How Much Will It Cost Me?

You show me a picture of a dress and you ask if I can make this dress for you. Sure, I say, particularly when you offer to pay me, and I get down to business. How much will it cost me? You’re curious to know. 

Let’s see: I may not have a fashion degree, but I have two other degrees, a diploma in pattern cutting, subscriptions to sewing magazines, memberships to educational resources, and over 30 years of sewing expertise. I invest a lot of time, effort, and money to hone my skills and buy quality equipment to serve you. I should charge you a lot of money, but because you’re my friend, I settle for $15 per hour. 

After my day job is over, I go shopping for your fabric when I should be cooking dinner for my husband and me. I buy three yards of the fabric of your choice at $36 total. You’ll pay me back, of course. Don’t worry about my time and gas to go shopping for you. 

I soak, dry, and iron your fabric carefully. I won’t charge you for the water and electricity to use my appliances, either.

You provide the pattern for the dress. What a relief! I don’t have to draft the pattern myself. It took me two hours to prepare the pattern pieces according to your measurements, cut the fabric, and baste the pieces. The dress is ready for a fitting.

I travel to your house for a fitting. Thank God you live close by. I won’t charge you for gas, wear and tear on my tires, and the time I am at your house discussing possible alterations. 

I spend eight hours constructing your dress while doing my laundry. Good thing my husband was at a family gathering that I missed that day to work on your dress.  

The dress is now finished. Custom tailored just for you to fit your every curve in the fabric you chose. How lovely you look in it. 

Now I calculate the cost. Your bill is $186. No charge for the needle I broke, the matching thread, the interfacing, and the zipper. Not to mention the wear and tear on my scissors, sewing machine, and serger. Don’t worry about this. That’s what friends do. 

What! You say. I can buy this dress at Ross for less than $40. (After all, the seamstress from the third world country who made it received only a few pennies in wages.)

Wow! You can’t beat that price, I marvel. Why didn’t you buy it? 

You negotiate the price. Because you’re my friend, I knock down the price to $100. You don’t object, but internally you’re not completely satisfied. You pay me reluctantly. 

You don’t ask me to sew you a dress again. 


This is why I don’t sew from scratch for money anymore.