How to value your quilts for commssion enquiries

Recently a friend wrote to me saying she was being asked to do a couple commssioned bed quilts and would like my input on how to charge for that.  My first thought was "Me? I don't really think I can offer much advice but here goes: "
And her response is what prompted this posting.
You never know what you know, that others don't. 
In other words, I shouldn't assume everyone knows what I know
(given that I seem to be the last person to find out anything!)
I'm simply posting our correspondence in hopes that if there are others out there with similar questions this may help you. 
I highly encorage you to visit the website I give for Sam Hunter Designs. I link to her article directly on how to value your work as she so succinctly puts it:
 'We are SEW worth it!'
I deleted her name for privacy but here's the rest:
Dear XXX
Congrats on your commissions! Not sure how much help I can give you regarding pricing though.  I will typically ask the client what size, what type of pattern, and how many fabrics and what their budget is.  I do personally offer payments and ALWAYS take a non-refundable 25% deposit.  There is also a contract that both the client and I sign with all the costs listed.    I recently did a queen sized quilt that I created the pattern for (simple keyhole pattern) and I charged $xxx.00 as she is a friend.  I really should have considered sending it out to be quilted and figured that into my calculations and if you haven't thought of that and don't have a longarm or feel that desire to quilt it yourself I offer my advice that I wish I would have done on the last one I made. I feel that while I did quilt it and it was lovely; sending it to a friend of mine who is a long armer with preloaded quilting patterns would have really been great but there again I would have had to add at minimum another $200 not to mention shipping both ways.  *another note you may not know is that most longarmers will back, batt & bind your quilt if you like as well.   
I go by materials, time, and effort.  How simple is the pattern?  How much piecing am I doing?  I know what I make hourly at my day job so I use that as a starting point for labor and go up given I value my artistic and creative side much more than my insurance agent hourly rate. When you add it up you'll find the cost grows pretty quickly.  If you aren't interested in making any profit on the deal (to replace your fabric stash) you may want to just leave the final total from the materials and degree of difficulty and be done.  I don't do that, my labor is worth something so I add that figure in. Then I look at the total.  If it's way over what the client has suggested or budgeted I will offer a three payment installment (in addition to the deposit).  If that is still not going to work then I simplify the pattern, or materials. All negotiated with the client so we are both happy.  
I also suggest you check out Sam Hunter's post on pricing your work (for bed sized type quilts) also.  (her site is here: )Hunter's Design Studio  she is a fabulous artist and her insight and cost calculations are a great starting point. Here's her specific article I mentioned above. What's it worth?
Cool patterns + sassy stuff! And the home of We Are $ew Worth It!
Preview by Yahoo
That's all I can think of at the moment.  Don't forget to make a fabulous label for the quilt and you might consider making a couple toss pillows with any scraps you have.  One recent commission I did- I know the woman has a prized feline in her heart so out of scraps I made small version of her quilt for her pet.  They are both deeeeelighted and she was overwhelmed! 
Feel free to email me anytime, I'm happy to help with any questions you may have. 
Happy sewing!
Here was her generous response that really made me feel good that I helped her:
Wow, Stacy! You are a wealth of knowledge! Thank you so much for all of this information. You have helped tremendously. I really can't thank you enough. I definitely agree with you that our time and labor should be compensated. And I love the idea of some extra throw pillows and/or a smaller version of the quilt for her pet. What a lovely gesture!

I just finished reading the fabulous article from Sam Hunter. I'm thrilled you suggested I read it. I really feel like I can confidently submit a proper quote now.

Suddenly the "fun" has been added back into the equation!

Thanks so much


  1. Stacy - You do have a wealth of knowledge and a generous heart to share your knowledge with the rest of us. I don't have any commission work yet but I will keep all that you said in mind if the time comes. Thank you!

  2. Stacy! You Rock! learning to figure out all that stuff on one's own is awful!


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