The Art of Sewing and Selling: More Tips to Help You Start

sewing and selling

Sewing and Selling

Selling is as much an art as sewing is –and if you are willing to be creative and serious in both, then it may be time to showcase your work and earn some money too by practicing the art of sewing and selling.

You can start stitching your way to success like others did. And one of the most amazing success stories in sewing is the Levi’s Jeans story when Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, patented a unique way of making pants by using rivets at points of strain to make them last longer. The rest, as we all know, is a multi-million dollar sewing history. You can see a terrific video about the Levi Strauss story below which might give you some inspiration:

So, let’s say you finally decide to start a home sewing business. Here are a few tips to get you started:


The first thing to do is to have the mindset of a professional.  Turning a hobby into business could take the fun out of it, so it is best to be aware of this before you start. Remember that you cannot please everyone so get ready for both good feedback and some potentially bad. “You can’t please all the people all the time” as they say.  Having family and friends who always believe in you is a definite plus during this time.  And if you can find or create a need in the market then go ahead, fill it and sell it.  Strauss and Davis found a unique need and they filled it.  True, this is definitely easier said than done –but it can be done!

sewing and selling

Think Outside the Box:

There are many good ideas on how to make money out there in the field of sewing, and they not limited simply to sewing your items and selling them –so be creative.  For example, you don’t really need a fancy degree to teach sewing to beginners.  What is important is that you know more about the art of sewing than your students and that you have a desire to communicate and teach that knowledge.  You could say, offer a sewing class for kids or beginners and teach them how to make a pillow cover or an apron.  You could pitch your idea for a sewing class to your local school or even as part of an adult education program in your town.  You can also simply offer demonstration classes at home.  This is a great way of advertising your skills and potentially your products.  There are many other ideas like this.  Just think outside the box!

Start Small:

You also don’t need to know everything about sewing before you offer your products or services to others.  Simply specialize on a few sewing items and distribute business cards emphasizing your skills.  Advertising at the local dry cleaners, textile stores and online is always a good start.  For instance, your sewing skills can be the answer to anyone who wants well-fitting jeans or a tailored jacket.

Borrow Good Ideas:

Find out what the competition is doing and learn all that you can from them about what seems to work –and equally as important, what doesn’t work.  Research what is selling well online and produce them yourself to sell in your neighborhood or community.  Recycling antique fabrics into nursery bedding or christening dresses can be a good idea because they can be sold at a high price.  These exquisite items can also be sold in online selling platforms like eBay, CraigsList or Etsy, so you are not limited to your locality.

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Check out the So Sew Easy store on Etsy
Visit Print or Plain for some sewing store ideas

If you'd like some ideas about what an Etsy store looks like, please have a look at the So Sew Easy store on Etsy called "Print or Plain".  In this store we've focused on our niche of easy-to-sew projects and patterns.  We also offer some niche products like knit stay tape that are hard to find and helpful for our readers.

If you want a bigger challenge, find your inspiration in the leading fashion designs of the day and even create your own label.  Remember, you're not copying ideas and it is always important to respect other copyrights, but you can certainly follow and improve upon trends.  For more information about sewing copyright, please read our very popular post on the topic at: Sewing pattern copyright law – myths debunked

Sewing pattern copyright law – myths debunked

Share Your Story:

Create your own blog and write about your favorite sewing creations.  You can be an inspiration to others when you tell them about all the efforts you have done to sharpen your sewing skills.  Tell them about your struggles in dealing with daily life while trying to express your stitching creativity.  This is a story that many can relate to because that is exactly what they are trying to do!  For a good example of this, you can even go back and have a look at some of the very early posts of this blog.  You'll be able to see how has grown from our early beginnings to where we are today.  (To do this, go to the bottom of our homepage and click on the little double arrow “>>” to go to our very first posts.)

sewing and sellingTrack the Numbers:

Lastly, don’t forget to take care of your tax matters as well.  Make it a practice to keep records so that at the end of the day, you will know if you make a profit or not and which products or services are the most profitable.  This should also help motivate and keep you on track as you see the numbers progress.  At the same time, you will realize that you will not make megabucks overnight. Perseverance is one of the most important business skills and you will need loads of it.  To keep good financial records, you can use a simple piece of paper, a computer spreadsheet or even a sophisticated online accounting package like Xero.  It really doesn't matter how you do it, but just that you do it!

In these days when information goes around at lightning speed, there are a lot of advantages like immediate access to almost anyone in the world.  So be creative with your sewing and selling and find your niche in the global market.  Tell us about your plans in the comments.  We'd love to hear from you!

Start now with some of these sewing ideas to get your creative juice running: Sewing for profit. Projects that are great to make to sell.

Sewing for profit. Projects that are great to make to sell

If you've already started a successful sewing enterprise or even started one that didn't work out, we'd really appreciated it if you could share your experiences in the comments below.  I know everyone always finds the comments extremely useful and interesting.

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21 Responses to The Art of Sewing and Selling: More Tips to Help You Start

  1. Pingback: Tips For Sewing Denim: Easier Than You Think! - Enewsgate

  2. Linda Olson says:

    Thank you for the post. I have set a sewing business called Threads and Bows Totes. I make shopping/grocery totes that are well made with canvas duck and pet screening. Most are washable, fashionable and funny to taking shopping whether it’s for groceries, fabric or hauling books to and from the library. Unfortunately they are expensive to make, averaging about $20+ shipping. That leaves me with nothing for labor. I advertise on Facebook but everywhere else the bags like them go for about $10. I am greatly discouraged as sales are flat though everyone loves my bags. How does one market their product without making any profit from sales?

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Linda, there are so many things to consider before starting a selling project, perhaps the most important is checking your competition and try either to match or bit it. Perhaps you can make small lined zipper pouches or make with left over material so you have a combo to offer and people feel they are getting more for their money. Ultimately, what is going to differentiate you from the competition is offering something different, new and better.

    • Joanna says:

      I had a look at your website–you make a beautiful product. But I can also see that it is labour-intensive with the different fabric types and accents. My advice is pick a product that people are willing to pay a premium for (such as purses) or pick one that is made with less expensive materials, is easy to construct, and easier to markup (like your clear vinyl bags). Unfortunately, there is not market for higher-end grocery totes because these are so ubiquitous. I think even solid duck canvas totes (no screening) with webbed handles and tubing would be an easier sell, but perhaps not as satisfying to make. Good luck to you!

  3. Sue says:

    I started making items for our sailboat. Word spread like lightning. I had to create a price sheet, and basically charge 50.00 (us) per hour plus materials. That way if the person wants to spend that amount, it is worth my time. I’m a full time nurse, so my free time is very precious!
    I made an enclosure that was unique, and told my husband we should patent the pattern. He’s familiar with the process, and said it would involve to much time, money, and effort. Plus you have to try to defend your design. I decided it wasn’t worth it. Two weeks later, a man came up to our boat (while we were on it) and started talking pictures! Live and learn! Stick with your gut feeling, and charge enough for your services. I always have work!

    • Alison says:

      Sue, we sail too and I’m just starting to sew for our boat and sew bags and other things. My Sailrite machine arrives this weekend. I hope to sell some bags at our farmers market this spring. (If the boat projects allow me enough time!)

      • Sharon says:

        Alison, I see this post was from 2 years ago, but I’d love to know how you like your Sailrite machine, and if I may ask, which one did you purchase!

  4. Pat Burckhardt says:

    Well I’ve read your article and came away wanting to do something again. I’ve actually sewn for years now starting in high school making clothes so I could look like all the other girls. That was in the 50’s so it wasn’t hard and I had a lot of guts then. I went to all the school dances so I could make gowns and I made a bunch of them. Now I’ve lost my guts but still want to do something. I love bags. Purses, suitcases, briefcases, little bags anything and everything if it’s a bag. I’m just crazy about them. I’ve tried making some and they turn out ok but I’m very critical of myself. Also I find that my color coordinations are not that good. At least I’m critical of that too. Like you said in the article, there are so many making bags and some bags are very involved and time consuming. That spells cost. As a hobby, I’ve made christening gowns for friends for years and I love to do that also. Lots of lace, pintucks, long gowns and real fun to watch them come together. About 8 years ago, a friend of mine had triplets and I offered to make christening outfits for the babies and they turned out great. She had 2 girls and 1 boy so I made gowns for the girls and a boy’s short pants suit for the boy. And bonnets for all. You know I think I just found out what I should do. Thank you for asking for replies. I think it’s time to get to work and make bags for my fun and christening gowns for sale. If I can find a picture of the ones I made, I’ll try and shoot it over to you for a look. Thanks again.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Dear Pat, I am sending you a big e-hug, I wish you luck in your new found goals. let me know if you find that picture, as it turns out I am going to be a God Mother for the first time in my life. I will be making a christening gown for the first time in my life.

  5. LeAnn says:

    I’m considering a blog and an etsy store along with craft sales/markets. I’ve signed up for my first craft sale but haven’t been accepted yet. My son is going to work with me to help me start a blog and my daughter is going to get me going on an etsy store. Your info has helped a lot. Thanks!!

  6. Helen Lightly says:

    Thank you for another helpful article ? I’ve only been sewing for three years and I go back and forth between crochet and sewing and always trying something new until I find my “thing”. Friends and family keep saying I should sell what I make but honestly don’t know where to start (I’m in the UK so tax rules are different and complicated plus my employer doesn’t allow any extra work/business!). Articles like this really help in my research as I find my niche and decide on what to do with my future ☺️

  7. Joan Martinson says:

    I’ve not yet started anything but I’m definitely considering it. With this advice, I feel a little more confident. Thanks so much.

  8. Margaret says:

    Thank you for clearing a few things up.
    I have thought about starting to sell a few things maybe through Etsy but wasn’t sure about the rules so it put me right off.
    I wiil now look into it again.

  9. kavita says:

    hi, am from India
    Great idea but am afraid there are minimum market potential for tailored items. pls help !

  10. kay edwards says:

    Great post, Lots of good advice..
    I have so much fabric some Vintage to make and list on my kaystylejewelry shop.

  11. JC says:

    Thank you and Deby for doing this. I love everything that you do here because you all are so generous. I’ve been wanting to step out but have let procrastination and fear take hold. Thanks so much.

  12. Mary says:

    How do you handle collecting tax when sellling to someone in state?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Mary, many if not most people starting out selling online are using Paypal as their payment system. Paypal can also do basic invoicing and accounting as well as assisting with collecting sales tax on a state-by-state basis. You can have a look here for some basic info on what Paypal can do. You’ll probably need a Paypal account to get more detailed information:

  13. Fooniks says:

    Great post! I will keep all these tips in mind when managing my shop. I actually already set up a small Etsy shop late last year. I only have a few listings and product groups but I constantly keep thinking of what to make next. For now I am selling bow ties, awesome aprons for men, makeup travel sets and sharpening wrist pin cushions. My shop is called RSKSCreations

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