09 December 2014

Crafty Fair - Part 1 {pot holders and pricing}

I recently participated in a craft fair hosted by my restaurant bosses. I had high aspirations for how many items I would make, and in the end, real life got in the way. I caught a brutal cold, which really made me slow down. Somehow, though, I had the three days prior to the fair to sew sew sew. And sew I did. I couldn't tell if my headache was from the never ending cold, or from the clacking of my machine!

4 of the pot holders, fronts and backs. 

I ended up making 5 pillow covers (which I will blog about soon), and 10 pot holders. For the pot holders, I knew I wanted to make some cats. Partly because they were cute, and partly because I needed an excuse to buy some Cotton + Steel tiger stripe fabric, which I used for the backing.

Makers Market WiPs
All the kitties. Arranged in order of favorites (my favorite is on top). 

Look how nice the kitties play together. 

I decided to make some improv birds for the other pot holders. I ended up making 6 of them, although the only picture I took before the fair is at the top of this post. I am happy to say that only two of the ten pot holders didn't sell. The two with the Arizona background, which I loved, but I guess was too busy for other folks.

Bird Pot holders
One of the birds that didn't get away. 

One of the nice things was that the majority of people who bought my stuff were strangers! Sounds weird to say, but it was a very nice feeling to have people come up and purchase something I made solely because they liked it. My mom was telling me that she worked a few craft fairs back in her time of making knitted children's items and only sold one item to my aunt. I'm glad I beat her record!

Bird Pot holders
The other birdy. 

One thing I debated for a while was pricing. I've read so much about how crafter's undervalue their time/effort when selling their wares. Posts like 'no value does not equal free' by Molli Sparkles and 'What's it Worth' part 1 and part 2 by Hunter's Design Studio. I have no problem gifting my time and materials, but I sure as heck didn't want to sell myself short if people were going to pay me money.

I did a rough calculation, and for materials for each pot holder it cost an average of $5. Calculating labor was a little trickier. I tend to measure time in 'This American Life' episodes, and sometimes I don't put a new one on for a little while. To make the four cats took me about 2.5 hours, and the birds took me approximately  4.5 hours to make all 6 of them. This includes cutting, piecing, quilting and machine sewing the binding onto each pot holder. Then I came upon a dilemma. I like to hand sew the other side of my binding down. I thought about this for a bit. It really increased my labor, but in the end I chose to hand sew. I didn't end up including it in the labor calculation because I felt like selling myself short! In actuality, it's because I took way longer than usual because I was watching tv, and boy does 'How to Get Away with Murder' pull you in. My final prices?

I value my time at $20/hr. I know that may seem a bit high, but it's on par with what I make when I waitress, less than what I make when I teach, and my fellowship hours vary so much that I'm not sure what my hourly wage is there. I rounded up slightly in my pricing, deciding that extra bit would cover my 'design fee', and ended up charging $20 for the cat pot holders and $25 for the bird pot holders. And, like I said, all but 2 of them sold. No one even tried to haggle. I was nervous after comparing prices to what I saw on Etsy, but I stuck by my guns, and I'm glad for it. 

Next time I'll discuss my pillow cover pricing, and my motivation for participating in the Maker's Market in general.  


  1. How awesome does it feel to have your work sell?!?!? Congratulations! I really like how you decided to price and discuss your pricing. (I think you have a typo in the next to last paragraph, only 2 didn't sell, right?).

  2. Congrats! Love the cat pot holders they are really cute - thanks for sharing your pricing tactics - always a tricky one to decide on.

  3. That must be the best feeling! Well done for sticking to your guns :)

  4. I find the funny thing with pricing is that things like pot holders are generally 'overpriced' in shops anyway and I think that pricing tends to be more acceptable because they're so widely available and therefore there's no point complaining about the price because it will be the same wherever (and likely either the same pot holder or one that looks the same). I just looked on Amazon and a plain white one was $15, or for $7 you can get a old-style country farm pattern. So basically these things are either plain and boring, or just plain ugly so I'm not surprised your awesome ones sold! Pot holders are things we tend to use and see everyday so i can see them also being one of those things you'd pick up on a whim.


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