The price of quilt products and fabric

The price of quilt products and quilt fabric is a sensitive subject to all quilters. The price a consumer pays is subject to multiple layers and links in a complex chain of supply that starts in the USA and Europe. In fact, some of it will start in Africa, when you consider where factories get their raw materials from.

What goes into a quilt product’s price?

To help you understand how the price of a quilt product is determined, I’ve put a graphic together that explains a very simplified version of the supply chain.

  • All quilt products start with a design. The design can be fabric, rulers, irons – everything starts with a design. The designer could be an employee of the manufacturer e.g. Handi Quilter’s quilting rulers are designed by their employees.
  • The manufacturer has the cost of materials to make the quilting product and all the other overhead costs that go into maintaining a factory to produce one or multiple quilt products. This is included in the price they charge.
  • A distributor is able to purchase larger quantities from the manufacturer than a quilt shop can. E.g. I approached Prym in South Africa about their mini iron and was told that they’ll import it if I purchase 40 000 units. I’m not a distributor, so needless to say I turned them down. I don’t think there are 40 000 quilters in South Africa! Clover doesn’t import directly into South Africa, so we use a distributor.
  • A quilt shop purchases a large quantity of a quilt product from the distributor.

Other factors

There are a multitude of factors that have an impact on every stage of the quilt product supply cycle:

  1. Raw material production also has raw materials e.g. plastic is produced from coal (I only know this because my kids learned this is grade 4 😀). So the coal is mined and sold to the factory that produces plastic pellets. The factory that makes the acrylic sheets for rulers buys the plastic pellets. Then the factory that makes the rulers buys the acrylic sheets.
  2. Sometimes the materials needed to manufacture the quilt products are imported into the country where the product is made. The factory will include this in their price.
  3. Everything that quilt shops in South Africa buy from overseas carries an import duty and taxes. This is why you cannot simply take the price of an item on, apply the current exchange rate to that price and decide that the quilt shop is charging too much. If you were to purchase that item from, you will personally pay the import duty and taxes that are applied once the product arrives in South Africa.
  4. Also, some manufacturers have minimum price rules. This means that nobody can sell a product for less than that determined price. It’s an attempt to level the playing field. A good example of this is Angela’s rulers – she has her own store called Quilting is my therapy, but she too has to sell the rulers that she designed at the minimum price determined by the manufacturer, or more.

It’s complicated

I realise that this is a complicated matter, and not necessarily something that interests you, but I do believe you will benefit from understanding how vendors determine a product’s price. Small businesses cannot compete with large companies who can purchase directly from a manufacturer. We simply don’t have the turnover to purchase 40 000 irons.

I hope this has given you a little insight into the cost of quilting products in South Africa. Please continue to support your local quilt shop and online stores in South Africa as we continue to bring you the latest tools, fabric and patterns from overseas. Without your support, we simply won’t be able to continue.


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