While I don’t have Extensive Knowledge in the History and Making of Quilts, I wanted to give some information on the understanding of Quiltmaking. So that non-makers can understand why the price of my quilts may seem high.
There are many factors that go into the making of a quilt. From fabric type, batting type, thread type, etc. If you don’t understand the process of making a quilt or sewing in general, it would be hard to understand how much time is actually required to properly create a quilt.
Many people are typically surprised at the price asked for a handmade quilt when places like Walmart and Target can offer quilts for $30. However, in many cases, those are whole cloth quilts and are mass-produced. They are able to offer them at low prices.
These are not the quilts that I am offering. In many cases, traditionally pieced handmade quilts are one of a kind and are VERY expensive to make. This is why many are passed down through generations and also why many makers only give them to family and friends. I am, however, wanting to provide a handmade quilt for those who don’t have that great-grandma or great-aunt far removed who can make you something to pass along in the family.
For Starters, let’s talk about Equipment. I am not going to go into much detail, but the equipment is a heavy price. For the machine to sew through many layers of fabric and batting, you will need more than a $100 beginner sewing machine. Some may be able, but I would worry about their mental well-being, as it would be extremely frustrating. You should be able to handle some small projects, like a quilted potholder/stocking, etc. however, making a quilt would be a struggle every time.
My current machine has throat space to handle a larger quilt, but most cannot. They may say they can handle up to a twin-size quilt, but “they” are crazy. It can handle some straight-line quilting, but other than that, you need a bigger machine. And the price goes up sharply.
(FYI- Long Arm Quilters spend 10-20 THOUSAND plus dollars on their equipment and it can cost easily $100-300 to quilt (just to quilt the 3 layers – not to make the quilt top) depending on how intricate of a design you want for a twin-sized quilt – twin…, not king. That can be much more expensive.)
Then the price of tools you need, such as special cutting tools, rulers, etc. can also be very costly. Using cheap(er) materials can also make the process more difficult, especially if you are making many.
I’m just giving a quick idea that – sewing – it ain’t a cheap hobby. You can do a quick search and see the prices of better-equipped machines, but personally, I don’t like sewing on anything that costs under $300 even for small projects. Not because I have caviar taste, but those small machines really are kind of crappy. Best used for learning to sew or for small simple projects and quilting is not a simple project.
Fabric. I know there used to be this idea that handmade is cheap. It most certainly is NOT! The price of the fabric is NOT cheap yall. Yes, I can sometimes get discount fabric. Joanns also has many sales. However, most of the fabrics that I use are a premium fabric and cost $11-12 dollars a yard.
I also don’t have a wholesale discount for being a small business. WHY? Because I would have to buy a min of about $500 worth of fabric in large quantities to qualify for buying wholesale. As a quilter, most of my quilts don’t look exactly alike, and therefore, buying large quantities for any ONE fabric would not be beneficial. So, I pay RETAIL for fabric. RETAIL YALL! Retail
Otherwise, I would have to make MANY of one type of quilt. That only works if I am mass-producing. I am an Etsy-selling one-woman maker. Not a mass production facility.
Now, you might wonder why I buy premium fabric? Why not the cheap stuff? This answer has a little to do with my next section- three. I buy premium fabric because of the amount of time it takes to make a quilt. If I am spending that amount of time making the quilt, I want your quilt to last a long time. Over time, cotton fabrics can break down. Cheaper fabrics also fade quicker.
(Specialty printed fabric like spoonflower cost 18.50 a yard! – just FYI)
Then add batting, I buy my batting in bulk so I’m able to get if for around $6-7 a yard. I need around 2 yards for a baby quilt.
(None of these prices include taxes and/or shipping)
Time. Now, I know a small quilt might not seem like much to sew. However, it takes a great bit of time to sew a quilt. It is not a blanket. Depending on the pattern, I could spend up to three days making a small quilt. Most that I sell on my Etsy shop takes 4-6 hours to make. From start to finish. If I have UN-interrupted time. A whole cloth quilt can take at least 2 hours. (not 20 min)
I’ve made a few full-size quilts that took me about 3 weeks each. I probably could have sewn quicker, but I also take my time to ensure that the quality of the quilt is good. You can easily mess up a quilt. 1/8 an inch off and you can have serious problems. (Oh- and I also had PRE-CUT fabric for those projects. I didn’t have to cut out a large portion of the fabric myself. ( I’ve spent literal DAYS just cutting fabric out for projects.)
So, with the little bit of information I provided above, let me explain how I valuate my quilts that I sell in my shop.
First of all, after adding batting (on avg 2 yards), thread, and yardage (On avg – 2 yards of backing, 2.5 for front pattern, .5 yard for binding) it can cost me 50-80 dollars for materials for making a quilt. (crib-sized).
Then, I add time. If I don’t add in a price for the time it takes me to make a quilt, it WOULD NOT be worth the making of it. I would continue to make for friends and family; however, it would not be worth the bother of making anything.
Since quilting is a learned skill, I charge $10 an hour for a quilt. A skilled labor wage. For reference, the average housekeeper makes $9-10 in our area. Something I also have the skillset for.
If it takes me 6 hours, that equals an additional $60 to the $50-80 for material. That is my COST to make. Not profit.
Then I also add on cost to help offset shipping prices, Ads and listing fees on Etsy, and materials to ship my quilts (packaging).
When you add all of this up – it doesn’t make sense to be a maker of Quilts. From a business perspective, it is not cost-effective and I would not make a deal on Shark Tank. Bringing me to my final point.
Why do I make quilts? To begin, I am THANKFULLY blessed that I do not rely on my making to keep our family afloat. I make it because I enjoy making it. Again, if I didn’t evaluate my time to make a quilt in my pricing, it would not be worth the hassle of actually making them. I would just continue to give to family and friends. I could spend all my time just for them.
There is also the issue known as imposter syndrome. Most artists and makers suffer from undervaluing themselves and their time spent on what they do. In order to offset this, not just for me, but other sellers on Etsy who obviously have given lesser value to their work, I keep my prices set as they are because I also want to validate their work.
Keeping my prices set at a certain standard gives value to their work and time.
With that said, I fully support your choice to buy elsewhere. I bought all my baby stuff from places like Target and Walmart because I couldn’t afford anything more expensive. (In MOST cases – I couldn’t afford to buy the fabric and make it myself. – I still buy clothes for my kids at big-name places because it’s cheaper than buying the fabric and the time to make them!)
I am a fan of capitalism and I want you to buy what you want, at the price you want, at the place you want with YOUR hard-earned money. And if you want to buy my one-of-a-kind handmade items – THANK YOU so much for spending your hard-earned money on my quilts.
Quilting is a bit of a lost art. People spend thousands of dollars on authentic Amish quilts. There is a reason why quilting has been lost to cheaper products and also a reason why people spend thousands of dollars on Amish quilts. My quilts are a small ode to the lost art of handmaking for loved ones and I hope to keep some of that tradition alive.