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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Being Expensive

This past weekend, I spent quite a bit of time preparing a quote for Potential Client. The project was to make and quilt a quilt designed by Potential Client, plus write pattern instructions for said quilt. After I submitted my quote, I was told that it was four times their budgeted amount. There wasn't THAT much wiggle room, so we parted amicably, me thinking Potential Client's budget was unrealistic and Potential Client thinking I was too expensive.

Was I too expensive? I checked in with Experienced Quilter Friend to see if my estimation of time to piece a complicated block were within reason. It was. I reviewed my calculations. My time estimates are reasonable for sewing the quilt blocks. Ditto for assembling the top.

Quilting calculations are easy using my standard charges for custom quilting based on size of Potential Client's design.

Writing instructions for a pattern is HARD and time consuming. Don't think so? Here's what is involved: Write instructions. Edit for clarity and order. Edit for simplicity. Edit for spelling. Add illustrations? Check instructions (best done by someone OTHER than the writer!).

Here's what goes through my head to write instructions for a simple 9-patch: Start by choosing fabric. Nine patch is best with contrast, so a dark & a light. Let's see, I want it to be 9" finished. So each square has to be 3" in the finished block. Add seam allowances, which means they need to be cut 3.5". I need to show a block diagram. How do I draw that? Black & white will be ok. Maybe I can find a color image somewhere online. Ready to write?

1. Choose 2 fabrics, one dark, one light.
2. From dark fabric, cut five 3.5" squares.
3. From light fabric, cut four 3.5" squares.
4. Arrange squares as shown in diagram.
5. Sew, pressing toward dark fabric.

Writing and editing those 5 lines took me about 10 minutes. What you see is the final result, all cleaned up and ready to use. Are you ready to try writing instructions? Try this at home: Write instructions for sewing a Y-seam block. How long did it take you?

I expect to earn a reasonable wage for my time, based on my experience and skill level. I'm willing to ask for it. And I'm willing to walk away from jobs that don't reward me for what I bring.

I'm easy, but I'm not cheap. I don't think that's a bad thing. Rant over.


Kathy A. said...

Hooray for you!

And you're clearly faster at writing up instructions than I am. But then, I usually take my own pictures of each step. :)

Janet Jo said...

Go Alice. As a former editor at QNM, I know what's involved in pattern writing - and don't forget all the math involved in calculating yardage. We've spent years learning the skills involved in quilt making. That "education" has value and we can't forget that.

Robin said...

You are so right! I don't know why people think that writing a pattern is so easy---Not if it is done right!
Good for you for standing up for yourself. That is a hard thing to do when jobs come around:)

Lynda Worthington said...

Well said! Stick to your guns!

Patty Ashworth said...

It takes time and TALENT to do all that, so they are also paying for your experience in making these things. I just went through very similiar thing. The couple wanted to buy a wall hanging or throw size quilt. Were shocked at any price, so I started to explain all that went into making the different pieces that they looked at. Ok, they finally "got it" and bought a piece and were happy with the price. There are plenty of times that the customer walks away. Good. I'd hate to have anyone think they got ripped off. And I don't think you have to drop your price. If it's what you want for all the work, then stick to it! I have more work in now than ever before (hand quilting) and people are happy to pay for it! After all, there are always other people out there and I do hand out names.