Sewing quilts may be your passion, but when setting a price for them you should be all business. It's tricky to find the right price because quilts and quilters aren't all the same. Other quilters may work faster or use pricier materials, which makes it hard to judge your prices by theirs. Some customers may say no because they can't see why handmade work should cost more than a Walmart quilt. Setting a price that covers your costs and the value of your labor is a reasonable approach.
Price Your Materials
You can't make a quilt out of thin air. Your quoted price for a quilt should include the cost of fabric, thread and any other materials you use to make it. You can mark the price up to reflect the costs of choosing, ordering and buying the material.The Quilting Business website recommends a 15 to 30 percent markup. If fabric costs $12 a square foot and you have 50 square feet in the quilt, that's $600 right there, without considering the cost of thread or the markup. As you become more experienced, it'll be easier to estimate costs in advance.
Time and Labor
If your quilts are good enough to buy, that makes you skilled labor. You deserve to be paid accordingly, so don't undersell yourself. Figure out how many hours the quilt will take to make and multiply that by what you consider a fair wage. The Bryerpatch Studio recommends that you calculate the time involved in and costs of one square foot, then multiply that by the total size. Your labor should include time spent designing the quilt pattern. As with materials costs, it'll be easier to estimate as you gain experience.
If you use an agent, or sell through a gallery owner, she's not doing it for free. Factor in her commission on the quilt when you set your price. You also have overhead, expenses that aren't tied to one specific project. Advertising, if you use it, is a business expense, and sewing machines and other tools are, too. If, say, you work on 12 quilts a year, you might add 1/12 of your advertising budget to the cost of each quilt.
Pricing and Selling
When you add up all your costs, plus markup, the total may easily top $1,000. Don't back down and go lower just because you think that's unreasonable, or no one will ever pay you. Some people will think your price is unreasonable, but some people would think that even if you sold quilts at cost. Settling for less than you're worth not only undercuts you, it undercuts other quilters trying to make a decent wage.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.