The Cost of a T-Shirt Quilt

I recently was helping a professional quilter to figure out what to charge for a start-to-finish T-Shirt quilt. Together we did a cost analysis and it was very enlightening! Then in an online group, someone else asked how to charge for making the same kind of T-Shirt quilt.

I wrote out the cost analysis, posted it to the group and I thought you would be interested in seeing it. And here it is –

T-Shirt Quilt, Start to Finish, Cost Analysis (or What to Charge a Customer for this Type of Quilt.)

This quilt is to be made using 15 T-Shirts, cut to 12 inches square – 3 shirts across, 5 shirts down in a traditional horizontal setting – with 2 inch sashing and 4 inch, straight set borders.

The approximate finished size of the quilt is 52 x 80 inches.

Let’s start with the quilting –

Backing fabric, 4.5 yards @ 10 per yard = $45
Batting, 2 yards @ $10 per yard = $20
Thread = $15
Binding, 22 running /perimeter feet at $3 per foot = $66.
Applied with home sewing machine, front and back. More if hand stitched to the back
Quilting Labor, 4,160 square inches @ .04 cents = $175
Yes, I know that this is high, but there can be ALL sorts of problems quilting on T shirts, even if you do all the    piecing.

For the quilting, my total would be $321

Now for the piecing –

Interfacing for behind the T shirts, 4 yards @ $4 per yard = $16
Sashing and Border fabrics, total of 4 yards @ $10 per yard = $40
Piecing labor, 15 hours @ $15 per hour = $225
I have made T shirt quilts and there can be a LOT of time involved even with “simple” piecing.

The piecing total would be $281.

Add the quilting total ($321) with the piecing total ($281) for a grand total of $602. For simplicity, let’s round that to $600. This would be the MINIMUM I would charge for this quilt.

Now, lets take $600 divide it by 15 T shirts used in this quilt, for a total of $40 per T shirt.

Let’s take this one step further. Let’s assume that you customer is not satisfied with 12 inch blocks in a traditional horizontal setting. She wants something “different” and you have to come up with a unique setting and work with MANY different sizes of T-Shirt logos, etc.

I would start at a price of $40 per T-Shirt then ADD A LOT of extra $$$. How much is a LOT EXTRA?? Only you can answer that question, but I would at least DOUBLE what I have priced in the traditional setting.  I would charge at least $1,200 for this type of quilt. If there was extra supplies / fabric / interfacing, etc., then this price would also increase.

Here is something else to remember. Be sure to receive at least HALF of the amount you are charging  – which is non-refundable – when the order is placed. You have to purchase supplies and your time is valuable! When the quilt top is ready to be put on the quilting machine, another one quarter or the cost is required and when the quilt is completed, the remainder of the fee is to be paid.

Be sure to document EVERYTHING about this custom order, from start to finish!

Let’s face it, making a quilt from start to finish can be a lot of fun, but it is our WORK! We should be paid a reasonable fee for our time and our skills to make a special, unique, one of a kind quilt that is going to last a long, long, time!

I look forward to reading your comments.

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

12 Responses to The Cost of a T-Shirt Quilt

  1. Ann Harbert says:

    Thank you for great information.

  2. kallii1962 says:

    Fantastic! I have always believed in charging for my time and there are way to many out there who don’t….look at anything custom as a JOB and charge accordingly. Love the breakdown…thanks for doing it.

  3. Sherri Kennedy says:

    Oh my, I guess I am not charging nearly enough. I have been doing t-shirt quilts for about 10 years now. I have worked with as few as 12 shirts and as many as 69 shirts. I DO NOT cut my shirt to a prescribed size and work out a design using all these different sizes. Since I will not work with fractions, the shirts are cut at a deminsion dividable by 2 (inches). I charge by the hour for everything but the binding. That is by the inch. I do have to say I enjoy making these t-shirt quilts. My quilts run between $300-$400 and sometimes a bit more……total for my cost. I do not do any machine quilting so that is a separate charge for the LAQ.

  4. Marlette Louisin says:

    CIndy, you are so full of wonderful information! Thank you for this pricing. I made a 20 block straight set T-shirt quilt for my dental hygienist to give to her son for graduation about 6yrs ago. I backed it with fleece in the team colors. Some of the shirts were as small as size 4 and went up to adult size. Yes, I know, not exactly standard. I charged her $175.00. She and he were thrilled with the quilt. Two weeks later she called to say she had 3 friends who would like to have quilts made and was I interested. Thanks, but no.

    Maybe I should have asked for a 75% discount on my next cleaning!
    I sure hope those of you who do these quilts for others do charge most of what it really costs. It’s time that people realize it’s work and a gift to make these quilts!
    Marlette Louisin
    Quilting for my friends and family and charity!

  5. I have been asked if I make tee shirt quilts many many times. I see the potential to make some $$ there, but am not inclined towards piecing as much as longarm quilting! I have encouraged our local longarm group members (Longarmers Unplugged, Sacramento CA) to investigate this avenue of revenue. I’m sure they would be swamped with requests!! Rita (above comment) makes the most fabulous memory quilts from start to finish. Truly a work of art, and very labor intensive. She puts a lot of love into each one. She sometimes uses photos and incorporates small articles of special clothing (little dresses, baby items) into the quilt. So I hope that those are in the $1200 range as they should be!

  6. TRACY AKSCHAMOWITSCH says:

    Thanks for taking the time to do this and share it.

  7. Rita Traxler says:

    I’m the Client Cindy was working with this last week!

    I have not been charging enough. Thank you Cindy for your wise counseling!

    Cindy suggested that I charge a design fee of $125. to draw design and that would go towards the quilt if they decided to go with me if not that was mine for the design time. ( I was charging $75.00)

    Well I had a new client come in this week and she wants a 12 to 15 T-Shirt quilt with design not standard. So I gave her the fees and she didn’t bat an eye! I also have a long arm and quilt my quilts.

    I’m looking for T-Shirt quilters to refer to as I’m not taking any new clients since I’m over 6 months booked out! So email me if you are interested with some pictures of your work.

    I have a 1600 sq ft Studio and it costs $ to run it so I need to make enough to cover the costs and still make a profit on my work. I do sell fabric in my shop as well as on Etsy.

    Happy quilting!

    Rita Traxler
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/Quiltersmarketplace?ref=hdr_shop_menu
    ritatraxlerdesigns.com
    facebook & instragram

  8. Amy Sackman says:

    I really appreciated reading your piece! I make (and sell) t-shirt quilts via etsy and my website. They are NOT SQUARES – I use random angles, and work the shirts together with other fabrics as I go. I charge $875 for a 60″ x60″ quilt. I don’t really calculate the cost of materials when charging, as it would be too disheartening. I just try to get a reasonable hourly rate. Your post makes me feel like I should be charging more, as my t-shirt quilts are unique and unlikely to be replicated. On the other hand, there is a real limit to what people are willing to pay! Thanks so much for your post.

    amy

  9. Mary Patterson says:

    I have used $25 a shirt for a quilt like this. $450 and that was after buying fabric, interfacing and doing some repairs on old t-shirts.
    I even bought printed fabric for corner stones in the school mascot from e-bay.
    I didn’t make much money on the project.

    Mary in SC

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