Friday, January 17, 2020

Making cheaper quilts

The Indian market is very different from its international counterparts. I have been selling the quilts I make for a very long time and when I decided to participate in a especially well known exhibition (show) at the end of this year I knew I had to make a bunch of quilts that will sell at a lower cost so that I cover my costs.
I normally make quilts that sell for INR 5000 and above for Single Quilts (60" x 90") and INR 8500 and above for Double Quilts (90" x 90"). I usually make them in these two sizes only unless it is a custom order in which case the cost goes up to INR 7500 for a single quilt and INR 10000 for a double one. The cost basically depends on the cost of the material and complexity of the design. 
When I was approached earlier this year by an organization that arranges an annual curated exhibition, I knew it was an offer I could not refuse. But the costs involved really made me think it over again. In the end I knew it was worth it to participate and decided that I am going to take a risk. 
But before I even got started making the quilts themselves, there was some thinking to do. And a lot of calculations.

My quilts are admired a lot by people who see them, but very rarely are sold in India, especially in exhibitions. I asked a lot of people for feedback and they told me that they found my products to be costly. A lot of them said that the price was justified, but out of their price range.
So I knew that if I have to make great sales at the event, my quilts have to be priced lower, a lot lower than they are tight now.
I knew I could not reduce the cost of material. And of course, now that I have a studio assistant, I could not even think about reducing the labor cost. So how do I make a quilt that is cheaper?
By simplifying the process, of course! 
First, I decided that I want to make all my quilts using stripes of different colors. I'm calling my collection "Stripped ease". Because it is striped and is easy to make and the word is kind of memorable!
I also decided that I am going to use all solids for the front of the quilt, thus bringing my material cost down by almost 15%. 
I decided to keep using printed fabric for the back, but found a cheaper alternative. There is a shop here that sells export reject bedsheets (gasp! Yes I'm using sheets to back my quilts!) The quality of these sheets is absolutely awesome. They are also 100% cotton and come in lovely prints. They are usually export rejects because the sheets and pillow covers packaged together do not match! Who cares if it does not match!!! I also get a bonus 1 meter of fabric for free!!! All of this brings down the cost of the material by another 10%. 
Now the design. I tested my design and I managed to make a DOUBLE QUILT from start to finish - fabric selection to hand binding - in 5 hour only!!! FIVE HOURS!!! That was awesome. But I'm sure that is not how I want to make it. So I tried assembly line quilting and made 4 single quilts in just under 15 hours!!! Cutting and piecing took about 4 hours (for ALL the quilts). Quilting another 4 hours. And binding took another 7. That cuts down even the labour cost!!!
So I ended up making a range of signature quilts that I can sell for for just INR 3500 (Single) and INR 5500 (Double)!!!
this is just one of the many designs I will be working on. Each quilt will be unique in its color combination and composition. And it will keep the user warm on the cold winter nights.
The backing of this one is a lovely Ikat style bed sheet in shades if blues. The red binding really makes the quilt pop!
I also know that I'm going to have to make about a hundred of them, so having a simpler process will help in finishing them on time.
What ideas do you have to make quilts that you can sell at a cheaper price so that you can make more profits without feeling that you did not get your fair share of the profit? Do let me know in the comments!!!


  1. Great idea... I also do large squares... Fleece sheets as batting because they need less quilting :)

  2. I think you used all the ideas I have. Try to source cheaper but quality material by buying on sale and simplify the piecing by using panels or simpler designs and making the fabric do the work. You could try making whole cloth quilts with more intricate quilting. To save binding time, you can consider using the birthing method.


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