Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Modern Madness

It beckons a few questions...

  • What is a good size? This flimsy is 53" x 66" and seems big for a lap quilt, but anything smaller seems like it may be too small to adequately wrap up in on a chilly night.
  • Picnic or beach quilt? Does anybody use these? I have been to the beach 6-8 times this summer and my 40"x70" 40 year old quilt is just too small once there are 1-2 kids on it. It hasn't got adequate weight to keep it down in the slightest amount of breeze either. I have some great "beachy" prints and want to make some quilts with them (plus all of these type prints are going on good sales this time of year too).

Some further thoughts...

  • If you saw a quilt to purchase which you liked, would you be more likely to want a twin bed size, even if the intended use was a beach/picnic or lap quilt OR would you select the Lap quilt size? I know, I know...all my readers would just make the quilt themselves, but let's think hypothetically...
  • How does a quilter make any money on making quilts versus just quilting them (not like I really want to make much money!!)...The average price on Etsy of a lap quilt ranges between about $125 to $170. I spent 5 hours piecing that top shown above and it is only a disappearing 9-patch design (ie., not too complicated). A quilt that size requires just under 4 yards for the top, about three for the back and another bit for the binding, probably $10 in batting and a little for thread. At the average price of $7-9 per yard for fabric, materials alone are close to $75! Now I can get name brand fabrics for $3-4 per yard at a couple of places, but they are not always predictable in their stock, and are often not this season's patterns. None the less, I can probably drop that price to about $55 with selective shopping. If I say that it would take me 4 hours to simply quilt and hand bind the lap quilt, and the 5 hours already spent, I might make a slave or peasant's pay of about $10 per hour on the quilt. Is this worth it?? or am I just plain nuts.
  • With multiple degrees in mechanical engineering, why would I ever aspire to only make $10/hour?? Well, I don't. I hope to make some quilt tops, use these as a tool to gain experience on the new LA, and use this as the catalyst for a "life change" (AKA new career, new calling, etc). I still teach part-time at a college (again at the pay of a peasant) and plan to continue this even if the quilting gig pans out, but with my youngest child just 2 years from starting kindergarten, I want a home-based profession, which still allows me to eat, breath and absorb fabrics, and hopefully make enough $$ to stay afloat given the rising cost of materials!

I have decided that I have made my quota of Project Linus quilts for the year. I have 51 ready to deliver in 3 weeks. I have another top which lacks only 1 pink & orange block (in the mail I think) to being complete, but I have run out of batting and don't know if I want to order another 40 yard bolt right now. Sigh...I have used 80 yards of batting since last November - Amazing!

So, with my scraps of novelties dwindling, I am changing gears a little. I am focusing on making up a few larger quilt tops, perhaps like the one shown above, that I can quilt when I get my long arm. That I hope will be in 1-2 months. I spent 2 hours quilting on one last weekend, and think I am ready. There are a few business issues to also sort out first. With all of that, does anyone have any thoughts on quilt designs, fabrics, etc that they like to see? I often make quilts custom for each person, rather than making them up speculatively. So, I really want to make a few tops that will have wider appeal, rather than being sheltered by my personal tastes for particular colors and intricate piecings.

6 comments:

Diva Quilts said...

I have only made a few quilts for sale, but I charge the price of fabric, notions (thread, needles, batting, etc.), plus $15 to $20 an hour for my time (including designing, cutting and pinning as well as sewing and quilting). This means that I've charged $350 for a lap quilt. I make itemized bills outlining all these costs and no on has ever balked at a price.

I've noticed too that many of the sellers on Etsy are selling their quilts for way less than I would, but part of that is because they're all competing with each other. For that reason, I would never set up shop there - it would be like opening a quilt store in a row of 30! Makes no sense to me.

Anyway!

You charge what you think your quilt is worth and your customers will come.

After all, I've seen people on Etsy sell baby sized charm quilts with basic quilting for $75 or a $100, but I've also seen people sell mini art quilts - no bigger than 15 x 16 for thousands of dollars - and they find buyers too.

Good luck!

Diva Quilts said...

Oh - and also - I make my lap quilts just slighly smaller than a twin - as wide as, but not quite as long. Like you, I think two people should be able to cuddle or four people should be able to sit. :)

Camilla said...

I'd expect a picnic quilt to have corner pockets (to put stones in to keep it from blowing around), but personally I'm a fan of using something more cheap and washable than a patchwork quilt for actual picnics (maybe this comes from owning a large and muddy dog).

The 55x65" size would work great for keeping a baby separate from the floor, or for a toddler to sleep under. I'm not really a fan of child-specific patterns, anyway.

Helen Conway said...

I have only sold two quilts. the first - a mix of log cabin and maple leaf, lomgarmed by someone else ( at my cost) I sold for £500 at my first ever show. The second I did to commission for the same woman at £600. Both were 80 x 80. The first one I just made a price up because I thought no one would be crazy enough to buy my first bed quilt! I worked out roughly what it cost and doubled it.

I make my lap quilts about 65 x 65 but that possibly because (a) that is how big my design board is and (b) I am 5 ft 11 so a 5ft5 quilt covers me toe to nose whilst watching TV.

I am not really desperate to sell to make a profit because there is no way I could earn my hourly rate as a lawyer. I might sell in the future for a lesser hourly though either to find a home for things or just to get that feeling that my art has worth! As with any business if you want to sell a product you have to work out what your market will pay and create for that market. If you want more profit aim at a wealthier audience. That is why people pay a fortune for Kath Kitson teatowels and other vintage fabric items like totes that would take us about an hour flat to make because they are marketed as 'designer'.

mary murrah said...

Check out grammysquilts.com for some unique, reasonable priced lap quilts. Mary Murrah

Becky said...

I was thinking about making things to sell as well, or getting a longarm and making money off that. But haven't the courage or time to really think much on it. Word of mouth is very effective. I have given bags as gifts and they are starting to get some attention and people wanting some made for christmas gifts. And all that without a store. Hmmmm...
I vote for larger than lap size. Because it is always more fun to snuggle with someone under a quilt. Not sure what that equals to in inches tho. SO not all that helpful. LOL