I recently had a buyer contact me about making a guitar strap she could decorate herself. As we talked through what she wanted, I realized that there are a number of people out there who want something customized but can't afford to pay someone else to do it. Also, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to provide that kind of guitar strap. There is so much on the market, pre-designed layouts and appliques and lettering that people can use to personalize their guitar strap. Now, granted, it's not the same has having something hand embroidered but so what? I've used those same things myself when customizing a guitar strap that needs to be kept affordable. And, while I'm always glad I can make just the right strap and stay within budget, it honestly isn't very gratifying as an artist to stitch or iron on a something rather than create it myself. When I have resorted to using commercial items, I treat them as a "pass through" (charging the buyer only what I paid for it with no mark up) cost and just charge for my labor. And that seems pretty fair to me.
So... back to the lady who wanted a DIY guitar strap. She wanted a silk strap that was just completely unornamented. And I agreed with her that she was using her limited funds wisely. Get the best fabric and the best construction she could afford and then decorate the strap any way she wanted without having to pay me to do it. Depending on what she's applying to the strap, that can knock $10 or more off the cost for her while she still pays me for a unique and well-constructed strap.
I ended up making her a burgundy silk strap with black satin back lining and buckskin leather tabs. It cost her $50. She will probably spend maybe $3-5 for the decorations she will put on her strap and the final result will be a completely unique strap at an affordable price, accompanied by the little zing of pleasure at being able to say, "I did this myself." I think that's very cool. Thanks for reading! Terri