At least once or twice a week, someone asks me if I’m going to open an Etsy shop or inquires about purchasing something handmade from me.
My heart sinks a little, and I always feel slightly uncomfortable.
I know these people mean well. They offer to pay me, but I know their perception of the value of the item will not match my time and effort. To avoid the “money” conversation, I’ve just been telling everyone outright that I am not in a position to help them due to time.
That’s completely true. Between work, sewing, producing videos, maintaining this website, and social media – I have even farmed out grocery shopping to Amazon Prime Now delivery. There is no room for taking on outside projects.
This editorial originated when I came up the idea to tape myself talking about selling quilts. While editing this clip, I realized I should expound upon my thoughts through an article also. Here is the video – it’s worth watching because I touch on more points.
Here’s the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver segment on ‘Fast Fashion’ (WARNING: colorful language!)
This is an issue that has been on my heart for well over a year – it’s the reason why I researched and wrote the Quiltonomics article.
Unfortunately, quilts just are not perceived by the vast majority as a “luxury item.” When you think about it, that’s exactly what they are. Women will pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a dress, shoes, or designer handbag. Yet, why do they not want to pay over $200 for a handmade quilt that takes hours and hours (and hours and hours) to construct?
It’s because of us.
Even right now on Etsy, there are baby quilts with some piecework being sold for under $100. I do not feel it is possible to make a good hourly wage (above $15 USD) with that type of pricing structure.
Around the holidays, James and I attended a craft show. I was mostly curious to see what local artists were charging for their handmade items. Several vendors had donated items for a silent auction to benefit a charity. One of these was a lap quilt with moderate piecing and free motion quilting. When I checked, the current bid was a whopping $45. I felt awful for the maker, she’d probably hoped to at least raise a few hundred dollars?
We as a community need to elevate the value of quilting.
Making a quilt comes at a great expense of time and effort – heck – they SHOULD be expensive!
The general population will never see quilts as items of real value unless WE also treat them that way. Whether you’re a full-time mother who hopes to make extra money on the side, or a professional art quilter – everyone should be pricing items with the mindset that quilts are a luxury good instead of something you can pick up for $10 at a flea market.
If you’re in the camp that quilts should be accessible to everyone – that’s cool, too. GIFT quilts to anyone you’d like, but if you’re selling – don’t undercharge. While it might seem harmless, you are then lowering the standard of pricing expectations consumers have and fostering a more difficult business climate for everyone else.
Would more people get into quilting if you could sell a quilt for $10,000? You bet they would!
Valuing quilts at a higher price would give the entire industry a shot in the arm. It would allow more hobbyists (like me!) the opportunity to quilt for a living, and attract new eyes to a lucrative art form. (Can you really make a living sewing?)
Now, I do want to say this… I realize you might think this post is a bit extreme. If people generally saw quilts as being valuable, I wouldn’t be here telling you to raise prices. However, we currently have the opposite problem – hardly anyone understands the value and cost of a quilt. The only way to rectify this and change the perception IS to price quilts in a manner where they are considered expensive.
Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, but please be nice and constructive!
See you next time!