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PatternReview Blog > PatternReview on Facebook: Sewing as a Business
PatternReview on Facebook: Sewing as a Business By DianeSev on 5/14/13 3:59 PM

PatternReview on Facebook: Advice for Your Sewing Business

Have you ever thought about starting your own sewing business? Or do you have one already? What services would you/do you offer? What advice would you give to newbies?

Please tell us in the comment field below!

Or, join the discussion on Facebook.

Here’s what other members said on Facebook:

“I have had a sewing business for 4 years. It was a hobby at first. I took some items that I enjoyed making in addition to some things I thought would be good products. I have developed my brand as a custom sewing studio and now people contact me about making special items. My advice - jump in! I have learned a lot over these four years by reading, learning and growing slowly. I also have a vibrant local business. There are always alterations to be done! (Although I don't enjoy that as much as creative endeavors!)”

“Thanks for the encouragement. I'm anxious to see what others have to say. It's something I've been seriously thinking about for a while.”

“I have a small sewing business in my own home, and agree with [the] last sentence [of the first post]! But that's the bulk of my business. But I too enjoy the new things. Always keep learning how to do it right. You can start with lower prices and you will obtain a loyal clientele.”

Woman with her Singer

 “I want to start one too but don't know what to specialize in.”

“I dream of having my own clothing line, but I don't foresee doing all the sewing myself.”

“Someday I'd like to give private sewing lessons to children.”

“I'm in the process of starting mine up now! I will be doing custom window treatments and soft home furnishings. Cannot wait to finish setting up and get rolling! Thanks for the encouraging words!”

“I occasionally teach sewing classes or private lessons, but my real dream is to open up my own sewing studio where I can teach, have machines available to rent and help out when needed, and to sew for myself and make things to sell.”

“I’m in the process of starting a business as well. I make just about anything, but I love and want to specialize in making lingerie.”

“Jump in!!! (but with a good business plan [dream plan vs. realistic plan]). I started my alteration and custom sewing lessons 22 years ago with the birth of my son and a job loss. Some days I think I am crazy but it is going really well and mostly word of mouth. 10 years ago Christine and I started The Sewing Tree--we teach sewing and we are having a great time. Best hint would be don't bite off more than you are comfortable with and education and networking will be your best friends.”

“I've had an alterations business for almost 30 years, working from my home. I still love the flexibility. I also have a growing website and blog at I offer free tutorials with photos and I'm starting to sell videos at $5.00 each. I love all aspects of my businesses and I still learn things every day. My advice would be to start where you are. Grow in your knowledge and your business will grow with you. Don't wait until you have all your "ducks in a row" before you launch.”

“I've been dreaming about specialising in wedding dresses or made to measure evening dresses or even a little boutique for many years but never had the gumption to actually start. Still dreaming.”

Bride in New Orleans

 “I've been at it for 20 years now (which feels ridiculous to write, but I started as an infant. J Best advice: keep learning new things, and never debt-spend to develop your business. Being cash-up-front has allowed us to go through expansion and contraction cycles without stress, and with far more freedom!”

“I think the phrase "stay small, keep it all" defines it for me. Alterations bring in new business and challenges. Online pattern business is mostly driven by freebies that show my attention to detail. I take a little less work than I need to so that I can still be a mom.”

“I did it for 3 years, my #1 advice is get cash up front and have a contract for anything long-term.”

“I do word of mouth mending, like jacket zippers and lining needlepoint stockings for people who don't sew. I am getting ready to teach sewing (other than my grandsons) for the first time by auctioning off 4 lessons at the local art center's Valentine silent auction. Hope to get a 6-18 age student and fulfill a long time dream! And then teach others for $!”

“I've done sewing for others for years....have done it locally for the last few since I've been unable to find a "real" job!! but like [the first poster]...even though there are always alterations needed, I love doing creative things so much more...which is why I also opened a shop on etsy a couple years ago....I just need to apply myself more and stop thinking that I will find that "real" job...seems as though sewing is it!!!!  Best wishes to you.....”

“I have an Etsy store and make quilts to order. It was slow to grow but I have some repeat customers and I enjoy the work. I'd love to learn to drape and design so I could make petite plus-size clothes. Almost everything in my size seems to be made for a 6-foot-tall woman with 46DD breasts and that's not me in any way, shape or form. There is the need.....I want to learn to meet it at least to a point.”

Cheriut Salon Paris

“I'd love to hear the responses. I'd like to start one on the side for starters as I work a FT job. Gonna read the comments.”

“I've been doing alterations & custom orders (quilts, costumes, baby items) for years, mostly by word of mouth but I've been doing a lot of Facebook promoting on my Fanpage, have a blog & business cards.”

“I teach kids to sew in my home sewing studio. My business has grown so much, I left my day job to run my business full time. I used to do alterations, but I don't do this anymore, as I love teaching kids more and like to put all my energy into teaching and developing my program.”

“I work full time and teach sewing at Joann's as well as doing custom sewing for others. I used ‘The Business of Sewing’ by Barbara Wright Sykes and the forms package that can be purchased with the book to help develop a contract. I also use Paypal as a method of collecting payments.”


 “I have done it all - teaching kids, teaching adults, alterations, web site with my own line. I love it all. The biggest problem for me is time. It's hard to fit in extras while raising kids. But when you have a passion for something it shows, so all that I tried was mostly successful and word of mouth got me most of my business. I do agree with others - go cash only and no debt! That has definitely helped alleviate stress and problems and add to the success factor. For now I just do custom requests. Someday I'll go back to my web site or have items in local boutiques. I love reading what others have done and are doing!!!”

“I used to work in a bridal shop doing the little tiny details and bids and embroideries and by requests, the christening baby gowns by hand, but I no longer do any sewing. What I do now is daydream and admires others individuals work. I have one serger and four swing machines standing in one corner. Maybe is time to oil and clean them and put the sewing machine to some use. I like all the comments above, very good topic to discuss now.”

“I too am thinking about devoting more time to making money sewing. I have a few steady alterations customers and have had a few friends ask me to make gifts for which they paid me. I just love all aspects of sewing and would rather sew than do anything else. I have been researching Etsy, actually just browsing, to compare what I enjoy sewing with what is currently available. I also am doing a small amount of teaching which I also really enjoy. Great topic, Will continue to read the comments.”

“As a custom sewer for 15 years, and owner of, I would definitely say make sure potential clients can find you, and always keep in mind that people really need guidance before deciding to work with you. Can you do what they are asking in the allotted time, at the rate they are willing to pay? It can be tough to schedule yourself, and determine the proper fees to charge, but it can be done. Also, develop strong relationships with the businesses where you buy your supplies. If in New York City, my blog can help you find those vendors.”

“I discovered Etsy very early and decided to make a few aprons to sell. After a while, I was making and selling 4-6 aprons every day. Then customers started asking me to turn my designs into patterns, which I now sell. A local store asked me to teach a few classes so I started a blog to support the Etsy patterns and my local classes. It just keeps expanding. I have no idea what it will look like in the future. I just keep taking the paths that come my way.”


 “I started a custom couture wedding dress business a few years ago and have been growing slowly and steadily by word of mouth. I also have a website and a blog where you can follow along to see each dress being created from idea to wedding day. I agree about the no-debt approach and the slow growth approach. I still keep a part-time ‘real job’ outside of the industry. It really helps to keep the stress down and gives the customer the attention she deserves when you don't feel like you have to overbook yourself. I'd love to get into teaching sometime soon. I've been trying to attend classes when I can, not only to learn the skills that are being taught but also to observe how people teach.”

“I have a sewing school in South Florida for almost 7 yrs. There's a big demand for people to learn the art. I love doing what I do. It allows me to be mom to my kids and bring in an income. I also help other people get started if they want to do the same thing as I've done. I've made all the mistakes and learn how to make it profitable. There have been many rewards passing on my knowledge to others, in more ways than one! Follow your dreams. The highest star you can see are the ones you can reach. Reach for the ones above all the others. You may not make it but you will FLY!

“Work hard but also allow yourself time to rest. It gives you the inspiration and drive to keep going when you need it!”

“I had sewn professionally for many years, mostly alterations for bridal shops, but stopped when I had children and then went back to work full-time. Now my children are older and more stable (in the case of my special needs children) and I'm ready to get back to professional sewing. My problem?! I don't know what to charge! I don't have a good sense of time, so I can't say it takes me x number of hours to complete a pattern, especially since I tend to do a lot of customizing.”

“I'm meeting a new client next week and she wants me to make a Marfy pattern (F2601). I don't know if she has any special fitting needs, but I'm very intimidated by what I've heard of Marfy patterns, so I know I'll want to make a muslin version first. Anyone have a rate sheet they'd be willing to share for custom sewing/designing?”

4 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
manicmom said... (5/21/13 8:58 PM) Reply
I have a shop on It was something I just jumped in and did! I'm a Gemini which means I have two people in my zodiac sign, I attribute my creative side to one of those twins and my need to be busy to the other. As a necessity, I opened my shop because I was making and sewing ALL THE TIME!!! Stuff was beginning to pile up and I had no where to take it. I'm NOT a big fan of being a nomad and hauling stuff around from fair to fair, (too old, I guess), so when etsy started, I got my shop!!!! I think I'm doing well, but I am no means as prolific a seller as some are. I like making lots of different things to test my technical skills or to challenge myself so I'm not cranking out multiples of things. Purses, clothing, jewelry, a few home decor items, kitchen stuff....just whatever I feel like trying my sewing skills at!! It's fun, I enjoy it a lot and I get some $'s too!! I say join etsy or some other online selling venue!!
rmputnam said... (5/21/13 12:46 PM) Reply
Agree with CoolThreads. I'm busty and have often thought of attracting clients who need professional clothing that are tailored correctly. I just can't stand the thought of also attracting alterations (which I truly hate). VERY Interested in tips for setting rates!
CoolThreadsShop said... (5/21/13 12:31 PM) Reply
I've been sewing for over 50 years and started a custom sewing/embroidery business 3 years ago. My lovely daughter recently got married, and I realized the need for modest, yet stylish, clothes that are suitable for Mothers-of-the-Bride, esp. those that are lucky enough to be plus-sized like myself! With that 'seed planted', I am seriously considering opening a boutique that specializes in custom MOTB dresses that aren't designed for 20 year olds going clubbing or that look like a circus tent! My best advice: Don't sell yourself short! An older woman recently told me that 'she only charged $2 to hem pants.' After I told her my price and explained ALL the costs and time involved, she decided to raise her price!
pettiskimsewnew said... (5/21/13 11:37 AM) Reply
I want to start a small craft school, including sewing, mixed media art, art journaling and papercrafting. I am planning to start with kids and out of my home. Great advice here!

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