After several more folks asked Ladyhawk what I'd charge to do them a king size bed quilt (why is it ALWAYS king?), I broke this down and put it on my FB page. I'm sure many of you can relate.
Before I start this post, ask yourself what you think you would pay a quilter to create for you a custom king size quilt. What would you pay? Think about that for a second, then read on.......
On occasion, LadyHawk Smith and I are asked what I would charge to make them a custom quilt in certain colors and most often for some reason, it's a king size quilt. When she tells them a ballpark figure, they are often taken aback, saying it's a lot or too much. First of all, I do not make king size quilts. I do not have a machine that is large enough to machine quilt a bed quilt of any size, much less a king, therefore if I did acquiesce and agree to make a king size, it would be entirely quilted BY HAND. But, this gave me the idea to make a post about what it costs ME to make a quilt and give folks some perspective on this.
Fabric: Fabric is expensive, which I know some people do not realize. I use only good quality 100% cotton fabric. If you use cheaply made fabric, both you and your customer pay for it in other ways. Though I have sources for good quality and well-priced fabric, sometimes, I cannot find a color or print I need for a project and must resort to slightly more expensive sources. I do not generally buy at quilt shops. Their fabrics can be over $10/yard, but what I must use can vary. A king size quilt uses about 18 yards of fabric for both front and back. There are some factors involved, like how many different colors/prints I must use, how much waste is involved, etc, but 18 yards for both front and back is a good estimate (not including binding). Some ask what if I already have fabric on hand-well, I paid for that and if I use it in your quilt, I don't have it for another project. It wasn't free to me.
Fabric for front and back: $125-150
Batting: I do not use 100% polyester. It's cheaper, but it's hot, doesn't breathe, hard to hand quilt (more hand stress). I use an 80/20 cotton/poly or a 100% cotton.
Thread: Hand quilting threads can be less expensive than machine quilting threads. If a quilt is machine quilted, it stresses the thread, causing breakage an I must use a higher quality thread in the machine for machine quilting. Generally, though, I like Egyptian cotton threads and my machine operates better with those, though it will piece fine with cheaper Coats & Clark thread I can find at Walmart. Good threads are $6-10 for a 600-800 yd spool in brands I can get around here. Machine quilting uses a TON of thread, hand quilting not as much.
Thread: $20-30, though this could be a low figure for a king quilt
Binding Fabric: That is made by me separately with the same good quality cotton fabrics in a double thickness to last. Usually a yard of fabric can make enough binding for a king size quilt.
Here the pricing gets trickier because you cannot know exactly how long it will take you to piece the top, sandwich the layers then do the actual hand quilting, especially when you are fighting numb and tingling fingers to get through it as I am now, however, based on my experience over the past 30 years, here are my estimates:
Piecing the top: varies according to complexity 20-30 hrs @ $5/hr= $100-150
Sandwiching the layers: done by hand on the floor 3 hrs @ $5/hr= $15
Quilting by hand: this is the BIG ONE. This is a dying art. Generally, there are not many folks who do this today and not many of those who are highly skilled at it. The Amish have a reputation for spectacular hand quilted masterpieces. My quilting matches theirs in stitches per inch. As the character Walter Brennan played on The Guns of Will Sonnet would say, "No brag, just fact." The Amish, however, have 10-15 or more women working on one quilt. I am a one person doing it all. If you have ever perused one of their quilts for sale sites, I promise you, you will have sticker shock! Check out this one particular Amish King Size quilt for sale online: http://www.amishquiltshop.net/…/king-log-cabin-blue-and-yel…
Hours to hand quilt a king size quilt: 200-250, depending on complexity, but to keep it simple, just say 200 hours (I have kept a journal during a project so this isn't just off the top of my head).
200 hrs of hand quilting @ $5 hour = $1000
When you add this all up, the labor and materials, not including the time and expertise that goes into the design process, you have a piece that rightfully should go for, using the lower figures, right at $1300!
None of this includes the design process, the trips to gather fabrics for different sources. You are paying for an expert quilter's knowledge of color and design, asking for a custom piece of fabric art. Would you do that for a measly $5/hr? Would you expect someone else to do it and not charge you for labor? Not charge you for fabric? Food for thought for your day.
P.S. adding that the estimated price Ladyhawk has been quoting is nowhere near $1300, in case you're wondering.