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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: MarciaK
Date: 11-02-2006, 02:25 PM (1 of 6)
Can anyone give me some guidance concerning charges for window treatments?
I am making lined curtains with tassel fringe, upholstered bench seats w/bias piping, throw pillows and a table runner. I was told by the client that she had the curtain patterns and fabric, as well as the window measurements ( for 6 windows). Well... she had the fabric and a DRAWING. I made the 50 mile one-way trip to measure, as every window is a different size. This is very expensive fabric and fringe, and I'm sure the store was happy to see her come. She had just enough, which is sheer luck, considering they estimated from an artist's rendering. I purchased the pattern, and altered it for each cutting. Anyway, it ended up being more work AFTER I quoted her a price.
She has referred me to others, and I'm unsure what the going rate is. I prefer to do the window measurements myself...for obvious reasons. HELP!!
User: MarciaK
Member since: 02-06-2004
Total posts: 32
From: Miss Spring
Date: 11-02-2006, 03:05 PM (2 of 6)
OMGosh! After reading your post Im thinking that no price you come up with is going to be

If it were me Id get out your yellow pages and call around your local area and see what they charge. It will give you a ballpark figure to work from.

I was offered a job sewing window treatments and they were going to pay $10.00 HR Now where I live those are awesome wages but after thinking about all the work it was going to be it still wasent enough to pay for all my migrain medication.

Dont under value your work
Best of Luck,
User: Miss Spring
Member since: 05-03-2006
Total posts: 87
From: lsoutherla
Date: 11-03-2006, 10:31 AM (3 of 6)
pricing is always difficult to determine at first. I agree that you should first call a few interior designers and others (get seamstress' cards from fabric stores) and see what they charge for a similar window treatment/ pillow/etc. I live around Atlanta, GA and I started by calling around to folks that were located on the north, south, east and west side of town. (And found the north and east sides much more expensive.) From there I determined how much time I estimated it would take me to make the treatment (add an hour or two extra), including layout and cutout (which takes an awful lot of time.), and what I felt I needed to make per hour, and then I determine what I actually felt it was worth to me.

Never underestimate your skills and don't seek perfection - the general public doesn't care about or see the small mistakes that make us crazy when we sew. Your time is money and you don't want to be loosing time ripping out a seam because it was a little off. John Q Public doesn't care if an 18" square pillow is 1/4" off.

Always let them know this is an estimate and can be revised based on unforseen difficulties, etc. And put it in writing, keep copies of emails, etc. if set up that way. I've made treatments where I've dropped the price because it took so much less time than I thought, and I've increased the cost also. Give yourself enough time to make the treatment also. If someone wants a rush, then they need to pay for that also. And don't forget to charge for all the nit picky expenses you incur (thread, piping, zippers, buttons, etc). Also, I charge a flat fee for driving out to someone's place that is more than 10 miles (this should include your time and mileage). If you doubt what you're charging I suggest increasing it by 10-15%, most times you'll find that you are still underpricing yourself, and if the client wants to wrangle with you over the price you can drop it by 10% and still feel good about it. I've had folks argue with me on cost and I've stood by my estimate only to loose them as a customer. I do quality work and it's worth what I charge.

There are some good sites/books that will give guidence in this area if you look for them.

(sorry for going on so.)

User: lsoutherla
Member since: 05-04-2006
Total posts: 72
From: MarciaK
Date: 11-03-2006, 08:37 PM (4 of 6)
Thank you both for your replies. I do remember seeing somewhere that a good rule of thumb is to charge per inch (width)...but I don't know where I got that from, and I don't remember how much per inch.
Anyway, I finished them and they are beautiful. I deliver them on Monday. (I'll probably have to hang them, too.)
User: MarciaK
Member since: 02-06-2004
Total posts: 32
From: VenusElaine
Date: 11-03-2006, 09:18 PM (5 of 6)
I haven't done home dec for a while, but five years ago I charged a minimum of $35.00 a width (of fabric) for plain lined draperies. And that was wholesale to designers. Most workrooms charge either by the width of fabric if they are seamed, or by the running foot if the fabric is railroaded. Try,, and
All excellent reference sites. I actually worked for Kitty Stein ( a few lifetimes ago :re: in Winchester,VA. That is where I learned the basics of home dec sewing.

"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: blackie
Date: 11-04-2006, 12:22 PM (6 of 6)
There have been good responses here by seamstresses more experienced than I. I have a custom sewing business but it's very small - just "pin money" (whatever that means). I have never made lined drapes and in fact I feel slightly ill thinking about it! :-) I do have some thoughts on pricing though and I hope they aren't too modest.

I recently had a woman ask me to make simple curtains. I estimated about 5 1/2 hours, including the time it would take for me to come measure, etc. I charge $20 / hour (this is very regional so it may mean nothing to anyone else here). She sort of balked at the time estimate and said, "You should just come look, it won't take you that long." I went and looked and did my math, spoke with her about fabrics, told her what to expect from simple curtains, etc. When all was said and done I still kept my estimate where it was. By that time she was impressed with my abilities AND (this is important) she really wanted to support my trade - a quality product made locally and made well. I told her I was usually within 10% of my estimated time and if I went under that time, I would of course charge her less.

I put aside the time to do the curtains in one morning / afternoon and it worked out great. I took my time doing it at the speed and with the methods I'd do for myself. I took maybe one 15 minute break, and a 30 minute break to eat (I charged her for the break, not for lunch). I got it done 1/2 hour earlier than I'd estimated. I wrote up an invoice and charged I think $2 for thread and $8 for a rotary cutter (because so much cutting was involved). So the bill was less than what I'd estimated her, but I didn't get cheated out of time. I delivered the curtains and they looked fine.

She called me a couple days later very happy. She told me she was "a very pleased customer" and asked me to do a tie for one of the curtains. She has been raving about how happy she is and referring me to anyone in sight (she also asked for my cards to pass out). She dropped off the strip of fabric for a tie (which I will do gratis) as well as a darning egg to borrow.

OK, this is a long-winded story. Sorry! My point is, I think when you respect yourself and your efforts, you get good customers. Now I am lucky in that I am not hustling my buns to support my family with this, and I don't "need" to make a certain amount of money per week etc. That would add a certain level of stress.

My rule of thumb is that when something unexpected comes up (bad grain, etc) I make the customer pay. If I've just estimated incorrectly (which I haven't really done much) I eat the cost and think of it as a learning experience. Heck, every job is a learning experience. I am getting sick of curtains, too. I should add I am only an Intermediate seamstress and I know my place. I like projects that challenge my abilities, and in this case - if it's something I haven't done - I may not charge the customer all my time, if I had to proceed slowly because I was learning. KWIM?

"Always let them know this is an estimate and can be revised based on unforseen difficulties, etc. And put it in writing, keep copies of emails, etc. if set up that way."

I have found just being very clear verbally, and maybe sending a followup email has really been a great CYA.

"If you doubt what you're charging I suggest increasing it by 10-15%, most times you'll find that you are still underpricing yourself, and if the client wants to wrangle with you over the price you can drop it by 10% and still feel good about it."

I do not use this approach, although I understand why you might do it this way. Why let them "wrangle"? If they have a good point (you turned it in a few days late, etc) then fine, make a concession out of goodwill. But I really would beware on padding the price, then letting them talk you down. It seems to me like both people are sort of cheating, and both people are feeling they "got away" with something that way. I don't like the taste in my mouth on that.

I also think part of what the customer is paying for is that you do a reliable estimate. So I don't "puff up" the estimate more than what I honestly think the job will take. It is hard to make sure you aren't undercharging AND make sure you aren't making too large of an estimate either. But that's how you learn how to estimate better!

"I've had folks argue with me on cost and I've stood by my estimate only to loose them as a customer."

I can't tell what you mean here - I am assuming you lose them BEFORE you do the job, not after? I have had people ask, then hear how much, then not take me up on it. That's fine. If you lose them before you sew for them, well... yes, it's possible you are overcharging and you may have to do a reality check. But also: there are people out their used to the prices of Made In China Walmart stuff and they are just NOT prepared to pay for good, local work (that puts food on the table for my family, I might add!). Perhaps you don't want that customer - they will nickel and dime you or, what's worse, always regret they made the investment. Better to respect yourself and your craft, give a good estimate, be prepared to "eat it" if your estimate off because you made an error, or it took you longer than you thought because you were ambitious in your estimate.

They are always free to go find a bottom-rate seamstress, who will work her tail off, scrape to make ends meet, and burn out because she's not respecting herself enough. Some customers really want to get the "best value", even if that means taking advantage. Those customers are welcome to continue searching and I know they will find some poor soul.
see the mundane life of a housewife.
User: blackie
Member since: 03-31-2004
Total posts: 594
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