Another "I hate to do this, but it seems it is necessary". I am always getting inquiries about making this or that or the other outfit. That's fine! That is what I DO, I make this, that and the other. I also understand budgetary constraints - boy do I EVER, I face them every day! One thing I cannot understand is that some people want me to make them a CUSTOM outfit and do it for less than the Chinese and Thai charge for the lovely looking outfits they advertise on eBay and Etsy.
I am one person. I am NOT Chinese. I don't have a sweatshop full of forced labor who are paid 10¢ per day. I don't have warehouses full of fabric (WOW!! Wish I DID!) that cost me a couple of pennies per yard. I generally purchase fabric the exact same way YOU do - at fabric stores or online, paying RETAIL prices. Oh, every once in a great while, I will stumble across a bargain, and I snap it up if at all possible. BUT, that is a rare thing, and I can't 'reorder' at the same price. So, once it is gone, that is it.
The latest inquiry was for a Civil War ballgown. The lady wanted the 'prettiest one there!' I understand that - it is how I feel about EVERYTHING I make. When I told her that I couldn't do it within her budget, she wanted to know what I charged for the other gowns on my site. Oh boy. Here is an example for you. Back in 1972-73, you could buy a BRAND NEW CAR (certain models) right off of the showroom floor for $1500-2000!!!! Hell, I gave $3300 for my 2 year old Corvette Convertible back in 1972! Go to any car lot today and tell them that you want a custom ordered, brand new car for those prices, and they will laugh themselves sick. COSTS change. PRICES change. No matter how much we may not like it, it is a FACT. Please don't ask me why I only charged 'this person' $375 for that petticoat, and I want YOU to pay $675 for the same thing 10-15 years later!! I truly wish I could still buy bolts of fabric (decent fabric, believe me) at $1/yard. Or full ROLLS of fabric (100+ yards) for less than the shipping charges. I buy my silks from India. I have a vendor there that I use. I USED to be able to get clearance silks for as little as $3/yd. No longer. Don't ask me to make you a silk gown (very elaborate silk gown, one that would take 30-40 YARDS of silk, another 80-100 yards of silk lace trim, etc) for $800. Not going to happen. And yes, I had that exact request. And the woman could NOT get it through her head that I wasn't being 'mean' or greedy. I couldn't BUY the silk for her budget.
Yes, I'm bitching again. And I'm sorry. But I get SO FRUSTRATED when people want Dior at WalMart prices.
PLEASE remember this: I am a very small shop. It consists of 2 people - one of whom doesn't sew. Well, and the 2 furry little quality control inspectors... Being a small shop doesn't mean that I can undercut the big operations. It means just the opposite. It also means that when you want YOUR outfit next weekend (yeah, good luck with THAT) and don't understand why I want double or triple the price (because I have to refund the other customers whose orders are being shunted aside), I am NOT 'taking advantage of your urgent need'.
What my customers get from me is this:
A well made, perfectly fitted outfit that will last them for YEARS of normal use, and they get it at a very reasonable price. I enjoy sewing and creating. I am NOT a charity. I will NOT take a loss because it is for your special day/event. I won't do it for free. Even my family members and closest friends have to PAY for what they want. I simply cannot afford to charge any less. I don't make a profit NOW.
So please, research what it would cost YOU to make it. At Joann Fabric prices. Make sure to figure in the notions (boning, zippers, hooks and eyes, buttons, lining, interfacing - even the PATTERN which generally EQUAL the main fabric costs, or more, don't forget the TRIM! Frequently, the TRIM costs more than the rest of the outfit combined!) before you fuss that my prices are unreasonable.
Thanks for listening!