Recently, I've had several people ask me about making them a quilt. One requested a t-shirt quilt out of some favorite college shirts, one was looking to turn her wedding dress into a keepsake quilt for future children, and one sent me a link to a quilt she really liked. And all of this got me thinking....could I make quilts on commission? Would I even want to?
I found a post this morning from the blog of Ink & Spindle. called The Formula - or 'how to price your wares correctly'. They are a boutique textile company so they aren't too far removed from the world of quilt making. The whole post is about accurately pricing yourself and your wares. So I thought, okay, using the method they discuss, how much would a baby quilt cost me to make?
First I needed to figure out the cost of materials. I assumed I'd probably be working from a fat quarter bundle. I found one made up of 7 fat quarters costing $17.50 amounting to a total yardage of 1 3/4 yards of fabric. More than enough for a simple baby quilt. That's also $2.50 per fat quarter; a standard rate for most quilt shops. I'd also need to buy backing fabric. The standard size of a baby quilt is 34" x 54". Making it just slightly larger than a single yard cut of fabric. Assuming that I'd have some scraps left over from the front to make up the difference I thought that I'd be able to get by with one yard. The average cost of a yard of quilt-shop quality fabric is right around $11.00. I'd also need batting. Warm & Natural baby-size precut batting is $14.99 at Joanne's fabric. If you're following along we're up to total material costs of $43.50.
Next I need to factor in the cost of the time it takes me to make the quilt. From cutting all the way to sewing on the binding I think it'd take me about 12 hours to make a simple baby quilt. At a living wage of $15/hr that's $180 in wages.
That means that the base cost of making this simple baby quilt is $223.50. Then I need to cover my overhead costs. Things like machine upkeep and maintenance, bulk thread purchases, rotary cutter blades, needles, even the cost of the electricity to run my machine, iron, and lights... you get the idea. According to the post on Ink & Spindle a good rule of thumb is to double the base cost. That means that this simple baby quilt now costs $447.
Because we live in a free market society, there has to be some profit built in as well. Let's assume I want to make a 50% profit on this quilt (the Ink & Spindle post suggests another 100% markup). With that in mind, the baby quilt now costs $670.
The exercise of moving through this thought process has certainly opened up my eyes to the true costs of making a quilt for someone else purely for economic purposes. However, I rarely quilt for pure economic purposes. I also gain some economic utility, or some measure of happiness and pleasure (my college professors would be so proud of me), from quilting. So then the question becomes, do I discount the price to account for the happiness I gain from the process? Does the fact that I get to make a quilt impact the cost of actually making it? I don't know.
SO I'm asking you. Have you ever made a quilt on commission? How did it go? What did you learn in the process? Once I have some responses complied I'll do another blog post about the subject to further address these questions. I know this can be a touchy subject for some people in the quilting community so let's keep the conversations positive and constructive from the get-go.
So that this post isn't entirely lacking in pictures... I've made significant progress on my modern double cross quilt. I ran out of background material this weekend but hope to have it finished up shortly.