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Thread: Quilting Business?

  1. #1
    Senior Member sgardner's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    North Ogden, Utah

    Lightbulb Quilting Business?

    Do any of you have a quilting business that you run from home? If someone asks you to make a quilt, how do you determine what your time is worth? How do you keep track of inventory? (IE, I bought 6 yards of this fabric, at $X price, used only 2 1/2 of it for the customer quilt, will have 3 1/2 yards left over for another quilt, etc.)

    Do you use a computer program or software to keep track of it all and generate a detailed invoice? Do you list line by line the fabrics used and their price, along with a labor line for your time? (think car mechanic; parts and labor) How do you account for shipping you paid for fabrics ordered online? And if someone asks you to make a quilt from scratch, do you charge for time planning out the quilt? Do you count electricity used to run your machine and thread as some % of overhead in the final price?

    I have a long arm, and so this quilt will literally be start to finish, in my control. She left it up to me to pick design, colors and how to quilt it. The only thing she specified is that if be Queen size. I am thinking if I document every step of the way and put it is some formal program, I will have a template to use for future orders, since this seems to be what others keep asking me to do. Originally, I just wanted to do the quilting part with my Avante. This is going a different direction than I had planned, and it's throwing me for a loop. But, I am willing to roll with it.

    I would love to hear what tools people use to manage their inventory and time, how they figure out what to charge people, and any links that have good references to people wanting to start a home business that is specifically quilting/sewing related. The SBA has a lot of questions for beginners that aren't really relevant to this line of work, since it's geared to be generic for all businesses, and I keep wading through a lot of irrelevant information there. I figured this forum would be a much better place to ask, since I imagine many of you sell what you make.

    HQ18 Avante

  2. #2
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    I do sell what I make. I don't keep an extensive inventory. I do 2 large shows a year, sell what I produce all year and have next to no inventory to start the next year. Pricing is very market/location specific. I do shows rather than other options as my customers know , get there early for the best selection. I don't like to do special orders. The customers know if they like it get it now. Plus I don't like the pressure of working to someone elses date of delivery .. enevitably something in my life will come up to add to the pressure. Back when I first started I did some orders , but its tough with fabric having a short selling cycle , if a customer likes the fabrics..and wants the same the likelihood that I can get the same fabrics again is slim. Additionally I found I don't like making the same thing twice... it feels like production work.

  3. #3
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Southwest Kansas
    I wouldn't even do it without a $500.00 deposit to start with. All of your time is worth something, including design time, shopping time, etc. If you have to order something specific, the customer pays the shipping too. And you need to make sure up front "how queen size" she wants. Queen size can vary quite a bit since mattresses vary in thickness and she may be thinking of a queen bedspread that goes to the floor. Nail down as many of the details as you can up front and get a non refundable deposit and do not sell yourself short!

  4. #4
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Winston-Salem NC
    I still consider myself a hobby quilter who does custom work every now and then, but as I gradually get busier I am trying to get in a business-groove in case I decide to go that way.

    I definitely do not charge enough for my time, but here is how I do it: I charge a fixed cost fo the labor of making the quilt (in which I include design time, shopping/internet time, and all constructiuon time) to which I add the "real" cost of materials (actual invoiced amounts, including sales tax and shipping, pro-rated if I don't use all of the fabric or thread I bought). I ask the purchaser if they want their scraps back, explaining that they have paid for that fabric. (Many people who do not quilt do not want them back and are happy for me to keep them, which I consider a perk of the job!) I give back yardage, or don't charge for it.

    If I am using fabric from my stash for which I don't have a purchase price I go with current market value minus about 10%. I keep track of bobbins of thread used and use that number to calculate how much thread was used (since I frequently use many different thread colors in any given project). I charge current market value for the thread, even if it came from my thread stash. I do not try to factor in electricity, wear and tear on my machine or other overhead. I do charge for needles! (Especially on heavy projects that break them.)

    I have been keeping a running total of materials purchased for the last three years so I have a fairly good idea of what stuff costs and can give customers a reasonably accurate estimate up front - but I learned the hard way not to give an inclusive price for a project, because material costs can vary so widely, and you cannot count on getting just the right fabric at a sale price!

    I keep all of my receipts, I make out a formal invoice for every job, and I have recently started setting out a contract before any work is done just to be sure we are all on the same page.

    Hope this helps, and good luck getting your business up and running!


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