Frequently Asked Questions
Do you sew stuff other than costumes?
Why, yes! If it's within my power, I'll make anything you ask! Prom dresses, bridal garments, goth-style accessories, theater costumes, "every day" clothes, and everything else among them I am open to making. All you have to do is give me the design and ask. Even giving me a pattern you like and asking me to sew it is game for my services.
I know how to sew and want to make it myself. But I have no idea where to find a pattern or how to make one! Can I pay you to make one for me?
Yes! I'd be happy to put my pattern drafting skills to use for you! The same guidelines apply (need your measurements, etc.). The only difference is I require half the estimate as a deposit.
Do you do armor? Or props? Or furry/mascot costumes?
Generally, no. While I'm currently expanding my skillset into those areas, I don't feel I'm skilled enough to take commissions. But I'll still look at your project and see if it's feasible. The worst that will happen is I'll point you towards someone whose skillset more closely matches your project.
How long do you normally take to make a costume?
Please allow for at least a two-month lead-time when ordering your commission, longer if the costume you want is intricate or detailed. I'm a one-person business, so there's a limit to what I can do at one time. I also may have other clients that I'm servicing at the time of your request.
Here's a list of 5 costumes that I want to do. Can you give me quotes and/or make them for my convention in two months?
I'm glad that you want to utilize my services and can give you quotes on all the costumes you want done. But I will usually only give a rough estimate until you confirm that you want to commission me and/or settle on which costumes you really want done. Then I'll research them in more detail and give you a more exact quote and deposit amount.
If you want me to do more than one costume for you or your group, please be aware that it will take time. My usual two-month turnaround time is for a single costume. So if you want three costumes done, you will want to order six months in advance.
I really, really want to do this character, but the con is next week! Will you make it for me pretty, pretty please with sugar on top? I’ll pay you extra!
ABSOLUTELY NO RUSH ORDERS!
If I only have a couple of weeks (or less) to make your costume, chances are good that I'm going to mess it up from rushing to get it to you. I'm not going to be happy because I don't have time to ensure my usual quality work. And you're not going to be happy because the costume falls apart.
I still will take the commission (and try to make it happen in the given time frame), but you may have to wait until the next con to present it.
I wear a size medium / 12 / misses petite. Can you make something in that size?
I never, ever go by “sizes”, even when clothes shopping for myself. Sizes vary between companies and even countries. For the best fit, please buy a tape measure. You can buy one at most major retailers (like Wal-Mart) and any craft/hobby store that sells sewing supplies.
Have a relative or friend take your measurements to ensure accuracy. Don’t measure yourself if you can avoid it, because the stretching you have to do to take your measurements may throw them off.
And be honest! Don't "vanity size" yourself and shave one or two inches off your measurements. I'm not going to judge you or call you names. Really, it's all just numbers to me!
What if I’m allergic to a certain fabric? Or I have a preference?
If you have a preference for fabric (silk vs. cotton), have an allergy (e.g., wool or polyester) or any other special requests, please state this when you make your order. I will do my best to accommodate you. Please be aware that this may affect your deposit. For example, silk and leather are expensive!
I know that you've already started, but I changed my mind and decided that I don't like that particular fabric color. Will you change it?
I certainly want you to be happy with your costume, but please be aware that I may charge you for the extra time and/or materials if I have to change something mid-construction. To avoid this, please mention all your preferences before I start working on it. Otherwise, I will use my best judgement as to what I think the character would wear and how it should be constructed.
So let’s talk money. How much do you charge?
Generally, $15 per hour of labor. It may be more if I have to special order materials/equipment. (Such as real leather, which can run $60 - 150 a hide.) If the latter is the case, I will let you know while pricing things out.
Why do you charge $15 per hour? I can get a costume from this commissioner for less than half that!
I encourage my clients to shop around for what they feel is the best deal. However, the phrase "you get what you pay for" applies here.
Many "cheap" commissioners are, in reality, warehouse-style operations with a "high volume" production environment. So those custom measurements you sent may not necessarily be applied to your costume, especially if it's going to take a long time to alter the pattern for your body type.
On the other hand, I'm entirely commission-based and do your costumes myself. Nothing is contracted out. I don't have a "stock" of costumes and patterns that I just make a few changes on and send out. I negotiate with you on fabric choices, style, payment options, etc., give you regular updates on my progress, and alert you to any issues that may affect your commission.
I realize I'm a bit pricey, but I make sure you get your money's worth!
Okay, I’m sold. So, how do I pay you?
After the initial research, I will give you an estimate, based on how long I think it will take. The estimate is just that: An estimate. The final price may be more or less when I'm done.
To get started, I require the cost of materials up-front, as a non-refundable deposit. This deposit is part of the commission fee. This allows me to buy the materials and get started on the project. The rest of the fee is due once the project is completed.
I do it this way for two reasons: It eases the blow of "sticker shock", since you are not paying the commission fee all at once. I also don't end up grossly mis-charging, since I know how long I spent on the commission after the fact.
How you pay the rest of the fee is up to you. If you want to pay the total when I finish the costume, you may. If you want to pay as I work, you may. I can also work out an installment plan on a case-by-case basis.
Why is the material cost non-refundable?
In a niche business such as this, people do flake out on payment, which leaves me to eat the cost of materials and the labor I've already invested in it. That is unfair to both me and other potential clients, because I could have used that time to work on a commission where someone would pay me. If I make the material cost non-refundable, clients are more likely to pay the rest when I’m done.
My local fabric store is having a HUGE sale! Could I buy the fabric myself and mail it to you?
If you find a fabric that you like, or you trust your local fabric store more, then I certainly won't stop you. Just be aware that getting the fabric to me may cause a delay in getting your finished costume. If you would prefer to go this route, let me know and I’ll tell you the yardage you need.
I’m broke, so I can’t get you the money right now. Can you still get started on it? I promise I’ll pay you later!
Sorry, no work until I get the deposit. No exceptions.
What forms of payment do you accept?
I accept checks, money orders, and PayPal. PayPal is preferred. Under some circumstances (such as going to a con/event I'm attending), I'll also accept cash in person. However, I will not accept concealed cash in the mail, for obvious reasons.
Do you take credit/debit cards?
I do take them via PayPal.
How long do I have to make the final payment? Is there any time limit?
Once the costume is done, you have 60 days (2 months) to remit the final payment to me once the work is done, unless you have worked out a payment plan with me beforehand.
What if I don't pay you? What happens to my commission?
If you do not remit the final payment within the 60-day time frame, I reserve the right to sell it to someone else. Sorry, but if you wait that long to pay me, chances are you never intended to do so in the first place. And I think 2 months is more than fair. If you are unable to make the final payment in one go, I am open to working out an installment plan with you. Even if you are just sending me $5 a week, I will hold on to it for you until it's paid.
What if I have some circumstance that affects my finances (lost job, Internet problems, illness, death in family, natural disaster, etc.)?
Stuff happens. I totally understand. There are several ways to contact me: E-mail, social media, phone, and snail mail. (Phone and snail mail are available upon request.) If you alert me to your difficulties, I will try to work something out with you.
What is your return policy?
I exercise a thirty-day guarantee. If you are dissatisfied for any reason, you may return the costume within thirty days to allow me to make it right (such as a sizing issue). If it can't be made right, I will refund you the fee, minus material cost.
Is there a reason you won’t accept a return?
I reserve the right to refuse a refund if no fault can be found, there is evidence of "user error", or it is not returned in saleable condition. So no wearing the costume to your convention and then returning it. No returning because you fibbed about your measurements and the alterations are so complicated that it's better to make a whole new costume. You also can't return it because a drunkard spilled beer on you or you decided that mud wrestling in your costume would be fun.
There’s nothing wrong with the costume. It looks great! But… I really don’t want it anymore / I regret spending the money / my parents won’t let me wear it. Can I just return it and get my money back?
While I understand “buyer’s remorse”, this falls under the “no fault” return clause mentioned above. I spend a lot of time and effort to make your costume, so you can see why I would be reluctant to give a refund if you change your mind after the fact. It is your responsibility to ensure that you really want this costume, you can afford to pay for it and (if necessary) that your parents approve of it.
If you do have “buyer’s remorse”, please tell me before I get started on your costume! You may be able to get a full refund. If I’ve already started on your costume and you change your mind, I’ll consider a partial refund on a case-by-case basis. However, if the costume is completed and delivered, I will not accept a return due to “buyer’s remorse”.
Can I enter costume contests with the costume I bought from you?
For the most part, I don't mind if you enter contests with costumes I made, as long as I get credit for the costume and any craftsmanship-related awards that it earns. (Or partial credit if I made only part of the costume.)
However, most cons have rules on whether you can enter contests with commissioned costumes. Generally, Masquerades (skit-style contests) allow it, but Hall (craftsmanship-style) contests do not. Check your conventions’s policies to be sure.