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Thread: Gifts or Commissions-Blurred Lines

  1. #1
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    Gifts or Commissions-Blurred Lines

    I love making/giving gifts of quilts or other sewing projects BUT only if I am certain the recipient will appreciate it and more importantly want it. My friend embroidered towels for her daughter in law but was so upset to see them relegated to the cat basket!

    But I have had three uncomfortable experiences this year where items were either commissioned or should have been treated as a commission but were expected as gifts. How do you say “no” or decide when it passes the "gift" mark. How do you say actually this is going to cost £XXX? Especially to a request for a quilt or other handcrafted item from friends, family or work colleagues without causing bad feeling or coming across as a cheapskate? Sometimes I think they don't realise how much time and money can go into it.

    How would you decide when to say no or mention payment.

    HettyB
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 12-15-2015 at 06:50 AM. Reason: remove venting

  2. #2
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Hetty, you are a very generous person. I think you handled the in-law problem very well. I was once burned with the boss situation, and now NEVER purchase anything before I get the deposit, which is large enough to cover the materials. You could have told your elderly neighbor that you only had enough time for the basic bag, but sometimes it's difficult and these things snowball. I would do a quick calculation of the amount you would charge to make a duplicate in case the neighbor wants you to make one for all her friends! And if you agree, get the deposit first!
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  3. #3
    Super Member RugosaB's Avatar
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    I NEVER do any quilting for $, and say so when asked to make something.
    If a person still wants something, and I do not consider giving them a gift, I give them the name of The Doormouse. It's a local quilt shop and I assume they have a list of quilt makers that would be happy to work with them. I tell them my list of projects is so long that it will be 30 years before I can add their name to the list so I am not taking anymore names.
    You know that feeling when you've finished all your quilting projects and your studio is perfectly clean???? Me neither.

    It's not how fast you sew, it's how well you sew fast! Wait, I think that's supposed to be MOW!

  4. #4
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    I did not see the unedited post, but here is my thought.

    If someone asks you to make something for them, it does not met the definition of a gift. If someone wants you to make something so they can give it away, it does not meet the definition of a gift either.

    So the next question is who is paying for the supplies? And most importantly whose time is being used to make the item?

    You have every right to put a price on your time and or decide that your time is too valuable to spend on making items for others.

    I have a dear friend who I truly love, but when she asked me to make a memory quilt for her son using his baby sling material as the feature fabric, I just said no. She did ask again, but I held firm and gave her the name of a local guild. I know that some guilds will announce commission requests.
    Attending University. I will graduate a year after my son and year before my daughter.

  5. #5
    Super Member Snooze2978's Avatar
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    I make all my quilts as gifts and usually try to use colors they like plus ask in a way they don't know what I'm doing into what style of quilt they might like...........traditional or modern. By the time they receive it they've forgotten all about it most time. Right now I'm making a quilt for every single person and couple in my congregation. Now that they know this I've had one person come up and tell me what colors she hates which is good to know but then goes on to tell me she wants a black backing. Its just the way she told me that irked me plus she's also the same person that whenever something is brought to the Hall to share, she grabs 1st whether she can use it or not but she rarely brings anything herself and when she does its whatever she has left over and not in good shape. Anyway, I'm still making her quilt and luckily it didn't have any of her hated colors and I did go ahead and get some black backing only because I found it on sale at the time but she one of those sort of people you hate to do anything for.

    I feel once I've given a gift whatever it may be, what the recipent does with it is no longer my concern. Of course I hope they enjoy it and use it but if they decide to use it to cover a tractor (live in farming country) or use it on their bed is their choice. It will just remind me not to make anything else though. I find most folks that don't sew knows just how much time, money and effort is put into making these gifts whether its a quilt or something smaller. But its all made with love...................most times as we're not obligated..............just want to.
    Suz in Iowa
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  6. #6
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    Like RugosaB, I do not quilt for $$. If someone asks about making something for $$, I tell them straight out that if I did it for $$, it would be a job, and I already have a job. Maybe, after I retire, I will be able to start my own cottage business, but until that time, don't even ask.

  7. #7
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    I would make up a supply list and say, here are the supplies needed for your _______. You purchase the supplies and I will begin working on it.

  8. #8
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    I think most people think that because we love our craft that we will just love making them something. If in your mind the request is a commission then your first question to the person making the request should be "how much money are you expecting to spend on this quilt". This should alert the person that they aren't getting a freebie. You then whip out a sheet that shows an estimated cost for each size quilt you make.
    I don't quilt for money. When someone asks me about making a quilt for money I show them a lap quilt and say "it cost me around $300 to make that lap quilt". Usually they go quiet and don't mention it again. I think they are thinking I'm crazy and they can buy a quilt made in China for $49.99 at Macys. My sister has the same problem with people wanting a free painting.

  9. #9
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    QuiltnNan – My sincere apologies for overstepping the rules of the board.

    Paper Princess – Thank you for your kind words. Buying without payment was my own fault but since the quilts went to Linus, then good came out of it. As for elderly neighbour – I am looking it as a “skill building” experience such as learning to design and draw patterns, bag construction, insetting circular bases and piping.

    RugosaB – I never thought about referring to LQS and I should have! When I am ready to take on more work, then I might have a little talk with them.

    Tothill – I agree with your definition of a gift. In the future, I will have to ensure the others are in agreement too.

    Snooze2978 – Wow – a quilt for everyone in your congregation. That is dedication. While it is impossible to please all the people all the time… I give with the hope it will be liked however if they want to cover the tractor with it (I live in the country too), fine with me, but I would have rather made them a tractor cover. No… wait… could you imagine having to do the binding on a tractor cover!

    Many thanks everyone.

    HettyB

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by carolaiken View Post
    My sister has the same problem with people wanting a free painting.
    My late husband was an artist and illustrator and when people asked for a drawing (for free) he would say no and tell them a price and if they remarked it was a lot for a quick drawing, he told them they were paying for 30 years of his experience!

  11. #11
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    Someone asked me the other day (she's only an acquaintance) in a FB message if I'd make a quilt for a friend of hers who wanted it fir his granddaughter. Queen size. By Christmas.

    After I read the request and wiped the coffee off my screen from coughing it out, I wrote back. "It'd be $1300 and not this Christmas . Maybe next." She messaged him and got back to me. "He asked if that figure was a typo or did I mean $130 ?

    Nope, 1300, I restated. Waited for his/ her reply. "Okay, he says he can't pay more than $200 so he'll pass."

    BTW I borrowed that figure from someone on here. It's scary high enough to drive away the requestors. and it educates them in the value of time and materials. We quilted have to value our skilled labor. So far I've never quilted for $$ and doubt I ever will.

  12. #12
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    When people ask me to make them a quilt or offer to "buy/commission " one, I counter with an offer to teach them to quilt. If I really like the person, I will even offer to do the FMQ step in order to help them get past a step that can be a barrier to beginners. I figure I can always use new quilting buddies, but I really have no use for customers.

  13. #13
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    Once someone asked me if I would make them a quilt and I said no, that I do not sew well enough. I took home ec in HS but didn't take it beyond. I learn to do what I want to make and not what someone else wants. Most of my quilts are made for my family and a few friends. There are too many colors that are hard for me to work with so it has to be a labor of love, not it has to be done. And I did have a person ask if I could make a quilt that was heavy and I said he would be better off talking to someone with an industrial machine, which I do not have. It's hard to say no but all too often when I don't I live to regret it.

  14. #14
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    For some reason, it really offends me when I make something for someone and they give it away. It took me a long time to get over that. It was upsetting me too much.
    Penny

  15. #15
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    Usually, once you quote a price just for the materials, they back off. If not, quote a labor charge equal to "minimum wage" and that should make them run away.

  16. #16
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    Stand in front of a mirror and practice your "shocked" face. Then you don't have to say a word.
    Otherwise, follow HettyB's advice about charging for experience.

  17. #17
    Power Poster lynnie's Avatar
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    tartan, I agree with you. When they see the price, they back off completely. All they ned to see is the price of good thread and needles and fabric and they run for the hills. Yes, I have them buy needles, they are expendsive and I need them when they break or get dull.
    put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and if you procrastinate long enough, you may never have to do it.

  18. #18
    Super Member quilting cat's Avatar
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    I have been in the situation, where I said "Mom's is a gift, but it's such a lot of work I would have to charge anyone else $xxx, Cousin." MIL insisted on paying me the same!!! (AND gave it back to me in her will when she died.)
    If I initiate a project, it is a gift. If someone asks me to make something, at the very least we'll go shopping together and let her buy the materials. One friend even told me to pick out a yard of something for myself, on her.
    Retired math teacher --
    I CAN FIGURE IT OUT!

  19. #19
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    I just say that I have too many quilts to make for charity.
    A Good Friend, like an old quilt, is both a Treasure and a Comfort

  20. #20
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    I would make up a supply list and say, here are the supplies needed for your _______. You purchase the supplies and I will begin working on it.

    Exactly. Why wouldn't one spell out the actual cost for supplies? How one handles time and assembly is one thing but why are a lot of quilters willing to foot the bill for the supplies? It is like handing a few hundred dollars to the person requesting a quilt, etc. I don't understand this mentality. I can't afford to front the investment of purchasing supplies.

    sandy
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  21. #21
    Super Member Sandygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    I would make up a supply list and say, here are the supplies needed for your _______. You purchase the supplies and I will begin working on it.

    Exactly. Why wouldn't one spell out the actual cost for supplies? How one handles time and assembly is one thing but why are a lot of quilters willing to foot the bill for the supplies? It is like handing a few hundred dollars to the person requesting a quilt, etc. I don't understand this mentality. I can't afford to front the investment of purchasing supplies.

    so....i start with....."I make $20.00 an hour. A queen size takes 40-50 hours to piece. ...if they are still listening,..add $300.00 for the fabric, another $200-300 for finishing ( batting, quilting services.) ...... People back away at 40-50 HOURS of time! Someone once admired my large purse and asked if I quilted for others. I smiled and told her that I had 8 hours in my bag. No further conversation as she covered her eyes and waved goodbye. We enjoyed her reaction..she is an acquantance. Good natured...she got my drift!

    sandy
    Sandygirl

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    Singer Centennial model (inherited from my late, fav aunt!)

  22. #22
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    I have asked my family favorite colors and different other questions. I never tell them what I'm going to do. A couple people have asked if I "took orders" and how much do I charge. I charge nothing because I don't take orders. My neighbor was going to give her former DIL a beautiful quilt. She critiqued it right there in front of her. I was standing right there. Neighbor took it back and exDIL never saw it again. She does beautiful work! Like I said exDIL. I just don't want to be obligated.

  23. #23
    Super Member Doggramma's Avatar
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    I don't like obligations either. Sometimes I feel like making and giving a gift quilt just because the feeling struck me about that person or that situation. Not everyone in my family or random people I know or every new baby gets a quilt, so it's special when someone gets one. Only once did someone offer to pay when I mentioned that I was making them a quilt for their newly decorated bedroom. In that case I accepted $ to cover the cost of the fabric and batting. The labor was a gift of love. Once in a while someone will ask for a bed size quilt (like my sister!) and I said I'd love to make one for them but I will do it on my own schedule and can't promise when or if it would be finished. My sister is still waiting because that was a couple years ago.
    Lori

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  24. #24
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    I have said "no" to everyone who asks. It isn't hard. I say it nicely and they don't push back. I do take small requests from my best friend because she is good to me in other ways. She likes me to make quilted bags for her because she is large and I can make the straps long enough. She doesn't ask often. I've only made her 3. I have made quilts for certain people and so far they have been appreciated as far as I know. People have no idea what goes into making a quilt, even if they pay for materials.
    Alyce

  25. #25
    Super Member sewbeadit's Avatar
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    I quilt and sew totally for my pleasure and have never taken in a job. Jobs are no fun for me. I have had people ask but it doesn't get far because when I laugh and say I have too much to do they get the point. I am slowly gifting quilts to my kids and grand kids and make them what I want to, I also know what they like. I think it is rude for people to ask you to do something for them unless you made the offer first. Just because you like doing something does not mean that you want to drop everything you are doing to make a couple of bucks by doing work for them.
    Sewbeadit
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