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Advice? Opinions?

This isn't a beware, and I'm hoping it's okay here, but I have a question that I was hoping to get some opinions on.

I get measurements from people to do certain fursuit commissions. One that I'm working on now, I'm pretty sure the measurements I'm getting from them are incorrect. I've asked them for measurements twice, just to make sure they're correct, but even with the 'corrected' measurement, it's so far from being possible that I'm not sure what to do.

Do I bug them again and tell them there's no way their measurements are right? Do I make them to the given specifications? Do I assume they're incorrect and adjust them accordingly?

Things I make come with a warranty, so if there's a problem it's up to me to fix it for free. If I assume the measurements are wrong and make them too large, I have to fix them. But here's the real issue: if I make them to the person's measurements and they're incorrect, is it all on me to fix them? Or do I tell them that they've been done to their specifications, and if adjustments must be made, I have to be paid more for the labor/materials? Given what it is, I may have to completely remake them if they don't fit properly.

Just wondering how other people deal with issues of warranty, and where the line of responsibility lies.
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( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I think you should ask for a ductape dummy. It's apparent they don't know how to measure themselves, a properly done ductape dummy would be much more accurate.

In general, it's on the commissioner to be able to measure themselves correctly. Of course I would provide them with guides on how to take proper measurements, along with instructions to do a ductape dummy. Be clear that if they want to measure themselves it must be correct or else they need to pay for adjustments. If they want to make sure it's perfect they need to make a ductape dummy since that's the closest you can get aside from measuring them in person.
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
It's only for a small piece, so a DTD shouldn't be necessary. I drew out a diagram of where to measure. It was pretty clear. That's why I'm so confused as to what I should do, because I don't know how they could be incorrect... but they are. :[
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oooh okay, for some reason I thought this was a full fursuit. At this point the only thing I can think of is to ask 'how are you measuring yourself' and see if you can get a picture of what they are doing to correct them. Or see if they can have a friend to help them. But ultimately, be clear that you must have the correct measurements if they want it to fit, otherwise they have to pay for the adjustments.
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's rude to tell them that considering your background in making costumes, the measurements they've given you appear to be incorrect. Then work them through it; better to spend a while communicating frankly with them NOW than to spend way more time fixing it after the fact.
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
I may have to do this.
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
This is going to sound strange but make sure that they took the measurements in the same system you work in (ie Metric vs. English Units). I had that happen to me once when for some unknown reason we had a metric tape measure in the costume shop and it was used to measure someone by an intern.

I think that you have them sign off on the measurements with the understanding that you will do the following (spell it out) but not a full redo if you go by these measurement.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
All the other measurements are fine. It's just one part that makes me go "wut." o.0

I may ask them to remeasure again and let them know that I'm going to make them to those specs, and... I guess it's on them if they're incorrect after all?
Mar. 5th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
I tell people that I can guarantee I'll make them a ring of the size they order- but I cannot guarantee that this ring will fit. I do my best to insure that they choose a size that's correct... but if they don't, that's not my flaw, and I'm not going to fix it for free if I've made it the size they ordered.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
What specifically is off? Is it something that could be solved by requesting a duct tape dummy? If it's hand paws or a head, etc. maybe just explain nicely to them that in your experience the measurements don't sound right, and you don't want to provide them with a product they can't use.

I think it would be better to deal with asking again, or maybe explaining in detail to them how to correctly take measurements now. It would be better to solve the problem now then to have to redo the pieces, or worse yet, deal with the drama of a fursuit made "wrong".

I would definitely not assume anything. <=)
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
It's just a circumference. The other measurements are fine, and it's just this one part. I'll probably wind up asking them to measure again. I really wanted to just finish this thing and get it off my plate. D:
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
It's your responsibility to be clear about what measurements you need and how they are collected. It is also your responsibility to throw out obviously incorrect measurements (like a handwith of 8 inches) and rephrase your question/provide a diagram if words are not clear enough.

It is their responsibility (once they understand the directions) to give you correct measurements.

So if you have been very clear and they are sure the measurements are correct, make the item. It's not your fault if it does not fit due to their actual measurements differing. You are not psychic.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
Well... the first measurement was obviously incorrect, so I drew out a diagram and told them what I needed again. I got a correction of 1", which still doesn't make them anywhere near big enough.

Now I'm wondering where the line is, and when I just say "I've done the best I can." I think I'll try one more time, and if they insist they're right, I'll have done my best.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
If it's just one measurement you're missing, this might be an appropriate time to fudge it. A bit of a risk because then if it fits wrong they can blame you, but if what they're giving you just doesn't conform to human standards.. then better an attempt to fit it how you think rather than stick to the letter and just know it'll be wrong lol
Mar. 5th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
It might also be useful to try to find someone with in the same ball park of body figure and take their measurements.
Mar. 4th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
If it's just one measurement, I would ask for it again and try to explain perhaps a different way of taking it? I didn't see mention in the post of what the measurement was for, so I can't guess how off it may be.
Mar. 5th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
If it's a measurement for an arm, I'm specific and tell them "I need the size of your wrist, the size of your arm before your elbow, and the size of your arm 6 inches above your elbow"

I'd ask for the measurements again and be very specific. Doubt they'll get annoyed or angry. You're trying to make sure their suit comes out perfect. If they keep giving you really weird numbers, let them know the information they're giving you is going to DIRECTLY affect the fit of their suit and if they're ok with the measurements they gave you :)
Mar. 5th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
Any chance of seeing this person at a convention or in person at any point? you could mention to them that you'd like to take their measurements in person to make sure their product is "of the best quality" or something to that effect. Duct tape dummies seems like they would cost so much to ship, but I guess if you can't see them in person that is the best you can do. I feel like if you make the suit and it doesn't fit it would be much worse than if you insisted for for a duct tape dummy or got their measurements in person.

This is another reason I'd never take on full body commissions. Some people are just not forthcoming about their actual body size and have a skewed idea of their body image.

Good luck to you on this.
Mar. 5th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
My warranty only covers things that are wrong and BROKEN, as in if I made something and it immediately falls apart or something, or if it doesn't last the time I cover it for.

If I am provided with arm tracings, for example, and the tracings just look wrong, then that's on the customer and I am released of responsibility. Especially if I asked them to redo the tracings!

It is in my opinion that if the costume doesn't fit correctly due to their erroneous measurements, then it's really not my fault. If they want to pay a tailoring fee for me to fix them and provide me with some REAL measurements, then I'd be mooooore than happy to fix it.

I always provide my customers with a visual diagram of where and how to measure themselves properly so I haven't had this problem yet, but I have all my bases covered in case one of them still manages to get it wrong.
Mar. 5th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
When I worked for an equestrian company, a lot of my job when I worked in horse blankets was explaining to people how they should measure their horse for blankets and I used directions and diagrams from the manufacturers to help them through this. Different blanket makers would have different cuts which would then require unique measurements.

Since you are building fur-suits, you should probably try and provide a diagram for your customers showing where the measurements should be coming from.

Also funny story; I bought a leather jacket for my mate and the company had very specific measurements so I called him and asked him to do some measurements for me. He did great with his arms and chest but told me his neck was only 6". I kept asking for it again because I know he didn't have a 6" neck and it came out that he was measuring from his ear to his shoulder, not his neck's circumference.

Edited at 2010-03-05 02:49 am (UTC)
Mar. 5th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
It's your responsibility to obtain the correct measurements. Since the buyer is not a trained costumer, it's your responsibility to instruct them on the correct way to take the measurements. If you feel the measurements are off, do not proceed until you know why, or can arrange for someone to take the measurements properly.

Bottom line is, if you build it wrong, they'll blame you and you'll have an unhappy customer who will tell their friends what a sucky job you did, and maybe even post here.
Mar. 5th, 2010 06:02 am (UTC)
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but your post sounds a bit hostile. I kind of feel like you're assuming that I'm not doing things properly or something. If I'm reading too much into it, my bad. Otherwise, maybe try to tone it down a bit to avoid coming across as so negative?

Hopefully they wouldn't post here, since I don't typically do a "sucky job" and I like to do my best to make sure the customer is happy. Even if I did make it wrong, I'm sure there'd be some way to come up with a compromise to make sure both parties are satisfied. :)

Thanks for the input.
Mar. 5th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry if my reply seemed a bit brusque, but we're professionals here -- it's easy to lose sight of the customer's point of view. You're the expert, they're not. The quality of your work depends on them correctly performing a task for which they haven't been trained. You perceive that there's a problem. You're responsible for doing it right; you can't blame the customer for not knowing how to do part of your job.

If they're a repeat customer, then they'll know the quality of your work already, and that you'll make good on any problems. But still, if it's wrong, it's like opening a present on Christmas and finding a broken toy -- it will always spoil the memory of what otherwise should be a pleasant and exciting experience. If it's a first-time customer, that will forever be their impression of your work. And they'll likely tell their friends about the experience, even if you do find a way to resolve the situation.

It's an avoidable situation, so why not make the effort to avoid it?
Mar. 5th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
Is there a way you can make a video or photo series of you measuring yourself for that area in question, and ask your client if that is what he did?
Mar. 5th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'm totally getting crazy ideas about what the measuring problem is but i'd say have the guy do a ductape dummy of the body part.
Mar. 5th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Is the measurement in question within the realm of possibility? I know that I myself have rather odd proportions that might give a tailor pause if they were going by measurements alone. Either way, I'd say straight out something like "Hey, I'm concerned about this measurement because it looks too small. In my experience most people don't have (for example) wrists that are X inches around when their forearms are Y inches around. If this measurement is off the finished product might not fit right because of Z, and I don't want to send you something that doesn't fit." Then proceed to politely ask them to re-measure, offering additional diagrams/photos/videos of how to do so. You might also get back an explanation like "Oh, yeah, I've got big hands but these delicate wrists, sorry I didn't think to mention it!" that will at least put your worries to rest.

Another thing you might want to check is whether they're taking a diameter rather than a circumference. I could see that being confusing for someone who has never really done sewing before.
Mar. 5th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
What are we talking about when we say that the proportions are wrong? My friend was told that her measurements were not at all possible but hey ... she does have a very small waist with large breasts on a short body. Sometimes odd measurements like that just happen.

I think if you're doing it to THEIR measurements after asking for them a second time, it's not up to you to fix something for their mistake. That would be like me telling you that my character is orange when it's more of a tan. My own fault.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )


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