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Importance of contracts when making a quilt for someone

Importance of contracts when making a quilt for someone

Old 12-17-2019, 05:09 AM
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Default Importance of contracts when making a quilt for someone

As most quilters are ask the question, "If I pay you will you make a quilt for me?" Along with the answer,"Yes", there comes the matter of cost. This can change a persons mind in a heart beat. A firm contract is something that may be hard to implement for friends but so necessary as not to harm friendship or distant loved ones. Of course the total stranger falls into this category too.
Most of my quilting is for the sheer pleasure of the craft. I am frequently ask if I would consider selling one or another of my quilts. This is a name your own price and no contract is necessary. I do put on the receipt however, "this sale is a final sale no guarantee on this quilt."
On quilts that I am ask to make with specific design, pattern colors and fabric I do have contracts. They can provide their own materials which include 1 yard extra of require fabric, batting and backing or I can purchase them after showing them fabrics that should look good with the pattern provided Or I can provide them an estimate of the cost and make the purchases for them.
Other important parts of my contract provide 50% non- refundable deposit. Remaining balance due on completion. Things are set in time frames. When I expect to have it complete (this includes a clause that health issues or natural disaster can delay the completion.
Payment if full on completion. The person has 1 month after being informed by certified mail that their quilt is ready for pick up. IF they do not arrange for pick up in that one month the quilt is forfeited along with their deposit. I explain each part of the contract before it is signed and witnessed. It will be interesting to see what other quilters do as far as contract. Some of our newer quilter may find this very helpful.
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Old 12-17-2019, 05:40 AM
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I have been also using a contract for all commissions for 15+ years. I require a 50% non- refundable deposit before a single fabric is purchased, ( or cut) I also have the 30 day clause. I’ve only had one quilt relinquished in 15 years, it was a strange situation- the buyer was excited about her quilt, we talked on the phone numerous times arranged for me to deliver the quilt ( she was a previous boss of mine) I was on my way to her and she sent a text saying (“ I don’t want the quilt!”) I pulled over- and sat along side the road for a few minutes processing that - it was a king size quilt with appliqué, embroidery on silks- beautiful quilt. She had not seen it...
i turned around, went home and proceeded to write a letter stating she had 30 days to pay for and pick up her quilt or she relinquished all rights to the quilt and lost her deposit ( which was $600) . I sent the letter registered mail and waited. After the 30 days I sold the quilt for twice what I was charging her. I never did hear her reason, she did ask a couple years later if I still had it.
no matter who it is, have everything in writing! Communication is very important when doing any kind of business. I keep a copy and give the customer a copy of the signed contract. I also fear to have the quilt appraised. If they want the appraisal I also keep the appraisal and give them a copy of it the cost is included in the final amount due. If I have to ship the quilt shipping and insurance is added also. Cover Everything!
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Old 12-19-2019, 08:12 AM
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It can not be said enough - no matter who requests a quilt - ! I do this for any custom project and the deposit (non-refundable) is always enough to cover the materials. I am currently looking at half a special order (an educational portfolio with felt boards and 'stuff') waiting to get picked up. They wanted first 10 and second 10 a month later. Well, it's been 3 months and they haven't contacted me! But, my initial deposit covered all the materials, the payment for the first 10 covered my labor and a bit of profit, so whether they get these or not, at least I am not out any money. After the holidays, I will send them a letter giving them a deadline. If not answered, I can break down the components and sell them elsewhere. You learn how to do this the hard way. With quilt, usually when you give them the contract with the breakdown of costs, they change their minds. I sell quite a few quilts at our downtown shop, but they are lap and throw size and are fairly simple designs. Special and big quilts I make as gifts because folks just don't want to pay what a big detailed quilt costs.

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 12-19-2019 at 09:57 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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Old 12-19-2019, 08:45 AM
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When a person says I will pay you if you will make me a quilt I seldom ever get to make it. I start by having the person choose the pattern, then I say ok the machine quilter charges this much for quilting, then we go to the quilt shop. This is a must do for me. It doesn't take long for the person to realize all the gorgeous fabric cost a lot of money especially the backing fabric. I will not use less then quality fabric for quilt I am getting paid to make. I say if you are overwhelmed with the color choices then think about it for awhile and call me. I have never gotten a call back for a bed size quilt. This way they know I'm not over charging because they see the cost even before I add my labor cost.
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Old 12-19-2019, 11:12 AM
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I can not stress this enough. Have a lawyer review the contract that you use. Paying for a one hour contract review will save you so much in the long run. The number of contracts people get off the internet and then change to make them work the way they think they should and then it blows up in their face is astounding.
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Old 12-19-2019, 11:22 AM
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I have told this first story before, so sorry for those of you who have heard it already.

I had an acquaintance ask me to replicate a quilt that her adult son had used when he was a baby. It was a simple baby quilt with a large penguin applique in the center, and a couple of outer borders, if I remember right. She insisted on paying me fairly for my time, made quite a big deal out of that. So I took a good look at the quilt and wrote a detailed estimate of supplies - batting, backing, fabric, thread, and also wrote how much time it would take to design (there was no pattern on the market that came close), piece, applique, quilt and bind, multiplied by a fair hourly wage, which I discounted quite a bit because she was an acquaintance and it really was a very simple quilt. Came down to $200.00, half for supplies and half for time and labor. Gave the written estimate to her and she had a difficult time disguising her horror. Said she had figured it would be about half that. I asked, well, didn't you say you wanted to pay me fairly? She took a closer look at the estimate and said "Oh, I thought you would just use fabrics from your stash, I didn't realize you would actually charge me for fabric!"


Needless to say, I did not make the quilt for her.

A couple years prior to this incident, I had a friend ask for something similar, would I make a baby quilt for her? She was willing to pay me fairly for my time. I warned her it would not be like purchasing a baby quilt at Target, but she wanted a one-of-a-kind baby quilt and claimed she was willing to pay for it. I had her go with me to the fabric store. She picked out the pattern, the fabrics, the backing, and she made the purchase. I pieced the top, took it to a longarmer (I wasn't quilting back then, and she was fully aware of this). She then decided she wanted to have the baby's name and date of birth machine-embroidered in the border. I didn't have the equipment to do this either and told her, but she still wanted it, so I found someone and paid them to do it. When I gave her the finished quilt, I also gave her the invoices/receipts from the embroiderer and the longarmer, and told her to pay me what she thought was fair for my labor in making the quilt and getting it finished by these other people, which was my fault for not giving her a number. She reimbursed me for the embroidery and longarming and paid nothing more. So I basically did everything for free. Lesson learned.

It's just not worth it, the feeling bad on both sides. I don't post pictures on social media, I don't talk about my quilts other than in casual conversation, I don't offer to do any sewing, repairs, or quilting for anyone. My closest friends know I'm a quilter because it's hard to miss the longarm when they come visit me, but they know better than to ask.

Last edited by Peckish; 12-19-2019 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 12-19-2019, 12:01 PM
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I have never made a quilt for anyone except family and that is always a gift. For those that ask me to make a quilt and they will pay me, I tell them you can't afford my price.
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Old 12-19-2019, 04:42 PM
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I only do quilts for myself, family and friends. Or because I like the project/design.
And I don't work at selling my quilts. I did sell two recently, one because the purchaser tracked me down after seeing my quilt on display at the fair. When he came to buy that one, he also bought a second one I had. Since the first was a very simple panel with borders and the second was a scrap quilt, neither had much invested in time, fabric or money. I was happy to have them gone and to get some money for them.
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Old 12-20-2019, 04:23 AM
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I quilt mostly for my own pleasure. The grands have requested special items and of course I do those. I have made baby quilts along the way and a couple of wall hangings and tabletoppers but have declined every request by someone who says “I’d love to have one of your quilts and I’ll pay you”. I say that’s very flattering but I just don’t do that. And all of the above has contributed to that decision.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:49 PM
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Would anyone be willing to share a copy of their contract?
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