.  Additional charges are common for complex patterns, custom quilting,  and rush personal orders to mention some variables using this method.. 

Overhead

Often forgotten expenses are for overhead.  They include:  initial  purchase of tools used in constructing a quilt; reoccuring expenses like replacing sewing machine needles and rotary cutting blades;  depreciation and maintenance of sewing machines and sometimes long arm machines for quilting; the expense of driving to purchase supplies; and, electricity consumed in the process.  Reasonable overhead expenses of quilters should be added to the price of the quilt, I think.

As much as a universal formula for reaching a sale price would be helpful, mixing in the human factor would mean prices still are not consistent among quilters.  I don’t have an answer to this complex issue.

Material Prices – Fabric, Batting, Thread

Fabric

Quality fabric found in quilt stores are generally more expensive than fabrics in JoAnns and Hobby Lobby.  Price alone is not the way to determine quality, however.  I determine what I believe to be quilt worthy fabric by feel.  All fabric is not created equal.  Try the feel test and you will see what I mean. 

In my experience, fabrics from manufacturers I trust is worth the price.  The average price of the fabric I buy is between $12 and $18 a yard.  I am a firm believer in shopping sales and have built most of my stash on sales.

Batting

Batting is priced based on content and size.  Buy it prepackaged in common sizes, by the yard, or by the  roll.  My preference is to by full rolls and hang them on the long arm for ease of using.   Most of my quilt batting is 100% cotton or an 80-20 mix of cotton and polyester.  100% cotton tends to shrink a bit more than the 80-20 mix.  In otherwords, when the quilts are washed and dried, they get that crinckly look of vintage quilts.  I recently made a flannel quilt and used a wool/cotton blend batting.  As a result, the loft made the quilting really stand out.  Additionally, the wool gave the quilt a nice, soft drape.  In short, I will be using more wool/cotton blended batting in the future for special quilts, even though it is more expensive.

Thread

My long arm happens to prefer Superior Threads.  Therefore, they are my go-to supplier.  Choice of colors and quality in the wide variety of thread types  is phenominal.  The spools I use for piecing on my home machines start at $6; cones used on the long arms range from $25 and up.  How much thread used depends on the quilting motif and density of the pattern. 

In addition to thread, I buy machine needles, a disposable inventory item, from Superior.  I change needles on the longarm with each quilt or after 8 hours of use.  Likewise, the home machine needles get changed after 10-12 hours of use.  I place needles and thread in my overhead price at a flat rate of $8.

Quilts are Expensive – Sample Pricing Worksheet

This is an example of how I could calculate my pricing.  Do you think this quilt is expensive?

  • Shopping for pattern and fabric (2 hours total):
    • Pattern Time in the Garden – 67″ x 93″  $12 (imaginary pattern used for calculating purposes)
    • Background Fabric 5.5 yds @$15/ yd = $82.50
    • Primary Color 2 yds @ $13/yd = $26
    • Applique Fabrics total 2 yds @ $12/yd = $24
    • Backing fabric 5.25 yds @ $15/yd = $78.75
    • White spool polyester thread = $8
    • Batting prepackaged Queen Size cotton = $50
    • Overhead = $25
  • Cutting pieces and shapes (5 hours) (does not include borders)
  • Applique 8 internal blocks and borders  (35 hours)
  • Piecing sashings/cornerstones and blocks (6 hours)
  • Sewing blocks/sashings into rows, rows to rows (4.5 hours)
  • Measure and adjust borders accordingly for cutting 
  • Attach borders (1 hrs)
  • Seam back to fit, excess will be binding (.5 hr)
  • Load long arm (2 hrs)
  • Quilt all over edge to edge floral motif (computerized) (4.5 hrs)
  • Removed from long arm, trim/square; make binding and attached by machine (2.5 hrs)
  • Label and photo.(.5)
  • Calculate sale price (.5)

All dollar amounts are rounded

Total Fabric =  $200

Total Batting =$50

Pattern/Thread/Overhead = $25

Time = hrs x $12   64 hrs x $12 = $770

Time in the Garden  (67″ x 93″) would be priced for $1,045 using the (low) hourly rate guesstimate and I always think I can get things done faster than I can in reality.  I must have a warped sense of time or deep down think I am some quilting super woman!  This is why I do not price my quilts based on an hourly wage.

Comparison Pricing

My pricing base quideline for common sizes is developed on camparison pricing with popular online forums.  I take a serious look at professional sellers who have a large following, positive reviews, and a history of sales.  As a result, I have a base for competitive pricing. 

Defining “Expensive”

According to the dictionary, expensive adj. involving great expense; costly.

Therefore, we each must define for ourself how it applies to us. Our current financial well being is essential in deciding what is costly. If quilts are expensive, it costs nothing to admire them. Admiration has its own value to a quilter.

Source of This Blogging Subject

In short, I’m not really sure why I chose to write on this subject. Because my decision on a direction for the business has been on my mind alot, I may find myself taking a detour from the plan. In conclusion, I’m on the fence if my focus for StitcherMade will be on quilts.

Quilters who do not quilt to sell have their own thoughts on pricing. I can relate to their thinking. You will enjoy this link https://www.catbirdquilts.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/how-much-does-it-cost/ , I believe. Also, please click on Quilts for Sale on Catbirds site and scroll down for the short video.

All opinions expressed in the above blog are mine. If I have offended anyone, please know that has not been my intention or purpose in writing about this subject matter. I would love to have you comments. Please word any disagreements in a thoughtful, non-offensive manner with respect for my readers and contributors.

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My Quilting Journey Back to Teaching

A NEW SEGMENT OF MY TEACHING JOURNEY

I am excited to share with you my quilting journey back to teaching. I have joined a group of artists with very diverse talents to offer classes at Create and Googh, a unique studio located in Graham, Washington. . For those interested in this new venture, please check out the website of https://www.CreateandGogh.com.

BUSINESS WOESA TIME OF LEARNING

I had done my homework researching local interest, success of similar businesses, competitive pricing, and available locations within my business budget. Encouraged to forage ahead, I decided to open a sewing school in 2014. For a new business in a wrong location, I made the decision to close the doors one year after opening. Defeat is something I don’t give into easily. Determined to keep teaching, I took my business on the road. I went to the home or meeting place of the students, providing one on one instruction or group instruction. A unique approach for teaching caught on for awhile.

UNEXPECTED TEST OF GRAVITY

Along came December 2018. In a split second, the next 12 months were going to be a challenge I would like to have not taken on my life journey. An unplanned step off the edge of a high curb putting me prone on the sidewalk was not expected. An MRI confirmed the suspicion of a second podiatrist – fracture, free floating chip of bone, ligaments stretched beyond self repair and a damaged tendon.

HEALING SLOWLY – A TEST OF PATIENCE

My left ankle required surgery May 31, 2019. Weeks turned into months as the healing process was taking place. I guess now is a good time to admit I am not a patient person. Today I do enjoy some pain free days, interrupted by arthritic discomfort. Heck of a time to find out I developed arthritis in my big toe which would haunt me if on my feet too long!

2020 – RE-ENTRY TO TEACHING

Now in 2020, I’m ready to move on and am eager to teach again! Unplanned, I went to Create and Gogh to see what they were all about and a working relationship evolved. Somethings are met to be! See the class schedule at https://www.facebook.com/pg/StitcherMade/events/