Quilt Costs – are you crazy?!

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.

1/4 inch seam

However, if I looked a little closer at other parts, I noticed something different.  My ruler is set to 1/4 inch for reference.

1/8 seam - no good!

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.

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1/8 seams don’t hold long – as is evidenced by the gaps you see here.

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.

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Polyester batting – not my personal preference.

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.

Related blogs and posts:
How Long Does it Take?

Why Hand Made Quilts Cost so Much

A Case for Buying Only High Quality Quilting Fabric

Getting Show Ready

 

 

Craft Shows

I decided to participate in my first craft show in November of 2016. It was a school show, and I enjoyed myself.  That being said, I didn’t have any ready-made items, and I never did receive any orders. I was already full on Christmas orders, and I didn’t have time to take on any more.  I figured I would get my orders from that school once graduation season came around.

Nope.

Quilt display
My show set-up has come a long long way since my first show. 

 

But it was so much fun I decided to try again in the Spring at  a craft fair that was much closer to home.  I did have ready-made items this time – the stadium quilts.  Well, it turns out folks don’t want to buy flannel-backed quilts in weather that is in the upper 80’s F.  I ended up getting only one order from that show – many months later.

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Second show set up.  It had rained not long ago – hence the straw.  

But the fairs themselves were awesome!  It’s an ego boost because I get to hear people gush over my work and talk about my love of quilting for a whole day!  This in mind, I decided to give it one more go.  There was a huge show in the fall, and I decided to try it.  I would use this show as the gauge on whether or not I would keep on doing these.  As fun as they were, they weren’t paying off.

Well the fall one was a completely different experience.  People bought stuff!  I sold three quilts along with wallets and casserole carriers!  I. Was. Stoked.  I’d also squeezed in another smaller show that fall, and I managed to sell the Braves quilt!  So yeah, I was pretty jazzed that the fall ones had paid off after all.  And the BEST part was that for both of the fall shows I had a t-shirt quilt order placed within 24 hours of the show.

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Putting this quilt facing out was the best choice I ever made!

 

This past weekend I tried another spring show, and I was floored at how well I did, especially considering the crowd was mostly my fellow church members.  I wanted to cry I was so happy and honored and flattered.

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Next weekend I’m going to give a craft fair another try – the same one that was so hot the year before.  I have new items and am hoping that I do well.  Wish me luck!

Related blogs and posts:

Craft Shows – Mi casita; Mi ranchito

Stories from a Day at a Craft Show!

Star Wars Quilts: Episode 1

A while back I wanted to use up some of my blue fabric from my fabric stash since the drawer was overflowing.  My son had recently asked for a Star Wars quilt, so I decided to take care of both challenges at the same time.

Fast forward to the fall of that year, and I am participating in a rather large craft fair – one of the largest I’d done.  I find out my booth is on the corner, and I panic because I simply can’t have the side of my booth be the backs of the quilts hanging up on the inside.  I needed something to hang on the outside of the booth, but I’d sold a couple of quilts on Etsy that would have done the job.  I ran upstairs and asked my little buddy if I could borrow his Star Wars quilt for the show.  He’s such a good sport and didn’t hesitate to agree.  I placed it on the outside, and the visibility was excellent.

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The original Star Wars quilt hanging outside my booth at a craft fair.

When I placed his quilt up, I expected it to gain some attention, but I wasn’t prepared for how much attention it would garner.  My booth neighbor behind me said that everyone who passed by her booth was talking about the Star Wars quilt.  I had several people ask about what it would cost to make one for them since I had a “Not for Sale” tag on my son’s.  I joked that if he wasn’t in charge of my end-of-life decisions I could have sold that quilt three times that day.  So it seemed a no-brainer that I would make one to sell after that show.

It didn’t hurt that I still had a lot of blue fabric left over from previous projects, gifted to me, or rescued from remnant bins.  The first thing I did was to get out all the blue fabric I intended on using and placed it in the order I wanted.

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All the blue fabric I intended on using.

After that, I cut them all into 3.5″ strips.

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From there, I sewed the strips end-to-end and rolled them up on an empty tissue holder.  The final radius of that roll was 4.25″.

There’s not much new in the quilting world in regards to techniques, but I *might* be the first person I know of to use what I call the “chair technique”.  I had my husband video the beginning of the process.

From here, I sewed together the strips into pairs so as to make organizing easier.

It was here I realized I had much more than the original twin-size quilt goal.  In fact, I had exactly enough strips cut to make TWO twin-sized quilts. I laid everything out and then picked up every other strip segment; this helped in that my strips were still going in order from lightest to darkest, allowing the silhouettes to be mostly in the lighter fabric.

I decided that I would make one with the original Luke and Darth Vader silhouettes like I had for my son, but the second one would be linked to the newest film and feature Rey and Kylo Ren.

Stayed tuned tomorrow for Episode 2.

Related posts and blogs:

Katy Quilts: Finish it Up Thursday

Aby Quilts: Star Wars Quilt Finished!

Legacy of a Last Jedi