Friday, 3 June 2016

Pattern testing

When Erica from Kitchen Table Quilting asked on Instagram if anyone wanted to pattern test the first quilt pattern she was going to sell, I offered.

Not because I fancied pattern testing per se but more because the pattern fascinated me. I could see there was a lot of precision cutting involved (and subsequent trimming of blocks which I hadn't really factored in ) which I thought would be a challenge.

It's made up of two different blocks which are then set on point.
Each square finishes at just 1.75" so it's a great scrap buster for using up even the smallest scraps of fabric.

Did I mention there was trimming involved?

I don't often follow actual patterns these days so I never worry about whether I have 'enough' of one fabric to make the quilt. I was about a third of the way through this quilt when I realised I did not have 'enough' of that yellow floral I was using as a background.

Cue cutting up a sort of lime yellow dotty fabric to fill in the missing bits.

Which obviously was a deliberate design decision.

Then it was on to quilting and I went for a zig zag (ish) stitch.

Which I think gives a lovely texture.

And then it was on to binding and it was done.

For an early morning  photo shoot which seemed to make the quilt glow.

And then when I'd finished I added it to my pile and decided I really ought to try selling my quilts locally.

I approached a lady who runs a sort of craft gift shop in town with this quilt. In my head I was thinking I would be happy to part with it for around £250 but she told me that she had kantha style quilts (made in India) in her shop that she struggled to sell for £69 a piece.

I was amazed. We live on an affluent island and have over 100 cruise ships calling in here each year, bringing thousands of tourists.

Reluctantly, I decided to sell it for £150, less her commission, just to see what would happen. Within a week it sold but to a quilter who told her she understood the hours that went in to the making of it.

I gave the lady another quilt to sell but I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I don't believe you could charge what it actually takes in man hours to make a quilt but on the other hand, what is an acceptable and reasonable price?

I'm not doing this to make a living; rather quilts just happen to be a by-product of a hobby I love to do. Is it because quilts that ultimately end up on beds are seen as utilitarian and therefore attract no greater value than what you could buy in the bedding section of a department store? I don't really know.

Meanwhile, in other news, I finished the outside of my Weekender Bag but that's for another blog post when the lining is in and I can reflect on its making.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday


  1. From what I have found unless your name is well recognized (Denyse Schmidt) you have to be prepared to sell for what you want to get as pocket change.

    Beyond your local craft shop, you are competing with etsy & ebay. (If those people are willing to sell for $100, then most consumers would only be willing to pay that as well.

    Same thing happens with teaching - some people are willing to pay some social media darling $100 per person to teach a class. Meanwhile there are local teachers wouldn't even expect to get a quarter of that per pupil (+ shop discount).

  2. That quilt is sooooooo beautful!!! I love it. The lemon yellow piecess makes it better.
    Sometimes I think only quilters value a quilt. Your quilt was a bargain!!

  3. I can only agree with Maartje an absolute beauty of a quilt. Wonderful pattern and fabrics, of course your "deliberate design decision" was perfect!
    The question of selling quilts seems to be the same all over the place. I don't think the general public appreciate how much goes into making a quilt, I have had a number of an exhibitions and sold very well at them, I had a small one locally and had people attending who thought they were quite highly priced. I explained that I would only make $2 per hour, which included fabric, that they were made for love and not money but it would be nice to recoup the cost of fabrics. Others came along and said they could "make one like that" themselves, but when asked they said they had never attempted patchwork/quilting before, but yes, they were sure they could "run one up in no time"!!! So there you have it, The Calico Cat is so right!

  4. this quilt is sooo gorgeous--I really love the background rose print--beautiful work hugs, Julierose

  5. There are those who design and make one kind of quilt for the purpose of selling it. They are the 'professional quilters', who somehow make a living selling their patterns, classes, fabric lines and commissioned quilts. Then there are those of us who make quilts for the love of it, who need to view our quilts differently. We can't look at them in terms of how many hours they took or how much the fabric cost, because we make a different kind of quilt, and we do it for love. I've blogged on this subject before, and have been attacked and belittled for my point of view by one such 'professional' with a high-profile blog, who felt that I was devaluing her work by not charging appropriately for every quilt I make. She was very hostile to any comment that seemed to disagree with her, and I felt unequal to taking her on, which is perhaps cowardly, but in the end, I am entitled to my point of view, as she is to hers. The fact is, I don't sell quilts any more, for precisely the reasons you've given. I make them for love, for friendship, for charity and in appreciation.

    1. Kate I think you expressed perfectly what many of us feel regarding our quilting. I am not a fast worker and if I charged for my hours I couldn't afford my own quilts. LOL

    2. Thank you. Your point is exactly why I don't think quilters should charge by the hour!

  6. I love your Yellow Quilt. The extra lime triangles really add an extra dimension. And I wholeheartedly agree with your feelings about selling quilts for ridiculously low prices. As everyone seems to agree only folk who make quilts themselves have any idea of how much they cost in fabric, batting & thread and how many hours and weeks of work they entail. I make the odd commission baby quilt but before I agree to make them I always state a price which is what it will cost me in materials. I am at pains to point out that I am not charging a penny for my time and effort. And they are ridiculously cheap but I always feel guilty for quoting £45/50.

  7. Your quilt is beautiful. I don't have the patience for all that precise piecing (and trimming!) but it's gorgeous. I think pretty much every quilter encounters the same problems for pricing. In the end, you do it for love of your hobby and any income is incidental. If you are lucky, it might defray some of your costs. I think you can look at it like any other art. We might all really admire a Van Gogh but few of us could actually afford to own one. And following that theory, those people who think they could 'run up' one of those quilts in a jiffy fall into the same category (IMO) as the ones that look at a Jackson Pollock and say "My three year old could do that."

  8. Your handmade quilts cannot be compated to handmade quilts from India!
    I think £ 150,- is a ridiculous amount of too little money for a quilt like this. It has so many small pieces, beautiful colours, great fabrics. I'd say 250 was spot on!!
    Perhaps the lady in the shop and your wuilts are not the right match?
    You've obviously considered Etsy, Dawanda & Folksy?

  9. One suggestion I have heard (to educate the public) is to list the actual value of a quilt for the "original price." Then "reduce" it--for some reason (friend discount, season discount--use your imagination). I wonder if your shop keeper would be willing to experiment, to see how high you could go now that one has sold for more than the amount she "had trouble" getting for imports. There are forms for listing design fee, itemized materials fees, hours spent and per hour fee in calculating "original price." And OF COURSE those triangles were a design decision! That quilt looks lovely in the shop window.

  10. Heel herkenbaar deze discussie over verkoop prijzen. Ik heb er niet veel meer aan toe te voegen. Handwerk wordt blijkbaar minder gewaardeerd dan "kunst". Ik vind het (alweer) een prachtige quilt, je sprankelende kleurgebruik spreekt me altijd erg aan. (En jouw tempo....) Hartelijke groet, Conny

    1. Bedankt voor je opmerking. Vind het nog steeds leuk om nederlandse te lezen!

  11. I think a similar thing happens with most hand crafted items. If the person viewing it is unaware of the materials, time and effort that has gone into creating it, they cannot understand the price. I won't do craft fairs for the reason that I have heard people say - 'I could make that myself' - and I would be very tempted to tell them to go and do it then (only not quite as politely as that) . I do sell cartonnage sewing boxes online which, by their very nature, are probably going to somebody that appreciates the work that has gone into them but I only make quilts for myself and for family and friends - whether they want me to or not ;). Your quilt enhanced the shop window enormously and, as has been suggested in another comment, there would be no harm in the shop owner trying to sell the next one for a bit more.

  12. Bravo for completing such a beautiful quilt! My goodness, all those little squares! You are indeed very patient! Although I have never attempted to sell a quilt, I have donated quilts to charities and in each case was very disappointed with how little the quilt generated for the charity in auction. Quilting is a hobby for me, a creative outlet that makes me happy and balance out the other complex parts of my life. So, I am OK!

  13. I have sold some quilts. Mostly to friends who have asked me to make them for babies of relatives. I am normally happy if I get the cost back. Everything I make on top is "fun" money. I have done a craft fair and also heard the "I can do that myself" comments.

  14. Your quilt is really gorgeous ! It's a chance you had not enough of this background fabric ;-) I'm sorry to read it's the same problem everywhere ... But at least you can be sure the quilter who bought your quilt value it.

  15. It's a lovely quilt and I love the added fabric in the setting triangles. Too tired to comment coherently on the pricing issue, sorry.

  16. First, I think adding the green dot fabric was a great move, design wise. Second, the selling of our handwork is always a complicated and multifaceted topic, isn't it. Early in the Etsy years, I sold hand spun yarn from fibers I had also dyed. I priced them according to what others seemed to be selling theirs for, which really only paid for the price of the fiber. Then the Etsy market flooded with women selling their work for third world prices and killed it for the rest of us, IMHO. And so it goes. Yes, we can never expect to recover a decent wage for our efforts and the cost of materials (which isn't something to sniff at) but geez, how do you compete with imports or people willing to practically give their work away? It makes me sad that our work is largely undervalued, and I've long held a belief that it takes another crafts person to appreciate the work and pricing of our work. But, as they say, makers gotta make, and so we stay the course. When people see the quilts I make, people who don't do handwork, I always try to let them know how many hours of work went into them, as well as the cost of the fabrics. The looks on their faces when they find out fabric isn't $1.50 a yard anymore is pretty funny. Doing this may seem uncalled for, but I hold a hope that maybe, just maybe, the next time that person sees something hand made they consider its value in a better light. That's all. Let me know if you figure it out! LOL


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