How to Start a Quilt Business

Quilt Business Image

A quilting business translates customer’s ideas, fabrics, and other materials and transforms them into beautiful and functional pieces of art. Through the process of creating the quilt, the quilter and customer decide an overall pattern and color scheme and the quilter then completes the quilt by hand or on a consumer or “domestic” machine.

Learn how to start your own Quilt Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a quilt business by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple step guide to starting your quilt business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a quilt business?

Most quilters have been making quilts for quite some time and have a space in their home, so renting a space is usually unnecessary. You may choose to rent display space at a local flea market, antique mall or other similar retail shop, in order to market your wares. You should also research to see what forms of business licensing or insurance you may need. These requirements will be different from state to state and sometimes regionally, as well.

As you become more successful and take on more or larger projects, you may find a need for a longarm quilting service, which will add some additional costs, too.

What are the ongoing expenses for a quilt business?

Quilting business expenses are fairly minimal and mostly involve materials costs and care and maintenance of sewing machines. Additional costs may include attending training seminars and trade expos, which are both great investments for the future of your business.

Who is the target market?

Although most people can appreciate the beauty of a good quilt, few understand the time and effort they take. Therefore, it’s critical to focus your efforts on individuals or groups in and around the quilting and arts communities. Those who understand the total worth of a custom quilt will help you drive up the price and demand for your work. Equally, become an ambassador for the quilting community and help novices to understand the effort and ability it takes to create these works of art.

How does a quilt business make money?

Customer special orders and existing quilt repairs will occupy a large amount of the working time and, subsequently, will dominate the revenue stream. As orders are completed and shipped, payments are received and finalized from customers.

How much can you charge customers?

Pricing will depend on the size of quilt and the intricacy of design. It is best to use overall size to determine a base price, and then add cost to the specifics the customer requests. You will also need to determine an hourly rate for labor costs; a fair price for your work and not unreasonable for the clients. Anywhere from $12 to $30 an hour is realistic, but prices can vary, depending on where you live and how intricate the designs are. For a general estimate of cost, you could take your standard sizing rates and add 30%-50% on top of that base price

How much profit can a quilt business make?

Most quilts sell for a minimum of $350. If you are able to produce two quilts a week, this will generate a revenue of almost $37,000 (ongoing expenses not included). If you are able to produce two quilts at $500 a piece, your revenue jumps to over $50,000. Many long-time quilters report creating up to ten quilts in any given week.

How can you make your business more profitable?

To maximize profitability, consider taking as many custom orders as possible. You can charge a higher rate for these pieces, potentially doubling your income and requiring lower production numbers. Many quilting professionals have also found success teaching quilting classes, as well as selling their own patterns.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

Find a Domain Now

Powered by

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your quilt business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

Recommended action box icon

For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

Recommended action box icon

You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a quilt business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A quilt business is generally run out of a workshop. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a quilt business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your quilt business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a quilt business

As discussed previously, treat your hobby or passion as a business, in order to create a successful business. Be personable and professional and find your niche in patterning, design, or materials. Some other tips include:

  • Manage your overhead costs from the beginning and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many new purchases, gadgets, or unnecessary extra.
  • Communication is key and your customers will appreciate honesty, a solid plan and continued professionalism. Set realistic estimates and follow through.
  • Maintain your passion and continually strive to improve or add new abilities to your repertoire.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Customer service and communication is your most potent tool for return customers. Not only do you have to create an outstanding portfolio, but you also have to be willing to become the smiling face of your company. Seminars and meet and greets for quilting expos can also give opportunities to connect with the public.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A Quilt Business In Your State

Recommended action box icon

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

For individuals who enjoy sewing or seamstress work, have some artistic talent, or have an eye for patterning and organizing ideas into a tangible object, quilting can be the perfect career. A background in sewing is preferable, although some quilters started because of a love or passion for creating and quickly found their niche in the quilting community.

What happens during a typical day at a quilt business?

Quilters are often spending some of their time pursuing other ventures, until their business proves profitable. Therefore, much of their time has to be strategically planned to keep the business moving forward, attracting clients and completing quilt orders. Specific duties and tasks may include:

  • Answering inquiries, via telephone and/or email, from potential customers.
  • Collaborating with clients regarding the specifics of their order.
  • Managing inventory, delivering original quilts that have been sold.
  • Shopping and ordering the essentials for each project.
  • Marketing the business and completed projects.
  • Paying bills administrative duties such as sending out invoices.
  • Researching new techniques and industry trends.

As the business begins to mature, it may be necessary to hire an assistant to handle administrative tasks, allowing you to focus solely on the duties that inspire you most.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful quilt business?

A successful quilting business usually blooms out of a passion for the art of quilting. This love for creating and sewing can be parlayed into a thriving business, but needs a few extra steps from the business world to really take off. Here are a few things that will help you succeed:

  • Charge a reasonable price, which customers will agree to pay, but also make sure you’re charging a fee that’s worth your time. Underbidding your own work will undermine and potentially destroy your business over time.
  • Give reasonable estimates for time, materials, and overall design before beginning a project and stick to your estimates as closely as possible. Again, like pricing, don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
  • Consider yourself a business, just as any other retail or commercial business would. Respect your ability and art and those feelings will translate to customers. Too self-effacing gives some customers the impression you’re not professional or capable.
  • Communicate with your clients extensively, both before, during and after the quilt project is completed.

What is the growth potential for a quilt business?

A successful quilting business requires strategic marketing and specific customer relations, often generated through quilting seminars, quilt shows, and online quilting communities. Since it is a popular, yet niche market, it is important to network your wares and skills and become interconnected with all things quilting. Setting a budget and financial/business plan, and sticking to it, is also a key for growth and success.

TRUiC's YouTube Channel

For fun informative videos about starting a busines visit the TRUiC YouTube Channel or subscribe below to view later.

Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a quilt business?

As discussed previously, treat your hobby or passion as a business, in order to create a successful business. Be personable and professional and find your niche in patterning, design, or materials. Some other tips include:

  • Manage your overhead costs from the beginning and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many new purchases, gadgets, or unnecessary extra.
  • Communication is key and your customers will appreciate honesty, a solid plan and continued professionalism. Set realistic estimates and follow through.
  • Maintain your passion and continually strive to improve or add new abilities to your repertoire.

How and when to build a team

Quilting is often a singular or small group activity. When thinking as a business, though, profitability has to be factored in, as well. As your business begins to grow, you will have to determine the tipping point for orders coming in versus finished products going out. If the former outweighs the latter, you will always be playing catch-up and stand the risk of losing customers. Add employees who you believe in and see as sharing your passion for quilting. Eventually, a solid team will generate substantially more profit than salary out.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Tool.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

Sign up at the Business Center to access useful tools for your business.