Handmade gifts are many things. They are special. They often have personal touches or are personalized. They can take a lot of time to make. Lots of thought and care goes into their creation.
They are not cheap.
Those of us who have the skills to create know this. But in case you are not talented in the areas of sewing, knitting, painting, pottery, photography, beadwork, needlework, or any other craft or hobby, let me explain to you the economics of handmade.
Behind each quilt that I make is hundreds of dollars of classes, and hundreds of hours of learning how to quilt. The same goes for knitting, painting, furniture making, or other crafts.
Yes, hand-crafters absolutely enjoy this time absorbing new skills - but that isn't the point. Developing this talent takes an investment of both time and money, and that has value.
A sewing machine can cost a couple hundred dollars, up to many thousands of dollars. But this isn't the only tool I need to make a quilt. I need a rotary mat, rotary cutter, rulers, seam ripper, needles, pins, patterns, scissors... an investment of hundreds of dollars in tools. There are similar up-front investments for most crafts. Lots of money is spent before someone can paint their first painting, carve their first sculpture, or throw their first pot.
Fabric costs $10-$12 a yard. Most quilts need at least 5 yards of fabric for the front and back. There are other supplies as well that are equally expensive. Only yesterday, I spent over $10 on a spool of thread, and $20 on a bag of batting. These are supplies that are consumed each time I quilt, and they add up fast. Knitters use yarn. Jewelry makers use beads, gems, and precious metals.
Sure, we have some supplies on hand. But these supplies cost money. And after using them, we'll need to buy replacement materials for our next project.
Often, I have a quilt "quilted" by a professional long-arm quilter. This is the final stitching that stitches the top to the back, with the batting inside. Depending on the size of the quilt and the complexity of the design, I have spent anywhere from $75 up to over $300 to have a quilt quilted. Similarly, a photographer might have a print professionally framed. A crafter working in clay might need to rent the use of a kiln. This is an additional expense over and above the cost of the materials in order to complete the project.
All of these bills add up. The tools, the supplies, the skills, and the add-ons to create the perfect gift. A gift made with love. With you in mind. One of a kind, it does not come with a gift receipt.
You can't put a value on a handmade gift... except to say that handmade gifts are definitely not cheap.