Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why handmade is “so expensive”

 This is probably the best article I've ever seen. I decided to share with you. Original Article Here.

“$70 for a t-shirt?!”
“I love your website, but everything on it is overpriced!”
“Your stuff is too expensive.”
“Are you rich or something?”
“I could make that for $5.”
“Sorry, but that’s a rip-off.” “$80 for a hoodie? You’re not Gucci.”
I’ve heard it all. At first it hurt my feelings and made me worry that my prices were too high. Now it only baffles me that someone would say something so rude. This is my job. It may not be like your job. I don’t have a boss or regular hours, and I don’t have to drive to work or even get dressed for it (heh), but this is how I pay the bills.

I’m always tempted to asked these people, “How about I come down to where you work and tell your boss you’re overpaid?” Because that’s essentially what they’re saying.

But I’m too polite to do that.

Instead I decided to write this article to shed some light on the work that all of us that run a handmade business are doing… including all the behind-the-scenes stuff you probably never even think about. (And that some of us don’t charge for.)
Sure, some people will still be rude doucheballoons. That’s life. But maybe I can just make a few people think, “Oh, I hadn’t realized how much work goes into that!”

Step 1: The design phase
I sketch most of my ideas before I start cutting. Sometimes it’s completely spontaneous. I just start doodling and see where it takes me. Other times I have exactly what it will look like all planned out, and I want to get it down on paper so I don’t forget anything.

It’s usually just a quick scribble of pen or pencil on paper. Other times I take more time. I’ll add color with colored pencils or do the sketch 4 or 5 times before nailing down a particular design.
Since most of my sketches are quick, we’ll say the total time spent sketching one piece is 5 minutes.

As you can see, my sewing skills do not translate to pencil and paper skills.
Sketching: 5 minutes

Step 2: The drafting phase
Unlike a commercial outfit, I don’t have each of my patterns drawn up in every single size.  For custom orders, I redraft my pattern each time to match the customer’s measurements.
Likewise, even for non-custom pieces, I don’t have patterns for each possible combination of styles I make. For example, I have a single t-shirt pattern that I customize depending on whether or not I’m making a tank top, a hoodie, or a tee. I don’t have one scoopneck pattern, one v-neck pattern, and one crewneck pattern. I have one pattern for a t-shirt that I change each time I use it, depending on what I’m making.

Random tip: I like using old Tyvek envelopes for patterns because it won't rip!
This shirt is pretty simple, so it only took about 15 minutes

Step 3: The cutting phase

This is another step that varies from piece to piece. My fairytale coats take at least 2 hours to cut because there are so many pieces. A simple tube top might take me 20 minutes. A zip-up hoodie takes an hour or more.

Start snipping!
Again, this one is pretty simple, so it only took 30 minutes

Step 4: The sewing phase
View the rest of the article here.

 Wasn't that great?!
Now, the next time I hear someone say I price my hats too high... Or they would rather have someone else make it for them for free... remember, this is my job. This is how I pay my rent, my bills and my doggie's food. A lot of time and effort goes into every single piece. Supporting handmade means.. you support the artist. Not just the idea of handmade.


  1. Thank you thank you THANK YOU!! What a great post! People also have to consider that they are getting a "one-of-a-kind" item! And the fabric is most likely higher quality than those found at Walmart. I know I'd rather support the artist than make a rich greedy jerk get even richer.

    Well said! :D I'm going to go to your shops right now!

  2. While I agree with this article, I think you should have only posted a small portion of it and then linked back to the original article's website. Posting the entire article makes it unnecessary for readers to visit the author's website and robs the author of revenue and business and gives you revenue from ads from her work. Since you complained of something similar recently, I thought you might understand. Unless you obtained the author's permission to post the entire article and photos, in which case, ignore this post.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Anonymous, Thank you so much for bring this to my attention. I wish you were not anonymous so that I could talk to you directly.. I would probably be a little more friendly! You bring up some very valid points. Next time I won't post a whole article. I also noticed the link didn't go directly to the article either.. Oooops! Anyways, I fixed the post, so it cuts off to a nice cliff hanger. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention! Hope you continue reading! xoxo

  5. i loved this. thank you for sharing.

  6. THANK YOU! I recently started a small clothing shop on Etsy, and I have been so worried about charging more than $5 for items lol! Yes, of course artists deserve to be paid for their time, I think it is so much more time consuming than most people realize. Also, most clothing sold by major retailers is sewn by workers in horrible conditions and paid next to nothing, so the retailers can offer competitive pricing. I would much rather pay more for something and have a clear conscience ^_^
    <3 Melanie at

  7. very good post... i also have a shop and always worried about what i should price things, but i also price on how much work goes into it, even though i do make upcycled clothing, and sometimes could cost alot to buy clothing and make it into something new, but i def liked this article, thank you, and your prices are reasonable, considering how much work it does take to make those hats... and there cute:)
    jen @,

  8. Thanks for sharing that article but their will always be people who won't understand so you just smile and got on to your next creation - living in rainbow land. :) Your hats are so adorable.

  9. Great post :) You do amazing work!


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