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value of needle work projects

Good morning,
I belong to an embroidery guild in Nova Scotia and this year I am part of the program committee. One of our program ideas was to have a speaker talk to us about how to assign a value to our completed needlework. While our members seldom sell their work, they often need to say how much it is worth, for insurance or other purposes. We have not yet found a local speaker or a definitive way to calculate value. The AGN website, in its FAQ section, suggests establishing the costs of the project for materials and finishing, plus the cost of labour, calculated at 1 hour per square inch of embroidery times the minimum wage. I thnk this is meant to provide a replacement value.
A framer I spoke with suggested that we needed to also look at the quality of the stitching and popularity of technique and colours to know what a piece is worth. Perhaps this would lead to a retail value.
Thank you for any information you can add.
Joined: 6/21/2011 11:44 am
Posts: 2

Re: value of needle work projects

Hi, Janet -

This is such a good question!

The value of needlework is a difficult topic. It's one thing to pin a value on needlework for insurance purposes (you can use a formula, like the one you provided), but to price needlework to sell is another question altogether.

We've discussed the topic a little bit already, here:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=30 in case you want to look at the responses.

When you consider putting a price tag on a piece of a hand embroidered art, these are some points to consider that I think are fairly obvious: supplies; time; skill; originality of the work (i.e. your own design, not someone else's, and not a kit, uniqueness of the piece); the artist (well-known? or obscure?).

Those points are all pretty clear - but I think there are a couple other important considerations, too, that might not be as obvious:

1. Is the needleworker intending to make a living by selling needlework?
2. If so, what is the needleworker's market, and how does she intend to reach that market?

If the needleworker is intending to make a living, that's completely different from someone who is "dabbling" at selling needlework. The latter can set a price, and if it sells, it sells. If it doesn't, it doesn't. But for the needleworker intent on making a living from needlework, this approach won't work.

If the needleworker wants to make a living, she has to have a market. And the market she can reach may very well determine the types of prices she can charge - and this, in turn, may very well affect the type of embroidery she turns out, the types of supplies she uses, and so forth.

This is where the "cottage industries" of old fascinate me. The "coordinator" of the industry supplied the materials, delivered and picked up the needlework, and did all the marketing - which allowed the needleworker to do what she was good at, without having to actually do the selling in order to make a living - the coordinator knew how to reach the market that would pay for the goods. So the needleworker's time wasn't split between doing needlework and being a sales person, and yet, she was still paid a "decent" (for the times and circumstances) wage for her work.

It'd be interesting to see what others have to say about the topic, too!

Thanks for posing the question!

Joined: 6/1/2011 9:45 am
Posts: 437
Location: Kansas
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Re: value of needle work projects

It is a good question. There's what the embroidery is really worth (time, materials, quality, etc.) and what someone will pay for it (retail value). And the latter is nowhere near the former. I haven't tried to sell embroidery, but people have wanted to buy some of the bobbin lace I've made, when I've quoted just the minimum wage cost of my time, they bow out quickly! We have a world class goldwork embroiderer in Nova Scotia (yes, I live in NS too) and she charges for her time. She also doesn't sell very much.

In the hopes that my heirs think twice about throwing out my framed needlework pieces, I've written on the back the cost of the kit/course/materials and the number of hours it took me to make the piece.

P.S. Replacement value for insurance purposes is completely different. If the insurance company considers it to be a collection, it would have to be insured separately and then you'd have to consider whether you'd replace everything you'd embroidered and whether the annual cost of the insurance is worth it.
Joined: 6/21/2011 5:38 pm
Posts: 11