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bartering stories

wlric | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello everyone. I am wondering if you have ever traded services for your sewing. What was your most unusual barter?
I am making two vests. One for a friend and one for his son. My fee: small pine trees from his mountain property, to be transplanted by him to my backyard. The vests were to be made to look like one that he owns. We were specific about duplicating the shape and the patch pockets. I asked for 2 trees. Then they changed their minds and want welt pockets. The price is now 3 trees.
What stories do you have?


  1. starzoe | | #1

    I was complaining to a friend that I could not find an outdoor lounge chair for my patio and explained what I was looking for. She immediately said "I've got one you can have". OK, so what do you want for it? Nothing, you can have it. Well, what can I do for you then?Turned out she already had the supplies for a duct tape dress form. So that's the barter, any day now we will start work on the dress form and I already have had a comfortable lounging summer on my very elegant chair.

  2. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #2

    I came across a 1860 chemise, with documentation.  I got it for $35.00.  A friend of mine is a living history reinactor and collector.  At a historical event we were walking and I found a blacksmith who was making very ornate cooking grates with long handles.  Now, my husband is an avid fly fisherman and we frequently go to a favorite camp site and cook his fish after he catches them.  This grate was perfect for placing over streamside coals.  He wanted $100.  My friend told me that she had 2 and she would sell me one.  So I traded the chemise that I didn't use for a wrought iron civil war style cooking grate that I use all the time.  We're now working out some new gowns in exchange for a spinning wheel.

  3. pinkit | | #3

    I think the bartering idea is a great one.  I have a nephew who is a landscaper and I already have done a small favor for him.  Replaced a zipper in his favorite t-shirt jacket.  He evan had the zipper but no-one to do the job for him.  He has been good to me in the past.  He helped us to level, fill and reseed our large backyard.  My contribution to him was small compared with what he has done for me.  Have to give that some extra thought.  I am sure there are plenty of opportunities for barter.  Most of the time those of us with families get to do all the odd sewing jobs.  Have to give that a second thought from now on.  Thanks for the post

  4. Ralphetta | | #4

    I've traded for lots of things.  I used to repair my neighbors uniforms and hem his pants and he would clean my gutters, etc. I've got LOTS of trees and am scared of heights.  I did emergency surgery on a horribly sewn cocktail dress and the girl typed my daughter's school paper. The only big trade I've made was when my old car burned up and I got a replacement in turn for making a big window seat cushion with gobs of dbl flanged pillows, reupholstering dining room chairs and repairing an easy chair.  I've only done it with people I knew well and we've all been happy with the results. 

  5. Teaf5 | | #5

    Oh, my!  I can't begin to list everything I've bartered for sewing; it's always been a common "thread" of my sewing history!

    My brothers would do my chores in exchange for pegging their pants or mending their shirts; my sisters would "cover" for me to our parents in exchange for hemming their skirts. Male college friends cooked for me when I hemmed their slacks; female friends gave me expensive designer clothes or introduced me to guys in exchange for taking in and taking out a special garment. 

    Cousins took me sailing in exchange for stitching pillow covers for the boat; my boss gave me time off on Fridays in exchange for slipcovering her outdoor sofa.  I always had at least three options for Halloween parties because everyone knew I could create two costumes out of practically anything in less than thirty minutes.

    Probably the best "exchange" came from making a comforter cover for my long-term college boyfriend; he moved me and my sewing machine to a new city and took me as a guest to a wedding where I met my husband, who, as a master mechanic and computer tech, barters just as much as I do!

    1. Ralphetta | | #6

      When I read the bartering stories I sense a common thread...although they saved money, it seems just as important that they were able to help and make someone else happy.  Money doesn't usually result in those "warm fuzzy" feelings. Am I just reading more into this than exists?

      1. wlric | | #8

        I agree that bartering doesn't feel the same as getting paid money. The value of the exchange seems to be higher in a barter. Having a specific need fulfilled just means more to me.
        While fitting the muslin for the vest, my friend suggested adding a belt to the back. One more tree! :) just kidding.

        1. jothwade | | #9

          I once heard the definition: " A good value is something you want at a price you are willing to pay." To me that suggests that whatever seems "right" to each party is the just exchange..... That is achieved by consensus and discernment.... you'll know it when the agreement is done.Jotham

      2. Teaf5 | | #10

        You're right, Ralphetta, that bartering is more than about just saving money--though I think my experiences are not truly bartering, where the two parties make a formal agreement for an exchange of services. 

        While I have made such agreements, more often, I will just exchange expertise as a matter of course or friendship.  My neighbors came out to help me remove a huge stump, we got to talking, and I helped one with his daughter's school costume and helped the other one choose paint colors for her dining room. 

        We don't tote up the value of the exchanges, as we all benefit from and enjoy the community efforts.

  6. WandaJ | | #7

    I am in a discussion with my cousin to sew patches on his leather motorcycle jacket in exchange for dinner at a new restaurant in town where he is the evening chef! I told him that since the lining would need to be taken loose and put back in place in order for the patches to lay, sew and look right he had to add Martinis to the dinner (smile).

    Edited 11/7/2007 1:50 pm ET by WandaJ

    1. MaryinColorado | | #12

      That sounds like a great deal for both of you!  How fun!  Mary

  7. mygaley | | #11

    I live in a rural area where there are game hunters and the men bring me mustard greens, sweet potatoes and squirrel meat for hemming and repairing zippers in their hunting clothes. This can be more interesting than you might think because some hunters have the idea that game can smell detergent in their clothes and therefore never wash them!For young women who are special to me I have sewn/altered prom and wedding gowns with the understanding that it was my gift for the occasion.We, too, believe that every time one serves someone else, no count need be taken nor money change hands! God bless you Galey

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