Friday, October 28, 2011

The $485 dress - Vogue 1228

My phone line was finally fixed this afternoon after being down for 10 days. I started this blog post 2 weeks ago and it's been lurking in cyber space patiently waiting to be finished. So here it is. Now I have some serious blog reading to catch up on. It's going to be a big weekend!

- Vena Cava for my (slimmer) friend Emily -

I am always being told by my non-sewing friends that I should start sewing garments...for other people...for money. Only other sewists, can truly appreciate how ridiculous this suggestion is. I can fully appreciate that there are professional seamstresses that can and do make money from sewing for others. For the amateur, untrained, hobby seamstress, like myself, sewing one-offs would seriously be an unprofitable exercise.

I have just finished sewing up Vena Cava's Vogue 1228 for a friend. (A slightly slimmer friend). I did not do it for money. I did it because she's a fabulous friend, who is terrible at spending money on herself, finds clothes shopping a nightmare and is wonderfully kind enough to look after my little boy for me each Friday, while I go out and actually make some money.

Just for my own amusement and her curiosity, I have 'costed' this dress. This exercise has reinforced three things for me:
1) One of the reasons I sew - So that I can wear clothes I like for a fraction of what they would cost to buy.
2) Why I will never sew for others. (Extremely close friends and family excepted)
3) How bloomin' expensive it must be for a non-sewing person to get something custom made.

So how much would it cost a person starting from scratch? I have randomly come up with a figure of $30/hour for sewing time. (Obviously, I'm a very slow sewer. A professional would be much quicker than me.) Still, my friends keep suggesting that I, a non-professional, should do it for money...he he he!

Dress Costing

Fabric: 3m of silk from Spotlight $30/m  =  $90  (I got it on sale for $54. I also only used 2.1m so have enough left over for an additional blouse. This means I only used $38 worth of the fabric)

Vogue Pattern = $30 (I borrowed this one from my sister who bought it on sale = $0)

Zipper: $3

Cotton: ($2.50)  (I used stuff I already owned - extra big roll. Have allowed $1.50.)

Sewing machine needle: $1.50

Toile fabric: 2.5m calico = $12.50 (I used fabric off a 17m roll I bought at a Trash & Treasure stall for $2 = 30 cents)

Time: Cutting, sewing, fitting & deconstructing toile = 2 hours x $30 = $60

Pattern placement (this takes time!), cutting and machine sewing dress...+ unpicking! = 9 x $30 = $270

Hand sewing hems = 0.5 x $30 = $15

= $484.50
(My gosh! Profitable? No Sir-ee!)

How much did it cost me to make?
= $43

Pattern Review

I had read in other people's reviews that the neckline needed to be changed to ensure it covered even the most skimpiest of bras. To alleviate this problem, I added an additional 1cm to both the left and right side of the neckline. I also omitted the cuffs and finished off the sleeves with a rolled hem.


  1. Very interesting exercise! People have said the same thing to me and I totally agree with your viewpoint. I have sewn for friends - like you, for fun and fabric costs only. It makes you appreciate why good professional seamstress/tailor work really should cost a bomb!

  2. This dress looks fabulous!!! Great accessorizing. I hope that your friend loves it.

    Interesting cost cost exercise I never want to do is the cost of my fabric "inventory".

  3. Lovely dress - I agree with you, handmade for me is good value, for others, it isn't worth it. I really hate making things for others. The extra anxiety over making something nice and especially when it get to hems and handstitching, I get cranky as I'd rather be sewing for me :) Happy weekend

  4. It's a good trade - a great dress (love the fabrric) for child minding services. I had this conversation with a work buddy who wants me to sew for her - she can't understand why I don't want to take a commcercial pattern, sew something and then try to sell it. Where do you even start with an explanation...

  5. This is a great gift; I hope your friend loves it. I agree with what you and others said about valuing your sewing. Because clothing IS something you can go and buy in the store for fairly cheap, I think most non-sewists can't appreciate the true value of a homemade (we'll say "custom made") garment. I hope to remember that when I look at handmade items which are outside my skill set (pottery, paintings, jewelry, etc.).

  6. This looks absolutely fabulous; and your lucky friend is going to love it! (if not, you have a beautiful new dress for yourself, hehe :))
    I've been through that whole thing with friends too...
    For a start it is actually illegal to make things using a commercial pattern to sell as your own, one would have to develop one's own patterns... and as well sewing is something I enjoy doing and it would be stressful and lose a lot of its enjoyment if one had to make a living from it... Apart from my fantasy dream of sewing for an actual couture house. I would looove to be doing this!

  7. Gorgeous dress! You were a gem to make this for your friend.

  8. I'm so glad to hear those neckline changes work!

    Those few colleagues of mine that know I sew also make these crazy kinds of suggestions. One lovely friend has even gone so far as to tell me how much I could sell my clothes for, which is embarrassing given how long it takes me to make anything and what a poor return those figures would represent! And lately a colleague getting married on a budget was annoyed to discover that I "could have altered her wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses", as it wasn't cheap for her to get it done professionally ha! (Luckily she'd already had the work done, phew)

  9. The dress looks great, and I hope your friend loves it.

  10. What an amazing fabric choice for this dress. It looks spectacular! I hope your friend loves it.

  11. Stunning dress. I was going to buy this pattern in my last batch of seven from BMV but didn't. Definitely will purchase in the next round. I love the way you've used the fabric.

  12. Very interesting - great dress - the perfect fabric - hope your friend loves it. It really all comes down to the fact that non sewists have NO IDEA about the time involved - they just see the end product and none of the blood,sweat and tears - sure, if you're a professional - it's all second nature and you're fast and efficient, but the rest of us enjoy the process of making something special and learning new things. Sewing for others (apart from good friends and family) is a chore - I usually say, "No, I can't make it for you , but I can teach you how - it's really easy!!!!" ha - that sends them running!!

  13. Love this--both the dress and the cost analysis. It drives me insane when people tell me I should sew for money. I tell them each dress would cost $800 and nobody would buy that (or if they did, they'd be so high maintenance it would definitely not be worth it).

  14. Awesome, love what you've done with the print! I'm putting mine together now and just having a look at what others have done first..

  15. Lover your version, your friend is very lucky!