On Selling Quilts



When I made this Flying Geese Quilt, I saved the little strips left over from cutting.  I had an idea for a mini project that I wanted to make with them.

Today I had a few minutes in the sewing room, so I sat down and stitched them together in rows.  As I was sewing them, I started thinking about the original quilt.

Because I sold it.

I didn't list it in my shop for awhile, but then I did, for the same reason I sell most of my quilts.  Secretly almost hoping it wouldn't sell.  And then it did, within a week.  Figures!! I think I gave it an extra pet or two as I packaged it up, but then I knew that the person who bought it would give it more love than I could, so I'm no longer sad:)

Anyways, as I was sewing these little strips together and thinking about this quilt, I was thinking about selling quilts in general.  It seems to me that I have a different viewpoint than a lot of other quilting bloggers, at least the ones who have mentioned this topic.

I think the #1 problem most quilters face is that people do not want to pay what the quilt is worth to the maker.  This worth includes the actual material costs, time spent, and the emotional attachment which one just can't help investing in a quilt.  (the actual pricing of quilts is another topic for another day!)


Amy Butler Vintage Quilt


























(Pictured above is the first quilt I sold on Etsy in December 2009)


So here's a couple of reasons why I sell a majority of my quilts.

* If someone buys a quilt from me, I know they really want it.  I'm not selling them for bargain basement prices (some might disagree) but rather try to find a fair price that compensates me for the cost of materials and time but is also a realistic amount that the market can bear.

For example, the Flying Geese quilt that I just sold.  I really like that quilt, and spent a fair bit of time putting it together.  I would have gladly given it to someone I know if they had shown a genuine crazy love for it!  But when someone chooses to buy it, this also makes me very happy because I know that people don't throw $$$ at something they don't love.  I feel like the people that buy a quilt like this obviously understand the value of a hand made quilt.

* The feeling of making something with my hands and then putting it in my little store, together with selling it and sending it off to a new home fills that one little spot in me that being a wife and mom at home doesn't quite fill.

* It 'sort of' justifies me in buying more fabric!  (this can be taken waaay too far though!!)


The fact is, in the fall of 2009, I decided to try selling a few quilts on Etsy.  (This was a couple of months after my daughter was born, and my son was 2 1/2 yrs.  I have no idea....)

I still remember the feeling of that first quilt sale.  And I've been doing it ever since! 

As a small disclaimer, I want to add that I'm so thankful that this has been a mildly successful venture for me, but I know that it hasn't worked out for all who've tried it.  There can be so many reasons for this, and selling crafts online has changed vastly in the last 5 years.

One thing I can say though, is that it didn't happen on it's own.  I have spent countless hours struggling to get photos that look good, tweaking my shop's appearance and working on customer service. 



Modern Elephants Baby Quilt

























(another one of my early quilts I made to sell on Etsy)

There have been many moments where I've told myself that there would be so many easier ways to make a profit out of this hobby, like writing pdf patterns, but in the end I always come back to selling my quilts.  I dream of having a large inventory with many styles and sizes, maybe some customizable options...  these all may happen some day, but for now it just makes me happy to sell a few of my hodge podge creations:)

as always, thanks for reading!!  those of you who have read my blog through the years, left a comment, or bought a quilt from me, just... Thanks!  I hope you are rewarded for supporting and being a part of this community of creating.





26 comments:

  1. Great post, Jolene! So many of your comments struck a chord with me. I too sell my quilts in my Etsy shop but I am so happy to give them away as well. While I don't sell a lot in my shop, each one I do sell brings mixed feelings of a little excitement at selling another quilt, but also a little regret at having to let it go!

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  2. I started out making quilts for my family but quickly moved to making them for me and even giving some away. Listing them was a huge step, and it was AMAZING to finally sell one to some random person I didn't know. It was enough to help me keep that quilt I really like listed on my site, even though I really want to keep it in my own personal stack. And it encouraged me to keep making them, especially since there are so many new fabrics I like coming out right now. I look forward to growing in my skills so that I can make them more unique and beautiful, as you've been able to do.

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  3. It's a special feeling when someone purchases a quilt from the thousands that are available and the feedback is always welcome. Your quilts are beautiful and original and made to be loved. I've been selling on Etsy since 2010 and it's so rewarding to see that my quilts have gone across the globe and some of the earlier people I've sold to are coming back for more.

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  4. So true! I sell my quilts at very reasonable prices because I want people that want them to be able to afford them and in turn--actually use them! I applaud your thoughts on this!

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  5. So much of what you shared here resonates with me. Thank you for articulating some of my sentiments. I aspire to sell some of my quilts but have yet to take that plunge. In the meantime, I enjoy creating a stockpile to have and share.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your selling journey, Jolene! You're one of my favorite bloggers, not only for your talent but your honesty. You stay true to yourself and that speaks volumes. :)

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  8. I like that you stay true to your gift, making original one of a kind quilts, and are willing to share or (sell) them to others who admire/value/have to have that quilt....

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  9. Thank you for your post. I just gave up my teaching job after 30 years and am just thinking about beginning to sell my quilts and other hand sewn items. It was really interesting to read your thoughts on this - I want to begin trying to sell my things, everyone tells me my high standard of finish is exactly right for people who want to spend their money on something handmade. At the same time I also know that the time and care invested in making beautiful things makes them sometimes difficult to part with!

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  10. Lovely post. It is a love story - every quilt is one.

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  11. The most important thing is that you do it the way you want to. Good post.

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  12. Well put... I think many of us can relate as to why we create (and possibly sell) quilts! Your quilts dare gorgeous so it's no wonder why people want them!

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  13. I think I feel pretty similarly to how you do. I haven't sold many quilts, but I love giving them away and I still have a few more people I would like to give one to :) But I see selling as more of a reason to keep making quilts and keep passing them on to people who want them. That discussion a while back about how we should be charging these high prices for our quilts really bothered me. I don't think anyone should tell me how much I should charge, I feel like selling quilts is more of a way to share something I made rather than to make a big profit. Plus I think everyone should be able to afford a quilt!

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  14. It is so true for many of the words you shared! I have the same thoughts when I am selling the handmade goods in Etsy. I think most of us take pride and great love/care to what we made. It takes great love and passion for what we do! :) Have a wonderful day, xc

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  15. I haven't ventured into any thoughts of selling my quilts yet, I'm still too busy giving them away :)

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  16. Enjoyed reading your thoughts and the comments here today, Jolene. Wishing you many more years of happy making (and selling)!

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  17. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject. I think many of us quilters have, at one time or another, given some thought to selling our quilts. I've wondered about it myself but so far all of my quilt making time has gone to making quilts for loved ones. The other thing that has always held me back is pricing: how do I price my quilts to reflect the value of fabric and labor while not pricing out the customer? Fabric alone can really eat into the cost of a quilt, and you want to get something back for your labor... It's still a conundrum for me. It's refreshing to read that you've found a good balance that works so well for you and your quilting style. xoxo

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  18. Al f these stuff are looking awesome. I am also going to start this business very soon.

    Gorgeous Tart Leilah Dress

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  19. Would love to hear your thoughts about pricing quilts in another post.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading this. I've only sold one item that a friend asked me to make, but beyond the economics of pricing and challenge of marketing/customer service, I've wondered how people feel in general about selling. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. i've just recently stumbled on your blog. im a blogging newby, but i have to say i truly enjoy your quilting creations! i think if you can pull it off to make a profit for them, you should be rewarded for your time and love put into each one! i wish you many more successful years of quilting!

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  22. I make and sell up cycled rag quilts. I can't say that without a smirk, because it is still so funny to me. But pricing is so hard for me. As I tackle my quilt across the sewing table and stitch it into submission, or make the bazillion cuts that make it a rag quilt, I promise myself I'll up my price on this one and actually make more than $5 an hour! Then it's finished, I post it on Etsy and cave, pricing it once again so it will sell and not just sit there making me feel bad. I keep meaning to document exactly how long it takes me to make these, especially since I upcycle all the fabric, but deep down I guess I don't really want to know. :0)
    Nice blog by the way, I just started following you, I Googled Cute Quilt Blogs.
    Jessica
    allsquaredup.blogspot.com
    squaredup on Etsy

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  23. Very well said. I've been going back and forth on whether to sell my quilts and I've been very concerned that I wouldn't love my hobby anymore. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

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  24. I mostly give my quilts away to people who love them but have no idea how much goes into them. I've made a few on commission but am trying to limit that, because I'd rather work on my own ideas. I love your work and love that etsy is allowing many people to sell their work to a larger audience and command better prices. I remember when no one would pay more than $40 for a baby quilt! It seems the current trend in handmade craft in the US has helped drive prices up, but my hope is that one day the market will support avg $200 for a baby quilt and $400-500 for a full/queen sized quilt which is closer to their value.

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  25. after all the hoopla out there about "fair" pricing, it's so refreshing to hear your slightly different take on the matter. i'm so glad it's worked out well for you and that you are happy with your results. i've always found it strange that we can give quilts away for absolutely free, out of the goodness of our hearts but the minute we try to put a pricetag on a quilt, the critics descend. i do understand some of their reasoning but like your simple, honest approach to what works for you much better. not to mention that i adore your quilts! every time i see one i'd like to purchase, it's usually gone. maybe someday i'll hit it just right.

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