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Thread: Making Money Quilting

  1. #1
    Administrator Admin's Avatar
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    I created this thread for the latest newsletter notification:
    The second topic of today's announcement is how to make money quilting.

    A lot of people bring this topic up, so I thought we might have a public discussion about it.

    I've created a thread on the board, so feel free to jump in and share your ideas.

    I don't want to limit it to anything specific, because everyone's situation is different. One person might prefer to sell already made quilts, while someone else might prefer to make quilts only when she gets a specific order for it.

    Some people do it full time, while others would only consider it if specifically asked to make a quilt for sale.

    In some cases, you might do a complete quilt and your customer is an ordinary person. Other times, you might do a binding on a pieced top that's already been done, so your customer is another quilter.

    Share any thoughts you have about anything related to earning with your quilting. I'm sure this will be a valuable discussion for many members of the board and the newsletter subscribers.
    Let's have a discussion.

  2. #2
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    ooooooh. :P

    let's give this one its very own major category, along with Main, Pictures, etc

  3. #3
    Administrator Admin's Avatar
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    let's give this one its very own major category, along with Main, Pictures, etc
    Hmm, if enough people show interest, then we can do that.

  4. #4
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    I can't believe nobody's responding, I am very anxious to hear what some do and for how much.
    Come on girls (and guys) spill your guts, tell us your secrets.

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  5. #5

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    I have a website to promote myself as a teacher, but for the last several years, I haven't done much - I have been too busy finishing up my sons' education. Now that I am a few months into my retirement from that, I am ready to get reorganized and pick up those threads again. (or I might have to go get a real job. :wink: Ewwww....)

    When I teach a class, I make at least one or two samples, plus prototypes for drafting the patterns. I usually try to make my samples from fabrics representative of what is available to my students. If I am teaching in a quilt shop, for example, I don't use Walmart fabrics but instead promote the sales of the shop's fabrics and tools. If I am teaching a ladies' church group or other workshop event outside of a shop (or not sponsored by any shops), I have more flexibility. In general, teaching is much more profitable than making quilts to sell. It does, however, tie you to a schedule. Often, the classes are in the evenings or on weekends. When I am done teaching a class, I usually sell the samples. Then I usually regret it, when I have to start new samples next time I teach it! LOL

    So if I have already made an income from teaching a class, I don't mind not making a profit when I sell the sample. If I used expensive imported fabric, I am really lucky to break even.

    My bread-and-butter sales are on ebay. I do baby quilts, wall quilts, runners, etc. A couple of larger quilts, but not many ready-to-ship. EBay and also etsy.com are my best advertising. Most of my special-order clients found me on ebay or etsy. For those online sales, I usually use less expensive fabric. Not CHEAP fabric, but the more reliable American brands - VIP, Cranston, etc. I also shop at fabric warehouses when I visit my mother in Minneapolis. There, I can get imported calicos (and dressmaking fabrics, too!) at very low prices. I have to look over each piece carefully, because sometimes there are flaws, but often these are so minimal that I can use them anyhow. Usually, the fabric is there because it is outdated. That may be of interest to the cutting-edge world of quilters, but most shoppers don't care. They want to keep their quilt a long time and don't care that the fabric was printed three years ago!

    JoAnns is a good place to get cotton batting in large quantities. Even non-longarm users can use the big rolls of batting if they have a place to store them. If you use a coupon or get them on sale, that saves you a LOT of money.

    No matter how carefully you shop for bargains, though, you won't make money quilting if you don't do it fast enough. Set up your storage and work spaces for efficiency and comfort. Organization is SOOO important. I keep my computer in my studio/sewing room, too, because it has become very integrated with my sewing!!

    Keep accurate books! I use Quick Books Pro, and since most of my sales are online, people usually pay me through Paypal. They make tax time very easy, because you can download the entire year of income and expenditures in a csv file, to open and edit in a spreadsheet. I use my Paypal debit card for all of my business expenses, so I don't need to sit down with a year's worth of faded cash register receipts. It's all on the Paypal site!

    Periodically, I get a Wisconsin sales tax license, but I always end up letting it lapse. I just don't sell locally, and I was very bad about keeping up with the quarterly reports. We file a regular 1040 federal return and I have a couple easy self-employment forms to attach. It doesn't take long at all.

    Don't underprice your work. Promote it as GOOD work, and charge accordingly. If they want cheap quilts, they can buy Chinese imports at JCPenney.

    Oh, and be sure to charge adequately for shipping. If you are buying boxes, tissue, cello bags, tape, etc. , remember to work them into the cost of shipping. For special orders, get 50% of the fee up front and payment in full before you ship it. (Or 100% before you start, depending on the client. For strangers, I often require 100%.) I almost always just ship by USPS Priority mail. They provide nice clean sturdy boxes that are self-sealing. I print the mailing label online at the USPS website and get free delivery confirmation that way. I could even pay for it and just hand it to the mailman at my doorstep if I had a scale, but I don't. Delivery Confirmation is very important.

    I hope that helps!

  6. #6
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    Great advice Cathe. I think this is a topic that should interest everyone.

  7. #7
    ButtercreamCakeArtist's Avatar
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    Right now making money from my projects is only a dream. I have two small children, and it's hard enough to get things accomplished that have to be done! (like dishes and supper and laundry)
    We have a Travel Trailer. One day I plan on getting lots of projects made and take the TT to a few fairs/festivals to set up and sell. I can pack up all my goodies inside, pull it to the destination, set up tables and racks outside under the canopy. I will also have my own bathroom and fridge, so I won't have to leave my site.
    DD is old enough to help, and what cute little princess wouldn't draw in customers? She wants to be a model, so she can start out early!
    I don't plan on just selling quilts, but all sorts of quilted items. I also make jewelry.
    I think most of my items will be already ready, already for customers to buy, but I'm sure they will see something and want one customized to their specific wants. I also plan on having a lot of items with embroidery. Customers could get their initials or name embroidered on custom items. :D

  8. #8
    Super Member mimisharon's Avatar
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    In my area it's really hard to get folks to pay what the goods are really worth. One of the things I do, is keep a notebook for the items I'm making. Notes on the cost of fabric, the type of fabric, batting, thread, and each amount of time I work. Sometimes it's in minutes, sometimes in hours.

    Then when you want to figure the price:
    Total time spent + cost of fabrics, materials, (include needle and blade cost) = amount to X the price per hour you'd like.


    It can be intimidating. I once did a short wedding dress with lace appliques, it only cost the gal $350 and she knew she was getting a bargain. I threw in the Tulle long tie on skirt she wanted for the ceremony.

    There are lots of costs that folks forget to add in, like meals if you are on a deadline and you have to purchase, get a contract in advance, one gal stiffed me for fabric and dress that I made her. I didn't have a contract so I couldn't take her to small claims. It was only going to cost her $400 for the full skirted, self train, and homemade roses across the neck front. I lived to learn again.

    Good topic for a new board.

    Can we get a separate board for the BOM, so people can find them easier??????

    Thanks,
    Sharon

  9. #9
    jumperfamily's Avatar
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    I've never sold a quilt, but I've made them for charity auctions and they seem to do pretty well. I have considered making 10-15 baby quilts / lap quilts by December and setting up on the church parking lot as a fundraiser. It would be just in time for people to get gifts for those Christmas babies.
    I haven't decided if the time I have to put in them will be worth the effort. I have no clue what to charge for a baby quilt, I've always just given them as gifts.
    What are reasonable prices for small quilts? Surely people would be more willing to pay more for quality work if it is for fundraising?

  10. #10
    Catherine's Avatar
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    It is always hard to get your monies worth from a handmade item, unless you are famous. In the custom sewing business, people always asked me why I didn't try to sell my handmade creations ...I tried..but after adding the materials and atleast $20 hour min. It should be $40.00 hr) the item cost so much no one could afford it. It's not worth it! And I was fast at my sewing. i did figure out that getting a custom order was better. They paid for the fabric, I added my time. It still was alot of work, with very little profit if any. Ordinary people will not spend that much money on something handmade. you need to find the market of people that ARE willing and capable of paying. Please send me that list when you find it!! :lol:

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