This was originally posted by the lovely ladies of Starnigh Industries on their blog, and I HAD to use it.
So you want to commission a costume. Great! First thing you need to remember is that you are getting a hand-crafted item made to your specifications. Do some homework first. Shop around, see if you can see examples of their work and feedback. How long has the commissioner in question been in business? Are they fairly reputable? Can you get it all in one place (wigs, costume, props, accessories), do they outsource part of their product, orwill you need to buy things elsewhere to finish your costume?
Now it’s time to send your email. Do the commissioner a favor – gather your information and reference materials ahead of time. The person crafting your product will need several detailed pictures of what you are requesting. (3 is a good number, though if you have more, that’s fine.) They are also going to need your measurements; which ones depend on the costume in question. A good rule of thumb is to give them your bust, waist, and hip measurements and your height.
Sidenote: don’t measure yourself. Your measurements will be off. Have someone else do it. If you are unsure where to measure, there are numerous tutorials online that will show you how – otherwise, your costume is not going to fit properly.
While this will vary from commissioner to commissioner, most shops need at least a month to finish an order. You should also note that, as a general rule, anything due in less than 30 days will typically incur a rush fee… if they can squeeze you in at all. You would be best served commissioning your product a few months in advance. This not only insures you will get your costume, but if there are any problems, you still will have plenty of time to fix it.
At this point, the crafter will generate a quote for you. Remember, this quote includes materials and labor. You don’t work for free, do you? So don’t be surprised if most shops include an hourly labor fee. A lot of shops will give you a basic list of what the costume is being made from. If they don’t and you want to know, don’t hesitate to ask. Nothing sucks more than wanting your Sailor Mars costume done in bridal satin and finding out they used baroque satin to cut corners. (Baroque satin is evil. Trust me.)
From there, the buyer and the commissioner will agree on a payment schedule. Most shops require you give half payment up front (a lot of times it is non-refundable, so be aware of that and check their FAQ), and then work with you on the rest of the payments. Make sure you have all of that hammered out to your liking before you send them anything, because once you pay them if you try to make changes, you may be up sh*t’s creek without a paddle.
Most reputable shops will give you periodic updates. That is the time to give them feedback. If you see something you don’t like, let them know immediately. Once the costume is put together, it’s a royal pain in the rear to fix that one seam on the left side you don’t like.
Finally, once the costume is together, the commissioner can weigh it and give you a shipping charge. Shipping is almost always extra, so make sure to ask about that before you get started, so you don’t have a $50 surprise fee waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.
And there we are.