Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Do You Charge?


When someone asks you to make a quilt and they say "let me know what I owe you" how are you supposed to figure out what to charge?

This question has driven me nuts in the past and I usually end up saying "Oh, I will just take whatever my materials cost.." 

When I sell on eBay, either tops or quilt blocks I usually figure material cost plus $5.00 as the opening bid, that way I'm making my money back at least and then it just depends on how much people like what I've made.

Right now I'm working on a baby quilt.  The lady gave me backing, batting and material for a 60"x60" quilt.  It's a baby quilt so I'm not making it that big, plus the whole cloth "top" is denim fabric so that won't work that well for a baby quilt.  She told me to do what I thought was best so I'm making the top out of some cute kids material I had on hand and using her backing and batting for a 50"x50" quilt (approx).  I'm going to return all of the unused material to her.

So what do I charge?  I'm going to ask for the price of my materials I used.  But then how much?  It's a simple Irish Chain and I'm going to stipple quilt it.

I also have a commission quilt that I'm going to start in April.  The person I'm making it for wants a twin quilt for her daughter who is going off to college.  She's going to buy material for a top and back, I told her how much material I would need, that I have Kona white for the signature blocks that she wants on the front of the quilt and that I will supply the batting.  I plan to make a D9P since that is the pattern of quilt she pointed me to on the internet that she liked.  So what do I charge?  Obviously I charge her for batting and a yard of Kona but since she is supplying the rest of the fabric what would I charge to make a twin sized quilt?

I HATE charging people for stuff I make.  Usually I make something and then think who would like it, do I want to keep it, or someone sees it and says they want it so I give it to them, assuming I like them quite a bit :-D .

How do you figure this stuff out?  I have no idea, since I know that if I charge minimum wage for my time the quilt would end up being a ridiculous amount!  HELP!! :-D

Since writing this post I came up with a formula that I'll be using starting in 2014 since that is when I plan to start selling on a regular basis.  The formula follows:

I take the size of the quilt, say 65 inches by 85 inches and find the square inches:
65x85 = 5525 square inches.  Then I find out how many yards that is by dividing by 1296 (the square inches in a square yard of fabric):
5525/1296 = 4.263 yards of fabric multiplied by 3.5 (seam allowances, front, back and batting) = 14.92....  multiplied by the cost of the fabric per yard cost.  If I got the fabric for $8.75 a yard (that is low right now as you all know) that comes out to $130.55.

To that I add a premium for the difficulty of piecing and quilting.  Easy piecing: $.007 per square inch, Intermediate piecing $.015 per square inch, or hard (including applique and paper piecing) $.02 per square inch.  Let's assume the piecing is intermediate with some pieced borders and stuff.  Square inches 5525 multiplied by .015 = 82.88 (round up to 83).

So far that is $130.00 plus $83.00.  Now for the quilting.  I free motion quilt everything so lets assume the quilting is just an easy meander, that would add another $.01 per square inch.  5525 x .01 = $55.25 so I add $55 for the quilting.  The quilt would end up costing $268.  Would I get that?  I don't know but it's a good place to start with regard to what to charge.  Quilters in my area charge from $.01 up to $.025 for quilting so depending on how fancy I got with the quilting I'd charge in that range.  

This is the formula I'm going to be using for quilts that I make to sell on Etsy, which is something I'm going to be doing in the coming year.  This is also the formula that I'll be using for making quilts for people who ask me to make them a quilt from now on (unless they qualify for the friends and family discount).


Izzy said...

I really can't help because I have the exact same problem, but I can't wait to see what other people say! :-)

Diane Wild said...

I also have a difficult time with this; but, I did come up with a formula after doing some research as to what others were charging. Piecing-.0275 per sq. in.; sewing machine quilting-.0225/ If it's a friend, I give a Friends and Family Discount of 20%. Your 50x50 baby quilt will come to $125.00. If it's tied, I would charge between $30-$45. Does this help?

quiltmania said...

At the local quilt shop if we take on making a quilt for a customer we charge double the retail cost of the fabric.

Anonymous said...

What is your time worth? Maybe you should keep a log of all the hours you work on this quilt. It will give you a better understanding of what you are putting into and probably make you feel better about what you should charge.
If you feel overwhelmed by all these quilt requests, send them my way! ;-) Ha!

Danny said...

Wow. That's a great question. I'm with Sunni. Figure out how much your time's worth then you can figure out how much to charge. Although, I've got to say, Diane's calculations DO make it easier!

Shevvy said...

I can't help at all, I just won't do quilts to order.

Partly for the reason that I wouldn't ever be able to charge what they really cost to make.

Mainly because I would become paranoid about having to make it perfect. I would be unpicking forever and not enjoy making it at all.

Robin (RsIslandCrafts) said...

I like Diane's formula also. Not only do you have to figure in batting and fabric but also thread and a new needle for your machine and any other expense you might have. I know we all under pay ourselves on the labor part though.

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Mike Pearson said...

Sew, how much did you charge? I'm in the same predicament. I just spent about 32 hours making a quilt. I live in the Northeast in an urban area, so the cost of materials and labor (cost of living) are much higher. I'm thinking of charging $20 per hour. That's way cheaper than skilled labor gets here. The quilt is 72 by 84, mostly half square triangles, a border and sashing, and a small amount of applique...