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Thread: Etsy - how do they do it?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    Etsy - how do they do it?

    Sometimes I browse Etsy for fun. Today I was looking for a specific quilt just to see the pictures. I am unsure of my color choices, so I wanted to check. I did not find what I was looking for but what I did find is a whole lot of very underpriced quilts, such as a king size Bargello for $170. I mean the fabric itself would cost close to that amount when you add up all the supplies. How do they do it? Is there a fabric fairy i do not know about? Are we seriously undervaluing our work? There were a few really gorgeous quilts that caught my eye and were IMHO priced right (dear Jane civil war repro and one block wanders) . I do not sell quilts, but if I did I certainly would not part with my quilt for the price of fabric unless it is for a friend. There, I am stepping off my soap box now.
    Last edited by Tashana; 10-19-2012 at 02:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    I agree, I agree,.....I agree, was asked just recently when I don't sell my quilts to supplement my income, I asked them if they were willing to pay for the several hundred dollars in materials let aloan my hours....they had no idea !!!!
    I would rather give my quilts to charity (Project Linus, Children's Hospital, Local Hospice) rather than argue with someone about there actual value.....
    Yes that is a real picture of my hometown Temecula, California. We feature premiere Wineries, World Class Golf Courses, Pechanga Indian Casino and Hot Air Balloons

  3. #3
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    I know what you mean about some of the quilt prices on etsy. It's hard to believe they can even cover the cost of materials, let alone earn anything at all for their time!
    Wendy

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I actually went back to Etsy and double checked. It is actually a king size so I edited my post from queen to king. Unbelievable!!!

  5. #5
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    The only way I know of to do that is buy all your fabric and batting at JoAnn's with a coupon and work for free. Working for free is seriously undervaluing your work and yourself.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I have heard of quilters running into motherloads via craigslist -- coming home with a truckload of fabric for $100, that kind of thing. Sometimes it is a former quilt store owner who kept a large private stash, and family just wants to get rid of the stuff. Sometimes it's a hoarder (heard of one woman who had two detached trailers full of fabric!). That's the only thing I can think of for pricing a quilt so low.......

  7. #7
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    I have told this story before....but...I had a friend who wanted a DWR extra King in very specific colors and fabric types. When I told him I would be happy to do it for $1200.00...he very quickly changed his mind! Said "Maybe I'll get you to make one after tax season is over..."..I guess so he could afford me. This guy is also my accountant so he's very aware of how much they cost..."go figure"! And as far as selling a quilt as intricate as a Bargello for that little amount of money, I'd be tempted to just burn it first!
    If you feel like you're special...it's 'cause you are!
    Momto5

  8. #8
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Finding quilts at a thrift store, yard sale, estate sales and reselling is a big money maker. It's not hard to find out when a quilter's family just wants to clear out the house and buy fabric and unfinished quilt tops cheap. When you see an ad for a sewing machine for sale, call and ask about a stash no longer needed.
    Got fabric?

  9. #9
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tashana View Post
    ........Are we seriously undervaluing our work? .......stepping off my soap box now.
    Move over, Tashana, I'm getting up there with ya.
    YES. We definitely undervalue our work. Even appraisers are saying that quilt evaluations are down, due to the economy. At some point we'll have to reassess, dig in our heels, and demand (and EXPECT) respect and value for our work.

    For the one person who may not have seen this when i posted before, here is the "real cost" of making a quilt.

    Jan in VA

    What It Really Costs To Make a Quilt



    QUEEN SIZED, MACHINE PIECED, HAND QUILTED

    MATERIALS:

    Fabric 12-16 yards @ $9per yd. $108 - $144
    Batting $25 - $40
    Thread $8 - $16

    Total $ invested $141 - $200


    LABOR HOURS:

    Piecing 20 to 60 hours
    “Setting” (designing your quilt) 10 to 20 hours
    Quilting 100 to 750 hours

    Total hours invested 130 to 810 hours


    TOTAL COST

    Paying $1 per hour (Would you do this type of work for $1 an hour?!)

    Materials $141 - $200
    Labor $130 - $810
    Total $271 - $1070


    Paying minimum wage $7.25 (by law in 6/2009)

    Materials $141 - $200
    Labor (130-810hrs) $942.50 - $5872.25
    Total $1083.50 - $6072.25


    Paying skilled labor wage $20 per hour (Don't you consider yourself trained and skilled in this craft?)

    Materials $141 - $200
    Labor (130-810hrs) $2600 - $16,200
    Total $2741 - 16,400




    (Found on the Internet 1995; unknown author)
    Jan in VA
    Living in the foothills
    peacefully colors my world.
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/members...bums19552.html

  10. #10
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    I was asked if I would make quilts for a "craft show" by a relative. Ummmmm, NO. First, I don't believe my quilts are a craft, but are an art piece. And second, I would never sell one of my quilts for craft show prices. Nor would I want to hear, "How much????? I can buy one at WalMart for $29", all day long. I don't undervalue my work at all and I feel badly for those that do.

  11. #11
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    She could live in an area of tightwads. I tried to sell a Horn cabinet in great condition for $75. 3 people who responded asked me to give it to them. I repurposed it.

  12. #12
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    People who don't understand the costs involved in making a quilt and don't want to pay what the quilt is worth. Too many discount stores sell quilts for a lot less than we could buy the fabric even if we got a great deal on the fabric. But, what do those cheap quilts look like after they have been washed?! Some will unravel like crazy.

    When I gave my youngest a quilt for his 17th birthday, I let him know what everything cost. The backing was brown minkee and I had to buy 5 yards at $15 a yard. He also saw me working on it so he knew how much time I put in it. He said he suspected it was for him even though I did not tell him. He saw the manly colors (no flowers and done in browns, blues and creams - split fail fence, and the brown minkee) and it was close to his birthday. He still sleeps with that quilt every night even when it's warm.

  13. #13
    Senior Member captlynhall's Avatar
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    I agree that the value of our quilts far exceed what most who would like to buy are willing to pay. We are all so used to getting massed produced items at incredibly low prices, that it is hard to understand how much one of a kind, hand produced items can be worth. I think that is why so many of us make our quilts for loved ones, and for charity.
    When a dying man asked his pastor "How long does it take to die?" his pastor's heartfelt reply was "A lifetime." Live life to the fullest, but stop now and then to enjoy the sunset.
    Lynda

  14. #14
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    I make quilts for the pleasure/fun of sewing and quilting. I am retired so I feel my time is "free". I have posted stuff on etsy and sold stuff for the cost of the fabric plus a small profit. The money feeds my habit/lets me buy more fabric. If I sell something great! If not then I keep it or give a way. It's not that I undervalue my time but I do not have other things to do except clean (ugh) so quiting gives me something to do and is FUN!!!!!!

  15. #15
    Senior Member ShabbyTabby's Avatar
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    I have on occasion, made a quilt for someone who wanted a particular pattern or material but they bought all the supplies and I did the labor. Was for a cousin who wanted it for a dear friend of hers. Most of my quilts are not in the "for sale" category anyway. I mostly make Lap, baby or TV quilts and give them to family or friends. Mine are just the "homey" type, not show quilts. I'm just not that talented.
    Families are like old quilts....although they tend to unravel at times...each can be stitched back together with love.

  16. #16
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    When anyone asks me to make them a quilt I say sure but you have to go with me to buy the pattern, fabric, and thread and pay the longarmer. When the pretty wears off in the shop and the yardage at $10 - $12 a yard sinks in how many yards they need, the cost of good thread and then find out how much a longarmer costs it always turns out the person gets a headache, can't decide today, needs time to think about the pattern, needs to match color of room, etc. I never hear from them again about making a quilt. Except my DDs. They say mom buy this and make this one for me. LOL
    Got fabric?

  17. #17
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I see lots of stuff on Etsy that is barely covering the cost of material. For some they get validation from the sale .. regardless of the price/profit... I am not one of those people.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigsister63 View Post
    I make quilts for the pleasure/fun of sewing and quilting. I am retired so I feel my time is "free". I have posted stuff on etsy and sold stuff for the cost of the fabric plus a small profit. The money feeds my habit/lets me buy more fabric. If I sell something great! If not then I keep it or give a way. It's not that I undervalue my time but I do not have other things to do except clean (ugh) so quiting gives me something to do and is FUN!!!!!!
    I feel the same way and as someone later said "my quilts are mainly homey" etc and not for sale.

  19. #19
    Super Member ArtsyOne's Avatar
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    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that maybe these low-priced quilts are made in China. I used to work at a major department store and once a year they'd get in a huge shipment of quilts. Beautiful patterns and beautiful cotton fabrics on sale for as little as $30. All of these quilts were hand-sewn and pieced with nothing to let the buyer know that they were made in a third-world sweat shop.
    A fabric stash is always missing that one fabric needed to finish the quilt on which you're working.

  20. #20
    Senior Member aliaslaceygreen's Avatar
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    Of course we undervalue ourselves when we do this! But look around your home right now!! It will be a rare person who hasn't whiled away the hours looking at CHEAP and CHEAPER and CHEAPEST stuff, trying to decide whether they can get something for $1.49 at WM or do they feel duped when they wander into Dollar Tree and find it for a buck.... More Made in China prices so we can have MORE!!! WE treat our own money like that...HOW MUCH of stuff can we get, not necessarily how GOOD of stuff can we get .....

    Look at the number of threads that come and go stating that X fabric store vs Y fabric store and the quality/cost of fabrics, with and without coupons, how we won't buy good fabrics for a quilt because it's JUST for a baby (the quilt that will receive the MOST wear and tear, washing machine hours, etc) And WE know that it takes time and skill, and effort, and honestly, running to Macy's on Christmas eve and grabbing a sweater for $30 for Aunt Jo is probably going to make her just as happy as slaving over a design/fabric choice/quilting pattern and tying up $200 for a quilt for her....

    So, yeah... lol

  21. #21
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I have stuff listed on Etsy (not that it ever sells! ).

    I originally started on Etsy doing custom work (through a service they had called "Alchemy" that allowed people to bid on projects) and kept listing stuff since it doesn't cost much. I have sold enough stuff on (Etsy or privately) to cover my quilting habit and feel like my hobby is not a drain on the family finances. I enjoy the process of quilting and do not feel that I am undervalued when I am getting $1/hour because I am doing it for fun and I am doing it from home (no additional overhead) and only when I want to. When I take commissions I charge a flat fee for the project plus the cost of materials.

    I think we crafters have flooded our markets, or perhaps just added to the flood already in progress from China. As the economy went south (and places like Antiques Roadshow showed quilts being worth gazillions of dollars) crafters decided to try to bring in some pin money by selling, so there were many many more handmade items available. As the population ages more and more handmade old quilts are coming onto the market as well, as modern families realize that they cannot stuff everything their parents owned into their (already overstuffed) homes. I agree with the previous poster's comments about there just being too much stuff around - when families used to have two or three handmade quilts per generation they valued them; now they get a new "handmade" quilt every time they change the color of the spare bedroom.

    I will be in a craft fair in a month that tries to have more quirky and unusual stuff in it. I will be pricing my items as they would be priced in Crate and Barrel or Williams and Sonoma. Most will be items that get used (like placemats) or are small (like wallhangings), hoping that they will spark people's interest in getting something custom done. This is still underpricing if you are aiming for a living wage...but will probably still price me out of the market! We'll see, and I'll let you know how it goes.

    Another point is that all of my friends know that I quilt. Whenever they have leftover fabric from any sewing project they tend to give it to me, because they know eventually it will be made into something and not just languish in a closet. This fabric is free, to me!

    Hope this doesn't sound too much like a rant; it isn't intended to be!

    Alison

  22. #22
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    In my previous life, before I was a mother and a wife and a domestic goddes, I had a corporate job which payed the bills but gave me no personal satisfaction. I started making these cute salt and pepper shakers and napkin rings that matched. I started selling them at local arts and crafts shows at cost to cover my expenses. Very few sold. My boyfriend (now hubby) suggested to raise the price. I thought he was mad. I did it and they sold like crazy. By the end of that year I was earning more on selling my napkin rings and shakers than in my 9-5 job. People were phoning in their orders, it was insane! My 1 bedroom apartment became storage/work shop. I stopped when I got married because due to my husband's work we moved all over the world quite often. The moral of this long and boring story is that if you price it right it will sell. Prices that are too low are often equated with poor quality and questionable workmanship. People are strange, that feel bad paying little for a gift no matter how beautiful it is.

  23. #23
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    I have so many people ask me to make quilts for them and that they will pay me for it. I always tell them that I don't sell my quilts and I only make it for my family. I make and give memory quilts for friends who lost their loved ones. They love the pictures printed in fabric and it is something they can cherish. And yes, people like and admire quilts but most are not willing to pay the price.

  24. #24
    Super Member Cindy60545's Avatar
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    I agree that we are our own worst enemies. The local flea market has a little shop that sells quilts really cheap & it shows! The material, piecing & quilting leave a very lot to be desired! I can't even buy the fabric for what they are charging for a quilt. I do do commission work from time to time, & my customers know ahead of time that these are not cheap to produce. I have listed a few quilts on Etsy, but they never sold. I'm not giving them away. I also agree that with the newer generation that they haven't the room to store the heirlooms of their ancestors. They are also of the cheaper mind too & won't pay the prices for quality that most of us have learned.

  25. #25
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    I enjoyed Jan in VA's post about the breakdown of cost and labor! But luckily we all enjoy quilting regardless of it's worth and our value... so much gratification in a finished quilt.

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