Why I Don’t Do Commissions and Some Other Stuff

Occasionally someone will ask to pay me to make them a quilt, or will ask for a specific treatment or fabric combo on a bag. After having made a few commissioned pieces in my life, I decided a couple years ago that I wouldn’t do any more commissions.

Why do I dislike commissions? I’ve given this some thought and here’s my reasons. When I make things or develop ideas for a project, I work in a really freeform way. I don’t like to have rules that I have to stick to. I don’t like to lose my ability to change course mid stream. I don’t like to be forced into someone else’s vision of what a project should be. I don’t like to lose those moments of excitement when I come up with something wonderful that strays from the buyer’s vision.

Commissions cause me stress. They force me to go in a direction that I don’t necessarily want to go. They make me feel constrained. The are, frankly, not fun.

I made hand-thrown pottery for a few years in my earlier life and I remember talking to a production potter who said they would never make a dinnerware set on commission, for basically the same reasons that I listed. Plus, they said that people who want you to make something have a very definite picture in their minds of what the end product will look like. And what you produce will often not match the picture in their head.

So I’m happy to sell things I make, but I want to make things that I want to make in the way that I want to make them. And if someone wants to buy it, that’s cool. But I don’t want to allow sales to drive what I make because then the fun is gone.

I’m curious how other people feel about commissions.

And speaking of making things… I’ve been thinking for a few days that I want to make a bag. It’s been a couple months since I cranked one out and I need a break from making bucket hats. So I started thinking of what scraps I had in my huge pile and I remembered some dark KFC fabrics that were left over from this incredibly chaotic quilt. I even made a couple of earlier Frankenbags from these scraps.

So after our wonderful walk this evening I dug into my scraps and found the packet of these dark fabrics and pulled out the smaller pieces and started sewing some crumb blocks. Here’s a photo of all that chain piecing as I’m shoving these small pieces through my machine and then pressing them.

Here’s the resulting crumb blocks that I made. And that’s all the productivity I could muster tonight!

I’ll start putting some bag panels together using these tomorrow night.

Someone asked if I would do a tutorial on how I make my crumb blocks. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in.

I’m happy to report that the roofers finished here yesterday! That was a stressful few days with all that noise and a very sad Rico. I’m glad it’s all done. The roof looks good and they did a good job. So now I don’t have to worry about it for a long, long time! Now if they’d just come and pick up the porta potty…

We had some really hot days last week and it got up to 100 on Sunday. Yesterday was hot, but just in the mid 90s. Today it was perfect! I had my sliding glass door open all morning and into the early afternoon. I don’t think it got much above 70 degrees today. It was so welcome after the scorching temps the last few days. Bender and Rico napped happily in the cool temps outside all day and never made a peep while I worked.

Last fall my neighbor sold her house and moved and she gave me a whole bunch of pots from her patio. It’s been really fun to watch things grow and bloom in those spots this spring. And look at this wonderful surprise that’s in full bloom now!

And look at this incredible rose that we saw on our walk this afternoon! It’s really spectacular!

And the honeysuckle on my patio is in full bloom and the aroma this evening was something really special.

And look at today’s strawberry harvest!

That’s the biggest strawberry harvest I’ve ever had. I ate them as my mid afternoon snack and they were so good! My strawberries are ever-bearing so I should keep seeing more and more throughout the summer. Yum!

I’m taking Thursday off work. I have a personal day that I have to take by June 30 or I’ll lose it. The most exciting thing I have planned is collecting a feces sample from Bender and delivering it to the vet for his annual exam.

I know you’re thinking my life is almost too glamorous!

85 Replies to “Why I Don’t Do Commissions and Some Other Stuff”

  1. I have the same about commissions like you.
    I have to be free to do my I own design
    “So by them or don’t “
    I love your latest combo for your new frankenbag

    Like

  2. I completely agree with you about commissions. I’m a potter and the few I did caused me way too much stress and completely blocked any creativity. Some of them were pretty ugly, in my opinion – and the only time a client didn’t like what I’d made was the only time I loved it.
    And thank you for making me laugh about your glamorous life – sounds very familiar!

    Like

  3. I totally agree about commissions .The times I could not say “no” to a friend’s request have ended not so well .One good friend asked for a fabric color that I do not keep ,had to go searching for it ,sew the tote and give it to her along with her daughter’s tote bag (something I had ) .She put aside the one for her and said she was keeping her daughters !!!. Another commission ,for a friend’s sister , she ended up using the lining side of the tote ,instead of the beautifully quilted front . I also get stressed ,as I like to do things to my timing ,and only when it’s fun ,my vision.

    Like

  4. I look forward to reading about your day at the end of mine. I love your glorious fabrics and how you put them together. Totally agree with you that doing sewing on commission is no fun. I also love your stories about your two amazing dogs Bender and Rico.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Like

  5. I feel the same way about the commission thing, feeling under pressure to meet others expectations of their whims and whimsical takes all the fun out of projects.
    I like the latest crumb block combination you put together.
    The flowers are pretty, the rose is quite spectacular ! I just love summer !

    Like

  6. I would love and so appreciate a video tutorial on how you crumb quilt. And, I could not agree more with you about commission art – nor, could I write or say it better. I enjoy reading your writings – they are beautifully inked. Eileen 🙂

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  7. I detest commissions. I tend to procrastinate and it’s agony for me to get on the train to get the job done. I wanna do what I wanna do when I wanna do it!!! I promised a cousin’s wife, whom I love greatly, three bags (one each for herself and her two sisters). Look at the past ten or so posts on my blog – they’re all test bags for these commission bags from vintage fabric. Need to kick myself in the butt next week and Just. Get. Them. Done.

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!!!

    Like

  8. I am in agreement with your opinion about commissions. I don’t enjoy sewing for people. Years ago I bought some really pretty fabric and was intending to make myself a summer dress. A friend saw the material and wanted me to make her a dress out of the same fabric. Being a friend and in a position to earn some needed extra money, I agreed. What a mistake! Little did I know that my friend was OCD… to the max. I had to alter seams by eighth of inches and move buttons by sixteenth of inches. After that experience, I decided that I hate sewing to meet other people’s expectations. I did, however, go back on that decision 3 times. Twice, I made mother-of the-groom outfits for co-workers whose respective sizes made it difficult to find anything that fit. They were basically desperate, and I was their last hope. They were thrilled with their dresses, and all turned out well. The third commission was a T-shirt/memory quilt for a family at my school whose daughter had unexpectedly passed away. For that one, I insisted that we work together to create the quilt. I did all the cutting of fabrics and the sewing, and the mom helped decide the placement of everything. From that experience, I made a new friend, and she worked through a lot of her grief with me. I just couldn’t take any money for it. The family would have none of that and ended up sending me, along with a friend, for a 2 night, 3 day stay in Amish Country. What fun we had going to all the fabric shops! However, the original OCD dress has stuck in my mind for over 30 years and still makes me think more than twice on taking commissions. Now, when people ask, I start talking about the price of fabric and my prices for the work. After that, they typically run very, very quickly in the other direction. By the way… I never did make myself the summer dress. I also decided to sew American Girl doll clothes and sell them on the craft show circuit. I figured that one size fits all and that dolls don’t complain.
    I love reading your blogs and seeing all the creative things you make!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes, I would be interested in a tutorial on the crumb blocks!

    BTW, your lifestyle is fascinating and refreshing! I love reading about your adventures, even the “poop patrol” duties!

    Like

  10. Good Morning. I would be very interested in how you make crumb blocks. Also would like to know if you have a tutorial on making fabric boxes. Thanks!

    Like

  11. That incredible rose 🌹 awesomeness! I agree on the commission work, kinda takes all the fun out of the creativity! Hope Bender has a good poop 💩 🤣🥰

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  12. I really enjoy reading your blogs and enjoy your creations! You are a very talented lady!

    I would love to make a bucket hat. Do you have a pattern you would be willing to share and/or available for purchase?

    Happy safe 4th to you!

    Pat Nackers W2778 Therese Crt Appleton, WI 54915 920-734-0997 patnackers@gmail.com

    Like

    1. I’m using the Orange Bettie Bucket Hat pattern. It’s a free pattern and you can find it easily online with a Google search. Be sure to pay attention and print the pattern at 100%. That fits a 22 inch head. My head is 23 inches and the pattern printed at 105% fits me well.

      Anne

      Like

  13. I agree with you! I don’t even want to sell them. I quilt and when I get bored with the quilt i’m making I stop and make a bag. I intend to give every bag I make away. I love your bags and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your blog is delightful to read with coffee in the morning. I totally agree with your thoughts on commission work. I refrain for the very same reasons. Enjoy the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You said it perfectly and beautifully in regards to commissions. Serms most of us totally agree. Glad the roofing is over. Apparently your theme this week is poo. (Bender, porta potty)
    Luscious darks for the next bag. So much saturation. Gotta love those pomegranate and jumble together. Thoroughly enjoy your ramblings, puppies, flowers and awesome coast photos. Good job Anne!

    Like

    1. I had to call the roofing company today to come and get their porta potty! People are stopping their cars and using it! I don’t need to see that when I look out my living room window!

      Anne

      Like

    1. thanks for reading! I’m amazed at how many have agreed on commissions. I’m sure there are a good number who disagree and didn’t feel compelled to comment. Someone out there is selling custom made items! Just not me!

      Anne

      Like

  16. Hi
    I am a Big fan of all your sewing projects
    And have also sewn a lot of Frankenbags and Bucket hats.
    Yesterday I was at my hairdresser wearing a bucket hat and skirt in Kaffee Fasset Big Leaf red. A very lively fabric.
    She said “ What a gorgeous hat, I absolutely love it”
    And then asked me to make one for her, but one side in black and the other side in beige.
    .??????????
    No, No No I said all the fun is to pick the fabrics you think look fantastic and then sew It and see the result.
    There is no reason to see something you probably can buy in a shop.
    What’s the creativity and fun in that.
    Have a very good summer,
    Best regards
    Merete Bruun, Denmark

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Black and beige. I don’t think I could force myself to make a black and beige hat!!! Blah!

      Some people are very afraid of bold colors and prints. My mission is to make them comfy with it!!!

      Anne

      Like

  17. Amen to all of that. In addition, it seems that everyone wants something for nothing. I’ve even had people wanting me to do things like make them a king size quilt and not even paying me for the materials, in other words, all for free. Then there are the folks that know I sew and want me to make them costumes for the play they are in, etc. The list goes on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually made space alien costumes for a friends dogs a few years ago! It was crazy. i even had to make up the pattern as my friend told me that it would be so easy! I’ll have to dig out those photos and share them!!! They did turn out cute!

      Anne

      Like

  18. I am so glad you put into words why you don’t do commissions, I feel the same way. Many people who don’t do projects like this don’t understand. I so enjoy your blog, your projects, your animals, and the kind words you share with others projects. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a lot of people think that people who sew just love the activity of shoving fabric through a machine. They really have no idea what we put into it from a creative place.

      Thanks for reading and for commenting!

      Anne

      Like

  19. Hi,
    I totally agree with you on making items for others. I use to sew clothing for others and they never liked it. Now I quilt and make the quilts that I want to. Most of them go to a nonprofit organization and if someone likes a quilt and I feel like giving it to them I will. I do it because it gives me a purpose and it is helping others. Keep doing what you do as we enjoy seeing your products. I did make one of your bags and will send photos at some point. I really enjoyed working on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hallelujah, sista! No one will ever be able to make what is in someone else’s head. I was starting in graphic design about the same time I started sewing
    (eons ago before everyone had a computer) and making a design per request only for them to change it completely next day taught me early on that my vision would always be different. I’m lucky enough to sew what I like and gift (sometimes to a nice stranger) it whether quilt, bag or pillow. I’ve never had anyone say they didn’t like their gift.
    Love the hat wearing dogs. My Shep seems to like photo bombing pics of my sewing but I haven’t tried to put a hat on her. Lol #NolaQuiltDogs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be impossible so see what others see in their heads! I’m done trying!

      You should at least try to put a hat on your dog. Put it on your bucket list!

      Anne

      Like

  21. I recently made a quilt on commission and echo your feelings. I found it very stressful, worrying if she would like it, second guessing myself, etc. I won’t do it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I love the roses in Portland, probably because my son and his family live there! Thanks for the flower photos. As for commissions, I’m finding that time is my most precious variable when I decide to create something. Fabric and thread are relatively cheap compared to designing and constructing. I’d rather spend that time on my own projects than use it to try to meet other people’s objectives. I am getting older so time looks a little different than it used to, more valuable than ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And isn’t it amazing how little value others place on our time? I happen to think my time is worth something!

      I know I would love to have more time in my day!!!

      Anne

      Like

  23. I completely agree with you about doing commissioned work. I also like to change my mind midway or whenever the thought strikes me. Keep up the wonderful work. I love seeing your dogs and especially enjoyed the lambs in the Spring. Cheers and keep on sewing.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. YAY for you!!! I completely agree with your thoughts about commission-quilting! And you were so eloquent about it! Well done! Enjoy those cooler temps….it’s going to be high 90’s here in Boise FOREVER!!!!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    1. This week’s weather is so glorious! Much better than last week. I will enjoy it while we have it.

      I’ve thought about doing a blog post about commissions for a while. I had no idea that so many people feel the same way!

      Anne

      Like

  25. Always enjoy your blog and today especially. Some of things have closed their loop and new ones are opening. And, yes, I would like a scrap block tutorial.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I feel like your “soul sister” re: commissions. I no longer do them. If you want to buy something I’ve already made, that’s fine, but I won’t work with the ideas or fabric choices of someone else. I see from most of the other comments that “creatives” feel the same way. Did you receive the email I sent you with photos of my Rice bags?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting that so many have the same feelings about commissions. It’s sad that we’ve all learned from experience. For me it’s not getting ripped off, it’s just not fun!

      I’ll start working on a tutorial.

      Anne

      Like

  27. I missed several of your recent blogs. I hope you are fully recovered from your recent fall at the picket ball court. Congratulations on the Feather Weight Singer Sewing Machine. I am sure you will create fabulous stuff with it. Oh, and the pictures of beautiful Roses! I am very close to finishing my second Franken Bag, as I get only about 15 mins or so each night to take my mind off and do some sewing. In your March blog, you asked about your neighbor’s Flowering Tree with large Pink Flowers. That tree is “Saucer Magnolia”. We had that tree in the front yard of our previous home.
    Also, could I please request a tutorial on your patch work on your pouches – with triangular piecing. I was looking for your pictures on the Zipper Pulls you made with faux leather cord and Tiger Eye Beads; I could not find it. Could please guide me to where that picture is? As always I enjoy Bender and Rico’s pictures with Bucket Hats in KFC fabrics. Thank you for your inspirations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not quite recovered. My knee is good but my ribs are still sore, but better.

      I’m going to have to go back and look at the photo of that tree. I can’t remember it. thanks for the ID!

      Those pouches with the triangle piecing were done on a paper piecing template that I drew. I’m happy to share with you if you’ll send me your email and I can actually find the template. It might be on my broken computer and unaccessible.

      Here’s the post with the zipper pulls. https://agilejack1.com/2022/05/16/feeling-good-enough-to-sew/

      Anne

      Like

  28. I would love your tutorial on crumb blocks. I also agree about commission sewing; not going there again. Love your blog and the pooches are so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I like your thoughts on commissions. I have never been quite able to describe my hesitancy to work that way but you describe it well. The fun of sewing is being able to be creative! In the future I think I am also going to refuse the task of finishing others half done projects. Not fun! And yes, I would enjoy a tutorial on how you make crumb blocks. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Feel exactly the same re commissions and well done for sticking by your principles!!
    I’d also love a tutorial on your crumb blocks if you have time to make one.
    Enjoy your day off tomorrow and good luck getting a sample from Bender. I’m sure he’ll be far better than my Labradors who dive off in opposite direction any time I come near them with a sample pot!!🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, the sample will be easy. He will just drop in on the grass and then I get to grab some with a little spoon! I’m so excited!

      I’ll start thinking about a crumb piecing tutorial. Thanks!

      Anne

      Like

  31. I agree 100% on commissions. I got burned on 2 and decided then and there, never again. We can’t see the vision the customer has in their head and a lot of the time they really don’t describe it very well.
    Hmmm, I guess my life is a little more glamorous than yours! No stool samples here.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I totally agree with you regarding commissions. I’ve only done one, and it was such a pill of a project! Not my colors, style, subject or quilt size (it was a king). The recipient LOVES it, but, it really took a lot out of me and I decided that I would never do another commission. I’ll make what I want and give it to someone. Sure, I try to consider their colors, interests, etc. but the quilt comes out of my head!
    I’d love to see a crumb tutorial.
    You are getting more strawberries than me! I’ve only gotten a handful so far this year. My plants look amazing, but, not many berries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a little disappointed in my strawberries. I just planted them this year and was hoping for a little more this year. We had a really wed and cool May and June so that didn’t help.

      I’ve only done one quilt as a commission and it didn’t enjoy it at all. it was just too much pressure to do something I didn’t love on a timeline that I didn’t like. Never again!!! But it was a pretty quilt and the buyer was very happy with it.

      I’ll work on a crumb tutorial.

      Anne

      Like

  33. Anne – I feel exactly the same way about commissions. The only addition reason I have is that I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert sewer and not all of my stitches are perfect. That just the way I like it. Perfection is overrated. Lol. But if I made someone something on commission and they said pointed out a crooked stitch (and worse, asked for a discount), I would have to stab them with a spork. Hahahaha. Not really, but you get the point. You’ll have to forgive my sarcastic, warped sense of humor. I also sew for fun and if it ever became a “job”, I would quit. I tell people that I make things and have some for sale and if you see it and like it, flaws and all, then great! My development of a sense of color and pattern is still in its infancy since I used my left brain only in my 33 years work life so I make some pretty bad choices and things turn out really bad. Here is a perfect example of that. This bag is truly a Frankenstein bag. Great concept, baaaaad result. Hahaha. But I had fun making it and I think of sewing as a journey so I’ll use it as a beach bag or something.

    Have a great day!

    Tina

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  34. I’d love to see a tutorial on your crumb piecing. I think your color combinations on your Franken bags are beautiful. I hope to make one someday soon. Thanks for all your inspiration .

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Your life is Glamorous. Don’t change a thing just stay on that path to happiness and creativity. Those walks and roses, oh My. Just beautiful. Those blocks you are kicking out like making a pie, look beautiful. Can’t wait to see the creations with that. We all need that day off, even if it includes a chore, it’s fun just having that time to yourself. I’m glad for the hats, I’m loving everyone whose gotten on board and it’s healthy. That sun can really do damage, so thank you for your inspiration.. enjoy this beautiful day.. from Sunny Hot Arizona
    Suzanne 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I feel the same way about commissions. I will do some but usually I will only make stuff I already make but they can pick the fabrics (not quilts though). I love crumb quilting it is so relaxing. The roses are amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

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