How To Make Money Sewing
HAVE YOU EVER FANTASIZED ABOUT MAKING MONEY SEWING?
If you haven’t, perhaps you should. Even if your talent is not quite ready for the New York runway scene, you are about to learn ten sure-fire ways to showcase your passion and craft and earn money doing it.
These are not get-rich-quick schemes but serious enterprises where you can offer your wisdom, craft and experience for a profit. You may not retire to a tropical island on your earnings, though some sewers do, but in these days of tight money, any boost to the budget is welcome. Am I right?
Even if you don’t know advanced tailoring techniques, thanks to the internet, the opportunities for entrepreneurs of all stripes abound. You can turn your particular talent for making home décor sewing, creating holiday sewing projects, offering one day alterations or teaching a class such as Sewing Made Simple.
PLANNING YOUR HOME SEWING BUSINESS
But before you quit your day job, here are a few tips to bear in mind as you plan your home sewing business. You must regard yourself as a professional. Investigate the tax consequences and research competitive pricing so you don’t sell yourself short or price yourself out of the market. Be sure to keep scrupulous records and pay close attention to your balance sheet in order to make a profit.
Keep your expectations realistic and don’t expect to get rich overnight. Realize that the most important business skill may be perseverance as you make your way through the learning curve. Consult business experts and learn from the experience of others who gone before you.
Recognize that you will turn your passion for creating wonderful needlecraft items into a job. For some people, that takes the fun out of sewing. Learn to separate your professional sewing world from your personal sewing world so that you can enjoy both. Develop a thick skin for the occasional unsatisfied customer or disappointment.
Develop a posse of supporters who will cheer you on as you head for your first sale or commission, and pick you up when the going gets rough and discouragement raises its ugly head.
So how can you turn your sewing machine into your personal ATM? Here are the ten best ideas.
BECOME A THRIFTY SEWER
This may not sound like a typical business plan, but for those of us who go into an altered state when we enter a fabric store and buy yardage like it’s going to be outlawed, this is one way to improve the overall bottom line. Begin to think like a business owner. Put the brakes on spending by shopping from your stash the next time you need fabric. Or, search for a fabric swap and sell yardage you no longer want. You can also list unwanted but good quality fabric, patterns, sewing magazines and books on eBay or Craigslist. Additionally, purchase only what you need by having a pattern in mind when choosing yardage. The sewing budget gets top heavy pretty quickly when we buy five yards of an expensive wool or silk because it is on sale and then use it for a pattern that only calls for four and a quarter yards. If it’s a pricey fabric, that could be $20 or $30 that ends up on the cutting room floor.
A more frugal approach to your craft is valuable training for keeping tabs on your business’s bottom line, but can also give the household accounts a boost as well.
TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW
You don’t have to have a degree from Parsons School of Design to offer a class to newbies who want to know how to make a simple garment or pillow cover. The only requirement to teach is that you know more than your students. You don’t need to know every advanced sewing technique. Offer a beginners sewing class or sewing lessons for kids. Check with adult education programs, your town’s recreation center or local fabric stores and pitch your idea for a class. High schools often have home ec departments with sewing machines and are excellent venues for classes. You can also give demonstration classes in your home with sufficient notes so that students can take what they’ve learned and practice at home. Teaching sewing classes is also an excellent way to get your name out and market other sewing projects, such as items you might offer for sale, your great fabric purses or jewelry, for instance.
SEW FOR OTHERS
Hang out your shingle as a dressmaker or home décor sewer. You don’t have to know how to sew everything under the sun. Specialize if you don’t have the skills to be a generalist. If you are able to turn out an excellent jacket, a pair of well fitting pants, duvet cover and matching pillow cases, or draperies, then make up business cards and pass them out to your local dry cleaners, fabric stores and pin them on any available bulletin board. Use Henry Ford as your mentor. He believed in selling only one product—the Model T, but making it the one everyone wanted.
SELL TO A HIGH END MARKET
Start researching high-end boutiques that sell needle arts, such as pillow covers made from recycled antique fabrics, or exquisite nursery bedding or christening outfits. These items often become family heirlooms and command high prices. Of course you would use the finest fabrics and perfect sewing techniques, but be rewarded with a profitable business. Don’t worry if you don’t live in an area that can support such a boutique. These items are saleable online all over the world.
Yes, everyone has a blog these days. But savvy bloggers can earn their living by writing about what they know and love. Take a tip from Ana White, a mother/wife/Alaska resident/carpenter, who left the corporate world and began blogging about her passion for making things with her hands. In her blog she documented the progress of the house she and her husband were building. At the time they were struggling to make ends meet. Now, Ana has over three million visitors and supports her family with what started out as a love of woodworking and writing about it. Become an inspiration to other needle workers by writing about your efforts to learn your craft, hone your skills and the struggle to balance your creative life and the demands of ordinary living. It is a story that sells every time because it is what we are all trying to do in one way or another. And, you don’t have to be a master of anything except being yourself.
ALTERATIONS AND MENDING
There is always a need for professional alterations and mending services. If you have the skill you can develop a clientele of people with difficult fitting problems, men who always need their shirts sleeves shortened or women who don’t wear stilettos and have to have their trousers and jeans hiked up a few inches, and those of us whose size bounces up and down with some regularity and need waistlines taken in or let out as the seasons change. Align yourself with a dry cleaner or advertise on Craigslist or at your local fabric store. Trust me, a seamster who does great alterations is sitting on a goldmine.
WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW
Have you perfected a secret technique for making buttonholes, putting in a zipper or sewing coat buttons, then share it with the rest of us. Write an article for a magazine or the style section of your local paper. Sell it to an article syndicating service or start collecting these gems to put into your own sewing techniques book. Think about how you have learned much of what you know. Probably by reading about it. Somebody has to write those pieces, why not you?
FIND A UNIQUE NEED AND FILL IT
Appeal to indulgent grandmothers with a line of high end pj’s for toddlers, doll clothes, or outfits for dogs. Horse lovers need cooling blankets, saddle blankets and other horse clothing that is soothing and comfortable for the animal. The most desirable are hand made. People who would be interested in these items are willing to pay for them and this can be a very profitable outlet.
FINISH PROJECTS FOR PROCRASTINATORS
Oh, you know who they are. Seamsters of all stripes who are great at starting projects but can’t seem to get them to the finishing line. Advertise yourself as their savior, the person who will do the nasty little finishing jobs others can’t get themselves to do, such as sewing a blind hem or attaching a waistband. Become someone else’s sewing angel and you may find yourself blessed with more discretionary income.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND MARKETS
Write an ebook about how to make a child’s wardrobe or recycle sheets to make curtains and bed skirts. If you have a vivid imagination, write a mystery with the heroine as a dress designer or seamstress and pepper it with lots of sewing tips. Create beautiful photo books of beautiful, colorful fabrics and artful quilts. Use your own photos or find them free or inexpensively online. Or, if you are a techie as well as a sewer, create a sewing app for keeping track of yardage, sewing projects or a method for organizing your stash. There are apps that will show you how to develop an app, ebooks that will show you how to create an ebook. Think of the book you wish you owned, then go ahead and write it.