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The Sew What’s New Archive

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: Melanie T
Date: 02-11-2006, 08:29 AM (1 of 7)
I have been researching and thinking about adding alterations and mending to my sewing lesson business. Last night I found out I need to put my money where my mouth is so to speak, because the old lady at church who has been doing it for years has decided to quit and send all her business to me. (Her machine died, she is 78 years old, she charges pennies on the dollar for what her work is worth.....). Her prices are way to low, I need some better idea of how to price things. I did some googling yesterday, but came up pretty empty, polo's list (WOW, if I could charge those prices I would be a millionaire) and a list of suggested bridal alterations (even higher). Would anyone be willing to share their pricing list, a PM would be great or here if you are comfortable.

I also need a couple of basic instruction books for alterations, I saw a few during my search yesterday, but wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions for a good alterations reference book for those things that I am not familiar with. I have been sewing and mending our things for years, but we generally don't wear designer clothes.

What about a video or a good basic study at home alterations course, any suggestions otherwise I am just going to get a book and pratice on my and DH clothes until I am confident.

Pam, thanks for your information the other day on the other thread, it was a great help. I printed it out and am implementing as many of your good ideas as are currently practical.

Thanks for any input,
4 little sewing machine mechanics (6, 4, 2, Born June 14)
Ontario Canada
User: Melanie T
Member since: 09-21-2004
Total posts: 155
From: LoveSewin
Date: 02-12-2006, 11:44 AM (2 of 7)
I know what you mean about not being able to find any pricelists. I did find this one (

I kind of based my prices on the link above - they seem reasonable to me. I don't want to give my work away....

I had a guy drop off three things to repair the other night. I quoted him $6 an item (they were very simple) and he didn't even blink. That was a good feeling!
User: LoveSewin
Member since: 01-31-2006
Total posts: 103
From: VenusElaine
Date: 02-13-2006, 09:22 PM (3 of 7)
The biggest thing to remember about alterations is not only the time involved in the actual sewing, but the "deconstruction" time. I can generally sew in a new zipper in less time than it takes to remove the old one without destroying the garment. Taking in side seams sometimes affects the armscye, waistband, or hem of a dress. All of these things must be taken into consideration. Does the garment have a lining, trim that must be moved, french seams, flat fell seams, etc.etc.etc.
To compose my price list, I have done timings on all my basic alterations. Then I have "add for" categories that increase the basic prices.
Once you have the timings, you multiply these by your price per hour, which must include your "salary" plus overhead.
My customers understand they must pay not only for my time, but for my knowledge, experience, training, talent, and expertise.
Only you can judge the value of your work.

"Always put as much effort into your marriage as you do into your wedding."
User: VenusElaine
Member since: 10-22-2005
Total posts: 126
From: Helen Weiss
Date: 02-19-2006, 10:54 PM (4 of 7)
i totally agree with your comments about "deconstruction". I've been doing alterations as a business for 3 years, and I still get caught in this problem. I think one solution might be to really look at the garment before starting, then notifying the customer about the time required to complete the job. I have given away too much of my time over the years, and am determined to change that! Interestingly, I've just made an appointment with my Yoga instructor for an hour long private session to help me with a neck problem. Her charge is $50.00 an hour. I have no problem paying her for her expertice, so I don't think we should have a problem charging for ours. We also have equipment to maintain and supplies to purchase. I found the books of Mary Roehr - "Altering Women's Ready to Wear", "Altering Men's ready to Wear", and "Sewing As A Home Based Business" to be invaluable resources. She has included price lists that are good as a general rule. She is no longer in business, but I think the books may still ba available through "A Great Notion" a wonderful mail order source in BC Canada.
User: Helen Weiss
Member since: 10-16-2003
Total posts: 69
From: Carol in ME
Date: 02-20-2006, 09:21 PM (5 of 7)
I like the price list.

One thing that has been suggested is to take note of how much a haircut costs in your neck of the woods. My last cut was $15, and that didn't include the tip.
I bet it didn't take her more than twenty minutes. You are providing skilled labor, too.
User: Carol in ME
Member since: 01-27-2003
Total posts: 105
From: AndreaSews
Date: 02-23-2006, 05:11 PM (6 of 7)
So true that we underestimate the time we spend. I don't sew for profit, and it's a good thing b/c I'd go broke! I've happily offered to do sewing jobs for friends, telling them, Sure, it'll only take me 15 minutes! Well, it always turns out so much longer when you add in all the prep time, even if it's just 15 minutes of sewing. Then they feel like they really owe me one! :up:
User: AndreaSews
Member since: 02-18-2005
Total posts: 1007
From: kameline
Date: 03-13-2006, 10:48 AM (7 of 7)
Hey there I am new to Sew What's New, but I am really enjoying it so far!
I have been doing clothing alterations for about a year now, and am loving it!
I had a hard time deciding on prices too, but I have really found that I underprice far too often! It is sad because we have lost the understanding of value in our Walmart society. Yes, you can buy a yard of material for $1, but the time it takes to make that into something beautiful is worth so much more! Don't worry, when you come across a price list that works for you, stick with it! Sewing for profit can be stressful enough without having to worry about someone refusing to pay what you charge.
Do all to the glory of God!
User: kameline
Member since: 03-09-2006
Total posts: 41
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