Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I May Have a Scrap Problem - Good Results!

Hi, all!

Wow, October just flew by in a flash, didn't it?  I love fall - cooler weather, my birthday, and the upcoming holidays - but it does seem like the fall months go by so much faster than summer!  It was a good month, though - I got a lot accomplished and I hope you did too.  

First up was Nathanael's annual quilt.  He loves green, so I dug in my green scraps and found lots of 2.5" squares, which turned into 16-patch blocks.

Then I made a bunch of X-blocks...

Pairing up the two sets of blocks, it grew on the design wall...

...and then the center of the quilt was finished!  But it still needed a white border to hold the finishing points...

And then it was done!  It's big - a twin size - so it's hard to get a good picture of it, especially when it's windy (which it has been here, a lot!) so I probably won't have anything better until it's quilted.  But isn't it pretty and green?

And, as an added bonus, I have this pretty jar full of green and white bonus HSTs to make something out of later!

And then, I started on a quilt for the bunk bed in the guest room.  Original plan was to do an hourglass quilt, but then this happened...

My binding box was running over - so it was time to pull out some of the strips...

...and sew them together into a jelly-roll race style quilt!

This still isn't big enough for the bunk bed, but I think I'm going to cut it into rectangular chunks and sash it with a black and white sketchy print I have on hand to bring it up to size.  Stay tuned for more of that next month!

So all in all, I had a pretty productive scrappy October!  In November I will work on finishing the quilt for the bunk bed, and deal with all the scraps that I created in September and October - because they are piling up on my sewing table and driving me NUTS!!!

What have you been working on in October, and what do you plan for November?  November is such a great month to make little scrappy gifts, decorations and ornaments for the holidays - and if you're making anything like that, I want to know about them!  Share in the linky party below to give us all some great ideas!



Monday, October 29, 2018

Make-A-List Monday - The Calm Before The Storm!

Hi, all!

It's been an eventful and full weekend, but now that Monday is here, there's a clean slate and a whole lot of sewing to do!  But first, let's take a look at last week's list...

1.  Bind two quilts for the quilt ministry.
Done!  And not only two, but I found one more (when I was looking for something in my studio) that was all finished except for binding, so I finished it too!

2.  Make progress on Nathanael's annual quilt.
Oh yeah!  I not only made progress, I finished the top!

3.  Start a quilt for the bunk bed.
Started!  I've put together this piece of jelly-roll race "made" fabric, now I've got to figure out what to do with it next.  It's made using a bunch of my solid and black-and-white-print binding scraps, with squares of a rainbow geometric print in between the strips.

4.  Make a pillowcase for Emmy.
Also done!  I love making pillowcases - they are such a quick easy fabric "fix"!  This one is made using some awesome unicorn fabric I found when I went to Ohio - be sure to enlarge the pic and read some of the sayings!  My personal favorite is "Unicorns don't do homework".

5.  Finish cleaning up from my home renovation projects (finding new homes for things that got displaced in the process.)
Oh well, I got some of this done, but certainly not all of it. It's a never-ending process!

6.  Make props for our trunk-or-treat display.
Done!  These were a lot of fun to make, and I'll share the finished display later in the week.

7.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.
Done!  We just had one this week; this one went to a man who had open heart surgery this week.

So, a pretty good and productive week!  I had a week between commission jobs, and I put it to good use, I think.  But this week I have what I need to work on the commission jobs, so it's going to be a lot more focused.  Here's my plan for this week.

1.  Cut out blocks from a big stack of clothing for three memory quilts.

2.  Start assembling at least two of those memory quilts.

3.  Pick out backing fabric for the memory quilts.

4.  Work out a design using the scrappy "made fabric" for the guest room bunk bed.

5.  Work on cleaning up from the home renovation projects (so I can start a new one without guilt!)

6.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.

A short list this week, but oh, I would love to get all three memory quilts pieced!   The sooner I finish up the commission work, the sooner I can get started on my own holiday sewing!

And now, the question is - - - what are YOU working on this week?



Friday, October 26, 2018

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? One More For The Road...

Hi, all!

Here we are at the end of another week, Friday has dawned, and you know what that means - it's time for us to get our whoop whoop on!  I hope you've had a great week and are ready to share -I know I am!   Let's get started...


Last week I shared a finished t-shirt quilt with you, and this week I have one more to share (but I promise it's the last one for this year!)

really love the pale pink and apple green that the customer chose for the background and sashing on this quilt!  It's not colors I would have chosen, but they really work with these shirts.

The back is fun, too - this oversized shirt wouldn't fit on the front, but it was a great focus piece and makes the back really special!

Here's a close-up shot of the front - just because it's pretty!

And I made some serious progress on Nathanael's annual quilt...

This tops is almost complete - I just need to put a border of white with triangles to finish off the stars and it will be done!

And I had another fun project this week - I made a giant pincushion!  I'll share the reason for this next week, but for now, isn't it cool?

So - - - can I get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn!

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you do a little happy dance?

Share!  We want to dance right along with you,

And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight.

Hope to see you there!



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I May Have a Scrap Problem... Making Progress!

Hi, all!

October is almost over - can you believe it?  But I have been (finally) doing some scrappy sewing, and I have progress to share!  Nathanael's annual quilt is a super-scrappy version of Good Night Irene...

This is slightly more than two-thirds of the blocks I will need to make, and I'll also have to make the outer ring that is mostly white with little green pyramids to finish off the outside of the stars.  

And for inspiration, here's a similar quilt, not exactly the same but with a similar look.  This one is by Sandra of Musings of a Menopausal Melon and the block pattern is called Arkansas Crossroads.  Both patterns are great for using up a lot of scraps!

And now, as seen on Instagram, here's some more inspiration...

Look at those beautiful brights!  I love the way they glow against the gray background.

And isn't this a fun layout?  I particularly like the "made fabric" in the neutral spiral.  Nice touch!

This is on Angie's (@angienudge) bucket list - look at that beautiful English paper piecing!  And what a great way to use up small and well-loved scraps...

And just because it's almost time to start freaking out about Christmas working on fun projects with the grandkids, look at these adorable tree ornaments!  Some homespun scraps, button, and cinnamon sticks - but I think they might be just as cute with bright Christmas fabric scraps and brighter buttons!


 Feeling inspired?  Then go forth and whip those scraps into shape!!!



Monday, October 22, 2018

Make-A-List Monday - Back in the Groove!

Hi, all!

It's Monday again, can you believe it?  And as of today, it's officially only 63 days until Christmas!  EEK!  Time to start thinking about handmade Christmas gifts and decorations and lots and lots of cookies, right? But first, let's take a look at last week's list and how it went...

1.  Cut out and assemble another commission t-shirt quilt.
Done!  And not only assembled, it's finished!

2.  Quilt last week's t-shirt quilt.
Done!  I'm glad to have these two commission jobs done in plenty of time for them to be given for Christmas!

3.  Quilt a baby quilt for a friend.
Done!  This is such a sweet little quilt...

4.  Quilt this week's t-shirt quilt if time allows.
Done!  (See #1 above...)

5.  Continue working on Nathanael's annual quilt.
Done! I've got about twenty more blocks to make and then I can start sewing the rows together.

6.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.
Done!  We gave away three quilts this week...

This quilt went to a gentleman in our church who had a hip replacement this week...

...and this went to a woman with multiple health issues.

And finally, this went to the friend of one of our church members who was just diagnosed with cancer.

So a very productive week!  It always feels good to get commission work out of the way - I still have three more commission quilts to make before Christmas, but I'm waiting on the deconstructed clothing pieces from the customer, so I have a "free" week to get some other things out of the way!

And here are the things I hope to get done this week:

1.  Bind two quilts for the quilt ministry.

2.  Make progress on Nathanael's annual quilt.

3.  Start a quilt for the bunk bed.

4.  Make a pillowcase for Emmy.

5.  Finish cleaning up from my home renovation projects (finding new homes for things that got displaced in the process.)

6.  Make props for our trunk-or-treat display.

7.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.

I may get to more than this if I'm lucky, but these are the main things I need to do.  I really want to start on another home renovation project, but realized that I should have all the others completely cleaned up before I start something else!  

So now, the question is - - - what are YOU working on this week?



Sunday, October 21, 2018

"How Much Would You Charge..."

Hi, all!

If people know you quilt, it's likely that you've heard that question: "How much would you charge me to make a quilt?"

And you've probably either drawn a blank, or quoted a price right off the top of your head without thinking.  

We've all been there!  Let me tell you about my experience...

Several years ago, a friend at church asked me about making a very large t-shirt quilt for her, and wanted to know how much I would charge. I started to tell her $100, but then I remembered an article I read by Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio about how to price your handiwork.  Instead I told her that I would work up a price for her and let her know in a couple of days.

Using some of the tips in Sam's article, I came up with a price of $450 for a queen size t-shirt quilt.  Wow!  I couldn't believe my initial impulse was so far off from the actual cost.  I did some research on the internet to see if my price was in line with those online, and found that mine was, if anything, a little low.  So I wrote up my itemized estimate and went back to my friend with the information.  

We had a good conversation about her quilt and what she wanted, and I pointed out some places where she could save money (like making her quilt smaller).  Ultimately she decided against having me make the quilt - but she is one of the few people who have changed their mind after asking me for a price quote.

Since then, I've had lots of folks ask me how much they should charge someone to make a quilt.  I'll share my estimate form with you here, but I would also suggest that you read Sam's article, and especially read the comments.  There's a world of information there, and a great conversation between quilters about the topic.  It will really make you think!

Quilt Estimate 
T-Shirt Quilt

Memory Quilt made using 16 t-shirt panels, arranged 4 x 4 with sashing and cornerstones
12” blocks, finished size approximately 68” square
Cotton backing and batting
Straight line, triple cross-hatch quilting across the squares of the quilt.


Interfacing - woven fusible                 $12.00
Sashing and border - Kona Pink -  2.5 yards @ $6.15/yard   15.38    
Cornerstones and Binding - Kona Honey Dew - 1 yard @ $6.98/yard     6.98
Backing - Kona Iron - 4 yards @ $6.89/yard           27.56
Batting - 5184 sq. in. @ $.00179 per square inch             9.28
Thread                             4.00
TOTAL MATERIALS:                 $75.20


Deconstruct 18 t-shirts; 15 minutes each;
4.5 hours @ $12/hour                $54.00
Cut and interface 18 blocks, 2 hours @ $12/hour                24.00
Arrange and piece the quilt top; 3 hours @ $12/hour          36.00
Piece and press the quilt back; 1 hour @ $12/hour          12.00

TOTAL LABOR:                              $126.00


Straight line quilting, diagonal cross-hatch through the squares; 
6 hours @ $12/hour                $72.00


Machine sewn to front and back of quilt                $20.00

TOTAL ESTIMATE:                    $  293.20

The above is a sample of my t-shirt quilt estimate.  The first part is a description of what I am making.  

Then comes materials.  List everything here, being as specific as possible so there aren't any questions.  If you will be charged for shipping or sales tax, add it in to the cost.  And see the last entry - Thread?  That covers a lot of things - thread, basting spray, sewing machine needles, all the little things that it takes to run your studio. You may find that you want to add other items or increase that last entry - do what you need to make it your own estimate.

Labor comes next.  I find that breaking this down so that your customer sees how long the quilt will take to make allows them to understand why quilts cost so much.  And this is where your hourly rate comes in.  Rest assured I think my time is worth more than $12 an hour, but I had to start somewhere - which was originally $10 an hour.  I increased my rates about a year ago and I'm finding that it isn't slowing things down any, so they may go up again after the first of the year!  

Finally, quilting and binding.  If I am straight line quilting, as in this particular quilt, I charge by the hour.  That time includes not only the actual time to quilt it on my domestic machine, but the time it takes to spray baste the quilt.  If I quilt on my long arm, I charge by the square inch.  I charge $.015 per square inch for simple meandering, $.02 p.s.i. for small meandering or simple designs, and anything custom is negotiated with the customer based on how long I think it will take.  Binding is a more personal call for me - this is way under the going rate for binding, but I find binding to be pretty simple and just couldn't charge the rates I found on-line.

When I review this with my customer, they can see exactly how I came up with the price, and I don't (usually) get a shocked face!  If I do, I sit down with them and discuss ways that she could save money. These may include using fewer t-shirts in a quilt, making a smaller quilt, using less expensive fabrics, a simpler pattern, or having the customer put in a little sweat equity.  Right now, I have a customer deconstructing clothing for several memory quilts.  She had the time to do it, and it will save her some money and allow me to get her projects done in time for Christmas!  

I can honestly say that I have only had two customers decide not to have a quilt made after reviewing their estimate.  I have worked out ways to reduce costs for several, and I'm pleased to say they were happy with the end results!


Now, a few tips.  

Don't take on a quilt that you won't enjoy making.   If you hate what you're making, there isn't enough money in the world!  

Don't take on a quilt that's beyond your skill level.  If a customer picks a pattern that you don't feel comfortable making, try to find some other options that are similar, but within your skill set.  

Don't allow the customer to pick out fabric without some direction from you.  I say this from the standpoint of watching a friend deal with a customer who brought her fabric - upholstery fabric, eyelet, embroidered pieces, stretch knits, and quilting cotton - and saw her pain as she tried to create what the customer envisioned.

Get a deposit before you start making a quilt for someone.  I usually ask for at least the cost of materials up front, with the balance due on delivery.

Don't overcommit!  I keep a list on my calendar whiteboard of all the commission jobs I have going, and any that I've been contacted about but that haven't been finalized yet.  And I set a cut-off date when I won't take any more commission jobs before Christmas, and also before graduation.  I don't ever want to be in the position of telling someone that I can't finish their job in time.


And now for a few final thoughts.  Why is it important to charge a fair price for your work?  Because when you charge a fair price, you allow others to charge a fair price too.  If you don't believe that, imagine a craft fair where you have your beautiful baby quilts priced at $175 each (a fair price), but the lady at the table next to you has similar quilts priced at $40 each.  You know she can't even buy the materials for one of those quilts for $40, but she tells you she just loves making them and doesn't care how much she gets for them.  That's unfortunate - because she just made yours look overpriced.  

It's also important to charge a fair price because, darn it, you're worth it!  Your work is art, and don't you forget it.  


So that's just a short (ok, maybe not so short) post about how I price my commission quilts.  Now it's your turn to throw in your two cents - leave a comment with your own thoughts, suggestions, or questions.  If you leave a question, PLEASE leave your email address too - I hate being unable to respond because of the "no-reply" blogger syndrome.  

PS:  If you want to save this article for future reference, you can print out your own copy easily.  First of all, look right under my sign-off and see if there's a green label there that says "Print PDF". If it's not there, go up and click on the title of this blogpost and it will open the post alone and it will appear at the bottom.  Now click on that green box and it will take you to a site that will create a PDF that you can print out.  



Friday, October 19, 2018

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? Another One Down...

Hi, all!

Have you had a productive week?  Hard to believe it's already Friday, but it is - and that means it's time for us to get our whoop whoop on!  So let's jump right in and get started...


As fall settles in, peoples' minds turn towards Christmas - and towards Christmas presents.  And thankfully, a good number of them think of quilts, and then of me!  This week, I finished up one of those Christmas gifts, and having been assured that the recipient won't see my blog...

I can show you more than what I'm limited to on Instagram and Facebook!

Mom wasn't too sure about what colors to choose for the backgrounds, but I think she did a fabulous job.   I really like the monochromatic look!

My go-to quilting for this style of t-shirt quilt - triple cross-hatching - easy as can be thanks to my Hera marker!

And it gives a pretty texture to the back, too!

So - - - can I get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn?

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you do a little happy dance?

Share!  We want to dance right along with you,

And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight.

Hope to see you there!