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How much to charge?

nmog | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I have just had a friend call and ask how much I would charge to hem pants.  I don’t normally charge, but she has 17 pairs that she bought at an outlet store for $1 each.   I’m not sure if they’re tapered, but I think that they could be double hemmed.  Any suggestions for how much I should charge?  Thank you.



  1. stitchmd | | #1

    Things to consider are whether they are all the same color and thickness, so you can do them without changing thread or needle. Doing a bunch at once makes measuring a little easier, so that can lower the price some. Where are you located? Rates vary regionally with cost of living and supply and demand.

    1. nmog | | #2

      I haven't seen the pants yet, and I'm sure my work isn't seamstress quality. I'm the only person she knows who sews. I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and I think that the going rate at the shops is around $8/pair.


      1. KarenW | | #3

        That's about what hems go for here.  If you charged her $5-6 she'd still be saving 25-35%.  One thing NOT to do -- do NOT let the fact that she got them so cheap at an outlet store influence your price!  I have heard of so many instances where someone doesn't want to pay the price to have their pants hemmed because "they only cost $xx at WalMart!".  Well it doesn't matter whether the tag says WalMart, outlet store or Nordstroms, it's still the same amount of work!


        1. nmog | | #4

          That's a very good point. I never thought about it that way. And if I charged her five dollars, her pants still would have only cost $6 total.


          1. Jean | | #5

            5$ is very reasonable. If she doesn't want to pay that, she could learn to do it herself, eh?

          2. SewingWriter | | #6

            Karen's absolutely right. It's common for people to think they're owed a discount because of what they paid for the garment in the first place.  Here's what always worked for me:  Look 'em in the eye and say, "I can certainly understand your hesitation to put more money into something you only paid $XXX for, but that's a decision you have to make."  Smile sweetly and don't back down!

          3. stitchmd | | #7

            Why not suggest she make the rounds of dry cleaners who do alterations and see what they would charge. It's very difficult to conduct business with a friend, so she needs to know you are giving her a very fair price, and you need to know she is not presuming on your friendship.

  2. SewTruTerry | | #8

    Nicole I don't know where you live but I am in the Chicago area and I charge $5.00 for unlined pants and $10.00 for lined as there are two hems that have to be done.  After the 3 or 4 pair you will have a system down for the most efficient way of getting the job done.   I have read the other responses to your query and I am a firm believer in being fair to everyone and that includes friends.  I have friends that ask me what I would charge them for doing a particular job and I tell them that I charge them ( fill in the blank here) my standard rate. If I quote them by the hour I them estimate how many hours that it will take me to do the job. Most of the time I get it done quicker but they know that I am faster then they are and I rarely have anyone give me a hard time about the price.  But if they have a problem with it they have 2 choices shop around or do it themselves.

  3. sew50 | | #9

    Keep track of the amount of time it takes to complete one hem, including pressing; then calculate how many pairs you can complete in a hour. Based on your calculation, would you be willing to accept that hourly rate at a job outside your home? Whatever you set your fee at, you can always gradually increase the fee as the demand for your service increases. Customers need to be considerate of your time, don't let anyone take advantage of your skills!

    1. nmog | | #10

      It's great to hear all of your suggestions. I will talk to her next week and ask her to bring some of the pants to my house so I can see what I'm in for. That way I'll be able to figure out how long it will take per pair, and sharge her that way. Thank you for all of the advice!


      1. CTI | | #11

        Great advice you've gotten Nicole. I would add that the fabric and its thickness as well as bell bottoms versus pegged legs will make a difference in the thread and amount of thread you use, and your time, or whether or not you need to clip it as you go (is that the right word for making slits to accomodate for decreasing the width? Sorry, that isn't even making sense to me the way I wrote it.

        One other consideration is that all might need to be tried on to get the proper measurement off the floor, so you do have to consider your time for these extras and finding the right thread or binding. She got a great deal on pants for $1 so an additional $5-7 per still makes them a steal. Keep in mind she might also want other minor (yeah, right) things done at the same time, so don't get distracted by that. After you have done a few you can probably even calculate a per inch rate.

        Good luck, and expect to win a few and lose a few until you have practiced a bit. I'm a hard customer to please even when working for myself but have given myself a hard time when I hem for one pair of shoes and then wear another.

      2. carolfresia | | #12

        If she's a sensible shopper (sounds like she is), she knows full well she got a great deal on the pants--and probably will be fine with paying you a reasonable amount to do the hemming. I've discovered that friends often as you to do these kinds of things not to get a lower price, but to know that they're getting a fair, uninflated price. It's easier to trust a friend than to trust an unknown person at a drycleaning service.


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