Monday, February 3, 2014

The worth of a quilt

Recently, I sold my first quilt:

Finished size: 39" x 71"

When coming up with with an estimate on what to charge, I considered quite a few things.  I had read Sam Hunter's arguments on the worth of a quilt and Molli Sparkle's detailed breakdown of the value of a quilt he made, and they both influenced me greatly to charge a fair amount for my time.  Many of my friends and family also supported the estimate I came up with, and in some cases thought I should charge more.

But it was my husband, who grew up with a cabinet maker dad and artist mom, that gave me the courage to actually charge the amount I came up with.  He knew that artisan and custom work is worth a lot more, and certainly costs a lot more.  His advice of "do what I'll regret less" helped too--I'd rather charge a lot and make a really nice quilt than charge less and kick myself for how much time I'm putting into it for the sake of a sale.

It took 3 hours (!) to trim/square the quilt, tie off, bury and trim the threads, and bind it.

And if the person didn't like the price?  Well there are plenty of similar quilts (but less detailed, less quilted, less artistic and less expensive) to be purchased out there.

Just after finishing the quilt, I came across Molli Sparkle's post on Sew Mama Sew on the putting value on your quilts, and I downloaded his excel template (at the bottom of his post) to see where my quilt came out:

Created by Molli Sparkles for Sew Mama Sew
Project Title: TARDIS II Quilt
  Quantity Rate Cost Notes
Pre-Production       Time it took to design the quilt.
Design Concept Fee 7 $25.00 $175.00  
Sub-Total     $175.00  
  Yards Rate Cost Notes
Thread 1.00 $10.00 $10.00 How do you calculate how much thread you use/used?
Fabric for Front 4.33 $10.00 $43.30
Fabric for Back 2.25 $8.00 $18.00
Police box sign     $11.00  
Fabric for Binding 0.25 $10.00 $2.50  
Batting 2.00 $15.00 $30.00  
Shipping & Misc 1.00 $25.00 $25.00  
Basting spray 1 $5.00 $5.00  
Sub-Total     $144.80  
  Hours $/Hr Cost Notes
Production       Final Size: 31" x 71"
Piecing Quilt Top 10.25 25.00 $256.25  
Pieced Backing 0.00 0.00 $0.00 non-pieced
Basting 1.00 25.00 $25.00  
Quilting 11.50 25.00 $287.50 Straight line, FMQ, custom work 
Sewing Binding 1.00 25.00 $25.00
Sub-Total     $568.75  
  Sub-Total Rate Cost Notes
Profit on Sub-Total $888.55 10% $88.86  
Rush charge     $50.00  
Sub-Total     $138.86  
      Cost Notes
Pre-Production     $175.00  
Supplies     $144.80  
Production     $568.75  
Post-Production     $138.86  
Final Total     $1,027.41  

A few things to note are that I added a rush charge (the quilt was commissioned January 6th and it needed to be delivered out of state before February 14th), I felt that my time and quilting ability are worth (at least) $25 an hour, and it doesn't include the Paypal 2.9% invoice fee (should the buyer or seller pay that I wonder?).

So you're probably wondering if that is what I actually sold the quilt for, and the answer is no.   I didn't include the design time in the actual price since I plan to mortgage that over several of these quilts, nor did I include the profit markup.  Because it was my first sale, there were a few costs I didn't know about, and even though I tried to estimate the correct amount of time it would take me, I ended up under-estimating it quite a bit (of course).

I also didn't include the amount of time it took to shop for the fabric, driving to the store to buy it, coming up with quilting designs (though most of that I had done for the previous quilt, I still spent quite a bit of time coming up with new designs where needed), dealing with quilting/machine issues, washing, drying, or shaping it, photographing it, packaging it, or taking it to the post office.  Seriously, that is all time out of my day--time away from projects I would have otherwise been working on, time away from cooking, cleaning, or spending time with my family--time that has worth, and really should be paid for!

When all was said and done I got paid for materials, shipping and about $20/hr for piecing, quilting, and finishing the quilt.  And I feel really good about that.  I learned a lot from this whole experience, and now I have much more accurate numbers to base estimates on.  So even though I don't plan to charge $1,027.41 for the next quilt like this, I will certainly charge more than for the first one!  Because my time and my quilts are $ew Worth it!

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO


  1. Absolutely! :-) I followed the link from the button to the great "what's it worth" article, so thanks for that!

  2. Awesome! Wow, you really broke that down. I'm glad you charged a significant amount for your time - I feel like quilters don't always consider that!

  3. Good for you, you are worth what you charge and more. I especially like that you mentionned the time taken away from other pursuits. So many consumers think quilts should be cheap bc they think we are just hanging out and doing a craft or waste-time activity. You go!!

  4. Brava Renee! and thank you so much for the link and support! Stitch by stitch, I think we can all benefit from this! ~ Sam (of We Are $ew Worth It!)

  5. Great job and thanks for your words on this experience. I think you are spot on with what you are worth. I hope you get more for the next quilt. This one was beyond amazing!

  6. I think $1000 sounds just fine, Renee! But I'm realistic too. And it's great just to do the pricing exercise.

  7. I hate the feeling of charging a certain price to just get a sale. I always feel like I am selling myself short....which is exactly what I am doing.

  8. I'm glad you got $20 an hour. I know I am from a different country, so maybe our financial situation is not exactly the same, but I think you guys are pretty similar to Australia, and $20 an hour is really the bare minimum I would hope you would get for the amazing patchwork and quilting you do. $25 would be just awesome! You are worth it.

  9. Agreed, 25 is more than fair! Art isn't cheap and that is what you're making here!

  10. It turned out absolutely wonderful!! This is another masterpiece and is worth every penny that you changed for it. Great job Renee!

  11. Absolutely! Worth every penny and more!
    People ask me why I don't sell what I make, and I always say that it would be difficult to get people to pay an amount that would actually cover the material costs and pay me a reasonable hourly rate.
    Our local quilting association does quilt valuations. I have never been brave enough to take one in. Maybe I should next time they have a valuation day.

  12. Amen girl! I feel so many times I sell my time and abilities short and yet when I was employed I would never have settled for less than what I was worth. So many people will tell me they love my quilts and wall hangings but they are over priced when they can buy at WalMart. My reply is, buy at WalMart, the quality won't be as good, the fabric won't be as good, it won't be a one of a kind item and it won't last decades as my quilts will. You did the right thing! People who know value will pay us what our quilts are worth!

  13. No one who "dabbles" in the arts EVER "realizes" enough for their work - and I have a feeling you would never give it me. I love this post - your workmanship is BEAUTIFUL!!! Happy Creative Tuesday - Tanya

  14. Definitely worth every penny, and more! I struggle to find a the right price to charge for commission work and know that the last big one i did i definitely undervalued it. And Ii'm pretty sure i just lost a commission for two quilts because my price was too high. And by high, i mean it was covering the bare minimum and no real profit. If only the rest of the world knew how much time and money actually goes into making a quilt this wouldn't be a problem1 So thanks for sharing your $ breakdown here, hopefully it will help to open some eyes!

  15. Thanks for the link, and for your breakdown of your quilt. I've never really thought about all the steps involved in making a quilt, or the number of hours everything actually takes. I did have a vague notion that it would be hard to get people to pay enough to actually make it worth my time to make quilts to sell, but had never worked out how much that would be. Very interesting, especially since I have begun thinking about maybe selling a few small items.

  16. Good for you! Your work is really beutiful! Love all the tiny details and quilting.

  17. I just came upon the Molli Sparkles blog via a Facebook post in a quilting group. Then followed the link to your post here. Thank you for breaking things down. I like to quilt as well and would love to make things to sell, however I know in my head the value of the things that I make, but I also know people aren't going to pay what the TRUE value of the quilt, or project is worth so I just make things for me or every once in a while as a special gift to someone. I think finally now that someone has come up with some sort of tangible breakdown process everyone can relate to it, or realized that for GOOD quality home craft, whether it be quilting, wood working, or any other craft, it costs a good bit more than they realize. This sort of gives me hope to at least try to make some small things and see how it goes. Because there is so many "cheap" things out there people don't realize how much actually goes into making a quality time consuming product..............I do have one question though that I did not see on the breakdown or even talked about is.................taxes. Different countries have different tax laws, but for those that sell their craft (and I'm assuming payment by cash or check) how do they account for taxes, do you add that to the price of the piece, do you try to slide it under the radar if paid in cash, is there a price limit that you don't have to claim it at tax time, etc. For example, you are a vendor at a craft show, do they make you collect tax on your product or is it already "incorporated" into the price of your product, etc.

  18. Just wanted to chime in with my "late" good for you!!!!