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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
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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:

  11. #11
    Catherine's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I went to a festival in Brown Co. Indiana Saturday. One person was selling their lap quilts for $50.00..... I just can't figure out the profit on that one!!!!!

  12. #12
    Country Quilter's Avatar
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    I doubt I have ever made any real profit selling my stuff ....I've only sold locally to people I know and have sold a few items in a yard sale.... currently I am working on a venture to sell items at a new craft shop....won't know for a few weeks yet if that is going to work out.

    This is something I've always wanted to do...make money doing something I enjoy!

  13. #13
    Chunkymama's Avatar
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    II LOVE TO DO ART QUILTS. SORRY ABOUT ALL CAPS. IHAVE A VERY LITTLE DOG IN MY ARMS AND IT'S HARD TO HUNT AND PECK THAT WAY. ANYWAY , I'M DISABLED AND I'D LIKE TO BRING HOME A LITTLE SOMETHING ONCE IN A WHILE. :roll:

  14. #14
    Country Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cathe
    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.



    I hope that helps!
    Cathe ...this is the part I'm not good at...pricing...I know about the hourly rate and cost of materials etc..... but if somebody could just give me an idea...like say...how much for a 15 x 36 tablerunner....a 30 x 30 wallhanging....a 54 x 54 couch throw... just a basic price would work for me....

    I made a queen size quilt for a friend of mine....she bought all the materials and picked out a pattern from one of my books.....it took me about 2 weeks to make the quilt and if I may say so myself ..it turned out pretty nice.....I asked her for $100.... she paid it but did say she hadn't intended on spending that much on the quilt (including her cost of materials which I believe was around $80) she wanted it to give as a gift.

    Some people just don't understand what goes into the making of quilts I think.

  15. #15
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    kikicol - I responded to you in your other thread about this. Did you get a chance to look at those quilts? http://www.quiltingboard.com/posts/list/2342.page

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Country Quilter
    Quote Originally Posted by Cathe
    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.



    I hope that helps!
    Cathe ...this is the part I'm not good at...pricing...I know about the hourly rate and cost of materials etc..... but if somebody could just give me an idea...like say...how much for a 15 x 36 tablerunner....a 30 x 30 wallhanging....a 54 x 54 couch throw... just a basic price would work for me....

    I made a queen size quilt for a friend of mine....she bought all the materials and picked out a pattern from one of my books.....it took me about 2 weeks to make the quilt and if I may say so myself ..it turned out pretty nice.....I asked her for $100.... she paid it but did say she hadn't intended on spending that much on the quilt (including her cost of materials which I believe was around $80) she wanted it to give as a gift.

    Some people just don't understand what goes into the making of quilts I think.
    Patsy, you really need to set prices ahead of time. When I do projects for people (strangers) where I am going to charge an hourly rate, I charge $10 per hour for my time. But I find the best way to do this is to figure out ahead of time how long the project will take and quote them a flat price. That is purely subjective, though, according to the person and the project, because I have the flexibility to do that. :lol: When I am doing that, I provide rotary cutting blades and machine needles. The customer provides every thing else, from thread to elastic and interfacings (for clothing, obviously). I also keep a folder for quotes, and I put deadlines (These prices good until December 5, 2007) and time estimates on the quotes as well!

    For finished quilts, I am a little subjective, too. If I HATED making the stupid thing, I charge more. If I need money really badly, I might charge less. If I don't really care if it sells, I start it a lot higher.

    On ebay, I usually start simple tablerunners at $40 for the opening bid. Wall quilts in the size you mentioned would start at about $40-$70, depending on what it is. Lap quilts usually start at $75 or so. Some go as high as $150. Not much higher yet.

    BUT... I seldom buy new fabric for any of the quilts I make to sell. Most are "used" class samples. Some are pattern prototypes. And for me, the ebay stuff is grocery money and advertising. Lately, I have been making more class samples and have a list of special order projects to sew.

    I am blessed with a loyal customer base - not huge, but very helpful. I do more than just quilts - I design and sell clothing and other things, too. I do a lot of mending and alterations for our church family, too. Most of that is my own ministry and I don't charge for it. We have lots of new brides lately, so alterations and sometimes dressmaking is my gift to them. For other people who come to me for that kind of sewing, I charge $10 per hour or some other figure that seems suitable. And I write it down for both of us.

    You have to find your own comfort level for charging friends and relatives. I recently did a lot of mending for a young couple at church. They wanted to know how much they owed me, and I told them "nothing. I will probably call you needing help one of these days! I LOVE it when people owe me a favor!" (evil cackle) It seemed to make them very nervous! :lol:

  17. #17
    Country Quilter's Avatar
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    ok, that helps alot...thank you Cathe...now for another question.

    Do you sign and date the stuff you sell or not?

  18. #18
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    Very seldom. Sometimes I make commemorative labels for the client -

    Mr and Mrs Robert Smith
    July 7, 2007
    Rochester, Minnesota

    When I was selling at art shows up in northern Wisconsin, to tourists, I signed my name and "Eagle River, WI" because they were buying it as a souvenir.

  19. #19
    Super Member nanabirdmo's Avatar
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    thanks for the detailed info. do you figure your prices according to an hourly rate plus expences?

  20. #20
    Chunkymama's Avatar
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    :D Thanks you , so much Cathie

  21. #21
    Catherine's Avatar
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    Cathe, $10.00 an hour is not enough. And wouldn't it be so helpful that
    the 273 people that viewed this could help us out on this question!!!

  22. #22
    Country Quilter's Avatar
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    Well, approximately 20 of those views were mine! LOL I've come back to view everytime somebody posts something new cuz I'm very interested in this topic!

  23. #23
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    I haven't made any quilts and sold them but I do make the raggedy purses, wallets, make up bags, change purses, tote bags and pencil bags and sell them. I make some "already Made" for people to just buy, but they are gone almost as soon as I make them, so usually I never have enough time to keep very many already made things on hand. So far, most of my orders for purses have been custom made orders, I let the customer choose the fabric, style, pockets, closure, etc. then I make it. I also make candles and jewelry and sell them, now these I always make and then sell. I do get custom orders for candles and jewelry every now and then. I have been wanting to go to fairs and different festivals and have been invited to a few but haven't had time to go because of all of the orders i've had and b/c of depending on what was going on in my life at that time. LOL. The next festival coming up is a fundraiser for an elementary school in a neighboring county, I was asked/invited to bring my items and set up. With this we pay like $3.00 for a table and then 10% of sales go to the school. It isn't until the end of October, so we'll see. I am in the process of setting up a website, it is taking longer than expected, I never have time to sit on the net long enough to get anything done. I also have been asked to bring my purses this Christmas to the Medowbrook Mall and put them in a candy shop on Consignment. I haven't decided about that yet either. The local quilt shop opening up was maybe wanting me to teach a class and sell my purses and other quilted items I make there, but it hasn't opened yet. So, we'll see...By the way, I had always wanted to make things and sell them and never thought I would. I designed my raggedy purses and once everyone saw them, I kept getting orders and then more and more and then people starting mentioning purse parties. LOL. I had my first purse party in August, I have another one coming up, just as soon as we set a date and then another this Fall. I postponed the parties until after we get finished moving, that way maybe I can get a few made beforehand.

  24. #24
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    I can't get over the "guilt factor" when it comes to pricing. When I see something I like at a craft show or festival and I can pretty closely estimate how much it would cost making it myself, I can't bring myself to buy that item...even if I really want it... So when I go to price my things...I automatically feel the same way about charging prices. I realize that underpricing is almost worse than overpricing, and have underpriced myself out of many sales. Even when you are doing said project right in front of the customers...they still think its cheap imports and not handmade. But overprice, and wait for the rude comments to fly. When I do a middle of the road pricing (my comfort zone) if compliments were money I'd be rich. Some of the information here has made me feel a little more comfortable with pricing...but not really confident to do so. When I first started setting up at fair's and shows, a very kind lady told me "honey...its simple...its the 3X's rule. You charge 3X's more than what it cost you to make." However, I've found that most often underprices me to death.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mary705's Avatar
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    I will be making a baby quilt for a friend of mine real soon to give as a gift, not sure what I will charge. She is buying all the material, and there really won't be a lot of work for me to do because I found pre-quilted fabric in the colors with the little boy cars, planes etc on it. The only thing I will have to do is add a binding to it.

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