How to Price Your Quilts – Part Three

by Charlotte Colmon

Over and over, I receive questions about pricing your quilting. This is probably the area where most quilting businesses either “get it” and make a good profit, or they tend to underprice feeling that people will not pay top dollar for quality products.

I recently received another question about pricing, and here’s my answer.

Hi Chuck,

I have a “budding” home business making custom quilts. Over the years, I have done a lot of quilts for family and friends for different occasions – new baby, new home, anniversaries, etc. Now that I’m starting to get more word-of-mouth orders, I need to figure out what to charge for my work. People are always asking me for quick quotes to give their friends. For example, “what would you charge for a 4 x 6 wall hanging?”

There are so many variables to consider besides the size, I’m not sure how to create a quick formula for pricing. Some of the things that would increase the costs are as follows:

1. If there will be a lot of hand stitching vs. machine stitching

2. If the person wants me to use their own material, such as T-shirts or baby clothes, or photo transfers. These things are harder to work with plus they have sentimental value for the person (so it adds stress for me, not to screw anything up!)

3. If I need to come up with a unique one-of-a-kind design vs. a more traditional pattern

4. If the customer has very specific expectations, or wants to be really involved with the design. This could require me to submit design proposals and revisions. (Yes, I have had people do this).

I don’t want to put off potential customers, so I need some basic rules about pricing. Is there some kind of standard that most quilters follow? Do people charge by the hour for their efforts. And if so, what do quilters make per hour?


Thanks so much for your help,
:) K

Hello Kate, Pricing is a very difficult proposition, especially if you are talking about custom quilts. I have written a couple of basic articles on quilt pricing that are posted on my web site:

With custom quilting, pricing becomes an even more difficult task since you have so many variables involved (as you said in your question).

What it all boils down to, though, is how much you would like to make and how much the market is willing to bear. The biggest problem that most quilters have is that they charge too little. And I think that most of this stems from having to compete with manufactured quilts from overseas.

But, the real problem is that they haven’t created enough of a value proposition around their quilts. If your quilts are far superior to these cheap manufactured quilts, you need to do everything in your power to make sure that potential customers know this. If you can talk in detail
about the care that goes into selecting the right fabrics, threads, etc., and also the special techniques that you employ to ensure the durability and uniqueness of the finished product, people will listen.

With your custom quilting, the very first thing you should do is sit the potential customer down and really go through the entire process of how you make a custom quilt. Really stress how much work and care go into making each and every one of your custom quilts. Make
sure they fully understand the process.

Then, and only then, will you start to discuss their needs. And as you help them figure out what they really want, reinforce your discussion by bringing up some of the points from the earlier discussion. If you can make them understand how much work is involved, you can dramatically increase the perceived value of your custom quilt work.

This will allow you to charge more, and will also make it easier for the customer to point to their special quilt and recommend you to their friends and family. You win on the immediate sale and increase the chances of referrals from satisfied customers. Customers who paid more!

Good luck with your new venture,

Chuck

NOTE: Do you have any questions about a starting, running, or marketing a quilting business? If so, please let me know and I will try to write an article that addresses your specific questions. Just send me an email at:

chuck@quiltingbusiness.com

Chuck Smith is the owner of QuiltingBusiness.com, the web’s only site dedicated to helping you make money with your quilting. Visit QuiltingBusiness.com today to sign up for the FREE email mini-course: “7 Unique Ways to Make Money with Your Quilting.”


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Related posts:

  1. Selling Your Quilts on eBay
  2. Quilt Show Tips – Displaying Your Quilts
  3. Part-Time Quilting Business Advice
  4. Photographing Your Quilts
  5. Pricing Quilts

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran Gurka from Knob Noster MO November 25, 2007 at 7:00 pm

I have met people that want a quilt made for them, with personnel requirements. I have givent them a price from high to low, I explain, the cost of the materials, the time spent designing the quilt, or if a quilt block pattern is used, the layout of the pattern and materials, shopping for the materials and then putting the quilt together. I do provide in detail the cost of materials, number of hours spent cutting sewing and quilting and time for desing or layouts. What do you do if they baulk at your cost? They seem to always figure the low figure is their cost. They do not hear about all the expenses that are involved. Then they say, “I can get his quilt at Wal Mart or Targe really cheep.” I have a machine quilting business and I am always explaining why the quilting is so expensive. We usually charge between .01 cent per sq inch to 2.25 cents per sq inch. In my area this is about what the other machine quilters are changing. How do you explain the actual time and work that goes into the quilting, these figures are not high.
I can go on about his for ever. I do not understand people that want a quilt but do not want to pay what it is worth. I know they would want their time paid for. What do you say?

Thanks

Fran from Knob Noster MO

Don December 7, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Fran, what kind of quilt do you only charge a hundredth of a cent for? It costs more than that to put it on the machine!

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