Sunday 12 December 2021

The Cost of a Home-Made Gift

Recently, one of my colleagues at work got married. I wanted to give her a little something as an acknowledgement of her wedding, so I produced this gift basket and its contents. 

It included the quilted basket, 
a knitted dishcloth, 
a crocheted dishcloth, 
and two quilted hot pot holders, 
each with a different quilt block, 
all done in her wedding colours of teal and burgundy. 
Honestly, if I bought all of these items at the Dollar Store, I probably would have spent maybe $10. So, it seems cheap, even for a shower present. But, while I didn't time myself, I know that it took me at least 8-12 hours to produce all of them. Now, I know that there are people that can quilt, crochet and knit faster than I do. However, I'm probably about average in speed. Think about what you make - or what the average worker makes -  per hour. No, I wouldn't expect what I make as an RN, but I would certainly expect more than minimum wage for my skill and expertise. But even at minimum wage, which is currently $15/hour in Alberta, at the least amount of time I estimated, 8 hours, that would be $120 for this set in labour alone. That doesn't include the time it took me to research and choose patterns and select fabric and yarn. Fortunately, these were all in my stash, or it would have demanded even more time to go shopping and purchase the supplies. Then, in addition to the cost of materials - yarn, fabric, batting, specialty batting (I use two layers of batting in hot pot holders - one regular batting and one with a metallic fibre to insulate), and thread, there is also the equipment that I need - sewing machine, seam ripper, rotary cutter, cutting mat, iron and ironing board, knitting needles and crochet hook, etc., plus electricity to power my sewing machine and iron. 
When you add all of that up, you realize that it is a pretty costly gift. 
Recently, I decided to see if I could sell some quilting projects, and I actually kept track of my time, so I would know how much to charge. Again, the time did not include researching and designing patterns or shopping and purchasing fabrics, nor the time it took me to drive to The Gallery where I am displaying my quilts for sale, or to buy the rack for displaying them or setting them up on the rack. So, here we go: 
Leah's Ladder, 43" x 57": 10 hours
Heat Wave, 47" x 59": 12 hours
Puppies for Christmas, Table Runner 44" x 15" and 6 placements each 16" x 12": 11 hours
Sunrise in the Serengeti, 55" x 70": 24.25 hours
Ribbons and Stars, 60" x 74": 16 hours
There you have it. Multiply the number of hours by $20, which is a very reasonable amount for a skilled artisan. Then add the cost of materials, supplies, patterns, if purchased, and maintenance, repair and depreciation on my equipment. I have come to the conclusion that I will either have to find an upscale market for my quilts if I want to get a fair price for my labour or just continue to gift them and forget about selling. Several years ago, I was in St. Jacob's, Ontario, which has a predominantly Mennonite population. I went into a quilt store (I assume this is it, but, unfortunately, they don't post their prices online) and found a queen-sized quilt for around $1000. Today that quilt would likely sell for at least $1500. People must be buying them at those prices in order to keep the store open. I just have to find those people. 😁
Someday, I will post more about why home-made quilts cost so much more than the ones you can get at the big box stores... But in the meantime, remember that a home-made gift is a priceless labour of love. 

No comments:

Post a Comment