How Much To Charge for Hand Embroidery Work
Embroidery is a wonderful way to add accents to apparel, tote bags, bedding, curtains, towels, and more! Many people turn to machine embroidery, but hand embroidery still has its place in the craft and accessory world. Hand embroidery, like all kinds of hand sewing craftsmanship, demonstrates an artisan skill.
If you want to charge money for your hand embroidery skills either by taking orders for custom hand embroidery work or selling items that you embroidery by hand, you need to keep in mind your skill level, time used for embroidering the item, any design input you have, and the supplies needed to complete the task.
Ultimately the main way you should charge is by time, and since it is the most difficult, we will save it for last in our discussion.
Things to Consider When Deciding How Much To Charge For Your Hand Embroidery Work
It goes without saying that an experienced embroiderer can charge more than a beginner. The reason is multi-fold. Experienced hand embroiderers usually know (and nail) more stitches. The good news is that the more you embroider, the more you grow your skill level. So you are literally earning the opportunity to earn more every time you embroider.
A beginner should know how to make a running stitch, back stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, French knots, and a blanket stitch. While the back stitch is widely used in embroidery, the blanket stitch is also helpful if you plan to do any applique at all. The satin stitch is the most important one you will use for filling designs.
As you start perfecting these stitches, consider yourself more advanced – feather stitch, herringbone stitch, needle weaving, and couching. Couching and needle weaving rely on embroidery floss going in two different directions, crossing perpendicularly to develop their unique look. Both are stitches that add texture to an embroidery project.
If you have to create the embroidery design, you should charge more for that. Consider it custom design work. You should charge for the time you spend creating the design and any time you spend emailing it to your customer for approval. Also count the time in which you select colors for the project.
Do you have all the supplies you need on hand, or will you have to buy more? If those supplies have to be shipped, don’t forget to factor in shipping fees as well. Supplies are anything you need to complete your embroidery project, so always save your receipts for embroidery threads/flosses, needles, threaders, hoops, scissors, stabilizers, and fabrics.
Now for the trickiest topic of all – charging for your time. The biggest mistake many crafters make is not charging for their time. They factor in the costs of all their supplies then divide by the product output to get a fee to charge. But they are totally overlooking time, which in this case includes your skill.
Settle on an Hourly Wage
Develop an hourly fee that you would be happy to live with. $10 an hour? $20 per hour? Embroidering a floral border on a handkerchief might take you 30 minutes. If you want to make $10 an hour, that’s a $5 project in terms of your time. Factor in the supplies – the handkerchief, needle, threads, then add $5 to that. Your hand embroidered handkerchief may cost $15, but it is unique and still affordable.
Consider The Size of The Project
If the project is bigger, like embroidering a denim jacket, you will invest significantly more time and demonstrate more skill. That seems more like a $20/hour project. If the embroidery work takes you 10 hours, that’s a $200 project before you even count supplies. Add them in to get the total for your project. If you also created a custom design for the customer, add that time in at the $20/hour price.
While it may seem like a lot of money, remember that hand embroidery is a skill. Machine embroidery can also demonstrate a skill, but the automation makes it easier. Don’t be afraid to charge for your time. The challenge with charging for your time comes in giving estimates to potential customers. New embroiderers often have to learn how to estimate their crafting time needed for a project.
Keep Track of Your Time
Keep up with your time on a calendar or your favorite time-keeping app. Toggl Track is a free app that helps you keep up with your project times. Noting your work time on a Google calendar would also work. Keeping up with your time also allows you to provide an accurate invoice to your customers.
Adjust as Needed
Don’t be surprised if, as a beginner, you short-change yourself until you get use to estimating the time it will take for projects. If fulfilling a custom design, provide an estimate higher than you expect so your lower price will be welcomed. If you quote a price but it takes more time than expected, plan to just eat the difference. Honor your estimate that you provided to your customer.
Want to know if that hourly figure you want to reach is feasible or not? Do some market research. Check other markets to see what hand embroiderers are charging there. Etsy is a great resource for comparing your pricing. You may also visit area craft fairs to get an idea of the current market values for your hand embroidered items.
Check Out Craft Fairs
Speaking of craft fairs, if you plan to see from a booth at a craft fair or flea market, you need to remember to add that rental fee into your final price, too. Set a reasonable goal of how many items you want to sell. Divide the fee by that number then add that amount to your prices. Anything you make over and above the goal will be extra money!
The same is true for selling online. Some websites take a percentage or a fee from the sellers. Be sure to pass that expense on to your customer. Even if you buy your own web domain to host your business, you can pass those expenses along to the customer, too. Be sure to keep track of receipts to help as you develop your pricing structure. They will also come in handy at tax time if you want to deduct office space for your craft sales business.