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How Much to Charge When Longarm Quilting for Others

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Longarm-quilting-machine

If you own a long arm quilter for personal hobby use, there may well come a time when word gets out and you’ll be asked to make a quilt for others.

While friends and family may get initially freebies, after a while you will understandably want to start charging for your services.

However, if you are not quilting professionally, (or maybe you are beginning to do so) knowing how much to charge when long arm quilting for others can be really difficult to answer.

However, in this article we will set out a structure for you to quote for your work in a fair, yet profitable manner.

The great thing is, with enough work it is more than possible to pay off the investment you made in buying the quilter in the first place.

In a Rush?

Here’s our quick formula for calculating how much to charge when longarm quilting for others:

[Prep Time (hrs) + Machine Time (hrs) x Hourly Rate] + Material & Expenses Cost

Now it’s time to look at all of this in greater detail.

What to consider when charging for your work

writing notes

It doesn’t take much to be in a position to start charging for your long arm quilting. In fact, with just a few simple skills you can start earning a decent sum.

When you setting a price for your work you need to evaluate the time it takes to complete whole process, along with material costs and other more esoteric elements such as utilities, and wear and tear of your machine.

In other word, you need to begin thinking about your costs in terms of a fully fledged business.

Expenses that should be calculated as part of your cost:
  • The initial investment to buy the long arm machine.
  • All Supplies involved with the specific job (thread, batting, backing fabric, tools)
  • Utility Bills (phone, electricity, heat/air, water)

Further expenses if you are running a quilting business:

  • Rental of the premises
  • Insurance (machine cover as well as insurance for the goods you sell)
  • Professional fees (attorney, accountant,)
  • Advertising & Marketing (website and internet costs, Facebook ads)
  • Annual taxes

Hourly Rate

You also need to decide on how much you aim to pay yourself on an hourly basis. How much is your time worth? You need to have a fixed hourly rate in your mind in order to calculate how much to charge for a job.

This rate will then be multiplied by your total prep time and the time it takes to machine the quilt.

Prep Time

clock and wall

A lot of work is spent on a job before you’ve even switched on the long arm. Whenever you start a new project, you should keep a log book and track how long each part of the process takes.

Keep this log even on your own work as this will make you more prepared when quilting for others and charging for the finished item.

Prep time includes the following:
  • Consultation time and quilt pick-up time
  • Quilt loading time
  • Design planning
  • Patching and repair
  • Thread trimming
  • Backing and batting preparation
  • Bobbin winding
  • Billing and accounting

By carefully tracking the above, you can add up how long your average process takes and then times that by your hourly rate.

This way you will have a cost for the work you complete before and after the actual quilting, and this can be charged to the client.

Quilting Time

long arm quilter

Now it’s time to track the amount of time it takes to actually machine the quilt.

Again you should track these times on your own work so that you have a clear idea of how long your process takes.

If you are at a stage where you are selling your quilts, you will have made enough to know that designs vary greatly in the time that they take.

A good way to break things down is to calculate how long it takes for you to do a single repeat of your pantograph design.

Have that figure in minutes and the only information you need to calculate the overall cost is the amount of repeats required for a specific sized quilt, and then the number of rows required to make it.

Calculating the total costs

calculator

Once you have the total time it takes to create the pantograph, you can then add that to your total prep time. This is then multiplied by your hourly rate.

Add on your expenses and you have the final figure you should charge for your work.

A quick example cost breakdown could look like this:
  • Client consultation plus delivery of finished quilt = 1hr
  • Prep time (pantograph design, machine loading etc) = 2hrs
  • Total time to create pantograph (based on time for one repeat x amount of rows to finish specific size) = 5hrs
  • Total = 8hrs x hourly rate ($25) = $200
  • Add on additional expenses & materials = $40

Final amount to charge: $240

And there you have it, all the details you need to start charging for your hard work.

As we said above, as more and more people see your lovely quilts they will be queuing up to have designs made.

Price your quilts carefully, and the profit could pay off the cost of your long arm quilting machine within a single year!

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