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Why I Don't Make Quilts To Sell

July 04, 2014

Abandoned book "Wilde West" by Walter Sattherwait ♦♦◊◊◊

Beautiful-pink-flower - West Virginia - ForestWander

Pretty picture that doesn't have anything to do with what comes next.
Recently I've had cause to figure out how much it would cost to make a quilt to sell. It's a sobering exercise, to say the least.

I very rarely do 'just squares and rectangles'. I've long known that, to keep prices even semi-reasonable, I really can't factor in my labor. I am not a beginning quilter, so my cost per hour should reflect the years of experience I have and the skill I've gained through those years. It's not like I think I'm the bees knees or anything, but the reality is that a quilt I make is often a step or two above something made by a less experienced quilter. Please don't take offense; there's nothing wrong with being a beginner and/or sewing simple quilts. There are some lovely, lovely quilts out there that are not technically challenging and every quilt is (or should be), I believe, a labor of love and tangible evidence of someone's desire to make the world a more beautiful place.

But here's what I came up with as a really low-ball estimate of how much it costs to make a quilt.

Size: 60x72"
9 yards fabric @ $5.50-10.50/yard* $72 (avg)
2 yards batting @ $7/yard* $14
Original (non-resellable) pattern design $120
Purchased pattern $10
Labor $85 (~9 hours at minimum wage of $9.50/hr)
Custom machine quilting 4,320 square inches @ .015 (1½ cents) per square inch $64
Postage $17.45

*sale prices

That's  $72+14+6+120 (or 10)+85+64+17.45, or  $372.45 (or $262.45). And not everything is included - there's laundry, rotary cutter blades (at $6+ each), thread, band-aids, corn dogs, wear and tear on my tools and machine... a whole host of "hidden" costs that we can't even factor in accurately.

:-) Just checking to see if you're paying attention, kids.

These aren't unreasonable figures - I've researched 'normal' costs online, so I'm not just making stuff up. And these are U.S. prices. If a quilter is in, well, pretty much any other country in the world, the costs of materials alone are probably double or triple what I've quoted. Who would pay that kind of money for something that the dog or cat is going to claim as their own? Gosh, you can get a whole bed-in-a-bag from Wally World that includes a comforter, pillow sham, a set of sheets and 2 pillowcases for about $40 online.

That's why I don't start out making a quilt to sell. If I've made a quilt and someone falls in love with it and just must have it, I might - might - sell it. I NEVER get anywhere near the price of what I've put into it, though I try not to allow my potential buyer to think that I undervalue my time or skill and that they shouldn't, either.

This is one of those times I'm okay with having a fairly small reader base. Though I've tried not to, I'm pretty sure that some toes have been thoroughly trod upon...


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Sharp as a Marshmallow

June 30, 2014

I'll take forty more years with this man.  "Murder on a Girls' Night Out" by Anne George ♦♦♦♦◊

quiltmaker magWhile at retreat I went a-surfing one evening and found a picture of the quilt on the cover of this magazine.

I fell in love. I don't know why (gah! hundreds of half square triangles!) but it grabbed me faster than a momma whose toddler is headed for the roadway.

I immediately sent out the call to my lovelies at The Quilter's Last Resort and within hours learned that the lovely Anita not only had the issue of the magazine, but was quite willing to send the magazine to me so that I could make the quilt!

Bull Run blocks

Here's what I've gotten done so far. Using scraps as I find them with a consistent white-on-white print as background. (There are two more in the 'almost blocks' stage on my sewing machine.)

Funny thing. I'd lost the white-on-white fabric that I was using for my background. When Mom came to visit I did a mad dash to clear out the guest room and I figured that the fabric had gotten buried somewhere.

I dug around (at times balancing precariously over and between boxes and stacks of almost- organized sewing closet stuff) and couldn't find the fabric. I looked at the tiny pile I'd laid on the guest bed - the one that came off the sewing table, to make room to, erm, sew. I did find some plain white fabric nicely folded, but not what I was searching for.

I finally cut bait and pulled out a fat quarter I'd been holding in reserve in case I ran out of the cut I was working from.  Two days later (today) I thought I'd take another shot at finding the fabric.  More gentle digging, another trip or two to the guest room (touching that nicely-folded plain white fabric a time or two), checking to make sure I hadn't :gasp!: actually put the fabric away...

One last time to the guest room. Look yet again at the folded fabric.

Guess what? It turns out that when one folds white on white fabric wrong side out  it looks like plain white fabric. 


I'm linking up to the Sew Darn Crafty Linky Party over at Karen's blog. Because why would I hide this example of brilliance from the world wide web?


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I Retreated

June 17, 2014

"Fuggheads."  "Zombies of the Gene Pool" by Sharyn McCrumb ♦♦♦◊◊

So, first we drove through lots and lots of this gorgeous rolling-ness (um... not quite so blue in real life!).

Then we arrived at the top of a mountain (elevation 3,996 ft.)...

To spend five glorious days doing this.

Can you figure out where I was set up?

When we ventured outside, we were escorted by this (plus two more - full time vigilance, I tellya).

Occasionally we'd wake up to this.

Though to be honest, not a lot of sleeping occurred.

And what a lovely bunch of sewing happened! (The retreat mystery pattern was Cat's Meow by Debbie Caffrey)


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June 13, 2014

Works for me.  "Undead and Unemployed" by MaryJanice Davidson ♦♦♦♦◊

First off, let me remind you that I finally joined and submitted blocks to Block Lotto - I told you about it in my last post, which was way 'back in February. I was so fired up about these blocks and I was so determined that I would win (random draw - so I had SO much say in the matter!). But whaddaya know - I won!

I won! I won! Thirty-six quilters worldwide made 224 Bead on a String blocks; five were picked as winners and I was one of the winners!! I don't quite remember how many blocks I got, but it was in the neighborhood of 45... I think the block(s) that came from farthest away were from South Africa.

All (or almost all) of the blocks were great and I am thrilled with the different fabrics everyone used. Everyone included some sort of congratulatory note (which was fun in itself) and many wrote their notes on postcards - some indicating where they were from, some 'just' artsy-fartsy.

The blocks are in their own corn dog box now. Just this morning I saw this blog post where Jane has come up with a great Flying Geese medallion block for a regional bee in Australia and New Zealand - neat block/medallion, for sure, but what got me was the possibilities it opens up for using my lovely Bead on a String blocks. I'm sharing it with you, but mostly so I can find it again when I grab this corn dog box!

So what does that have to do with doodling?


I chose to keep a couple of the Bead on a String blocks that I made and send some to other winners. I don't have cool postcards to share (I didn't know that's what was done), but I doodled on the mailing envelopes.

It's pretty fun. I use an extra-fine point Sharpie pen; each one of these envelopes took an evening. I found that my hand got a bit crampy or stiff after doing an entire envelope, so there's no production line happening here.

Yes, I was inspired by Zentangles though I guess there are 'official' Zentangle patterns and everything else is just doodling. I'm okay with that.

I've done a few more envelopes for other people, too. Just this week I picked up a new book from the library, The Art of Whimsical Lettering (Amazon link), and have been inspired even further in the ink-to-paper (or fabric) department. I hope that I'll have more to share with you as I experiment more!

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Corndog Confessions

February 07, 2014

"I hope my next Guardian at least has her training wheels, because this business with havin' to tell you everything is gettin' a bit old."  "You Slay Me" by Kate MacAlister ♦♦♦♦◊

So, I got a good running start on the Christmas Tree quilt in my first corndog box. The blocks in the center have been trimmed down to accomodate the smallest ones I received. I've got lots of scraps of everyone's reds that I'm using to make filler for the area around the center trees.

I guess it doesn't look a whole lot different, but I now have all the tree parts sewn together as much as I can and I've started piecing the filler areas to fit the 4 block into the center.
And Then....

Did anyone just see a sparkly chicken run through the room?

While I was distracted, the empty Christmas Tree corndog box collected this. Rut-roh.

Bead on a String blocks, my entry into this month's Block Lotto. I follow and enjoy the Block Lotto every month and often have great intentions to join in but something always distracts me. Or I have a deadline. (Surprise, yes? No?)

This month the block just kinda sprang (sprung?) into being - I love it, it's inspiring and I have bunches of oranges and yellows. It's no wonder these things pretty much made themselves.

Now I post the pic to the Lotto website and sit back, hoping my name will be the one drawn at the end of the month as one of the winners of the lotto.

Of course, while I'm waiting I can get back to those Christmas trees, right?


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