So I had someone ask me for a quote on a Morgiana cosplay from the series Magi. The white tunic dress with full skirt, wrap belt and large bow in back. I quoted her $135-$155 depending on size and material, which her size came back where it would be $135 plus shipping for the lighter weight material. She responded that the cost seemed expensive.
Which brings me here. I'm going to break down a little bit of how I figure my costs on costumes, maybe it'll help some customers understand what goes into their custom made cosplay, and maybe help some other costume designers who have having trouble figuring out what to charge.
First off, the fabric. I truly wish I could get good quality fabric for $1-$2 a yard, but this doesn't exist. Period. Even in wholesale lots. If I'm lucky I can get it for $4-$5 yard on sale for the good quality stuff. Nice even weave, patterns printed correctly on the grain, etc. So this tunic dress, with the full skirt and wrap belt and big bow, I'm figuring about 4 yards of material. I'll even figure I can find it on sale or a special buy and go with $5/yard for it. So there's $20 right there. Then there's the little things like zipper, interfacing, thread, etc, so we'll add another $3 to cover that since this dress won't need much of those.
I have my listing fees and final value fees for the site she contacted me through for the commission. These will run me about $5.00. Then if she pays by Paypal or credit card, it's another fee, so we'll figure a rough $5.00 (up to 3.75% + .25 for a credit card processing fee) there, adding another $10 onto the total.
We're up to $33 now and I haven't even pulled out a piece of tissue to start working on it yet.
Then I have to figure in the time to draft and size the pattern pieces, custom fit to their exact measurements, plus cutting out the fabric once the pattern is drafted. Now I've drafted a lot of patterns, so I know about how long this design is going to take me. I'll figure two hours to make and size the whole pattern and cut it out. I don't need to worry about placing and sizing darts in the bodice, that's a pretty straightforward tunic top, the harder part will be getting the right fullness of the skirt, then the appearance of a wrap belt and the bow in back.
Now I get into what work I see in it.
The top is pretty straighforward, that's only maybe an hour there. The skirt, wrap belt and back bow will take a fair amount more work. It isn't straight sewing, it's pin fitting each piece onto the dressform, plus ironing as each section is done, the serging of all seams. I work pretty fast, far faster than most other seamstresses I know, so I'm figuring 7-8 hours in the actual making of the dress.
So let's see where that leads us...
$135 minus the $33 for supplies and fees, leaves me $102. I do pay taxes (roughtly 15%) on what I earn, so that takes me down to $86.70 profit. Or about $10.83/hour for 8 hours of work time.
That's a pretty friggin' awesome deal to me for a completely custom made, custom fit cosplay made just for you, to your exact measurements and specifications by someone who does this professionally and has been sewing for roughly 35 years.
So maybe those quotes aren't quite as expensive as some people think.