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Is 12.50 labor fair for making Draperies

Flax | Posted in General Discussion on

I need help with a pricing question.

Is 12.50 labor per panel fair for making draperies? I have an opportunity to make drapes for a Home decorating store where the customer pays for their fabric and of course the labor to make them. Besides I’m sure the Home dec store has a cut in there somewhere.

Edited 2/1/2008 9:18 am ET by Flax


  1. SAAM | | #1

    This price actually seems quite low to me, especially if the store is going to be taking a percentage out of it. The customer is paying for your time and expertise, which are worth more than $12.50. You have a skill that others don't have and it does have value.Before you decide on a rate, you should find out how the store is going to charge the customer. I would expect the store to mark up the cost of the drapes to include its percentage on top of your cost, rather than taking the percentage out of your rate. Make sure that is happening. Also, determine how much time it takes to make a panel. That will help you determine how much to charge. If the drapes are lined, you should charge more, both for their increased complexity and the added time it takes to make them. Also, there should be price considerations for different types of construction in terms of decorative headers depending on their complexity.It's been a long time since I've worked in home dec (25+ years) so I'm not sure what going rates are now. I know there are many others on this site who are doing this type of work who may be able to give you some actual numbers. It just seems, if my memory is correct, I was getting about close to double this 25 years ago for this type of work. The customers are putting out the bucks for the fabric for custom drapes, and you know the store is going to make a good percentage. Don't sell yourself short. You are the one person in this process who is actually doing the work. You should be adequately compensated.Edited 2/1/2008 1:24 am ET by SAAM

    Edited 2/1/2008 1:25 am ET by SAAM

  2. NansiSews | | #2

    Not sure where you are but, that seems real low to me,too.  You can be sure Home decorators charge WAY more.  If that were the price per hour ( and that's at the VERY least), I think you'd be more in line and, more important, you're worth it.  Keep track of your time and ask yourself what you're willing to make per hour.  Remember, it's $7 just to flip burgers!

    Edited 2/1/2008 8:01 am ET by NansiSews

    1. User avater
      Flax | | #3

      Thank you to the both of you I think I am going to stall responding to this place as professionally as I can until I can get a good quote down. Another store was offering 12.50 per panel labor for the seamstress, which I thought was low also. I used to sew for an interior decorator but I sewed by the hour and never did drapes. They arn't that bad to sew, just very bulky and large. Anyway I would be grateful for any continued responses as I research this.

      1. starzoe | | #4

        I agree with the others, the price for your labour is 'way too low and would bet the firm would jack that up considerably, after all their reason for being in business is to make money.

  3. mygaley | | #5

    NONONONO!!!! I have made draperies and other item for a decorator for about 12 years and $12.50 per width was what I made 12 years ago. Now it's more like $25.00 per width--note that's per fabric width (54 inches, say); a drapery panel that's two widths (say, 80 inches wide) is $50.00 per panel) My advice to you is to calculate what you wish to make per hour and then use that to estimate your per width price. Remember, making draperies is hard work: heavy lifting, thick fabrics, lots of pressing. Don't sell yourself short. God bless you Galey

  4. sewornate | | #6

    I ran my own custom drapery business for many years.  I retired one year ago and I was charging $24.00 a drapery width (48" fabric--it goes up for wider fabric.)  Working for a business, you won't get that.  What I found when I worked for businesses, they take  what you charge (set by them--if you let them) and double it.  That is why I quit working for businesses.  It is a good way to start and learn, if you need that, but it is not the best way to make a living.

  5. Teaf5 | | #7

    I agree with all the other posters! That's way too low!If the work involved simply sewing a single seam, that would be fair, but for draperies, you have to true the ends of each panel, measure and cut accurately, match motifs, sew, and finish each seam. On some fabrics, all of these steps are relatively easy; on others, they are much more time-consuming and difficult.One way to determine the cost of is to find out from independent decorators how much typical custom-made draperies cost the customer. Then, you can work backward, subtracting the cost of fabric and trim to find out how much labor and profit go into the final price.

  6. sewornate | | #8

    Here is a custom Home Furnishings web site you might find helpful.  I took the newsletter they put out for several years.  These would be very helpful to you regarding many aspects of the business.  (customer relations, how to do certain window treatments, upholstery, etc. , pricing, installation, obtaining suppies)   I don't know if it is still being published, but they still offer the back issues and I would think you would find them helpful. 

    Sew What?

    180 Buckeye Access Rd.

    Swannanoa, North Carolina 28778

    Phone:  828-686-3185



    1. sewornate | | #9

      I went to the "Sew What?" website and see they are under new management and are now called "Custom Home Furnishings" but still think they would be very helpful for anyone working in the area of drapery making, slip covers, or any fabric related business venture.  If you subscribed to their magazine, you had to keep track of your own subscription.  Like many magazines that bug you for years if you drop a subscription, this one didn't even notify you if your subscription was about to expire.  That is sort of how I lost track of them.  I had personal family issues to take care of (my mother was ill and dying and I stopped most business activities to care for her), so lost track of "Sew What?"

      This is a good company for the person wanting in this business, no matter how small.  They run training seminars and I would think if that kind of thing interested you it would be helpful.  When I ran across this magazine, I had been in business many years and wished it had been there when I started, it is that helpful.  I still learned a lot from it.

  7. oldusty | | #10

    Flax ,

                   My wife and I have a drapery / window coverings business with our own work room . We are in Oregon , prices will vary from region to region .

         The wholesale price for pleated drapery is $25 per width for lined and about $22.50 for un lined goods in our neck of the woods .

       Make sure you understand what a width is and that a panel may be say a 4 wide meaning 4 widths were used to create the panel , so don't get fooled , charge by the width  .

      To do the job correct you really need a tabler besides a straight stitcher, pleater , tacker and surger and blind stitcher to make draperies in a professional way .

      As has been stated they will double your price to the clients , this is common here the retail is about $30 per width , that's what we charge .

      Besides the threads and equipment you also need weights and buckram to create the heading as part of your supplies and added costs .

          Rowley supply in NC is a wonderful workroom supply house and will treat you well .

                For $12.50 a width I'll send them to you and I'll pay the shipping

                                      best of luck       dusty


    1. User avater
      Flax | | #11

      All,I want to say thank you to all of you for your responses, I hiked up the price and we'll see... Besides, I don't really want to do all that work and not make anything - I have better things to do. Anyway thank you!

  8. autumn | | #12

    I don't do home dec for a store, but have made curtains and other things for friends and a local doctor's office. I charge a flat $12/hour no matter what I do. If it is harder, it takes longer and therefor costs more. Of course, $12/hr. may be too low, but I'm not in it for the money.

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