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!