We all love quilts and quilting, right? What’s better than a handmade quilt that has so much love and dedication in every single square and stitch? But if you go to buy a handmade quilt, you’ll need to expect to pay a pretty penny. So what’s the cost of making a quilt, and why do quilts cost so much?
Before diving in I think it’s useful to make a distinction here between the cost of making a quilt and why quilts cost so much.
The cost of making a quilt is focused mainly on making a quilt yourself: what is the cost of materials required to make a finished product.
Why quilts cost so much focuses mainly on buying handmade quilts. Naturally, handmade quilts will cost a lot of money because not only is the cost of materials involved, there’s also the cost of time and labor which we often forget to factor in.
What’s the cost of making a quilt?
If you were to make your own quilt, you’d be looking at quite a bit of money to finish your first quilt. Of course, these expenses would be spread out over a long time, plus you’re enjoying yourself, so it’s money well spent.
The complexity of the quilt will also make a difference.
If you’re making really small squares that is a lot more separate bits of fabric you need to buy. For larger squares, you can get away with buying less pieces of fabric.
In the end, you’re going to have nearly the same yardage, but for more details, you’ll be spending a lot more across different fabrics, whereas for larger panels, it’s more yardage and you can get a lower cost fabric to save money.
The top of the quilt is only the beginning: there’s also batting, backing fabric(something to form the bottom half of the “sandwich”), and binding.
Fabric costs will vary wildly depending on where you’re buying from and what you buy but let’s try to run some numbers here for a queen sized(100″ x 80″) quilt:
- Fabric $12.95 x 15 yards = $194.25 (a little less if you use fat quarters)
- Backing $10 x 8 yards = $80 – assuming you’re using a more economical fabric for the backing
- Binding $12.95 x 3/4 yard = $9.71
- Batting $12.95 x 2 3/4 yards = $35.61
Finally, finishing stitches will also be quite a lot of square inches so you’re looking at a few spools of thread for just a single quilt.
The total for the numbers we’ve crunched is $319.57. That’s just materials alone.
Not to mention that there is also an upfront cost involved: the sewing machine itself! Of course you may not choose to count the machine itself as an expense in every quilt you sell, but it is indeed an upfront cost.
The numbers that I’ve run above are obviously averages at best. They don’t reflect the exact prices you’d find at a Jo-Ann’s because there are just too many fabrics available to sensibly calculate an average.
However if you were to browse through their fabric section you’d find that most of their fabrics fall in this range, which is why we used it as the basis for our calculations.
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Why do quilts cost so much?
Upon going through the cost of making a quilt, let’s get to why quilts cost so much.
At this point, some of you may be thinking: I can get a quilt at Walmart or Amazon for very cheap! And I would completely agree with you, you can get a quilt at Walmart or Amazon for very cheap.
Here is a 3 piece quilt set you can get for pennies on the dollar compared to handmade quilts:
- 3-PC QUILT SET – This quilt set comes with a polyester microfiber bedspread and 2 matching pillow shams. The quilt is great for layering with other blankets
- POLY COTTON FILLING – The quilt features 50% polyester and 50% cotton filling to provide softness and warmth for year-round use
- AMERICANA DESIGN – The patriotic Americana print features stars and plaid patchwork on the face, with white stars on a navy background on the reverse
- MACHINE WASHABLE – Both the quilt and pillow shams are machine washable in cold water and tumble dried on low for convenient care. This ensures they will stay soft and beautiful night after night
- PRODUCT DETAILS – Materials: 100% Polyester Face with 50% Cotton 50% Polyester Filling; Full/Queen Dimensions: 86” L x 86” W. Sham: 26” L x 20” W. Machine Wash Cold. Do Not Bleach. Tumble Dry Low. Do Not Iron
The reason these quilts can be so cheap are economies of scale. Big manufacturers have production lines of quilts, and when they buy material in bulk, they get it for far cheaper than you or I could find at Jo-Ann or any other fabric store.
Additionally, even the handmade quilts I’ve linked to above(which are on Etsy) are still cheaper than handmade quilts made by yourself.
Why? Again, it’s a result of economies of scale. Folks who quilt full time and sell handmade quilts for a living or as a business will still have some economies of scale by buying fabric for cheaper in bulk.
Purely handmade quilts that are one of a kind, of course, will cost a lot more.
Factoring in the cost of materials only, let’s see one often overlooked cost: time.
In the United States, the average hourly wage for a skilled worker is about $15 per hour. The maximum rate is closer to $25 per hour.
Making quilts is indeed skilled work, so let’s grab the median figure for our purposes. After searching through some forums and seeing some mixed responses, here is an overview of what I found:
- At the very least, a custom queen sized quilt would take 40-50 hours. This includes cutting fabric, making squares, and putting it all together on a longarm machine or regular machine if you don’t have a longarm machine.
- Longarm machines ar
- Other folks reported taking up to 80 hours per quilt
Assuming you’re a seasoned quilter and you use your time very efficiently, 50 hours per quilt times $15 per hour = $750 for just the cost of labor.
Add the $750 to the $320 for materials that we calculated above and you’re looking at $1070 for just materials and labor.
Of course, labor can be considered “extra” so to speak but if you choose to sell for only a little bit above materials, you’re really selling yourself short by charging such a low hourly rate.
If you’re doing this for friends or family that is entirely your decision, but as a proper business, just remember to factor in an hourly rate that you feel is fair to yourself.
So next time you see a handmade quilt which is one of a kind for a really high price, you’ll know why the quilt cost so much! What’s the most expensive and cheapest quilt you have ever seen? Please share in the comments!