Author Topic: Contract Sewing Jobs  (Read 36259 times)

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Offline Kara

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Contract Sewing Jobs
« on: October 27, 2008, 02:57:46 PM »
This morning, I was perusing the local Craigslist for sewing related things as I do periodically. Sometimes, you can find boxes of vintage patterns, or a stash of fabric, or even a great machine at a bargain price, but I noticed a job posting for at home sewing scrubs and boxer, paid 'per piece'.

I emailed the company and inquired about the pay, and here is what they quoted me:

Basic V Neck Scrub Top with one pocket.  2.25 per piece

Scrub Pant with drawstring 2.25 per piece.

Boxer Short with button fly and 3-4 needle stitching around the elastic
band.  3.25

I'm pretty surprised that anyone would sew for them for less than minimum wage, and the catch was..they supplied fabric but the contractor would supply thread and elastic, so that cost would come out of the price.

Has anyone ever done something like this? And is this the average low-pay that sewing skills are worth? I've periodically seen other ads like this but I have never responded and I am just curious if this is the norm.


Offline LauraS.

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 04:14:36 PM »
I've accepted a few sewing jobs off of CL.  Mostly they were from folks just looking for a seamstress and most were for upholstery and or cushions, costumes, alterations etc.  I took in sewing for a "designer" who supplied all fabric/notions, her prices were much higher than the per piece you mention.  I did this a couple of years ago when I was getting back into garment sewing.  When  I completed the first round of garments for her, I went to her with a list of my prices moving forward.  There was just too much handwork and time invested to make a dress for $15-20 or a jacket for $25.  I also charged her for pretreating the fabric and for layout/cutout.  Being the perfectionist that I am when it comes to sewing, I ultimately decided my time was better spent.  With that said, I received many calls and emails of the sort you mention.  They are most definitely not looking for quality work.  If you want to list an ad on CL, then go for it, then you have the choice to accept the job or not based on your rates.

laura

Offline geeksewing

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 06:14:40 PM »
Basic V Neck Scrub Top with one pocket.  2.25 per piece

Scrub Pant with drawstring 2.25 per piece.

Boxer Short with button fly and 3-4 needle stitching around the elastic
band.  3.25

I'm pretty surprised that anyone would sew for them for less than minimum wage, and the catch was..they supplied fabric but the contractor would supply thread and elastic, so that cost would come out of the price.

I was never tempted, but a friend of mine who was desperate for a job considered one very similar.  Have you seen jobs like the one you mentioned on the last pages of SewNews magazines?  She wanted to sew the bibs.

Besides the amount of time it would take to sew one of these pieces, you should also consider the maintenance costs for your sewing machine and serger, shipping & handling, and the cost of driving to and from the post office or to wherever you need to drop off your finished merchandise.  And let's not forget: she's supplying the needles.  Needles ain't cheap.  In fact, one package of Schmetz is the price of one of those scrub pieces!

In the end, she figured she would not earn much.  The only way she could earn a substantial amount of money--say, to pay her rent--she would need to crank out hundreds of bibs quickly.  She couldn't possibly, she admitted, since she doubted her skill.

The pieces you cited above would need the raw edges serged . . . if you want to sew these pieces super fast.  What kind of company would try to sell scrubs with raw edges?  Perhaps these are the types of scrubs that one would wear once.

Have you considered the pattern pieces?  Once, my ASG group volunteered to make hospital gowns, but it took so #@##$@#% long to sew them up, because the pattern pieces provided were full of mistakes.  Most of the mistakes were not discovered until it came time to sew up the seams.  I'm not going to say what company made the pattern pieces for the hospital gowns.  Needless to say, I will never buy patterns from them or from pattern makers affiliated with them.  We were that upset.

My DH told me that I should never sew for profit.  He told me that my time is worth more than $50 an hour.  I'm a SAHM.

Offline DragonLady

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 06:16:58 PM »
Uhm... be leery of these.

Often, they send you a big box of supplies, you do the work and send it back, then they tell you it isn't "good enough", and they refuse to pay.  In the end, they get free labor.



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Offline Kara

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 08:46:11 PM »
Oh I have no desire to do this, I basically responded out of curiousity, I'm already busy enough with my kids, our company and sewing things for ME to wear. lol, I was just shocked at the price they quoted me! You are right, needles, wear and tear, thread/serging thread, elastic, etc would most likely limit you to NO profit, but assuming you did 2 garments an hour, it would still be around $5. I'm amazed anyone would do this.

The company is local and has a physical location here in my town, Oh..he also said I'd have to draft my own pattern based on a 'sample' they gave me, lol, so they aren't even providing the pattern, just a bolt of fabric.

Most of the sewing jobs I see are alterations or drapes, I do some alterations for people, but there is always some friend of family member asking me to do it, so I don't charge them

Which reminds me, my In laws are coming for Thanksgiving and they usually bring me several things to hem or fix! ;) I'll have my work cut out for me in a few weeks. :)

Offline geeksewing

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2008, 09:28:26 PM »
lol, I was just shocked at the price they quoted me! You are right, needles, wear and tear, thread/serging thread, elastic, etc would most likely limit you to NO profit, but assuming you did 2 garments an hour, it would still be around $5. I'm amazed anyone would do this.



Me too.

Offline Linda Dean

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2008, 03:41:58 PM »
I did this type of sewing for a number of years.  I made aprons for restaurants, made uniforms, made scrubs, made boxers, and on and on.  You only make money if you have industrial equipment and attachments.   I learned to put pockets on without pinning.  It is a whole different mind set of sewing.  It is a great job for a stay at home mom which I was at the time.  I went to the sewing room when my kids left for school and sewed until they got home.  Then sewed again when they went to bed.  Frankly I loved it.  There are days when I wish I was still doing it.  Once I made 24 tuxedos in 30 days and you would be horrified at how little I made.  It was for my daughter's high school drill team.
Now I own a contract embroidery business and all I do is sit at a computer doing accounting and paper work all day and night.
Linda

Offline costumecarol

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 07:30:46 PM »
A colleague of mine went to work for a clothing designer.  (We don't live in CA or NY)  Designer had a heck of a time finding any contractor anywhere who would sew less than "X" gross of any one item.  I heard she eventually found someone relatively local who employed some of her own relatives to do this kind of small scale work. 

I can't imagine what her relative were paid. 

Our local Freecycle has scrubs galore.   You couldn't sell scrubs for the prices quoted at a yard sale.

 

Offline Kathleen Fasanella

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2008, 03:57:40 PM »
My DH told me that I should never sew for profit.  He told me that my time is worth more than $50 an hour.  I'm a SAHM.
Lucky you. I charge $50 an hour for pattern making and I'm not a SAHM. Out of the $50 an hour, I have to cover rent, utilities, business expenses on my 2,000 sqft workspace. In the end, I don't earn $50 an hour for all the hours I put in. Still, it keeps me sane. I don't know what I'd do at home but then I don't have children that require tending and DH is very low maintenance and readily overlooks undone household chores lol!
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Offline agiflower

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2009, 02:04:54 AM »
To Kara... I live in Canada.. and we have lot's of contrtuct sewing going on in this area... I signed up for one about 10 years ago.. I made jackets. They cut the fabric and they gave me thread to sew. not needles. and they paid $8.50 /jacket.. naturally I stopped making them. I made one jacket in one and half hour. so... I worked below minimum wage.

Offline fzxdoc

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2009, 02:19:04 PM »
Thanks for the info, agiflower.  That's quite a low wage for sewing a jacket, I would think!  No wonder you got out of it. 

I really enjoyed your comments, Linda, about your contract sewing experience.  You really made a business out of it, and the fact that you liked what you were doing made it a good job at the time.  But making 20 tuxedos in 30 days!  Yikes!  That must have been a labor of love, since you didn't make much profit. 

Kathryn

Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2009, 06:28:46 PM »
Now I own a contract embroidery business and all I do is sit at a computer doing accounting and paper work all day and night.
Linda

People go into the embroidery business thinking it'll be a great creative outlet. :rotfl: 
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Offline MKSRetired

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2009, 07:02:33 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm new to this site but found it while Googling "contract sewing".  I'm helping some ex-students in Austin, Texas who are starting an online scrubs business.  They have a Chinese manufacturer lined up to make their scrubs but would prefer to have them made in America.  They are willing to provide the material/thread/elastic waistbands and pay $3.00 for the tops (Raglan sleeves) and $3.50 for the bottoms.   The plan would be to contract for 200 sets to begin with.  A logo would be sewn on the sleeve.   Does anyone have any information that could help?
Thanks.

Offline Karen Roth

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2009, 04:27:20 PM »
Hi Guys,

I'm new to this site but found it while Googling "contract sewing".  I'm helping some ex-students in Austin, Texas who are starting an online scrubs business.  They have a Chinese manufacturer lined up to make their scrubs but would prefer to have them made in America.  They are willing to provide the material/thread/elastic waistbands and pay $3.00 for the tops (Raglan sleeves) and $3.50 for the bottoms.   The plan would be to contract for 200 sets to begin with.  A logo would be sewn on the sleeve.   Does anyone have any information that could help?
Thanks.

Let me get this straight - for PR, integrity, whatever purposes, they want their merchandise made in America.  But they want to pay more like low paid overseas wages.  How long do you think it would take you to make a pair of these?  Don't know if you're using industrial equipment or how fast you'd be on a production basis, but lets say an hour for both pieces.  That's $6.50/hr. not counting wear and tear on your equipment.  What's the minimum wage in your state???  
If you're looking to make money in a sewing related area you could probably work at Joann's and come out ahead (not to mention the corporation would have to pay half your ss tax vs. being an independent sewing contractor).    This is why so many jobs have left the U.S.  Manufacturers want it made for less so they can maximize profits (which of course is what they're in business to do), we want to pay less,  even though it means losing American jobs, we adjust our buying habits to perpetuate this system and compalin about companies making all the money while we lose jobs and can't afford to pay more.  It's a vicious cycle. 

It's good that they see the value of promoting Made in Ameria.  But they are missing some key elements of what that means.

If you just want to help them out and do it on a gratis basis and the bit of money is a bit of a bonus go for it.  But I sure wouldn't look at it as a job with reasonable wages unless you are incredibly fast and they're also going to cover wear and tear on machinery cost of running them or providing them.  ANd what kind of turnaround are they looking at on 200 sets?  I think maybe they need to do some more research.....
« Last Edit: December 19, 2009, 04:35:36 PM by movinon »
Karen

Offline Kathleen Fasanella

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2010, 06:44:35 PM »
Hi Karen, I *totally* agree with your sentiments. I thought it a bit much that he said the students "were willing to provide elastics" etc.

That said, if it's all on the up and up, this isn't a bad gig. That presumes of course the stuff is made of good patterns that sew up together well, they're marked and bundled properly etc and one has a good machine. Industrial is better, not for speed but for handling purposes. The only question I have is about the neckline finish. If it's a band, that would be a hassle without the right set up and it'd take two passes to finish it off.

Have you sat down and sewn a plain elastic waist pant with no interruptions? It takes maybe ten minutes (cf together, then cb, inseam, side seams, 2 hems, join elastic, insert and sew waistband in one pass). You could do at least six of those in an hour for an hourly wage of $18. That's not enough to tempt many of us to do what's considered to be monotonous work but it's an option for people who can't work outside the home. If it were me, I'd sew a sample and provide a quote which they could then take or leave.
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Offline simplespy01

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Sewing /Contract work
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2010, 10:10:18 PM »
Hey guys, I am new to this site and I am also interested in what to charge for sewing work.  I have an old friend who has a small business who wants me to do some sewing for her.  She has a simple dress( one color dress) that she will need to be made in several colors, another that is simple but multi colored,knit fabrics. She will ship every thing to me and travel to pickup once a month because she lives in the same state.  She will  pay by the piece. and wants a quote from me.
She saw some of my sewing work on my Face Book page and like what she saw.  You can check it out also: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2077003&id=1434669709&l=6592ce5f65.

Any advice will be helpful.  Thanks ???

Offline simplespy01

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2010, 10:10:52 PM »
Hey guys, I am new to this site and I am also interested in what to charge for sewing work.  I have an old friend who has a small business who wants me to do some sewing for her.  She has a simple dress( one color dress) that she will need to be made in several colors, another that is simple but multi colored,knit fabrics. She will ship every thing to me and travel to pickup once a month because she lives in the same state.  She will  pay by the piece. and wants a quote from me.
She saw some of my sewing work on my Face Book page and like what she saw.  You can check it out also: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2077003&id=1434669709&l=6592ce5f65.

Any advice will be helpful.  Thanks ???

Offline BetsyV

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2010, 10:24:18 PM »
Simplespy Welcome!

I would be tempted to quote her 2 prices: one to get the fit of the dresses right and one per dress for production. I haven't done any contract sewing. You might look around your area for appropriate hourly rates for the fitting part.

Offline Alice in bama

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Re: Sewing /Contract work
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2010, 12:24:58 AM »
Hey guys, I am new to this site and I am also interested in what to charge for sewing work.  I have an old friend who has a small business who wants me to do some sewing for her.  She has a simple dress( one color dress) that she will need to be made in several colors, another that is simple but multi colored,knit fabrics. She will ship every thing to me and travel to pickup once a month because she lives in the same state.  She will  pay by the piece. and wants a quote from me.
She saw some of my sewing work on my Face Book page and like what she saw.  You can check it out also: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2077003&id=1434669709&l=6592ce5f65.

Any advice will be helpful.  Thanks ???

 what I learn it really depends on what part of the country you live With friends I usually cut them a pretty gooddeal depending on what our relationship is but tell them this is a friendship price not what I would charge other people  So her or his friend do not wont the same deal but for Dress I start a $40, and go up as needed  Never quote a price till you see what they want Their real simple my not be your real simple  I am going to check your web site out on face book I am on there too.
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Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Sewing /Contract work
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2010, 03:37:25 AM »
Well, you couldn't pay me to do contract sewing but you should decide how much you want to make per hour and figure out how long each dress will take.  Since this is not a one time deal, I would not give her a discount on price.  Never discount your labor!  This is a business relationship and the deal should be fair for both parties.  Don't forget to factor in supplies such as needles and thread as well as wear and tear on your equipment.
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Offline Ambimom

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Re: Sewing /Contract work
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2010, 02:14:54 PM »
About 25 years ago I did a bit of alterations for people and learned quite quickly that I hated every single moment of it.....however, this book was very helpful.  It showed me how to price my work.  It's still in print.  http://www.maryroehr.com/sewing-as-a-home-business.html

The version I have has a chart that you can copy to work out what each sewing job should cost.  It also reminds you of stuff that I didn't think of at first, like the cost of thread and needles, etc.

Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: Sewing /Contract work
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2010, 02:36:13 PM »
My concern would be that by making $ with my sewing it would become a job instead of a beloved hobby.  That's what happened to me when I started my embroidery business.  When you are doing the same logo 300 or 400 times it's a job, not fun.  I did that for 12 years and now I have zero interest in embroidering anything. 

The only types of jobs that I will do for hire are cushions and boat accessories and sometimes Home Dec items.  I have the proper equipment to handle these types of jobs, they are very far removed from my hobby and the money is very good.  People with boats are used to paying a lot for everything so making a fair wage is easy.  With clothing being so cheap to buy at WalMart and Target, garment construction does not carry the same value.
Gigi (who's going broke saving money sewing)

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Offline Karen Roth

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2010, 02:50:14 AM »
Welcome Simplespy!  I think Betsy gave great advice about two prices.  I also think there are two kinds of 'friends'.  Those who appreciate getting custom clothing no matter how simple or complex (the point being it's custom, fit to them, that no one else has, made to order), and those who think because they're a friend they should get a price that would compete with what they'd pay at WalMart.  Not sure if you have/have seen the pattern/style she wants but "simple" is also a relative term!  You need to charge fairly for your time and hopefully your friend is the first type.  Let us know how it turns out, your garments on FB are cute! 

Gigi I'd never do those kinds of things you mentioned!  Good point about boat spenders, I wouldn't have thought of that, but those are the kinds of things I don't like sewing.  Matter of fact anything anyone's ever wanted me to sew for them, for pay or a favor, was something I don't like doing, and that includes my dear beloved daughter, just do not like the fabrics she picks to work with and never fits her the way she imagines.  No desire to do garment construction from scratch.  Would be happy to teach it though!

I get what you're saying about the hobby/business turning into a job and losing interest, though I worked with a woman at the dealer who had industrial equipment and an embroidery business and she still loved turning out fabulous embroidered clothing for herself.  Go figure.  OTOH my old bus. partner used to say "do what you love and the money will come".  Maybe smiply something related to it... loved the store, wouldn't sew for anyone though.  My ex family used to always remark about how much money I could make sewing and selling stuff.  A hobby couldn't be just a hobby. It turned out well for my exMIL but I had a lucrative career and didn't want to give up my hobby for a small add on.
Karen

Offline LPASF

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2010, 08:06:52 PM »
Normaly I sit and just read the post, but this is something I deal with alot. I own a small business that makes Historical Fashions for people and the first thing I see in "the real world" is people have NO CLUE what it takes to make High Quality Clothing, they have been trained to accept unfinished hems- coverstitching as high end and arent even aware of just what it takes to create a single garment much less 30.They would rather buy cheap than something made to last.
I am constantly asked why my items are So expensive, and the conversation goes as follows:
 I use top of the line fabrics, ranging in cost of 29.95 to 150.00 per yd, it takes 5 yd for a Skirt, and that depends on era base on hem diameter 90,120,180 inches. They cant understand why we{sewers} pay more to create something than to buy it .
 As  Americans have bought into the 'Walmart', we have lost the reality of what it takes to make beautiful clothes, and our kids envie Guccie,Prada,etc. I stood in Walmarts last Friday and listen to a woman complain of not having a job, the illegals taking our jobs and then buying something maded in China , and gee people dont get why we are where we are at . I am sorry that it has come to this type of thing,but when I hire sewers and they whine at 10.00 an hours,and then have to spend 3 hrs fixing The screw ups , I can see why we are where we are and why the jobs are going over seas. We have stop teaching pride in a job well done, and started teaching allowance for crap, we support companys that take our jobs, and reward the lazy,with its okay  ??? Our Grandparents would be shaking thier head in shock,
LPASF

Offline Robin K

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #24 on: December 16, 2010, 11:09:37 PM »
The tide may be turning at last on all of the poor quality, cheap clothing imported from China, etc.  Apparently the price of cotton has risen dramatically, and experts expect that synthetic fabrics will follow.  This was a recent story reported on Canadian news sources so it may not have made much of a blip in the States.  This increase in cotton fabric costs will of course effect the cost of the end product -- the cheap, crappy clothing that North Americans seem to be obsessed with.  Not only are the material costs rising, but apparently some off-shore workers are starting to demand and expect  a living wage and are no longer prepared to basically work as slave labour.  I don't expect that this increase will have a positive impact for sewers -- after all we will also be paying more for our "raw" materials -- but maybe consumers will be less prepared to settle for  poorly made garments if those garments aren't being sold at throw-away prices.

Robin K

Offline ejvc

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Re: Contract Sewing Jobs
« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2010, 05:37:48 AM »
LPASF: I don't think we will see a return to the days where most people buy clothes that cost the equivalent of a month's salary.  The cheap clothes last "long enough" you know? And most people don't want clothes that last more than a year, because then they're out of fashion anyway.  It's a delicate balance.  There are definitely things I don't sew because I think they are too "of the moment".  Currently, waterfall cardigans are on that list for me.  Historical clothes are pleasingly exempt from the demands of fashion.
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