Previously I wrote about “saving” money by sewing….whether it’s possible, or even important. Having an Etsy shop, I get requests to sew garments on a regular basis, and pricing them can be a challenge. Most of the time my customers have an idea of something they can’t find anywhere, and it’s fun to create that vision. For example I’m working on a “Hamilton” costume right now, but it’s for Halloween not theater, so it doesn’t need to be heirloom-quality, but it still takes a LOT of fabric and quite a bit of time. For sure I’ll be “losing” money making it, yet it inspires me and that’s worth something.
Unfortunately I often get requests to copy something already available. Last night I received such a request, accompanied by this photo:
The customer’s sister-in-law found this dress at “a vintage fair”, and she wanted the same dress for her own flower-girl. So I had a choice:
A: Accept the challenge! Obviously it’s a hand-crocheted bodice, and I can crochet (I can NOT knit!). Looks like a simple silhouette, although that’s a lot of chiffon, and hemming chiffon takes forever. In my head this would be a $100 to $200 dress, depending on how fast I could crochet, even at minimum wage.
B: Look for the dress online and see if it’s readily available, and if so then give away the sale.
Fifteen dollars, with free shipping from China. For 3 to 4 yards of “chiffon”, several hours of hand-crochet, and sewing the actual dress, plus steaming, finishing, packing. I realize the government in China subsidizes shipping, whereas I have to pay USPS around $6 just to ship within the U.S.. I can’t purchase fabric for under $1 a yard and I’m not about to crochet for pennies. At a closer look, that dress isn’t even hemmed, it’s most likely nylon tricot, and I wouldn’t send out a non-hemmed dress.
Do I let a potential customer know that the dress isn’t vintage, and it’s not handmade? How else can I explain that I can’t take the sale?