Monday, March 25, 2013

What's a Quilt Worth?


Recently, both the Liberated Quilting message board and facebook have had entries about our quilts being undervalued by others.

The question was raised as to just how much should we see a quilt as being worth.....whether it is to sell to a friend, to a stranger, or to donate to an auction for a charitable cause.

Personally, I have donated several quilts to auctions and been dismayed by how little they brought in for time and value of materials involved.

Many of us have used the old crafting adage of double your materials cost for materials..but those numbers are sadly out of date in today's craft material's market.

With quilting fabric going for $10-$12/yard and estimated yardage..whether in total fabric used by yard....or total fabric used by scraps. The cost of the fabric remains the same. Somewhere along the way you paid exactly the same amount of money per yard before, and after, cutting it up. So, scraps are still valuable when put into a quilt.

Add in your actual design time, cutting time, auditioning and placement time, and then sewing, sandwiching and quilting..and it adds up in a hurry!

A great article at Hunter's Design Studio by Sam Hunter who calls herself  ' a fabric girl with an MFA in Fibers' wrote in response to some one else's quilt in question..a small baby quilt made with a purchased panel and simple borders.

"So the way I tackle this is to state the gist of my calculations to the person that offers me a department store sale price for my work. I state the price, and then I educate them on what it takes to
make a good quilt. The fabric quality. The time. The years I’ve spent honing my craft.

I point out that I don’t work for minimum wage as this is much harder than “do you want fries with that?” Then I re-state the price. I own it.
Most of the time they don’t buy, but that’s OK (and if I absolutely want them to have the quilt I give it to them for free). I won’t sell it for less because I feel so very strongly that to sell low is to continue the myth that our work has little value. Either I get what I’m worth or it’s a precious gift. I’m taking a stand for the team, OUR TEAM. Every time we let hours of work out of the house for $5 an hour and free materials without the educational part of the discussion we are letting down the team."

Sam's estimate based on a system involving, for one thing, how to estimate the costs involved in more complicated scrap quilts using small pieces of scraps not your own cut up yardage calculates the total area of the quilt top (let’s say it’s 48″ x 60 for a generous lap quilt), and then multiply it by 3 for a simple quilt, and 4 or more for a more complex one – then divide it by 1440, the area of a yard of 40″ fabric. This includes hidden seam allowances, binding, and backing So for this simple lap quit: 48 x 60 = 2880, 2880 x 3 = 8640, and 8640 / 1440 = 6. So 6 yards at $12 a yard is $72 for materials.

By the time Sam finished adding in all materials at cost, and a labor charge, she came up with $400 as her estimate of cost/value of that small, premade panel baby quilt with simple border

Now, would you pay $400 for a small panel baby quilt? I rather doubt it, and so does she. So, obviously there are other factors involved....skill, difficulty etc.

But all I know, is that I'd rather give my  baby, lap, and bed quilts away then face having to state a high fee for what my quilt ..really and truly...might be worth.  I've and given away ..several simple panel quilts...I can't even imagine trying to sell them. I loved them both as did their recipients. But! they're still pretty tied but with a ruffle, one super machine quilted in a lot of ruffle.

How about you? Ever sold a quilt? What size and for how much?

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska and all of her AAQI Quilting. Sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join in the Liberated Quilting Challenge and make or donate small art quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) Help us change the world, one little quilt at a time!