What is your job worth per hour?

Every so often I get a phone call from a potential client who wants to know the price of a custom outfit. Today one such call came in asking about making a custom/cheapo cheapo scrub top with sort sleeves and V-neck.

I quoted her “one hour labor” at my normal rate since she had a pattern already. That’s when things went ugly.  She said “Whoa, I’m not paying that!” Then I did mention that the days of a seamstress sewing from scratch for $5 an hour are long gone. I said there are plenty of scrub tops out there ready made that would be cheaper and she answered “But I don’t like none of them”. OK, fair enough. I explained that “from scratch” clothes are pricey and usually they are for people of hard-to-fit shapes or rich folks who want that one-of-a-kind signature/make their friends jealous piece. That’s when she said “I’ll just make it myself” and hung up.

What I really want to ask is “What did you expect to pay?” but don’t have the guts.

Then it gets one to thinking…wait a minute…when I am at a beauty salon getting my hair worked on/dyed I am charged $60 an hour. If I book a much needed sports massage an hour costs $60…ditto for facials. If you check this website it lists 20 jobs that pay $20 per hour.

Now $20 per hour is $41,000 a year that is if you actually chalk up 40 hours a week according to this website. Self-employed service personal don’t always have 40 hours a week booked with back-to-back on time considerate clients so that yearly figure can be quite a bit lower.

Some jobs do better than others and include full medical/dental coverage on the job and some for life. A nurse earning $35 an hour to start in our area has to add in all her medical and dental benefits which brings her to over $45 an hour. She is not paying for rental space or her supplies or buying new machines/needles at her place of business and overtime is optional.

The one cool thing about sewing for my brides is the fact that when they get my quote for labor, they breathe a sign of relief and say, “Wow I thought it would be double that!” So I know some folks think I am a bargain besides turning out a quality product.

For the gals who call and moan about the hourly wage and claim they can do it themselves…here are 3 little words…”HAVE AT IT”.

One of my regular clients told me that during the summer she made her teenage daughter a simple dress and it took her over 15 hours…yes it can, so when I charge her for a lined dress that took me 5-6 hours to fit perfectly she knows the difference and is happy to write the check.

Next time…the last bride of the year…ahhhhh

Here’s a little snippet to tease you…what is this attached to?

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4 Responses to What is your job worth per hour?

  1. I sew mostly garments for myself, my husband and occasionally for friends. My latest project is a plain white, Kona cotton, long-sleeved camp shirt. Nothing fancy, but I do not have a single white shirt in my closet. I remarked to my husband that the shirt pattern is one I have made countless times and the fabric is not a fine apparel fabric, but that I am taking the same care making this shirt as if it were. Four weeks ago, my very nice neighbor across the street asked me if I would hem her husband’s pj bottoms for him and I said I would. She sent over three pair, one of which had just been chopped off about 2-1/2 inches shorter than he wanted. I shortened and hemmed them, adding a coordinating band of shirting fabric to the chopped off pair. She called me in a panic asking me to help her with the hems of some of the table-cloths for her Thanksgiving dinner. Then her husband asked If I would shorten and hem a pair of his jeans and she wanted me to fix the tie in her robe. She took me to lunch as “payment” for the work I did for her and then asked me if I could be her go to person for all her little sewing needs. My response was that I’d rather not (I had thought about it as I knew that was coming). I told her there were three people in the area who were professionals at alterations, etc. and that was how they made their living. In this economy, I could not take their income away from them.

  2. mrsmole says:

    Oh Patricia! What a perfect answer…so devilishly clever! No one needs neighbors like that! My neighbors use me occasionally, they pay me in Diet Pepsi but one year my hubby hurt his back and could not take down our Christmas lights outside and the neighbor took them down in exchange for hemming his pants…Voila’

  3. theresa says:

    This is a topic often discussed in weaving circles. What to charge for a well handwoven item.
    Honestly, I think many underprice their labor and that likely goes for professional seamstresses
    too. The only thing I could possibly consider I do on a professional level is poop patrol and we all know that is terribly undervalued, until, of course, you step in it…;)
    Patricia, that IS a perfect answer!

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