Commission Question

**post updated to include photos of finished pillow**

A friend has commissioned me to make a sweet little patchwork pillow for a toddler. This is the first of four blocks, all centered around a fussy cut image. I’m planning on sashing the blocks with a light green, framing the blocks with solid pink and then embroidering the little girl’s name and probably adding some matching and contrasting running stitches. I’ve enjoyed the commission process–my friend told me what she was thinking, I put together some images and pulled some fabric, she let me know which ones she likes and I’ve been given free reign from there. The challenge is to figure out how to charge her for the work. I think when all is said and done it will be about $15 worth of supplies (although that is only an estimate–some fabric I’m using was $17/yard and other fabric was only $7/yard) and probably 5 hours of labor. Even at a modest $10/hour for labor this will be a $65 dollar cushion cover. There is no way I can charge my friend $65.

I sewed some draft dodgers for my sister-in-law who is a graphic designer this winter. She bought the fabric, I kept track of how much time I spent making them and then she did the same amount of graphic design in exchange. The barter felt like a good exchange–I was happy to make the draft dodgers for her and I felt like my skills were honored without having to put a monetary price on something that I primarily do as a hobby.

So what do others do? I don’t want to charge her only the price of the fabric, because I do want to acknowledge that time was spent making the cushion cover, but I also don’t want to charge her an hourly rate. Any advice in the comments would be great. Thanks in advance.

Here is the finished pillow.

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6 Responses to Commission Question

  1. Angelina says:

    It’s really tough when you’re making for friends. I have no problem charging an hourly rate for my time if it’s something I’m selling on etsy or at a craft sale, but it feels strange when it’s a friend. Maybe halve the hourly rate and consider that a ‘friends & family” rate of sorts? The barter system sounds ideal though. Does this friend have some skills she could trade?

    I LOVE the block, by the way. So very sweet!

  2. mslinder says:

    Thanks, Angelina, for the comments on the block and the sound advice. I even looked at etsy and was surprised at how wide the range of prices was for basically the same crafted item. Luckily this friend does have some skills she can trade which I think is the way I will go–but I’m curious to know how others handle this.

    • Angelina says:

      Yes, the wide variety of prices on etsy is pretty staggering sometimes. I don’t really know what that’s about, either people are much faster sewers than I am, or they undercut themselves. I have a friend that I feel always prices her stuff way too low, because by the time you average it out, she’s basically giving her time away. I feel like my time is worth something, so I’m going to charge for it. Then that also gives me some wiggle room if I want to have a sale in my shop. Etsy’s blog has a really good series called the art of pricing, if you want to give it a look. It’s obviously geared more toward pricing things for a shop, rather than for your friends, but there might be some insights found there that could translate over.

      I’m happy to see that you worked out a barter with your friend for the cushion. That solution just seems so ideal to me. 🙂

  3. Lexi says:

    I can’t be of any help, as I’ve never made anything that someone paid for, but I do want to say that the pillow is completely adorable!

  4. mslinder says:

    Thanks, Lexi! I just checked out your blog, and I have to say that I love the title!

  5. Rachaeldaisy says:

    Pricing your own creative work is such a hard thing. I haven’t sold any of my sewing so I can’t be much help but I just wanted to say your cushion is absolutely delightful! The barter idea is a good one!

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