No Value Does Not Equal Free – Some Responses

Well, that last post kind of took off, didn’t it? In the last 24 hours since I posted TGIFF – No Value Does Not Equal Free, I’ve had over 7,000 views of my blog, and over 5,000 to that particular post. Not bragging, it’s just that I usually get about 400 page views per day. Um, just a slight increase! Thank you Sew Mama Sew for syndicating it on your Facebook page! Also, a huge thank you to everyone who read, liked, shared, or commented on this post!
Now, I have some responses to some of the commentary you’ve all left below. Remember, this is all just my opinion, but I have tried to put together valid arguments for these opinions. You have to do what is right for you, but don’t come crying to me when I sell quilt(s) for thousands of dollars (simply because I asked to be paid for what I was worth) and you realise you’re cheating yourself struggling to sell them for hundreds of dollars.
Location is everything.
I live in Sydney, Australia, an international, metropolitan city, which has a higher cost of living than Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (where I’m from, and could be Anytown, America). So everything costs more, from your salad sandwich to your house, to yes, even your quilt. You might want to make your own choices based on the standard cost of living in your area.
I’m not a seamstress.
I’ve come at this from an artist perspective. I am not a seamstress / sewist. I am an artist, that uses fabric to make three-dimensional and usable pieces of art. If you consider yourself to be a seamstress / sewist, you may need to adjust your hourly rate accordingly. Perhaps if you’re just following a pattern to the T, using a pre-cut fabric selection, and acting as just a person pushing the foot pedal, maybe you are a seamstress / sewist. I would argue that what I am doing is greater than that of a seamstress / sewist though. I’m making creative decisions to make unique pieces, and most of you probably are too! If a seamstress / sewist is making $18-22 / hour, shouldn’t we be asking for more than that?
Design concept fee is worth it.
The design concept fee is for the artistic/creative idea, the experience, the amount of time spent in my head curating (do I spend at least 8 hours on that, absolutely!) the project. I don’t just pick up some fabric and make a quilt. There’s a lot of pre-planning, research and development that goes into it. Even when the quilt is planned, and there is a block tutorial I am using, fabric planning, cutting strategy, and creative decisions throughout the process need to be considered. This is not part of the hourly wage, and I don’t think you should break it up like that. It is for the idea, and how you implement it. Plus, the concept fee is the same for every project, so I think more complicated creative projects would not get the full benefit of this cost. 
Profit is not double-dipping.
Your hourly wage is not your profit. Period. Hourly wage is what you get paid to do a job or produce an object. The product you’re selling then has a mark up after the costs of materials and production. Artists just happen to be completing both sides of the process. If you go to a department store and buy a quilt, someone was paid to design that quilt, another person was paid labour to make that quilt, and then the department store is making a profit on that quilt. Just as a head’s up, if you’ve worked on the inside of the retail world, you would know that typical markup for retail items is around the 250-300% of the total production cost of the item. 
My rate is not your rate.
Rate too low, too high? You have to make your own evaluation here. The point is you should have the confidence (without ego) to ask for what you feel you’re worth. If you are a beginner quilter and you can barely sew a straight line, maybe $30 / hour is too high. If you have 20 years experience, and are a quilting superstar maybe $30 / hour is too low. Charge what you like, but I think I have an artist experience and education to back it up. (Briefly, I graduated from the Ivy League (ranked number four in the USA the year I graduated) University of Pennsylvania with honours with a Bacherlor of Arts in Fine Arts, then, went to arguably the best university in Australia, the University of Sydney to complete my Master of Fine Arts). This is not an ego thing, just a point to say that I have a few degrees to back up what I do, and justify why I feel I can charge as much as I do. When I have more quilting experience, that $30 / hour will undoubtedly rise. This is the rate I’m comfortable with right now.
Scrappy charges.
Extra fabric: Okay, let’s completely break it down. I definitely used the majority of the fat quarter, (and some fabrics were WoF quarter yards, not fat quarters, so that changed the remaining scrap shapes). Yes, there are scraps left over, but to keep everyone happy about whether we should use them or not, we won’t use them.  But I would argue, if I am going out to buy fabric specifically for a particular project, I may or may not necessarily use them for another project.  So basically they could be a potential cost I just have to eat. But whatever, I’ll just consider the fabrics used. Loved the bucket of paint analogy from Serena though!
1 strip measures 2.5″ x 16″ 
6 strips per block
2.5″ times 16″ times 6 = 240 square inches per block
37 blocks (I made one test block not used, I actually made four but we’ll pretend I only made one) times 240 square inches = 8,880 square inches
8,880 square inches, divided by 42 width of fabric inches = 211.42857 fabric length in inches = 5.873 full yards of fabric used for the front of the quilt.
I may as well adjust the binding, which will take 0.625 yards, using 2.5″ wide WoF strips.
I also agree with several of your comments about the backing fabric should be costed at the non-sale price, but I wanted to try to figure out the actual cost of this quilt for me. So I’ll leave it as is.
Batting is included in my long arm quilting services cost. Anticipating approximately $175 for quilting, batting, and shipping.
I’ve updated my costing sheet (these changes dropped the price by ~$40) and will add it to the final post for this quilt. However, I’m still targeting this quilt to finish around the $1800.00 mark even with these alterations.
Molli Sparkles is a dude.
Oh, and I’m a guy, not a girl. Yeah, a guy who knows he’s sew worth it.

Sorry no pictures today. Come back tomorrow for Sunday Stash though!
Let’s keep the discussion going!

49 Responses

  1. The O's says:

    Ab-so-bloodin-lootly… agree agree agree.

  2. Auntie Pami says:

    I shared. People just don't understand the value. It's not a blanket.

  3. Liz says:

    Well you've hit the big time now! I'm fascinated that everyone's so fascinated. I did think everyone knew that quilts were worth a bazillion dollars and a VERY expensive hobby. But then my hourly rate at work would pretty much make your eyes bleed, so it seems a no brainer. (Not that my pay reflects this). Good on you for bringing it up though. I'm off to see what Crazy Mom charges, which will be fascinating. She's the big kahuna, after all.

    PS I love scrappy trip vomit and I'm proud of it. And low volume. But each to their own, right?! 🙂

  4. Katy Cameron says:

    Ha, yes, my costing one got a lot more hits than my usual 600 odd hits per day (it wasn't picked up by anyone though, I'm not famous lol), it's something that people are definitely nosey/opinionated about!

  5. giddy99 says:

    Too true! I just recently finished a toddler quilt (a gift for a cousin), and someone else (a random) told me I could probably make and sell those, and maybe even "get as much as $200 for one!" EGAD. I think I have $150 in the fabric, batting, and thread alone. It's a good thing I don't have laser vision, because I might have accidentally cut that person in half with my stare. 🙂

    • Sheryl says:

      I had exactly the same about a baby quilt from my aunt. I think, even outside of our time, most people just have no idea what fabric costs. Everyone's so used to cheap imports from inexpensive labour markets that paying for quality is not part of most people's mindsets.

    • Books_Bound says:

      They think they are paying you a compliment, not trying to say your work is worth nothing. Sheryl is right, if you're not into crafts or handmaking things, you have no starting place to think about how much something handmade costs. It's ignorance, not cruelty. They see a lovely quilt and are impressed you made it, and they think that saying you are good enough to be in the market place is a kind thing to say (which it is!)

      I'd either smile and say thank you, or politely educate them in short form about the cost. I wouldn't laser cut someone who was probably just trying to compliment me. 😉

    • Exactly! I have had this same experience. I need to practice my "elevator speech" to succinctly explain the cost of high-quality materials and labor involved… while thanking the speaker sincerely for the compliment.

  6. Agreed. Agreed. 100% agreed.

  7. Jenn says:

    You said it! Also being from BA, OK and still living in the area, my quilts sell for less, no biggie (but not too much, since fabric costs are lower). But like my husband said, " You'll get paid what you ask."

  8. Bethany says:

    There is a quilter in the Milwaukee, WI area, Bruce Seeds, who makes one type of quilt, but does it beautifully. When he first started marketing his quilts (they're big like 102" x 102") his prices were in the $7,000-8,500 range. They weren't selling. So he brought in a quilt appraiser, and the prices dropped to $2,500-4,000 range and they started selling. Fast forward to a feature segment on Nancy Zieman's "Sewing with Nancy" a couple of really good juried shows and exposure in the form of purchases by a hospital that used the quilt as art in a public space, and the prices are now moving back to the range he originally started at. So, you charge what you charge!

  9. Julie says:

    I saw Sam's button and had to come over. Have you ever read her blog post on the same thing?

  10. Flo says:

    Agree 100%! Unless your a quilter, the average person doesn't understand the cost of making a quilt!

  11. I wholeheartedly agree with you. My actual practice doesn't reflect this philosophy. I have made very few quilts for friends. I generally charged an $10 hourly wage and no profit. Fabric bought on sale, usually at a box fabric store instead of a quilt store, with coupons. I thought I was gifting them a quilt, pretty much selling it at cost (or lower). Even at that, people were balking at the price! I think I need richer friends.

  12. I think the big problem is that the stores can buy their fabric and materials at wholesale, and we buy at retail. I am trying to think of quilting more like a handyman, paying full price for material and charging for the labor, but you're right, the profit and design must be charged on top of that.

  13. pennydog says:

    I've gently nudged someone quite well known in the community about her prices very recently and she did not agree, and thinks pricing should be what people can afford to pay rather than what it's actually worth. I was a bit disappointed to be honest as someone like her is quite influential and not many people would feel their work is better than hers and so therefore wouldn't dare charge more…

  14. Anne says:

    Man, I leave for a day and you blow the flippin' roof off! Seriously, I'm so happy you brought this to the forefront again. There was a post a while ago about the $600 baby quilt, and it aligns pretty well with what you're saying here. I think artists in general tend to undercharge, unless they're famous and can "get away with it." Much food for thought, thank you. 🙂

  15. Thank you for sharing both your quilt and the costing idea behind it. I agree with your costs, even more if you see it as PURE ART. Just love the white on white, as a beginner quilter ( just one done) I have already planned a Black and white one seen many ideas using one colour that I would love to complete.
    Good on You.

  16. My sister pays 150 for a twin sized quilt in the usa

  17. I totally disagree with you adjusting your fabric usage. Especially as I didn't see your cost for thread. You also certainly do not get your sewing machine, needles, rotary cutter, rotary cutter blades, self-healing mats, seam rippers, iron, etc. etc. for free, nor is the wear and tear on those items (or yearly maintenance costs on the sewing machine). The fact that you may end up with *gasp* an extra yard of material left over wouldn't even begin to cover the costs of use on the necessary tools you must have to do this job.

    By the way, I totally love you for these posts. You ARE sew worth it! <3

  18. Erica says:

    While I agree that people don't value quilts and we sometimes don't realize the true cost or value of the things that we create, I have a hard time thinking about quilting in monetary terms. I don't work outside the home, I take care of my kids during the daytime, so even though quilting is technically "work" it almost never feels like work to me. It is a relief to create a quilt. I don't think that process can be monetized; in that sense I think that quilts have infinite worth, which is part of the reason it is so difficult to assign a value to a quilt.

    I have only sold a couple quilts, and those were probably worth more money than what I charged, but selling quilts has been more of a way to find my quilts a home and recoup the materials cost than to make a profit. Most of my quilts have been given out as gifts to friends or family or donated and I hate to think that their is a monetary value to that gift. It is a gift and an expression of love.

    I don't disagree with your math and of course you are totally worth it!

  19. Heather says:

    Hi Molli,

    I intended to respond to your original post but took so long formulating my response that you already have a response to the responses! I would like to push back on some of the points you make in this post.

    First, the design fee. I totally agree that designing a quilt can take many hours of careful thought and consideration. However, I think the fee should not be a flat rate but should vary based on how complex the design is and how much time you put into it. A very detailed applique design or something personalized from a photograph takes much longer to create than choosing an existing pattern. If you think of it as a standalone step: how much would you be willing to pay for a quilt pattern and fabric selection that is perfect for you? The most expensive applique patterns I have seen online are in the $100 range. I would definitely pay $250 for the right pattern and design, but there are many patterns that I would not be willing to pay $250 for.

    I also wanted to comment on your hourly rate. I also have BS and MS degrees, but still can't get more than $20/hr in my field, at my current skill levels. A degree in fine arts does not automatically port over to mastery in quilting. You argue that you do much more than a seamstress but I would push back on that a bit. Your artistic talents are being accounted for in the design fee – that it the portion where you, as an artist, are taking the time to carefully think through the quilt design and create a real work of art. The actual assembly is indeed just sewing. This pattern in particular does not require a lot of specialized sewing or quilting experience, and I think it's a little unfair that you are charging such specialized rates for it. On a side note, I would be curious to see if you can poll longarm quilters to find out what hourly rates they charge as well. I suspect all longarm quilters severely unervalue themselves.

    I'm sure many will disagree with my assessment but I thank you for being open to comments and starting the conversation.

    • Hey Heather –

      Soooo… you're the first person I've responded to out of all of these comments. It's kind of daunting to know where to even begin, but I might as well start with yours, because I think you have raised some very valid arguments, that I disagree with. 🙂

      I do agree with you that the design fee could be variable. If I design a pillow, I don't think it is fair that it have the same design fee as a king size paper pieced quilt. Nor would I want the design fee to out weigh the total cost of the project either! And I hear you about the complexity of a project, specifically the artistry of appliqué. Additionally, if I made a second quilt exactly the same as the first, I would have a hard time charging the same, or any design fee. All that being said, $250 was a monetary value I felt comfortable with for this idea, and a value at this stage I would feel comfortable applying to the quilts I have in my head. Do bear in mind that this charge is less about a quilt pattern (as I make no claim to have created this pattern), and more about the creative decisions on how that quilt pattern is utilised. (As well as time spent finding fabric, drawing out my designs in sketch books, doing quilty math, etc). So yes, I agree, this fee could be scalable, depending on the project–it's just that all of my projects currently are for me in the same calibre.

      Secondly, I realise that a degree does not guarantee any wage, of course. But it can give you the legs to stand on to compete against your peers. However, I do believe experience and qualifications will always win out (or they should, anyway!) With regards to the actual wage, let me present this to you: in Sydney, the minimum wage for a retail job is about $19 / hour. The minimum wage for a carpenter, plumber, painter working during the day is $60/hour. The median salary in Australia in 2011 was $29.05 / hour. Being American, I fully understand the minimum wage in the US is much lower than this. With all of those facts in mind, I have to charge what I feel is relevant to my location, and to other people in the work force in my location. As I stated before, my rate, is not your rate, but I feel completely comfortable with $30 / hour.

      I find it interesting that you kind of belittle the design fee in your first paragraph, but then expect me to see that my "artistic talents are being accounted for in the design fee." You're kind of stripping artist's compensation from both areas. And I would completely disagree with you that "the assembly is indeed just sewing." Really? Would you expect the same level of output from Mr. Sparkles who has never sewn before? From my Grandma who has sewn for 30 years? I'd hope not! Sewing is a skill, and you do a disservice to the whole community with that word, "just." I do agree, it is not a complex pattern, but I'd love for you to inspect my quilt to see how many seams are misaligned. You'll have to take my word for it and believe that it is not very many. Again I'll say, I don't feel I'm charging rates that are specialised, or even nearly where they could begin to go.

      Agreed, like most creatives, long arm quilters severely undervalue themselves.

      Just to be clear, I write this from a place of love, support and respect for your opinion. What a boring place it would be if we all agreed with each other!

  20. Thank you again for both posts! It was quite timely for me as I was asked today to replace the binding on a blanket. My customer assumed I would charge around $30.00, be we know that it a ridiculously low fee. They have no idea that the binding (which is over-sized) has to be cut, pieced and ironed. I politely told him that I charge by the hour (and quoted my hourly rate) and that I would let him know the total cost when done.

    Before I read your article, I was low balling my valuable time…which was eating into my profit! Thank you!

  21. I love you Mr. Sparkles commentary! Hilarious!

  22. mumasu says:

    Hi Josh, I'm a regular reader living in the UK and a woman, bird, lady, chic, call me what you like so long as it's not …!!

    Your last point is one the massive elephants in the room as far as these posts are concerned. As a man you actually value yourself, your time and your abilities in a totally different way to many women. I think men have more confidence in what they do and do not have (and nor should they) any problem in charging what they feel an appropriate amount for what they create.

    ALL people should have this confidence but unfortunately a lot do not and I think especially this is prevalent in an older demographic. I have three sons and a daughter and they are teenagers and looking at them and their friends this certainly seems to be changing but this is a cultural thing and will take a good few years yet.

    Two BRILLIANT posts, you've certainly got conversation going!!

    • Gwendellyn says:

      I think you've said one of the major things that's been bothering me, here. There are a lot of gender issues at play, and as a male voice in a predominantly female world, I don't know that's it's fair that you say this with an air of confidence, as if we are in your position.

      A lot of quilters who sell their quilts do it to support their family, as an additional income; they're not looking to build a standalone business and can't afford sit on a high horse of advanced art education because what they created was "three dimensional art" (there are so many reasons that statement is completely false but I can't even go into that here); they need a seller so they can help out their family. Or maybe they're doing a commission, but it's for a friend, and they want to charge a price their friend can afford, and so they'll recoup some of their cash, but it's not important to them to keep all of it. Or maybe people say things like "to all of the scrap-vomit, (and let's just be perfectly honest, fugly) versions of the Trip Around the World quilts that hit the Interwebs last year. Whoa! […] I'm just saying, some of them kind of hurt my eyes"; and then some quilters out there feel that what they're creating is no longer worth your $30/hour idealistic fee.

      Or, like mumasu correctly comments below: you can label yourself an artist. A woman doing the same job, I will tell you 90%+ part of the time, will be called a seamstress no matter how she chooses to label herself. I feel so uncomfortable with you making a massive profit off of a lifetime of work done by these seamstresses. Why do you look down on that word as a label? You say that sewing is a skill, but then look down on someone saying "just" sewing. Yes, you are just sewing. You are solely doing the action of sewing. That commenter wasn't saying that the act of sewing wasn't skillful (as a person who sews themselves, why would they?) but rather than you are only utilizing a single skill when you are sitting a sewing machine, and sewing a seam. Yes, in that instance, you are "just" sewing. You're not an artist when you're at your machine, you're a seamstress. Deal with it.

      And, to keep going on your profiting off of the years of woman's work, I find it so insulting your comments on the "scrap vomit" trip alongs (and, honestly, I'd feel this way regardless of whether or not I just started one that is quickly becoming my favorite thing I've ever created: here, feel free to burn your eyes!); because if you appreciated anything about the tradition of quilting and the seamstresses that handed this tradition down and made it into the trade that you are able to enjoy today, you would be able to at least appreciate a scrap quilt for what it is, if not what it looks like. Traditional quilts were so scrappy because of the amount of money fabric cost – they'd use clothing scraps, or save up for fabric and use it as sparingly as possible because it was precious. Vintage quilts that you see using only one or two colors are first off, more rare the older they are, and secondly, a sign that it was a prized possession. Being able to buy and use that much fabric for a single item was a luxury! By saying that only perfectly coordinated quilts suit your delicate sensibility, you're basically eschewing the traditions of quilting, and flaunting your priviledge like that is really embarrassing. I feel such a connection and passion for this topic because I was unemployed when I started quilting, and couldn't afford more than a few scraps at a time. When I started, I wasn't sure on the aesthetic of scrappyness, I wasn't into it, but when I learned about the origins of quilting and realizing that I was in the position that my own ancestors were in a few hundred years ago, I learned how important it is to keep traditions like that alive.

    • Gwendellyn says:

      And, I mean, not only just talking about how insensitive to scrappy quilting that remark was, but how insulting to the people making these quilts. I've always felt that this community is so supportive, and I saw someone whose blog I follow mention that when they first started, they thought that everything was sugar-coated, that they didn't know why people didn't point out when there were flaws in what someone made. Here's the answer: who cares. You didn't make it, and if you did, would you want to read someone out there off-handedly call it "fugly"? Really? I mean, insulting in such a childish way, too. Your whole attitude about this is decidedly obnoxious.

      I'm also saddened to see that you didn't make this quilt for someone purely out of financial reasons. Quilting to me, as I have seen it over the internet, and the way that I'm experiencing it, is such a giving and generous craft. I want to make things for people. I love it, even at a financial burden. Even if I didn't "make" as much as I thought I should. It's worth it to share, to love, to give.

      I haven't even gone into your flawed pricing model. Your design fee, as a commenter above noted, is in indeed where you charge for your artistry etc. I think she meant to say that either you should decrease your design fee (or have it a sliding scale on par with how designed the quilt was – for instance, did you design the pattern, pay for the pattern, or was it a free tutorial posted online?) or you should charge more for your hourly rate to compensate. Not both.

      I'm also COMPLETELY baffled as to why you've decided to give your own quilt a mark-up. Do you know why mark-up exists…? It exists in the retail world to make middlemen money. Buyers buy from suppliers who sell it to retailers. Buyers mark-up product so they make a profit off suppliers. Retailers mark-up that product again, so they make more of a profit than the buyers. Both buyer and retailer acknowledge that they could sell their product for what the supplier sold it at and still make a profit, but they mark-up along the way because first – it is beneficial for both buyers & retailers, since they both need each other, and second – because of rising overhead costs. Suppliers have minimal storefronts, if any, buyers sell exclusively, retailers are open to the public. There is a reason for some cost increase along the way; however the retail world is vastly overpriced in so many ways, why on earth would you build your personal model on that example? Are you your own buyer and retailer and you're paying yourself for your services…? Do you have more overhead when you're the one selling your quilt than when you were the one making it?

      Your wage is your profit. Your wage is what you're being paid for the labor you are doing. If you're not making money by charging your customer cost of supplies + a wage, you are doing something very very wrong. What I tend to do when I sell things is keep track of cost of supplies, then add a profit margin to that – the amount I believe I should be paid for the work that I did. I believe that my workpace is not "hourly" therefore it is unfair to charge "hourly" rates. Not everything fits into a retail model, especially a small business like this one of crafting and creating.

  23. mumasu says:

    P.S It also occurs to me that many people may feel happier to pay more for a work of art made by a man than a "craft" item made by a woman. I think you hit nail on the head with the word "seamstress" there.

  24. Emma says:

    Well done on being able to accurately account for your time! I always start with good intentions to keep track, but always end up having to estimate how long I spent on each stage. I think your list is remarkably thorough and is an excellent demonstration of the cost of a quilt. Even so, I think in many cases the total would still be below what the quilt is really worth. I cringe now at what I used to charge for quilts, and even now I know my customers are still getting an absolute bargain, whatever they may think. But these days, I state my price, and that's that – sometimes it results in a sale or commission and if not, that's their loss. Somehow, peoples' admiration of quilts doesn't automatically translate into an appreciation of the time, costs and skill required to create my works of art. Unfortunately there are also a lot of quilts on the market of poor quality design and workmanship which make it even harder. And sadly, it's not just non-quilters (who may be permitted some lee-way for ignorance) who don't understand.

  25. Nony says:

    People seem very up in arms about the $30/- hour rate! I have to say, reading over, that people seem to be equating the sewing hours with any sort of manufacturing position or other casual job per hour. Perhaps, if you were making one or two quilts all the same, all the time, this would be valid. However, what you're doing is creating bespoke and original pieces, and the cost per hour on artisanship like that is very different. Anybody who has had a wedding dress or other garment made, can tell you that dressmakers and seamstresses can, depending on experience, range from the $35 to $80/hour mark here in Australia. To me, the rate p/h seemed completely reasonable.

    The questions I have are in regards to your 'design fee' component – and not specifically to do with the price on it! It raises two separate issues for me.

    1) Have you considered how much your design will be influenced by the collaboration with the long arm quilter? In 'sub contracting' the quilting part of the design, do you have a plan in mind? Is there information you pass onto her that means the quilt design is still primarily 'yours,' or is it more of an author/illustrator relationship where the interpretations may be different and the collaborative piece 'belongs' to both of you? Would how much you extending the design into the quilting impact your design fee?

    2) Do you feel that there is anything owed to the person who came up with the initial pattern? While obviously you interpret this pattern in your own, unique way, do you feel you need to credit her? Some of the comments I think are a response to the fact that your 'design fee' doesn't acknowledge that primarily it has been reimagining and reinterpreting a pattern. Would your design fee alter significantly if the pattern were completely original, or is the process of developing that a cost you wear?

    To me, it seems as though the 'design fee' is to cover the process of fitting the pattern (be it yours or somebody else's) to the client, and adapting to work within their brief and scope, and that makes sense to me. I feel like some of the comments are perhaps a little bit more to do with the phrasing of that or a misinterpretation of what you are doing during this 'design process.'

    In regards to the 'scraps' cost – I feel like the simplest solution to this is to take the genuinely useable scraps, approximate a meterage of what remains, and then perhaps offer the purchaser that they be included, or keep them for yourself and deduct that cost at an average cost/metre.

    My one other comment is regarding the postage. It might not be for you, but I would probably work out all the postage, divide it between yards ordered, and add that price per yard to your 'average' fabric cost. This way you don't short change yourself on post, and it would tidy up a part of the costing sheet that may cause questions.

    Thanks so much for your great posts on this and for being so up front about your own worth – we are often trained not to be, so it's important and refreshing to see it. And sorry for the enormously long-winded comment! :^)

  26. Am L says:

    Wow, you've definitely rocked a boat. I think it's great. You are totally correct, and I was wrong when I commented about the profit line in your first post. I have lived and worked in high tech too long, and was thinking purely from a service viewpoint, rather than a product/art viewpoint. As far as a rate goes, I agree that you should always charge what your experience, education and market will bear. Living in Silicon Valley, I charge a fairly high hourly rate for my profession (not quilting), but I know if I lived elsewhere in the US, I could barely get 1/2 of what I charge here. However, my experience, accuracy, and efficiency make it a reasonable rate for my clients in this market.

    About a year ago, another ballet mom learned I make quilts and said she should hire me to make her daughter a t-shirt quilt. I laughed and said she couldn't afford me, but I could ask around. I knew I would have charged at least $30-35/hour, plus materials to make it even remotely worth my time, and that would make for a fairly expensive quilt. I never sell my quilts, and only make them for gifts.

    I completely support your design fee. I don't know how other people start their quilts, but even if I have a pattern to start with, I spend several hours sketching, color/pattern/values planning, and calculating how much fabric to purchase based on my final draft. Unless the quilt I am making came from sudden inspiration from a particular fabric, I often spend several days just letting the project ruminate until I know exactly where I want to go.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  27. Sooli says:

    Well Miss Molli, I've been missing in action for a couple of weeks and you have set the quilt blog land alight! I love that you've got everyone talking on this subject, whatever the opinion. Open discussion is always worth having, even if everyone ends up agreeing to disagree.

    I've always had a bit of an issue with the word 'craft' as opposed to 'art' with quilting as it immediately drops the value placed on the work. Personally I haven't sold any of my quilts but I know that if I do one day I'll be making sure I get what I'm worth or I won't be selling!

  28. Serena says:

    Good responses. And I'd like to mention that I changed my mind on the hourly wage + profit issue. Yes, you can add a profit on top of everything else! Glad you liked the paint analogy!

  29. SIMPLESEW says:

    Mollie, your saying your a Gay man with an opinion.. in a Womans craft? So you use drama to approach this. One time I went to buy a Quilt at a Quilt store for a dying woman and the F ing snob at the registered told me I couldnt afford them. She didnt have to say that, just answer my question, cost wasnt a factor, Us Woman can be so rude at times thats why integrating is so good. My major craft is Cross stitching and the men that work among us arent Gay and what beautiful work but the mediums used is easier to put a cost on. I agree with Both of you, but love the theory if you cant say something nice dont say it at all…. I have to remember that everyday as I look at what I think is fugley.

  30. To the women here that think that only men can get away with charging these sorts of prices, when you begin to see yourself as the CEO of your brand then you will see that you are indeed worth the $$$.

  31. A list of books to read for the women here, it's all about mindset and recognizing that you are the CEO of your Brand (insert studio, shop, etc., here)
    Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
    Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
    The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth
    Wild Money by Luna Jaffe
    Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup
    The Power of Unpopular by Erika Napoletano

  32. NanaSusie says:

    I notice that everyone (I think) here is talking about hand piecing, hand quilting, etc. I'll add my 2 cents worth from another perspective. My precious Mother who moved to her heavenly home 6 years ago made many beautiful hand-EVERYTHING quilts in her lifetime and she did her best to teach me that art. It didn't work. My stitches were horrid!! Fast forward to 3 years ago. I began doing machine embroidery and learned how to piece my quilt tops and quilt/embroider my quilt sandwich with my 6-needle embroidery machine. When visiting with other quilters, I am most often 'looked down at' because I take "the easy way out." Oh no, you DIDN'T just say that, too, did you??? I spend just as many hours, if not more, in the creative process. I spend HOURS on my computer manipulating patterns and designs so that when I finally get to go to my embroidery machine and actually sew, I'm already exhausted! And of course I also have to shop for fabrics, threads, batting, etc., etc. All of that said, I appreciate the whole I'm $EW Worth It concept and campaign to educate the public on pricing of handmade items. I've done craft shows for more than 20 years and I really believe much of the valuation problem comes from that venue over the years. Most crafters with whom I came in contact during that time did not charge a labor fee period. Their thought process was "well, I was gonna be doing something while Pa and I watched the television at night so I just crocheted, knitted, quilted to pass the time," and never expected to get anything back for those hours.

    I'm glad the tides are turning…for all of us. THANK YOU for the example and for the template!! And if I ever run into any of you hand quilters, please don't look down at me as one who cheats or is less than because of the way I choose to create my quilts. Like you, Molli, I feel I'm earning my stripes in this relatively new area to me but I've been creating unique artistry for most of my 58 years on this planet and I bring all that with me into my current endeavor of making beautiful quilts.

    Thanks for letting me join in the conversation…and vent a little. 😉

    Susie K Williams
    That's SEW Nana
    Hot Springs, AR, USA

  33. Paul Burega says:

    We unfortunately now live in a global world. In the USA, you can pick up a fugly handmade in China quilt for $39 – bed sized, and upon inspection it isn't worth that much money based on the poor quality. But people buy them. So you then face an uphill battle when trying to apply local wages to a product that people have seen made in 3rd world sweat shops. My mother used to complain that the hand crocheted table cloth she was working on cost her more in thread than she could buy a ready made one from the 3rd world in the store. But she still made it for herself.

    Yes, you are sew worth it. And if you can get the money, go for it.

  34. Shefire says:

    I love the concept fee! Never thought of that, plus the profit margin. Great information, THANK YOU!

  35. Aloha, Jo says:

    Sew late to the party!
    In the early 80s hubby and I made a 'baby' sized log cabin from yellow and purple scraps given to us. We showed it to the owner of the LQS who promptly offered to buy it – wonderful use of colors most of her customers shied away from! she said. We proudly accepted her check for $75.00, then crumpled when she told us that we had just undersold ourselves! Lesson learned.
    Flash forward 20+ years to a workmate asking me if hubby could make some Hawaiian appliqué style pillows for her – she was certain that he would ask less than Costco's made in Thailand/Philippines/China versions. Imagine her surprise when I told her his quilts of similar size had been appraised in $450 -$500 range for artist replacement value making cost to customer in the $800-$1000 range depending on pattern!

  36. Jess says:

    I’m very late to the party, but I feel like I just have to share a couple of my own opinions on this. First, if anyone, woman or man is willing to be paid less, they will be. In response to one post that stated that “your wage is your profit”. Oh Hell NO! A wage is what you would have to pay someone, whether that be yourself or someone else to do a job. Profit is what you have left after ALL the overhead including wages, materials, insurance, retirement, healthcare costs, and the list goes on. I don’t care what business someone is in, the profit is what is left for the business to grow on, or be put away for the future, most certainly NOT what you pay yourself.
    As far as it being a gender thing, phooey! When a woman owns her own business She is just as much in charge & responsible for getting paid the wage that She would like to get paid, as any man. If She chooses not to charge what she is worth that is her own concern / problem. I like the plumber analogy. A seamstress has a set of skills and is a trade that can be considered equivalent to a plumber, not even addressing the creative artistic skills required when we start looking at the creation as textile art. As a woman, I am tired of women playing the “women don’t get paid the same as men”, card. This is br it, then charge more. The reason that they are getting paid less is because they allow it. When I quote a job designing artwork, patterns, etc I state my labor rate, just like any tradesman and that’s what it is (btw $80/hour) There’s no negotiation, people can take it or leave it. If I do it, I will do a really good job and in the end it might actually end up costing less to have me do it than some on that charges less because it may take me a shorter amount of time. The way I look at it, I’ve honed my craft, spent plenty on education, equipment, software, etc and I’m just not going to settle for less than I’m worth. With that being said, $80/hour is not all profit, not all my personal wage, there’s overhead involved. I am the sole breadwinner for our family and have been for a while. Maybe that’s what makes me know that I HAVE to charge what I’m worth. My family is depending on me to do it. I realize that not everyone feels like they can charge Do I enjoy my job? Yes, and that doesn’t mean that I should be paid less to do it either. Molli, bottom line, materials cost what they cost, if you want to charge $30/hour then go for it, if you wanted to charge $100/hour then you can do so. No one has the right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t charge.

    • Jess says:

      Sorry, hit send mid sentence. I do realize that some people can’t charge as much as others, but they should still charge enough to pay themselves, pay overhead, and still have profit.

  37. Karen Poole says:

    I hope you get my comment, I know this post is a few years old but I just found it today. I’m really glad you posted this blog and the spreadsheets, I’ve never sold a quilt mainly because I had no idea how to price them! I’m pretty good with crunching numbers and statistics and now having the spreadsheet and areas to charge for putting a formula to pricing is easy. And I agree, too many people under charge for their work. Many years ago I made an original design quilt (wall hanging size- small wall hanging). Her boss saw it and wanted to commission me to make a large size quilt for her copying the design of the quilt for my sister, but changing the main theme from dogs to cats. After thinking about it for a long time I decided I didn’t want to do it because that quilt was designed specifically for my sister and a lot of thought and love went into it for HER. I didn’t want to take this one of a kind quilt and reproduce it for someone else no matter what she wanted to pay for it!! My sister did tell me the women was wealthy and said price was no problem!! But even if I had made it I wouldn’t have known how to price it!

  38. Karen Poole says:

    Oops- my brain was going faster then my fingers!! The original design quilt was for my older sister as a Christmas gift.

  1. September 7, 2017

    […] 23 November, 2013 – No Value Does Not Equal Free – Some Responses […]

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