Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I May Have Lost My Mind

Things have been a little slow here on the blog lately.  But it's not for a lack of sewing.  Only that I've been sewing for someone else.  More specifically, a client.  An actual total stranger customer, believe it or not.  I made a set of crib bumpers from scratch, two pillows and a crib size comforter for pay.  Yes, I may have lost my mind.... 

 Here's all the loot laid out on my guest bed, minus one other pillow.

I got a call a few weeks back from a coworker of my friend I redid the nursery chair for. The call was to ask if I'd be interested in sewing some baby bedding for her. My honest-to-goodness first thought was no way jose. I didn't think I'd have the time nor the proper sewing skills for it. But then I thought about it again. I knew I could do it. And I knew it would be top quality when I was finished with it. And I knew I wanted to try out making things for pay to see how I liked it. A trial run as a real seamstress (in the professional sense of the word). I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and give it a whirl. And I'm glad I did because I learned so much.

All the fabric was already picked out and purchased.  It helped that I really liked all the fabric she picked out.  I like that it's not traditional little girl stuff.  My client (sounds so funny, doesn't it?) had some specific ideas of what she wanted, which was fabulous.  I snooped around some baby stores to take some measurements.  A local home decor fabric store had a sample bedding display which was what pretty much what she wanted-- just some minor changes.  The pricing to have it made there was steep.  I estimated how many hours it would take me and came up with a dollar amount based on that.

The crib bumper pads are cut from a one inch piece of foam and a layer of batting.   I covered the foam with muslin.  The pads can be removed so the bumper covers can be washed.   The cording goes all the way around.  Ties are made from bias strips of fabric.  The bumpers were the most time consuming part of the project.  The pillows are pretty straightforward.  Just a pillow.  Has an opening in the back like the bumpers.

 The comforter was my favorite part.  I was worried about making the comforter because it was something I had never tried before.  Two different fabrics with a layer of batting sandwiched between.  I knew I had to tack the batting somehow, so it wouldn't shift in the wash.  I used embroidery floss and made a little x every few inches to tack the batting to the backing fabric.  Then I stitched the top piece and cording like the pillows and bumpers.   I wanted to make little o's to go along with the x's, but J told me to slow down.  Not everyone likes super cutesy-ness ;)

And now for the million dollar question--- did I actually make the dollar amount per hour I planned on?

Nope. Not even close. But it's okay. I made a paper pattern for the bumpers so next time (yes, there already is a next time- for a friend) I will be much faster. When I estimated my hours initially, J said I better triple it. I thought nah, I've got this. Well, it wasn't quite triple the amount of hours but it was definitely more than double.  Live and learn.   It was a good experience and I'm glad I did it.   What about you? Anyone else ever sew anything for pay? How do you calculate your rate and the amount of time spent sewing?

After all this work sewing I'm feeling selfish.  Time to go sew something pour moi.


  1. They are very cute, that will be one stylish baby! They look really well made

  2. I've been sewing some projects for other people lately too and I never know how much to charge! Especially when the person is a freind or coworker!

    Also, the bedding looks amazing!

  3. Those are adorable and look totally top-notch! Glad the batting-wrapping worked :D. You are much more resilient in the home-dec-stitching department than I am ;).

    I think if you're going to do stuff even semi-professionally you should *really* charge what your time is worth---otherwise you're just making it harder for anyone who is trying to earn a living off this stuff to compete. That being said, you'll know better next time ;).

  4. They look fabulous! Glad you had a blast and it didn't turn out to be a drag sewing for somebody else.

  5. You've done a lovely job - lucky mum-to-be!

    Estimating time and doubling it isn't too far wrong actually! When I first started making wedding gowns I always seemed to underestimate labour time by 1/2 - soon learnt though!


    these look amazing. there are like 12 things in here i wouldn't even ant to think of attempting.

    i sold belts on etsy for a bit-- it was really hard to calculate their worth, and what my time was worth. i leaned towards cutting myself short, but in the end i listened to ruggy, which i think J will be happy to know.


  7. They look amazing. I love the choice in fabric too. Sewing for others is such tricky business. One offs are so time consuming and mass-producing is so tedious. I wonder where the middle ground is.

  8. Thanks for all the nice words, people!

    The per hour rate I would like to make is very fair, I believe- if not a little pricey. It's just so hard to think about how long it will take. Like Bernice said, one-of-a-kind pieces are really time consuming. I think the key is to make things over and over again, getting faster each time.

  9. I was missing you! But good to see you've been doing such pretty things. Even though they're for someone else.

  10. Gorgeous. I used to sell stuff I sewed and I found the special orders more time consuming than just making what I wanted. But now you have some more skillz so that's all good right?

  11. Cheers! (mentally clinking glasses with you) you've deserved some moi time!
    You've done an absolutely beautiful job and your piping looks brilliant! But here I was thinking how extremely well organised to work out your hourly rate, and thinking "good for you!" then you confessed you had gone over time... :(
    But it's fantastic you enjoyed the commission and have it all streamlined for the next time!

  12. These are just beautiful. I'm with Tanisitis and reckon you should charge a bit less than the store to be competitive but charge enough to make it worth your while, rather than being a favour. Your product is certainly worth it!

  13. Ah! these look so perfect, I am a bit jealous! I wish I would make such cool stuff when I think "no way jose" ... unfortunately I just make a "whatever jose":))

    Magda ᵔᴥᵔ

  14. Very nice! And I'm with you, I love the fabric and the fact the pattern isn't typical baby. GREAT JOB!

  15. Wow - so beautiful! I'm slowly starting to sew for pay, and it is nerve-racking... but also really fun (although I'm still really lousy at making sure I make enough!).

    Do you happen to know the name or designer of the fabric? Or where it was purchased? The colors are great.

  16. Lisa, these are incredible! Looking so professional, I could never make that! good job.