How to Make Quilting Your Business #6 – Selling Your Work

During my many quilt-related business ventures over the years, one of the ways I tried to make money from my craft was by producing quilted items to sell. This led to commission work and then eventually into online fabric sales which I blogged about previously.

This is the first book I ever bought when starting my business!

Selling Your Work

In my experience, I found that creating custom quilts on commission paid much better than simply making a bunch of quilts and trying to sell them at craft shows and consignment stores. Smaller items that could be sewn together quickly and sold cheaply performed well, but mass producing these items did not satisfy my need to create. Instead I just felt like a one woman factory. However, I did get a lot of quilting practice from it!

Making quilts for sale was great quilting practice!

Connie Campbell from Freemotion by the River got into the market by creating small quilted items like wall hangings, table runners, placemats, and coasters. She started pursuing small venues at first, which weren’t super profitable; however, they did lead to invitations to sell at larger craft shows and stores on a full-time basis. Since that time she’s gone onto other ventures but she’s proof positive that you can sell your wares and make a decent living from it!

header-freemotion-bytheriver-Nov2013

Connie still shares with others via her weekly Linky Tuesday party!

Figuring The Cost

In figuring out what to charge, Connie said, “I would always make 3 of an item and figure out the materials used and the time to complete them. I kept a detailed notebook with average fabric prices and amounts needed for my items and kept a timer close-by. I was able to figure out the cost of materials and found wholesale sources for most of my supplies.”

There are always fascinating discussions to be had when it comes to determining a price for your hand-crafted goods. In fact, Josh from Molli Sparkles has held several thought provoking and somewhat controversial blog discussions on how he values his work.

Even simple quilts can be time-consuming to make when working on commission!

In fact, they went viral so quickly that he was able to share more on the subject recently at Sew Mama Sew. He calculated the cost of what it would take to make the simple, yet beautiful quilt above, if he were to be paid for it. The bottom line is this – you need to decide what the market will bear and decide whether or not that is fair compensation for your time.

Getting Started

The explosion of online commerce has made it much easier for artisans to find a wider audience for their work. Talented quilters and sewists can build up a good reputation over time, and word of mouth can spread quickly. A good way to test the waters and see if this is something you’d like to do, is to open up a little shop on Etsy and make a few samples.

etsy_whale_quiltModern Baby Quilt for sale by Home Sewn Studio on Etsy

A good rule of thumb is to give it at least 6 months and then evaluate your progress. Keep an eye out for what others are doing and how they price their items. You never want to undercut anyone or copy others’ creations, but many pattern makers out there are fine with people making a limited number of their designs into items for sale. Just be sure to check first.

As I said at the start of this series, I’ve tried just about every business related quilting topic I’m blogging about, and it’s taken me nearly two decades to finally determine what I’m passionate about (designing and making modern quilts).

I’m hoping that through this series, you’ll find your answers much more quickly than I did!

Click here for the start of this series.

8 thoughts on “How to Make Quilting Your Business #6 – Selling Your Work

  1. Melanie McNeil says:

    I’ve thought carefully about how I could sell quilts “profitably.” Considering the time that goes into each unique quilt I make, I seriously doubt there is any market for my work. Today I finished quilting an original medallion, 66″ x 70″. I haven’t even bound it yet. If I haven’t put in at least 80 hours so far, I’d be shocked. Even without materials and overhead, not to mention profit, just my time would be worth almost $1900. This is how I work. My quilts are original designs. They are complex and personal. They’re not factory products. I’ve long since determined that my quilts are worth more to me than to any buyer I can imagine. So I will retain the pleasure of making and giving them, and not try to sell for something that seriously undervalues my time and talents.

    Thanks for the post.

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