Education StitcherMade Quilts

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?

Have you ever wondered why some quilts are expensive while others are not?  

Mass produced quilts seen online and in big box stores come from factories where labor is cheap, quality materials are not the norm, and quantity is the goal.  These quilts do not withstand heavy use and laundering.  The price reflects what you get. These quilts are perfectly fine if you are not looking for longevity, handmade, custom, or heirloom quality.

Hobbyist or Professional

Both hobbyists and professionals make quilts.  Let me explain my theory on why their pricing is confusing.

There are many quilters who are content to sell the quilts they make for the cost of the materials in it and little more. I classify them as hobbyists. They enjoy the process of making quilts so much they just want to sell a quilt to support the purchase of materials for the next quilt.  Based on the prices I would presume the fabric, thread and batting are not all high quality. Doing so, these hobbyists do not put value on their time or talent or the cost of doing business.  It is a self-supporting hobby and nothing more. Many are incredibly talented individuals.

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 comparison with 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 the 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.  To begin with, they may be using different hourly rates. One may sew more quickly than the other or keep track of time more accurately. Even using equal hourly rate amounts, if the hours claimed are not the same, it will affect the final pricing.

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.  These expenses may vary significantly depending on many factors, most significantly if one is working within the home or renting retail and/or industrial space. Insurance, utility costs, and advertising are all overhead expenses and have a direct impact on the bottom-line earnings.

Other Costs and All the Above Equal Expensive Quilts

There are significant costs to being in the business of quilt making. Equipment such as sewing machines, long arm quilting machines, and office equipment require initial purchases, routine maintenance, and repairs/replacement. Hand tools used in the actual making of a quilt must be acquired for production of a sellable item. To grow and be competitive, the addition of different tools is necessary throughout the years.

Tools I refer to as disposable and frequently needing replaced are sewing machine needles and rotary cutting blades. How much thread is used per project is a variable difficult to determine. I have chosen to use a flat charge per quilt to include blade replacement and needle replacement (home machine and quilting machine) at the beginning of each project. I have also chosen an arbitrary value for thread usage on each quilt of $20 (includes thread for piecing and quilting thread).

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 all add to expense of quilt

Quality Fabric

Quality fabrics found in quilt stores are more expensive than fabrics in JoAnn’s, Wal-Mart, 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 equally.  Try the feel test and you will see what I mean. 

In my experience, fabrics from manufacturers I trust are 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 and pass the savings on to customers.

Batting Can Contribute to Final Cost Depending on Fiber Content

Batting price is based on content and size.  It comes prepackaged in common sizes, by the yard, or by the roll.  My preference is to buy full rolls and hang them on my 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 other words, when the quilts are washed and dried, they get that crinkly look of vintage quilts. 

I made a flannel quilt for my sister from flannel meant to be added to a partial quilt top from our mom had started. For it I 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.  I will be using more wool/cotton blended batting in the future for special quilts, even though it is more expensive. Learn more about batting /looking-at-types-of-batting/.

Quality Thread

My long arm happens to prefer Superior Threads.  Therefore, they are my go-to supplier.  The choice of colors and quality in the wide variety of thread types is phenomenal.  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 is 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 which is around 8 hours of use.  Likewise, the home machine needles get changed after 10-12 hours of use. 

Flashback to 2018

It was flashback to 2018 when I ran across an old post and couldn’t resist sharing it with you here to just give you a visual of quality thread all on sale costing $300. I still gulp before pushing the order button online for thread purchases.

This is a box of threads I ordered in 2018.  There are lots of fun threads (glitter, metallic, and even glow-in-the-dark) and fifteen spools of a variety of three kinds of silk thread so fine it is unbelievable it is a thread!  There is invisible thread in both clear and smoky (used on dark fabric).  Serger thread, lots of variegated threads, some replacement threads, and twenty-five needles for the home machines I’m using and differ from my longarm needles.  Anyway, getting thread was a real treat to my week!  Does it look like $300 in that box?  It is and people wonder why quilts cost so much!  Imagine what they would cost today!

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” – 81″ x 96″ $12 (imaginary pattern used for calculating purposes)
    • Background Fabric 5.5 yds @$15/ yd = $82.50
    • Primary Color Fabric 3 yds @ $13/yd = $39
    • Applique Fabrics total 2 yds @ $12/yd = $24
    • Backing Fabric 6 yds @ $15/yd = $90
    • Per Quilt Charge Needles, Rotary Blade, and Thread = $20
    • Batting prepackaged Queen Size cotton = $50
    • Overhead = $32
  • Cutting pieces and shapes (5 hours) (does not include borders)
  • Applique 8 internal blocks and borders (35 hours)
  • Piecing sashing/cornerstones and blocks (6 hours)
  • Sewing blocks/sashing into rows, rows to rows (7.5 hours)
  • Measure and adjust borders accordingly for cutting (1 hr.)
  • Attach borders (1 hr.)
  • Seam back to fit, excess will be binding (.75 hr.)
  • Load long arm (2 hrs.)
  • Quilt all over edge-to-edge floral motif (computerized) (6.5 hrs.)
  • Removed from long arm, trim/square; make binding and attached by machine (2.5 hrs.)
  • Label, hand binding and photo (5.5 hrs.)
  • Calculate sale price (.5 hr.)

All dollar amounts are rounded

Pattern =$12

Total Fabric = $235.50

Total Batting =$50

Notions and Thread Charge =$20

Overhead = $32

Time = hrs x $20 75.25 hrs x $20 = $1,505

Time in the Garden (81″ x 96″) would be priced for $1,855 using the (low) hourly rate guesstimate and I always think I can get things done faster than I can.  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. Even I think sometimes professionals can offer quilts that are expensive compared to the competition.

Comparison Pricing

My pricing base guideline for common sizes is developed on comparison 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 ourselves 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.

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 your comments. Please word any disagreements in a thoughtful, non-offensive manner with respect for my readers and contributors.