Handmade versus “mass” pricing


Pricing is a challenge for any business.  Period.  Quilters and fiber artists especially as we often undervalue what we do.

Today, we had a guest speaker at our quilt guild who talked about valuing quilts and quilted textiles. The most commonly used valuation is the “reconstruction” price, which essentially takes into account the cost of materials and the time it would take to make an exact replica of the subject quilt. The price she gave for the queen size pineapple quilt she had in her hand ($1800) blew me away. No one I know would pay that kind of money for a quilt, perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of that amount…but regardless of how gorgeous the quilt was…it was way out of my budget.

It’s hard to compete when you can buy a “handmade” king size quilt at the local discount or linen store for $50.00. People are starting to valued handcrafted items more and are willing to pay for fine workmanship, but only to a certain point. Unfortunately, these folks are still the exception, rather than the rule.

I have a friend who would like to remake an existing item into something more useful and truly more her style. It doesn’t sound like a difficult task to accomplish, but it will probably take me 2-3 hours, plus the cost of materials. This is the second time she’s asked me about the project, so I know it’s something she really wants to do. I quoted a price range I thought was reasonable, but she’s not said anything more about it.  I know money’s tight for everyone, so I also offered to let her borrow a sewing machine and told her I was willing to coach her through the process. We’ll see what she does.

FWIW, people are willing to pay for kids’ instruction.  So far, I’ve only received one complaint about the cost of the kids’ sewing class (this from a super cheapskate coworker) and on the first day of registration, the class met my minimum enrollment to hold the class.  Hopefully, I hit the sweet spot on price/value because I labored over what to charge for a couple of weeks and in the end, charged what it would take to cover supplies, shop fees and what I needed to make per hour of instruction.