Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Please pitch in your two cents!

So much has happened since my last post. Here are the highlights:

  • I had a lovely overnight retreat with my co-workers last week. Not only did I leave the two days feeling re-energized about the recruiting cycle ahead, but I got to sleep under this quilt

    and in my free time, I went for a walk along the river, paddled around in a kayak, read in the hot tub, stargazed on a star deck, and played Apples to Apples with some crazy people (also known as my co-workers).

  • When I got home, I found that I had won a giveaway from Cathy A. at Wondrous Woven Magic. It is so perfect, fabric I probably wouldn't buy for myself since I am in a "safe" fabric rut, but which I think is lovely, so I can't wait to see how I'm going to incorporate it into my current and future projects!

  • My brother and I organized a cook-out at my mom's house yesterday. I brought blanched green beans tossed with sesame oil and garlic salt, garbanzo bean salad, watermelon, and hot dogs & sauerkraut. My brother added the most delectable ribs I have ever tasted and a wonderful pasta salad. I am still full. I brought my kids, my hubby and my dog to add to the melee of my brother, his girlfriend and two kids, my mom and her three dogs. It was loud, but it was a blast. So much fun that I forgot to take pictures.
In between these events was the event for which I am asking for your opinion. First, some background info. Every year, my twin sister and I get together for a long weekend of exploring, shopping, and crafting (she knits, I quilt). It is a fantasy of mine that one day, we will have a cottage industry, peddling our textile wares. Dreams have to start somewhere, right? So a couple years ago, we decided that we'd get some stuff together and set up a booth at a craft fair of something. Well, while my sister wasn't able to join me in this adventure, but I finally did just that this weekend. On Saturday, I woke my kids early, and we set up a booth at the once-monthly flea market at the drive-in movies. I borrowed a canopy from a friend (which I managed to break and now I'm not able to find a replacement, but that's another story), hung some quilt tops from the back and sides for shade and decoration, and put some of my finished, extra, "I've made so many of these what am I ever going to do with them" stuff out, along with a price list and some homemade business cards. I also set up my Ulmer Frame with a quilt that needs finishing, thinking I could get some quilting done while I sat there.




In one sense, this adventure was a complete failure - I didn't sell a thing! In another sense, it was very encouraging; LOTS of people came by my booth and stayed to chat and admire. I got so many compliments that my head swelled to twice its normal size. When one woman remarked, "Oh my, look at your perfect points!", I nearly swooned! People left and came back with others saying "this is the quilt lady I was telling you about." One person took a photo of my booth. I didn't get much quilting done because I was talking with people the entire 4 hours that I was there! I brought 20 business cards, and 19 people asked for and took one. I left feeling pretty darned good about my morning. I realize that if I were to do this again, I would want to choose another venue - this flea market was much like a giant yard sale, where people were looking to buy used clothes for 50 cents or hand me down toys for the kids for a quarter. I'd be better suited to set up at a craft fair or street fair or something.

Here's the rub. Several people inquired about the quilt tops I had hanging for shade and decoration. They didn't want the little stuff I had already made, they wanted me to finish my big quilt tops for them. The thing is, I never imagined that people would want those, so I hadn't thought of pricing. I felt like an idiot when asked how much it would cost to buy the finished quilts; I didn't have an answer for them. So, several people left me names and phone numbers and told me what quilt they wanted, and asked me to get back to them.

HELP! I have NO IDEA! Please chip in your two cents...

1) The quilt tops are all approximately twin size or slightly larger. They are all made from scraps. Since I didn't purchase the fabric for them, (in fact, much of the fabric was probably given to me) I don't feel right incorporating a fabric cost into the price of the top. Off the top of my head, I thought $50 for the unquilted quilt tops. Does that sound about right?

2) And then, of course, I am a hand quilter. I am slow. And I am not a professional, by any stretch of the imagination. I was thinking another $150 to finish off a top with hand quilting, including the purchase of the batting and the backing and binding fabric.

That ends up being a $200 quilt, machine pieced, hand quilted. How does that sound? Please be frank with me. I'm swimming in uncharted waters here. I don't want to under-value my time and creative efforts, but I also don't want to over-inflate the value of what I do.

And if it matters, here are the quilt tops that were inquired about:




I await your opinions with bated breath!

15 comments:

Moneik said...

I usually charge $100 for a baby, $200 for a twin, $300 for a full, $400 for a queen, and $500 for a king. But I also quilt them all by machine on the frame. I think you need more for hand quilting them. I would add a $100 to my prices for hand quilting. You have an amazing talent and it should be valued. Your time is worth a lot.

Cheryl Willis said...

I have never been happy selling a quilt. The scrappy one should be twice as much, (anyone can run out and 'buy' matching fabric- it is harder to be a hoarder!)
I would be thrilled to pay for the tops- I have seen them so much I forget they are not mine anyway- lol
$75-$125 on the unfinished.

cw

Amo House said...

They are beautiful, complexly pieced tops, not quickie throw together jobbies. Please don't undersell yourself. I've no idea about prices over in the US but I know there are plenty of people out there after something for nothing.

Rhoda said...

As Cheryl said, these quilts are one-of-a-kind, completely beautiful, and beautifully done. I for sure wouldn't charge under $250 a piece. More if they're bigger than a twin. I wish you great success! Those new fabrics you got? I can see a very summery print, like a pinwheel, on a light background.

The Cozy Quilter said...

I think you are way under-priced! Even though you might not have paid much or anything for the fabric, it still has value. Also, your piecing and quilting take time!!! You make beautiful quilts! I think scrappy quilts have just as much value as quilts with matchy matchy fabrics.

Char said...

Hi Erin, I agree with everyone else I think you should charge more since they will be hand quilted.
I have the same dream (and my wonderful husband dreams it for me sometimes)I have been busily piling up things for an Etsy shop and soon I hope to do craft shows.

Char said...

Oops! I forgot, check out my blog I'm having a giveaway.

Stray Stitches said...

I don't know anything about pricing but your work is beautiful. You definitely need to change venues. Most craft fairs charge a booth fee but I think you would find buyers for your work at one of these. Good luck!

Em said...

I missed you and wondered what you were up to! The quilt tops are beautiful but your energy to set up shop is fabulous! I wish I would have been one of your patrons that you were chatting with!

Hazel said...

Erin our group charges any where from 50 to 300 for marking and hand quilting , depending on the size and how much detail is in the quilting .30 to 50 for binding .A lot of people piece a top and ask us to provide the batting and backing of course thats extra .It's a lot of work and most people want it done like yesterday .I think if I was you I would do a few bigger quilts and then offer them for sale and not get yourself in a time crunch by taking orders .Unfortunately people do not want to pay the true price for a quilt .

kayluvs2quilt said...

wow..such a relief. I've been checking your blog and was afraid you were in a funk instead having soo much fun. Did you feel my prayers for your well-being?
I think you should check the prices charged in the etsy shops for quilts and price from there. Your incredible talent is worth so much more than you think!

Quiltluver said...

I agree with the others that you are underpricing yourself. Just because they were made with scraps, doesn't mean that you should give them away at a lower price. When I go to Shipshewana, there are several shops with hand made, hand quilted quilts. That size generally runs anywhere from $350-$500. Granted, they have some store overhead, but quilts with hand quilting usually cost a little more. I think $300$350 or more for a finished quilt as beautiful as you've made is appropriate.

Renea said...

Wow. Your quilt tops are beautiful. I love scrappy quilts. You need to charge more for your quilt tops. Not really sure what you should charge (that is the hardest part for me also) but as everyone says your time and talent needs to be considered in the price.

Shirleymac said...

Your quilts are gorgeous. You do such good work. I think your price is a bit low too but on the other hand if you charge too much people won't buy them. I've always felt that as quilters we just can never get out of something $ wise what our labour is worth. Angela (Country Scraps) knows about pricing cause she sells and does commission work a lot. Also I'd go on Etsy and look around at what people on there are asking. Just remember though if the price looks too low then there's a reason - poor fabric, not well done no matter how good the photo looks.

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

I agree with what has already been said especially about charging for the "scrap" fabric. The fact you got that free or cheap is your good fortune.

However you dont want to give your skills away for free. Mid range price your beauitufl quilts and see what nibbles happen. If they sell like hot cakes you can put your prices up!