Opening a quilting business can be a fun at-home venture that requires very little financial investment. If you are already an experienced quilter, you likely own your own quilting machine and you will know whether or not quilting for others is something you would enjoy doing as an at-home job. However, if you have not quilted before, you shouldn't dive headlong into the quilting business. Quilting is very labor intensive and requires a lot of skill and experience. Assuming you already have the experience required to quilt at a professional level, you can go on to learning how to set up a business and receive pay for your talent.
As a quilter, you will receive unfinished quilts from other people, either via the mail or in person, and complete them, which may include attaching batting and a backing and border or consist solely of doing the actual quilting. The services you offer are up to you. You will be expected to have the quilt finished within a predetermined time, and then return it to the original owner. Given the time consuming nature of quilting, you may choose to charge by the hour or by the job, and may ask for a deposit upfront.
The average pay for quilters really depends on your skill, speed, the services you offer, and the complexity of the quilting. If you provide batting and completely finish the quilt, you will need to compensate for the cost of supplies in addition to your per-quilt or per-hour rate. For professional level hand quilting, the average pay is about $35 per hour. You might charge as little as $20 or as much as $60 per hour and still be within a reasonable range. Check local quilting shops to get an idea of how much your competition charges. If you want to charge by the quilt, estimate how long it will take you to finish and multiply that time, in hours, by a reasonable hourly rate to come to an average amount.
The most effective way to find quilting work is to start local. Go to all the fabric shops around town, and use any friends you have in the industry to spread word of mouth. Ask the employees at fabric shops about any customers they know who are looking for quilting services. Also, ask if you can hang flyers around the shop or if there are any opportunities to advertise at workshops.
Pros and Cons
Before charging ahead with a quilting business, you'll need to consider the pros and cons and make sure that this business is truly something in which you're interested. For some, quilting is fun, soothing, a great outlet for creativity, a way to make friends within the community, or all of the above. For others, the entire process can be tedious - and in this case, you certainly don't want to commit to a business! Above all, it's vital to make sure that you are fully aware of the time commitment involved. A single quilt can take hours upon hours to finish, which obviously requires significant patience.
A quilting business is quick and fairly inexpensive to open and can be quite enjoyable for the dedicated quilter. The key is to make sure you're dedicated before you begin.