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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Custom made quilt prices

I often get asked "How much would you charge to make me a quilt"?  I answer, well, it depends on what you want made.  "Oh just something simple and they show me a design."  I give them an answer of what I would charge to make the quilt from start to finish.  The next thing I hear is "It costs HOW MUCH?  I can't afford that!  But thank you for your time." 

Very often what the customer sees as "simple" is not really that simple.  The prettiest quilts are usually the most complicated and difficult to make.  What the customer believes is... "It's a homemade quilt so it shouldn't cost that much."   

So how much would you (the reader) charge to make this quilt if the customer bought all the fabric?  Simple design and not very big so it wouldn't cost too much.  Am I right?  Don't actually tell me a price, just put a figure in your head.  Keep in mind that the price includes the quilting too.

Ok, what about this quilt.  Same price as that one?  It's still a simple design and about twice the size of the previous one.  Larger means more piecing time and quilting time too.

Ok, how about this quilt?  Same price as the first one?   It's the same size as the second one but all the blocks look like this. 

How about this quilt?  A little larger than the second one with a whole lot more quilting to finish it.  Same price as the first one?  (that's micro stippling in the background)

Ok, one more.  This one is actually smaller and an original designed, one of a kind, appliqued, art quilt.  Would it be the same price as the first quilt? 

You see what I'm getting at?  The price of a quilt depends on the work involved.  A non-quilt maker has no idea of the complexity of piecing quilts.  Non-quilters think of quilts as "homemade" but in reality quilts are only homemade when you make them yourself.  Paying someone else to make a quilt is actually "custom" made.  It's sort of like the difference between making yourself an outfit and paying a custom taylor to make it. 

Back in 2007 I wrote a blog post about my custom made quilts catalog.  A catalog of quilt designs and how much I would charge to custom make them.  I always quote high.  The reason is because it's much easier to tell a customer the cost is less, than it is to tell a customer the price is higher because of unexpected work.  I wrote about my catalog here.  My prices have changed since then.

More than half the time, the customer decides not to pay to have a custom quilt made.  It hurts a little to loose the work but then I realize not everyone can afford what they want.  Sometimes I can't afford things I want either.  I don't take it personally when a person isn't able to pay my price for a custom made quilt.  Their budget is none of my business.  Quilting is my business.  Creating quilts is how I earn my paycheck.  If I don't earn enough to pay my bills I wouldn't be in business very long. 

Most people (not all) remember quilts being made by their grandmothers and mothers at home.  Their thinking is that Grandma and Mama never complained about the cost of a quilt so the quilts must not have cost much.  That's where the difference is.... made at home VS bought or commissioned. 

What I'm always willing to do is help the person learn to make quilts for them self.  If the person learns then they get the homemade quilt they expect and can afford.  They also learn just how difficult it really is to make those pointy star quilts with lots and lots of pieces or the t-shirt quilts that match up perfectly in a collage quilt or the most popular quilt of all, the double wedding ring quilt with all it's curves. 

So.... if you are thinking about making custom quilts maybe you should create a catalog too.  Choose some designs that are simple and some that are more complex.  Decide how long it will take you to create the quilts.  Decide how much you need to earn per hour and add a little more to get your price.  The extra is wiggle room just in case there are difficulties you hadn't anticipated.  If the quilt is created without difficulty then lower the price when you present the finished quilt to the customer  They will be most appreciative.

If you are a person shopping around to have a custom quilt made then trust that the maker is only charging according to difficulty and time involved.  More often than not a quilter underestimates the value of their time.  I know (with the quilts I make) my earnings are about five dollars an hour.  Would you want to work for less than those wages?  If I charge $600 for a custom made quilt it represents at least 120 hours of work for me to create that quilt from start to finish.  The work involves design, cutting fabric, piecing it together, pressing, quilting the layers, and binding.  Along with all the work in between too.


Becky said...

Great post. It does amaze me at what non-quilters think the price of a finished quilt should be. I have a friend that I finally convinced to make her own quilt. After she did, she apologized for trying to "short" me on what I said I would charge. Granted that's only one person, but she got it after doing it herself.

Anita Estes said...

Yup, been there, done that too. LOL! My SIL used to ask me to make 4 or 5 quilts for her to give as xmas gifts. She would ask two weeks before xmas. It took awhile but I convinced her to make her own. She finally "got it" too. I bought the Circle Lord templates so she could quilt her own as well. She must have decided it was too much work because she hasn't made one in about two years now. I guess I should ask her.

Joyful said...

Thanks for this post. Those are beautiful quilts. It is so true what you say which is why I never ask anyone to make me a quilt ;-) Having made hand made items, I do appreciate how much time it takes.

I had a recent similar experience in pricing knitted dishcloths. A friend wanted me to make her as many as I could as she intends to give them away for gifts but she needs them by a specific time. I was willing to do the job and quoted two prices to her, one based on if she bought her own cotton wool and one based on if i purchased the wool. My prices would net me perhaps 50 cents or less per hour. When I told her the prices, she was flabbergasted and said she never paid more then 50% less of what I'd quoted. I said well "that would be hard to believe given the cost of the wool but if you have another friend who can do it for that price, by all means!" It saves me the time and probably preserves our friendship. I know she still hasn't gotten around to asking anyone else because another thing she is, is a master procrastinator.

jillyヅ said...

Good and a bit funny post. In the past when giving a quilt to a friend or family member some would ask about price if I could sell them. My answer? Priceless!!! Most are shocked at the hours involved to make a quilt, and I wouldn't even mention the cost of fabric, thread and batting.

Anita, the Lone Star? quilt you quilted is just increible!!!!!!!

ps. sorry I missed your bday. Hope it ended up being a good one.