One of the things I’m asked most often when I craft things is how much would it be to have something made. There was a point in time when I used to do customized items for people, but getting people to commit to colors or be happy with the image in their head is near impossible. It’s difficult to find the perfect color, the perfect pattern, or the perfect design. I remember once talking to my tattoo artist who said that people imagine in their head things that are near impossible to create as a tattoo. The same can be said about crochet and knitting. There are a lot of things that CAN be made, but there are also things that cannot be made, at least not well.
I enjoy making things for people and often am motivated when I have a gift to make for someone with a deadline. I am a perfectionist. I understand that the details are what often make the dolls and amigurumis so cute. That’s when I push myself the most. I enjoy sharing the things that I make. And there is a part of me that really wants to make things to be enjoyed by others. I asked the question once on twitter what people would be willing to pay, the absolute most, with no understanding of how much time it took and what the materials cost. The range was between $35-50.
The purpose of this post is to explain why what most people are willing to spend isn’t enough to justify the time it takes for me to make them. I’m ignoring the cost of items I already own, like crochet hooks and knitting needles. Though these items don’t often “go bad” exactly, some wear out and stop being comfortable and need to be replaced.
The Head (Total Time: 4-6 hours).
The head is the biggest part of this particular amigurumi and this picture is one I took with fabric samples. The crochet of the head is 1044 total stitches stopping just a bit passed the midway point to attach the eyes. It’s the midway point where I iron the fabric to some interfacing to keep the edges from fraying during stitching.
Depending on the design I’m going for, I need to create a template (often on a sticky note) for the eye patch. The stitching on the edges are done by hand and time-consuming. Any details I add require more time.
Head Extras (Total Time: 3 hours).
Ears, hair, hats, bows or other things added to the head can be done now or at the end. A lot of the time ears are added now to avoid having to deal with them later, but it can be done at any point in construction. The crochet is always the fastest part of the process, so constructing the 2 years for this rabbit took about 45 minutes. There is more template creating, fabric, and interfacing. Each ear took about 45 minutes to hand sew the edging details on.
Complete the rest of the face by adding the rest of the details and then set the head aside.
The Body (Total Time: 1 hour).
The body is one of the easier parts of this particular pattern because there isn’t much to it. Sewing the body to the head and making sure to stuff appropriately is almost more time-consuming that making it.
Feet (Total Time: 2 hours).
The soles of the feet are created and just as you’re turning, I do the measuring, fabric, and interfacing bit again. Then sew the fabric to the bottoms of the feet and attach the feet to body.
Hands (Total Time: 1 hour).
This bunny in particular took a little longer on the hands, because I was adding thumbs and that took a little bit of experimenting. I didn’t include the several times I took them apart and started again, but only counted the time it took to make the arms.
Tail (Total Time: 30 minutes).
If there’s a tail, even the tiniest of tails (like the puppy tail) requires some time and maneuvering. Oddly enough, the smaller the tail, the more difficult it is to crochet. Then placement and attachment. The bunny tail took a little bit longer, but less time than the pattern called for because I made it much smaller. The giant tail looked silly to me and I preferred a smaller one.
Construction (Total Time: 3-5 hours).
Putting all the remaining pieces together sucks. This part is my least favorite part. I hate putting all the pieces together because you can end up with something that looks lop-sided or crooked. This part requires so much time because I’m pinning, looking, pinning, looking, moving, pinning… etc.
Total amount of time spent on the bunny: ~16.5 hours, and I was rounding down or taking the mean of the estimated time.
The more I make the easier it is to make them. The foot pad template was already made, so I didn’t have to make it a second time, but not having made the bunny before the eye and ear templates needed to be made. The second bunny should go slightly faster eliminating the time needed for this.
At $35 for the completed doll, my hourly rate would be $2.12. At $50 for the completed doll is $3.03/hour. At $80 for the doll? $4.85/hour. $100 for the doll = $6.06/hour. Mind you, I didn’t account for the cost of yarn or the fabric. The expectation is that the fabric I didn’t use can be used in another project. Thread, embroidery thread, yarn, beads, and doll eyes are all items I’ve purchased in bulk in the past. Obviously at some point I’ll need to buy these again, but I already have them so I didn’t adjust for the cost of these items, but I would guess about $10-15 was spent on materials.
When folks ask me if I sell the dolls that I make, the answer is often “no”. If I were to add customization into the mix, finding the right yarn or fabric for someone adds more time to the process that no one is willing to spend. I consider it often, but realize that most people are likely unwilling to spend the money for my time and expertise. I love making the dolls, but hate undervaluing my talent just so things can be more affordable.