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Forum > Bridal and Formalwear Sewing > Making a wedding dress ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Making a wedding dress
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Passion4Sewing
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Passion4Sewing  Friend of PR
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Date: 11/21/12 3:29 PM

I have a lot of sewing experience, even with wedding dresses. Usually, they're for someone I don't charge what I could for it or relatives. I have someone who wants this dress from David's Bridal, strapless. She is a larger woman.
I usually start with a pattern that is kind of close and modify. Has anyone seen anything close? I know draping can be a nightmare.
How do you all charge? In the Southeast, our rates are pretty low, but if someone can help me with an idea how to come up with ab estimate, that would be helpful. Thanks.

arianamaniacs
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Date: 11/22/12 11:54 AM

Take a wedding dress pattern that is of similar difficulty. Break the pattern instructions down into estimatable steps. e.g. 1/2 hour to insert invisible zipper, etc.

Don't forget to calculate time for

Shopping time for materials
cutting out
ironing
muslins
hand-tacking pleats (don't underestimate this, it'll be hours and hours)
Fitting sessions
Hemming (don't underestimate this, it can also take hours if hem is handtacked to lining)
Final pressing

Times the # of hours by the $ you want to have for your time. I usually do this for around 10 euros.

Add that to cost of materials:
pattern
Muslins material
Zipper
Lining
underlining (several layers for busty women who want strapless, e.g. Belleville often has 4-5 layers in a bodice)
interfacing
boning
outer fabrics
thread
seaming tape
beads?

Unless you enjoy working for slave wages, I think she'll be surprised that a custom-made wedding dress is not going to be saving her any money, which is often what people are looking for.
-- Edited on 11/22/12 12:05 PM --
-- Edited on 11/22/12 12:06 PM --

skae
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In reply to Passion4Sewing <<


Date: 11/22/12 1:07 PM

I usually start at 10.00 an hour. If you have to get the fabric and the pattern charge her for the price that you paid,plus the gas and time in getting it. I would look at Buttricks they seem to be the formal wear book. I did make a wedding dress and I charge 150.00 for making it. That was 10 years ago. If your going to make it strapless alot of the fitting will go into the top of the dress.
Don't be afraid to charge her upto 500.00. A dress like that will cost her more. Have fun making it.

------
Galatians 5:22-23 The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these

arianamaniacs
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Date: 11/23/12 4:38 AM

Perhaps this Lekala dress is close, but you'd have to redraft a little bit to remove the straps:
http://www.sewingpatterns.com/sub_item.php?item_num=5529LEK&model=%&new_category=&view=gallery&brand=Lekala&category=Bridal&pageGoto=18&pageFormat=3|186|186&pageCount=18&search=&return=yes

The download version is only 99 cents, but it involves you printing out all the sheets (probably up to 100) and taping them together.
They have a lot of more advanced designs than typical Top 4. However, the instructions are non-existant. Just a few phrases translated from Russian.

KimG
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In reply to Passion4Sewing <<
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Date: 11/23/12 10:48 AM

Personally, I'd tell her a max of 3 times the David's price, plus fabric, plus all of your supplies--boning, muslin, etc. I'd charge at least $20 an hour--you're offering a high skill service, and $10/hr is way too close to minimum wage. There is no reason, even living in the south, that you should be reluctant to charge a livable wage.

If it takes you less than 75 hours (in addition to everything Arianamaniacs listed you'll be designing the dress because you won't find a perfect match for a pattern, you'll have to work out all of the boning, plus you'll have to deal with . . . . chiffon) then you'll charge her accordingly. If she can't understand why it will cost so much, go through Arianamaniacs's list and then direct her to the FAQs page of Barbara Deckert's site--she explains the difference between RTW and custom made very well.

Anne Devaney
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In reply to Passion4Sewing <<


Date: 11/24/12 5:03 AM

to alter & Fit a Bridal gown is usually 150.00 minimum
to Design & Make a Customized Bridal gown starts at approx 800 upwards depending on design , fabric etc.
this is for an exclusive, customized, design, bespoke.

solosmocker
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Date: 11/24/12 9:23 PM

" In the Southeast, our rates are pretty low..."

IMO rates are low because the highly skilled worker does not value her time or skills. You have just as much skill as any electrician or plumber. Do they make ten dollars an hour in your area?

Not picking on you personally, I just get really miffed about people not willing to value the skilled work of women, whether is is the seamstress underpaying herself or the client expecting to underpay. Off my soapbox....

------
http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

couturemom
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Date: 11/25/12 7:13 AM

I have been doing custom sewing for over a year and am continuously trying to increase my prices. I always underestimate the time involved. I have started making a list of all the steps (muslin, fittings, sewing various layers, zipper, hems, etc) with a time estimate. It's shocking how it adds up (and don't forget all that never-ending hand sewing at the end to tack down linings, sew on hooks, etc.). Another consideration is the fitting time for people with non-standard figures. While I feel guilty about charging extra for larger women, it does add time. Then gross the # of hours up by 10-20% for a fudge factor. I try to charge $20/hour, unless it's something I really want to make to have photos on my website. After supplies, advertising, taxes, etc., there's not much profit. My feeling is that if I'm netting less than $12/hour, I may as well be babysitting. (I pay my babysitter $11/hr). And the only way this works for me is that I have another full time job and I just do this for extra money!

When sewing for someone, you are providing a service - not a product. You're not trying to compete with RTW prices. (although in wedding gowns, a bride can often come out way ahead vs. a designer gown) Just think of how much a massage therapist charges for their time - or someone mowing your lawn.

Passion4Sewing
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Date: 11/25/12 9:35 PM

Thank you, everyone. This site is the best for encouragement!

meleliza
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Date: 12/5/12 10:30 PM

This may also be a good conversation in the sewing as a business forum.

Regarding valuing your skills, my parents have been living in North Georgia for 15 odd years and while I've noticed that the cost of living is certainly lower, the cost of things is not. So I'm not sure you should valus your skills based on location. I suppose you have to weigh that against how much work you want to take on and what the clients budget is? But maybe she would settle for less expensive fabric to compensate for the labor cost? Still, you cant do custom work at David's Bridal prices. I hope she doesnt expect that. I'm just starting to do custom work -not bridal, children's - and I'm looking at high end boutiques as a reference for pricing, rather than the Gap.

------
Melanie

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