check out my sewing space

Friday, 27 August 2010
Denise over at the Blue Gardenia is doing a great series on people's sewing spaces - she has just previewed Erica B's space and next up is Carolyn's, but today is me! I've been meaning to take photos to share here on my own blog, but it was always so terribly messy that I put it off. So I spent a few hours during the week to give a clean, but I'm sure it will only stay that way for a short time so I'm glad I took the photos for posterity's sake. I'm also very glad that Carolyn will be following me, because she will have at least twice as much fabric stash as me!

The Mad dress is about 90% finished - it needs a hem and taking in a little bit around the hips but otherwise it fits my friend who will be modelling brilliantly. Here it is sitting on my mannequin:

It is a proper black colour, I've just lightened these photos so you can see the detail (and also all the lint - this fabric attracts fluff like nothin' else). In the photo below, you can see the diagonal darts on the bodice which give it a lovely fitted shape, but also the poufiness that is happening at the hip line. I think it because I've used a different back bodice pattern to the front skirt pattern which means the hip curve doesn't match identically (aka my dodgy pattern drafting skills), but also because the way the 'belt' is tucked from the skirt fabric it just ends in a bit of excess fabric.

For the sleeves I opted to make two layers from the silk organza, finished with a rolled hem on my overlocker which made it even more fluttery. I'm delighted that my overlocker managed this - last time I attempted a rolled hem it threw a massive protest and needed to be serviced.

I'm not too sure about the drape though, I think it looks a bit silly and I might leave it off. It looks good on the pattern envelope, but once again I think it is a case of an illustrated pattern picture instead of a photo sucking me in.

I ended up leaving off the self fabric belt that starts on the front skirt, goes around the sides and finishes tucked under one of those diagonal darts on the front. The instructions were really vague and difficult to understand, and I couldn't get a good finish on it at all, so I've just left it off and basically all that is happening is the darts and draping on the front and the back is plain. Which means that there is no continuity of the belt for the drape to give the appearance that it is hanging from:

Also the silk organza may not have enough weight for it to hang in folds:

I just pinned it on using a brooch for the above photos, which may make it look even more obviously wrong than it it is, but I think without the drape the dress looks like a sleek, simple cocktail dress with some nice detailing.

So the plan is to finish it over the weekend and photograph it next week, in time for the September 7 deadline. Now my only other problem is that the friend I sewed this for loves it so much she now wants me to make her other things gulp! She said she will pay me, but I don't know how much to charge, plus I am always way more finicky making something for someone else than my own stuff that it becomes very stressful. Hmmm, I might have to think about it before I agree. Do any of you sew for others, and if so how do you decide how much to charge?


  1. I made an outfit for someone else once, but I'd never do it again. It was way too stressful! The velvet fabric was expensive so I worried about messing it up, and it was a pain to sew. She had offered me $X to do it, but if I had known what it would work out at as an hourly rate, I wouldn't have accepted the task. She "didn't have time" for any fittings (just make it according to the pattern, she said), and then when I delivered it to her, she decided she wanted it tighter, and so I had to take it away and try and take it in. Never again!

  2. Yeah, I agree with above, I would probably not do it. You won't make enough to justify it and then your ideas of fit may not correspond to another's. Now for someone else's kid, maybe, where fit is not as hard. Another adult, probably not.

  3. I run my own sewing business, so I just charge an hourly rate. Even at the mere cost of $15/hr for custom sewing, I still gulp at the total cost of most things. I'm not a fast sewer, so I really struggle with this. Custom sewing is not cheap. If I give a high enough quote at the beginning of the project, I can either A) scare them away, thus saving myself the effort, or B) they agree to pay whatever it costs, and I can then relax and just concentrate on sewing.

    If you're doing this for a friend, I would suggest to negotiate a price that you both feel is fair, and then stick to that. Since she's the one who offered to pay you, I would ask her what she thinks is a fair price.

    It is an awkward subject, so I hope this helps.

  4. Okay...I'm not sure that I own more fabric than you do...a wall vs a closet? I think we need a yardage countdown to see for sure! *LOL*

  5. The dress is wonderful... I do like the drapey part if maybe it had some pleats stitched into the back side of it... maybe that would help! I mean, if your not planning on using it anyway... it might not hurt to experiment with it!
    I sew for people all the time, and yes it is hard to figure out what to charge at first! But, $15-18 an hour is your best bet! I made wedding dresses and sometimes, people just have no clue... how much time and effort goes into making clothes. But, then again, if they are the ones that can't find a dress they want and have found a pattern. By all means give yourself a guesstiment of how much time you think it would take you and then figure out what it would be for an hour rate... then, if you and the person agree... your good! My problem was that I would always get the people that wanted it ...... like yesterday!
    Also, take into consideration... do you really want to be using all your sewing time... for someone else?
    I wouldn't mind seeing you and Carolyn doing a fabric count... can you tell I'm obsessed with fabric!?!

  6. I just thought of something else...
    for your "belt" .... what if you were to make it doubled? Like your sleeve? With the rolled hem and then spray it with starch or soak it in liquid starch to crisp it up,
    it may hold a crease then.

  7. I have to admit I now only make things for people that they don't ask for! I made three dresses for people before, horrible experiences all. One woman (my roommate at the time) refused to do all the fittings I needed so I ended up sewing the Vogue designer linen dress straight from the pattern. She also refused to wear it with a bra, which she sorely needed!

    The other two were for another roommate who probably never wore the dresses even though they looked exactly like the pattern. She had big body confidence issues and to this day I've never seen her wear ANY dress.

    So, no I would never do it again. Make garments and sell them on Etsy, yes, but sew to fit someone, never again.

  8. The dress is really beautiful!
    I may sound selfish, but I would use my free time to sew for myself (and maybe also for my daughter - if I had one ;-) )rather than for someone else. In spite of whatever money I could get from it.

  9. My gosh woman-you should be on Project Runway!!! WOW. my destash challenge is a joke next to you-such skills! I will read your blog for inspiration.

  10. Wow! Can I say it again? Wow! What a fabulous dress. Personally, I like the drape detail, and the option of having it detachable with a brooch makes the dress more versatile. Good luck with the competition.

  11. Don't do it. When sewing becomes a business (work), what will you do for fun?

  12. You could agree to make one item for your friend and have her watch you as you make the garment, thereby teaching her some basics so that she can take up sewing and begin to make her own outfits!

  13. Kristy the dress looks wonderful! I like the drape part and I also like it with the brooch, but maybe it looks different in real life. I will be voting for it in the competition!
    No one gets how much time goes into sewing clothes and you will never get what it is worth time wise. The problem is; for a wedding dress or something super special it doesn't sound so much but for a nice dress to wear out casually, of course it could never be worth it. Depends what they would buy normally... look at designer prices I would tell them and then that's about what you should charge. I worked in travel and if the person was terrible to me or it was just too much trouble to deal with them I would give them an exorbitant price and it usually made them go away and if it didn't I thought I was getting what I was worth! I now say no ...if they don't ask I'm happy to make something casual that I think someone would like (like the swimming cover up I made for my sister...but I haven't seen her wear it now that I think of it!)

  14. VaVaVoom! Love that dress! Hate sewing for other people, so I don't do it. Funny because I used to have my own alteration business that did quite well. That's when I discovered I disliked sewing for others.

  15. Do you know how many hors you have spent on the black dress? Decide on a reasonable hourly rate (above minimum wage), calculate the sewing cost and tell your friend what she would have paid for that dress. That should scare her off.

  16. That is a divine dress, I especially love those floaty sleeves. If you can get hold of the latest issue of Australian Stitches (vol 18 no 10) there is an article on p. 96 called 'Can you make something for me?'. She covers a lot of the things the other bloggers have said here. But I love the last bit where the author says that next time she is asked by someone to sew something for them, she will offer to teach them!

  17. That dress looks amazing. Love it! BTW, no i don't sew for others and i won't. It's just half of the fun then sewing for myself! And my time ist too precious that anybody would be willing to pay me ;-)

  18. Gorgeous details! That really came out well.

    I have no interest in sewing for others. They'd never be willing to pay what it's worth, and even if they did I don't want to give up my limited sewing/free time for others. When someone asks, I offer to give them sewing lessons. They almost never take me up on it, and I've never had someone ask for more than one lesson (not because I'm a mean teacher!!! I assume it's because then they understand how much work it is).

  19. In the end, she's asking for custom couture, and should expect to pay custom couture prices. I'd only do it if the person offered me enough money to make all that extra effort feel worthwhile.

    The dress is beautiful, by the way - the detailing is lovely and she'll be able to wear it anywhere. No wonder she wants more!

  20. Your black dress looks so beautiful. How is it with us sewers that fabric just seems to breed in the cupboard without us looking. I'm positive it does. I'm in process of getting a new sewing desk and drawers so I think I'll have to share it when it is all together. It is interesting seeing where other people create.