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Thread: For those who sell quilts...

  1. #1
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    I got to thinking about possibly entering a quilt in the fair this year...well, my train of thought led to selling quilts. Not really interested in selling any for the moment, but it got me a little curious. I'm just wondering...does a particular kind of quilt sell better than others? Like a certain look (scrappy, etc) or a certain kind of quilt design?

  2. #2
    Super Member vicki reno's Avatar
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    The few places that I have been have quilts in all shapes sizes and colors. So I am not sure if one is more popular than another. I would go online and look at websites that possibly offer quilts to see what is bieng offered. Just a suggestion and of course different areas of the country tend to favor different styles more than others. :-)

  3. #3
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    Around here, quilting is seen as a pastime for crafters, and not much value put on them as art. You may get a general idea by going to EBay and running a search. If you use the Advanced Search option, you can choose completed listings, giving you actual sales prices. Some very pretty things get no bids at all, or never sell because of unrealistic reserve prices. Also, those Chinese knockoffs are showing up as handmades, driving prices down further.

    I have not had luck with consignment shops - their "cut" effectively reduces {to zero} the profit out of things I have brought in to sell that way. A shop that specializes inn country kitch may not be the place to sell an abstract piece. Small baby quilts may fly off shelves in a hospital gift shop, and languish in a gallery. You also need to figure your end user in when choosing colors and patterns. Cutesie juvenile prints make me gag, but may be perfect for baby showers.

    As far as fairs go, they are fun, but be prepared to meet the quilt police for real. Read the judging criteria carefully, and take all the rules very literally.

  4. #4
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    It's all about marketing. You can make the best quilts in the world, and they won't sell unless they are marketed right. You have to make the buyer realize that there is a vast difference between mass-produced JCPenney "handmade" quilts and what you are creating. You need the snob factor.

    I did best when we lived in a tourist area and I sold quilts that were representative of the area (Up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, I sold mostly lodge-look quilts). Tourists are LOOKING for opportunities to spend money. I sold at local art shows - the outdoor ones where you have juried vendors. I got a couple awards, and I hung those ribbons up in my display area and mention them on my website also. Snob factor. People won't pay a lot of money for something they can buy at Walmart - you have to show them that you are SPECIAL. :mrgreen:

    I sell on ebay, and I really regard that as advertising. People who buy a tablerunner or baby quilt from me for $50 on ebay are going to like it and feel good about their purchase. Hopefully, they come to me when they want something bigger. It seems to work for me, anyhow. Ebay is getting pretty expensive, though, and I am going to work more aggressively with etsy.

    Speaking of etsy, they have a lot of very pricey art quilts, but if you look at the sellers' history, they haven't actually SOLD any $4000 quilts. They are just pricing them there. It does get people to look at their shop and maybe buy the smaller things, though. It's all about marketing.

    If you want to sell online, you need plenty of good photographs and descriptive text.




  5. #5
    Junior Member fabuchicki's Avatar
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    I agree with Cathe. The tourist areas are the place to go. I saw a lady selling art in one of the ski areas last year that I've sold myself for a third the price. Amish quilts benefit not only from their beauty and skill but from all the lookey loos who come to see their lifestyle and go home with a souvenir of "old fashioned hand made craftsmanship".

  6. #6
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    This is a fairly interesting place as well. I've never bought from ebay, but I have made purchases here. They usually run a special several times a year for placing your items. It's pretty diverse too. Its a flat fee, so you know up front how much it will cost, unlike consignment which sometimes changes (at least the shop I use to use did they would have % off sales and tell us about them after the fact.) They also do a lot of the work for you, like keeping a running tally of how many available items are left on your listing and such. I've been watching the "current visitors online" ticker for a few months. Sometimes there are tons of people accessing this site at once.

    http://www.craftmall.com

  7. #7
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cathe
    ...Ebay is getting pretty expensive, though, and I am going to work more aggressively with etsy.

    Speaking of etsy, they have a lot of very pricey art quilts, but if you look at the sellers' history, they haven't actually SOLD any $4000 quilts. They are just pricing them there. It does get people to look at their shop and maybe buy the smaller things, though. It's all about marketing.
    Cathe, what is etsy? I've never heard of it before.
    ~Tiffany

  8. #8
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    www.etsy.com

    It's like ebay, but specifically for handcrafted things. You will find everything from plastic canvas tissue covers to clothing to fine art paintings and photography. And quilts.

  9. #9
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    and it's not an auction site - it's just straight selling.

  10. #10
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonpi
    Cutesie juvenile prints make me gag,
    c'mon, Moonpi ... tell us how you really feel.

    i can see i've been a bad influence on you. :lol: :lol: :lol:

  11. #11
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonpi
    I have not had luck with consignment shops - their "cut" effectively reduces {to zero} the profit out of things I have brought in to sell that way. A shop that specializes inn country kitch may not be the place to sell an abstract piece. Small baby quilts may fly off shelves in a hospital gift shop, and languish in a gallery. You also need to figure your end user in when choosing colors and patterns. Cutesie juvenile prints make me gag, but may be perfect for baby showers.

    As far as fairs go, they are fun, but be prepared to meet the quilt police for real. Read the judging criteria carefully, and take all the rules very literally.
    I feel the same about consignment shops. Honestly, I don't think a quilt store should charge the 30% or higher consignment prices they do. Having gorgeous quilts hanging up in their shop only encourages business and people will buy more fabric and more kits depending on what they see on the walls. It's a great way for a quilt shop to get a lot of quilts hung up without having to do so much work themselves. I've never been a fan of putting my stuff out there on consignment simply because of the high consignment fees. To me, that's money right out of my own pocket! :P

    As for judges and fairs, it really depends on where you are and the individuals who are judging. It is always hoped for that you will get a judge who can view the quilts dispassionately, and by that I mean without imposing their views onto the quilt. If a judge hates brights, they should be able to look past a quilt made out of brights and still judge it by its merits, not knock it down because they don't like the colors. Now, you'll note I said 'should'. Unfortunately not all judges are able to be impartial. It helps to remember that when putting a quilt into a judged event; the judges can be very human. I know for me personally, I have gotten great benefit from judges comments and I really enjoy entering judged quilt shows. I hope this helps for those who are considering entering a quilt into a local fair but are concerned about the judging portion of it. It really isn't that scary but you do need to approach it knowing that you may get comments from the judges you don't like, as well as those you do. Read the judges comments. Use what you can and throw out the rest. :wink:
    ~Tiffany

  12. #12
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiffany
    Quote Originally Posted by Moonpi
    I have not had luck with consignment shops - their "cut" effectively reduces {to zero} the profit out of things I have brought in to sell that way. A shop that specializes inn country kitch may not be the place to sell an abstract piece. Small baby quilts may fly off shelves in a hospital gift shop, and languish in a gallery. You also need to figure your end user in when choosing colors and patterns. Cutesie juvenile prints make me gag, but may be perfect for baby showers.

    As far as fairs go, they are fun, but be prepared to meet the quilt police for real. Read the judging criteria carefully, and take all the rules very literally.
    I feel the same about consignment shops. Honestly, I don't think a quilt store should charge the 30% or higher consignment prices they do. Having gorgeous quilts hanging up in their shop only encourages business and people will buy more fabric and more kits depending on what they see on the walls. It's a great way for a quilt shop to get a lot of quilts hung up without having to do so much work themselves. I've never been a fan of putting my stuff out there on consignment simply because of the high consignment fees. To me, that's money right out of my own pocket! :P

    As for judges and fairs, it really depends on where you are and the individuals who are judging. It is always hoped for that you will get a judge who can view the quilts dispassionately, and by that I mean without imposing their views onto the quilt. If a judge hates brights, they should be able to look past a quilt made out of brights and still judge it by its merits, not knock it down because they don't like the colors. Now, you'll note I said 'should'. Unfortunately not all judges are able to be impartial. It helps to remember that when putting a quilt into a judged event; the judges can be very human. I know for me personally, I have gotten great benefit from judges comments and I really enjoy entering judged quilt shows. I hope this helps for those who are considering entering a quilt into a local fair but are concerned about the judging portion of it. It really isn't that scary but you do need to approach it knowing that you may get comments from the judges you don't like, as well as those you do. Read the judges comments. Use what you can and throw out the rest. :wink:
    ~Tiffany
    The judging kind of scares me 'cause...well, I'm not exactly conservative when it comes to quilt designs. And at last year's fair the ones I remember that got first place ribbons were either ones with very traditional blocks with very earthy/subdued colors or t-shirt quilts...I like to be a little bolder than that. Same goes for the art competition...a friend of mine has been setting up a booth for body art and entering a lot of artwork at the fair for the past couple of year. Creates beautiful artwork, but some of its not exactly the judges cup of tea. She got ribbons for all of them, but the ones we thought were the best ones got 3rd/4th place ribbons.

  13. #13
    Super Member Flying_V_Goddess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fabuchicki
    I agree with Cathe. The tourist areas are the place to go. I saw a lady selling art in one of the ski areas last year that I've sold myself for a third the price. Amish quilts benefit not only from their beauty and skill but from all the lookey loos who come to see their lifestyle and go home with a souvenir of "old fashioned hand made craftsmanship".
    That got me thinking...Cran Fest. About 15 minutes where I live is a little town called Warrens and every year they have the Cranberry Festival. There's probably only 1000 people living in this town and when they have this festival about 100,000 or some crazy number of people flock to this little speck of a town. I've never actually went, but from what I hear its like one big crazy gigantic flea market. I wonder if people sell quilts there.

  14. #14
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    Find out who organizes the Cranberry Festival and call them. Ask about sales opportunities. Then, if you can sell things, make quilts that fit the occasion - northwoodsy things, probably. Is it in September? You can do things with a winter theme (maybe autumn, if there isn't already snow on the ground. I have LIVED in northern WI!)

  15. #15
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    The judging kind of scares me 'cause...well, I'm not exactly conservative when it comes to quilt designs. And at last year's fair the ones I remember that got first place ribbons were either ones with very traditional blocks with very earthy/subdued colors or t-shirt quilts...I like to be a little bolder than that. Same goes for the art competition...a friend of mine has been setting up a booth for body art and entering a lot of artwork at the fair for the past couple of year. Creates beautiful artwork, but some of its not exactly the judges cup of tea. She got ribbons for all of them, but the ones we thought were the best ones got 3rd/4th place ribbons.
    There are often times the quilts we like the best at shows or fairs aren't the ones that win the highest ribbons. Why? Sometimes it simply comes down to the judges and what they like best (it isn't supposed to work this way but sometimes it does), but often times it comes down to things like construction or even evenness of stitches. Frequently something as simple as binding will knock a beautiful quilt down in marks and it will look like a quilt that wasn't as good won. Interestingly enough, I have learned from several of my friends who are experts at entering shows, that if your quilt doesn't win at one show it often will at another. The key really is to have a bit of thick skin where the judges are concerned, especially since the judging part can be so intimidating. Most of them out there are wonderful and would like to help promote quilting, but there are those few out there who seem to be spiteful and opinionated. Don't let them scare you off from what can be a fun part of the quilting process. Throw anything from those judges out and try again with a different show is my motto with them!

    Cathe - I am learning a lot from you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I'm just starting to get into the area of selling my quilts and I know this is an area where I have a lot to learn. I have a question that has been bugging me. When you go to places like a craft fair or cranberry festival, about how many quilts and quilted items would you suggest bringing?
    ~Tiffany

  16. #16
    Senior Member triciasquilts's Avatar
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    Flying V, As most everyone on this board knows, I sell my quilt items. As far as what kink of quilts sell, you just never know what will appeal from one person to the next.
    As far as where to sell, I started at our local farmers market. Then I started doing other weekend type shows and festivals. Now besides selling my stuff, I actually run the farmers market and helped organize a crafters market where crafters can set up every weekend in our local mall. (I also got voted to run this market too this year).
    Festivals are great, they are usually 2-3 day events, but a lot of long hours go into those. And they are usually more expensive to set up at these, but these are my most lucrative shows to do because they usually draw thousands of people from across the country instead of just the locals.
    I am so well followed now just in southwest Montana, that people are calling me to find out where I'll be set up next!! But it takes alot and I mean alot of work.

  17. #17
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    When you go to places like a craft fair or cranberry festival, about how many quilts and quilted items would you suggest bringing?
    I have often wondered that! I want to stock pile pieces for a one day craft show around the holidays, and I know one rule for these types of events is to have enough for the whole day. Well, if nothing sells I'd have enough for the whole day. :lol: But, how would one know how many to have ready?

  18. #18
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    You should be able to get information on carnivals/fairs from that towns area Chamber of Commerce. They should also be able to put you in touch with the coordinater of the events. Or at least guide you in their directions.

  19. #19
    Senior Member triciasquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barnbum
    When you go to places like a craft fair or cranberry festival, about how many quilts and quilted items would you suggest bringing?
    I have often wondered that! I want to stock pile pieces for a one day craft show around the holidays, and I know one rule for these types of events is to have enough for the whole day. Well, if nothing sells I'd have enough for the whole day. :lol: But, how would one know how many to have ready?
    If you look at my avator, you can see basically what my set up for shows looks like. I actually started with one table and now have 4 tables and some display items that I use. Here's another pic too. This is how I set up inside, my outdoor set up is different as I use a tent.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by barnbum
    When you go to places like a craft fair or cranberry festival, about how many quilts and quilted items would you suggest bringing?
    I have often wondered that! I want to stock pile pieces for a one day craft show around the holidays, and I know one rule for these types of events is to have enough for the whole day. Well, if nothing sells I'd have enough for the whole day. :lol: But, how would one know how many to have ready?
    As many as you can get done!!! You want to make people come in and browse. If you don't have enough, they just look from a distance, assuming they can see it all from the aisle.

    If you do a series of festivals in the summer/fall, you need to be working hard the rest of the year so you don't run out of products!

    This is a picture from one art show I did about ten years ago:
    Attached Images Attached Images


  21. #21
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    hmm... those aren't very good pictures, but I didn't have a digital camera back then and DH just snapped those pictures.

  22. #22
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    Actually, those pictures were exactly what I was looking for Cathe. Thank you!

    I have to say, at the slow speed I sew, I'm wondering if selling things I make at a local fair or market will be worth it. I may just need to hook up with another gal or two and go in it with them for renting table space and whatnot.
    ~Tiffany

  23. #23
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    That's what I had in mind, Tiffany. No way do I have enough sewing time to make enough--unless I collected for years before I tried a show. But my daughter loves to crochet and we thought we could use the stock piling excuse to keep doing what we love without guilt for spending so much time/money on the hobby. :wink:

  24. #24
    Super Member Tiffany's Avatar
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    You go girlfriend! I wish one of my daughters was into such things. My youngest is going to major in art with a minor in business marketing so I'm hoping the quilting bug will bite her while she's having to take all these different classes in college. One of her required classes is weaving. Now I could see us working together, me with my quilting and she with her weaving and business degree. :D Of course that's just a dream and many years off for now. Still, I can dream. :lol: I think it is great your daughter has a craft and is willing to go into business with you. :mrgreen:
    ~Tiffany

  25. #25

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    I live in a huge university town and I can sell anything ... anything! ... if it's in the team colors. Doesn't even have to relate to the school; just be in those colors. I put some of my stuff at a few local b&b, especially for the fall football season.

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