We know that making a quilt can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but as a hobby, it’s not the cheapest. Of course, there’s ways of recouping some of your investment by finding a market for your quilts and selling them on… something that occasionally, can be easier said than done.
While there’s no hard and fast formula for working out how much a quilt will cost you to make, or how much you can get away with charging for the finished article, there’s a couple of neat tricks that can help.
How much do quilts cost? As a general guide, the going rate for a queen-sized quilt can be anything between $350 to $1500, while a baby quilt can be had for anything between $150 and $400.
A hand made quilt makes the kind of lovely, personal gift that many people are prepared to spend big on. Obviously, just how much cash they’re prepared to splash will depend on various things (size, intricacy, and quality being just a few of the most important factors).
The average cost of a quilt will vary according to vendor, the material used, and the size of the quilt (as you’d expect, a simple baby quilt is generally going to be a lot cheaper than a hand appliqued queen-size).
A baby quilt may be tiny, but don’t underestimate how much money goes into its making. A lot of the total cost will come down to the type of material you choose to use.
If we leave aside the cost of labor (which is something of a mutable point) and simply look at the cost of material (fabric, batting, and embroidery thread) expect to spend around $60 (although, of course, there’s ways and means of bringing this figure down if you buy wholesale or opt for cheaper fabrics).
The cost of quilting a blanket can vary considerably, depending on both size and material used. Go to town on the material and you can expect to spend around $60- $400.
Keep things basic and scour the stores for the cheapest material you can find, and you might be able to bring that down by at least half (or even a quarter).
If you’re used to the price of “handmade’ quilts from China, you’ll probably balk when you see the average cost of a real, honest-to-goodness homemade quilt. Unfortunately, trying to explain to a potential buyer the reason for the difference can be frustrating, and sometimes, it’s easier to lose a sale than spend several hours trying to make them understand.
Any experienced quilter will know that making a quilt is a labor of love: yes, it’s rewarding, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming. Even if I dedicate myself completely to the process, a queen-sized quilt can still sometimes take me a month or more to finish.
Most quilters don’t charge an hourly minimum wage (if they did, they’d never make any sales). So, yes, quilts may seem expensive, but when you consider just how much time has gone into them, that $1000 price tag suddenly seems a whole lot more reasonable.
How much money goes into a quilt depends on so many variables, it can be hard to put an exact figure on it. If we consider just the basics (and leave the complicated business of labor costs to one side, at least for the moment), we’d expect the costs for a queen-sized quilt measuring 90” x 100’ to look a little something like this:
15 yards fabric @$12.95 per yard = $194.25
8.5 yards backing @$12.92 = $9.71
2.75 yards batting @$12.95 = $35.61
Total cost of quilt (excluding labor) = $359.65
Fabric prices can vary massively depending on the vendor, location and quality. Expect to pay anything between $7 to $15 per yard.
There’s no doubting that quilting can be a richly rewarding hobby, but equally, there’s no doubting it can be a mightily expensive one. Even if you choose to eschew technology and stick to hand sewing, the materials alone will cost you a pretty fortune.
Invest in a longarm (which can cost anything from a few thousand dollars to $30,000 or more) and we’re looking at one seriously expensive pastime indeed.
Shortly, we’ll take a look at one of the easiest formulas to help price up a quilt, but beforehand, let’s consider the factors you need to consider when deciding how to price your quilting services.
One of the first things you need to consider when working out how to price your service is expected overheads. Too often, we forget to factor in the indirect costs of making a quilt, which can lead us to underprice our products and lose more than we earn.
Overhead costs vary according to the individual, but as a basic guide, you’ll need to consider things like:
You’ll then need to consider “prep costs”, which includes things like:
Pricing correctly is a tricky business, and there’s no hard and fast formula that applies. Different quilters prefer different pricing methods – some simply go by what they see others charge, others charge per square inch, others by linear foot.
Some of the methods may seem complicated, but unless you want to work yourself into the ground, it’s crucial to pick the correct one and use it consistently. Don’t try to undersell yourself or put yourself into competition with the cheap, ethically dubious products flooding the market place- your work has value, and don’t be afraid to show it!
One of the most tried and tested formulas for pricing textiles comes from Meg Mateo Ilasco’s bible for all hobbyists turned entrepreneurs, “Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into A Business”. The formula may seem a little complicated to get your head around at first, but once you do, it will make pricing your products a piece of pie.
Time + Material = Cost Price
Cost Price x 2 = Wholesale Price
Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price
Easy, right? If you’re still struggling, let’s break it down:
Basically, however much you enjoy making quilts, if you’re going to make a profit, you need to factor in a labor cost. How much you think your time is worth really depends on you: some people like to charge $20 an hour, others can get by on a lesser amount. Whatever you decide, just make it realistic.
Don’t consider your setup or equipment costs here: this is strictly for the materials (fabric, thread, batting, etc.) you need to complete the job.
If you’ve got a calculator (or just a good head for math), figuring out your wholesale price is a no-brainer. Simply take your cost price and double it. This will be enough to cover all your overheads (your sowing machine, electricity, etc.).
If you feel your actual overheads don’t justify that kind of mark up, feel free to take it down a notch- just don’t remove it altogether. Unless you want to self-fund your quilts, you have to be realistic about all the costs, however incidental, that go into their creation.
Finally, we come to that all-important figure, the retail price. Again, this is a simple one- take your wholesale price and double it. This may sound overly ambitious, but if you want to insure yourself against losses on unsold quilts, cover packaging costs, the time and cost of photographing & listing items (if you go the Esty or online route), and any other associated fees, you need to make sure you don’t undercut the actual costs that go into the whole process of selling (and not just creating ) a quilt.
Charging by square inch is a simple way of calculating an appropriate cost for a quilt, and one that many traditional quilters use. The total cost factors in everything from the type of fabric used, the skill level required (i.e. a simple, basic quilt would require less skill than one with a dense pattern), the material required (batting, thread, etc.), and the quality of the materials.
How much you charge will vary according to each of these different factors, but as an average, most quilters will charge between 3 – 15 cents per square inch.
Like making a quilt from scratch, the cost of quilt repair will depend on the materials used and labor charge applied. Materials costs can vary widely, as can labor rates. Some people may feel comfortable charging $20 an hour for their time, while others feel $10 an hour is more than suitable.
Like all crafts, there’s no hard and fast “recommend retail price’ that can be applied, especially considering the amount of work required will vary according to the type of repair required.
Prices for quilt finishing can vary, but most quilters will charge by the square inch depending on the type of quitting required. The easiest method of calculating the stitching cost is to use the following calculation, along with the approximate price per square inch provided below.
Multiply the width x length x price per square inch.
Simple Pantograph - $.0175/sq. inch
Complex Pantograph - $.025/sq. inch
Pantograph & 1 Border - $.03/sq. inch
Light Custom Quilting - $.035/sq. inch
Custom Quilting - $.045/sq. inch
Additional finishing services will typically come in at the following rates:
Backing: $.025 – $0.36/sq. inch (depending on material)
Batting: $.015 - $0.38/sq. inch (depending on material)
Additional Border - Small Quilt - $30.00 per extra border
Additional Border - Large Quilt - $45.00 per extra border
There’s not really such a thing as an “average” price when it comes to quilts. Spend a few minutes brewing Etsy and you’ll see prices fluctuate by several hundred dollars (and even, in some extreme cases, by several thousand). But, if push comes to shove, and an average had to be applied, it would probably look a little like this:
Type Size Price
36 x 36
40 x 54
63 x 87
81 x 87
90 x 100
110 x 110
How much is a quilt worth? How long is a piece of string? Essentially, a quilt is worth exactly how much someone is willing to pay for it… and how much you’re prepared to sell it for. A poorly made quilt that’s been cobbled together in some industrial factory is probably barely worth the $50 price tag it comes with.
A handmade quilt sewn with love, treated with care, and finished with respect, on the other hand…. priceless. Well, not quite- after all, what doesn’t have a price these days? But realistically, the worth of a quilt is, has always been, and will always be a subjective matter.
If you want to turn your quilt making hobby into a profitable business, then you’ll need to figure out just how realistic that is. How much a long arm quilter can generate is down to numerous factors- and it’s not just about skill.
No matter how talented a quilter is, if they lack business acumen, it’s unlikely they’ll ever see a profit from their creations. Getting the pricing right is vital in establishing a profitable business model – if you don’t pay close attention to your running costs, your material costs, and your own labor rate, you may find you end up spending more on making the quilts than you earn by selling them.
Unfortunately, you also have to consider that we live in a time where everything is cheap, mass-produced and readily available. Making any kind of profit out of handmade items is a challenge, and you’ll find few quilters that are able to sustain a good lifestyle on the profits they make from their quilts.
However, even if you’re not going to become a Rockefeller from your quilting business, do it wisely and you may still turn a pretty profit… just how much will depend on exactly how many you’re capable of turning out, and how much someone is willing to pay for them.