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Message Board > Bridal and Formalwear Sewing > first commission - graduation dress ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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first commission - graduation dress
How much do I charge?
misscreativist
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misscreativist
Intermediate
AUSTRALIA
Member since 1/3/09
Posts: 38
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Date: 11/8/09 2:51 AM

A close friend, same age as me (18) asked me recently whether I could make a dress for his 12-year-old sister's primary/elementary school graduation ceremony, which will be in mid-December.

I have agreed to the commission, but he has asked me how much I am going to be charging. The dress will be knee-length and a summery black/white floral print, and she is still deciding on the final design out of half a dozen I have drawn.

I know fabric cost and time/labour will have to be factored in, and that's what I'll start with, but this being my first commission, I'm really not sure how much I should charge.

It will be fully lined and finished, and made to measure, but is it reasonable to charge more than a RTW dress for something like this?

Irene Q
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Irene Q  Friend of PR
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NH USA
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In reply to misscreativist


Date: 11/8/09 11:59 AM

Quote: c31
It will be fully lined and finished, and made to measure, but is it reasonable to charge more than a RTW dress for something like this?

Yes, yes, yes!! In fact, if your estimate comes out less than a RTW dress then you're obviously not charging enough for your time. Remember, clothing manufacturers get fabric for less than half what you pay, and pay their workers next to nothing. So anything custom made will cost substantially more than RTW - whether you're making it for yourself or for a customer. The only time sewing is a "bargain" is when you give away your time for free.
-- Edited on 11/8/09 12:03 PM --
sewdance
sewdance  Friend of PR
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Date: 11/8/09 12:17 PM

Please remember that there is absolutely no comparison between the cost of RTW and the cost to have clothing CUSTOM MADE. You are making a custom-designed, one of a kind garment to the client's personal measurements and specifications.

I agree wholeheartedly with Irene that if you base your fee on what they might pay for a similar RTW garment you won't be earning nearly enough money for your time and effort. You may find that your client can't afford to have something custom made and that's perfectly OK. You have a skill set that others don't have or they'd do it themselves. Don't give your time away unless that's what you fully intended to do.

I'm sure that others will be able to provide further info, links, etc.
-- Edited on 11/8/09 12:24 PM --

lilyofthevalley
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lilyofthevalley
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NY USA
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Date: 11/8/09 2:21 PM

I think that you had better check this out carefully with your friend. An 18-yr-old boy will likely expect that you, as his friend, will design and sew this dress for little or no money. In fact, I'll bet that he believes the fabric costs plus your labor charge will be significantly *less* than the cost of a RTW dress.

Perhaps you might start by asking your friend how much he would be willing to pay you per hour, if the commission is expected to take X number of hours of your time. And have you informed him, at this time, the approximate cost of the fabric, lining and notions?

I know that you don't want to endanger your/his friendship by beginning a commission with the two parties having no idea of the other's expectations. It's very dangerous, generally, to do business with friends (or family), you know.

Wishing you luck in your venture, Lily

------
Lily

misscreativist
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misscreativist
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In reply to lilyofthevalley


Date: 11/9/09 4:10 AM

Thank you for your insight, Lily.

I really like the hourly rate idea, that might just simplify things a bit and make it seem a bit more reasonable.

He has already agreed to pay for the fabric/linings/notions - even has agreed to come to the fabric store with me (and his sister) and pay for the fabric, so I won't have to buy the fabric with my own money. Labour costs will go on top of that.

It's just whether I give him a price quote now or later. I'd really like to give him one now before I proceed, but I think I can only do that once the design and fabrics are finalised, and certainly before I start making the dress.

The funniest thing is, his mother's a fashion designer, and she was the one who suggested I make the dress, as she's seen my designs!

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