How much is that purse in the window?

Last night, I finished my felted silk/wool bag. I hand-sewed the lining, sewed on the handle tabs and handles, and trimmed the long strands of silk sticking out. It would appear the bag is completely done.IMG_1820_2 IMG_1822 IMG_1823_2I like it. I was discouraged as I was working through it, frustrated with the felting process and not sure the lining would go well enough. But now that it’s done, it pleases me. I think it will become a knitting bag for ME.

Sure, I could try to sell it. It’s attractive, striking, unusual, handmade, handy. But I’m really not sure I could get anyone to pay what it’s really worth. Here’s a glimpse into the struggle of pricing handmade items:

  • Silk Yarn $16
  • Wool yarn $9
  • Lining fabric $5
  • Wooden handles $7

I’m already at $37 just in materials. But what about time?

  • Finding the right shade of blue wool to match the silk: 1 hour
  • Knitting the bag: 4 hours (approx)
  • Felting the bag: 2.5 hours (1 hour hand-felting, 2 cycles in the washer, stuffing & shaping the bag)
  • Prepping and sewing the lining: 2 hours (longer because I’m a sewing machine novice)
  • Hand-sewing the lining into the bag: 1 hour
  • Hand-sewing the handles into the bag: .5 hour

That’s 11 hours of labor. If I give myself even minimum wage (Missouri: $7.65) that’s $84.15. Add in the materials, and I should price the bag at $121. Whaaat? Sure. It’s technically worth that. Hard to argue with the facts. But where do I find the person who’s willing to pay that?

So here’s my question to you, fellow crafters: How do you price your items? Do you use a formula? Do you peruse Etsy or other sites to see what others are pricing similar items? Do you go with your gut?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. This is an ongoing struggle for me, and I’m trying very hard to stop undervaluing myself and what I create. But at the same time, I do want to sell things. Not just for the money, but so other people can have things they love, so that I can share the joy of handmade.IMG_1821_2

14 thoughts on “How much is that purse in the window?

  1. That is where I walk through craft sales and say “ooh that’s cute but for that price I can make one myself” It’s tucked worth more to you. The bag is beautiful thou. I especially like your color choices.

    • Oh sure, I’ve done that too. But I know there are people who couldn’t/wouldn’t make it for themselves, and that’s who’s more likely to buy it, right? Of course I would never price it anywhere near that, but that’s what makes it so difficult to earn anything close to a living wage as a crafter.

  2. I am definitely no expert but I just go back to the “go with your gut” idea over and over again. You’re so correct when you say it is hard to earn a living this way but for me, I weigh the idea of at least recouping my costs and that my craft keeps me sane(r). If I can at least sell and it pays for itself, that’s something. But again, I am no expert. Love your stuff Bonny! And I love your honesty and that you’re so real. 🙂

    • You’re as much an expert as I am, maybe more since you’ve been selling your pieces for longer than I have. I’m definitely not trying to earn a living, so for me, if it pays for my yarn habit, I’m happy. But some crafters who are trying to make a living from it, argue that people like us make it even harder for them. And I definitely see their point, but if I can’t sell my pieces at their prices, I have to find my own way, right? Sighhh. Yep, you’re right. I go with my gut.

  3. I think the key is finding a balance between setting a price that seems reasonable to the buyer/fair to you but not going so low that you devalue the entire craft and world of handmade! I see handmade items on Etsy that are sold for a pittance–it seems the makers are just so happy and honored to get a sale they practically give stuff away. That isn’t good for anyone!

  4. I have the same dilemma with pricing. I haven’t actually sold anything, probably because of this problem. So, maybe I’m no help. But, this is a lovely purse, and I would like to think there would be someone out there who is willing to pay it’s full value.

    • Thank you, that’s kind of you to say! I think I’ll take a shot and put it out at my next few craft shows. Maybe not at $120, but at a healthy price. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t sell, right?

      • Exactly! That’s how I would do it, and then if it turns out you need to adjust your price, you can. Might as well start out on the high end, if your not in a hurry to sell.

  5. Selling a craft item might be similar to selling one’s house. We want to price according to our “sweat” equity and all the love from all the time we spent with our home. Then the dreaded realtor…oh ’well. He or she reminds us of “market value” and neighborhood ratings, blah, blah, blah. So, where does that leave us? Having a beautiful, love-filled home that just the RIGHT & PERFECT buyer will just HAVE to OWN – it’s possible, just less likely. Or we could price our house to sell. Yeah, we don’t recoup all the love. But face it, some of us homeowners put lots & lots & lots of love into our homes. It’s why we created our home to appear just as it does – we loved it and everything about it while we lived in it. To sum up – market value is the predominate factor that decides pricing BUT should our home be in a very desirable location (meaning we have created/crafted a very desirable item) we can recoup some (and maybe all) of the love we put into our home.

    • It’s a reasonable comparison, except how do you determine “fair market value” when a shawl like I’ve made, for example, is priced anywhere from $45 to $200? And does the same comparison work for things like woodworking, photography, artwork…all markets where time/skill/sweat equity DOES factor into the price? I guess I believe that fiber work is craftsmanship and should be priced with that in mind, but as a society we seem to be stuck in a “must buy cheap” mindset.

      • You know how realtors like to say, “location, location, location”? I betcha if your shawl was on display and for sale in an upper town fancy boutique, say, in New York City or Washington, D.C. it would be priced in the range of $600 dollars and you and your “craft” would be branded, whoohoo. But if your shawl was for sale in a “trunk” sale* in Independence, MO it would be in the price range of $20 – $50 dollars (& some snook would try to talk you down). I have some artists friends who make sometimes great, sometimes so-so art but they’ve worked hard, developed a following and now sell easily in the $800 – $1200 dollar price range for a single piece – plus, it helps they have a pedigree. We artists or “artcrafters” have to find (or develop) our market. I agree with you that our society is stuck in a must buy cheap mindset. That’s what all the hard work and developing a following is about – to get us and our creations out of the herd, so to speak.
        This is a left turn, a friend once defined for me the difference between craft and art. She said craft can be taught – show someone how to do something and they can make their own – might need a little practice but they can do it. Art, on the other hand, show someone how to paint or sculpt but they’re not going to be able to do it – even with tons of practice.
        *I’m going to be in a “trunk” sale in Independence, MO on June 27th!

  6. Opps, I forgot to mention, I’m new to the Etsy Team, Independence, Missouri Makers, and saw your WP posting was listed in our team forums. I’m here saying HI!

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