One thing I love about the quilting community is that we love to “talk shop”. When I’m at my booth at craft fairs, I always have at least a couple of quilters come up. It feels good when they admire my work, and we chat about patterns, etc.
This past weekend I had a quilter walk up and say hi. She commented to me that I was under-priced. The truth is…she’s right. And I know it. I looked at her and nodded. All I could say was, “You know, those who don’t know about quilts think I’m over-priced. Those who understand quilts know that I’m under-priced. What can you do?” I’ve been lucky for the most part in that most folks will quietly look at a price tag and walk off if it’s too high for their expectations. I’ve only had one person gasp and comment about how high it was. I didn’t even argue. I’ve become very good at shrugging.
Basic economics provides an understanding of price points. You have to find the lowest you can go without sacrificing profits while also going as high as your customer is willing to pay. It’s get tough, though, when store quilts come into the picture. A quick search for “quilts” at Target.com turned up exactly what I mean. Take a look. Some pretty quilts…not a single one above $150 in price. This is the starting price for a t-shirt lap quilt for me. That same lap quilt that other quilters have commented was under-priced. So you see my struggle.
So I’d like to take a moment and let you in on the world of store-bought quilts. I’d like to start off by saying that I have absolutely no issue with owning them. I have one my grandmother gave me for college, and it is precious to me. What I DO have a problem with is folks who expect store prices for handmade quilts. I’ve seen charts and stuff floating around the internet, but I decided to go upstairs to my own store quilt and show you what I mean.
Firstly – quilts are supposed to have 1/4 inch seams. That is standard. And at first glance, you’ll notice that this seam is 1/4 inch. This is a double-wedding ring style quilt, and the 1/4 inch seams were where the multi-colored fabric was joined to the white fabric.
However, if I looked a little closer at other parts, I noticed something different. My ruler is set to 1/4 inch for reference.
Yup, you’re seeing correctly. That is about a 1/8 inch seam. I love this quilt, but I did notice certain parts of it came apart rather quickly. This is one of the biggest differences between the store quilts and the handmade ones. You can see in this picture where my pretty store quilt has come apart at the seams in a couple of places.
Another difference is the batting. For those who don’t speak “quilt”, the batting is the inside of the quilt. It’s sandwiched between the top and bottom fabric. It’s what helps to give the quilt its weight and warmth. Now some folks are picky about their quilts in specific areas. Some only use the highest quality fabric and would most certainly give me the stink-eye for shopping at JoAnn’s fabric store. Some are picky about their binding (the sides of the quilt) and only hand-sew it, disdaining anything done by machines for finishing elements. For me, I’m picky about my batting. I’ve seen some mighty pretty quilts that I felt weren’t quite “right” because they had polyester batting in them. That being said, it’s the quilter’s choice, and I would never criticize someone else’s quilting choices, mine being up for scrutiny in return. It’s simply my personal preference to use cotton batting. In store-bought quilts, you’re almost always getting sub-par batting. My store quilt is nowhere near as heavy or warm as the ones I’ve made for my family or to sell.
For those playing along at home, my preference is the Warm and Natural Company 100% Cotton Batting. It’s warm without being bulky (aka low “loft”). I like my quilts thinner but warm, so cotton batting is ideal. Polyester batting is what you want when you’re going for a puffy look.
As for the process, I documented my steps in making a t-shirt quilt for my cousin. Here’s the link to my Facebook page photo album. In it, you’ll see all of the steps. Here it is.
So if you’re new to the whole quilting deal or are looking to buy one and are getting overwhelmed by the prices, then consider what I’ve told you. If you would like even more insight, take a look at this article. It is a goldmine of information on pricing, etc.
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