|I'm going to pepper this post with photos of pillow covers I made for the fair!|
I recently discussed part of my experience selling some of my goods at a craft fair. I mentioned that I fell rather short of my merchandise goals (meaning I didn't have much to actually sell). So why did I decide to attend anyway? Well, basically because it was free, and because I could see repurposing all the merchandise I was trying to sell as Christmas gifts. That way, I wasn't out any money for a booth/table, and I wouldn't have extra 'stuff' hanging around my house that I didn't want and I couldn't get rid of. Doing a brief google search it looks like participtating in fairs typically runs $30-$200. I probably wouldn't have participated even if had been on the low end of that spectrum.
|One Red Hook pillow that didn't sell. Lapped and lined!|
In addition, we may consider my time spent at the fair. Typically I work at the restaurant of the women who hosted the fair, so I would have been working on Saturday anyway. The gamble was, would I make as much money at the fair as I would have in the resrtaurant. As it was raining, and there were two servers on, it worked in my favor. I ended up selling one pillow cover and 2 pot holders that day, adding up to a grand total of $170. That is probably more than I what I would have made on an equivalent day (when you factor in hourly wage + tips), so I came out ahead in the long run. And it was way more fun working at the fair. On Sunday I had to work at the restaurant and someone else watched my wares. I ended up selling 6 pot holders that day, so it was like double dipping! I got my restaurant money and my craft money! What a lucrative day. If only they could all be like that.
|Kokka Echino Decor Soaring in cotton sateen, playing with hourglasses and 16-patches.|
As for the pillow covers, they didn't sell as well. I didn't think they would, because they were rather pricey. I even called my mom and asked if she thought I was crazy for charging what I did. "No price is too crazy in Brooklyn," was the response I got.
|Detail on one of my pillow cover backs.|
To determine prices, just as with my pot holders, I first calculated materials. These are 18" square pillows, with a lapped zipper closure, and they are fully lined. Do pillows really need to be lined? Probably not. But, I quilted all my panels, and since I'm notoriously messy (threads everywhere! Snarls! Oh my!) I only quilted the top and batting together, then lined the inside. It probably took as long as neatly quilting each part would have. Plus, lining everything eliminated exposed seams on the inside.
|Lining shot. I used extra yardage |
I wouldn't otherwise have used.
So, for materials. I used about 1/4 yard's worth of fabric for the back, 1/2 yard for the lining, and about 1/3 yard for the pillow tops (all those seams/paper piecing made for less efficient fabric usage, and made it harder to calculate). That alone is about $12 worth of materials. Batting would be about 1/2 yard, which is another $4. Zippers were $1.50 at Joann's. So, we're up to about $17.50 with materials cost. And I realize I could bring the cost down by withholding the lining, or using muslin, but I ran out of muslin, which is why I turned to my old stash.
|The other hook that didn't sell. I ran out of the purple AMH, so added the cornerstones.|
As for my time, that's where it gets tricky. Since I don't really 'clock on' when I sew, it's hard to judge my time frame. I think my first pillow took about 7 hours to complete. I was figuring out how to do the lining, what proportions I liked for the backing and zipper lap. In addition I was cutting the pieces as I went. The hooks and the pineapple were by far the most labor intensive. The hourglasses were super quick, and pretty easy once I started using starch (that cotton sateen is slippery!) By the end, I got my time for making a hook pillow down to 4 hours. How did I decide to price everything? Well, for the hook pillow covers, and the pineapple, I went with $125. I charged $20/hr for 4 hours, plus materials, plus design fee/profit margin (which I unscientifically just threw on there). WHAT!?!?!? You can buy a whole quilt for that much money? I know, I know. But I went with it anyway. And, you know what? Someone bought one. Without haggling! I priced the hourglass pillow cover lower, at $100, because even though the fabric was more expensive (double the price), I actually used muslin to line it (cheaper), and by that point I was a pro at completing the pillow cover so it went much faster.
|Pineapple pillow with Llama lamp backing.|
All in all, it was a fun experience. It was a learning one as well. If I were to participate again I'd try to keep my maximum prices at $50. I'd also make some boxy pouches and some zipper pouches - because I think they're more 'gift friendly'. I liked the pillows, but they were too labor intensive for this type of activity. Next time I'm only making that kind of stuff on commission!
|Better luck next year!|
Since I finished all the pillow covers, I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday!