Monday, June 8, 2009


“Life is just like a box of chocolate…” I should change the name of this post to “La Novela”…really, I need to laugh about it, and I’m past the point of being mad so there is nothing left but to laugh.

After trying to please the client and making all the changes, I realized that it was an impossible task [yes, there were more changes she wanted]. I had to end the processes, it was taking too long and as it was, I was loosing all around.

In conclusion, I made the decision of not charging, even suggested returning the deposit. I know, that is not the “norm”, but in this case, I just need it the matter resolved and move on.

She was gracious not to accept the deposit, and offer to “pay something” for my time… That was not acceptable to me, I rather her having it as a “gift”. I was not about to undercharge for my service.

So here I am, taking it all in and trying to see what road to take next. I had being re-thinking the “made to order” business for a while now. Clients either don’t know or just don’t care what it takes to have something made; the time, care and patience need it. Some one that makes clothing, either for themselves or others knows all the work that it takes. Some start sewing their own clothes to have better made items or a better fit. At times, you could “knockoff” an expensive out-fit for much less, but if you factor the time you had put into it, how much would it be? What would you charge?

I could make a suit for myself and would pay only for the materials used, but what about the time it had taken me to make it?

These are things that most clients don’t understand. Ready to wear clothing, even the most expensive, would be done faster and more cost effective. Think about all the special sewing machines that would do just some specific task, button holes, seam bidding, overlocks just for knits that would clean finish and sew at the same time, hemming… the list would go on and on.

All this, had to be done by hand when you do “Made to order” or just some thing for you.

To be honest, I this time I’m not sure what road to take. Yes I know I had had some great experiences in the past with most clients, but this are few and far in between.

Maybe I have some samples all ready made so clients could choose the one they like, they could see it, touch it maybe try on…

Maybe, I’d open a cyber store…

Maybe, maybe…
Some thing would come up.

I know I have said a lot, PLEASE!!, what do you think?


Gorgeous Things said...

Oh boy, have you hit on a common problem! I have a student who has gone through the same thing in the last few weeks. She made custom tops for a co-worker, and after she had delivered them and the woman had worn them, she brought them back to Camille to "return" them. She no longer wanted them! Poor Camille was flabbergasted.

Are you a member of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals? If so, check out the message boards there. They are full of people in the same boat.

The problem as I see it is that the American consumer sees clothing as disposable, and he or she is used to taking something home, wearing it, and returning it for no good reason. It's really aggravating. It's part of the reason I don't do custom anymore.

BCN - UNIQUE designer patterns said...

Querida Cruz.- este post lo podría haber escrito yo y con tus mismas palabras. Lo que tienes que tener bien claro es que ni tu, ni yo, ni ningún profesional tenemos el problema. El problema lo tienen las clientas que son iguales en todo el Mundo y se aprovechan de que todavía hay personas a las que nos gusta nuestra profesión. Te podría contar decenas de casos con nombres y apellidos, pero generalizando te diré que yo en la actualidad ya no las entiendo. Aunque suene "fuerte", las clientas, sin excepción son todas unas "brujas", cuanto más ricas son más tacañas, cuanto más tontas, gordas y feas se creen divinas, etc. etc. Si les haces un vestido divino no tienen ni una palabra de agradecimiento, pero en cuanto algo no es de su parecer, no dudan en decirlo y además sin educación.

Yo me estoy planteando seriamente dejar de hacer ropa a medida. En mi caso, y creo que también hablo por muchos compañeros, no vale la pena desperdiciar el talento vistiendo cuerpos imposibles y sebosos para no tener a cambio ninguna compensacion.

Tu tienes talento y buen hacer, así que cualquier iniciativa que emprendas tendrá exito, seguro.

Un abrazo desde España y hasta pronto.


Ann Made Studio said...

What an unfortunate experience. But sometimes it's these experiences that help re-direct our paths in life.We only live once, and we don't get another chance at it, if your path needs to go in another direction,you may as well be doing something that will make you happy - and - provide a living. You are a very talented person and whatever path you choose I believe will be very successful. I wish you all the best :)

Anonymous said...

I ditto the comment made by Paco.

Hugs Els

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is painful to see the clothing that is worn in public: ill fitting, poorly made, unflattering, and our urge is to make that person more beautiful or handsome. But our culture today is not educated to the art and craft of dressmaking or tailoring. They want so much for so little. So what we offer and what our clients want is not the same thing. Our clients are geared to the RTW experience.

When I bought the Stitchery I intended to do custom work on the side but after talking with potential clients I realized that they wanted to come in and try on different styles off the rack. I would have to have a number of styles in as many sizes and colors as possible. And my main competition would be WalMart! So I went to WalMart and sat in a corner watching ladies come out of the dressing rooms, looking into the mirrors with dissatisfaction written on their faces, and then they would buy the clothing because of the price. Yes, I had tears, sitting there hidden in between the jeans! Now, I know if I want to make money, alterations is the only way to go. I would have more work than I can handle. Fortunately, I am not that desperate at the moment.

Good luck, and perhaps you can continue to design for a select few clients with whom you enjoy working? Exclusivity is very attractive and might be the best way to build your brand.

You are a very talented designer and I hope you will find many expert seamstresses to do the stitching.

Hugs to you!
Mary Beth

Summerset said...

Oh, I believe we've all had those soap opera clients, I know I have! Do not let this discourage you - believe me, it is not your lack of talent or skill, you have plenty of both! It is a lack of education and manners on the part of the client. That said, yes, it might be time to rethink the direction you are taking your skills and talents. It is hard to balance such a passion with the reality of having to make a living, too.

I don't do a lot of custom for clients anymore, but I would suggest that if you continue that you draw up a written contract that is signed by both of you detailing the job to be done, completion dates, and costs for any extra services, such as redesigns, etc. You are providing an important service and a "contract" may indicate to the client you mean business and that they should, too. I doubt they would make business deals the way they deal with us at times and if they do most people would not do business with them.

joannely said...

I do wedding alterations full-time and brides can be plenty nasty too talking down to you like a servant and expecting you take in the side seams tighter and tighter until the very hour of the ceremony. Even if they cannot sit down in the must be tight! Other regular clients want you to hide their bumps and lumps but refuse to wear proper undergarments. I want to scream when I see rich women in my studio with bras held together with safety pins or bra extender elastic panels...yuck! How well can a custom garment look with nasty saggy underwear or some wear nothing underneath!
In the end we all must decide what we love and what we feel valued in and follow that path.Good luck in your decision you talented artist!!!

Kate S said...

Well I can only speak as a VERY basic home sewer , BUT I know after offering to make a dress for a BFF (who is probably the only person I would have made it for anyway) for materials cost only, that there is no way I could compete with any mainstream clothing manufacteror (if I had any allusions of producing a clothing line, not that I do...). But then again thats what they do, they "manufacture" the same thing time and time again, creating cookie cutter garments - blown up on a computer program maybe?- that are ill fitting. YOU are creating work of art, things that are designed/tweaked to fit the individual person, not a mass determined sizing average. I hope you can keep following your dream as long as you can! Don't give up as you provide so much inspiration for the rest of us !:)

The Sewing and Knitting Loft said...

I agree with Summerset completely. The signing of a detailed contract would definitely let clients know what is expected of you, and what is expected of THEM. If you are in a business to make custom garments, then part of your business is charging for changes desired by the client who accepted the original design in the first place. I think if you had had a contract for the beige pant suite, the lady and her friends would not have happened. You do beautiful work, and I wish you the best in whatever choices you make.


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