Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Get What You Pay For.... Choosing a Quilter/Seamstress/Crafter

Choosing a Quilter for a Custom made Quilt

So many people are looking for pricing on a variety of services and products related to quilting and sewing. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some observations and things I've learned over the years.

That familiar phrase: “You get what you pay for”, is true here as it is in the general populous of purchasing any other merchandise.

Sure we all want to get the best for the least amount of money. And many of us jump at the cheapest price we find.... then we often regret it. The quality isn't there, the endurance doesn't last, the up front guarantee falls short. We find ourselves saying, “I knew it was too good to be true;, or 'I knew I should have bought the other one”.

When it comes to quilting services, sewing services, and products made with fabrics either sewn, or embroidered, even crocheted or knit, do some research. Find out what people/companies are charging. Understand what is included in those fees.

As a quilter I can best explain the pricing in that medium.

As a customer you want a quilt made. Maybe a pieced quilt, maybe a T-shirt or memory quilt, maybe an appliqued quilt. You reach out and ask a general question, “How much for a __________ quilt?

And that's when the fun begins! Depending on size wanted, style wanted, prices can range from $100.00 to $10,000.
What makes the difference?
      1. Fabrics used – amount and pricing (quality)
      2. Size wanted
      3. Type of quilt wanted
      4. Pattern used
      5. Machine or hand stitched
      6. Top stitching (quilting)
      7. Turn around time
      8. and if you as the customer provided the batting and or backing or buy it from the person making the quilt.
      9. Contract vs word of mouth

  1. Quality of fabrics used.
    1a) Cheaper is not always better, nor is it the worst
  2. Size wanted
    2a) Size is a major factor as it determines the amount of fabric, pattern used, and amount of stitching used as well as binding
  3. Type of quilt wanted.
    3a)Believe it or not a T-shirt quilt may cost more than a pieced quilt due to all the work involved.
  4. Pattern chosen
    4a) Simple blocks, or intricate cuts vs applique will make a difference in pricing.
  5. Machine or hand stitched
    5a) Machine stitched is a faster process and your quilt should be completed sooner. Some people hand stitching is the only way to make a quilt and for it to be a 'real' quilt.
  6. Top stitching or the quilting
    6a) Choices range from free motion quilting on a domestic machine, hand stitching, longarming free motion, long arming using a computer design.
  7. Turn around time
    7a) When do you need it done? What is the time frame availability of the quilter you choose.
  8. You or quilter supplying fabrics
    8a) The customer, as times, supplies the backing and the batting, but you can purchase it from the quilter as well. Ask if that is an option.
  9. Contract vs word of mouth
    9a)When you made all the decisions with the quilter do you sign a contract or leave it all up to word of mouth agreements? If something doesn't go the way you were thinking it should what do you have to fall back on that shows it should have been done a certain way, or within an agreed amount of time?

Now you have a lot to think about when you want a quilt made.
And that is just about the quilt.

What about the quilter?

Word of mouth goes a long way when it comes to choosing a quilter.
Who have others used and why?
Does the quilter have photos or actual quilts so you can see their work?
So they do their own quilting (longarming, hand stitching) or send it out?
Do they offer an acceptable turn around for you? The quilter you want may have a backlog on their orders and you may have to consider a different quilter, or be willing to be put on their list and wait.

These same ideas work for if you want curtains made, a custom dress or outfit, or anything else you want homemade, made by hand, custom made or locally made.
Consider all the work and time that goes into each item. Consider the quality. Consider everything.
And to those who are doing the bidding for work - when you are discussing pricing on a public forum such as Facebook pages/groups, or other internet forums, be considerate of all those bidding. It may be best to not post a cheaper pricing and undermine other businesses who have a higher price. Send private messages to your potential customers no matter what your pricing is. There is a lot that goes into your finally agreed upon price quote, and what you charge one person may be different than what you quote another due to one or more details in the order. If someone sees a cheaper price for what they think is what they want, but you quote them a higher price than you publicly quoted someone else, you may loose that customer because they don't understand the difference in the specifics.

May you all succeed in your business transactions as buyers and as sellers. May you all have a better understanding of all the work involved and be appreciative of each other.

Phyllis Dewey
Quilter's Pantry