Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why Is It So Expensive?

I've heard some complaints and comments lately about how expensive handmade children's clothing is. 

Honestly, before I started sewing, I thought the same thing.  Now, I realize that most seamstresses are actually underselling their creations.

Let's figure out why handmade clothing is priced as high as it is.

Here's a dress I made last summer: 

pricing crafts, why is handmade so expensive


 The materials that went into it are: 2 buttons, heat n' bond for the applique, thread, and approximately 2 yards of fabric.  The fabric I buy for my products averages out at $10-$11 a yard.  Yes, I could just go to Walmart and buy $6 a yard fabric, but I take pride in the quality of my product.  From my experience, you get what you pay for with fabric.  So, the cost of materials for the dress are $1.50 (buttons), $0.25 (heat n' bond), $0.15 (thread), and $20 (fabric) making the total cost for materials add up to $21.90.

Okay, now add in the time it took to make the dress...I spent approximately 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.  My time is valuable, and I deserve to be paid for it just like anyone else who has a job.  Let's say that I pay myself $10 an hour.  (Note: Can you live on $10 an hour?  Not very comfortably!)  That makes the total for labor costs $25.

$21.90 + $25 = $46.90

But we're not done yet!  This figure doesn't include all the hidden costs of business such as buying patterns and business cards, internet costs, time spent promoting the business and updating listings online, sewing machine maintenance, packaging supplies, Etsy and Paypal fees, time to take and edit pictures of the product, camera batteries, electricity to run the computer and sewing machine, etc.  To figure all that in, add at least $5 to the total above.

$46.90 + $5 = $51.90 

Want to know how much I'm selling this dress for?

$35

Still think it's overpriced?  When you take away the cost of materials, I'm not even making minimum wage.


Many of my friends and family assume that, because I'm a seamstress, I save money by sewing all of my kids' clothes instead of buying them at a store.  They're always surprised when I tell them that it's much cheaper and faster for me to buy clothes at Target or Old Navy than to make them myself.   


So, if I make so little money sewing and selling children's clothing, why do I do it?

Because I love it.  There's no way I could put this much time and energy into something that pays so little if I didn't love it.

So the next time you're browsing a craft show or Etsy and find yourself thinking that a designer is charging too much, please remember what goes into each handmade craft and piece of clothing.  



Thanks so much for visiting Supermommy!...Or Not.  I'd love for you to like me on facebook" and follow me on Twitter
 

53 comments:

  1. *thumbs up* Don't stop doing what you love - and don't be afraid to raise your prices either. <3 Good quality WILL sell. :)

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree-quality is everything!

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  2. You get what you pay for and I am sure your creations would well outlast a "bought" Walmart dress that is made from inferior fsbrics. I agree with Little Bit Knits Good quality WILL sell. :)

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    1. Definitely! My daughter is still wearing clothes I made for her 2 years ago.

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  3. Well said!!!

    Thanks!
    BusyFeetDesigns

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  4. I love this, thanks! I have had quite a few acquaintances ask me to make custom clothing for their kids and all balked at the price, even though I felt I was way underpricing for what they asked me to do. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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    1. Not many people understand what goes into something handmade! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. O Dark 30 DesignsApril 13, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Ditto to all of the Above. I do love what I do. But, I can't give it away for FREE.. I know when someone buys an item of mine they will see the quality and love put into it for YEARS to come..

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    1. Handmade definitely lasts longer than storebought! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. This is so true...I have been sewing for years....and ever year it is less cost effective than ever!!!

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    1. Sadly, that's true. As the fabric prices go up, our prices need to as well, but it's hard to sell things at a higher price sometimes.

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  7. Supermommy, you are right on target! I totally agree! I sew for my GRANDdaughter and I take a lot of time finishing seams, gathering a lot of fullness into rows and rows of ruffles, ironing, searching for the perfect fabric and patterns. The list goes on and on so, when I am asked to sew for $ I just smile and tell them I do it for love and not for $. And if I did sew for money my price would most likely be more than they would be willing to pay. So, I am right there with you and totally agree with all you said.
    T. Coffey in Northwest Florida

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    1. Thank you! Love is a wonderful reason to sew and create things :)

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  8. Here, here. Exactly. My thoughts exactly :)

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  9. Well said! this is similar, my husband is a jeweler and sells his jewelry at arts and crafts shows and he gets people who thinks he over prices. Then he explains everything that goes into making it and usually their jaw drops and they ask him why he is charging so little. He makes real, solid precious metal jewelry which seams to be becoming a lost art in our area.

    May you always keep doing what you love! :)

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  10. Same goes for photography, it isn't just simply clicking a button. There is so much time and work that goes into it! Very nicely said!

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    1. I think this can be applied to just about any form of art!

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  11. Thank you. I could not understand why it cost so much just for a few yards of fabric and some thread. You have changed my mind on it now.

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  12. This is one of the common discussions with people I know who sew. How do you make something beautiful and of high quality that people will pay a reasonable price for given everything that goes into it. I have concluded that I don't make to sell. I only make for love (that is for the people I love and the love of creating for them). For love I can put in as many hours as it takes without ever thinking of hourly rates. Most of the sewers I know work for less than minimum wage. Some times I wonder if it is like Self employing yourself in a sweat shop.

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    1. It kind of is! Thanks for pointing that out.

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    2. Very well stated: I have been making jewellery and bags and have sold them at local craft fayres. I've been literally shocked at some of the reactions I and other hand crafters have received. After much deliberation, I have come to the same conclusion as yourself (although I couldn't put it so succintly).

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    3. Self employing yourself in a sweat shop actually made me burst out laughing! I lose money all the time on my crafts, and people tell me I have to charge for my time, but I can't see getting paid to do something I love to do and would do anyway. Pay me for my materials and a little profit and I'm a happy crafter!

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  13. I sew because i love it, and only for my family. This is my hobby, i have a job. But people do seem to think it cost almost nothing for me to make items. So when i do have someone ask and shoot them a price thier jaws drop! I ask if they know how much fabric is a yard and then tell them, that seems to help a lot :) . Like i said i do this for a hobby and if i started selling it would be a job and then i'm sure i would end up hating it. And you should at least tack on another $15.oo to your prices.

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    1. I love sewing so for me, it's a hobby that I get a little money from. The problem is that I need to help support my family on that hobby. I may have to rethink some of my prices.

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  14. I have almost completly stopped going to the fabric store and go to my local thrift stores and get good clothing to "cut and slash". Beautiful vintage buttons, better quality "fabric", reuse the zippers, beads and embellishments. I can buy a prom dress with the good satin,matching satin lining and netting for under $10. Usually can get a couple of garments remade out of one dress. Love half price day and the sale tags. Means more cash in my pocket instead of JoAnns.

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    1. That is a great idea! I've upcycled t-shirts and a few blankets before, but never thought of upcycling prom dresses.

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    2. I just discovered, our local thrift shops actually have fabric,bobbins,thread,ribbons,etc... that they sell by the bag full....never thought to look there for items... I too sew only for family, but am wanting to "branch" out to make a bit of spending money.....so the "less expensive" the materials are to buy, the lower the selling price can be.... like I said... I don't want to get rich, just want some pocket money to spend on grand kids.....

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  15. I agree. I had someone ask if I would make a pair of pajamas for her kids, and when I told her $25 each plus shipping, she acted like I was scamming her. It takes me two hours to put a pair of pajamas together, plus cost of materials. I'm not making much.

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    1. $25 for a pair of handmade pajamas is definitely not "scamming" someone!

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  16. I am always AMAZED that people don't think twice about slapping down $50 to fees their family hamburgers for dinner that they are going to poop put the next day but won't pay the price so I can make $5-6 an hour on my handcrafted- created with love and quality, items. Thanks for posting this!!!!

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  17. Music is another one... Haul instruments and equipment out to vehicle, drive to gig, haul everything out, spend an hour or more setting up sound, then the fun part....playing. after that tear everything down, load up vehicle, drive home then unload. Not a whole lot of out of pocket expense, but...

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  18. I am going to do a break down of my cost and time and every time some one mutters "So expensive" l will hand them a copy. It breaks my heart when l hear it week after week (I do a market stall at a well know Arts and craft market). Some of my dresses are made up of 16 panels to created the optical geometric patterns, the time that goes in the pattern making alone isn't the price of the dress. I know l undersell my garments just so l can make ends meet and its sad.I love what l make and it makes me happy to just create , l keep my prices realistic and l think very affordable but people these days are so inundated in the cheap offshore mass production that they buy from major retailers they can cant see the difference. I applaud those lovely customers who see the quality, the originality and love and purchase with a smile on their faces knowing they are getting an amazing bargain. Viva the artists, viva the people who get it!
    maria
    Wyldtime Unlimited

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    1. I think it's a great idea to have a printout of the costs that go into handmade crafts! I may have to do that when I do my craft shows!

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  19. I LIKE U KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO MAKE STUFF SEWING IS NOT A CHEAP HOBBY OR PROFESSION WWHERE IT BE CLOTHES QUILTS OR ANY OTHER CRAFT BUT LIKE YOU SAID PPL THING HOMEMADE IS TO EXPENSIVE.

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  20. Love the dress! In fact, I would love to know how to order one for my little girl. :) Do you have an Etsy shop?

    I do appreciate the time and effort that goes into a good handmade garment. I am learning to sew and am just not that good at it. The quality of dresses/clothing/knitted garments I have purchased is so much better than what I can buy in most stores. Plus as a blogger and WAHM I appreciate Moms working hard and earning a little money for their time and effort. Don't be afraid to ask for more.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Andrea!
      The dress can be found purchased here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/106372336/back-to-school-jumper-dress-school-bus?ref=shop_home_active

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  21. This is so true! Especially when making for family, it's hard to not want to give them a deal!

    Brianna Byman
    www.littlelapsi.com
    www.facebook.com/littlelapsi

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    1. I always feel guilty charging family members or friends money too.

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  22. I felt the same way as most. I could not understand why it cost so much when at walmart fabric is only a couple dollars a yard. That is until I thought yanno I can do this myself. Boy was I wrong. I went to the fabric store looking for a certain kind I seen on a FB page. It was 8$ a yard, I then went over to the patterns and they ranged 10-20$ for a entry level pattern. I also had my 3yr old with me, which I know most of you have kids. At this point my 3 yr old announces loudly " mommy I poopied in my panties". That's when I realized I am giving these women no credit for what they do. By the time I would have finished an outfit half as good as they would have I would have paid twice the amount they are selling it for. I will never complain how much someone charges for their hardwork and love they put into making something for me.

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    1. I do have three small children who are with me all day while I am working. I've worked outside the home, been a stay at home mom, and am now a work at home mom. I can say that this is the hardest thing I've ever done. My idea of a luxury is being able to work un-interrupted :)

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    2. Love your story!! Its great when people realize how much it really costs us to do the things we do!!

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  23. Hi, I just came across your blog from someones FB page and thought this sounded interesting to say the least. All of us that sell any types of crafts know we don't do it for the money, but for the love. I did want to comment on the walmart fabric, it has actually changed. Sure they still have the cheap stuff, but anymore alot of is a good quality cotton quilting fabric..and its shown in the price. Most of it starts around $7 and goes up to $10!! With that said, your dresses are adorable!! Keep up the good work. People do pay for quality I have found. And those are the ones who will come back as your customers again and again. Not the ones you want that dress for $10...they never come back!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! I guess it's been a while since I shopped for fabric at Walmart! Thank you for pointing that out too me :) I'll have to check it out next time I'm shopping.

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  24. Don't you just love it when family ask you to sew something for them , and you ask them to pick up
    a spool of thread and suddenly they say no more of what they needed you to sew and never ask again .
    And when they see one of your projects they say you should make me one of them , but would not offer
    you a yard of fabric. Love them but if I make them anything it's out of the kindness of my heart and likely
    a x-mas gift or something like that .

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  25. This is the type of information I’ve long been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information.
    Shoes for Kids

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