Monday, 25 November 2013

Bunting - Costing a Project.


Sometimes I look at patterns for things in magazines or books and they'll say something like -  
         
TIP: Make these cushions in any colour you like!

And I'll put it down straight away, because quite honestly, if they think I'm that much of an idiot that I need that suggestion, their instructions are just going to make me feel crankypants. 

I sincerely hope you don't feel that way when you saw that today's post is about bunting. Bunting has got to be one of the easiest things to make, and I would hate for anyone to have that sinking feeling like I've lost my groove and now I'm dishing up so-so stuff. It's cool, I promise I will not talk down to you.

I thought it would be useful to talk about how to plan a project and estimate how much fabric to buy, in part because I made a couple of 'rookie mistakes' when ordering for this one. 

Suffice to say, I didn't use a pattern. I've not ever bought one because hey, it's a bunch of triangles. I'll show you how I measured mine up in a moment, but if anyone has come here looking to find something to download in PDF form, I suggest they go and buy their bunting. If the effort of drawing a triangle is too much, they are not going to have the patience to make it, because bunting is simple, but super, super repetitive. 

I'm making this for Jon's sister, Sally. She has requested some bunting and picked out 4 fabrics that she likes. She wants an 8 meter length. All my working out is in metric.  

The first thing I wanted to figure out was what size to make the flags. Since I don't want to make my life any more difficult than I need to (I like maths, but not so much I want to use multiples of 7 or anything like that) I went for a triangular flag, 20cm wide by 20cm long. Which works well because 5 x 20cm = 1m. So I can work in lots of 5. 

I joined the points, and added 1cm on all sides. 
Only looks twisty in the photo. It's square in real life. :)
Told you it was easy. 

This gives me a triangle which is 22cm wide, and just over 22cm long. Most patchworking cotton is sold in widths of 112cm. So I can cut 5 flags across a piece of fabric. I am also buying from a website which sells in 25cm lengths. Its worth checking this out, because different places have different minimum cuts, and that can alter your expenses a bit. But as it happens, 25cm is pretty ideal for a 22cm flag and a bit of wiggle room.
Placement of flags on strip of fabric.
So I can cut 5 flags across the top. Here's where directional prints become important.

If I have a fabric with a print which can be cut in any direction, I can cut 9 pieces out of this strip, because I can fit another 4 in below the first.
Exhibit A
However, if I have a directional print, I can only cut 5 flags from the fabric, because the other 4 will go in the wrong direction.



Exhibit B. Stupid trees. Why must you grow upwards?
Directional prints are relevant in dressmaking too - it's worth checking the cutting layout because you might need a bit extra. Generally you can gauge how much extra by taking into account the length of the piece(s) which you will need to turn around. Using a directional print can considerably increase your fabric requirement.

Once you've got an idea of the size of the flag, you'll need to figure out how many to make. Its worth spending some time on this - I drew a few little sketches because I am very much a visual thinker.
Obviously this isn't a necessary step - because 8 meters with 5 flags per meter is just 8 x 5 = 40.
But then I need to think about the fabric I want to use.





You can see here that if I were to use just 4 colours, I would need 10 of each colour flag. I would need to buy 50cm of each colour because I can only get 9 flags out of a 25cm strip, so there would be a fair bit of waste. I also tried 5 prints, which would be a much more efficient use of the strip. I ultimately decided to go with 6 different flags, so that I could mix in a couple of solid colours. I found the prints a bit busy all together. Solid colours are cheaper too.

So at this point I can see that I require:
25cm of fabric 1 (non-directional print)
25cm of fabric 2 (non-directional print)
25cm of fabric 3 (non-directional print)
50cm of fabric 4 (directional print)
25cm of fabric 5 (block colour)
25cm of fabric 6 (block colour)

This doesn't include the backing fabric. If you want your bunting to have two good sides, you would just double the above. But if you want a more cost effective approach and plan to hang it against a wall, you want backing fabric. I have 80 flags, so I need 9 lots of 9, or 9 x 25cm which is: 225cm of backing fabric
I chose a few different colours. The store had a minimum of 50cm cuts on plain cottons. Which means fabric 5 and 6 had matching backs, but no extra cost.

Now, don't forget the binding! I didn't factor in the bias binding in the first instance, and then was a bit surprised at how much it cost. I need 8m PLUS a bit on each end. So I figured 10m. I found it was available in packets of 1.5m, which is a bit unfortunate but close enough.
7 x 1.5m of bunting

I found they didn't have the colour I wanted (or even any colour I was willing to work with) so I bought 1.5m of plain fabric and made my own. More economical, but certainly more time consuming. Further explanation about that in a future post.

And of course:
Thread

To find out what the project is going to cost, it is worth doing the maths beforehand. Count everything!

I've drawn up a table below to show how I've worked this out. The table is in GBP because that's what I'm using. But obviously, the same concept applies to whatever you're doing in whatever currency you're working.

25cm of fabric 1 (non-directional print)
25cm @ £12.80p/m
£3.20
25cm of fabric 2 (non-directional print)
25cm @ £12.80p/m
£3.20
25cm of fabric 3 (non-directional print)
25cm @ £12.80p/m
£3.20
50cm of fabric 4 (directional print)
50cm @ £12.80p/m
£6.40
25cm of fabric 5 (block colour)
25cm @ £6.00p/m
£1.50
25cm of fabric 6 (block colour)
25cm @ £6.00p/m
£1.50
225cm of backing fabric
225cm @ £6.00p/m
£13.50
Binding
7 @ £1.15
£8.05
Thread
1 @ £3.15
£3.15
Total

£43.70

I saved £4.50 making my own bias binding. If I hadn't used a directional print, I could have saved a further £3.20.

If I had decided to use 4 colours, that would have changed my cost like this:

50cm of fabric 1 (directional print)
50cm @ £12.80p/m
£6.40
50cm of fabric 2 (directional print)
50cm @ £12.80p/m
£6.40
50cm of fabric 3 (directional print)
50cm @ £12.80p/m
£6.40
50cm of fabric 4 (directional print)
100cm @ £12.80p/m
£12.80
225cm of backing fabric
225cm @ £6.00p/m
£13.50
Binding
7 @ £1.15
£8.05
Thread
1 @ £3.15
£3.15
Total

£56.60

 And if I had used 4 colours and had the same fabric to back them, it would look like this:


50cm of fabric 1 (directional print)
75cm @ £12.80p/m
£9.60
50cm of fabric 2 (directional print)
75cm @ £12.80p/m
£9.60
50cm of fabric 3 (directional print)
75cm @ £12.80p/m
£9.60
50cm of fabric 4 (directional print)
200cm @ £12.80p/m
£25.60
Binding
7 @ £1.15
£8.05
Thread
1 @ £3.15
£3.15
Total
£65.60

I don't do this for every project. There are a lot of variables I haven't altered here - like changing the size of flags, or considering fabrics in different price brackets. But it's definitely worth looking at if you're considering selling your work, or if its close to Christmas and you've already spent all your pocket money on fabric. I haven't included costs for things like replacement sewing needles or postage of the fabric to me. 

Best bit? You can do all this, and still make it in a colour of your choice. ;)

Next couple of posts I will be continuing the bunting - looking at the easy way to make awesome neat points (also good on collars!), and bias binding.

11 comments:

  1. I should also highlight that this does not include the cost of your labour. If you sell your work, do figure out how long it takes (honestly) and charge accordingly.

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  2. Just had a thought Zoe with the tree one way print. If you save all of the upside down triangles you might be able to make a pyramid doorstop (or two)!! It's going to be lovely bunting.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah it turned out nice. I didn't choose the fabric but it kind of grew on me. :)

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  3. Lots of thinking before you've even got sewing!
    I'll be interested in how long this took to make - I'm sure update in a later post.
    Looks great though!

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    Replies
    1. Well, I'm always thinking about sewing anyway. :)
      I don't know if I spent all *that* much time on it really, explaining it makes it look longer. Construction is already complete - and I've already posted it off to the recipient. It took most of Sunday, not counting the cutting out which I did in the evenings. And that was slowed by the fact that I was taking photos and that I decided to finish my seams even though it wasn't necessary.

      Costing is an interesting exercise, particularly when people ask 'What would that cost to make?'. But most of the time when it comes to fabric I see something I like, I buy it...

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  4. So say you charge £8 per hour and in total you spent 4 hours on it from start to finish then the combined price would be £43.70 + £32 which is £75.70. Would someone really say over £70 for bunting? TIA :-)

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    Replies
    1. Probably not. We're used to purchasing products made by people who earn 20p a day or something similarly appalling. But would you want to pay yourself 20p a day?

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    2. Check this one out:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xR3JyYRDzs

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    3. Hi Tia, I've just followed up on this with another post focused on pricing for the purpose of selling. Thanks for your comment, it gave me a focus!

      Zoe

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  5. Thankyou ill look now :-D

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