Monday, July 14, 2014

Yes! My quilts are expensive!!!

Yesterday I had a conversation with a few friends about pricing their work - not necessarily quilts - and that prompted me to write this blog post today.

Until this year, I wasn't selling my major work. Smaller quilts, pouches, aprons were the ones I concentrated on and was happy with it. This year I have started selling some of my major works.

The first reaction I got from people was "Wow! Thats expensive!" or sometimes they never came back to me after I quoted a price - just never replied. A few told me that they loved my work but they could not afford it. A VERY FEW told me that yes, the price was worth the piece but unfortunately at the given time they could not afford it.

So let me start out by saying what all of them had in common. "Yes! My quilts are expensive!"

And that is because I work hard on them. I ignore my family when I work. I set aside specific time everyday and go out of my house and work on my quilts.

I also buy the best of the material. And if that means buying a spool for Rs 400 instead of the Rs 10 one - yes I do it. I even  buy the best sewing machine needles!

And more than everything else, my work is done from the heart. Every stitch is there for a purpose. For every 10 pieces of fabric there lies a piece that has been discarded because it "just did not look perfect". My work goes home with me in my head. I get up in the night some times with a head buzzing with ideas!

When I exhibited my work recently. A lady approached me when my stall was packed full and asked me the price of a quilt. I told her it was Rs 8000.

And she asked, "Why?"

I realized that she genuinely had that question. Then I asked her, "Do you know what goes into making a quilt?" When she said she didn't, I explained to her the entire process of making that quilt. she stood there quietly. She just said "Wow! I did not know that"and went away. I was dissapointed in loosing yet another customer. 20 minutes later she was back with the money and she bought that quilt! I was so happy.

Today I will tell all of you who do not know what goes into making a quilt.

First, its just an idea in my head. Like the White Rainbow quilt. I just knew I wanted to make a quilt for someone who cannot see it. This stage usually happens while having tea, in the shower or even while driving!

Later that idea starts taking shape and I start my sketches. These take an awfully long time. You will find numerous notebooks with these sketches in my studio and my home! If i were to make every quilt I sketched, I would have over two thousand quilts by now!

Then I start choosing my fabric. And this stage usually means a LOT of mess! I remove fabric from its shelf, pour out bins and then make decisions. This too takes a very long time.

Then comes the actual cutting and sewing. Compared to the other stages, this stage usually lasts the shortest. Even when I make portraits, I spend more time over whether the piece is the right colour than actually appliqueing it and sewing it down.

And how do I calculate the price?

First, I calculate the material that I use. And that includes fabric, batting and thread. I usually know how many spools I used for a certain project. I just add up that cost and that is my Material Cost (M). For a twin size quilt, I usually need about 6 yards of fabric for the front, about 5 yards for the backing and one yard for the binding. So that makes it 12 yards of fabric. In India fabric on an average costs Rs 150 - 300 per yard. Let us say it is Rs 250 per yard. The cost of 12 yards will be 3,000/-. I will use 2 spools for it. So that adds another Rs 800. So my total Material Cost (M) = Rs 3,800/-

Then I calculate the number of hours I spent making the quilt. This includes only the time I actually spent cutting and sewing it and not the designing stage! Then I multiply it by a basic hourly rate which is my labour charge (L)

The most important question is how much should be my labour charge. This is a decision that entirely up to you! What is your time worth? In the US people charge about 10-15$ per hour. But lets be realistic, you're not going to get that in India. So ask yourselves a few questions.
How much does your hair stylist charge you for a haircut? She spends maybe about 20-30 mins on your hair and charges you anywhere between Rs 200 - 600 depending on where the parlour is, right? Aren't you even half as talented as her? So why dont you give yourself Rs 150 per hour?
I normally spend about 20 hours making a twin quilt. So that will be 150 x 20 = Rs 3,000/-

Now consider your rent, light & phone bill, stationary, electricity and all the other overheads! Consider them even if you are not paying them at the moment. Because if you do not consider it now when your business grows and you have to shift to new premises, your clients will have to bear the cost and they will grumble about the price hike!

How do you calculate this charge? Lets assume a monthly figure of Rs 6000. It covers your rent, electricity bill and phone bill. Now divide it by 30 to get a day's amount. It will be 200. A day will be 8 hour long, so per hour it will be Rs 25. Now multiply it by the number of hours you worked to get the Surcharge (S)- 25 x 20 = Rs 500/-

Now here's your price for the quilt. M + L + S = 3800 + 3000 + 500 = Rs 7,300/-

Is that your selling price?


It is the Cost Price!

Now add a profit. @ 10% Say Rs 730/-

So Selling price should be Rs 8,030/- Lets round it off to Rs 8,000/-

While calculating here, I have assumed a few things
1. You own the place. You do not pay rent for the place where you make your stuff. If you do, the Rs 6000 is surely not going to take care of it!
2. You are not selling in bulk to retailers. You are selling the stuff directly. If you are selling bulk,
M + L + S + Profit = your bulk price (B)
and B + profit = your retail price.

So now you know why my quilts are expensive.

Do you also worry when you price your work? I hope my post is helpful to you.

Just remember, if you do not value your work, nobody else will!!!

Do tell me if it is!


Monday, July 7, 2014

"My Type" iPad Case : Tutorial

I had the typewriter fabric by Julia Rothman stashed for a long time. With little idea what I'd do with it. I finally gave in and cut it up into cute typewriter appliques! I decided to make iPad cases from it. Then I decided why not write a tutorial for you guys!

So here it is!
 This iPad case is easy to whip up and does not require a whole lot of stuff.
Do not have the typewriter print, just add any fun fabric applique and you’re ready to go!!!

The finished size is 8.5” x 10.5”. I have used a 1/4" seam allowance. If you want to make it a different size, I'd suggest Add an inch to the dimensions of your gadget.
It has a zipper pocket in the front to hold the chargers. The tutorial uses magnetic closure, but it can be replaced with Velcro.

Material Requirements:

Outer Neutral Fabric: Fat Quarter
Highlight Fabric : Fat Eighth
Lining Fabric : Half Yard
Other Requirements :
Lightweight Interfacing: I have used this to interface some pieces as well as a backing when I quilted some pieces. You can ignore the ones marked (Q) if you do not intend to use them for quilting.
Batting – I use locally available cotton batting Hi-loft. This can be replaced with Pellon® fusible fleece. Magnetic Closure or Velcro. 
9" Long Zipper.

Cutting Instructions :
Please take care while cutting directional prints. The dimensions listed here are Width x Height. Make sure all pieces are aligned in the same direction before cutting.
From the Outer Neutral Fabric cut:
O1 - ONE piece:                9” x 7”
O2 - ONE piece:                                9” x 11”
O3 – TWO pieces:            7” x 3.5”
From the Highlight Fabric cut:
P1 - ONE piece:                                 9” x 5”
From the Lining Fabric cut:                        
L1 – THREE  pieces:          9” x 11”
L2 - ONE piece:                 9” x 7”
L3 - ONE piece:                 9” x 5”
From the Lightweight Interfacing cut:
I1 - TWO pieces:               9” x 11” (Q)
I2 - ONE piece:                 9” x 7”
I3 - ONE piece:                  9” x 5”
I4 - TWO pieces:               7” x 3.5”
From the Applique Fabric cut:
A1 – ONE piece:                Fussy cut Motif
From the Batting cut:
B1 – TWO pieces:             9” x 11”

Pair the following pieces of Fabric and interfacing and iron them on.
I2 – O1, I3 – P1 & I4 – O3
Take the O2 piece and ONE of the three L1 pieces. Iron on the Pellon ® Fusible Fleece to the wrong side or sandwich the batting along with the I1 Interfacing piece  as the backing (optional).
Quilt the sandwiches as desired. Trim away the excess batting.
Take the O1 piece and applique the fussy cut motif of top. I used raw edge applique technique.

To attach the zipper, fold over the 9” edge of O1, P1, L2 & L3 Wrong Sides Together and iron.

Align the Lining piece with the zipper and stitch. 


Repeat with the Outer piece. And then repeat on the other side. Trim it to 9" x 11"
Your front panel is ready.


Take the two O3 pieces. On one of them attach the magnetic closures about 1” away from the edges, as per manufacturer’s instructions. You can even use Velcro. Attach the rough side here.
On the wrong side, mark curves for corners. I used an Aurifil spool!!!


Now stitch along 3 sides.

Turn inside out and topstitch.

Lay your quilted outer piece Right Side Up. Lay the Flap piece as shown.

Make sure the pieces are aligned in the center. Now lay one lining piece Right Side Down and pin on the shorter edge.
Stitch along pinned edge.
Now mark the position of the other components of magnetic snaps or Velcro onto the Highlight fabric on the Front panel. Once again attach according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Now lay the quilted lining piece RIGHT SIDE UP. Follow with the front panel piece Right Side Up. And finally the lining piece Right Side Down.
Pin along top edge and stitch.

Press the seams open. Now lay the two pieces aligning the edges of the quilted panels and the lining fabric.


Pin along all sides and stitch leaving a 4” wide opening in the lining to pull it out.

Pull it right side out. Hand stitch the opening. And topstitch along the edge to finish!!!

You can make about 5 of them in a day! More if you use Pellon Fusible Fleece.

Perfect for gifts!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The White Rainbow!!!

Here's my recent finish. and by recent I do mean that as I'm typing this, I have only finished putting the last stitches on the binding of this one!

It is a quilt that has been in my mind for a longer time than at my machine!

Sometime in April, as i was browsing the "SALE" section of my local book store I saw this one

And thats where this quilt started taking shape!!!

In that book one of the four sisters, a painter, looses her sight in an accident. The other 3 sisters decide to stay together in a single house to help her get back on her feet.

The part when the girl realizes that she cannot see any more prompted me to think what would an artist do without sight! It would be disastrous!

Even for us quilters, colours play a very important role. What would a quilt be without colours? And I mean ALL of it - the value, shade, etc. Not just one aspect of it.

Then I began thinking of what would colours mean to someone who has never 'seen'? How would a blind-at-birth person see them? How would they feel them?

That is when I decided to make a tactile quilt.

This quilt is what colours 'look' like to those who have never seen them.

The dots that you see are the names of the colors written in Braille.

I used the machine trapunto technique to give them the thickness so that you can actually feel them when you touch the quilt!!!

Here are the first three : Red. Orange & Yellow

And here are the next three : Green, Blue & Violet. (Can I tell you a secret? I forgot Indigo!!!)

I quilted it with almost straight lines using the BSR on my new machine (which I just remembered I haven't introduced to you guys yet). I used Aurifil 50 wt White thread for 99% of the quilting, which is super dense (< 1/8th inch apart). I also quilted just 3 lines in each row with the colour I have written so that you can see which one is which!!!

Making this quilt was a wonderful process. It is a quilt that also prompted me to donate my eyes! I filled an online form with the EBAI (Eye Bank Association of India) and am awaiting my acceptance email!

I have put in more thoughts in the design of this quilt than any other that I have made. But in the end I'm very happy with my work!!!

Quilt Stats
Name : The White Rainbow
Size : 36" x 50"
Material used :
Fabric :White Bella Solid, a little bit of the rainbow fabric by Anne Kelly for the binding.
Thread : Aurifil 50 wt - white for most of the quilting. Red, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue and Violet for some.
Batting : Pellon Fusible Fleece for the dots and Cotton batting overall!
Technique : Trapunto
Experience : Heartwarming!

Do you like my white rainbow?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The HOVER Quilt

This is my first commissioned work! and now that the quilt is received, I'm free to write about it!

Okay the order was placed by my brother, but that doesn't make it any less!

After being blown off by the iQuilt, my brother wanted me to make a quilt for one of his clients.

Hover Inc

Here's what their logo looks like

They convert 2D elevation photos into 3D objects. So that's what I decided to do with their logo.

It was a long time since I had been in touch with the architect in me!

It was during having my morning cup of tea that I made my first sketch!!!

I was running on a tight schedule. I had more than a week when I started, but then we planned this long weekend trip just before I was scheduled to leave to spend some time with my parents! So I was left with just 4 days to start and finish the quilt.

The fabrics were pulled. I made my brother buy and send me the blue fabric so that I would get the colour right! So while he went shopping - 250 km away - I worked on the appliqué words!

I chose to appliqué rather than piece it so that I could finish it faster. I knew I would need 2 full days (And I mean about 10-16 hour days) just for the quilting! So I had to finish the appliqué without waiting for the background fabric to arrive! I appliquéd it on a light weight interfacing. I then appliquéd the entire thing onto the backing fabric when it arrived!

Day 2 post lunch saw me basting the beast! It was pretty big then, but I later trimmed it down to 60" x 38". It took me more than 30 hours to straight line quilt it. Little brother wanted the quilting to be dense to make the quilt stiff! So densely quilt I did... Want to know how dense?

Thats how dense it was!!! 95% of the quilt is quilted that densely!!!

At the end of Day 4 - well ACTUALLY  the end of - I finished my work at 12.30 am! The quilt was ready!!! I was happy with it. Needed to be sure that Little Brother was too!

When I gave it to him, he was overjoyed! And I got a quick hug from him, which told me a lot more than words would have. :)

Quilt stats :
Name : Hover
Size : 60" x 38"
Material used : Fabric - Bella Solids White, GrayEtchings and a local solid cotton similar to Bella solid Bright Sky. I have used a Bella Solids Black for the binding.
Thread : Aurifil 50 wt thread in white, Slate GrayCharcoal, Light Blue and Sapphire
The shadow under 'O' has been done with Fabric Crayons
Technique used : Appliqué, Free Motion Quilting.

Did the guys at Hover Inc like it?

They all posed for a photo with the quilt for my blog!!! Isn't that awesome?

That's my little brother sitting on the extreme left! "They went Crazy" were his exact words!!!

I'm so happy!!!

BTW, I have something to show you guys!!! But that HAS TO BE a separate post!

I can give you  sneak peek though...

Can you believe me if I tell you it has been home for more than a week and I have not opened it?

Well, its true. But its also true that though it has been home, I haven't!!!

So wait for my full post later this week!!!