I haven't sewn a stitch on any in-progress quilts in a week or more, so WIP Wednesday and Friday Finish were, and are, both a bust.
My life has been absorbed by fat quarter bundles, project kits, panel pluses, pattern pluses, hanging panels, bindings, etc, in preparation for our busiest week of the year. All self imposed. Lord almighty someone save me from myself before I volunteer for something else. But I was asked because I am good at prep work like that, and back office/merchandising stuff like that is my forte. So that's what I've been doing most evenings. Fold, bundle, price, repeat. Fold, tab, tag, price, repeat. Thank God for caffeine, because the past 72 hours I have been running on caffeine only. But I digress.
That leads me to a question I have heard a lot of lately, and I will furnish an example here. We have some optional $10 kits available for a project, and a customer got upset over the cost that she felt was "outrageous." This kit wasn't bad cost-wise, but as you see in stores and in magazines, some kits are pretty spendy.
So we get asked a lot, why are kits so pricey? Shouldn't it cost the same as if you bought the yardage off the bolt? Well, no. Kits are a different animal than yardage. With buying yardage for a quilt, the process ends at choosing your fabric, and purchasing it. With a kit, there is a lot of background work that goes into that beautiful pack of fabric.
So what goes into making a kit?
1. First the store has to decide to kit the project, and whether they want to kit is as prescribed by the pattern, or adjust for any changes they made to the pattern in the display sample. If it is not identical to the pattern, then it takes time to recalculate yardages needed, write up an info sheet on the changes made to the pattern and a Color Key so that whoever buys the kit to make the same quilt as in the display know that the kit varies from the pattern, and where to make changes and what pieces go where.
2. Then, someone has to take the time to calculate the cost of each piece required for the kit - 0.5 yd @ $8.75 here, 0.75 yd @ 10.99 there, etc. But that is not the final cost of the kit, yet!
3. Oh how I wish all kits came pre-made, but they don't. Someone at the store has to take the time to cut the fabric for "x" amount of kits, fold all the pieces for "x" amount of kits and package the "x" kits. Plus, not all kits are yardage based - some have to be pieces that measure x" by x". Those take a while to calculate accurately and cut.
4. Is the kit based off an already-published pattern? If so, then yippee! You're off the hook here. However, if the kit is based off of an in-house design for which a pattern must be written, someone must take the time (and skill!) to write a pattern, have it proofread, fix any mistakes, have it proofread again, any remaining mistakes fixed, and get it printed.
5. Have you noticed that one particular word keeps popping up? Time. Kits take time to develop. Someone has to allot the time to do all this work in between their other tasks (customer service is always first), and the amount of time assembling one kit may be vastly different from the time required to prep another kit. Yes, time is a huge factor. A tiny shop hop kit takes less time per package than a quilt kit, but the cutting on a shop hop kit takes more time than a quilt kit. But also, kits of a quilt generally only get cut once or twice as fabric allows. A shop hop kit has to be cut literally hundreds of times for the duration of the program. I can only speak for our shop. We mark up for time spent prepping the kit very little and sometimes not at all. If we mark up, we round to the next $5 increment - but we don't always even add in the time at all. Some places may mark up more, but that is always at the business' discretion how much they add in to the cost for time spent, and it will always vary store to store, region to region.
So what is the breakdown of the separate costs making up the total cost of a kit?
- Cost of the fabrics per yard included in the kit
- Cost of the pattern, either pre-published, or published in house
- Cost of the color keys, information sheets, packaging and labels
- Consideration of time to write, proofread, price, cut, fold, check, recheck and package the kit.
Kits are so convenient. People don't need to worry about fabric choices, color placement or the pattern - it's all right there and ready to go. But, convenience does cost. It is a good idea to stop and think about what goes into kit making before snarling at the people at the counter for "overpricing" their kit, or dropping snide remarks about how expensive it is. When all of the things are considered, step by step, that go into building that wonderful kit, its cost is pretty logical in most cases.
So, in the mean time, enjoy the weather (it's going to be a hot one!), enjoy your kits, your shop hops and the Sisters Quilt Show. After running on allt hat caffeine, I will be taking a nap, so if you'll excuse me... :-)