The fabric and construction of custom-made draperies add an element of style that can't be achieved by purchasing factory-made curtains from a store. If you are an experienced seamstress, creating custom drapes can significantly increase your income. There are factors to consider when deciding what to charge for your custom drape orders.
Items you will need
Steel tape measure
Call local interior decorating stores to inquire about their prices for custom-made drapery. Simply ask how long it takes for the draperies to be completed and the cost of labor. This can give you a starting point from which to base your hourly rate.
Calculate an hourly wage that will cover your labor and business expenses. Depending upon experience, seamstresses can earn from $8 to $18 per hour. Factor in the cost of any advertising, equipment repair and maintenance, bookkeeping services and any other business-related expenditures.
Keep your rates competitive, but do not set them so low that you actually start sewing for free. Once you have completed a few projects, you will better be able to estimate how much time it takes, how you will need to adjust your schedule, and whether you need to charge a higher rate for projects that require more handwork, such as those with special design elements.
Meet with your client in their home to obtain measurements for all windows to be covered. If it's not possible to meet in person, ask them to provide measurements. You'll need to know length and width, number of panels and desired fullness in order to purchase the correct amount of fabric and lining.
Keep track of mileage to and from home consultations and fabric/supply buying trips. Some businesses only charge mileage if the consultation takes place outside of a predetermined radius (15 miles, 50 miles, etc.). Whether you list this separately on billing or include it in your hourly labor cost, you will need this information when preparing your annual tax return.
Through December 31, 2008, the IRS allowed 58.5 cents per mile for all business miles traveled by car.
Discuss all possible costs with clients before any material is purchased or work has begun. Prepare an estimate and have the client sign a service contract to ensure that the project will go smoothly.