embroidery don't tell me

12 Commissioning Concerns (And Why You Should Stop Worrying)

You’d be surprised at how many of us have commissioning concerns. Too often the commissioning of an item is swathed in mystery to the point that it resembles witchcraft. Worse, commissioning is often synonymous with expense which puts off mere mortals from the joys of owning, say, a bespoke bag. Well, whatever your commissioning concerns are, this should allay most of them. There’s nothing you can think of that I haven’t thought of first. Now, lay on the couch and tell me what’s bothering you…

I want to commission something but don’t know where to start

I know, I know, the choice is overwhelming isn’t it? It makes me want to lie down too. Common commissioning concerns (*puts teeth back in*) include knowing you want something but not seeing your vision clearly enough to commission it.

So if you want to commission, say, a bag, think of a past fave bag and what you loved or hated about it. Was it big enough but with stingy pockets? Or perhaps it was in the perfect colour but with straps that were too short? And what else would you like to add or remove from it if you could? By using previous experience as a jumping off point you get a really clear idea of what you want your new commissioned item to be like.

You don’t need all of the answers either. Come up with the details that you can and then me for solutions to the sticking points. And if you’re stumped because you fancy something new but don’t know what? Chat to me about your hobbies and lifestyle and we’ll come up with something. See? It’s easy!

What if it’s expensive?

Then get in your car and drive for the border until you run out of petrol. No, seriously, this should never be one of your commissioning concerns. If my commission price makes your teeth curl, tell me. You can either not go ahead with it or we can amend your ideas and my design until we have an item that doesn’t cost as much.

More than that, I never start physical work on an item until your payment arrives in my account so you won’t have incurred any costs by discussing a commission. Don’t forget to use the items already on my site as guide prices too. My slouch bags go for roughly £30 a pop so I won’t unexpectedly charge you £2000, Hermes-stylee, for your slouchy commission that has an extra pocket and a shorter handle.

What if there’s nothing on your site that resembles what I want?

Believe it or not, 50% of what I make has been suggested by customers and they’re items I’d never have thought of making myself. That means I’m open to all sorts of suggestions (well, clean ones). If there’s nothing similar on my site, just ask.

The only requests that get a firm, “NO!” from me involve making clothes (I can’t take the pressure), curtains (I don’t have the patience) and weighted blankets (I can’t get the bulk through my machine). Apart from those three things I’ll happily consider any commission regardless of whether I have made it before.

What if I don’t like the fabric you have in stock?

Then I’ll source fabric that you DO like and buy it in for you. I’ll chat to you about your fave types of fabrics and colours and either I’ll show you a range from my stockists or I’ll give you links that you can check out yourself. You can be as specific as you like too. I’ve been asked to find fabric with anything on it from Westies through to galaxies. Don’t forget, either, that I won’t buy in any fabric until we’ve agreed on what you want and I’ve received your payment. And don’t let my preference for using bold colours be one of your commissioning concerns. If you want a set of turd-brown sky pockets then I’ll happily make them for you too. Just tell me what fabric you want and we’ll find it regardless of what it looks like.

Is it Ok to ask lots of questions?

Hell, yes! Commissioning concerns include that you’ll be a pain for asking questions but MY commissioning concern is that you’ll politely stay quiet and end up with an item you don’t want or like. I’ll happily answer any questions because we both get a really clear pic of what to expect from the process (when you ask questions it gives me an idea of how much you do/ don’t know and what I need to tell you). There’s no such thing as a daft question either. Seriously, if you want to message me with, “Why is denim?”  or “When is blue?” go for it. It’s your money you’re spending. You have to know what you’re spending it on.

I’ve seen an item I like on your site but can I have it with a few changes?

You certainly can. Commissioning concerns should never be about getting what you want. I won’t chuck a diva-ish wobbly because your request for an outside pocket buggers up my creative vision. I’m not the Mariah Carey of the sewing world. Ok, so I might make a few design tweaks so that the item you want stays, say, proportioned once changed to your spec but none of that will happen without your go ahead either. Now, bring to my dressing room three white kittens, 40 scented candles and a crate of Cristal! I won’t stitch a thing until I have them!

Is this going to be a massive faff?

That depends on how faffy you are. Right at the start I’ll ask you a pile of questions about what you want: the item’s size, your colour preference, your fave fabrics etc. If you don’t have the answers to these that’s OK because I’ll help you find them. Allay your commissioning concerns, though, by getting your head straight before you contact me.

By that, I mean don’t do as some previous customers have which is ping me a kneejerk email with a fave fabric before following it up with six other emails, at hourly intervals, each one turning the last on its head. It gets confusing and the faff factor goes through the roof (along with my rage). By all means change your mind but in a way that’s considered and less likely to make me weep over a bottle of rum.

What if I want specifically sized pockets?

Well I’m good with that if you are. In fact, think about what you want from those pockets. Do you want an open pocket for easy access to a phone or do you want a zipped pocket for loose change or meds? You might even want a pocket for a water bottle.

Telling me what you want to put in a pocket really helps, actually. If I know that you want to stash a purse in it or all of the sweet wrappers from your five year old then I have a better idea of how to construct it for its best use. I can’t do anything for the storage of Russian nerve agents though. I don’t have enough lead-lined fabric and I can’t sew while wearing a haz-mat suit.

What if my item doesn’t fit me or my space?

Look, this isn’t the Stonehenge scene from This is Spinal Tap (well not unless you give me your size in inches rather than feet) so this should be the last of your commissioning concerns. Believe me when I say your item WILL fit because one of the first things we’ll talk about is sizes. Whether it’s a notice board for a cupboard door or a slouch with a shorter handle I’ll double check everything with you before I lift a scissors. All I ask is that you check your measurements before you send them to me. If you tell me you want a toiletry bag in inches rather than centimetres (because you’ve mixed them up) you may need one hell of a lot of make-up brushes to fill it. They (whoever they are) say “Measure twice, cut once”. They know what they’re talking about.

What if I need to wash it?

A big commissioning concern is care for your item. Don’t fear, though. I’m not running up items in rare silks (well, not unless you ask me to). So just bung your item in the machine at no more than 30 degrees (it’s good for the fabric and the environment) but don’t tumble dry it. You’re better off drying it naturally and even perhaps running an iron over it afterwards.

Of course, this applies to things like bags and bunting. All of my fabrics can withstand the odd wash but if I catch you putting my delicate anatomical embroideries in the Hotpoint I’ll be performing my next dissection session on you.

What if I decide to not go ahead with the commission?

Just tell me because until you have paid you can back out any time you like. You’re under no obligation whatsoever. If you have paid, however, all bets are off because there’s every chance I’ll have either started work or already paid for fabric and notions. You can even tell me to stop sewing but that doesn’t mean you’ll get a refund.

A big commissioning concern is that you’ll start a process that you can’t stop but until you’ve paid and we’ve agreed every detail that’s just not true. Before you’ve coughed up the notes you can call it off whenever you like (a bit like a bad wedding).

What if I hate my item?

I’ll be bloody shocked. This is one commissioning concern you should never, ever have. By the time you receive your item we’ll have talked it over, I’ll have double checked the deets with you and you’ll have OK’d the fabric choices. I only know of one customer, in three years of Kraken Kreations, who didn’t like the item I made and that was because the fabric she asked me to buy in wasn’t what she thought it would be when she received it. So when I say I’ll be shocked I mean SHOCKED. *reaches for a cold poultice at the mere thought of it*

So what are your commissioning concerns? Does what I’ve said here resonate? And what questions do YOU have about commissioning? Ask and I’ll answer you!