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Thread: Tracking quilt costs and labor

  1. #1
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    I have decided to start keeping a log for every quilt I make so that I will always know the cost of each quilt I complete.

    I have a 3 ring note book to keep beside my cutting table, and each quilt will get it's own page, where I can record the time spent cutting, sewing, pressing, quilting, and binding, at $10 per hour. I'll also include the amount of fabrics used and the price of each fabric., along with any other pertinent info about the quilt.

    I am also going to create a log book for my fabrics. Every time I purchase fabric, I'll record where I got it, manufacturer, and price, along with a 2x2 sample so that I can be as accurate as possible in my own costs for what goes into each quilt. I normally buy yardage rather than precuts, so it won't be that daunting to do.

    I was driven to this by the way people look so astounded when you tell them what it costs to make a quilt...especially when they are asking you to do it for free, because we are "friends." All of my quilts so far have gone to those I love or for charity.

    I have never sold a quilt, nor have I ever charged anyone to make one, but I have had numerous people ask and I have either turned them down or told them starting price is $600 to help them realize what they are asking of me.

    I do think creating quilts for profit is in my future, so I would think this would be the best way for me to determine pricing quotes.

    Have any of you created anything similar? Do you have any suggestions?

    Diane

  2. #2
    Senior Member ddrobins1956's Avatar
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    Good luck with that. I've made lots of things for lots of people and learned my lesson early on, I only make gifts and charity items these days. This is something that I love to do and I do it for my pleasure. Once it becomes a business then you have to deal with others wants and ideas and desires. That sure can suck the fun right out of it.

  3. #3
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    YOur idea is great if you really are able to keep up. My problem is that I have been doing this for so long that some of my stash is older than my child who will be 32 in November. I also tend to purchase things on sale just in case and anytime I have a coupon.
    I recently made two t shirt quilts for a family in my community. I kept track of the suppies and fabric I purchased for just that purpose. I also tried to keep track of my hours. I ended up resorting to charging them by the square inch and adding my costs for the materials. I gave them the two quilts for $.10 a square inch. The quilts were very simply machine quilted with a little handquilting thrown in where I wanted to do more detail. I used flannel for the backs and didn't use batting as I had fused interfacing on the back of all of the shirts to stabilize them. Both quilts ended up very heavy even without the batting. While I was happy to get the little over $600 I charged them, realistically for the hours I spent it was worth double that. Be careful you don't end up feeling bad because others don't appreciate your work. The most important person to satisfy is yourself.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Deb,

    I know all too well people can suck the fun out of it...however, there are a few people I would gladly make a quilt for....very few! LOL!

    I was thinking more along the lines of making something with a standard all over pattern, like Irish Chain Quilts, or maybe Sister's Choice in sashing and then they get to choose their own colors.

    My real inspiration for wanting to make quilts for others came from all the oohhs and aahhs I got from a Triple Irish Chain quilt I did in greens and ivory, with a focus fabric in the center. I can cut, sew, press, trim, and watch the boob tube while making money. Works for me!

    Diane

  5. #5
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddrobins1956
    Good luck with that. I've made lots of things for lots of people and learned my lesson early on, I only make gifts and charity items these days. This is something that I love to do and I do it for my pleasure. Once it becomes a business then you have to deal with others wants and ideas and desires. That sure can suck the fun right out of it.
    AMEN to that! I also paint, stainglass, crochet/knit and most anything else. Every time I make something my mother (NO crafty in her at all) asks me what I'm going to sell it for. She thinks making something for pleasure is a waste of time. Buying at a high end store for gifts is preferrable. Her spare time is spent cleaning house! NOT MY HOUSE!

    I have friends that quilt and sew for a pasttime...they have a quilt store that sells their wares. They're making good money. So far he's made over 300 tote bags!!!!!!!!! I like variety ---

  6. #6
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpspeedy
    YOur idea is great if you really are able to keep up. My problem is that I have been doing this for so long that some of my stash is older than my child who will be 32 in November. I also tend to purchase things on sale just in case and anytime I have a coupon.
    While I was happy to get the little over $600 I charged them, realistically for the hours I spent it was worth double that. Be careful you don't end up feeling bad because others don't appreciate your work. The most important person to satisfy is yourself.
    MP,

    I would have to guess at my stash prices, but this isn't something I am going to do in the very near future, but probably a couple of years down the road.

    I'm hoping that by showing future clients my Quilting Notebook, that they can see where the value is. If they don't get it, they don't get a quilt! Numerous times I have encountered those who don't appreciate what goes into a quilt, but I just think they are very naive and need to be educated, and hopefully, they will see the light!

    Diane

  7. #7
    quiltluvr's Avatar
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    Or have the client shop the Internet quilt shops to see the prices themselves.

    IMHO, fabric prices should be reflective of current market prices if you can't track where you originally got it/price paid.

  8. #8
    thismomquilts's Avatar
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    I think your idea is wonderful. A great marketing tool. Show the clients your notebook to let them see not only the prices of what you have done, but also, the quality of your work - which can/will improve with each quilt you make, as it does for all of us. It'll be interesting to know the results you get.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thismomquilts
    I think your idea is wonderful. A great marketing tool. Show the clients your notebook to let them see not only the prices of what you have done, but also, the quality of your work - which can/will improve with each quilt you make, as it does for all of us. It'll be interesting to know the results you get.
    I will certainly let everyone know how it goes, but no holding your breath!! It is just a blank notebook right now and something to work towards.

    I really want to work from home in the future. While planning on doing that, I hope quilting for others wil give me some added income while I enjoy making quilts in my "free time". Is there such a thing as free time or is it all wasted moments?

    Diane

  10. #10
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmackey
    I have decided to start keeping a log for every quilt I make so that I will always know the cost of each quilt I complete.

    I have a 3 ring note book to keep beside my cutting table, and each quilt will get it's own page, where I can record the time spent cutting, sewing, pressing, quilting, and binding, at $10 per hour. I'll also include the amount of fabrics used and the price of each fabric., along with any other pertinent info about the quilt.

    I am also going to create a log book for my fabrics. Every time I purchase fabric, I'll record where I got it, manufacturer, and price, along with a 2x2 sample so that I can be as accurate as possible in my own costs for what goes into each quilt. I normally buy yardage rather than precuts, so it won't be that daunting to do.

    I was driven to this by the way people look so astounded when you tell them what it costs to make a quilt...especially when they are asking you to do it for free, because we are "friends." All of my quilts so far have gone to those I love or for charity.

    I have never sold a quilt, nor have I ever charged anyone to make one, but I have had numerous people ask and I have either turned them down or told them starting price is $600 to help them realize what they are asking of me.

    I do think creating quilts for profit is in my future, so I would think this would be the best way for me to determine pricing quotes.

    Have any of you created anything similar? Do you have any suggestions?

    Diane
    Hi Diane,
    Like you, I have never sold anything, but yes ma'am, I have been logging all fabric information for at least five years.
    I have spiral notebooks. I am on my shh! third one.
    I learned to tape the actual receipt on the page. all pages are numbered and dated same as receipt.
    On my receipts I usually use a pencil to draw a line under each purchase of fabric or quilting/sewing stuff.
    I usually purchase these things separately from other things, so I can have receipts to make exchanges on household stuff.
    I write a very brief description of fabric. Items are numbered. I tape a sample of the fabric from the selvedge edge on the page.
    I make a tag, either from masking tape, or scrap paper that says:
    The description of fabric
    yardage
    book number, page number, item number, and
    I always put w_ d_ i_ on it, for: wash, dry, iron to check off.
    It sounds very compulsive and a little time consuming.
    I suppose, but I can pick up any, and I mean any piece of fabric in my sewing room and not only tell you when I bought it, how much is in that folded piece, where it came from, how old it is, what kind of fabric it is, it helps me remember stuff that was going on at the time.
    I remember pretty much what it's going into, bc most of my fabrics are bundled for particular ppl and/or projects.
    When I start using it, I can record how much of it was used, if there are leftovers and figure out how much that cost me.
    I love doing this. It makes me feel organized and mousie loves organization!
    I reccommend it if it's something you think you could enjoy.
    It gives me a lot of satisfaction about my purchases etc.
    i guess i am easily amused.:thumbup:

  11. #11
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    If your going to show your notebook to a potential client, I would have a "mock up" of an example quilt, with everything down to thread, priced on the page.
    Time, labor and electricity have value too.
    Don't think of your time as you get to have fun. So we do, but...the time I spend quilting, (for someone other than family), is time i could have been playing with my grandbabies or going somewhere with my hubby or visiting good friends. I'm not going to get that time back.
    You need to look out for you, so that you laugh on your way to the bank bc of self satisfaction over a job well done and a win-win.
    Also, if a potential client sees what goes into a personal made quilt, they are much more likely to take good care of it. Not that you have to worry about that, but it would be nice to know that it might be around for future generations to ooh and ahh over and inspire somebody.:wink:

  12. #12
    Super Member topper1's Avatar
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    my suggestion make a few for them to choose from. see how that goes. our work is not so much appreciated when we put dollar signs on it. do it for love and fun.

  13. #13
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quiltncrazy,

    I already label my fabrics, but I don't have the detail you put into it. I just use a 3x5 paper with yardage amount, and name of fabric. I decided to start adding price and date to that.

    When I do start my notebook, it will be done nicely as a presentation book, showing the quilts made, fabrics used, prices for material, labor, etc and the estimated price to make the same depending on fabric prices.

    I was advised by a friend today to add $20 for use of my tools such as rulers, sewing machine, etc. and she said I should make sure I add in tax and shipping charges when figuring out the price of fabric per yard. She thinks $10 per hour is way too low for labor costs, but I think it is fine. Most of the work will be done while watching the news and a movie (which is when I sew anyway). I did like her idea to just add $30 for my expertise. I'd be more comfortable with that.

    Diane

  14. #14
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quiltncrazy,

    I already label my fabrics, but I don't have the detail you put into it. I just use a 3x5 paper with yardage amount, and name of fabric. I decided to start adding price and date to that.

    When I do start my notebook, it will be done nicely as a presentation book, showing the quilts made, fabrics used, prices for material, labor, etc and the estimated price to make the same depending on fabric prices.

    I was advised by a friend today to add $20 for use of my tools such as rulers, sewing machine, etc. and she said I should make sure I add in tax and shipping charges when figuring out the price of fabric per yard. She thinks $10 per hour is way too low for labor costs, but I think it is fine. Most of the work will be done while watching the news and a movie (which is when I sew anyway). I did like her idea to just add $30 for my expertise. I'd be more comfortable with that.

    Diane

  15. #15
    Power Poster earthwalker's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good plan. I don't know how it works out where you are located, but here if you work from home and submit a tax return relating to income earned with your creative endeavour you can claim part of your electricity bill, furniture/machine purchase/repairs and things like that. May be worth checking out if you are going to produce a reasonable income.

  16. #16
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmackey
    Quiltncrazy,

    I already label my fabrics, but I don't have the detail you put into it. I just use a 3x5 paper with yardage amount, and name of fabric. I decided to start adding price and date to that.

    When I do start my notebook, it will be done nicely as a presentation book, showing the quilts made, fabrics used, prices for material, labor, etc and the estimated price to make the same depending on fabric prices.

    I was advised by a friend today to add $20 for use of my tools such as rulers, sewing machine, etc. and she said I should make sure I add in tax and shipping charges when figuring out the price of fabric per yard. She thinks $10 per hour is way too low for labor costs, but I think it is fine. Most of the work will be done while watching the news and a movie (which is when I sew anyway). I did like her idea to just add $30 for my expertise. I'd be more comfortable with that.

    Diane
    Sounds like your book is going to look very nice. Mine are just for my own personal need for organization and structure and not a business tool :wink:
    I like your friends suggestions about adding for mileage and wear and tear on your rulers, etc. and your a very fair and flexible person I think, not to charge too much for your expertise.
    If this is real successful as you get better and get more clients, you could always modify that, if you got busier, but you might not want to.
    It is one of the best hobbies in the world after all! :-D

  17. #17
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltncrazy

    IIf this is real successful as you get better and get more clients, you could always modify that, if you got busier, but you might not want to.
    It is one of the best hobbies in the world after all! :-D
    It is going to take some time to get this together, but I will be documenting every thing from this point on and starting the book as I make more quilts. I'm in my late 50s and when it is time to retire, I'll be home sewing and hopefully, making some extra income, doing things I love to do!

    I would be quilting anyway, it would cost me a bundle, and I give them all away as well, so better to find a way to support this hobby.

    Diane

    Diane

  18. #18
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    good luck. what if you are using scraps of fabric?

  19. #19
    Senior Member dmackey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oklahoma Suzie
    good luck. what if you are using scraps of fabric?
    Because I buy in yardage the majority of the time, I will know the price of the fabric because I will have it cataloged. If I do use scraps, they have to be figured into the yardage. I am pretty sure that pricing for fabric will be per yard, and not partial sizes. After all, it was paid for at one time or another by me.

    Most of my quilts use three or four fabric choices and are not really scrappy. Depending on the size of the quilt, it can be determined just how much actual fabric goes into it and I can price by the yard that way, even if using scraps. Solid borders are always lengthwise cuts for me, so that can add up.

    I will have some finished quilts as well as making custom quilts based on patterns available in my show and tell book.

    Diane

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