I made a cushion by stuffing towels into a pillow case. It's great. Everything else is pretty much scrapped together, although I have very nice things to, given to me by teachers and friends.
That being said, I also manufacture stuff for the Buddhist (mainly Kagyu) market and operate a web page where people can purchase malas and other items at rather high prices
. The reason why the prices are high is that 100% of the proceeds benefits a gompa (nunnery) for girls and young women in India, many who have no family or means of income and would likely be forced into some horrible life otherwise. They were in essentially a barn before, and it was destroyed by a mud slide. But a beautiful place was donated where a new temple, school room and living quarters has been built. You can see pictures here:http://artclix.com/vajra/slideshow/anistory00.html
So, a lot of the time the money is going to worthwhile causes. But not always.
I used to have a dear friend from Nepal, who always had something to sell. I used to call him a Used Yak salesman.
"I need to sell this to feed my starving mother! Give you really good deal!"
But the things I manufacture, not only does the sale of them support the nuns, but they can be purchased in bulk quantities so that dharma groups can sell them and fund raise for themselves.
As far as robes and shrine things, etc. there is a huge industry of all kinds of expensive buddhist stuff. It's rather mind-boggling. Whole department stores full of it in many Asian countries. A lot of really tacky junk that comes out of China, that is sold to people who are looking for a way to happiness through non-attachment. What irony!
When something is manufactured, the final retail price has to be at least 4 times the initial cost to manufacture it. So, if something has a price tag of 100, it costs the person who made it 25, he sold it to the store for 50, and the store sells it to the customer for 100. For this type of item If your investment isn't doubled, you can't stay in business.
Many people psychologically need a lot of crap. Then gradually, they let go of it.