Tag Archive | cost

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

COGS and COSTS

img_4652-1I was recently presented with the opportunity to sell some of my amigurumi’ s and children’s clothes and blankets at a farmer’s market. Most of the venders at the market were selling produce but there were a few craft vendors so I decided to join them. I would like to tell you about my selling experience and what I learned from selling my wares.

First off, I do not want to start a crafting or sewing business. Crocheting and sewing is my hobby. It’s what I do with my down time to relax. But, with that said, supplies are expensive. Yarn and fabric cost money. So, I decided that I could sell some of my amigurumi’s and children’s clothes to help pay for the supplies to make more.

img_4645I have thought several times before about selling some of the items that I have made, but every time I looked into the cost of doing so, I stopped there. I could set up an online Etsy store, but with the many amigurumi’s already being sold on Etsy, would I ever sell anything? Plus if I did sell something could I charge enough to make enough money to cover the cost of the store and shipping costs along with the cost of supplies to make the items? I could sell my items on eBay, but once again, after paying eBay and PayPal fees plus the cost of supplies would I make any money doing that?

Over the years, I have thought about selling some items at craft fairs, but once again, the cost of the booths stops me. When I asked how much a booth would cost at most craft shows, I was quoted between $75.00 and $125.00. That was too much for me. I did not believe that I would sell enough items to even cover the cost of the booth at those prices, let alone the cost of supplies.

img_5484You will notice that I never include the cost of my labor to make the items in my questions above. I learned long ago if you make around 50 cents an hour for your labor to make your crafts, you are doing quite well. Because of that I didn’t bother trying to include the labor portion of my cost of goods sold into the equations above.

When I talked to the manager of the farmer’s market, she said the cost would be $10.00 for the spot for the season plus 12% of my profits. That did not seem like too much to me, plus rather than laying out money up front, the cost was based on what I sold.

img_4647If I sold only a little, then they only got a little of what I sold. This sounded great, but, of course, there was a catch. I had to have my own tables and a canopy. I did not already have these things, so I would have to purchase them to be able sell at the farmer’s market. Luckily, I found both folding tables and a canopy on sale, but the cost was still about $100.00.

This initial startup cost almost stopped me from selling at the farmer’s market but after some thought, I decided that these were useful purchases, and could be used for other purposes other than for selling at the farmer’s market. Folding tables are always useful and nice to have on hand, and the canopy could be used in the back yard for holidays and family events. Plus, if I sold multiple weeks at the market, that $100.00 cost could be spread out over several weeks of selling.

img_4648Of course purchasing the tables and canopy was only the first step in getting ready to sell at the farmer’s market. Next, I had to figure out my COGS or the Cost Of the Goods I was selling, and then based on that number determine what I wanted to sell each item for. I decided to price my amigurumi’s based on size, complexity, and cost to replace the supplies to make the same amigurumi again. The clothes and blankets were harder to price but eventually, they were priced based on style, embroidery, and size.

Since this is my hobby, I did not calculate the cost of my time to make the amigurumi or the clothes. If I had added the cost of my time into the price, I would have priced myself out of the market and no one could have afforded what I was selling. So, luckily, I was not expecting a wage from my wares.

img_4649Selling at the farmer’s market was not easy or fun for me. I knew that I could not just sit on a chair by my tables of goods and people would walk by and throw money at me. I knew I had to sell my items which meant selling me, the creator.

Why would some one pay good money for what I had made?

I had to show and tell them why they would. I had to tell stories about my item’s creation. I had to express my love and concern that each of my amigurumi have a good home. I had to make small talk and entertain my potential customers and hope that my efforts were not in vain, and that someone would be interested and buy my goods.

img_4650This was very difficult for me. I had purposely over priced my items a little so that I could bargain a little with people, because everyone loves a deal! So, when it came time for people to get out some money to pay me or they seemed to not really be interested in what I was selling, I would offer them a lower price. This ended up not being a good selling practice, and it did cost me some money.

I really struggled with this, especially before I had made the first sell of the day, or when too many people had walked by without showing any interest in my goods. I can’t say that my selling techniques improved much over time, but luckily the husband was with me and he helped to keep me in check as well as to help with the selling of my items, especially on the rare occasion that I had multiple customers at the same time.

img_4651I learned very quickly that my amigurumi’s caught people’s attention and they would stop and look and sometimes buy, but that they had no interest in my handmade children’s clothing and baby blankets. In all the weeks that I sold at the farmer’s market, I only sold one blanket and one child’s shirt (which was sold at a deep discount).

I sold at the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks, and each week I sold a few items, but I decided that it was not for me. First, people did not come to the farmer’s market to buy a teddy bear or a little girl’s dress. They were there to spend their money on fresh tomatoes and peaches. What I was selling was an after thought for them. Next, I had to spend my precious days off selling my items at the market.

It was a full day event since I had to be there early enough to set up the canopy, tables and my goods before the market opened and I had to be there until the market closed. Then I had to carefully pack back up my goods and take down my tables and the canopy and haul it all back to the car. It ended up taking the whole day. The day off that I needed to take care of other things was spent trying to sell a few items. I was a little discouraged by this experience and did not think that I ever wanted to sell my items again.

img_6542

 

But wouldn’t you know it, opportunity knocked again…

I was asked to be the monthly featured artist at an art walk for one of the downtown stores in old town. It was just one evening for a couple of hours so I decided to do it. I arrived at the store an hour before the art walk started, and I set up my tables and displayed my wares on the sidewalk in front of the store. I was not really in the mood to sell to people, but I knew once again that if I wanted anyone to buy my items, I had to hawk my wares.

img_6541This time though, I did not cut any prices quickly and I did not care if I sold anything since there was no cost involved other than my time. At first, no one seemed to be interested in my items and I hadn’t sold a thing. After an hour or so, I commented to the husband that I doubted that I would sell anything this evening.

But shortly after I made my comment things started to change. More people started to arrive at the art walk and more people were interested in my amigurumi’s (Once again though, no one even looked at the children’s clothes and blankets. I did sell one child’s shirt, but this time not at a deep discount.)

img_6539I once again talked to the people who stopped to look and I sold my items, but this time I let them fall in love with my amigurumi’s and pay me my asking price. I did bargain with a few people but I felt better about these sales than I did at the farmer’s market. I believe it was because I had a better and more receptive audience for selling at the art walk. The people who had come to the art walk were interesting in seeing something fun and unique. Plus, I was much more relaxed about selling.

img_6540When the night was done, I had sold more in the couple of hours at the art walk than I had the several weeks at the farmer’s market. I felt better about the experience and I decided that I could sell my wares again but I would be very selective as to where and when.

But, before I can sell anymore amigurumi’s, I have got to get some more made. Between what I sold at the farmer’s market and what I sold at the art walk, my collection of amigurumi’s is now quite small. I would not feel comfortable doing another display of my wares until I get some more amigurumi’s made.

So, with that being said I had better get crocheting! Stay tuned to see what fun things I make next!

Until then, sew and crochet forth and sell on!

Covering The Board

IMG_3802My ironing board is old. Well old for an ironing board anyway. I am still using my very first ironing board that I purchased nearly 30 years ago! Of course, the ironing board cover has been replaced many times over that 30+ years. An ironing board cover can only have so much iron-on interfacing glued to it before it needs to be replaced. And each time I replace the ironing board cover, I wonder if I should just replace the whole ironing board instead of just the cover.

IMG_3800I ask this because the cost of a nice cover is about the same as an new inexpensive board with a cover. The question I ask myself every time I buy a new cover is “Have ironing boards technically changed over the years and gotten better to where I am missing out on something by not buying a new board?”

So, this time when it was time to replace the cover, I decided to purchase a whole new ironing board and see if I have been missing out on anything over the years.

IMG_0894While standing in the middle of the isle of Walmartia, I found that I had three choices (i.e. three prices) to choose from. I decided to start at the lowest of the prices. I purchased the least expensive ironing board and took it home. Unfortunately, this ironing board was not inexpensive, it was cheap. To start, it only stood on two pole legs and it was very unsteady. It teetered this was and that every time I pushed my iron across the board. I had to keep catching it to keep it from falling over as I ironed.

IMG_0899The cover on this board was super thin with no padding at all and it was drawn tight around the board with a thin string and a clamp. The board itself was not a solid piece of metal either. It was a metal mesh desk with giant diamond holes in it with an attached outside edge. The diamond mesh was very bumpy to iron on, but the lip made by the attached edge caught the iron and interrupted the ironing process. Plus, this board had a very narrow tip end to the full size of the board, giving me less ironing space where I iron the most. This ironing board was certainly not a replacement for my current ironing board, so undaunted I tried again and back to the store I went!

IMG_0893This time I purchased the middle priced ironing board with higher hopes. It was just a little more expensive than a new cover for my old board was, and this ironing board had two legs in each direction, so I already knew it was going to be superior to the cheap ironing board I had previously purchased. It still had the diamond mesh board top, but I was hopeful that it would be made better and have a better cover, plus it had accessories. This ironing board had an iron holder at the end to give you more board to work on and keep the iron from tipping over when not in use. It also had a shelf on the legs.

IMG_0900This ironing board was certainly steadier than the last board and it did not fall over with the pressure of the iron moving back and forth, but the edge of the mesh top still had a lip. I might not have noticed the lip so much if once again, this ironing board did not have the same thin, non padded, tied on with string, cover that the cheap board had. If I kept this board I would immediately have to replace the cover. So, it was up to the accessories to “wow” me into replacing my old ironing board with this one.

I’m sorry to say, the accessories did not “wow” me. I am sure that for some, the shelf attached to the legs of the board is the greatest thing ever, but for me it was not. My ironing board has to be movable and with stuff stacked on the shelf, this board became unmovable. So, for me, the shelf would never be used. Plus, I don’t need another shelf to stack stuff on.

IMG_0897The next accessory was the iron holder. This holder is a great idea in keeping a hot iron from becoming a hot burn. But, what I found was that the holder created more work for me when ironing so I would never use it. When I iron, I mostly use the top half of the board, so I had to take extra walking steps to place the iron on the holder. It did not take long to tire of – iron, take two steps to set the iron on holder, take two steps back, move the garment, take two steps to pick up the iron, take two step back to the garment, and then repeat these steps. Simply put, my iron was not at arms reach, so if I kept this board I would not use the holder. Since the accessories did not work out for me, I saw no reason to replace my current ironing board with this board either.

IMG_3797Upon examining the highest price ironing board at Walmart, I found a duplicate of my current ironing board. Walmart had two styles of the this price ironing board. The first was the same diamond mesh board as the lower priced boards and there was no way I was purchasing that one even if the cover was thicker and nicer because of the previous issues with the mesh boards. The second board looked just like the ironing board I currently have at home in the sewing room, except that the cover was not as nice. So, why spend the money for a new ironing board when it was exactly what I already had?

IMG_3798I guess nothing new and revolutionary has occurred over the years to improve the ironing board. With my new knowledge of ironing boards, I decided I would be keep my same old ironing board and replacing the cover.

As I looked at new ironing board covers, I learned that they are the same as new ironing boards. You get what you pay for with the lowest price covers being thin, non padded and string tightened and the higher prices ones being thicker, padded and velcroed on. With what I had learned from my ironing board experiment, I went ahead and purchased the higher priced, thicker, padded, velcroed cover. The new cover fits my old ironing board great and I am back to ironing on my latest sewing project. Stay tuned to see it soon!

Until then, sew forth and iron on!