I decided to add a FAQ tab at the top of my blog. Maybe it will satisfy some curious minds, and save me a little time on email. Or it could spark discussion, who knows?
Q: Are you a reenactor?
A: No. I’m a costumer that makes historical outfits and attends themed parties and other fun things, but I do not participate in Civil War reenactments, work at Renaissance Fairs, or volunteer at any Living History events.
Q: Are your costumes for sale?
A: Occasionally I will sell something I no longer wear or fit, but in general I am posting pictures to share, not to sell.
Q: If they’re not for sale, what’s with the “prices” at the bottom of your project posts?
A: That is a tally of the materials costs for a finished outfit (not including labor, of course). Unless I’m creating something extravagant, such as a silk dress, I prefer to stay under $100 for each project. Adding things up at the end keeps me accountable. The tally usually includes the fabric, lining, buttons, lace, pattern, etc.
Q: But why do we need to know how much money you spent?
A: When I started sewing in college I did not attempt to make anything “fancy.” I assumed that upper class garments made out of quality materials must be out of my price range. I hope to encourage other fledgling costumers by showing that it can be possible to make something nice without always spending hundreds of dollars (especially if you’re good at finding bargains, sales, and coupons). The hours spent are another thing entirely . . .
Q: Can I hire you to make something for me?
A: Sorry, no. I have a full-time job and a small child. If I have free time I am playing with my son, or sewing for myself when he’s asleep. Additionally, I do not have experience drafting for other people’s bodies, and you really would be better off hiring a local professional.
Q: Can you give me an idea of how much it would cost to hire a seamstress?
A: Please remember that commissioning a custom item will cost you far more than the usual ready-made clothes you may be used to buying in a store. You cannot get couture for prêt-à-porter prices. For a commission you will be paying an hourly wage x the number of hours required to make an outfit + the cost of materials. For example, a Victorian ballgown bodice and skirt with hand-sewn embellishments may take 30 hours, including the time spent washing, ironing, patterning, and cutting out the fabric and lining. If someone charges $20 an hour and you choose $200 worth of fabric and trim, you might pay $800, although the cost will vary depending on the person and project.
Q: So I can hire you for $20 an hour?
A: Nice try, but no. And I’m not implying that $20/hour is what you should pay for a commission. Each seamstress or tailor sets their own rate.
Q: Do you make any money off this blog?
A: Nope. Sometimes you might see ads at the bottom of a page, but that’s because I’m too cheap to pay for the upgraded version of WordPress.
Ha! This was fabulous!! I loved all of your answers. I especially liked what you said about the prices and why you post them. I like to let people know that you do not need to spend $25.00+ a yard on silk to have a fabulous outfit. You just need to be vigilant at stores…thrift or retail…use your coupons, and take your time! Costuming isn’t a flash in the pan hobby that you can “have all the things now”. It is a commitment, and takes time. Your answers were perfection!
Thank you Gina! It definitely takes time! I don’t remember which costumer I heard it from, but someone once said, “You can have it cheap, fast, or look nice, but you can only have two out of the three.”
Perhaps I should have also mentioned that one of the ways we end up with a ridiculous stash of fabric is if we spot a bargain and go, “Ooh, I might need that later!”
Oh indeed! I was thinking that same thing just this afternoon. No, I don’t need the light tan silk curtain panels that are 16.99 for the two, but at that price for silk, they can sit in my stash until I find something to make!!!