Friday, 10 June 2011

You get what you pay for

I thought I'd write a little post about quality and the value of handmade. For a long while now I have been getting increasingly frustrated with the lovely items I find in high street shops such as John Lewis, House of Fraser and the like.

As an example, many of them sell beautiful cushions like the ones I have made above for anywhere in the region of £20 - £50. For some reason I cant help but feel that people would prefer to buy their cushions from these shops rather than support someone like myself and buy handmade.

Why is this you ask? Well, I could list the cushions above in my Folksy shop for say £25 each and they would just sit there until I eventually get frustrated and reduce them. Even then they don't always sell and then I end up running out of storage space at home and letting them go at cost price in a sale.

People often ask me how much I charge to make a cushion and then once they have received my quote never get back to me, preferring to go and buy 'off the shelf' instead.

I wonder if the people who have purchased cushions from high street stores realise what goes into something that has been handmade? Well let me show you:

All of my cushions are made with top quality fabrics. Either vintage, 100% cotton or 100% linen. I only use well known makes and brands that are quality assured and everything I sew is made using Gutterman threads. As you can see in the picture above, my cushions are fully lined and all of the raw edges have been overlocked to prevent fraying.

The cushions have a funky closure of quality snap fastenings in co-ordinating colours. Each of these is inserted by hand.

The rosettes are all made as individual attachments and have a snap fastener on the reverse so that they can be removed from the cushion for washing.

All finished off with Beautiful Things labels and pressed before being wrapped in tissue paper and sent off to their new homes, stuffed with good quality cushion pads.

Now are you telling me that you would get that much care, love and attention from a high street shop? Your cushions will probably have been made in a factory using far from superior materials and who knows could possibly have been made abroad in far from salubrious conditions by minors.

So next time you are looking for something special to adorn your sofa or armchair, why not take a look on the net for handmade. You can have something totally unique, designed to your exact specifications that looks as beautiful if not more so than the item you were planning on buying from the high street at almost the same price if not less.

Please don't quibble when someone offers to make you something but charges the same as the high street, handmade does not imply poor quality, lesser standards or shoddy. It means made with love, care, attention to detail and 'just for you'.

Next time your high street shopping and pick something up you like, think to yourself...'Could Claire make this for me?' I expect I could and I expect it would be much nicer!


  1. Claire i think your cushions are beautiful and well worth the money you charge for them.
    I would not think even twice about spending that mich money on a xushion from a high street shop, because you couldn't guarentee the qualoty like you said. But i would spend it on a special.handmade item, especially if i could have a conversation with the person who was making it for me!
    I think sadly people don't appreciate just what goes into making an item by hand-and that includes making something as 'simple' as a card!

  2. Great post! Money is tight but I'll always try to buy handmade first-the quality is often superior to mass produced rubbish. Your cushions are beautiful :)

  3. Very well said! Some people still have a downer on hand made as they believe it to be inferior, when it's just the opposite. I remember when I had another shop on Folksy one of my cards (with envelope of course) was selling for £1.45 (that included postage), so in fact it was about £1. The buyer complained in a nasty email (luckily she didn't post feedback on Folksy!) that she was appalled at the price tag (eh?) and that the image was printed directly onto the card. The card, envelope, postage and printing costs were more than the card!! Some people clearly don't have a clue. Your work is beautiful! x

  4. 'handmade does not imply poor quality, lesser standards or shoddy. It means made with love, care, attention to detail and 'just for you'.'

    A great way to describe handmade items! To be honest I'm often shocked by the prices of some cushions, especially in large department stores given the mass production! That alone makes me want to make my own although I don't doubt yours are much better quality than mine would ever be :) they are lovely. Yay for handmade!