What do you charge?

One of the hardest parts of professional dressmaking is quoting a price for a project. One looks at a pattern and figures it will be fairly simple; four seams, 2 darts and a zipper, fully lined – what could possibly go wrong? Should be able to finish it in 2 days or 10 hours, right? Not so much. First, I made a muslin to see if it fits and discovered that the design isn’t quite what I wanted and I spent a day figuring out how to re-make the pattern into the shape I want. Second, it is cut on the bias requiring a cutting surface 60” wide, so I stripped my bed and used that as the cutting table – brutal on the back, but doable. Third, the fabric choice was burnout silk which is a very delicate fabric that sifts easily and rebels at being sewn by a regular sewing machine. Enter the life saver called the Coverstitch Machine. With its differential feed it handles the vagaries of the silk beautifully. Of course it’s a new machine, so I have had to learn how it works while dealing with the burn-out silk. This is exhausting, but I still believe the new machine has not increased the time needed to get this far as it definitely makes the job easier. I have just finished day 3 on this dress. There is still another day’s work left.  If I had quoted this for a customer I would have had to double the estimate to make any money on this project. Fortunately, I am making it for myself – this time.

So when you call a dressmaker for a quote on a dress and she says “It depends…” perhaps you will recall this story and understand.

Your comments and questions are welcome.



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