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.
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..
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.