Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Twinsies

Lately I've had a ton of intrigue on the topic of selling quilts. I've made a massive number of quilts this year and last year and people have been asking why I don't sell them. I never know quite how to answer this question. It is a difficult topic to conceptualize and explain, and I am always worried about offending someone. I have people weekly asking for quilts, for prices, or simply why I hand away all of my work for free. The simple answer is... you couldn't afford me.
 Although I rarely blog about the quilts I make because I simply lack the time between diapers, dinners, naps, nighttime, homework and tantrums, I seem to always be busy also quilting. There are numerous websites devoted to the question of why quilting isn't a lucritive business but first let me do my best to bore your pants off.
It all started 250 years ago during the industrial revolution. Somewhere between 1760 and 1840 the United States began to revolutionize the textile industry with new manufacturing processes. It understood that human power was the most expensive type of power and that in order to save time and money they came up with a "better" more efficient way. Although there still exists people that crave "handcrafted" items, those willing to pay that increasing price gap haven't been able to keep up with the times.
Realistically speaking my most common size quilt is a crib quilt for a child/baby. At around 45inches x 60inches, it is both the smallest and easiest quilt I make.
First you need fabric. I am a reasonable/thrifty person so let's assume for arguments sake I can find you fabric for $7 a yard. I typically spend between $5-$10 per yard.

Front Fabric (4 yards 4*$7=$28)                 $28.00
Back Fabric (2 yards 2*$7=$14)                  $14.00
Binding Fabric (1/2 yard 1/2*$7=$3.50)       $3.50
Batting (2 yards 2*$10-$20)                        $20.00
Thread                                                            $5.00
Total Materials                                             $70.50
I always tell people I spend about 30 hours on a crib quilt, it could be less, it could be more but 30 seems about right when all is said and done. This includes planning, cutting, ironing, sewing, basting, quilting, and binding. Let us assume I make little more than minimum wage at $10/hour. Your quilt now costs roughly $370.50. To top that off, I consider myself a skilled professional and considering the number of quilts I have made, and the wage skilled tradesmen earn (i.e. plumbers, electricians, block layers etc), I am likely worth somewhere more than $20/hour. As a side note, I make more than this at my accounting job. On average, the typical crib quilt won't sell for more than $150-$250, and I'm just not sure that justifies the week I spent making it minus the cost of materials.
In the past, I have offered to make people quilts for the cost of materials plus $100. To date, I have had not one person accept that proposal. I had a friend recently ask me to look over her business proposal for quilting and I had a hard time making the numbers work. In a world where we view Pottery Barn as better than handmade and Walmart can sell my product for a 5th or 10th of my price, I'm just not sure quilting has a place if you can make a living doing almost anything else.
Needless to say, I still make quilts, I still love the look on someone's face when they open my masterpiece and I treasure that every day that person has a little bit of love made from me. I give them away for showers and special occassions but typically only to those who request them.
I recently made a set of twin quilts (pictures are peppered throughout this post) for a cousin whose best friend is having twins. We decided she would pay me for the cost of materials. Since it wasn't directly for her, my time is my gift to her. The quilts turned out beautifully and I hope she and her friend love them as much as I do.
Here are some links I found interesting. I'm not saying making a profit is impossible, I'm just saying you might make MORE money doing LESS.

Links:
Moore Approved
Little Blue Bell
So Sew Easy

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