Recently there have been several great posts around the blogosphere about the worth of quilts, most notably the No Value Does Not Equal Free post by Molli Sparkles and his follow up post Placing a Value on Your Quilts which appeared on SewMamaSew. Now we all know that handmade quilts have sentimental value. To me, my quilt from grama Ruby, and the quilt that aunt Essie gave me are priceless, regardless of their monetary value. To others, the t shirt quilt pattern they found and used to make a collage of memories may be equally valuable to them.
But what about the quilts I have made? Quilts that I made with love and care. Of course, sure they mean a lot to me; I put a lot of time and effort into them. From searching for quilt patterns free printable spreads online to buying what is needed for my quilts, I would say they have value. But what are they worth? How much should my quilts be insured for? Ya know, in case I burn the house down trying to make dinner.
So let’s talk about the fanciest quilt I’ve ever made- the Steampunk Crazy Quilt.
During my creative process for the quilt, I tried to keep track of the amount of time I spent on different parts of the project.
|Sewing Block Sets: 1 Large Block and 2 Small Blocks||1.5 hrs||16||24|
|Embellishment: Large Blocks||5 hrs||16||80|
|Embellishment: Small Blocks||2 hrs||32||64|
|Assembling Top||2 hrs||1||2|
|Quilting: Tied||2 hrs||1||2|
|Binding: Bias Tape Binding||2 hrs||1||2|
If I did my math right, I worked a total of 174 hours on this quilt. That’s 7.25 days! More than 1 full week if I worked non-stop without eating, sleeping, or stopping to pee. So what is that time worth? Minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25 a hour, so if I just paid myself minimum wage to make this quilt, I would have made $1261.50.
However, I’d like to think that as a skilled laborer, my time would be worth more than minimum wage, so let’s look at $20/hour which seems to be the standard that most of my sewing friends use when calculating prices for the products they sell online. That change makes the quilt worth $3480 just in time.
Now that we know how much my time is worth on this quilt, let’s talk about something a little less ambiguous, supplies. Regardless of what you or I think my time is worth, supplies do have a set cost. I went through at least 6 spools Coats and Clark Dual Duty Thread for this project ($2.50/spool). It’s not the most expensive thread in the world, but it’s also not the cheapest. It does however, seem to create the least fuzz in my machine.
While most of the fabric came from my stash, I also purchased a few pieces of fabric specifically for this project. But regardless of whether the fabric was in my stash or new, the cost of a quilt should be calculated in how much it would cost to replace that amount of fabric in your stash. Most fabrics I find at my local quilt shops run between $10 and $15/yard, going up to $20/yard for import fabrics. Let’s assume that I used no import fabrics and that I spent an average on $12/yard on my fabric.
But how much fabric did I use? Any time you sew a piece of fabric to another each piece looses a 1/4″ of its size, making yardage fairly easy to calculate to standard quilts. If however, you’re making something like a crazy quilt, which makes use of odd shapes and fabric sizes, it becomes a bit more difficult to calculate. Based on the size of my quilt and the size of the pieces, I am going to conservatively estimate that I have 4 yards of fabric in the quilt. 4 yards of fabric at 12/yard = $48 in fabric for the front. Double that to add in the cost I spent for muslin backing because the quilt is foundation pieced and we are up to $96 for the front of the quilt.
The quilt was backed in a lovely dark 60″ wool, which cost $20/yard for 2 yards making the backing cost $40. The batting for the quilt was Dream Cotton at $9/yard off the bolt for 2 yards making the batting cost to $18. That bring the total materials cost so far to $169.
This quilt also uses lots buttons, ribbon, lace and other embellishments. Many of the embellishments came from my grandmother’s stash, but I can conservatively estimate that it would cost my $100 to replace them. That brings the total materials cost to $269. Again, another pricing tip I have picked up from my friends is that when charging for a quilt, you want to charge double the cost of materials. This helps cover for potential mistakes, inflation, and wear and tear on your equipment. The doubled total comes to $538.
That makes my quilt worth $4018 (without even adding a profit margin)! Of course, I should probably take it to a real quilt appraiser and see what they have to say. If you happen to know of one in southwest Indiana, let me know.
So here are my questions for you:
- Now that you see how the math is done, would you ever pay someone $4000 for a quilt? And no, I’m not planning to sell this one.
- If it was your quilt, what would you insure it for? Remember that this is also important if you want to ship the quilt somewhere to be displayed in a show.