This original article was written by JoAnn Morgan and posted on my website in 2005, but other sites have copied it and put it on their own sites without giving me credit, and changing MY name and business to THEIRS. This, like all content on my website is copyrighted and no permission has been given. Changing a few words does not change the fact my article was copied and claimed by someone less adept at writing.
Custom Sewing—why it costs so much
I frequently get requests for custom doll dresses, and I have to explain why the cost is different for custom clothing than my “rack” dresses. I wanted to do this article so my customers or potential customers have some idea what goes into custom doll costuming.
Like everyone else, I can’t live on minimum wage. I don’t sew for fun or a hobby. I truly love making and putting together authentic doll clothing, but it is just that—work. I cannot live without the money I earn on JoAnn Morgan.com
To be able to sew clothing for the prices you see on my site, I must sew production line style—I cut several sizes at a time that all use the same color thread and the same trims, so I don’t have to spend time switching threads, searching for trim, etc. If I did one dress at a time, I would either work for a lot less money or have to charge more.
Here is a typical example of requested custom sewing, and a breakdown of what is involved:
Recently a customer sent me a request to copy an original silk dress for her Patsy doll, and wondered why I turned down her request. I sent her the reasons below.
The first step is to find the right fabric. If I do not have it in stock I would spend, at minimum, an hour on the internet finding the right fabric, in the right color and ordering it. The price of fabric has gone up quite a bit over the years and when not buying in bulk, the average cost of cotton is $8-10 yard and shipping cost $5 is added. If the fabric is a more exotic, the cost can be higher per yard. We are already into it at least $11-15, plus an hour of my time for $15—that’s $26.00. Then I would have to make the pattern, which could take at least an hour. If I have a pattern, it is a matter of confirming it is of correct proportions. Add another minimum of $15 to do a pattern and accessory pieces, and now we are up to $41, and I haven’t started cutting out the fabric.
Before I can do any sewing, I have to find matching thread, fill a bobbin and thread the machine.
It takes, minimally, three hours to cut out and make the dress and underclothing. Add $45. I have not added anything for thread, snaps or accessories, and we are still up to $86.00.
Suppose there are a couple of emails back and forth to discuss the details and the finish time and the billing, and packing the dress for shipping. Another half hour– and we are up to $93.50
If I had to make a trip to the store to get the fabric, instead of buying it on line, that would take 2 gallons of gas and two hours of my time. Or just to run to the nearest fabric store and get the thread and embroidery thread I needed. A gallon of gas and 45 minutes. Or I might have to spend 6 hours finding just the right color and weight of fabric, instead of one hour. Suppose the customer had some fabric they wanted me to use== then we could take off the cost of the fabric, but not the emails, design, thread, bobbins and other work involved. including time to change the pattern to accomodate choices in trim and accessories. The fact is, if you are taking requests/orders from someone else, it is custom sewing.
There is also the fact that during this time I am NOT producing product for my website, which I would be doing if I was sewing production line style. I am at an age when I don’t have a lot of time left– and need to keep up the site while doing other things , like working on my new blog that I will soon be adding– with lots of free advice, free patterns and so on. I won’t be around forever and want to share the things I have learned in almost 80 years of sewing. ( Yes, I started when I was four years old, sewing on a sewing machine.) My mother was a great teacher and task master and taught me that anything worth doing was worth doing well, which is why you won’t see shortcuts like safety pins in my underwear. While some cheap and shoddy doll clothes has safety pins, the finer clothes had buttons, hooks or snaps.