If you’re someone who has ever sold custom quilts you know a lot of time and energy goes into selecting the perfect fabric and making the actual quilt.
If you’re someone who has ever purchased a handmade quilt - do you know the material costs involved in making that quilt? Or the number of hours that went into it?
I started my business selling handmade quilts and other home goods. I quickly realized a lot of people don’t know how much goes into making a quilt. When I sat down to calculate the costs - I ended up subtracting a couple hundred dollars off the price because I wasn’t confident that there would be people willing to pay for a quilt that expensive. Even that reduced price wasn’t a fast seller…
I fully understand how $500 could sound very high for a throw size quilt when you could pick one up from Target for $50. (No shade to Target - I love Target!) However, if you’re purchasing something handmade there’s obviously way more time and energy that goes into it and the person making those quilts deserves every dollar in order to keep their business going. Let’s walk through it together and maybe be a little more willing to pay for what we are getting.
A quick note: This is only meant to be a conversation starter. I am by no means the authority of quilt costs. You decide what you feel comfortable charging. My intention is only to explore the costs that go into making a handmade quilt so that people who are not quilters can see more clearly what the costs are.
I’ll be using the Playroom Quilt Pattern as an example since it is my best selling pattern. Baby and Throw size quilts are the two most popular sizes so those are the two I’ll walk through for pricing.
I am going to assume solid, quilters cotton so here is the cost for the materials to make just the quilt top:
Fabric A 1.25 yards = $12.50
Fabric B 1.75 yards = $17.50
TOTAL - $30
Fabric A 2.25 yards = $23
Fabric B 3.25 yards = $33
TOTAL - $55
Now there’s the backing for the quilt. I like to use “special” fabric for the backing of my quilts. Something like a canvas, a woven or even a soft double gauze would be nice. That can range in price so let’s go middle of the road on this price estimate:
1 ½ yards = $25
3 ½ yards = $55
To finish of the quilt your quilter will make a quilt sandwich with the quilt top, batting and backing. Of course there are a lot of options for batting as well but I am going to assume a simple cotton batting. After quilting they will bind the quilt either by hand or machine. Those costs are:
Binding ⅜ yard = $6
Binding ½ yard = $8
Additional Note: There is also the option to have the quilt done by a professional longarmer which could add anywhere from $100-$200 to the cost.
Ok so the quilt is done! Now let’s think about alllllll the time that went into making this beautiful, modern quilt shall we? I recently tracked all the hours spent on a few throw quilts and came up with a range of 20-24 hours. A baby quilt takes around 8-10 hours. Depending on the intricacy quilt pattern this can range greatly. Also the quilting design can cause the hours to vary depending on how complicated the design is. The time estimates below assume a 2” cross hatch quilting or a simple 1” horizontal quilt design.
8-10 hours = $120-$150
20-24 hours = $300-$360
I’m also assuming a $15/hour rate for their time. This is a personal preference, but I think $15/hour is more than fair for the time and physical effort that goes into making a quilt.
With all of that information it’s time to look at what the total cost should be for a custom quilt:
Baby Size Quilt:
Material Costs - $66
Labor - $130
Throw Size Quilt:
Material Costs - $145
Labor - $330
I hope this is helpful to see the cost that goes into making a custom quilt. The next time you commission one - think about these numbers. If you’re someone who makes custom quilts - do you need to raise your prices? I hope you’re charging what your work is worth!
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I typically add another 10% on top of what has already been discussed for consumables (thread, needles, basting spray, rotary blade) and wear and tear on my machine. I still haven’t sat down and reviewed costs for overhead (cost for space and utilities, notions that aren’t for a specific quilt like rulers, cutting mat, scissors, etc) to incorporate into the cost
Hi new here! I’ve worked in quilt shops, and years ago we discussed this, the general thought was given, take your material costs x 3 = your quilt charge, this would include your labor. I’ve had people say, whoa. So, I say, let’s pick the pattern, go to the quilt store (I avoid box stores because fabric quality matters to me), we’ll pick out the fabric and batting, let’s see the cost. They either pay for it there, or I have. The longarm cost is separate in this case. And I then say, your suggested $15/hr labor cost. They will balk or say, ok, now I see why handmade quilts are so special! Or, they’ll say, ok, I’ll just go to Walmart or Target, or etc, and buy one made in China. Sadly, women in foreign countries making quilts for box/Dept stores get paid a few dollars an hour or day.
This is always a tricky subject and you laid out cost of the components very well.
Here in AUS where fabric is now up to $30/m (though I average mine out at $25) the costs can be huge. Yesterday I bought the fabric for a queen (top only) and paid $228.00.
Australians generally do not value a quilt like Americans. They are not embedded in our culture.
So to explain the true cost of a quilt just lands on deaf ears. To add on labour would just put the cost out of reach.
Even if I sell my quilts, I feel like I’m giving them away. I recently sold a large quilt for $350. True cost – probably twice that. I look at it this way – better that someone enjoys the fruits of my hobby than for a quilt to sit unseen and unused in my cupboard. Share the love.
Thank you! I’ve been trying to explain this to my family who think it’s easy to make money quickly selling quilts. They, and people in general, just don’t understand all that goes into making a quilt. I’m so glad to know I price appropriately for baby quilts but will be raising my throw price back to what I started at, no longer allowing the pressure of those who just don’t appreciate the skill to down play the cost.
Thank you for this very clear information. I have to assume these prices are American$ as we pay considerably more per metre in Canada. However, all other estimates appear accurate. Also, doing my own quilting saves about $100.00 -$125.00 for a throw. Usually I have my prepared quilt quilted on a longarm and I make and sew on the binding. All full sized quilts go to the longarm quilter and they cost quite a bit more, naturally, but I still always make and apply the binding.