Funny how value and price are very rarely the same thing, right?
Woke up to this post linked on Nicole Mallalieu's facebook feed, and thought I'd add my 2cents to it, since it ties in very nicely with where I'm at currently.
I've just finished (yes there will be photos later) the very first collar-and-cuffs shirt I've ever made. It looks amazing! And I'm very excited. I just need to adjust the collar stand button and tie up a few loose threads and we're gtg, so put it on Teh Man for its admire-and-coo fitting last night. It fits a treat and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Since I'm fairly slow at the machine still and had to work out a few things from scratch (like how to use that button hole thang on my machine) etc, it took me a long time to make. Probably twice as long as it should have. I estimate about 16 hours or so from cutting and ironing the pattern pieces right to finishing off.
That's a lot of hours.
I've been comparing the detailing to a shirt David got from Anton's, and paid almost $300 for. In fact I adjusted the detailing to be more like the Anton's shirt - top stitching down the sleeve and side seams, etc. The extra work paid off. It looks pretty damn magnificent (if I do say so myself). It has a few dodgy bits, but hey, it was my first shirt ever, and those little corner-ey bits are bloody tricky. Chalk it all up to experience, and off we go on the next one.
But! The point is (I've been getting there), LOTS of hours for a shirt. Lots of work.
And suddenly, $300 for a really beautifully made shirt doesn't seem like such a big deal any more. I bought cheapass fabric and it cost $45 ($15 per metre) - so potentially when I buy kickass fabric like Anton's uses, I'm going to be at least $100 down just in materials (don't forget good quality thread and buttons and interfacings as well) - that leaves only $180 or so for labour time if I was SUPER QUICK AND SPEEDY and had taken 8 hours instead of 16, that's about $22 an hour. And if you have a shop front and staff to try to sell this thing... well. Like I said, suddenly $300 (while still a lot of money) doesn't seem so unreasonable.
It's a terrible shame that someone would attack the very lovely and talented Nicole for selling her patterns for $20ish each. It's not that big a deal, people. Her response was well thought out and polite; personally I would have been tempted to send the person a photo of my enthusiastically extended middle digit with (something suitably rude) written down it in red texta. I kinda feel her response to this obviously clueless nitwit was a pearl before swine anyway. But it was certainly worth putting out there on the web - as someone who sees people underprice their work constantly, I think it's really important to keep saying this: Charge what your work is really worth! My heart breaks every time I go to our local markets and see handspinners charging prices only slightly higher than commercially milled yarn for their beautiful handspun skeins. Tragic that they'd charge such pitiful prices, and tragic that people probably still think it costs too much.
The only thing I'm going to add to this is a brilliant post from the inestimable Franklin Habit about charging for work. My only regret is that he didn't actually state his price on the blog - even now is it so terrible to talk about money and prices? What a shame. It'd be wonderful to actually start putting those numbers out there, and I thought it most interesting (and just a tiny bit disappointing) that he didn't tell us what he had charged. I think it would make a difference for people if we did start publicly stating those prices, if only as a decent yardstick for comparison.