Many folks in the quilting world sell quilting services – hand and machine quilting, fabric, patterns – but fewer have set out to sell their quilts. I know only one or two quilters who actively market their quilts and they are art quilters.
So, where would you go to sell your quilts? There aren’t many places that sell just quilts. New York City has a quilt gallery and towns in and around Amish communities often have quilt/fabric stores. Of course, those stores feature Amish quilts. Luckily, the internet has opened up a vast marketplace, unfettered by your geographic location (unless FedEx, UPS and the like don’t serve your area.) Unluckily, that vastness makes it hard to reach a likely audience for your quilts.
Since business people are quick to spot opportunity, websites that specialize in crafts markets have popped up. They serve as go-betweens, offering a “store” to display merchandise, web links for purchasing items, and other accoutrements of trade. This can be a great boon to individual craftspeople who don’t have the expertise, time, and/or resources to do all that from scratch. Of course, there are fees involved when you list your items, even if they don’t sell; and more fees and/or a percent of the sale price when you sell an item.
I’ve been learning about crafts e-tailing through Selling Your Crafts Online, by Michael Miller. Since I don’t plan to start selling my quilts I skipped much of the fees information and the step by step instructions for setting up accounts, and concentrated on the online marketplaces. If you’re considering online selling this book seems like a good place to start, especially if you don’t want to create your own website. Some of the business and pricing strategy seems like business 101, but it never hurts to restate the obvious.
Like most crafters I knew about eBay, the behemoth of the business that sells any and everything, and Etsy, which is handmade crafts oriented. However, Mr. Miller introduced me to Artbreak, Artfire, Artful Home, Artist Rising, Artspan, Bonanza, Craft Is Art, Crobbies, Funky Finds, Handmade Artists Shop, Handmade Catalog, Hyena Cart, Made It Myself, ShopHandmade, Yessy, and Zibbet. Talk about A to Z!
eBay has page after page of quilt listings, but the offerings range from old quilts to ones made yesterday, with quilt tops and supplies thrown into the mix. Unless I were cranking out lots of similar baby quilts I wouldn’t use eBay to sell my quilts. Etsy lists many quilts in all styles and price ranges, though you’re more likely to find modern style quilts there. I think Etsy is a better fit for many quilt makers, unless they create high end art quilts.
Only a few of the other sites listed quilts for sale at the time I checked them out. Artful Home displays gallery quality art and contemporary quilts. Craft Is Art has a few quilts for sale, mostly wall hangings and table runners. Handmade Artists Shop offers quilts that are craft, not art, oriented; as does Handmade Catalog. Yessy had a strange mix of quilts, many from one maker. There sure are a lot of people trying to sell their crafts.
Time for me to have a cup of tea. I’m exhausted from that shopping trip, and I didn’t even take off my slippers.
A reader of this blog has suggested that folks may want to check out the web services offered by Shopify, an e-commerce service, to sell their quilts. I have no experience with this outfit, so I can’t give any opinion. I do see that the basic charge for this service is $29 a month, plus a per credit card transaction charge. You can try it out for free, according to the website. My personal take is you’d want to compare costs with other online sales services to see what might work best for you. You’d need to have enough inventory to justify a recurring monthly charge for a “shop.”
An Ohio Quilting Star
Nothing beats admiring quilts in person. I did that recently when Shirley Stutz gave a talk about quilt borders. For folks who don’t know her, Shirley has been quilting for 30 years from her rural Ohio farm, and her quilts have won numerous national awards. She has moved with the times, going from scissors to rotary cutters, and from hand quilting to longarm machines. Shirley is a teacher, designer, lecturer, and author of Easy and Elegant Lone Star Quilts; as well as a frequent contributor to various quilting magazines. And she’s funny!
I was fascinated with Shirley’s repertoire of approaches and techniques. Just when I was enjoying her quilts as excellent examples of traditional quilts, she’d pull out one featuring thread painted squirrels. I stopped keeping track of the number of techniques she used in each quilt – applique, paper piecing, paintstiks. Many of the quilt designs she drafted herself in response to some effect she wanted to achieve. Talk about boldly going where no quilter has gone before. Two constants distinguish her work. Her workmanship is excellent and her color sense is painterly.
Here are just a few of the borders she devised for her quilts.
Shirley used a huge elephant print in the quilt above, and worked out the border spikes through hand drafting a pattern. The weird curve is the edge of a table, not in the quilt itself.
Shirley often uses piping and rickrack to add an edge of color. Note the contrast between the swirly feather and the straight line quilting.
Here’s just one block from a basket quilt Shirley made from her mother’s house dresses. That material is poly-cotton, not the easiest to work with. I just love the appliqued birds.
The quilt’s border is made up of all these tiny baskets. The half square triangles are half inch finished. That level of precision is way beyond me.
Some tips from Shirley:
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