Ever wonder why quilts are so expensive? Consider this: quilters use good quality materials (fabric, batting and threads), quilters use their own equipment (all of which eventually needs replacing or servicing) and quilts take time to make (depending on the size and complexity). For some quilters, that time is their work not just hobby time.
Please note: I’m not a professional quilter and I don’t sell my quilts (yet), so I haven’t looked in depth at the full cost of a quilt. This is all based on estimates.
I’ve seen a list of standard pricing for quilts floating around the web. It suggests the following:
- Wall hangings, table runners, place mats: $50
- Baby or lap quilts: $100-150
- Full size quilt: $250
- Queen or king size quilt: $400+
I think this under values quilts. These prices might be OK for someone who quilts as a hobby and doesn’t need to charge for their living wages, but it under values what quilts are really worth and makes it hard for professionals quilters to demand the pricing they deserve.
Let’s look at an example: I’m making a lap sized quilt for a quilt along that I joined. The quilt will be 63″ x 72″ (about 5.25 ft by 6 feet or about 1.6m by 1.8m). I decided to make it out of solids (versus the designer / patterned fabrics I typically get). Solids generally sell for about half the price of designer fabrics ($8 per yard versus $14 or more per yard), so using solids is “cheap”. Despite this, I still spent about $100 on the fabric because I needed about 12.5 yards (less actually, but most stores sell by the half or quarter yard, so I had to round a few numbers up). And, that’s just for the fabric. I still have to buy thread (about $2.50 per 100m and I will need about 500-600m) and batting (last time I bought batting it was light weight and still cost about $16 per meter, and I will need about 2m).
So far we’ve got $100 of fabric, $12.50 for thread and about $32 for batting. Assuming I don’t value my time (depending on the complexity a quilt this size could take a whole day or several days) and don’t care about replacing or servicing my equipment, I could sell the quilt for about $150 and make a small profit.
But, what if quilting was my livelihood? Then I would need to add at least minimum wage hourly pricing for my time (let’s say I’m speedy but the quilt is moderately complex and it takes me 20 hours – at $10 per hour that’s $200). That makes it about $350.
Now I’ll add a small percentage (let’s arbitrarily go with 5%) to cover equipment related costs. We’re now at $367.50.
If the quilt was sold in person, I could leave it at that, but if I used an online store (example: Etsy), I’d have to add listing prices ($0.20 per 4 months on Etsy) and service fees (3.5% for each item sold on Etsy). We’ve now edged up to about $382. For a lap quilt.
Seems pretty steep for something you could buy for $40 at Walmart, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing: stuff from places like Walmart are typically made with cheap materials (cheap fabric, plastic filling, etc.) in foreign countries where wages and standards are low. I’m all for supporting the global community, but I also think that it’s important to try and support local people and more ecologically sound materials (example: all the materials I use are 100% cotton, which isn’t perfect, but at least it’s good quality and not plastic).
That $382 would help to support a quilter’s minimal lifestyle (let’s face it, minimum wage doesn’t get you very far), good craftsmanship, fair prices, and local economy. So, if you can afford it, try not to choke too much when you see a quilt on sale for a couple hundred dollars.