A Milestone

A Milestone
I have been a professional machine quilter for nearly twenty years and in all that time, I have never had this happen – until now. I made $100 per hour working on a quilt!

This is the first time I have made this much per hour on a quilt, and who knows, it may be the last time that “things” lined up for this to happen.

Here are the details – it was a Queen size quilt, so it was going to cost more than a few $$ to quilt anyway. After talking to my customer about several quilting designs, she saw another (customer) quilt hanging in my studio and said “I want that quilting.” I looked at the quilt, and enthusiastically said OK!

The quilting design was my free hand, all over swirls and hooks pattern – which was totally appropriate for this quilt. This all over swirls pattern is a really fast and quick pattern and I use it a fair amount on charity quilts. I knew that this was going to be quick quilting, but I didn’t know HOW quick it would be to complete.

Including putting the quilt on the machine, it took me 3 hours to quilt. So, at a quilting fee of $300, I made $100 an hour!

Quilting like this doesn’t happen all the time, so please forgive me if I may be bragging a bit.

I don’t have a multi-tiered pricing system. I have a “base” price of 3 – 4 cents per square inch, and then an “and up” price which as no limit. I have used this pricing system for many years with great success.

Using this system, for this particular quilt, the quilting fee was $300. Batting and binding was extra. I would have charged this much if I quilted a pantograph or some moderate custom quilting – and my customer agreed to this price.

I know that some of you may be thinking “if it was that simple of a quilting design, I should have charged less for it.” And yes, I did consider that, but only for a second.

Here are some thoughts on charging less for simple quilting.

When you charge less for simple quilting, I feel that you are devaluing your skills and time it has taken to LEARN those skills. I have been machine quilting for almost 20 years. I have 20 years of experience that, in a perfect world, I should be compensated for. My compensation in the real world is – learning how to quilt efficiently, having a few patterns/designs I can quilt quickly and knowing when to use these designs on an appropriate quilt.

If you continually use those quick quilting designs at a lower price, when your customer’s quilt really need custom quilting or detail work, they will probably balk or be unhappy with a higher price. You are training your customers to expect simple quilting! Imagine if you were quilting only two, maybe three designs on almost every quilt you quilt! BOOOORING!!!

I know, everyone has the “little old lady on a fixed income” customer. Yes, do the simple, less expensive quilting on her quilt. But remember, some of those “poor” old ladies may be in a better financial situation than you are – especially if you depend on your quilting income as your only source of income or as a significant supplement to your income.

In every business, there is something that is relatively easy and cheap to manufacture, do or create (wholesale cost), that is sold at an extremely high (retail) cost. And, we willingly pay those high costs! (What are the profit margins for a cup of brewed coffee in a restaurant? And how much do we willing pay for it?) Our quilting businesses are the same!

When the quilting goddess smiles on you and something great like this happens, enjoy the moment and don’t feel guilty.

What are your favorite quick-to-quilt patterns / designs? If it is a pantograph or digitized design, list the name and where you purchased it from.

What was the most per hour you have made on a customer quilt?

Post a Comment with your responses.

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About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 11 and quilting forever!

8 Responses to A Milestone

  1. Jeanell says:

    That’s wonderful! I really don’t think attorneys FEEL bad for the rates they charge, so why should we? You/we have a skill that was not learned over night and not everyone can sew/quilt. Customers would not be coming to us if they could do it themselves now would they. Plus that was only the hourly rate for one project if you averaged it with all other projects I’m guessing it would be less. Thanks for your great articles.

  2. Nadine says:

    Great~~~~ there is hope for rest of us. I think about 4.00 per hour would be My highest earning.

  3. I don’t remember the most I have made on a quilt, but it is likely only about $15 per hour. Factor in the overhead, and I’m not making anything. I recently got to the point where it’s been making me mad when my customers say they can’t afford me and am raising my rates (I know… passive/aggressive), but we are worth it, Cindy! I am happy with myself for finally getting to the point where I am mad about the pittance I am making and will continue to raise my prices. I have a waiting list and I can do things that none of the quilters in my area can do. So, quilters, raise your esteem and pride and raise those prices!!! Also, I am glad that FINALLY one of us quilters made $100 per hour.

  4. Carmen SW MO says:

    Perfect timing!! I also use a base price & finished a baby quilt last night tallied it up & had half a thought of reducing the amount since it didn’t take long, it wasn’t a complicated design, I enjoyed working on this little darling. After reading your message I realize & embrace I AM WORTH IT!! I am worth the time, money, and effort to create beautiful work therefore the fee is the fee!

  5. Leslie says:

    Congratulations! You have definitely earned it! Would love to get there myself but its hard to do with all the newer quilters in the area charging only a 1.5 cents psi for overall quilting. None of my customers ask me for overall quilting anymore (because I won’t go that low); they only ask me for custom, and that’s not where the money is. Would love to know how you deal with that!

  6. Christina says:

    I agree with Sharon. 🙂 Plus, as you so eloquently said, it has taken years for you to develop the skills which allowed you to quilt this in this time frame. Someone less skilled would take a lot longer. The pricing structure was known in advance and your skill/artistry is respected and valued. Multiple WOO HOO’s! :))))
    Thanks for sharing the milestone with us Cindy!!
    ~ Christina

  7. randy fox says:

    I had one recently that was a bit like that. It was 109×109. I also put binding on the quilt by machine. I used a simple pantograph that the customer chose. I started it thinking that it would take forever to quilt, but it went very quickly. Don’t have the exact time, but I think it was about 3 hours. Then I put the binding on. @.02 psi plus binding, thread , batting and backing fabric I sold her cheap it came up to over $400.

  8. Woo-hoo! You go girl!

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