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An Expensive Mistake

Started by Ageorge, October 03, 2014, 03:48:32 pm

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I recently made a pretty expensive mistake. It is somewhat funny, butI had to spend a significant amount of money fixing it. Over the summer, we had gotten pretty busy. Right before I was getting ready to close up on a Friday night, a customer dropped off several outdoor pieces to upholster, as well as a vintage vinyl cushion different from what we were supposed to do to 'repair'. None of the cushions had any fabric on them and she let us choose which fabric went on the different pieces. We didn't start it for about a month. The seamstress and I discussed what colors we were doing on each piece and that was that. She even questioned me about one that looked different, but I told her to go ahead and do what we had planned. The different piece was the one that we were supposed to repair. We ended up making  new cover out of the fabric for a totally different outdoor set. When the customer came to get everything, she asked where the repair was. It was then I realized my mistake. At first we didn't think it would be a problem because we always save the old fabric until the customer picks up. But this time, she had used a permanent marker to mark the direction, leaving a large red arrow on the top of the vinyl. We tried everything to get it off, but couldn't do it! The customer kept talking about how it was "vintage" (old and torn lol) so we couldn't just make new cushions out of new fabric. I had to buy set of vintage outdoor cushions off of Ebay because just one wouldn't match the the rest (a six cushion sofa). They are thrilled because they are getting all brand new cushions. I'm just out about 300 bucks. What's your most expensive mistake?


I once had a customer drop off a sofa and two club chairs with fabric.  About a month later I upholstered the sofa with the chairs fabric and the chairs with the sofas fabric! 
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln


Sorry that happened.  I was thinking a leather repair guy could definitely hide the marker but for outside use the durability of the top coat may have been an issue.
Are you married ? Just kidding ?
I can't remember the worst but from time to time a color doesn't match and if I have to go darker that's not too bad but to go lighter it's a complete redo and that is a hit into the profit for approximately $ 400.00 labor/materials


I did a good one this week. Built two headboards and made them the wrong size. They were suppose to be for Queen size beds and I made them for Kings. OOps. As they say s*(%t happens. I hate when I do things like this. Also they PURE white :(
Minichillo's Upholstery


The costliest mistake in my career wasn't due to my own ineptitude.

A customer turned in a huge order. I wrote it up.
Later that day, she returns to the shop all hopped up on happy pills, and totally changes her fabric selections. So I re-write the order.

Of course, when I finish the job, she emphatically denies ever changing her order.

My only mistake, was not making her sign the ticket to verify the changes. I could tell by the glazed look in her eyes that something wasn't right with her.

It was my word against hers, and she was a VERY influential person in town. I had to eat a $3000 job.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

Darren Henry

The exact same thing happened to a guy I worked for back in my days as a shoe maker. He did upholstery,window blinds and leathercraft and hired me to add shoe repair to the mix. Fortunately it was only one sofa.

Years later I quit feeling bad for the guy. After I had made a deal to get him set up for shoe repair and he thought he had learned enough to do it himself he sold the business and moved out to the maritimes to open a shoe repair leaving me unemployed.I moved to Kenora. Ironically the guy who  trained me in upholstery had also trained this jerk when he was still in winnipeg and he too had been screwed. The jerk had opened a shop in his garage and was stealing customers and tools from him.
Life is a short one way trip, don't blow it!Live hard,die young and leave no ill regrets!


Can't think of to many out of pocket $ mistakes. Except for the occasional, didn't order enough fabric. There has been a time or two I almost used the wrong fabric. The worse mistake was putting the fabric on wrong side facing on a sofa. Had to take the whole thing apart (very carefully) and use it the right way.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.


October 05, 2014, 04:32:16 pm #7 Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 04:48:45 pm by gene
QuoteWhat's your most expensive mistake?

I started my upholstery business 10 years ago.  :) I love it and would do the same thing again if given the chance. I don't do corporate reports any more. But I also don't get corporate pay checks any more either.

A fellow upholsterer here in town was told by a lady customer to run the stripes sideways on the sofa. He said he told her that was the wrong way but she insisted. He did as she said and when he delivered the sofa she literally SCREAMED! He said he was actually frightened by how loud she screamed. She bought more fabric and he reupholstered it with the stripes running vertically, at his cost.

This story is my reminder to "get it in writing".


Virgs Sew n Sew

Just did mine this morning.  Could have been worse.  A small embroidery job on a semi-expensive fabric.  I went through my stash and found a fabric that very closely resembled customer's fabric.  Sat down at my computer and drew up her embroidery project, saved it to the correct disc for the embroidery machine I was using (I have 2 that can embroider), hooped my fabric and let my embroidery machine fly.  Everything looked good so I got out the stabilizer that the package said was correct for the job and let my machine go.  There were two designs, first one ran like a dream.  I rehooped and started the second job, got about halfway through and the bobbin started to tangle (bad enough I had to break the machine down to free the bobbin thread and get rid of the knot).  Now I have a design halfway done with a knot underneath of it.  I got out my seam ripper and carefully started to tear out the embroidery.  I got about halfway done and inadvertently ripped the fabric.  Ooooops.

Fortunately, she left her receipt for the fabric purchase in the sack she dropped the fabric off in.  So after lunch, off to JoAnn's I trudge to get a new piece of fabric.  I did take the opportunity to use a sturdier stabilizer and ran the design again.  Ran like a dream, even though I hadn't really tightened the hoop as well as I had been with the other stabilizer.  Told Bob that I will use the Strong or Ultra Strong stabilizer from now on out on everything but very sturdy cotton projects.  Also was glad I found this out before I start my large embroidery project (last of the month I think) as I would have hated to replace a bunch of running shorts because I couldn't get the designs to run correctly on their fabric.

This fabric cost her about $30.00 -- I'm hopeful I have a % off coupon in my car.  Most expensive for me right now is the time I've already spent and will spend again to complete it.  Not a total waste since I learned a valuable embroidery lesson but time is a premium right now.  Sa la vie!


I made a quad set of toppers for a big bus. $ 865. Wrong color. Dang. re-did the entire order again in the right color.

I am setting on the other quad set till an order comes up for that color with those measurements. It will be a while.

It happens.



October 13, 2014, 01:21:47 am #10 Last Edit: October 13, 2014, 01:33:59 am by DB
I guess it was a mistake, customer thought so:  I reupholstered her chair, in her fabric, but with the  wrong side of the fabric showing because she wanted the the backside showing.  Finish side was much nicer, everyone thought so except customer.

Guess what...... I had to redo it, I took most of the panels, if not all - can't remember now, and flipped sides and redid it that way.  I still lost the time, it later payed off when the customer gave me several more jobs.  I learned to listen better henceforth!!

I often run into fabrics where it is arbitrary as to which is the intended finish side, but since that ordeal, I usually verify which with the customer which is the desired outside.



Quote from: DB on October 13, 2014, 01:21:47 am
I often run into fabrics where it is arbitrary as to which is the intended finish side........
And it seems to get worse every year. On about 50% of the "arbitrary" fabrics, whichever side I consider to be the correct side isn't what the customer wants exposed.

I keep a remnant rack that I offer to customers for small jobs. They browse through the rolls, and pick the wrong side almost every time. 
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban


I don't call mine the "remnant rack", I call it "lunch money"!
If at first you don't succeed, redefine success. If at first you fail, redefine failure.