I find it hard to set prices and have basically used the formula Cost of materials X 2 + 25% with shipping and handling added at the end. For most commissions, this is a pretty fair exchange rate. However, when there is a lot of designing, patterning, hand work and tedious extras that have to be done to a really special piece of work, not to mention that finding the right materials for the project may also require a lot of research, this formula doesn't quite fit the bill. An hourly rate is also hard to judge. I've had relatively simple projects that took more time than anticipated and I have had really complicated projects that I've breezed through because all the planets were aligned or some special kind of luck came my way. I also have a network of very skilled artisans that I have compared notes with before I have decided on prices. That seems to be pretty helpful because I always seem to underestimate the marketable value of my own work. Then so many potential clients come to me with aspirations of fabulous costumes for bargain basement prices and are shocked by how expensive custom work can be. I supposed that is part of the reason why I have never really launched myself into a viable business venture because you can't build a business on being the cheapest competitor out there or maintain a steady stream of clients when you are one of the most expensive ones. The happy medium is hard to figure out.
I also have dropped way back on my output because of loss of drive after some serious setbacks within the costuming communities in which I operate. A few unkind folks who praised my work, but have struck me down on a personal level because of alliances with others who were not welcomed in the inner circle...you know the same ol' same ol' of politics and personality conflicts that damage the reputation and dampen the spirit of creative persons. I am trying to rise above all that crap because I really am too old to continue to play out school yard rivalries or petty jealousies that have ruined friendships and businesses.
In any case, I am trying to get myself back on a balanced footing, ignoring disappointing or broken relationships and focusing on what I really love, creating, crafting and promoting the skills of made from scratch costumes and other garments.