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Pricing your work?

shannonmgarvey | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello all,

I’ve sewn for years, but never for profit. I was curious if anyone knows how to quote or price a project. I have an interview next week for a tshirt and hoodie company and they want to discuss pricing then. I’m not sure what would be fair and what wouldn’t?

Also, many friends and co-workers ask me to do minor repairs for them like sewing a ripped seam, hemming pants, sewing on new buttons, etc. I’d like to get paid for that work too, but I’m not sure what would be fair to charge them either.

Any suggestions?

Thank you so much in advance!



  1. suesew | | #1

    I don't do anything for less than a dollar. Think of the time it takes just to talk to someone about it, let alone thread the needle or the machine with that expensive thread. Hems are $5, and up, extra for linings, cuffs, double needle treatment.As for the tshirt and hoodies - how much do you want to make an hour? Do you know how long it would take to make one? Are they cut out for you ahead of time? You may be able to get really fast at putting them together if you have good equipment, but you also don't want to hate the work if you're not getting paid enough. How many would you have to sew to make $20 an hour? That's not a bad figure to aim for.

  2. ineedaserger329 | | #2

       I know they say 2 1/2 times the cost of materials when you make from scratch. I agree with the other person who mentioned $5 &^ for hems and such...(sorry forgot their name)......But it sounds like if you are getting into making RTW items to sell in stores, I know some who do that for pennies on the dollar....

       I agree you should pick an hourly wage and try to determine how many you can do in that time, but also think of what all you have to do...I hope they are already cut for your sake, that would make everything much easier on you.  Something you might ask is how much they seel them for......They might expect you to work for cheap, may charge more than 2 1/2 the cost of materials, but it might be in your interest to know.....I don't know if this helped any or not, please let us know.........Good Luck

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    Is this piecework that you will be doing at home for a manufacturer? If it is there are a lot of laws regarding such work. Have you gone for your interview? Let us know how you made out. It could help others in the same situation. Thanks.

  4. Fruzzle | | #4

    For friends & coworkers, I'd start by looking to see what it costs for them to get that work done at the drycleaners.

    1. mainestitcher | | #5

      I work at a dry cleaner.  Other than buttons, nothing is less than $5.  One woman griped about the price of taking up the shoulders on a dress (I quoted $11.25)  People gripe and moan, but you know what?  It costs money to sew. Boss man wants us to bill out our work for roughly $45 an hour.  We have set prices for many things, but I just looked at how much time it would take to do this job (15 minutes, on a good day).  I have to wait on the customer. Clerk A handles the garment twice, once to take it in, once to return it to her.  I do the alteration.  The Garment goes to the processing plant to be pressed and bagged.  (Thus handled twice by the girl who drive the delivery van)  Boss man pays my hourly wage, Clerk's wage, Van Driver's wage, Presser's wage, plus insurance on those who are full time. He pays unemployment insurance for every one, plus ETO (earned time off).  Insurance on the building, heat, lights, snow plowing in the winter.  Propane for the dryers. 

      The industrial iron, I'm told, takes as much electricity as ten lights burning at once. 

      I am paid whether the person goes through with the alt or says, as one did today, "Forget it."   

      Though the overhead is lower at my house, it is surprisingly high.  Heat, lights, wear and tear on the machine.  Supplies.  Remember, some will suck up a whole bunch of your time and decide against having any work done, too.  A seamstress who doesn't factor these things into her prices is, I suspect, just "moving money from one pocket to another."  She doesn't track her expenses, just the money she pockets, and thinks, oh, it doesn't matter, it's all under the table.  Problem is, if she tracked her expenses, she'd find out she made no profit at all.

      The worst part is that she's taught a few more people to expect "something for nothing."

      1. SewFit | | #6

        Amen to everything you just said.   Recently someone at church brought a dress to me to "see if I could make it fit."   She had purchased it at a consignment shop.   After having her try it on, and considering the quality of the garment, I told her that given the work involved, it probably wouldn't be practical to alter it. She seemed to appreciate my honesty and decided to re-consign it.  (I could almost make her a new dress in the time it would have taken to refit that one)

        Back when I had a shop, I sewed for a select few customers who were willing to invest in quality fabrics (like Pendleton woolens, etc) and who had fitting issues.   They wanted quality, well fitting garments and were willing to pay to get them.   The handful of people who I do alterations for at present also buy quality garments and appreciate my talents in "fine tuning" the fit.

        If you have more work than you can handle, you're usually (1) very good at it  (2) not charging enough

        I hope I don't sound too harsh (because I actually occasionally do alterations and don't charge because of particular circumstances) but I believe that if you are sewing for profit, then you need to actually make a profit.

        1. fsnow | | #7

          Although I don't have time for a large-scale sewing business, I keep a price list with color photos of recent sewing projects ranging from alterations to suits to boat covers at my desk at work (my real job!) to hand to coworkers when they ask for "sewing favors".  This works best for consistency and uncomfortable moments.

          Researched online and local alternation/tailoring shops (and marine shops!) what they charged and set prices accordingly.  For those who think the price may be too high, I included sewing lesson prices and supervised use of my sewing machines if they want to learn how to do it themselves...and realize how much time and effort it really takes. 

          I give the person a printed computer-generated quote after I see the project and receipt with another copy of the price list when project is completed so it looks to my coworker that I am serious and don't want my services to be taken lightly.  So far, I haven't had any problems with this method and feel less uncomfortable when friends and coworker approach me with "favors". 


          1. ineedaserger329 | | #8

               I like that Idea!!!! I do lots of alterations for family until I can get things off of the ground with my sewing business....I don't make anything, I mostly do it for experience, but I have a lot of people referred to me and I never know quite what to say. I might use your idea...

          2. SewFit | | #9

            Excellent ideas! I like the idea of pictures...that gives an idea of the charge based on complexity of the work.   It's amazing when someone says...."how much would you charge to make me a dress (skirt, pants, whatever)"   without having a pattern for you to look at to determine how much detail work is involved or how many pattern adjustments may be necessary.

            I designed and printed business cards with my computer and I give 2 to each person I do alterations for and ask them to pass one on to someone else.  I also have a list of base prices that I put together after researching alterations shops and dry cleaners in my area. 

      2. Fruzzle | | #10

        Last time I got something sewn by a professional, it was a hem that had come down on a "fancy" dress that I usually only wear to weddings an the like. It's a stretch velvet, and at the time I didn't trust my own skills on that fabric. I'm thinking I paid around $15 -- but you know what? That's a fair price for skilled professional work. It's funny; I'll occasionally have friends ask me if I wouldn't mind taking their pants up or something (and I'm *strictly* a hobby sewer). I always say "sure, just bring them over", and they never, never do -- mostly I think because they feel like that there is too much value in this kind of work to hit a friend up for a favor. I'm starting to think I need to be asking for them to trade something of equal value.

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