Friday, April 9, 2010

Some thoughts on Pricing Trends in Stitching

While I firmly believe needlework designers need to be justly compensated for their creative talent, I find that some of the things I like are now beyond my range. True, the production costs [printing, photography, packaging] of chart designers are rising rapidly as well as the cut the distributors take. I understand all this. It's inevitable that prices must rise in this sector of the economy just as it does in all others. It's just that when chart prices rise dramatically or when obvious sets of small items are split off into individual charts, there will be reaction from the consumer. I find myself rethinking purchases. Charts stay on my mental wish list longer before purchasing and some drop off it altogether before a purchase is ever made. In a recent post on the 123 message board, I aired some of these thoughts and discovered that I am not alone in my thinking. As I read blogs, I notice that more and more stitchers are stitching from stash. The latest trend seems to be the resurrection of UFOs. New charts are, after all, luxury items ... and in a tight economy, luxury items are the first to go. I have to wonder what impact this will have on the industry as a whole. The likely outcome will be a vicious cycle of still fewer shops, of fewer designers, of fewer producers of high end supplies like linen and fiber and of ever escalating prices. It is a dilemma. As a stitcher, I want to support the industry and my favorite designers and manufacturers of needleart supplies. As a responsible householder [especially as I near retirement], I need to steward my resources wisely. As a member of the human family, I need to divert some of my financial resources to those most vulnerable in such a difficult economy and those resources must necessarily come from my leisure time budget.
My Purely Personal Response:
For budgetary and philosophical reasons, I have decided to limit my purchase of charts to five in 2010, spending most of my stitching budget on a stitching retreat and on the fabric and floss needed to stitch up my already extensive stash of charts. I am trying to simplify my life. The simple truth is I have enough charts in my stitching center to keep me busy for the next five years. Limiting my purchases of new charts is a sensible way to go. So, I recently made a note of some designs I really liked from the Nashville Market of several weeks ago. Now that these designs are in the stores and online shops like 123stitch, I have priced a few with an eye to purchasing them in the near future.

As a major fan of Blackbird Designs, I just loved Bird in Hand and at a mere $6.29 at 123stitch, this was a no brainer. I ordered it several days ago.

I absolutely loved Primitive Needle's Black'd Sky. It can be found at 123stitch for $17.99 which is close to the top of my range but still doable. I will certainly pick this up in the near future.

I also liked Prairie Moon's Martini Witches ... thinking it would make a great companion piece to my framed Man Into Credit Card from Twisted Stitches ... but at $12.49 at 123stitch, though quite reasonable, I don't think I'll be buying it. Given my self-imposed limits, I don't think it's worth using one of my chart purchases to echo a joke already enjoyed, if you know what I mean.
On the other hand, I can not possibly justify the purchase of Just Nan's Needle Tweets ... which I thought were absolutely adorable and just perfect for making as gifts for stitching buddies or using in exchanges. These are shown together wherever I have seen them pictured, which led me to assume one chart has all three. Not so, oh naive little stitcher! Each one of the Trio is sold seperately and comes with embellishments @ $12.50 a chart, add in the linen cuts [if you use the recommended fabric] ... the entire set comes to $52.50 at Silver Needle [I didn't see these items listed on 123stitch] ... and that's before you purchase the floss with which to stitch them ... they use WDW overdyed cotton floss in three shades I just don't happen to have in my stash so add on another $6.00 even at Joanne's reduced prices for WDW ... Well, now the total cost is $58.50. And this for charts that probably don't involve more than 50 stitches for each little bird ... most of the charm of these pieces is in the clever finishing. A little too rich for my blood! And that doesn't even take into consideration the pricey little decorative straight pins Just Nan suggests for accessorizing the dear little birds. What attracted me to them in the first place was that they would be sweet little "somethings" to include in an exchange, along with the usual plethora of stuff one packs up ... hey, I am not a Scrooge, but at nearly $20 a needle tweet, I couldn't include very much more in a given exchange without over-spending dramatically ... and, let's face it, a lot of the fun of sending and receiving exchanges is to get a box full of neat stuff.
And while I am certainly willing to pay a premium price for something that really "calls" to me ... lately that seems to be limited to large scale projects, samplers and such. While I did like Just Nan's Needle Tweets, I won't pay a premium price for something I consider merely "cute" or even "very cute". Even though I am an experienced enough stitcher and seamstress to duplicate them with my own "inspired by..." chart using materials I already have in my own stitching and sewing stash, I won't do that. I like to think of myself as very creative, but the incontrovertible fact is that I would never have come up with such a clever idea myself ... hence to duplicate it would be theft of intellectual property.


Bronny said...

I am right there with you. Most of my stash has been won, here in Aust - don't forget to add postage charge starting at $9 per chart - which has prevented me from ordering online from the USA. I'm hanging out for the Hawk Run Hollow series, but that is a long-term project and now that CHS has announced retirement, more than likely a non-event in this stitchers household.
I'm stitching from my stash for a few years to go....what I can't buy, I'll design

Nic said...

I'm a stitcher from stash - well, who wouldn't be with all my UFOs? I think it's partly due to the amount of money I already have invested in my stash, but also because I know that all the "some days" are getting fewer in number as I get older! And much as I love my niece, I want to have the fun of stitching some of the lovely things I have, not her :o)

I think the cost of stitching has increased a lot lately, but it has always been an expensive hobby in the UK - even DMC floss is pricey - £0.75 a skein (about $1.15). I don't mind so much if I get a lot of "bang for my buck" - hours of stitching, a lovely finished item to cherish or to gift, but when a small chart is £6 or £7 (UK suppliers seem to basically convert dollar prices to pounds) and then uses a dozen overdyes plus an expensive charm or two... well, the industry doesn't really help itelf. And I have to say, a lot of the new releases just don't appeal. There are a few honourable exceptions, and I will invest in those (mainly Prairie Schooler, as they go OOP fairly quickly) but on the whole - yup, using the stash!

Shirley said...

I definitely agree with you. In the last year I have been stitching from stash and going through back issues of stitching magazines. I do like to support my local needlework shop and sometimes buy from their sale section. But as for new full price kits and charts I just cant run to that at the moment.

Carol said...

Very interesting post, Riona! I am seriously thinking of having a stitching from stash year very soon... I just don't need any more charts for a long, long time. And the price of so many is getting out of sight, as you pointed out...

mainely stitching said...

I've also been lamenting the increasing chart prices, to say nothing of supplies, and I do feel grumbly when pieces are split up or resurrected as "new" charts for a hefty price tag.

However, recent contact with a local printing company was very eye-opening in regard to the high costs of producing the charts to begin with.

Handie said...


I completely understand what you are saying. Even as a shop owner, we've stopped carrying some designs because we just know that our stitchers (or most of them) aren't willing to pay for them.

The downside to stitching from your stash and not purchasing anything new is that if everyone does that - the stores, designers, fabric makers, etc all have no business. And you can't stay open when you have no business.

I've noticed in both my store, and in my designing that there has been a dramatic decrease in money being spent in XS. As a matter of fact, as time goes on, we begin to wonder if it's worth while having XS in our store at all anymore. The square footage that we dedicate to XS could surely be making us more money if we did something else with it.

The only reason we still have it is our sentimental attachment to it, and that can't go on forever.

With the economy being what it is, it's difficult for everyone. But I do have to wonder..... what is the future of the craft we all love so much? Right now, and for the last 5 or 6 years, the future is looking pretty bleak :(

I enjoyed reading your thoughts!

Donna said...

I agree. Most of my stitching in the past year and a half has been dedicated to the SFAC project. But now that the stitching part of that is done, I am enjoying stitching what I want to stitch. Truth is, that most of my stash I am no longer interested in. I purchased it at a time in life where the piece made sense to me, but not now.
I just purchased Warm Water Wash by Raise the Roof. It is priced out at $52. I purchased it on Ebay for $27.99 and it came with threads and buttons. But I still needed fabric. Ended up costing me another $17. So if I purchased at retail I would have spent $69 instead of the $45 I spent. I generally find better prices on new patterns on Ebay.

Paula C. said...

I couldn't agree more. I find myself bargain hunting more and more for the things I want. Not just stitching supplies either. I also have to think, am I buying because I will definitely sit and stitch it or do I just like it and want to look at the picture on the chart, lol. I also take into consideration what finishing I would have to do For instance, framing is another expense. It all just adds up way to quickly.