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sewing for profit

user-167104 | Posted in General Discussion on

I would like anyone that does alterations to give me an idea of prices. I’m in KY, the lower end of the scale on prices. I know that the prices that I would charge would be less than Las Vegas, LA, NY, etc. I do some, but am going into more and more alterations and wonder if my prices are reasonable and competitive. For example, I charge $6. for slacks or jeans hemming. $5.00 for sleeve alterations without a cuff. I charge $4. for patches for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc. For regular customers I normally do repairs (patches & buttons) free. I charge $5.00 to replace zippers.

This is a few of the things that I’ve done and charged. I am preparing a price list and since its going on paper I want to change anything that I should and hope that someone would be kind enough to give me some advise on doing alterations and some sewing for profit.

Your time and help is appreciated. thanks.

Praying for more time for sewing in KY.



  1. mainestitcher | | #1

    One of the things that stuck with me is to calculate what other service people in your area charge for services, and the example given to me was "hairdresser." The cost, without tip, for a cut for me is around $15, and it takes her 20 minutes, maybe a little more. That calculates to $30-40 an hour. Makes me feel better about charging $30 an hour.

    I have a timer set to count up, push-button start and stop. I try to keep records of how long different operations take so I can charge accordingly. Note to self: try timing how long the initial consultation takes, and pick-ups, because that's time to be accounted for, too, when I calculate how much I make per hour.

    $5 for a zipper replacement sounds a little low, I'm guessing for jeans, slacks, skirt? Because a jacket zipper would cost about half of that, not counting gas to the store and back!

    I just charged a customer %15 more because I pick up and deliver to her.

    I also have a day job at a bridal shop. I've worked at several, and one thing I've noticed is that sometimes the charge for one type of operation is higher than logic would suggest it needs to be: but that price subsidizes other things that need to be done from time to time that one could never charge the full rate for. Bridal charges are higher than special occasion dresses, even for the same work.

    If some one comes to me with one or two pieces, I calculate the charge for each process that needs to be done.

    If someone has an armload, I charge by the hour. It's a pretty good deal for the customer. I'd do buttons free, but I'd charge for patching, or I'd say, you know, you can buy a pair of jeans at Goodwill for less than it would cost to patch these. I've patched leather jackets, though, that makes sense.

    Someone appeared at my door this weekend, and had purchased an alleged "dressage" jacket on Ebay. It needed a lot of work. When she actually stood in front of me, I said, "But, that's a man's blue blazer!" I asked her what her budget was for this project, and it was less than what I'd charge just to narrow the shoulders.

    I would suggest that you keep good records, though, because seamstress work can nickle and dime you into a negative cash flow. I remember reading some years ago that many seamstresses, when asked to keep records, were dismayed to find out they were actually losing money.

    1. user-167104 | | #4

      Thanks for all your time and advise. It's very helpful. I didn't think of using a timer, and really charging for time rather than project. I will work on that and come up with a price that works for me. I felt like I was a little low on the scale. I feel like I should raise it to make it worth my time. You've all given me incentive to look at being more specific about time and effort in the work I do.

      Thanks for your help, and I will carefully read and consider all that have anything to say on the subject.


  2. mjorymer | | #2

    Your prices seem low.  The zipper:  think of the time it takes to find matching thread, fill a bobbin, thread the machine, rip out an old zipper, insert a correctly sized needle before you put in a new one.  It takes time and you should be compensated for it.  Yes, the refrigertor repairman charges $50 an hour and I know that in my market I can't charge that much.  But I can and do get a lot more than I used to think I could.

    Some garments aren't worth altering--from my point of view--but if the customer wants it done I will do it. 

    The original cost of the garment has absolutely nothing to do with the price of an alteration.  Shortening a $99 David's bridal gown takes as much time as shortening a $7999 Vera Wang gown.  Sometimes working on cheap fabric takes more time than working on silk. 

    Please consider joining the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers--you will learn so much about pricing (and improving efficiency) you won't believe it!

    Contact me privately for information so that I don't clog up the list!

    Marijo Rymer

    VP-Public Relations--PACC

    [email protected] 

    1. adeana | | #3

      hi- i also do alterations and never know exactly how much to charge for things.  also i find everything always takes longer than i think it will.  i would love information on the professional association of custom clothiers.


      1. mjorymer | | #5

        The Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (Threads is a PACC sponsor) is a not for profit professional association of women (and a few men) who have sewing related businesses. PACC members specialize in garment sewing or garment alterations or teaching.  Some PACC members work full time in store front studios.  Most of us work full or part time in home based businesses. 

        PACC offers a wide variety of benefits to members, including an annual national educational conference, “member only” online chat list, client referrals through the Website, email postings of job opportunities, access to lists of professional suppliers, discounts on sewing supplies, a bimonthly national newsletter and  networking.

        The online chat list is an invaluable benefit---it's like getting a Master Class on line--every week! 

        There are local PACC chapters with regular meetings of sewing professionals , local newsletters as well as classes, workshops and seminars. <!----><!----> Susan Khalje, Claire Shaeffer, Kenneth King, Fred Bloebaum, Linda Stewart and others teach local classes for PACC chapters.  <!---->

        PACC also publishes a bimonthly newsletter.

        PACC members have the opportunity to enter the annual Threads magazine PACC Challenge.  Winners receive valuable prizes and their garments are showcased on the Threads Website and modeled in the fashion show at the PACC national conference.


        It's a wonderful organization and provides networking opportunities that are hard to come by for those of us who do what is realatively isolated work.  There are several levels of membership including an Intern level for those in the first years of starting a sewing business.


        go to http://www.paccprofessionals.org for more information and to download the membership application. If you decide to join--please let me know.  I promise that you will love it!

         If you or anyone else has questions about PACC--let me know privately at [email protected].


        Marijo Rymer

        VP--Public Relations





        1. carolfresia | | #6

          I second Marijo's suggestion of joining PACC. It's an amazing group of professionals--talented, supportive, creative, and practical. If you really want to sew for a living, enjoy what you're doing, and make money doing it, PACC can help you. It's way too easy to undercharge for your skills, and PACC will give you the confidence to set your fees at a realistic, yet profitable, level. And will keep you excited about sewing!


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