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PatternReview Blog > Editorial Reviews of Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business
Editorial Reviews of Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business By DianeSev on 5/16/13 3:33 PM

Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business

Editorial Review of How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business

By Noelle MacMahon

Angela Wolf has just released her book How to Start a Home –Based Fashion Design Business.  This book gives an extremely thorough and detailed look at the process of building a business from the ground up from the perspective of a successful fashion designer.  There are thirteen chapters chock full of steps to take covering broad ideas like creating a collection, to the nitty gritty of writing a client contract.  She seems to have covered literally everything you would need to know and includes all sorts of useful links, references, and sources as supporting material.

excerpt TOC

My favorite elements of the book are her real life stories of the pitfalls and missteps she took while she grew her business. They are the perfect illustrations for why she recommends the steps she does as we proceed through the book.

You can tell Angela has a business background, as her attention to detail regarding the business plan, accounting, and promotional issues are impressive.  I learned so much and I have no interest in being a fashion designer!  I highly recommend this book to anyone who sews for a living as an invaluable resource for promoting your work.

Editorial Review of Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business

By Diane Severin

I have no intention of starting a fashion-design business, but after I read this book, I said, “Yes, I can do it!”  And I feel like I can now, if I ever decide to quit my day job. Smile

In 13 commonsense chapters, designer Angela Wolf outlines the roadmap to success:  So You Want to Be a Fashion Designer, From Dream to Reality, Getting Started in the Fashion Field, Setting Up the Space for Business, and so on.

In So You Want to Be a Fashion Designer, Angela outlines the required traits: a thick skin (“The  fashion industry is one of the most competitive and cutthroat there is…”), the desire to learn and evolve, an eye for color and detail, balance and proportion, communication skills, dedication, commitment, and creativity.  If you pass this litmus test in your mind, take stock of your personality traits and compare them to the traits of an entrepreneur that Angela lists and then do a self-assessment.  Angela also talks about the realities of starting at the bottom salary-wise and the support you’ll need from family and community to get your business going.

Traits of an Entrepreneur

In other chapters, Angela asks you to consider what sort of business you’ll have.  Will it be weddings or other custom work?  How do you find clients and assess their expectations?  How do you balance work and family time?  Where will you see clients?  What about that thing that everyone in her own business struggles with… pricing?  These are all topics that Angela discusses.

How about the nuts and bolts of designing a collection…storyboarding, where to get fabric and trim, payment terms?  What’s a jobber, do you know? (I didn’t.)  Will you hire a pattern maker?  Will you make your own patterns?  Will you use CAD software?  After you draft your patterns, you need to grade them, that is, adjust them up and down in sizing.  Angela gives you resources to help you understand the process and determine what path you will take in making these business decisions.


Angela’s experience in the business side of fashion is helpful.  Some states require you to have a manufacturing license before you can make your own apparel.  Who knew?  (I didn’t.)  And she gives background on taking photos to sell your products.

What will you sew with and where will you sew?  Where will you fit?  Where will you cut?  You’ll need mirrors, good lighting, and a private dressing room.  How will people get in touch with you?  What other tools will you need to conduct business and keep in touch with your customers? 

And a business plan?  (What’s that?)  Where do you want to be in two years?  It pays to think ahead if you want to be a success and not lose your shirt!  You’ll also need to think about taxes, and banking and insurance and trademarking and copyrighting and labels and marketing and bookkeeping.  Angela writes about all these issues with clarity. 

fringe and buttons

And then there’s the yucky part…finances, credit (yours and your customers), contracts and so on.  It’s nice to have the voice of experience guiding you through all these things.

There’s also an interesting section on using social media to market your products…a must in this day and age.

Although this book is extremely helpful, Angela’s writing style is not dry.  Throughout the book, Angela includes guiding commentary from her own experiences that help illustrate her points.  Some are humorous (like the story of sewing for a business event she attended with her future husband), but all are valuable!


This book is a must-read primer for anyone undertaking a home-based business in fashion, but I recommend using it as a guide to starting any business! 

In short, I loved it!


Order Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business.

Read more about Angela Wolf.

See Angela’s classes.

Read Angela’s articles on PatternReview.

Order Angela’s Patterns.


Giveaway!  Do you want to win a copy of How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Designer Business? Tell us below about your sewing business. Tell us the name of your business and give us your website address too.  If you don’t have a business yet, tell us about the business you’d like to start.  We’ll enter your name in a random drawing for a copy of the book.

To qualify for this giveaway, you must have joined PatternReview by May 16, 2012 (a year ago), and you must have a profile picture (NOT the generic dancing PR person). 

Post your comments by 11:59 PM EST on Saturday.  We will draw a random winner on Monday.

See instructions for adding a profile picture.

Questions about adding a profile picture?  Post them here.




17 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
Tee Jones Actie said... (5/30/13 2:46 PM) Reply
My business is "Dressed to a Tee" I plan to go full swing in two years when I retire from my full time job. I think this book would be a great resource. I make custom clothing and accessories. I also do alterations. I pray that I win this book, if not, I will probably purchase! Good luck everyone.
HDWen said... (5/23/13 1:01 AM) Reply
I have a clothing business and this book would have been Invaluable! My sister actually makes the clothing as I am re-learning how to sew ( and My husband runs the business side, State tax licenses, following federal Garment tagging laws - so much to learn before you jump in. Finding your niche is critical as well. Ours is Renaissance and Medieval clothing. 2+ years on PR I am re-learning sewing skills and hope to contribute new designs some day. Great advice and I'd love to see additional info Angela gives to help others make the leap! Thanks Angela
TeresaInTexas said... (5/22/13 6:04 PM) Reply
I don't have a sewing business right now due to other responsibilities, but I hope to start one in a few years or so. I taught a couple of children's sewing classes in my home three years ago, and I enjoyed that so much that I think that's probably the direction I'll be going when I do start a business. I have some experience with basic pattern design and alterations, and once I've obtained further training in that, I'll probably be doing some custom sewing for people who have a hard time finding modest clothing that fits properly.
JanaL said... (5/22/13 12:15 PM) Reply
I have thought seriously about starting a pattern making business. I started by drafting most of my own patterns, which I discovered really appeals to the both the analytical and creative sides of my brain. I have since taken some community college classes on pattern drafting and using the CAD software for drafting and grading. I do wonder if it is possible to be able to make a viable business drafting patterns for the recreational sewer. I think this book would be a great resource in determining if that is indeed possible.
anniemollison said... (5/21/13 8:53 PM) Reply
I don't have a sewing business either but would like to get started on some pattern making. I've just finished a pattern which I have graded myself and am attempting to draw up so fellow sewers can download for free. I would love to start a business of my own in pattern making.
Wandering Muse said... (5/21/13 5:48 PM) Reply
This book looks like it has some great information in it. I have a small clothing line called Wandering Muse ( that is intended for travel. I try to find ways to make beautiful garments reversible or convertible (but not in an obvious way) so you can have more styles to wear without having to pack more garments. The business side is what's the most challenging for me so it sounds like this book would really help!
LDRO said... (5/21/13 2:40 PM) Reply
I don't have a sewing business, but I have often thought of starting one. I love sewing for the home, and for myself.
Tessa on Gabriola said... (5/21/13 1:22 PM) Reply
Angela also promptly responds to her emails! Even though she didn't know me from Adam, she answered my questions , which were really important to me, if not to her. I appreciate her interest and encouragement.
rescuedbeauty said... (5/21/13 10:09 AM) Reply
I am working with my 17 year old daughter to get her sewing business up and running. Her business name is Uniquely Jasmine, LLC. She has been participating in the American Sewing Expo Innovation Generation for the last 9 years. Her talents are in creating designs that are sewn as well as knitted and crocheted. She likes to combine them into truly unique garments.
Sarsez said... (5/18/13 11:41 PM) Reply
I run my own sewing business from home and whilst reading the above reviews, I spent a lot of the time, nodding my head, thinking oh so true! However, my sewing business has nothing to do with fashion sewing, I repair, wash and make horse rugs.
divabuddha said... (5/18/13 7:15 PM) Reply
What a great idea for a book. My husband always tries to prod me into starting a small business, and to be honest, the work would be fascinating, but the business side of it terrifies me. I used to make wedding cakes while in grad school - the baking/decorating I LOVED, everything else gave me hives. Practical experience and guidance would be so helpful in making a decision. That, and growing a bit of a backbone about the quality of my garments.
latebloomer said... (5/18/13 4:46 PM) Reply
I am considering starting my own small fashion business as a second career and this book sounds like exactly the type of resource I have been looking for.
Sharp said... (5/17/13 10:48 AM) Reply
My dream is to start my own design line of fashionable modest clothing. When I was in high school, I'd sew crafts and dolls to earn money and help pay for college, so I know I can enjoy sewing as a living. Now, to just have some actual workspace...
NonieA1 said... (5/17/13 6:11 AM) Reply
I started my home-based business in Sept. 2010 on the advice of my daughter. Nonie's Altered Edge is an alteration and clothing modification business. This is my second career after retiring from 40+ years in nursing. I have been a member of PR since 11/2010 and have learned so much from all the expert seamstresses/knowledgeable designers and all the other members of PR. I have a network of others in my city that I can refer clients if I am unable to help them. There are other alteration/pattern makers in my city that I can refer; I am grateful for my clients faith in me. My daughter has been a blessing in getting me on the social networks where I receive many of my clients. The business is slowly increasing which I am thankful.
ArtAttack said... (5/16/13 8:54 PM) Reply
I've often thought about starting a sewing business and I get to a certain point and start the negative self talk about how it wouldn't work! I'd love to read about someone who actually did it and knows the pitfalls and the successes.
Mimi O said... (5/16/13 7:58 PM) Reply
I have been sewing since my mother taught me at the age of 9. I have always made items for myself and family and have occasionally sewn for other people. I have thought many times about starting a business but have never followed through due to the lack of space. That will be changing this summer; my husband is constructing me a small building that will become my sewing room. So the opportunity has presented itself for a chance at starting something new. I would love to receive Angela Wolf's book. I do have a client right at the moment as well. I am sewing her a rehearsal dinner dress as well as taking her mother's wedding dress and turning it into a reception dress. No time like the present to learn about running a sewing business.
daintydeb said... (5/16/13 4:21 PM) Reply
There is an older lady in my community who alters, mends, and has done some sewing for me. As a lifelong sewist (since age 9) starting a mending and sewing business appeals to me as a form of employment after years of college teaching. This may be a good way to earn and keep in touch with the community.

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