Whether made by hand or with a knitting machine, creating beautiful knitted garments is a skilled craft. Therefore, when it comes to setting a garment price for your customers, never undervalue yourself or your skills.
How to charge for knitted items is a much-discussed topic among dedicated knitters, and there seem to be no hard and fast rules that can be applied.
Certainly, it’s not adequate to use ‘shop’ prices as a guideline since this knitwear is usually mass-produced. Garments which are knitted specifically to a customer’s measurements or requirements are “tailor-made” and, therefore, more exclusive than the mass-produced equivalent found in high street stores.
Probably the fairest way to cost a garment is with a calculation based on time and materials:
1. Decide on your hourly rate. This should be a fair rate for your skill. By law, the minimum wage rate is approximately $7.25 US. Your hourly rate should never be lower than the legal minimum.
2. Time the amount of work that goes into the creation of a garment. Time spent on knitting and time taken for ‘putting the knit together’ should be kept separate. Often, the final construction time can be reduced by using alternative methods of construction (a linker, a sewing machine instead of hand sewing, for example).
3. The cost of the yarn. If you buy a batch of yarn and only use 75% of it, you still need to include the whole 100% of the cost. You may be able to use the remaining 25% of the yarn at a later date or you may not, but at least your cost has been covered.
4. Oh, those little extras! The cost of trimmings, fastenings, linings – that very exclusive label you sew into the back of the neck – all must be included in your calculations. Add a small sum for contingencies, too. There can always be an unexpected expense – that’s Murphy’s Law!
5. What about incidental costs? These can include telephone calls to the customer, the cost of delivering a garment (gas for your car or postage), packing materials and labels.
6. When you’ve arrived at a total for your time and materials, now is the moment to add a percentage to that figure. This percentage is to reflect your administration costs – time spent on keeping the books, heating, lighting, ‘wear and tear’ on your knitting machine, and promotional costs.
What’s that? Do I hear you say that the final figure is a little on the high side? So be it!
If the garment is well made and fits (and remember, it is exclusive), then you can charge correctly for your services.
However, if you really think your price is too high, the only cost that can sensibly be reduced is your labor rate. If you disregard the other costs, you’ll soon be knitting at a loss.