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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: ljjennings
Date: 10-26-2004, 03:41 PM (1 of 2)

I just found this site today and need some help! I have received my first job making curtains! I have always made my own curtains and do a very nice job (I think) and want to start my own home based business.

The problem - how do I set the price?? Do I charge by the hour or by the curtain? I told the customer ( a candle client) that I would get back to him with pricing. I don't want to overcharge since I will get more business from him one he gets his curtains, I'm sure of it.

I am making a three piece swag/jabot for the living room, and I'm making a one-piece swag for the guest bedroom, and I'm making classice window valances for the kitchen and two bathrooms. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I called a couple of stores for quotes and so far only recieved one - The Fabric Place in MA - $575 for the swag/jabots and the other valances are around $200 a piece! I think they are on the high side but I'm not sure.

He has purchased all the fabric so all I have to do is sew! I want to give him a price before I start so he is comfortable with what I charge. I asked him if he would rather a per hour charge or a flat rate per curtain and he said it didn't matter to him he trusts I'll charge appropriately.

Thanks in advance for any help.

User: ljjennings
Member since: 10-26-2004
Total posts: 1
From: nugefamily
Date: 11-01-2004, 08:08 AM (2 of 2)
I am in the same boat and will share my "NOW I know..." with you.

I didn't know what to charge (my sister in law!) for six slipcovers for some oddly shaped dining room chairs. My sister-in-law had gotten a quote for $200 each, including the price of fabric, which I thought was really high. She wrote me a check for $300 and told me that would get me started, and she had already purchased the fabric. Wow - 40 hours later, fully half of that being all the design work, custom pattern, etc., the slipcovers are perfect...but I don't know how to approach her to tell her that she owes me about $300 more dollars for the work.

1. Don't undersell yourself. These are custom window treatments you are making, something they CANNOT find in the right fabric, in the perfect design, in a store. Your customer is willing to pay for "just the right thing."

2. How much did your customer pay for the fabric for the valances and the swags/jabots? Subtract this amount from the estimates you got and you will have a rough estimate of the labor costs. Did your estimates include fabric? If so, call them back and ask for "just labor" pricing so that you are working with the same numbers.

3. Figure out how many hours you will actually spend on the project. I tended to think of just sewing time, but you will be laying out the fabric, matching prints, cutting AND sewing. If you are a perfectionist (my bane), you will also spend more time on the sewing and finishing work, particularly if you are doing lining fabrics, cording or piping anywhere. I thought that my slipcover project would take a lot less time, but was concerned that they be absolutely perfect and that took a lot MORE time.

4. Plan on charging your customer at LEAST half of what the estimates you received are. Honest. Or, give them a break on the valances and charge appropriately for the swags and jabots.

5. BEFORE YOU START, TELL HIM THE COST. It doesn't matter what he says, you won't be able to produce something special and charge him for it appropriately after he gets them. If he isn't comfortable with the cost, show him the cost for the simpler window treatments and the costs for the more elaborate treatments. If you give him an hourly cost, and you run into problems, the price will go up. If you give him a flat rate, it will be more pressure on you to just get the job done. I prefer flat rate as I am a terrible procrastinator.

Hope this helps.
User: nugefamily
Member since: 11-01-2004
Total posts: 4
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