The Cost of a T-shirt Quilt Depends on These Four Variables
1. The quality of the materials used to make the quilt. 2. The skill and experience of the quilt maker. 3. The style quilt that is being made. 4. If it a quilt or a blanket.
Why Is There Such a Large Price Range for T-shirt Quilts?
On the Internet, you can find T-shirt quilts ranging in price from $100 to over $2,000. That is a huge price range for what you might think is the same thing. But T-shirt quilts aren’t all the same. Most of the time, they aren’t even close to being the same.
Understanding the four major factors that impact the cost of a T-shirt quilt is crucial in order to fully appreciate the price ranges and make informed decisions about your own quilt. With this knowledge, you will have a better understanding of what goes into the cost and be able to determine what you truly want for your quilt.
The four overarching factors which influence T-shirt quilts costs are: materials, labor, quilt style and if it is a quilt or a blanket.
1. Materials Used in a T-shirt Quilt
There are four basic materials that go into all T-shirt quilts. There is a quality range for each type of material. Higher quality materials cost more. These costs will be reflected in the price of your quilt.
Although T-shirt quilts are made in many different styles, most use fabric for the backing and binding of the quilts. In addition, some quilts use fabric for the sashing between the blocks.
Fabric comes in many different qualities. Think of bed sheet thread counts; the lower the thread count, the cheaper the fabric. Fabrics can be made from 100% polyester, 100% cotton and any combination of the two.
100% polyester fabric with a low thread count is inexpensive. A 100% cotton fabric with a high thread count is much more expensive. Know what your quilter uses. Remember, a 100% cotton doesn’t mean that it’s good fabric. It needs to be 100% cotton and high quality.
Batting is the material in the middle of a quilt. Batting comes in a variety of grades. These range from thin 100% polyester to high quality needle punched cotton batting.
Polyester batting is easily torn and will bunch-up. It isn’t a good choice. Cotton battings are the best choice. These cost twice as much, or more than, polyester batting. Read more about batting here. Remember: if there isn't a third batting layer, it's a blanket, not a quilt.
All quilters use thread for sewing together the blocks and quilting. A quilt maker can choose to purchase the least expensive thread or a higher quality thread. It's one area that a quilt maker can save money.
Cheap threads won’t withstand time and use. It's hard to know from looking at a new quilt... but over time, you will be able to tell.
There is also a monofilament plastic thread (think fishing line). This is sometimes used for long arm-quilting. Avoid this type of thread! This thread breaks easily and/or will cut the fabric it is quilted into. Double check that the quilt maker you choose doesn't use this type of thread.
Some quilters use iron-on interfacing on the back of their T-shirts. This will increase the cost of a quilt. But this is pointless. Interfacing makes working with T-shirt material easier for the quilter. But for you, it will make your quilt stiffer. Read more about interfacing here. We don't use iron on interfacing here at Too Cool T-shirt Quilts.
2. Labor Cost for Making a T-shirt Quilt
Another cost that goes into the price of a quilt is labor. Minimum wage runs $10 - $15 an hour. Typically, employers pay minimum wage to entry level and unskilled workers. High quality T-shirt quilt makers aren’t unskilled. They should have over five years of T-shirt quilt making experience. The more the better. Thus, the labor cost are more for experienced quilt makers.
It takes skill to make a T-shirt quilt. If it didn’t take any skill or experience, you would make your own quilt. Very skilled and talented quilters make the nicest T-shirt quilts. This means that their hourly rate should be much higher than minimum wage. If you want to pay minimum wage to a quilter, expect an entry-level and unskilled quilter. If you value your T-shirts, an inexpensive T-shirt quilt should scare you!
How long does it take to make a T-shirt quilt? This depends on a number of factors. These include the quilt style, complexity and skill. An inexpensive quilt takes less time to make than a more expensive quilt. This means that the cheaper the quilt the more chances it will be simple. There will be no complexity anywhere in the process. The craftsmanship will be questionable.
The Value a Quilter Puts on His or Her Work
If a quilter under prices their work, what are they telling you? They are telling you that they don’t think that their time and skill are good enough to charge more. If someone doesn’t find value in his or her work, will you?
Ready to order your very own Too Cool T-shirt Quilt? Click here to get started.
3. The Style of T-shirt Quilt Effects the Cost
T-shirt quilts come in many different style. But there are two basic styles. A traditional style made in columns and rows. And those made with the “Too Cool T-shirt Quilt” puzzle style. Each style dictates the amount of time it will take a quilter to make. And the time between each style vastly differs. Compare all the different style of T-shirt quilts here.
A traditional style T-shirt quilt uses one block size. These blocks are arranged in rows and columns. This makes for a very easy project. Especially if you, the customer, arrange the blocks ahead of time. The quilter moves directly from cutting to sewing. Read more about traditional style T-shirt quilts here.
The Variable, Puzzle or “Too Cool” Style
T-shirt quilts made with different sizes and shapes of blocks take longer to cut. This is because there are decisions involved. A quilter has to decide what size block to use for every graphic on every T-shirt.
After cutting the T-shirts, there’s counting and math! Then, a map is made of the quilt and that map is colored. Then, the sewing begins. And the sewing takes 4 to 5 times as long because of the puzzle of the quilt top. All these steps take time and patience, but the results are worth it!
4. Is it a Quilt or a Blanket?
Although they might appear to be the same at first, there is a big difference between a T-shirt quilt and a T-shirt blanket. They are not the same thing!
A blanket has two layers that are not connected. That's a blanket in the photograph here. You can see that the backing is not attached to the front of the quilt.
One the big differences between a quilt and a blanket is the cost.
A blanket is quick and easy to make. It doesn't require a lot of materials or special machines. It doesn't require a skilled sewer. This makes a blanket a very inexpensive product. A "quilt" that cost $100 is probably not a quilt at all. It's a blanket.
A quilt is not quick or easy to make. It require more materials and equipment to make than a blanket. It requires a skilled quilt maker. This makes a quilt more expensive.
What Does This Mean for You?
These and other factors are indicators of the quality of a T-shirt quilt. They also greatly influence the price of the quilt.
For example, consider a quilt made with great skill and artistry using cheap materials. It might make a good-looking quilt, but the quilt still has been made with cheap materials. That quilt will feel cheap. The life of the quilt will be shortened because of the materials.
Conversely, consider a quilt made with high quality materials but is poorly made. Despite its materials, it is still a poorly made quilt.
Look for a quilt made from high quality materials by a skilled and artistic quilt maker.
Look carefully at the cost of a T-shirt quilt. Know what you are paying for. A quilt that is $200 is probably going to be a disappointment. Remember, you get what you pay for!
Want to learn more about T-shirt quilts? Visit our Learning Center. We have over 200 articles about all aspects of T-shirt quilts.
Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.