Two weeks ago, I created a post titled “The Value of our Work”. In this post I discussed the various grades of fabric that quilters have access to and how our fabric choice should effect our sale price, if we are indeed selling our work.
I mentioned my new friend Ashley and how she gives her customers a choice between fabrics, then she prices her commissioned quilts accordingly. I loved this idea so much I went out and purchased fabric from 3 different sources with the intention of doing some experimenting. This past week I got to do just that and even I was surprised at the results.
Letting Go of Great Expectations
I used the cheapest of the fabrics to test my various tulip designs and I am glad that I did, because I had a lot of waste. I find it much easier to throw out a failed attempt if it coasts $2.00, then if it costs $10.00. What I wasn’t counting on was the fact that the Walmart fabric that I had chosen was a pain in the … (well you know).
Aauuggg…. What Is Up With That Stuff?
The Waverly fabric was filled with wrinkles and it would not press well at all. I had my iron on the hottest setting and I used my water spritzer bottle liberally, but it didn’t help. Eventually I went and grabbed my spray starch and sprayed the fabric until it was saturated, but it didn’t help much. Finally I gave up and just let the block have the wrinkles that it was so desperately holding onto. This turn of events left me frustrated to say the least, not to mention it ate up a significant amount of my time while I stood around pressing the fabric until my ironing board was too hot to touch. What I saved in pricing, I lost in work hours.
Second Time Is A Charm, Right?
Before I started cutting my quilt store fabric, I decided to test the pattern once again only this time I used the Joann fabrics. The Keepsake Calico fabric did press much better that the Walmart stuff, but it was so thin I kept snagging the fabric. Once I made a mistake and had to remove some stitching and it took over 5 minutes to take the stitches out of a 2 1/2” x 3” section! The fabric was so thin that, although I was using a contrasting color thread, I could not get my seam ripper below my stitches without also hooking the weft and warp threads of the textile.
The other thing that I noticed is that the whole block was flimsy. It had no weight to it and it just kind of flopped. It had the rigidity of a wet noodle, which is not something that I particularly like when constructing a quilt.
By the time I got around to cutting my quilt store fabric I was greatly impressed. It pressed nicely, it sewed nicely, wrong stitches came out nicely, the weight was nice, the opacity was nice, everything ran smoothly, which was nice.
It took an experiment like this to open my eyes to what is really going on with cotton fabrics. I learned a lot from all of this and I can honestly say that I am a high quality textile woman through and through. Martha Stewart, in her book “The Martha Rules”, says that, “Quality should be placed at the top of your list of priorities”. I concur.
Although I will never use Walmart fabrics again for anything, I will continue to purchase Joann fabrics for testing patterns. Only next time I will purchase a higher grade of Joann fabrics. For my quilts though, it will be only the best that I can find. If someone would like to purchase my work, they will need to pay for it and all the quality that went into it. I will not compromise my integrity just to satisfy someone who wants to save a $100.00.
I am glad that there are people like Ashley who are willing to work with customers to give them exactly what they are looking for. I respect her, her business and her work. I think the world needs people who are willing to work on all levels of business; I am not one of those people though.
I’m really glad I did this experiment and I am glad that I toyed with the idea of fluctuating price points based on qualities of supplies. Now I have the experience and knowledge to back up my opinions on this topic.