Monday, May 1, 2017

Apropos of Appraisal

I promised to write on the subject of quilt appraisal.  My daughter is a Certified Appraiser and sent me her brochure so I admit I am using much of her information as inspiration for this post.  With my first show entry I had my quilt appraised because it was going to be away from home in the hands of strangers and the post office. It is an interesting process and I now have all my show quilts appraised and those appraisals are registered with my insurance company.

Why?  If your quilt is damaged or stolen you will have documented proof of its value.  If you donate your quilt to a non-profit organization, or are gifting or selling it you need proof of its value for tax purposes.  An appraisal will also be needed for estate valuation.  "Insurance companies require a written appraisal done by a certified appraiser to document losses due to fire, flood, theft, damage, or loss." [Elli Molstad].  Most quilt shows also require documentation of your quilt's value.

Does it cost money?  Yes.  My daughter charges $45 in WI and my appraiser in CO charges $50.

What is the background of a certified appraiser?  They spend at least two years learning about and practicing with both new and old quilts.  They know fabrics, threads, history, current market value and are qualified to ascertain workmanship as well as many other factors.  Their knowledge is amazing.  They become certified after passing rigorous testing, both written and practical.

How do you prepare for an appraisal?  You must keep track of the hours you spent making your quilt (ripping and redoing don't count!).  You must keep track of the products you use and their cost.  Is the design original?  If not, by whom was it created?  Is your work done by hand or machine?  What methods have you employed (piecing, appliqué, painting, etc).    You also prepare a list of your quilt awards and sales.  I have a little notebook beside my machine for keeping track.  Below is the template that I prepare for my appraiser.  All this data is applied in the formulation of an opinion of the value of the quilt.

Template in Excel
Finally, make an appointment and enjoy the process.  Most shows have qualified appraisers on hand to evaluate your quilt(s).  It takes about 30 minutes to go over a quilt and do the documentation.  My appraiser has a little printer on hand so I can walk out with a 3-page documentation in hand.  Some appraisers mail you the paper after the fact.

The value is determined by replacement cost, but there is no guarantee that an insurance company will give you the appraised value, nor does it guarantee that you can sell it for that amount.  It does provide information for recovery or sale, and is proof that your quilt is not just a bedspread purchased from the nearest big box store.

The first quilt I had appraised is only 40 x 40 inches (below).  I was stunned in 2011 when the appraiser valued it at $2975.00.  I had no idea quilts could be so valuable.  Suddenly my husband began to take note of my quilting with far greater appreciation!

Reverie 40 x 40
So, now you have the scoop on appraising a quilt.  I urge you to consider your works of quilting art as candidates for an appraisal.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you time to appraise the true value of your hard work.


  1. I'm stunned too! I've considered getting some of my quilts appraised but I don't make quilts for shows other than my quilt guild's non-juried show. I give many quilts to charities but I don't take most off on taxes. This was eye-opening post.

    1. I highly recommend finding a certified appraiser and checking it out. I have heard hair-raising stories of quilt losses.

  2. Geez, maybe I should get my spiral mandala appraised. Too bad I don't have all the hours of work documentation to go with it. Thank you for sharing how appraisals work on Midweek Makers - definitely a valuable post!

    1. I didn't keep track for my first quilt. My mind boggled at all the appraiser wanted to know. However, I knew how many hours a day I sew on average and how many months it took so I just guessed and she was content with that. She could tell that I came up with a reasonable number.

  3. I've always wanted to get some of my quilts appraised, but haven't because of $$. Reverie is a beauty, and worth every penny.

  4. Oh wow! Thank you for the eye-opener! I sure appreciate you sharing!

  5. Fantastic and educational post! Your quilt id's stunning