According to my calculations, that’s what I would have to charge in order to make it worth my while.
This was the first time I’d ever made pillowcases.
My intention is to donate them to Ryan’s Case for Smiles – a non-profit organization that helps children in the hospital, and other people in need. I’ve decided to get involved with this cause, and helped with quality checks on donated items yesterday afternoon.
Thanks to this wonderful video tutorial by Bari J, I was able to give this project a try.
Using Paintbox prints from Cynthia Rowley’s collection for Michael Miller, I spent FOUR HOURS making two pillowcases There’s more than just sewing involved with making sewn items, like cutting, pressing, and laundering.
Out of everything I’ve ever made, this might be my best work yet. My corners are PERFECT, and the French seams hide all of the raw edges of the fabric. To ensure precise measurements, I glue basted instead of using pins.
Eleven people responded, and the guesstimates ranged from $20 to $50 – with the most common answer around $30.
Here’s my calculations on what I would need to charge in order to recoup basic materials and labor:
- Fabric – Approx. 2.25 yards at $7.50/yard = $16.875
- Use of 1 needle = $1
- Aurifil Italian thread = $1
- Labor – 4 hours at $12.50 per hour = $50
- TOTAL = $68.875
Note that this does NOT even include the cost and wear and tear on my sewing machine ($2,500), iron, ironing board, glue basting supplies, laundering, packaging, etc… Keep in mind that I also log many hours looking for good deals on fabric. Full price runs between $10 and $12 a yard, and I try my best to score anything below $8 – which takes up a LOT of time and effort.
After finishing them, I saw another tutorial on Pinterest that advertised making the same pillowcase in only 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES? Part of the reason why it took me so long to construct is because I wanted them to be perfect (or close to it!). With more experience, I could probably get the time down to three hours per set – but definitely not to 15 minutes without majorly sacrificing quality. Three hours would bring the price down to $56.
I feel $12.50 per hour would be more than fair for a labor charge. Yes, it is above minimum wage, but it’s not insane. Not everyone knows how to sew, and I have invested thousands of hours (and dollars) learning, taking classes, and honing my craft. Why shouldn’t I be able to make a fair wage commiserate with my skill level? If I had more advanced experience, I would calculate prices at $15-$20 an hour – depending on the project.
So the price I would have to sell these pillowcases at is more than double the average guess of people who don’t sew.
Recently, I heard some advice from Christy Wright – a business coach for the Dave Ramsey organization. On setting business prices for goods/services – she recommended that you DON’T think of your friends/family as potential customers.
Because they’re most likely not your target demographic. In my situation, the people in my social circles are probably not apt to spend $70 on two pillowcases.
Apparently I’d need to seek out customers who are:
- Interested in unique, handmade items
- Don’t have time or desire to make things
- Affluent enough to afford my prices
This certainly was an interesting exercise in the economics of pricing sewn goods!
See you next time!