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WWYD? Neighbour sewing cushion covers for us...

(96 Posts)
Dorris83 Sun 09-Oct-11 16:05:41

Our neighbour is a widow in her late 80s. She is a really lovely lady who is always friendly and everyone loves her.

As she doesnt have transport, or family very close by, we do little jobs for her. We will pick up things from the shops for her (which she always reimberses us for), my DH always mows her lawn when he does ours, and once he painted all of the base of her house when he did ours.

In return, she always takes in packages for us, and also makes little treats like cake and biscuits which she brings around.

But she has always said that she doesnt like to be a pest, and doesnt like asking for things. She has been saying for a long time that she wants to do something for us.

We have said 'no no no, we dont mind at all' and 'call yus anytime you need us' but she kept insisting she wanted to do something for us.

We know she does a lot of sewing (which she charges for) and we wanted some new cushions for the living room. So we asked her if she could make them for us- which she was thrilled to agree to.

We supplied all the materials, including thread, material, zips and a picture of what we are after and asked her to make us 4.

She had a lot of jobs from other people so it has been about 8 weeks since she took all the material and agreed to make them.

She brought them round today- they look amazing- really professional. We said 'thank you so much they are fantastic, we love them' and my DH said 'are you sure we can't give you anything for them?' to which she replied 'well it's up to you isn't it?'

So now we dont know what to do! I was planning to get her a thank you card and some flowers, then continue as normal. But now we think we should probably give her some cash... but how much?

The materials have already cost us about £30. They are lovely cushions, the type that would cost about £25 each...

Should we stick £30 into a thank you card, or more? or less?

I just dont know, and we dont want to upset her. But equally, we werent expecting to pay her for them, as she wanted to do something for us!

advice please...

Dorris83 Sun 09-Oct-11 16:07:04

just re-read what i wrote- just to clarify, they are the type of cushions that would cost about £25 each from a shop like John Lewis... but we didnt want to pay that which is why we have been putting off buying new cushions, as they just seem so expensive!

fourkids Sun 09-Oct-11 16:10:07

She may be lovely, but that's a bit cheeky isn't it?

bigredtractor Sun 09-Oct-11 16:14:26

Any idea what she charges othe people? I'd maybe opt for flowers - esp since you supplied the materials.

Tough one!

bigredtractor Sun 09-Oct-11 16:15:45

BTW, are you the neighbour? Just spotted your user name..!

KathyImLost Sun 09-Oct-11 16:16:22

Yep, I also think it's a bit cheeky. I'd stick to the card & some flowers.

mothmagnet Sun 09-Oct-11 16:16:36

You and DH sound very kind and your relationship with your neighbour is great.

I think you should pay her the £30 as you asked her to make them. It'd be a nice gesture and also sewing is something she does as a job, rather than a hobby.

The cushions sound nice though, it'd be lovely to be able to sew that well.

Incroyable Sun 09-Oct-11 16:17:06

"She has been saying for a long time that she wants to do something for us. "

I think, just take round a card and flowers, and don't give her any money for them. She herself has been saying that she wants to do something for you, and now she has done. Also, if she says in the future that she would like to do something for you, perhaps you could kindly reply "oh no, you did make us those gorgeous cushions!"

Dorris83 Sun 09-Oct-11 16:18:30

hmmm, fourkids I agree it is a bit cheeky... it definitely threw us a bit...

bigredtractor I don't have a clue what she charges other people. As far as I can tell, she has some long standing customers, I dont thnk she advertises at all. Not sure how I would find out and it is too late to ask now!

Booooooyhoo Sun 09-Oct-11 16:21:52

i would take some lovely flowers and a card round but maybe also offer to take her for lunch or something aswell.

Dorris83 Sun 09-Oct-11 16:23:38

fourkids - lol no I am not the neighbour. The 83 in my name relates to my year of birth rather than my age :-)

mothmagnet that is the thing- we want to continue our good relationship- and we dont want to upset or insult her without meaning to. Does £30 sound the right amount?

incroyable do you think that we would be able to say that if we did give her cash for them? Or would we start the whole 'I want to do something for you' cycle again?!

mothmagnet Sun 09-Oct-11 16:28:07

I'm in the minority and don't want to complicate things OP, but my reasoning is, you asked her as a seamstress to make you something.

If someone brought me a some paints and a pad and asked me to draw them a picture, it wouldn't be the material cost, but the time and thought put into providing something good, that would be the big effort.

It sounds like you do a lot for her though, though maybe she considers the treats and package-taking to be her gesture in return.

Anyway, I don't want to complicate this all further, I'm sure you can gauge your own own relationship and were probably not after advice here, just a hmm

AllGoodNamesGone Sun 09-Oct-11 16:30:33

I would also take her flowers and a card.

It would cost her a fair whack to pay someone to mow her lawn all year so I don't think you owe her anything. You sound like lovely neighbours. Perhaps your DH asking if she was sure she didn't want anything for them threw her a bit.

You could write something in the card along the lines of "Thanks for being such a lovely neighbour and do always let us know if you need anything."

mothmagnet Sun 09-Oct-11 16:30:58

I'm a slow typer, sorry I did think maybe you were posting to tell a story and felt a bit long-winded by giving unwanted advice!

Yes, I think £20-£30 is about right and generous, I'm really not sure what the costs usually are.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 09-Oct-11 16:31:59

I think you should pay her the £30 - tell her that the quality is so fantastic and you would have had to pay far more in the shops and the money is just a token of how much you appreciate the curtains.

Give her some flowers also - or a nice pot plant.

ChippingIn Sun 09-Oct-11 16:34:27

What does your DH think - after all it's him that's put the spanner in the works by saying 'are you sure you don't want anything for them?' It was all sorted before that grin

I would just buy some nice flowers/chocolates/sherry (whatever you think she would most like) and buy a thankyou card, put a nice note in it to say that you are more than happy to help her out whenever she needs it & she's just to ask.

This way she may feel a little like you 'owe her' (even though you most certainly Do NOT) and she may be more inclined to ask you to help her (which you are happy to do anyway).

Win Win I think.

Catslikehats Sun 09-Oct-11 16:36:36

That is extraordinarily cheeky of her. She offered, you accepted, in return for the things that you have done for her.

Take her some flowers. The only cost to her has been her time, so she is not out of pocket and I am sure the time you have given her in terms of odd jobs more than compensates her.

sevenoften Sun 09-Oct-11 16:38:20

£100 worth of cushions, minus £30 already paid in materials.

For me, I would either pay the full retail price (cursing under my breath), so that she could never say that she'd been hard done by. If she has even an ounce of conscience, she'll give some of it back. It would be worth it to me to have the moral high ground - I tend to obsess about things like this and skulk around feeling half guilty and half indignant.

Or, I would take it for granted that this was meant to be a gift, and give a card like AllGoodNames suggests, but no money at all.

I think giving a lesser amount mixes messages too much, and neither you nor she will feel comfortable.

heleninahandcart Sun 09-Oct-11 16:45:57

I think even £10 per cushion is a bargain. These are to your specification, not mass produced and materials ARE shockingly expensive. You probably got a much better quality of fabric and her professional finish than you would have got ready made. So £40 in a card seems about right.

harrietlichman Sun 09-Oct-11 16:56:14

I think she's got a bit of a cheek, considering all that you do for her (painting the base of her house, based on approx an £80/£100 a day rate for a p & d to do it, as well as getting things from the shops etc) means that you have been very good neighbours to her. On the basis that one good turn deserves another you are equal - a card, saying how much you love the cushions, and maybe some flowers/a plant is more than enough in return, Just because someone is old, doesn't mean they can't be a bit of a piss taker!

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 09-Oct-11 16:58:48

Is she's still taking in work at 83, perhaps she's in need of the money? sad

Iggly Sun 09-Oct-11 17:01:55

I wouldn't pay. She did say it's up to you.

Plus you said she insisted she wanted to do something in return.

However, my question is this - when you asked for her to do it, was it in the general sense of "well you know you always wanted to do something, so can you do this?". Or did you just ask?

I think £30 could come over as a bit tacky, especially if money in a card (when she doesn't go shopping herself). Flowers, a card, whatever if you must.

P.s tell your DH to shut it next time grin

MrsvWoolf Sun 09-Oct-11 17:04:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

diddl Sun 09-Oct-11 17:09:02

When she said that she wanted to do something for you, perhaps her sewing skills for free wasn´t what she had in mind?

And just because your husband can afford to give his time for nothing, doesn´t mean that she can?

I think we need a pic of the cushions to see if she deserves labour costs or notgrin

senua Sun 09-Oct-11 17:12:05

Sorry to say, but I think that you caused the problem. Neighbours and friends will do each other favours but you asked for something different. Swapping favours, eg baking or gardening, is a bit different to asking for a freebie on something that is normally charged for. Imagine if your DH was a plumber and she asked him to service the boiler or repair a leak for free! You said that she took several weeks to do the task - it sounds as if it was eating into earning time. You should have taken advantage of her kindness, not her 'professional' skill.

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