Handmade Isn’t Always Cheaper

Handmade Knitting

I love creating handmade gifts for people. They obviously have a more personal touch than store-bought items. Moreover, I enjoy the creative experience they allow me. However, handmade isn’t always the cheapest option. It’s important to remember what I get out of it so I continue to see that it’s worth it anyway.

Good Materials Cost Money

I crochet. This is one of my favorite crafts that I use to make gifts for people. It’s definitely possible to buy really affordable yarn for gift making. However, as time has gone on, I’ve found that living an ethical life requires me to make more expensive yarn purchases. I want to purchase yarn that’s sustainable, eco-friendly, and crafted by small dyers/spinners. You always spend more for that quality. Of course, if I were to buy the same item (a blanket, a sweater) with these same parameters in mind, then it, too, would cost more than the average chain store item does.

What Factors Into Cost

This year, I sent my sister a box of handmade items for Christmas. She received a blanket I’d been working on for over a year. Plus, I sent her two hats, a pillow, and two cat mats. Multiple things factored into the total cost:

  • The cost of the yarn. I purchased it over time, so I’m not even sure of the total. However, I know that the yarn for the blanket cost more than it would cost to buy a good blanket.
  • The size of the items. If I make a washcloth for someone, then it doesn’t cost that much to make. If I make a blanket, though, it costs a lot more.
  • Shipping costs. It cost me about $75 to ship this big heavy box to my sister.

If I were making handcrafted items for sale, rather than as gifts, I would also have to factor my time into the equation. It takes a long time to crochet a big bed-sized blanket. Even at just $10 per hour, that would add up really quickly. This is why handmade items cost so much from independent makers. And still they rarely earn much, if anything, for their time investment.

Handmade Is Still Worth It

Crochet isn’t the only thing I gift to people. I’m also an avid scrapbooker. I love to collect photos of all of my experiences with someone and put those together to celebrate our connection and shared experiences. Whether I create a photo book online and get it printed or have photos printed out then scrapbook them myself, the cost isn’t low. It’s grown over time, as digital images have become the norm. And yet, it’s still totally worth it. When I see one of those handmade scrapbooks on someone’s shelf as I visit them, I always feel delighted. Looking through them is always a treat. No item I’ve ever bought in a store offers quite the same feeling.

Do you make items for others? Do you consider the cost when crafting a gift?

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