Welcome to Farm Quilter

Enjoy your stay under the variable skies of Eastern Washington and watch the seasons change, from planting to harvest here on the farm...be sure to wrap up in a quilt during the winter, it's cold!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What is it worth?

 Sam Hunter, who blogs at http://huntersdesignstudio.com/ posted this and I LOVE it!!  I have been asked this question before by people who have been interested in a quilt I made.  Awesome answer here!!

"This morning I caught a post on a quilting Facebook feed… a member posted a picture of a delightful baby quilt and asked what she should charge the neighbor that just asked to buy it from her. She mentioned that the quilt was made from a panel with pieced borders, and that the quilting was done in threads to match the fabric colors (oh, the thread changes!). She mentioned she was thinking $85. A fellow poster thought $100 was better. Another said it depends on the closeness of the friendship.
First of all… I’m not naming names here because I don’t want this person to feel pilloried – far from it, I absolutely appreciate her question and have one heck of an opinion about how it should be answered… a rather, ahem, shall we say passionate opinion – you are warned! Her question, which I hear dozens of times a year, is absolutely legitimate. How does one price a handmade piece of work?
And to note – there is a difference between what it’s WORTH, and what you can ACTUALLY GET for it. So keep that in mind and I’ll address this difference at the end after I show you how I calculate the WORTH part of it:

1. Determine the cost of the goods involved. Fabric is averaging $12 a yard, and even if you bought the fabric years ago, it will still cost you $12 (plus sales tax) a yard to replenish what you used. Same goes for if it came out of your scraps. You still bought the original yardage that the scraps came from… they didn’t give you a 25% discount assuming that a quarter of it would head to your scrap basket! If you got it on sale, wonderful! The savings are for YOU. You hunted it down. And it’s probably the only “freebie” your going get out of this process so take it and run.

2. If you don’t want to count out the yardage of all the little pieces, instead calculate the total area of the quilt top (let’s say it’s 48″ x 60 for a generous lap quilt), and then multiply it by 3 for a simple quilt, and 4 or more for a more complex one – then divide it by 1440, the area of a yard of 40″ fabric. Why these numbers? The fabric it takes to make the top of a simple quilt is about double the surface area because of all the fabric lurking in the seam allowances – and don’t forget the binding! The other “one” is the backing. And use 5 if you paper pieced most of it (because there are way more seams and you have to cut bigger for paper piecing). So for this simple lap quit: 48 x 60 = 2880, 2880 x 3 = 8640, and 8640 / 1440 = 6. So 6 yards at $12 a yard is $72 for materials.

3. Do you wash and iron your fabric before you use it? Add 25% for the time and water and electricity and wear and tear on your (probably expensive) iron and your Netflix subscription for the movies you watch while you iron. Ladies… it’s 2013 and in 2013 we do not iron for free.

4. What did the batting cost? The thread? The embellishments? Add those in. Yes, the thread – because you have to replenish it! And you are probably using a lovely, high quality, long staple cotton goody that can’t be had on sale at the big chain store so yes, you must charge for your thread. And note that there are other consumable products that you could charge for here: machine needles, blades, template plastic, fusible web, etc.

5. Now we get to TIME. How long did it take? Not just the cutting, pressing, sewing, but the “sits and thinks” part of the equation. The pondering, plotting, and extra trips to the store for one more FQ of the perfect print for that corner. The stitching of the binding. The label. All of that. I’m going to, for the sake of easy numbers, say my simple lap quilt took 15 hours – in other words, about a day to choose, cut and piece (assuming all the materials were already in my studio), and another day to layer, quilt and bind. Yes, the binding you do in front of the telly at night is still hours spent on the piece.

6. How much do you think your hourly rate should be? $10? $20? $30? You are certainly worth more than minimum wage. You are a skilled craftsperson. In my case, I’ve been quilting for 25 years and sewing for 43. This is not an insignificant statement. If you hire that depth of skill to lay tile in your house or make cabinets for your kitchen, it will cost you more than $20 an hour. My years of skill ensures the quilt is well constructed, made of quality materials (chosen with a discerning eye and years of practice), and executed with knowledge and a passion for the artistry and craft. This is WORTH a lot. So I’m going to go with $20 an hour for my simple quilt (I would go up for something more complex, and add even more if it was a commission for a pain-in-the-patootie client). Thus – $300 for my labor, and I’m rounding up to $100 for my materials (high quality cotton batting, threads from Aurifil and Isacord, etc). So my lovely little lap quilt is $400.

WORTH vs. What you can get

And I hear you laughing. No one’s gonna give you $400 for that, you say. And you are probably right. But here’s the thing… the fact that society has poo-poohed our grandmas’ prowess with a needle while celebrating their husbands’ prowess with a plow is a sad history that we need to rectify. “Women’s work” has been terribly devalued. And ONLY WE CAN CHANGE THIS. It is up to us to educate the public that what we do has WORTH. And we have to do this with confidence. We have to OWN IT.

So the way I tackle this is to state the gist of my calculations to the person that offers me a department store sale price for my work. I state the price, and then I educate them on what it takes to make a good quilt. The fabric quality. The time. The years I’ve spent honing my craft. I point out that I don’t work for minimum wage as this is much harder than “do you want fries with that?” Then I re-state the price. I own it.

Most of the time they don’t buy, but that’s OK (and if I absolutely want them to have the quilt I give it to them for free). I won’t sell it for less because I feel so very strongly that to sell low is to continue the myth that our work has little value. Either I get what I’m worth or it’s a precious gift. I’m taking a stand for the team, OUR TEAM. Every time we let hours of work out of the house for $5 an hour and free materials without the educational part of the discussion we are letting down the team.

I truly get that our original poster might only be able to squeak $100 out of this sale. And that she might have to put aside any philosophical stands to get her hands on that $100 to shore up the grocery budget (and I have absolutely done this when I needed to). But I really hope she adds the “lesson” to her invoice when she picks up the check!"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Finished Follow the Son

This quilt was the first time I tried multiple curved pieces in a quilt...and only the second time I have pieced curves.  The pattern is called Radiant Suns and is forgiving of piecing errors.  The quilting took an hour per 9" block because I did a different pattern in each of the five pieces that make up the block.  I love the way it turned out.

I changed one quilting pattern in one part of the orange blocks to make them a little different from the green and purple blocks.  I'm so happy to have this one finished.  It will be going into the quilt show here in town the end of April.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I Got from the Fat Quarter Shop

I received all these goodies over a week ago, but between quilting classes and a machine quilters guild meeting out of town Friday and Saturday and my local guild's Quilt Til Ya Wilt on Monday, I have been a bit busy...so here they are:
Two bolts of Kona grey - one light and one medium, a darling quilt pattern from Crazy Old Ladies, a yard of that totally cool black and white and 2 yards of wide blue paisley for the backing on the quilt I'm making for my daughter's VFW to raffle off.  Ok, it was a bit more than the $150 gift certificate, but not much...I really wanted free shipping, I needed the backing material and the black and white material AND the pattern with on sale!!!  Thank you so much, Fat Quarter Shop!  Awesome place to do business and I highly recommend them to everyone!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Missing Mom

This is not a post about quilting today.

Two years ago tonight I was in Reno caring for my mom who had come home from the hospital that morning.  On the 10th of March she had fallen in the wee hours of the morning, knocking herself out and splitting her head open.  My dad called the ambulance and got her to the hospital, but she wasn't doing well.  I had just driven to Florida to begin my pet/house sitting for my daughter, Tristan, while she was deployed to Afghanistan.  The night of the 10th, Tristan called the hospital to find out how her Nana was doing and the nurse told her that if she wanted to see her Nana again, she needed to get to the hospital that night.  Well, that was a bit difficult with Tampa being on the other side of the country!  Undaunted, she got on the phone and worked with a travel agent...at 3 AM on the 11th we finally got tickets on a flight leaving Tampa at 7 AM (and I still can't believe the price on a one-way ticket!), making it to Reno by noon.  We got a rental car and drove directly to the hospital.  My best friend (she was at my first birthday party), her sister and mother were with my dad at the hospital.  At first my mom didn't know who I was, but she told me my hair was pretty, "just like Susan's" she said.  I told her that my hair was like Susan's because I was Susan.  After that she seemed to know who I was.  My daughter, however, got to play the role of all of my daughters that day. 

On Saturday morning we had a hospital bed and oxygen delivered to the house and set up in readiness for my mom coming home from the hospital.  Mom was home and comfortable by noon.  When Tristan came over, Mom knew her immediately and told her that she needed a little nap before she got up to make cookies for Tristan to take with her to Afghanistan.  Tristan totally lost it because Nana always sent her cookies on all of her deployments and she knew she would not be getting any cookies from Nana again.  Amazing how a few hours of baking cookies on my mom's part translated into such a concrete example of her love for my daughter.  That was really the last time my mom talked to us.  I spent the night on the couch in the family room with my mom so my dad could sleep.

Sunday, March 13, my dad hurried out in the morning to run to the store.  He came back home with a beautiful bouquet of roses for "my lady".  My mom always loved to get flowers and roses were a special favorite of hers.  When a nurse friend came over to visit, I got her to help my turn my mom over.  We put the roses on a table a foot or so from my mom's head, she opened her eyes and saw the flowers and when we told her that my dad had bought them for her, her eyes widened and she smiled.  That was the last time she opened her eyes.

Right before 5 PM, while my dad and I sat on the couch in the family room, I noticed that my mom's breathing was slowing and I told my dad that she was going.  We each held a hand while my mom took her last breath and easily slipped away from us, going home to her Savior.  At 89, she had lived a long, happy life and was ready to go home. 

My dad, almost 92, is still living on his own and going to work most every day.  My husband and I are planning a cruise with my dad later this spring.  My oldest daughter will be presenting us with a new baby this May or June.  Tristan is planning on getting married in July of 2014 and wants her Papa to walk her down the aisle.  Life goes on, but there is an empty space that only mom can fill and I'm really missing her.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Fat Quarter Shop

I placed my order with the Fat Quarter Shop yesterday and the only thing hard about it was not putting all of everything in my cart!  I got a call from the Fat Quarter Shop shortly after I placed my order, letting me know that one of the fabrics I chose was not in stock in the amount I wanted.  The wonderful lady (I'm so sorry I don't remember her name) suggested several alternatives and talked to me about the true colors of the other choices I had while I looked on their website.  Obviously my screen doesn't show the true color of every material, no blame, just fact.  If you want to experience awesome customer service, incredible selection and some truly exceptional prices, Fat Quarter Shop is the place for you to shop.  If you have any questions, just call them and the friendly, knowledgeable ladies will be happy to help you in any way!  Check them out at http://www.fatquartershop.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

I won!!!

I got the most amazing email from SewCalGal who blogs at http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com that I was a winner of a prize for being a PR Angel for her recent 2013 Golden Quilters Awards.  I won a gift certificate to The Fat Quarter Shop, which won the category of Best Online Quilt Shop!!!  When I saw that, I figured I was the lucky winner of a $10 or $20 (if I was lucky) gift certificate and I knew I would have no trouble finding goodies at the Fat Quarter Shop to spend that gift certificate on.  Well, I was wrong.  I was so wrong I had to go back to SewCalGal's blog FOUR times to look at the prize listed...I won a gift certificate for $150.00!!!!!  I am gobsmacked!  My jaw hit the floor!  Talk about incredible generosity from the Fat Quarter Shop!  Thank you SewCalGal for running the Golden Quilters Awards every year and a huge thank you to the Fat Quarter Shop http://www.fatquartershop.com for the totally awesome, wonderful, fabulous, over-the-top prize!!!  I am dancing off to my quilt guild's meeting tonight!