Custom Doll Clothing Cost

Custom Sewing—why it costs so much

doll clothing for antique dollsI get requests for custom doll dresses, and I have to explain why the cost is different  for custom clothing than my “rack” dresses. I wanted to do this article so my customers or potential customers have some idea what goes into custom doll costuming. 

Like everyone else, I can’t live on minimum wage or sew fun or hobby. Making and putting together authentic doll clothing is rewarding, but  is just that—work. I cannot live without the money I earn at Antique Child.

Sewing clothing for the prices you see on my site, I sew production line style—I cut  several sizes at a time, use the same color thread and same trims, so don’t have to spend time switching threads, searching for trim, etc.  One dress at a time is either work for a lot less money or  charge more.

Here is a typical example of requested custom sewing, and a breakdown:

For purposes of this example use an hourly wage of $15.  A potential customer sends  me photos or requests of an outfit for a special doll.  They have a specific color in mind and style and want  me to make a copy.  The outfit is a style and size that I do not typically carry.   It is specific in details and design.

The first step is to find the right fabric.  If I do not have it in stock an hour spent on the internet finding the right fabric, in the right color and ordering it. The price of fabric has gone up over the years. When not buying in bulk, the cost of cotton is $8-10 yard, or more and shipping cost add $5.  With fabric more exotic, the cost is higher per yard.   We are already into it at least $11-15, plus an hour of my time for $15—that’s $26.00. Then I would have to make the pattern, which could take at least an hour.  An existing pattern is a matter of confirming it is of correct proportions.  Add another  $15 to do a pattern  and accessory pieces, now we are up to $41, and I haven’t started cutting out the fabric. 

Before I can do any sewing, I have to find matching thread, fill a bobbin and thread the machine. The outfit might have a  special pieces so I would also have to make a pattern for them.  Add time to apply the trim, like hemstitch, lace, edging etc.  An estimate of this time is about 40 minutes to measure out the  trim needed, cut it, and  finish edges.  Then I would cut out everything and begin sewing.

A typical assembly includes a dress sewn at the shoulders, trim put on sleeves, finish edges, a collar or binding applied.  Sides then sewn up and  trim put at the doll clothing for antique dollsbottom of  dress or other places. The back finish and snaps applied done last. I would then do the under clothing.

It  takes, minimally, three hours to cut out and make the dress and underclothing.  Add $45. I have not added anything for thread, snaps or accessories, and we are still up to $86.00.

Suppose there are a couple of emails back and forth to discuss the details and the finish time and the billing, and packing the dress for shipping. Another half hour– $93.50

If I had to make a trip to the store to get the fabric, instead of buying it on-line, that would take 2 gallons of gas and two hours of my time. Or just to run to the nearest fabric store and get the thread and embroidery thread I needed. A gallon of gas and 45 minutes. Or I might have to spend 6 hours finding just the right color and weight of fabric, instead of one hour.

It is very easy to see, once it is all broken down how things can add up very quickly.  Custom sewing is one of the interesting parts of my job because adds elements of interest and research to producing clothing that is authentic.

Ready to Send Your Doll?


Janie Nafsinger
17122 W. Locust Lane
Caldwell, Idaho 83607

Process & FAQ
 Process & FAQ

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