Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"I Heard You Sew"

As quilters, how often do we hear those words?  And quite often they're followed by a request to hire us to sew something.  I don't know about you, but I don't really sew anything other than quilts and the occasional decorative household items.  I don't do hems, alterations, etc.  So I'm usually able to tell the person I don't really even know how to do whatever it is they're looking for.

Sometimes, though, the person wants a quilt or something else I do know how to make--something that they've seen me make for myself or a friend/relative.  And my normal response is to tell the person that I don't usually hire out my services because quilting is a time-consuming process and hiring me would probably cost a lot more than they're willing to pay. And if they STILL want me to make something?  Well, then I tell them what the item would cost.  And because my limited quilting time is very valuable to me, I put a reasonably high price on my services.  Funny, but I don't recall any of these negotiations proceeding much past that point.

Now and then, though, someone will ask me about making something for them, and if I'm in a very rare, generous mood, I say "sure"!  A couple weeks ago, one of the younger women I work with asked me about the coasters she'd seen around the office--I'd made them for all of the secretaries and staff at some point before she was hired; I had a couple in my desk drawer, so I gave her one.  Then she asked me if I could make a dozen for her bunco group--she was going to be hostessing in September and she thought the coasters would be a great little gift for the players.  Of course she offered to pay me, and of course I refused.  After all, how much could a person charge for coasters that would even begin to cover payment for the time it takes to make them?  So I simply asked her to buy the fabric, told her how much I'd need, and directed her to select cotton.

So she went to a general craft and fabric store where she got a really, really good deal on some sale cotton prints.  I won't name names, but I know this large chain store carries some fabrics that really aren't that bad; unfortunately, this stuff she brought me was.  Thin, almost see-through fabric with muddy looking prints.  But, still, I'm sure it's okay for coasters--it's not like they're going to be washed and used forever or anything!  Still, working with this stuff reminded me yet again why I like to buy my fabric from quilt shops!

It's taken me a couple evenings, but I finally finished a stack of coasters.  I had enough fabric to probably make about twice what she asked for, but I compromised by making 16 of them so she'll have a few extra.  Needless to say, I'll also be returning to her all of the leftover fabric.


How do you respond to requests to sew for people?

30 comments:

Donna said...

My favorite response to people who want me to sew for them is an offer to show them how to make the item themselves. I offer my time, machine,notions and encouragement. I've only had a few "takers."

Quilt Hollow said...

I do sew for those who request my service. Those who know how many hours are spent don't hesitate to pay the price they hear. I'm not Made In China....if they want that deal they won't ask again. You could have told her as an exchange to gift you a certificate from your local favorite quilt shop to get her in that door to purchase her fabric too! Just a thought....

Beth said...

I had someone I know on the train ask me if I could do one of those T-Shirt quilts for a friend, then it turned out it was a friend of THAT friend. I said I'll talk to them. Once I emailed her telling her all the stuff I would need to make the quilt, plus how much I'd probably have to pay a quilter to quilt it since I don't do that, and how much it would probably cost, I never heard from her again. LOL People don't realize how expensive quilting is, and how much time it takes to quilt.

Josie McRazie said...

I have done several small things for friends. One day a friend came to drop off her daughter (one of the littles I watch) and her button had popped off that morning. I made her strip down so I could sew on her button! I couldn't very well let the poor girl lose her pants now could I! LOL

Janet said...

I make a children's quilt for my husband's work each year. It's for charity and gets auctioned off. Each year I have had at least one person ask about me making them a quilt as they did not have the highest bid for the one I had donated. I start by explaining the cost of fabric which in Canada is $16 - $18 per metre(about 4 inches more than a yard). Then I explain I charge 20.00 /hour. At this point I usually can sense that they are no longer interested! I guess as a quilter I quilt because it brings me personal happiness and when I sew for myself I don't mind the cost as it is a form of therapy and for me has meditative qualities. It brings me joy!

As always I enjoy reading your blog, sorry I don't comment very often.

Janet

Heather said...

After many, many years of being taken advantage of I now just say NO!

Carol said...

The coasters are so cute, I've made several myself. I have a hard time saying no and I also have a hard time charging a price that I should. Thankfully I haven't been asked in a long time to make something. I like your responses though, I'll have to remember that.

Linda said...

Just say NO......I don't have enough time to do what I want for myself let alone sew for someone else. Life's too short!

Cathy said...

I quilt for my own enjoyment, but have given quilts as gifts. The only "to order" quilt I made was for my mother, who wanted a new quilt to match her new bedroom decor, and I enjoyed making that one because I know she appreciates it. I also do the occasional hem or button on request but I also know a good tailor to refer people to as well.

Synthia said...

I'm always amazed that people will actually ask. I think Linda (above) summarized an answer perfectly. You could also add "I have a full time job and..." to "I don't have enough time......". Heck, I'm retired and old and still don't have enough time to do what I want. I check one thing off my bucket list and then add two more!! Be strong, Kim. Say NO with a smile.

Me and My Stitches said...

So funny - just because I have a sewing machine or two does NOT mean I know how to make clothes! I hate it when people ask me to make things, hem clothes, repair, etc. I honestly don't know how to make clothes and can barely repair things for my husband, I'm sure not interested in doing it for anyone else!

Anita said...

Pretty much the same as you or I invite them over to my house and offer to help them make their item. I've only had one person take me up on the offer. It was a quilt for her mother-in-law, who was terminally ill. I didn't mind helping them at all.

ScarecrowCabin said...

I'm with you Kim. Everyone thinks that since I'm a quilter, I can fix a broken zipper or make a dress. I have no desire to make clothes or do alterations. I find pleasure in sewing artful items, like quilts and decorative household pieces. I have only made a few quilts for people that have requested them and most were small baby quilts or table runners.
I did make a large quilt for someone a few years ago and felt the pressure of making it took away the pleasure of sewing. Never again.
~Kelly~

Kigwit said...

I usually tell people I only make things for family-and that I'm already married! I made a donation quilt for scouts last year and one of the grandma's offered me 35 dollars to make one for her grandson. I told her that 35 dollars wouldn't even pay for the fabric!

Sharon Hughson said...

No. is a complete sentence and that is what I say. No.

Hildy said...

Usually I just say 'NO'. I just make exaptions for my best friends (I know them since kindergarden) and, of course, my mum:-) And for swaps but then at least I got something back. And get me worng I love to sew for others but only if I know they appriciate the time and work I've put in there. And for me it's just a hobby and not a job.

dianesteelequilts said...

So nice of you to make the coasters for your work buddy! When people ask if I do custom orders or will I make them something, I say most quilters will do this only for their very good friends (and maybe their kids) for very special occasions; weddings, graduations, etc. Then I tell them to be VERY nice to the quilters they know!

Mary Kunna said...

I usually handle clothing or fix requests with "I don't make anything that isn't written in quilt." If someone wants to pay my price for a quilt, then I'll do it, but on my time schedule.

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

A year or so ago, one of my cousins (one that I'm not close to at all) emailed me and asked me to make her a new queen sized quilt because her dog was tearing and destroying the one that was on her bed at the time. I quoted her an outrageous but not very exaggerated price and told her for that money - she can go get 4 "bed in a bag" for her dog to destroy. Needless to say, she was shocked to hear how expensive a handmade quilt was. I make little things and totes as gifts but I made quilts for nobody. Only for myself, husband and little girl. they take too much time and money for me to give them away as gifts.

pcflamingo said...

I am a total schmuck and say yes far too often. Then I tell them it may take me a year to finish! The one "commission" quilt I made that I was the most pleased with was out of clothing (uniform shirt, Tshirts, fleece shirts) of a police woman killed in the line of duty) and I incorporated pictures printed on photo cloth of her with her little boy. I made a lot of stars and hearts and kites out of the clothing pieces and it took a lot longer than I thought it would.

Joyful Quilter said...

Like you I say they can't afford me. They are not asking for a craft blanket made of two pieces of fabric thrown together, they are asking for a custom quilt. I say my quilts start at $300-$400...that usually sends them running. ;o)

Then...I happy tell them that I would love to teach them how to quilt, for free, so they can make their own quilt...that usually sends them running too. ;op

Kim said...

I just say no. I have four kids and their spouses and nine grandchildren to sew for. I also make every new niece and nephew a quilt. As it is I hardly have time to sew something for myself. MI made the mistake of making a dress for my granddaughter as she napped one day, and now she wants a new one every time she's here! Like some of the others, I have sometimes offered the use of my machine(old one) and lessons, but I've had no takers!

Tanya Quilts in CO said...

I rarely quilt for people for all the reasons you said. I have become such a fabric snob that I don't even look at the fabric at the chain store, the texture is just unpleasant. You were kind to make her coasters!

dianne said...

i call them "guilt quilts" and i decided the last one would be the LAST ONE ... i am getting better and better at not listening after i hear, "I just want something simple - it shouldn't take you too long..." cuz if it is THAT simple and doesn't take TOO long, then the ignoramus who said those words should be doing it, not me ... right?!?

Mollylivebearer said...

I usually tell them how expensive it is just for the fabric. But I recently did hem a pair of pants for a coworker. We make barely above minimum wage and I know she needed it and she is a very nice person so I was happy to do it. But generally I tell them in a roundabout way that they can't afford me. I have offered to teach people to quilt but so far it hasn't happened.

Diane E W said...

I have given quilts to all of my family, the quilts are used and loved. I made the quilts to used and loved. I have become the "Memory Quilt Lady" because here lately I have made many quilts for friends, strangers and co-workers out of their loved ones clothing. I enjoy making the quilts, do I charge enough, absolutely not, but the look on their face when they see the quilt for the first time is PRICELESS. My price includes fabric and then a charge for making the quilt top and a I charge the same E2E fee for quilting (I'm a longarmer) for quilting. I buy all fabric from a quilt store and if I happen to get a deal along the way I keep what I saved. Making and giving a family treasure gives me pleasure. I have turned down a few people's request because I just didn't think they would appreciate it.

Sinta Renee said...

That was a good question Kim. I like the response comments. It is a rare moment for me to say yes to a request. But I did just finish a quilt that was a request. They paid for the kit and the LAQ. My charge for it was to purchase another kit for me. I was happy with that.

Deb said...

I normally say no, or explain to them how much it would actually cost for me to make them a quilt or other item. In most cases they will thn not ask that I make them anything. Those that don't quilt, don't realize how expensive material, quilting, and your labor is, once you explain to them how much it will cost, they normally decide they don't want a quilt any longer.

Frances Campbell said...

Wonderful question. I was asked to do a memory quilt last week. I replied that I was very busy and to speak to me in the new year -2014 -and that they had better plan on giving me a year to do it. She then spoke of spring anniversaries. We'll see what 2014 brings. I do memory quilts for friends who have lost loved ones and that is so satisfying.If I get my fabric costs from those I am happy. I do not think non quilters have any remote idea of the dollar or time cost. I loved the person who quotes the $20.00/hour price. For small repairs (ie. zippers, which I hate) I pass along the name of someone who does that for a living saying she would love their business. ;~}
Great discussion ladies. It is amazing how similar our thoughts are.

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