The most difficult part of being a quilt maker is putting a price on the quilt.
In figuring out what that price should be I have a long list of considerations.
The first thing to do is a layout of a design and calculate the cost of all of the materials used. That’s easy. Next, I calculate the time it takes to make the quilt and assign myself an hourly rate. Then there are the incidentals: shopping, driving, utilities, and other things that are often forgotten about.
Then I will do a few searches on the internet to make sure I’m falling into the right price zone of the market. Often I see quilts underpriced because of mass production and construction in countries where people are generally exploited. And other times by people who are afraid of asking too much. In those cases, they are paying themselves less than minimum wage and not considering all of the costs involved.
This is a screen shot of a twin quilt I found from a popular store. Read on and see if you can figure out how they can offer this price of $99.99.
Here is an example of a Handmade, Custom Made, Twin Size Quilt:
35 blocks, Sampler Quilt, 48” x 77”, Double thickness binding. A basic quilt using all commercial quilt fabrics only.
- Color 1: 1 1/4 yards @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 2: 3/4 yard @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 3: 3/4 yard @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 4: 3/4 yard @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 5: 1 1/4 yards @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 6: 3/4 yard @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 7: 1 1/4 yards @ $8.99 /yard
- Color 8: 1/2 yard @ $8.99 /yard
- Backing Fabric: 3 1/2 yards @ $8.99 /yard
- Batting (Warm and Natural) $20.99
- Thread: $4.99
- Incidentals: Needles, Cutting Blade, Applique fabrics and materials, Embroidery materials, buttons and embellishments, etc.
Total for Materials Only ( not including incidentals): $122.62
Hours (estimated): 16 x $16 (per hour)= $256
Then I ad 10% to the total to cover all the other things like utilities and incidentals.
The final total comes to $420.86 . That translates to $16.15 per square foot. To put that in perspective: That’s about the same as a mid to high level carpet and with good care, a well made quilt will last for generations. A carpet will have to be replaced in 20 years or less.
Often, most quilt makers spend much more time than they actually charge for and will throw in materials because the integrity of the quilt demands it. We often absorb all of that simply for the love of what we do.
For Art Quilts there will be many other things to consider. We dye our own fabrics. We make our own stamps, stencils, invent techniques to solve design problems, paint, hand sew beads, embroider and whatever it takes to make that idea come to life. Because Art Quilts can take months or years to actually finish, we generally set a price per square inch or foot. This varies according to the demand of an artist’s work. There are quite a few who can charge $10,000 and more for a large art quilt.
“Ardis and Betty: Making Salsa – 2 of Wooden Spoons in the Kitchen Tarot.”74.5″h x 85.5″w. By Susan Shie. One of my favorite artists and earliest inspiration to begin making Art Quilts. Click the picture to seem more of Susan’s quilts. She’s been making these since the early ‘80’s. They are all beautiful and inspiring.
So, there you have it! This is why a quilt is such an investment. But the thing to really think about is how treasured your one of a kind item will be. As a gift for a child, it will become a very personal comfort that they will want with them always. They will be able to pass it on to their children. As an addition to your home as an art piece to hang, you will feel joy and inspiration every time you see it. You will find yourself stopping often to take in new details and it will enrich your life every day.
And that is priceless.
Thanks for your interest in our special art form-