Is it Good?? Maybe Not!!

I am writing about a recent customer quilt that I completed, which turned out to be a “learning experience.”

Here are the details –  Sunburst Quilt This is a pattern that is based on pinwheel blocks. IMHO pinwheel blocks ALWAYS have problems with “lumpy” and thick seam joins – which pinwheel patterns are notorious for!

Piecing hint – press any diagonal seams OPEN and the seam joins will be MUCH less bulky!

Because this quilt was done during the Covid pandemic, the quilt was dropped off at my front door. I did a cost estimate and quilting ideas which I sent to my customer via email.

Here is the Quilting Ideas and Estimate I sent to my customer

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Sunburst Quilt – 64 x 74 inches (4,736 square inches)
click on any photo for a larger view


Note – This photo is from the pattern cover.

I have two different ideas for this quilt.

#1 – All over “waves” which will go horizontally across the quilt. I am thinking a very pale yellow cotton thread (Signature, Sand Dollar color) See photos below, which are from another customer quilt from a few years ago.

 

#2 – Baptist Fan quilting as an all over pattern. The Baptist Fans (interlocking quarter circles) is quilted using circle templates and would be the higher of the prices quoted. I would use the same light yellow cotton thread as above. See photos below. These are my personal quilts.

  


Pricing

Thread – $10
Batting – $15 – Soft & Bright (Warm Co) preferred
Quilting – $175 – $250, depending on the quilting idea chosen

Let me know your thoughts and if you approve of the quilting ideas I have suggested.

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My customer choose #2, the all over Baptist Fans option, which I would charge $250.

At a quick glance, you might say, “Wow!! That is a lot of $$ for that size of quilt!” And, if you do the math, it is over 5 cents per square inch! And you may be thinking “Woo hoo, I am laughing and dancing all the way to the bank!!”

Before you do that, let’s put some more thought into this. Here is where the TIME factors into things.

Before I started the quilting, I had estimated about 8 hours of my life would go into this quilt. If I divided $250 by 8 hours, I would be making $31.25 per hour working on this quilt, which is barely above my minimum hourly wage goal.

Note: when I am in my studio working on a customer quilt, I want to make at least $30 per hour minimum on ANY quilt I am working on! This may seem like a lot of $$, but it also includes the operating expenses of my business of at least 30%. I would be making about $21 per hour after expenses. FWIW – minimum wage where I live (Seattle, WA) is $15 per hour.

That’s the estimate, the reality is that I spent almost 12 hours working on this quilt! Why did this quilt take so much more time? (How did I know it took me 12 hours to complete this quilt? Because I timed myself while working on the quilt and documented it on my worksheet. For details on this, check out my online class, Your Customer Worksheet by Clicking Here)

I have not quilted Baptist Fans for a while and I forgot how time consuming they can be to quilt. I use templates when I quilt the Baptist Fans and any templates (of any kind) WILL add extra time to the project.

Remember, this piecing pattern is based on pinwheels and I had to deal with the thick seam joins with extra starts, stops and trimmings – all of which added time. Even if I did an all over pattern or a pantograh, I would STILL have had to deal with the thick seam joins which would have added extra time to the quilting.

Let’s do the math on more time – $250 divided by 12 (hours) equals – $20.83 and if I allow 30% for my business operating expenses, my hourly wage would be $14.58, which is slightly below minimum wage in my area.

The lessons learned from this are –

1 – although the initial price seems high, when the quilt is finished you may be making LESS $$.
2 – don’t be afraid to charge more for more detailed or time consuming work. The MORE time it takes to do the work, the MORE $$ you should be charging.
3 – If you are using templates (of any kind), add MORE time and $$ to your estimate.
4 – the next time I quilt Baptist Fans, I WILL charge more – a LOT more!!!
5 – just because it cost more, it doesn’t mean you will be making more $$$

By the way, the quilt turned out fabulous and my customer was delighted!

  

Let’s do another scenario –

Let’s say that my customer chose Quilting Idea #1, wavy lines, instead of Baptist Fans, at $175. (.036 per square inch)

I could easily get that quilting completed in four hours. That would give me an estimated hourly wage of $43.75 per hour, less 30% operating expenses would equal $30.62 per hour!! Now THAT is a wage I can live with!!

If you have not been timing yourself when you are working on a quilt, PLEASE, PLEASE, start doing so!!! You will be AMAZED at what you can learn!

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please leave them below or send them to me in an email to longarmu@aol.com.

About Cindy Roth
Mother of 3, Grandmother of 10 and quilting forever!

2 Responses to Is it Good?? Maybe Not!!

  1. Shirley Crihfield says:

    The quilt looks great. I have wanted to do a Baptist Fan but as yet I’ve been hesitant to try. I’m piecing a 9 patch Quilt of Valor now. Perhaps its time to try the Fan. Wish me luck.

  2. Kathy says:

    Do you have any ideas for an easy pattern to quilt on a snowball quilt?

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