It’s Worth WHAT?!?- The Feather Quilt and a retreat

Last weeked I had the immense pleasure of attending one of Krista @poppyprint wonderful Quilting By the Bay retreats. Its a 13 hour day full of sewing, great food, and great friends. I managed to find a sitter for the entire day, so I was off and away bright and early that morning.

SDQ retreat

A gorgeous view in beautiful Lions Bay!


As usual, I brought waaay to much stuff with me, but I would rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. My biggest goals for the day were to finish up a longterm project, by BTW challenge quilt for the Pacific NorthWest show, and do my Riley Blake MQG challenge quilt. If I had time, I was going to play with making some Anna Maria Horner feathers, since I love them so much! I was reminded of them from a recent Molli Sparkles post and decided I really wanted to make some at one point in the day.

SQD table

A table with a view, amidst my fellow VMQGers!


I did manage to get most of my blocks sewn together from the long term project, but got bored waiting for the iron, and decided to put the rows away ( I know, I know, only 5 seams left, it’s just not a priority right now) and star on my BTW challenge quilt. I made up a design using only the Black to White fabrics, in a very effective grayscale. I had purchased a whole bunch of Cotton and Steel Black and White fabrics, and ended up with none of them in the final design for the quilt. By the time I finished sewing up the 256 Half Square Triangles, I was pretty bored of that too. I just wasn’t feeling it (To put some perspective on my strange mood, this was the first time in almost 2 weeks that I actually spent any time on my machine. I was burned out, and feeling it. I made a skirt at some point in there, but it doesn’t really count. Garment sewing is a whole ‘nother creature from quilting).

SDQ Trimmings

Holy Trimmings Batman!


I had a big, bright bundle of Hadley by Denyse Schmidt in my bag, and the templates and instructions for the Anna Maria Horner feathers, and I decided to play around with that. Only, as I was digging for the big, colourful bundle, I instead pulled out the Cotton and Steel fabrics that didn’t make it into the first quilt, paired with a lime green C+S basic (Dotties Cousin is the name of the print). It hit me then, that these particular fabrics together would look exactly like seagull feathers! Living on the coast, seagulls are a stable fixture in the environment. At the beach, in the parking lot at the store, or pretty well anywhere there is a chance of free food. Especially along the pier and beach at White Rock, which is a favorite spot for us.

A table full of feathers

A table full of feathers

I worked my way through the pattern, made a couple tweaks, and had enough strips cut from my fat quarters to make 11 feathers. Perfect for the baby quilt size. I had just enough white to make the surrounds, but had to borrow the solid black for the insides because I mistakenly grabbed an old poly-cotton blend that just didn’t work with the other fabrics (Thanks @FelicityQuilts!). I finished sewing the feathers together at home the next morning, added strips to the sides to make the quilt wider, and then backed it in another C+S print. The next day I booked my time on the longarm, and got to it! I chose a pattern of curved/straight lines and bubbles. I believe its is called Effervescent? Either way, it’s from the book Step-By-Step Free Motion Quilting by Christina Cameli.


Feathers (Unofficially called Squack!)



Quilting detail! This is one of my new favorite background fills

I color bombed the binding, and then hand sewed the whole thing, label and sleeve notwithstanding. I love my Feather quilt so much, I decided to completely forgo the original design and use this in place as my BTW entry. As I was filling out the entry form, I got to the section that asks if you want to sell your quilt. I decided to use the Molli Sparkles spreadsheet to see just how much, exactly, this quilt was worth.

Feathers Cost Sheet


Let me clarify a couple points in this spreadsheet. I am an award winning quilter, an author, teacher and lecturer. I have more than 15 years of experience quilting. $33/hour is reasonable for a skilled and experienced artist. Quilting cotton in Canada is expensive, with solids starting around $10/yard and designer prints upwards of 17.99/meter, and Cotton and Steel in particular is at the upper end of the scale. The shop I purchased them from charges 16.99/yard, and I only charged for the actual amount of fabric used. The longarm rental is a flat rate of $60/day. There technically would have been the cost of babysitting and the retreat in there, since thats where I was sewing, but I didn’t include it. Then there is the 23% that the PNW takes as commission for selling your quilt (12.5% for two NFP entities) so that 30% markup is really only 7% for myself. Not much, considering most businesses mark up their products 50% or more ( I worked at a shoe store once, and made the mistake of checking the invoice. Our cost, $5.00, our retail price, $89.99, that’s an 1800% markup!) And Canada Post is mega expensive, even with my discount card, and that cost is a low estimate based on what it usually costs me to package and send off quilts to the lower US.

I never would have put this quilt at almost $900, but there it is! Personally, when I make a quilt for myself and as gifts, I don’t take cost into account. Especially with gifts, because friendship is priceless. But if you go and read through the We are Sew Worth It series from Hunter Studios, Molli Sparkles, and Sew Mama, Sew, it starts to make sense. When someone seeks out out to request a quilt, you are spending a lot of time, energy and money to make said quilt. Our time and skill has worth!


11 thoughts on “It’s Worth WHAT?!?- The Feather Quilt and a retreat

  1. This doesn’t account for all costs, even at that. If you consider the overhead of space and equipment, energy, water, etc, that makes adds up. Also if you wash your fabrics ahead as I do, there is time (water, detergent, etc) with that. Choosing fabrics takes time, both for stash and for the project at hand. Here is a post of mine that details some of these costs

  2. I.m so glad you did a spreadsheet , we seldom realize the total cost of a quilt because we enjoy the journey and working with the colors and doing ” just got to do” designs so keep this in mind as you climb the ladder of fame and get to where you want to go.hugs and smiles !!

  3. Great post and I couldn’t agree more. I never fully appreciated the time and effort that goes into making, in this case, a quilt until very recently when I needed to document the materials, labour, for a project. it was an eye opener!

    Beautiful quilt!

  4. Wow! That is a total eye opener to the value of a quilt. I’m so proud of you for posting this and not apologizing for it. As artists and creative beings, people just don’t ‘get’ what it takes to make something. While I thoroughly enjoy sewing, even when someone says ‘you should sell that!’ I kind of smile and move on, because people have no idea how much something actually costs, especially when you take into consideration the time we put in to it. Which is why gifts are really the only sewing I do.
    Seeing that amazing quilt (which I’m coveting by the way, and *almost* considering doing some quilting to learn how to do those freaking amazing feathers) makes me appreciate MY quilt that you so lovingly gave me last Christmas. Makes me smile each and every time I pull it out to read a book with 🙂

  5. I would love to know where you do your long arm quilting, I have asked my local quilt shop and they are no help….please let me know if your willing to share coincidentally at hotmail dot com. TIA 🙂

  6. Thank you Stacey for adding to this conversation. It was nice to see you use my spreadsheet on the same quilt I just completed and we came out with similar figures. (Adjusted for scale of course!) Now I can claim that I’m not crazy! Haha! It’s a difficult process this pricing of a quilt, but the more we do it, and the more we share it, the more we will improve. This will also allow our audience to gain education about the true value of what we do. Keep rocking on! I’m going to try and share this article in a blog post as well. Sparkles!

  7. Lordy, that is one expensive quilt. I make quilts for a couple of shops in Yale town. Usually throw, lap size for use in interior design on walls or to lay across furniture, some with coordinating pillows. It doesn’t cost my any where near this much to produce a quilt. I would say they average between $75 – $125. depending on the size. I source all my top quality designer/and quilt cottons through 3 wholesalers in the Vancouver area as well as all notions, batting, needles etc from another wholesaler. I have purchased a new sewing machine this year for the first time in 10 years, and updated to a new Bernina 770. I can quilt up to a queen sized quilt on this machine.

    If you are a professional quilter and in the business of quilting it really doesn’t need to cost that much.

    Hope this helps in your future endevours.

    • Lauren I would be interested in how much time it takes you to make a quilt. I can’t even buy materials for that little, it sounds like you are woefully under selling your skills. I realize that getting designer cotton wholesale makes a huge difference (its a quarter of what I pay) but even at those prices you can’t be charging more than $4/hr for your time if you are piecing a queen quilt and selling it for $125?

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