Pricing handmade goods is not as simple as it might seem. There are a lot of things to consider. In this post I discuss:
8 ideas to consider when pricing handmade quilts
I sell both handmade and the supplies to make things handmade. Pricing supplies is certainly easier in some ways than pricing handmade but in this post I will be talking about pricing handmade quilts. This was a topic request that came in on my reader survey.
The general pricing formula for pricing handmade is:
(cost of supplies + time) x 2 = wholesale x 2 = retail
If you are selling jewelry, for example, and you are able to purchase or create the components for your pieces fairly inexpensively then this formula will probably work for you. You will even be able to offer a wholesale line sheet to wholesale customers and still turn a good profit.
In the case of quilts, and even bags, it is not so simple. Most of us pay retail prices for our supplies and it takes at least 20 hours to make most quilts from start to finish.
If supplies are $170 (a low estimate) and you spend about 20 hours and you are paying yourself $15/hr (also low in my opinion but that’s what I pay myself) you are looking at $470 just in time and supplies. You might be able to double that to $940 and still receive that price but doubling that again is probably well out of the realm of what most people will pay.
So what can you do?
One: Firstly, I think that wholesaling handmade quilts is pretty much out of the question. You might be able to wholesale baby quilts, table runners and smaller items like mini quilts and pillows but even that could be a stretch. If there is anyone out there who actually sells quilts wholesale to retailers at a profit (and who isn’t a factory in China) I’d be very interested to hear from you.
Two: If you are selling handmade quilts while buying supplies at retail you are basically going to be able to charge for supplies with perhaps a small mark-up of maybe 15% and your time.
Three: If you plan to do this as your main income over a longer period of time it would be advisable to register your business, get a GST number and open wholesale accounts for purchasing your supplies. Or, wait for clearance sales on supplies. That way you can at least mark up your supplies to what you would have paid retail and make a profit there plus get paid for your time.
Four: In my experience (since 2011) you cannot make and sell quilts as your exclusive income. You need other income streams as well. Again, if anyone out there is making a full time living doing this I would be very interested to talk to you!
Five: Check what others are charging for their quilts on Etsy or other market places. Don’t undercut your pricing because that makes it hard for everyone to get a fair price and you will not be happy when you sell your quilt at that price. Price fairly, at a number you are willing to accept for your hard work.
Six: There are customers out there who do realize the value of a quality handmade quilt and they will pay a fair price. You need to provide excellent photos, great product descriptions and fantastic service in order to receive that price. You also need to be prepared to wait. My quilts always sell eventually but sometimes it can take a year or more.
A note about this: There are so many (annoying!) people who will tell you “I can get a blanket at Walmart for $50!” Understand that these people are not your customers. Try your best to ignore these comments and waste as little time as possible talking to them so you can be focused on people who ARE your customers.
Seven: Free shipping is also a good idea. When they’ve finally decided to spend a few hundred dollars on your beautiful quilt you don’t want to kill the deal by asking for another $20 or $30 for shipping at checkout. If they’re shopping on Etsy you might not even know you had a deal that you lost! Now that Etsy has abandoned cart coupons you may be able to tell how many people walked away from your shop at check-out by running that promotion on your shop but you may never know the reason why they left. So eliminate as much chance of this happening as you can by offering free shipping on higher priced items.
Eight: Keep the quilts simple so you can keep your prices low. Generally, if a quilt is super hard to make there is no way I would consider selling it anyway. Quilts under $400 sell much quicker than quilts closer to $1000. Just making back your supplies is not sustainable over the long term so keep it simple and be as efficient as possible with your time.
Edited to add: @cedarforksarah on Instagram sent me a message with another great idea! She says she uses this formula to price her quilts:
(length in inches x width in inches) x .10 cents
I tried this with my Canadian Flag quilts which are 52″ square.
52″ x 52″ = 2704″
2704 x .10 = $270.40
I charge $250.00 so I’m not far off. I am talking about Canadian dollars and I think Sarah is talking about American dollars so I may even be a bit too low on my price but the Canadian flag quilts are simple to make so I am okay with that.
Sarah says this is helpful for quoting on quilts not yet made as well. I really like this idea!
In the case of my tulip quilt, which I sent out for long arming, this formula will not work for me at .10 cents an inch as I need to recoup my long arming costs. That quilt is priced at $700 so I would need to use .14 or .15 cents in the formula. If it doesn’t sell in about a year I will probably pull it out of the shop and put it on my daughter’s bed as I am not willing to lose money on it. (Something else to keep in mind if you are considering sending your quilts out for long arming. They may wind up priced outside the range people are willing to pay.)
If you are struggling with pricing I hope this post has been helpful. Let me know if it has or if there are other issues you are struggling with that you would like me to write about. Leave a comment or send me an email.
Happy sewing! 🙂