Placing a Value on Your Quilts

on January 30 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Small Business Ideas, Small Craft Business Tips | by | with 80 Comments

Molli Sparkles is here today to share a little about the value of a quilt. He had a recent post called No Value Does Not Equal Free which we shared on our Facebook page. We loved the conversation it prompted both on Facebook and on the Molli Sparkles site so we asked Molli Sparkles to continue the discussion here today! Learn more about Molli Sparkles in his introduction, and be sure to stop by the Molli Sparkles blog for the “Sunday Stash with Molli Sparkles” link-up, the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee and more.

We want to hear from you! Have you done a cost break-down for any of your quilts? Do you find ways to save money so you can quilt even more? (Here’s our recent Thrifty Quilting post.) Do you sell your work? If so, do you make a profit? Why do you quilt and how do you place value on your work? Let’s talk!…

How loooow can you go?! In grade school I was a Limbo dance champion. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. You know what else is true?– The amount of baby quilts I seem to have to make for friends, family, and random pregnant strangers all of a sudden claiming to be my beeeeest friend when some other random stranger tells them they “know a guy” who quilts. And I thought I was a shady lady! Don’t make me purse my lips at you! Hmm, I digress.

So those baby quilts, we’ve all made them right? Out of love, friendship and, let’s face it, sometimes obligation. But do you know how much money you’re gifting with that baby quilt? (Yes, and the gift of love, most definitely love. But love ain’t gon’ buy Molli a new pair of shoes! Honey, no!) With that question in mind, I set about to discover how much a baby quilt is worth, and what is the cheapest I– and you– could make it for. This is what I found: Lovelies, forget the batting, it might as well be stuffed with cash! While everyone else brought a twenty-five dollar set of onesie pajamas to the baby shower, you brought a gift worth hundreds of dollars. I just hope you realize it.

Let me walk you through my process and how I derived my cost, then I’ll leave you with some sparkling costing templates that you can use for your next project. I knew I had to select a quilt design that basically had no design to it. Oxymoronic, I know, but I stand by charging a Design Concept Fee to cover my skills as a designer (which can be as a designer of a specific block, the layout of blocks, the creative implementation of an existing pattern, the selection of colour combinations, the selection of fabric combinations, and/or all things derivative of this). However, for this exercise, in order to eliminate this fee, I employed a simple 5″ charm square layout, consisting of 100 charm squares, in an easy 10×10 grid. I chose blue and green, kid-friendly bright fabrics from my own stash in about ten minutes. While I still think fabric and color selection should be a chargeable skill (some people have it, some people don’t) for something this quick and effortless, I’ll consider it a freebie.

So I had my design, I had my fabrics, it was time to create. I tracked each step of the process, down to the second. I even turned Mr. Sparkles away when he wanted a hug. (“Sorry, I’m on the clock!”) Let me tell you, I worked fast and took as many appropriate shortcuts as possible. I ironed like a house on fire, rotary cut my fabrics, pre-wound my bobbins, chain pieced at 1500 stitches per minute and machine bound the binding. You’ll notice I’ve employed a pieced backing, half broadcloth/homespun and half Japanese import. This did take some additional time, but since the quilt top is 45″ square, it was required. For future projects such as these I would consider making the quilt top smaller to utilize a single, width of fabric backing.

Also, I eschewed any long arm quilting fees by doing this myself with my Juki sewing machine. I originally had planned to quilt down either side of the seam lines. Then with some quick math, I deduced that would be 36 quilt lines to sew. However, if I stitched across the diagonal of each charm square, that would only be 20 quilt lines (some of them obviously quite short in length). This saved time and thread! This methodology also created a secondary pattern, adding a subtle design element. I’ll take what I can get!

All that being said, it still took me approximately eight hours to make this quilt at a final size of 45″ x 45″ that at its core is simplistic, and virtually design free.

So here we are. I’ve got a baby quilt across one arm, my faux chinchilla coat across the other, and I am ready to take both to that baby shower. But can I afford to? (Let me tell you, faux chinchilla is not cheap!) As I did for my No Value Does Not Equal Free quilt top, I assembled a costing sheet to determine how much I could afford to charge for this baby quilt. Since the No Value Does Not Equal Free costing blog post and associated discussion, I have learned quite a few things about my position in this price war. To hopefully dispel any questions about my process, I have provided my own detailed costing sheet.

Design Concept Fee – $0.00:

  • As I previously stated, I chose not to charge a Design Concept Fee for this exercise, but I encourage you to do so if you feel it is appropriate.

Supplies – $69.04 AUD ($60.08 USD):

  • In all calculations I have used inches and yards, despite purchasing some materials in metres.
  • The typical cost of quilt shop quality fabric in Australia is $24 AUD per metre (39.37 inches). Tell me about it!
  • This quilt contains a few DS Quilts fabrics from Spotlight (our version of Jo-Ann’s) which are slightly cheaper, and it also contains some fabrics I sourced in the United States, even cheaper again.
  • Considering the varying fabric sources, and the cost at which I would have to replace them, I chose $15 AUD per yard as an appropriate average.
  • The back is a combination of homespun/broadcloth purchased at $7 AUD per yard and a Japanese import purchased at $15 AUD per yard, an average of $11 AUD per yard.
  • I only charged for materials used. That is, I took the square area of the fabric in inches that was actually used in the quilt. I then divided that number by the number of square inches in a yard of fabric that has a forty-two inch width, to determine the total yardage for each fabric. (e.g. 100, 5″ charms = 2,500 square inches. Divide that by the 1,512 square inches in a yard and you get 1.65343 yards).
  • This methodology is debatable, but since I love scraps, I know the off-cuts will get used in other projects.
  • The one exception to this was the Gutterman thread, as I couldn’t accurately keep track, so I charged for half a spool.

Labour – $166.50 AUD ($144.88 USD):

  • For this type of simple sewing, I have adjusted my labour down to $25.00 AUD/hour.
  • Bearing in mind higher labour rates in Australia, as well as the cost of living in an international capital city, this falls between the median wages of a seamstress and graphic designer in Sydney, Australia.
  • The minimum wage in Australia is $16.88 AUD (industry-based), the minimum wage in the United States is $7.25. There are a multitude of factors and benefits that are included or not included that make comparing these numbers virtually impossible.
  • If the sewing were more difficult, I would feel comfortable charging more.
  • My wage is not your wage. But, and this is a big “but,” we, as quilters, sewists, designers, crafters, artists, hell, just people who create, deserve and should demand more than the minimum wage in your country. As the owner of your creations, you get input into how much they are worth!

Profit – $23.55 ($20.49 USD):

  • I would typically charge a 20% profit margin, however, to minimize this cost model, I have elected to reduce it to 10%.
  • I am still conflicted about the right amount for me, but I think if I were making a larger, more complicated quilt, I would adjust back to 20%.
  • For those that don’t understand why I choose to place a profit margin on quilts, Jenelle from Echinops & Aster explained my thoughts perfectly:
    “Wages alone are for a contractor of services where the contractor is not making money on transforming raw goods into a tangible, improved product. The customer of a service contractor, like a [house] painter, is paying for the expertise of the contractor itself (materials are usually paid for at cost). Molli Sparkles is a producer or manufacturer (in the most stripped down sense) of a product. The product itself is the good being purchased, not the service of making the quilt. Also, Molli is essentially hiring himself to make the quilt, so the wage is figured in as a distinct cost in the production of the product. Mark-up is added after adding up all the production costs to ensure a profit. The wage rate (essentially just a cost in making the product) and the profit margin are thus two very different concepts. I know this might sound kind of technical, but the two business models, service and production, really operate very differently.”

Final Total of $259.09 AUD ($225.45 USD) for my simple, charm square, baby quilt that took eight hours to make.

So you got all that? Ladies and gentlemen, I know. It’s tough monetizing and analyzing something you love so much. It’s like looking at your skin really close in one of those magnifying mirrors. Eeew! (Those should really be outlawed, by the way!) The final total of $259.09 AUD ($225.45 USD) is about as low as I can go and still respect my process. I know in my heart and my bleeding fingers that I can not, and I will not, contribute to any practice that devalues– intentional or not– us as creators. Yes, eighty dollar Etsy quilts, I’m lookin’ at you!

Just for the sake of it, I ran a few cost models to see how that was even possible. The only way I could get even close to that was by charging $9.00 USD per yard of fabric, $12.00 USD for batting, $7.75 USD per hour for labor, and 0% profit, which still created a final value of $95.41 USD! I understand those charging break-even (and below) prices for their quilting may be doing so simply out of the necessity to keep quilting. Since I am not in that circumstance, I wouldn’t dare offer judgement. However, if these creators are doing so because they feel they don’t deserve more money, more respect or more value: Let me remind you, in the grand words of Sam Hunter, We Are $ew Worth It.

A final reminder, these values represent me, and this is how low I can go. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Molli ain’t cheap, ya’ll. But now I want to see how low you can go! Download the template, put in your rates, your own cost of fabric and your own time for whatever project you want. I implore you to see exactly how much your creations are worth. You’ll then know that when you arrive at that shower, with that baby quilt on your left arm, it will be worth way more than the faux chinchilla on the right. Now, step, snap, stomp and werk!

For more information and templates for valuing your work, check out the We Are $ew Worth It series by Sam Hunter at Hunter’s Design Studio. 

This post is sponsored by Contemporary Cloth. Contemporary Cloth specializes in original fabrics with bold modern designs by today’s hottest new fiber artists. If you want your creations to be your own and have an individual, uncommon “look,” Contemporary Cloth is a great resource for unique fabrics including Japanese prints, hand printed fabrics, Oakshott Shot Cotton and more.

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80 Responses to Placing a Value on Your Quilts

  1. Andrea_R says:

    Just another added note, in all other crafting fields the standard rough costs calculation is 3 times the costs of materials, which still comes close to the initial figuring out.

    I just saw a lot of people mention double the costs of materials and not sure where they got that from. Everywhere I’ve done work (from way back in the 90’s even) it was always 3x.

  2. Andrea_R says:

    This was a great post! And before you read the rest of my comment, do realize that I am all for higher pricing on handmade gods and earning a living wage.

    I think the only point that was missed was this: if you are doing this as a business, then you can buy your supplies *wholesale*.

    This explains why you do see some quilts come in cheaper. I did some quick cost calculations, and there is a large chunk of money saved when just the materials are cheaper (buying wholesale, shopping only sales etc..)

    For example, you can get baby sized quilt batts for under $10 US/Can and it’s still good batting and there are plenty places selling top quality 100% cotton quilting fabrics for less than the $9/yard or metre in your example. For the sake of argument, you can reasonably expect to find decent quilt fabric in the $4-$6 yard range from some places. This still leaves wiggle room for a decent hourly wage and still have a baby quilt in the $100 range. Buying 3 yards of fabric at $4/yd versus 3 yards at $25 / yd is a huge difference. I do disagree minorly with figuring out the costs of the fabrics based on replacing them. We’re making art here – we can’t always replicate things, even with buying wholesale supplies.

    And yes, I do list some baby quilts in the $100 range. Because my cost of materials were that low.

    Just remember the biggest place you can change your pricing and still make a living is the cost of materials. I do realize the price of fabrics in Australia is very high, but also remember: If it’s a business treat it as a business. Start sourcing wholesale fabrics.

  3. Kimberj says:

    I’m with you Molli! I only do commission art quilts (each design is complex and custom) and I make it VERY clear the cost range we’re looking at before I accept. I also have rheumatoid arthritis and am neither fast nor prolific but they still get charged for the time I spend not what someone faster and younger could whip up. I sell enough that I am constantly busy with an average 18 month waiting list. I still make gifts but again, all custom designs (I am a bit of a Bohemian and hate to make “repeats” of anything). I recently made 2 custom diaper bags, his and hers, for a couple that I dearly love. They were both very different from one another. When they opened them at the baby shower I had about 5 people come up and ask to commission bags. When I said “That will be $300 per bag.” they quickly backpedaled. They had $80 max per bag in mind. I told them I put as much work and thought into each bag as the artist who painted the watercolor in their living rooms and deserved the same pay and respect. When you accept cheap pay you get treated cheaply.
    I REFUSE TO BE DEVALUED. Thanks again Molli for planting such critical seeds in the textile community. FYI: I also charge a design fee and it’s not minimal. I spend as much time or more working the piece out in my head before I start the physical project. My clients know that up front and I’ve not had one complaint.

  4. gina says:

    thank you

  5. Renuka says:

    I agree with you ,I wonder how people value your art and craft ,I feel nobody cares

  6. Julee says:

    One of the best articles I have read in a long time! Thank you!

  7. Thank you for sharing your work with us! I loved this article!

  8. betty says:

    Ouch! Good for you for not lowing your price and selling!

  9. Diane Miller says:

    It is truly amazing when you break down all the materials and time you put into each part of the creative process. I am asked all the time out long it takes me to make one of my tissue collages. I have no specific time, each one is of course different. The time I put into making one of my pieces is much more valuable for me than the materials. I have a hard time pricing my art. I don’t want to “give it away” and I don’t want to lose sales because of too high a cost! A major quandary for artist of every medium.
    I enjoyed reading your blog, very helpful and insightful. Great sense of humor as well! Thank you for showing an example of the Cost/Time breakdown! Enlightening.

  10. Great article for anyone interested in textile arts, making or purchasing. Many on both sides do not understand or credit the value of the time, skills & creativity involved in handmade textiles.

  11. Renee says:

    I used your spreadsheet and shared the results in my blog post today, thanks!

  12. Melinda says:

    I love that you’ve been putting yourself out there and letting people know how much you and all of us are worth. I think your cost analysis is pretty sound. I think our fabric prices here in the states helps us keep prices down but I think a lot of times people count fabric at no cost if it comes from their stash. Someone paid for it at some point so that needs to be considered! I try to shop around fabric as much as possible and stock up when I find something on sale (50% coupon made regular quilting cotton $2.50/yard!) to do the best I can. I think if I ever do a commissioned quilt though, that I will consider time and profit in the cost. Thanks!

  13. Kelie says:

    Okay, let me just say WOW! I never thought of it this way. I’ve always read that the way to figure out how much to charge is materials+labor=wholesale wholesale*2= retail. This makes much more sense to me though. Thank you so much for breaking it down like you did! I really enjoyed this article!!!!

  14. Nurdan says:

    Thanks for this excellent post!!!!

  15. Chelesa says:

    I have always considered quilting a hobby and just sold quilts to “break even” and buy more fabric, but you are right. I should take more value in the things I make. Thanks for the EASY AS EVER spreadsheet and encouragement, I am sew worth it!

  16. Tracy says:

    You hit the nail on the head when you said customers have no idea what goes into making a quilt! Even the “simple” quilt discussed in this article requires measuring, cutting, ironing, piecing, lining things up, quilting, etc., etc. People just don’t realize how time consuming it is!

  17. Jeanette Kercheval says:

    Thank you so very much for this article. I made a king size quilt that earned a 3rd place ribbon in a local show. It was machine pieced, hand quilted, with yoyo’s hand appliqued on top. Fantastic, since I only began quilting about 5 years ago. I wanted to sell it and was suggested to me by a friend to sell it at $250 (my costs were about $150). I tried selling it higher and eventually gave up. I knew my time was worth more than $100. It’s now on my bed!

  18. Thank you for the wonderful article. I’ve been selling on Etsy for a few years. I’ve always been priced higher than most on the site. My quality and attention to detail…and my expertise… is worth a lot. If even quilters don’t value their own work enough, how can we expect the general public to know what it’s worth? Now I’m off to read the Hunter’s Design Studio article as well.
    Thanks again!

  19. Becca says:

    Thank you again for putting this kind of information out there. I recently made a pair of t-shirt quilts for a friend. This means I received a fair price (yes, I looked around and found out what is fair). I also provided a complete listing of everything that went into that quilt along with the t-shirts of her deceased father. As for selling quits, I want to be clear, I would rather give away a quilt than sell it to someone for less than it is worth. I regularly make quilts and donate them to my local chapter of Quilts for Kids.

  20. Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Hang on… [pause for deep intake of breath]… I really can’t tell you how completely fabulous your post is, how very much I concur and how much we all needed to hear it. I mean, I probably could tell you but it would take paragraphs and really all I want to do is a ‘we are not worthy’ bow like in Wayne’s World! I am currently making my fourth king-size (well, 2m square) quilt. Three have been gifts to my parents and brothers, and one was commissioned by an aunt. I would love to quilt for a living but you are so right: customers have no idea of the correct price for such a labour-intensive, highly-skilled, artist-driven item. Thank you. I am going to need to do a lot of digesting of this post. And go and read Hunter’s Design blog too, from the sound of other comments.

  21. Anna says:

    This is perfect – so clear cut and sensible. I should print this out for anyone that asks for a quilt so I don’t have to try and justify why I should get paid what I need. I quit Etsy for this reason. I can’t sell a quilt to save my life for the actual price (or cost) and I did become one of those “sell it for $80” people and even that didn’t work.

    Now I only make quilts for people I want to make quilts for. If asked by a very good friend, I’ll sometimes make a quilt at what I tell them is cost when even that means taking a hit because I don’t want to get the push-back on pricing.

    Maybe they should come along for the ride? Pick/create pattern, fabric shop, prep fabric, cut fabric, sew & iron and sew & iron, then pick out more fabric for the back and then batting and then actually get down to quilting it only to have to make and sew on binding and then make sure it’s clean as a whistle and/or washed before it’s gifted out. So, no, new-found-bff, I can’t do a twin-size quilt for $40. I hear Target has a few in stock.

  22. Bonny says:

    Leasa – your calculations are the ones that I have always heard of – just double your materials and consider your labor is free. But it sounds like there is a new movement out there to get back our labor money – whoo hoo – hope they are right 🙂 It would be nice!

  23. Amanda says:

    This is a topic that all quilters need to think about even if they never sell their quilts. Here is another forum for the same topic.

  24. Linda Long says:

    I really believe quilters should have more discussions about ‘what it is worth’ with each other,It seems to be the 800 lb gorilla in the room. We can not rely on the customer knowing they cant even imagine what it takes to make one. I love your way of explaining the most simplest of quilts ,I make the most complexed quilts my mind can come up with all by hand and with so much fabric that most cant comprehend it . My designing one takes more time and hard dang work than the actual making of the thing,Even though I have dyslexia with numbers or maybe because of that my mind can calculate the most tiny amounts so I know exactly what I have in any piece and how much time.and energy it took. Right now I have big quilts from $600 to $5000 and in a real world they should be twice that , Of course people want them and about croak when they hear the price but that isnt my problem that is their problem . I want a new car but cant afford it so why should my work be any different . I have sold a few and of course given my family and friends a lot and donated a few . I do not make them for the money so if they never sell thats ok too or at least so be it. ,Keep up the discussion it is a important one

  25. Linda says:

    Both this article and the one by Sam Hunter were very educational. I have been a quilter for 34 years and I long ago learned to only give to people who will and do appreciate them. That said, in the past two years I have been commissioned to make a lot of quilts for pay. I also document everything very carefully and when I give the estimated amount I would say that about 10% balk at the price (and therefore do not commission a quilt). I made 24 quilts last year for either commissions or donation to fundraisers and a few were even barters. I make you a quilt and you make me a ?. Those are the best ones because those people also value their time in making furniture or art or services. I must be lucky but I know my labor costs need to rise (and they will this year).

  26. As with your “No Value…” post a little while back, spot on! I personally couldn’t charge at quite the Molli Sparkles level because of my lower skill level, but I wholeheartedly agree with the pricing structure and working for a wage plus profit when you are making and marketing the product. I’ve seen such a tremendous change in the craft industry over the last twenty years as far as pricing, and I’m hopeful the quilt industry will catch up soon, too.

  27. Flaun says:

    Sarah, when people ask you, do you show them a worksheet of your estimate? If you don’t want to use Molli’s example, Sam Hunter created an Excel version and a Word version you can use. It’s all about education! When we all educate those who approach us, we’ll all get closer to earning what we’re worth. We Are $ew Worth It!

  28. rachellake says:

    Reading your cost breakdown was very helpful and insightful. I have been asked to sell all sorts of handmade items at ridiculously low costs. Last year at a handicraft fair a shopper asked to buy the hand-knit shawl I was wearing and was then horrified when I told her how much I would charge.

  29. This is a wonderful article. As a relatively new Etsy seller, I did my math (very similar to your calculations) and priced my quilts below what I calculated as their real value. Even so my quilts are on the high side for Etsy. It is a shame that some people sell their quilts, some of which are really lovely, at what must be a loss. But it is wonderful to have an excuse to make more quilts and I’ve really enjoyed the process of making quilts as a seller.

  30. Susan K says:

    Very well-said! I used to sew for others – home-dec and did the installation. Should have charged much more but ran the risk of losing business. The time spent figuring out how to do something from a picture, how much fabric, how to put it together, the actual work and then the installation. So much work. I found that people wanted Wal-Mart prices for a Nieman Marcus look. Glad I’m out of that rat race and now sew what I want for who I want – even if it’s for me. So much more rewarding.

  31. Jane says:

    Great article!
    I was asked just the other day whether I’d sell my work and I told them straight up that there’s no way I’d get what it’s worth. I am in regional Australia with lower socio economics than the big cities, I can’t see me getting even $100 for a baby quilt. It’s sad we underprice ourselves so :(.

  32. Leasa says:

    When I price my quilts I do materials x2. Usually it’s just a straightforward patchwork design for simplicity. Maybe HST. I quilt on my own machine at home so I don’t have to rent the long arm. I know I’m undercharge… I charge $250 US for twin size quilts. My materials is around $100. I’m overloaded with commissions, probably because I’m giving good deals (all my clients are online friends) but I haven’t had anyone complain or gasp. I’m sorta new to quilting too so as I gain perfection I would charge more in the future I think. I’m guilty of a baby quilt listed for $70 or something but it’s not really an actual quilt. No patchwork, single piece of fabric on both sides, then quilted. Thanks for posting!

  33. Sarah says:

    This is why I decided not to take custom quilt orders in 2014. Of course, after I got a request a couple weeks ago, I ran the numbers for my cost again because I would love to do it. However, no matter how many times I run the numbers, I just don’t see a way profit can be made. Everyone wants designer quality and to be able to customize it every step of the way and pay Target prices, but when you tell them $400+ for a twin/full quilt, it’s like you slapped them. They don’t realize we’re paying retail price on all our supplies and then we need to pay ourselves. Thanks so much for a great article, it came right on time for me since I’ve been bullying myself a bit over this decision.

  34. ginevra says:

    Molli, I’ve actually seen a few baby quilts in Sydney for around the $200-$250 mark, so I think you’re spot on … except that these are bricks & mortar retailers, so I guess the wholesale price is much lower o_0

  35. RobinSue says:

    True! True! True! As quilters, we put so much into our work from our first thought to the final stitch. Onlookers ooh and aaah at our finish and cringe when we give them a price. I quilt because I love it. I give to those I love. Let’s keep quilting because it makes us happy.

  36. Marissa says:

    Excellent read! I’ve often wondered if I could sell quilts on etsy and the pricing of my work (other than the costing of the product) has often bewildered me. I love all things in this industry and quilters should be recognised for their skill not just labour.

  37. Vicki says:

    This is the reason that I don’t sell my quilts people. I would rather give them away than accept less than they are worth.

  38. Kaesey says:

    Thank you! This makes a lot of sense. I estimate quilt values for tax purposes, since I donate them to local hospitals, and I’m glad to see that I really wasn’t overestimating. I’m planning on selling some doll quilts this spring, and you’ve given me a leg up on figuring out my pricing.

    And now, off to check out your site! =)

  39. Sam Hunter says:

    Hi Kimberly – knowing what to charge is really a difficult task, and as you say, who might even pay what we’re asking? I think we are at the beginning of turning the tide… the more education we deliver, the more people understand the worth. Most people that offer too little are only used to box store prices and they just don’t know any better when it comes to handcraft – bless ’em! Go ahead and sell that quilt for $80 if you need the moola. But when you deliver it, let them know that it should have been $300 and that they got a heck of a deal. The education matters too!! – hugs ~ Sam (from We Are $ew Worth It)

  40. Jean MN says:

    Like so many others, I also read Sam Hunter’s blog on this topic This is a GREAT conversation and much needed by everyone who creates to sell to the public.

    We are $ew Worth It! Molli Sparkles and Sam Hunter make very valid points on how much one undervalues themselves and others who create when they ‘low-ball’ the cost.

    I know that I make much more than the minimum wage here in the US, I expect that I will be compensated at my going rate. Hence, most of my sewing is for gifts only.

    Those commissions that I have done before, would now be, at the very least, two to three times what I priced them at before.

  41. Megan says:

    Absolutely! We are Sew Worth It. I think a lot of this comes down to education. Know your worth (and your product’s worth) and you can educate others, too. I’ve used Sam Hunter’s worksheet to do all this number crunching. Then, to make it simpler for my clients I usually start with just two numbers: the cost of materials and of my labor.

  42. Great post, Josh!

    The We Are $ew Worth It message is getting out there. If only more people would realise their worth. Charge accordingly and spread the word by educating those who may not understand the value of hand crafted OOAK items! These posts will go a long way to keeping the movement alive!!

  43. Well done, Joshua!!! Now imagine if everyone who read this then shared it with their Facebook friends… share the news, raise the awareness of the value of our quilts!!

  44. ZGirl says:

    This is a great posting about the value of what one does….even at a “hobby” level. I had a person ask me to make them a quilt, using a pattern I had never tackled before (“Y” seams), said pattern was ONLY in lap and they wanted KING (no, not double the fabric–quadruple it!) and they wanted silk blend fabric. When I calculated JUST the cost of materials for them, they nearly passed out. Needless to say, I didn’t get the project and that was okay. Someone will find our time worth it….but only if we value our own time FIRST. Thanks Molli and Sam Hunter. ?

  45. This is why I
    A. Don’t sell my quilts
    B. Don’t take requests
    C. Only make gifts that I really want to make. If I’m not inspired or don’t have the time I go store bought, all the way. And I don’t design solely for the recipient. It has to be something I’m excited about.

  46. sarah says:

    this is fabulous. i have seen others try to help break this down, but you have really made it simple to do! thanks for sharing!

  47. Gill says:

    There’s also electricity, heating/cooling and maintenance of your workspace, servicing your machine, rotary blades, purchasing of needles etc… Not to mention original purchase costs of equipment… All adds up! Great article!

  48. Sarah says:

    You, my friend, are priceless. Cheers to you for calling attention to the value in our craft.

  49. Carola says:

    Thank you for this article!!!
    I was wondering where the sewing machine comes in? You don’t charge wear and tear… I mean to say if we use a car we count more than the gas as well…
    And though it is probably considered negligible but a needle should be replaced after the quilt too…
    I wish people that do not sew would also read article like this!

  50. Anne says:

    I love the way you break things down for us, Molli! Thank you for the reminder that we need to value our work first.

  51. Yolanda says:

    THANK YOU! I never thought about charging for designing. Or thread. Or ironing time! I love your spreadsheet. Perfect.

  52. anna says:

    This is pretty much why I quit selling – no one around here will pay what I deserve (hell, they cry at the amount of just materials!) and it’s just not worth it to me to be ignored due to price or outright hassled about it. I’m not a famous quilter but my work is impeccable! Thanks for this article – reassuring!

  53. Paula says:

    Way to make it real ! I love your matter of fact approach to cost break down of this ‘simple’ quilt. The more we all talk about how much we are worth, the better for everyone. EVEN IF you chose to make ‘free’ gift quilts (which I do) its good to know the value of the thing you are giving away. And yes, I think your design time is worth more than zero, Even if all you did was pick charm squares out of your stash.. what about the time you spent deciding to purchase those charm squares ??

    I also read Sam Hunter’s blog on this topic :
    GREAT conversation everyone

  54. Linda says:

    Well said! Along with Sam Hunter’s We Are $ew Worth It movement, your posts are giving this movement momentum. A recent blog post gives even more tips on keeping track of a project’s worth.

    Whether one sells his/her work or presents it as a gift, it’s just common sense to know the value of the item. Baby quilts, in particular, seem to be undervalued and under appreciated.

  55. Janet says:

    This is GREAT!! I’ve been following Sam Hunter’s We Are So Worth It campaign and love the tools she provides for helping to determine the worth of our labors. I share it with everyone I know who is involved in crafting/sewing and otherwise creating art.

  56. tisha says:

    Thank you for the reminder that we should be charging more. I am completely guilty of not charging my worth. My next goal should be to sit down and see how long it really takes to make a quilt from start to finish and calculate my costs.

  57. Diana says:

    That first part of the story made me tear up a bit. You are truly a lovely human being for that gift. Thank you.

  58. Tama says:

    Excellent! Thanks to Sam and now Molli I am learning the value of my own work. I have started charging more for my quilts, and getting it. Thank you!

  59. Flaun says:

    Sam Hunter’s We Are $ew Worth It movement has done a lot to help me properly value my own creations. Thrilled to see Josh (a.k.a. Molli) employ the same yardstick. We’ll all earn more when we all realize we DESERVE more for “just a quilt.”

  60. This is exactly why I don’t sell my quilts. No one could afford me! A great article and the next quilt I start I am going to figure out how much it should sell.

  61. Bekk says:

    I haven’t yet ventured to making a quilt, honestly because they are too expensive for me to make. I do make smaller things however, clutch purses. I find pricing one of the hardest parts of my running my business. It’s hard to put a price on something you’ve made, the value you see in a made product may be totally different to what others see (higher or lower). I find it so frustrating when I see sellers on etsy or folksy selling similar products for sometimes less than it would cost me for the materials alone!! If artists sell their work too cheap it makes it really hard for the rest to sell at a reasonable price, maybe even making a living from it!

  62. Megan says:

    I have really been enlightened about valuing and pricing properly from Sam Hunter’s We Are $ew Worth It campaign and her most recent post about keeping track of time while you work has been a HUGE lifesaver for me.( I am currently in the midst of making a baby quilt for a friend and found it difficult to keep track of my time. THANK YOU, SAM! I am so glad to see other bloggers like Molli taking up the cause and advocating for our worth as quilters and artists.

  63. Trisha Frankland says:

    I’ve started using this model to discuss the value of my work with my immediate family, too, because often we “hide” the expenses of quilting from our family (“you spent HOW MUCH at the fabric store?”). That deception isn’t really fair to ourselves or our art.

    My husband/mother/sister/best friend know how much love and effort go into a quilt, but do they REALLY understand the cost and value? I have been so, so inspired by Sam Hunter’s “We Are $ew Worth It” campaign, and I’ve learned that my work has to start right under my own roof.

  64. Sandra says:

    What a timely post for me. I have had an unrelated small business for 20 years and am now closing it. I returned to sewing- quilting – handbags in the last 5 years. Everyone tell me to sell on Etsy or at the local farmers market. I keep saying I want to sew for pleasure and not money. That said, I realize the cost of a baby quilt and am very selective on who I make one for. Most people can not appreciate the work involved, through no fault of their own.

  65. Sam Hunter has been working on and providing invaluable resources for this exact thing! Her movement is We are $ew Worth It. She talks at length about the value of handmade, and provides work sheets to help you track what you spend and how much you should get paid. She has done several posts about this at her website, and here is a link to one of her posts about it. I think it’s great that so many other websites are starting to address this very important topic too! Check out Sam’s info as well. I use her worksheets for the items I make to sell at craft shows, they really are a wonderful tool.

    Keep making and get what you deserve! We are $ew Worth It!

  66. Sam says:

    Brava Molli! And thanks for the links to We Are $ew Worth It!

    I believe that the more we educate people as to the value of what we do, the more respect our work will gain, and that will allow us to charge the prices we are worthy of. ~ Sam

  67. Ferne says:

    Just yesterday someone asked me why I didn’t sell my quilts. My answer was I really had no idea what I would charge and I would hate having deadlines for something that I enjoyed doing in my free time at my leisure. Well, this well written post answered all those questions for me in case I ever do decide to sell something. Great information!

  68. Kate says:

    Interesting discussion. I recently gave a friend a baby quilt that I valued at about $85 for actual cost of materials and time. And it was a veeeeeeeeery simple design with minimal quilting, and I even honestly priced the backing in my template, which might have been Joann’s flannel on deep discount. If I had been paying for a decent backing, the price would have been a lot more. So, quite honestly, if you invite me to a baby shower, you’re almost always going to get a nicely matched set of burp clothes.

  69. UGH! I struggle with this immensely! I even have a $80 quilt on Etsy (hanging head in shame). It’s so hard to know what to charge, AND the bigger question, will someone pay that?
    Thank you for this article AND spreadsheet!! I’m downloading this RIGHT NOW! 🙂

  70. Christina says:

    I was totally psyched to read Molli’s original blog post and this post breaks it down even more. I shared your post with family and close friends to friends to help them better understand. Shortly before this, I created a spreadsheet in an attempt to keep track of how much time and cost of materials when making a gift. I then put in my time slightly above minimum wage (US) which I felt was still lower than what I was worth, and put in no profit margin or design fee (although I did include the hours it took me to lay it out). The quilt was valued at over $600; that was an eye opener! Thank you and I am a huge fan of your work!

  71. Melissa says:

    thank you so much for sharing this! Often I feel as though I brought the “cheap” gift when bringing a homemade gift to a shower, people who don’t have experience in a fabric store or with the time it takes to create have no idea!

  72. Christina says:

    I was totally psyched to read Molli’s original blog post and this post breaks it down even more. I shared you post with family and close friends to friends to help them better understand. Shortly before this, I created a spreadsheet in an attempt to keep track of how much time and cost of materials when making a gift. I then put in my time slightly above minimum wage (US) which I felt was still lower than what I was worth, and put in no profit margin or design fee (although I did include the hours it took me to lay it out). The quilt was valued at over $600; that was an eye opener! Thank you and I am a huge fan of your work!

  73. Beth Ellen says:

    Thanks, this gives me so much to think about! And now when people say to me, “you could sell these….” I will be able to honestly say what the cost would be, or come close.

  74. Betsy says:

    This is why I only make quilts for our home, or for VERY good friends, who I can predict IN ADVANCE will truly love and appreciate my quilts. Because I don’t make simple 5″ charm squares baby quilts. My last two quilts were Queen-sized bed quilts, with a fairly complex block. Each probably took me (conservatively) 80 hours to make. They had double borders, and I hand-sewed the back of each binding. I had them professionally long-arm quilted at a cost of US $350+ per quilt.

    Who did I give them two? Two couples who are VERY good friends, who’ve each been together more than 20 years, and who *finally* were able to get married legally. I invited all four men over for dinner in early November. After dinner, I gave each couple a BIG box wrapped in pretty paper with BIIIIG ribbons and bows. They literally had tears in their eyes when they saw what was in said boxes. I see each of these men often, and they take every opportunity to tell me how much the quilt means to them. How they sleep under it most nights, and how it keeps them warm in spirit, as well as body.

    The other quilt I made recently – a 50″x60″ baby quilt – is that mom and child’s favorite item. (“The only baby gift she’ll never outgrow!”) The mom is a long-time DEAR friend, who decided at 41 that she was done waiting for her life to be “perfect” before having a baby. So she’s a single mom by choice (though the dad is involved in the baby’s life, too). That baby (now ~1 year old) has been photographed on the quilt a lot, and photos posted to FB. Each time, my good friend tags me to point out the fact that I made the quilt, and how much they adore it. That one was 2″ charms, triple border, and a BIG quilt for a baby one. I wanted something that could be spread out on the floor of the living room, or even at the park.

    So, no, Stranger at the Baby Shower, I cannot make you a quilt. I don’t know you. I don’t love you. If I did know and love you, and if I did feel you’d appreciate the work and the gift, I would consider it. But I won’t be “obligated” into doing anything. Especially something that takes SO much work. (And I’m not even counting the actual costs!)

  75. Jocelyn says:

    This is such a well thought out post with lots of valuable information. In the 25 years that I have been quilting, I have only sold one. A commissioned Schoolhouse pattern, red and white. I have however, made dozens of baby quilts as gifts, and a few lap size for little friends. But to say they did not understand or appreciate the gift is an understatement. Very few have even acknowledged the quilt (friends AND relatives). The last two baby quilts were looked on as less then a gift. They ooh and ahh over a small stuffed bear, but my gift goes without a word. hummmm…….. am I making these quilts (my time, labor and expense) for the “baby” quilt to be relegated to the dog bed?? NOW if they purchased the quilt (which many purchase the asian copies) they would treat it as a coveted prize. So is it worth the effort (and love and expense)?? Not being sour apples here, just being realistic (on my side of the pond)

  76. Miranda Trebesch says:

    Pretty much the same formula I used as a florist and what I use when pricing my creative products I sale. Great article !

  77. Janey MacArthur says:

    Thank you for discussing a very important issue that I have been dealing with for years. It will helped me justify my passion of creating, making quilts and other arts/crafts that I cannot put a price on.

  78. Renee says:

    I just finished my very first paid commissioned quilt and my pricing was very much influenced by Sam and Molli! I will work on Molli’s pricing sheet and post it to my blog within the new few days.

  79. kaholly says:

    I truly appreciate this post. I rarely sell my quilts, but I was commissioned to make 3 twin sized for an acquaintance. She balked at the price (but paid it) and I estimated at the low end (because she was a ‘friend’). It’s nice to know, at least in our hearts, the value of those gifts we bring to almost every special occasion!

  80. JaimeSews says:

    WONDERFUL article. Thank you for the encouragement, as a maker myself.

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