Good morning, friends! I’m taking a moment while my little girl sits beside me and plays with noodles, beads, play dough, and pipe cleaners to talk a little bit about the difficulties and importance of pricing your work, and why handmade goods sometimes cost more than the average Amazon search results. It’s the middle of November, and if you’re anything like me, gifts for Christmas are on your mind (and possibly already tucked away in the corners of your closet)! We have been adding items to the Marketplace and our Shop to help you find Christmas gifts for a variety of people on your list, and with everything from coloring books to baby quilts to soaps to mugs available, I want to address the most common question we get from our Marketplace vendors— how do I price this so that it doesn’t have sticker shock, but I will still get paid for the time and materials this took?
The most expensive item in the Marketplace at the moment are the cross-themed baby quilts, and the woman who made them typed up a break-down of the costs, time, and pricing. Even just a glance at this can tell you— the price of $75 which she chose for most of her quilts basically just pays for materials. She wanted to price them low enough to, in her words, “be a blessing to those who want a handmade quilt.” We work with the nicest people, right??
Why Do Quilts Cost So Much?
Costs for making a 44” x 44” Baby Quilt. More elaborate designs take longer to sew and assemble. (In real time, it generally take me about 1-3 weeks to complete a baby quilt, depending on difficulty level. This doesn’t include time and supplies needed for sewing machine maintenance.)
I. Materials for a Baby Quilt include:
Fabric for the top—2 yds @$13/yd = $26
Fabric for the backing—2 yds @$13/yd = $26
Batting—2 yds @$13/yd = $26
Fabric for the binding—1/4 yd @$13/yd = $3.25
Thread—1/2 spool @$6.50/spool = $3.25
Cost of Materials = $84.50
II. Making the Quilt Top includes:
1. Choosing the quilt design & fabric,
2. Washing, drying, ironing & cutting the fabric,
3. Sewing into blocks, rows & combining all, ironing seams in between,
4. Sewing on borders
Cost of Making the Quilt Top @17 hours @$10/hr = $170
III. Assembling the Quilt Sandwich includes:
1. Cutting the backing fabric,
2. Cutting the batting,
3. Layering the backing, batting and quilt top,
4. Pinning the three layers together,
5. Quilting the 3 Layers on Sewing Machine:
(Charged by square inch in a simple, all-over design)
1,936 sq. in. x $0.015 = $29.04
Cost of Assembling the Quilt Sandwich @6 hours @$10/hr + the Quilting Charge = $89.04
IV. Finishing the Quilt includes:
1. Trimming the edges of the quilt,
2. Measuring the fabric needed for binding,
3. Cutting the binding fabric,
4. Sewing the binding fabric into strips,
5. Ironing the binding fabric,
6. Pinning the binding to the quilt sandwich,
7. Sewing the binding to the quilt sandwich,
8. Tying off remaining threads,
9. Making & sewing a Name Patch &/or hanging sleeve on the back of the quilt. (Optional)
Cost of Finishing the Quilt @4 hours @$10/hr = $40
Total Time of Labor for Baby Quilt Assembly = @27 hours
Total Cost of Baby Quilt Assembly = @$383.54
*If my labor is my gift to you, but I include materials and the $0.015 charge per square inch, the cost comes down to $113.54. Finding materials on sale also can help bring the price down, but good quality fabric is going to cost more than cheap, thin cotton. Also, this is not taking into account the time it takes to fix problems with the machine, wash and dry the fabric and finished quilts, and the upfront costs of a sewing machine, iron, etc.
The princess flip dolls are similar— the woman who makes them said she averages 12 hours of work per doll. Y’all, she is making way under minimum wage for these. I just want you to know that there is a reason for the pricing of the original or made-to-order items, and really the price should be much higher! And this isn’t even taking into account the benefits like significantly less packaging waste, incredible care and attention to detail, and the unique, high quality items lasting for years (generations!).
With products like our Royal Saints coloring book, the Orthodox Children’s Calendar, or art prints, etc, the pricing is different. On one hand, you have to consider the amount of time each product took to create— for instance, each drawing for the coloring book took 5-7 hours. Each painting for the calendar took 20-30 hours, and total the calendar probably took more like 450 hours total. For real. PLUS the cost of printing the actual product! Generally speaking, artists price work like this by taking the cost of production and multiplying it by 3 (possibly 4 for items like the calendar that require vast amounts of time to create) to get retail pricing (for instance, a coloring book that costs $5 to print would be priced at $15.) That gives you room to offer wholesale discounts and have a sale every now and then, while still keeping prices reasonable.
In addition, when you choose to spend your money with small businesses and makers, your money is going straight to other families. There’s no money being lost to advertising or CEO’s exorbitant salaries. The people you are supporting are active members of their churches, parents, and students, often putting their income towards the same things you most likely do— kids’ expenses (so many expenses, AMIRIGHT?!), traveling to visit family for the holidays, and tithing to their churches. Not to mention, the genuine happy dances every time someone places an order!
So all that to say THANK YOU for supporting the small businesses and artists who work hard to share their light and love with the world. We try our best to price things fairly and reasonably, and the money that you choose to spend in the Marketplace or Shop is going right to the people you would probably be friends with in real life (because they are all SO NICE!).