Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Cost of Patterns

I wasn't going to write a blog post tonight because I've had a headache all day and thought I'd try to get to bed early, but then I got sidetracked and now I have quilt patterns on my mind--which is much better than a headache, I can tell you that!

Anyway, a few days ago, a quilter wrote to me to ask about a quilt I'd shown on my blog that I had seen at a quilt show--


She also posted the photo to the Quilting Board to see if anyone there recognized the pattern.  That started a bit of a discussion.  You can read it HERE.

I did a little checking and found the pattern was a BOM pattern called Classic Santas by Quakertown Quilts.  It's actually sold in different parts too--the applique blocks, the large pieced blocks, and the small pieced blocks.


I found a kit on Etsy and emailed the link to the woman who emailed me, and I believe she ended up purchasing it--it's a beautiful quilt.  Anyway, in the meantime, some of the quilters on the Quilting Board found the patterns from different sources and started discussing the cost, which could range anywhere from around $50 for just the applique blocks to over $100 for all the patterns.  A couple quilters defended the cost, pointing out that each applique block generates as much pattern writing as a single quilt pattern.  They went on to say that if they really liked a pattern, they'd be willing to pay the higher cost and consider the quilt an heirloom.  On the other hand, some quilters said the cost was still too much and/or that pattern was more involved than what they cared to make anyway.

My feelings are a little in between.  Someone said they look for free BOMs and like them just as well, but I know from a designer standpoint, most of the free BOMs are fairly simple patterns, and they will generate a ton of quilts that all look pretty much the same.  Still, I tend to shy away from paying more than $40 for a pattern, even if I love it.  And yes, even knowing what I know about designing patterns.

One of my favorite BOM-type quilts is this one by Country Faces called Christmas Sampler:


I haven't made it yet, but it's in my pattern "stash."  I DID use the Santa block to make a small wallhanging using wool.  But that's beside the point; what I wanted to mention is that this pattern costs under $10, I believe.  So there ARE quilt patterns out there that designers don't price out of reach even if they've put a lot of time into designing the quilt and writing the patterns; we just need to look for them.

I also have heard of some quilters who pool their money to buy the more expensive patterns and then work on them as a group project or pass them on when they finish their own quilt.  And some quilters will invest in a pattern and then resell it when she/he is done with it, thus recouping some of the money they laid out in the beginning.  I'm pretty sure that's not what the designers hope will happen when they put a high price on a pattern, but I think it's understandable.

Before I say goodnight, I wanted to show you one more Christmas pattern that I think is reasonably priced considering all the work put into designing it.  It's called Santa Pause . . .


and it's designed by Mountain Valley Stitches, the same designer who designed the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt I made several years ago (and have hanging for Halloween)--


No doubt you can see the similarities, right?  Each of the patterns is under $20.  I'd love to make Santa Pause this year to hang for Christmas, but I don't know where I'd find the time.  Still, that's never stopped me before, right?  We'll see.  But what do you think about the cost of patterns?  What are you willing to spend?  (I'll even take the word verification off for a couple days to make it easier for you to comment.)

24 comments:

Suzan said...

I have seen some gorgeous patterns that I would love to have but simply cannot afford. I now look on-line to purchase used patterns. Occasionally, someone in our sewing circle will decide on a group project and several will each by a portion of the pattern (like a McKenna Ryan pieced pattern - 8 or 10 smaller patterns make up the whole design) and then share. Of course trying to get everyone to decide to make the same thing is a struggle!

Nonnie said...

$25 is my limit on any pattern no matter what. Like you said there are alot of free BOM'S out there. I have passed on so many patterns because of the price. I don't dwell on them. You just move on. You can create your own pattern of any kind . That is the most fun. Then you have your own original.
I read your post every morning. It is so enjoyable. Thank you for taking the time out of your day

Marj said...

I think that patterns that are priced above $30.00 are priced out of reach of most quilters. I have only occasionally bought the really expensive ones. I am sure that some designers find that if they are high priced it makes them sort of exclusive. But as you know if you wait long enough and are patient all things come to garage sales, ebay or thrift shops.

Anonymous said...

Hello, with the high cost of fabric now and a expensive pattern I can not afford my hobby!! Doris

Vicky said...

I have purchased these BOM patterns a few times, but only for the very special quilts that I know I will make someday. The price for these, especially the full page applique patterns, warrant the price, in my opinion. I don't like buying a pattern and then having to go to a copy place to get it enlarged x200 or more.

Teresa in Music City said...

I just recently purchased a butterfly pattern set, In Flight, by Debra Gabel of Zebra Patterns, simply because I could not resist them! However, I usually share the cost of one of these pricey patterns with a few friends. There have been several Quakertown patterns that I would have loved to make and just simply could not justify the cost.

Gwen said...

I have paid the higher price for a few patterns. Some of them are still unused in my stash. Some I have used parts of for other projects. I am being more thoughtful about any purchase now and deciding on things that I really want to do and will do soon. There are so many more sources for patterns with the internet that you can find easy fast projects for free and put your money into more complicated patterns.

Josie McRazie said...

For the most part I quilt on a VERY tight budget. We live on one income five people a Daughter with special needs and yes I totally look for free. I buy shirts at salvation army to reconstruct I back quilts with sheets inhave purchased for $2! (I feel blessed when I find a good one for $1!) But there are books I fall in love with (Geared for Guys and Sunday Morning Quilts) that after great struggle with my self looking putting back and then finally deciding it is just to great to pass up I will purchase it. But I have to say $100 for one pattern is just way out of my league! Not to say they are not beautiful because they are!

Lady of the Cloth said...

I have had to crank back the spending after retirement and a lot of the block of the month patterns or kits are now out of reach. I guess if the designers feel they can get the large amounts for patterns, they are free to do it, but I imagine I am not the only one who are "out of the market" for those.

Miss Jean said...

I really dislike paying more than $12 for pattern. Anything over that for one pattern, to me, is way to much when you can get an entire book of patterns for around $20. Also, the fabric companies have awesome free patterns on their sites.

marie said...

I appreciate all the time and effort the designers put into making their patterns. But---when so many people can't or won't pay the price, is it worth their effort? I thought the reason for making patterns was to make money, if no one buys, was it worth it? I won't pay more than $20 (and I have to love it) for a pattern.

Laura K said...

I love all the great applique BOM patterns out there but I just can't justify paying that much for a quilt pattern. I am on a very tight budget these days so I have to be picky about what I make. If I can buy one part each month and therefore spread the cost out it is a little easier but is still darn expensive.
I will never forget the first time I inquired about the price of a pattern in a local quilt shop. It was several years ago and I think the price was like $70 for the entire pattern. I think I almost swallowed my tongue! I think the clerk at the shop thought I was scum for thinking that was an outrageous price. Needless to say I haven't been back to that particular quilt shop since.
That was my first experience with the high cost of such beautiful patterns. I love them but they will have to wait until finances are better!

Patty Nordahl said...

Very interest questions and thought provoking commentary.

I appreciate the time and effort that goes into pattern design and writing but I just cannot afford to spend $20 - $100 on a pattern.

I have seen quilts that I really admire that I just can't buy the pattern or kit. What I do is study it and take the design as a suggestion and then put my own twist on it. For instance the Classic Santas I would find or draw more primitive Santas and mix those with pieced blocks until I had a quilt design I could do.

Free patterns are so widely available now that I can usually find something I can adapt to my own ideas.

I read your blog daily and want to thank you for your time.

Julie said...

I have noticed that patterns that can be grouped together are many times sold individually for $9-10.
There is an embroidered snowman pattern where the snowmen are all doing something that has to do with quilting. For 16 patterns to make an entire quilt at $9.00 each, that is $144.00 for a set of patterns. While I also understand the time it takes to draft a pattern, that is just too much.

One year I lusted after a Leanne's House pattern that was $112.00 and I never made it because that is just so much money!

Julie-Julia

Julie said...

Opps. Forgot to say,
DO THE SANTA PAUSE PATTERN!
It would look so darn cute!

Anonymous said...

First off, I haven't done any BOM quilts. I've looked at some, but when I figured out the cost, that ended my desire for that pattern. For the last several years, I use the free patterns and tutorials that I see on the internet. Thanks for sharing.
cindy

Jan said...

Just had to comment about this subject. I've wondered why these patterns are priced individually, and cost so much when an applique book will have as much work, or more, put into it. Books are generally in the $25 range. When I first saw this trend starting, I was shocked, and I still am!

dianne said...

i just returned from Kinkos - i needed to enlarge a silhouette for a sumpin that i think i want to try to make - and one 11x17 copy was $1.10! for one lousy piece of paper! and yet that $1.10 will save me hours and hours of trying to enlarge it by hand...

when i drafted paper-pieced leaves, i spent for-EVUH drawing and erasing and redrawing and numbering and renumbering because i didn't have the $10 that an online source wanted for ready-to-sew patterns ... but if i HAD had the money, it's a pretty sure bet i would have handed it over willingly, especially now that i know i CAN draft if i HAVE to...

there is a Baltimore Album Halloween quilt that i have sighed over for a couple of years - it is available as BOM kits or just the pattern - which is close to $100 ... a LOT of money to me ... yet, if i had the SKILLS, that pattern would be living here right now - i would eat mac & cheese for two months to pay for it...

i have no problem handing over money for Crab-apple Hill patterns IF i am certain that i am going to stitch them, even though they are kinda pricey...

but if a free BOM is something that will never get stitched, i won't even save it to a file on the computer...

so i guess that how much i'll spend depends on how much i want to actually DO...

Colleen said...

This is a tough subject to tackle and I appreciate your doing it! I am a pattern addicted person. I have trouble passing them up... I always think I will do them and will go to look and not have it and get really upset, so I am a pattern stasher. With that said.... I have purchased some super expensive patterns. BUT since the economy hit the wall in 2008/2009 and it affected our family greatly, that was it for me. No more high-price patterns and it needs to totally knock my socks off. I pause at 20 bucks. But, with that said, I have made a few purchases over that for something really special since then.

Frances said...

All the comments so reflect where I am. I drooled over a pattern on Pat Sloan's blog this morning. The pattern cost for all the sections was close to $ 100.00 and the BOM almost $ 600.00. Too rich for my blood. I know designers need to make money from their designs,energy and creativity but I believe they will be pricing themselves out of the market.
Thank you for the blog you write. I read daily.

quiltmom said...

I do have some paper pieced patterns by Judy Niemeyer that are more expensive( about 20 dollars) but it is worth it to me to have all the prepared papers without having to do extra prep to make them.
I have not designed my own patterns though I have altered parts of pattern by changing the borders and such.
I often buy books - especially from places like Martingale when they have their 6 dollar sale( did this just recently) If they have one pattern that I like, then the price of those books are so cheap. If I buy a more expensive pattern I want to know that I will definitely make the quilt.
Hope all is well.
Warmest regards, Anna

Diane said...

I have just seen a new, not yet for sale quilt pattern I am in love with. However, the price is $84, beyond my budget. I cannot see paying that much for it, especially since about half of it uses the same two patterns. I realize pattern designers should be paid for their work. I am trying not to buys anymore patterns, and at $12 a yard I'm trying not to buy any more fabric unless necessary. Like you, I'm trying to finish what I have started.

Coral said...

I know a group of pensioners who were salivating over a particular pattern they had seen in a magazine. It was a USA mag, and by the time they had converted to South African Rand these old dears nearly fainted. However one of them took the picture, enlarged it and traced off the picture. This is what happens when things are over priced. They would have bought it between them had the price been more reasonable.

Bowbailey said...

Love your blog! Here's an off topic question. Earlier this fall you purchased Michael Miller Christmas Pixie Fabric. I wanted to know if you had sewn a quilt yet or had an idea in your head. I purchased two panels. The green dot for sashing and the red pixie wing paisley fabric for the border, but need to design a quilt. Let me know if you have any ideas - which I know you do. Thanks