Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Value of a Quilt

We are only a month into 2014 and this year has already proven to be starting off with growth, progress, learning and a lot of soul searching. I have been busy sewing as we prepare to welcome our new family member and also have had my Etsy shop closed for a few months now to help me prepare. I thought I would be missing sewing for the shop but I have actually been happier than ever. The more I have had time to enjoy my sewing the more I realized why I was so relieved . . . I was being grossly underpaid through the shop. Like $1-$3 an hour for my time. 

I find that I dread when someone approaches me and asks if I can create a quilt for them. And why do I dread it? They are wanting me to craft a completely unique, quality quilt for the price of the quilts made in sweat shops that are being sold in department stores. Or they are browsing Etsy and seeing the ridiculously under-priced handmade quilts . . . sorry to say, when one artist under prices their work it effects the whole community.

So as I worked on a very, very special quilt for my baby's crib I decided to keep track of all that goes into a quilt (not including all of the love)! Typically I design my own creations but for this one I had seen a quilt shared on Pinterest that I just loved and luckily the blogger had shared her pattern at Ricochet and Away!

Obviously, the first step to a quilt is shopping for the fabrics . . . luckily I had fabrics of my own that I had bought earlier in 2013 and had been stashing away for a special project. I couldn't think of a more important project to use them in. 

Next I had to cut into these fabrics (often the hardest step for a quilter dipping into a special fabric in their stash). In this scenario it took me about an hour and a half. 

The third step was piecing. For this quilt it took me an hour. 

Then it was back to the cutting board to cut these pieces into the triangles that I needed. Luckily, this step only took me 15 minutes. 

Once my triangles were cut it was off to the ironing station to press them out into squares. Pressing took 45 minutes. 

Then it was back to the cutting board to trim all the squares to be the exact same size. It took an hour and 20 minutes but I consider this a crucial step to be sure everything lines up correctly.

Next I had to lay everything out to prepare for piecing the top together. One of my favorite steps because it is now that you can actually see what the quilt will look like. The most fun 40 minutes of the quilt at this point!

Then it is back to the sewing machine, this time with the iron set up right next to it so I can piece and press as I go. Piecing the entire top took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Following this I moved it to my table (I am now getting a little too large to be crawling on the floor to baste) where I could layer and baste the quilt without too much discomfort. This was another 45 minutes as I basted with safety pins every 4-5 inches or so. 

Then I chose some threads, attached my walking foot and began quilting. It took a total of 5 hours to quilt this top with simple straight line quilting. 

Once the quilting was finished I was able to once again turn to the cutting mat to trim the whole quilt to be sure that each side was perfectly straight and the quilt was squared off. I also created my binding. All of this took another hour and a half. 

Finally I had to attach my binding. I do the securing of the binding by hand so at this point I had stopped keeping track of the clock as I just wanted to relax and enjoy the process as I watched television with the family. 

I definitely put over 13 hours of work into this quilt. I felt it might be fun to share the process with those less familiar with what goes into a quilt so they maybe wouldn't be as shocked to hear what a quilter charges when they ask about having a quilt handmade. You certainly cannot expect to get a handmade, quality quilt for $50-75 dollars when someone is putting that kind of love into it. That wouldn't even be valuing their time at minimum wage, not to mention the cost of the materials that go into a quilt. I can say the materials alone for this quilt would value in at around $60. 

I guess I am also using this post as a huge explanation as to why I will not be selling my quilts. I would much rather put the love and time into creating for those closest to me. I also know I would one day like to quilt for competition . . . once I feel like I am able to compete with the best of the best! So I am much better off using my time to design and practice, practice, practice! :)

I don't like the feeling of despising, almost hating, a quilt as I work on it for less than $5 an hour. It makes me feel just as undervalued as my item is. I put so much love into my quilts . . . I really love creating an item that will be cuddled under for years and years to come! A quilt is so much more special when I know someone is appreciating its value and cherishing it for what it is . . . something so much more than what a sweatshop and cheap fabric has to offer. It is a piece of me that is put into every stitch that will hug them over and over and over again as long as they keep my quilt close at hand! 

Now I must go work on a very special label for this very special quilt. Happy quilting! 

1 comment:

  1. I totally get this. I'm currently working on a commission quilt, finishing a quilt for another quilter who is too ill to finish it herself. I told her up front that I'd charge $10 an hour for my time (I'm still not charging for all that time). I was also asked to make a baby quilt for my aunt for her very first great grand baby. I'll keep track of my time, and probably still won't charge for everything (it is my cousin's first grandbaby, too). At least I won't be hand quilting either of these.