Sewing is a great skill to possess for many reasons. There is so much you can create with it. So much you can do. And that includes making money with it.
If you decide to utilise your sewing talent to work from home, you have many ways of doing this, and choose a path that you are most comfortable with.
If you already sew, it will probably not cost you a lot to set yourself up in a sewing business. However, it’s important to start right. . And one of the things to kick things off is to start looking at your talent, hobby, whatever you consider it, with a business minded outlook from this point onwards.
Starting a business with a craft is different from working on it as a hobby. We encourage you to read this section to get some useful information about starting and running a successful sewing business from home.
Most of you who are passionate about sewing are familiar with how this hobby grips you. You fall in love with the beautiful fabrics you see and can't help but fantasise about the number of beautiful things you can make from them.
You can't wait to try new techniques and ideas. The most wonderful thing about starting a sewing business is that all your excited forays into new sewing projects become moneymaking ventures. And when you know that you are actually profiting from buying your fabrics and making new things, you can start investing more in your trade craft.
You can get that new snazzy sewing machine you always wanted and convert that extra room in to your sewing studio and more! Sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it? Well, a crafting business can very well be all that you have dreamt of.
The attitude towards handmade crafts is changing fast. I remember the time when my mother used to sew a lot at home. She made a lot of things for us as children and for the home. She enjoyed doing it. But it was also part of the chores that needed to be done.
Today, we have a choice. We sew because we love the personal touch and identity that handmade things have. The whole world is coming around to this idea and the handmade crafts industry is witnessing the kind of growth it has never before.
Handmade items never really get old. If they are constructed well to last, they become vintage, and even heirloom pieces. This makes them even more precious.
If you feel that a small sewing business cannot compete with the ready-made factory items you are mistaken. There is an immense market for the things you make.
I’m not saying this to make it sound easy or simple. Starting a sewing business needs preparation and a work. You might need to better the quality and your designs before you can start selling them successfully. But learning new techniques is fun and you are no stranger to that.
As I always say, the most important thing is to get started. Throughout these notes, articles and chapters on sewing we will talk about the best ways for you to get started with minimum fuss. It’s most likely that it is not the ability to sew that is holding you back. Rather, it is the lack of the right information and consecutively the confidence to start. Let's try and change that. Let's try and explore how you can use your talent and love for sewing into something more.
Did you know that women owned enterprises account for more than 33 percent of all the businesses in the U.S.? This number is constantly increasing. If you are someone who has flair with using the needle, the you should seriously think about starting a sewing business.
But that is not altogether the right statistic to quote here. Tailoring and sewing is just much a man’s profession as it is women’s. In fact a friends of mine of runs a custom designer studio has tailors that are almost exclusively men. Some of the best tailors for men are seamsters, or simply put, men!
A sewing business is great as a home business start up. All you really need to start is a secluded space where you can put your sewing machine, your fabric and other basic sewing tools.
Do you require an industrial grade sewing machine to start a sewing business? Definitely not. You need a sturdy machine that will do hard work. We have discussed the sewing machine you need for a business in another post. Please read it.
Getting Started – Choose Your Speciality
You will probably want to start a sewing business on your own. Or you may partner with a close friend. It’ s good to have 2 people working together. It makes things fun and easy. There are number of sewing specialities you can choose from. These are a few examples. What you decide to sew will also depend on the the kind of equipment you are starting out with and whether you are working on your own or with someone else.
Alteration and Repairing: This is perhaps the most basic of sewing businesses. But these sewing services are also high in demand. Almost everyone has something that gets in the need of alteration or repairing over time. A great percentage of garments require alterations even when bought brand new. Retail garments are sold in fixed sizes. Many people would love to have a good tailor who can fix the clothes to their requirements.
It is a kind of a sewing business in which you can charge a high per hour dollar rate, which means more money for your for less work.
The thing to keep in mind is that a clothes alteration business will require you to be versatile with a lot of things, from darning to re-fitting, working with different fabrics and stitches etc.
Custom Sewing: You can become a dressmaker and make dresses and clothes for your clients according to their specifications. You can further decide the kind of clothes you want to specialise in. You can make dresses, casual wear, formal wear or make them all.
You will need to keep in touch with the latest fashion, trends, styles and create garments with good finishing.
If you are good with making any particular kind of clothes, start with that. Always play to your strengths when starting a craft business.
Designing: You can create a designer line of your own. If you have a flair for the creative and have ideas, this can be a very satisfying form of sewing business.
More Sewing Business Specialisations:
Women’s Wear: Specialise in making exclusively for women. See what the women in your area like to wear it. Or come up with some new ideas that will catch on. There is so much possible in terms of styles and colours. Go ahead, experiment, and dazzle your clients.
Men’s Wear: Specialising in men’s wear means that you stay abreast of the styles of the cuts and the colours that are in vogue. Emphasis is on fitting and styling. A good men’s tailor is as appreciated as a women’s seamstress.
Bridal Sewing: A custom bridal sewing business is a great business idea. Since weddings are important occasions, brides to be like the individual attention and customisation they can get from their seamstress. They also feel more assured knowing that they can have the exact kind of dress that they want.
A bridal sewing business is a very profitable one since custom bridal dresses can go for high prices. It helps to have someone working with you as there is a lot to be done including trials and fitting sessions.
Remember, if brides can go all out to get the wedding dress they want, they can also be very exacting and even fussy with it comes to getting their dress ‘just right’. So be ready to doll out the extra attention and effort to keep these precious customers happy.
Sewing Home Items: This is one of the most popular categories for a sewing business. You can sew a lot of things. You are only limited by your ideas. And the odds are they are going to sell really well.
Sewing Crafts: Items such as bags, table-mats, kettle covers are usually labeled as craft items. You can make and sew stuffed toys. These items are small but big sellers as well. Depending upon the level of your expertise and the advancement of your equipment you can sew shoulder bags, belts and even shoes and slippers.
Innovative Sewing: Can you think of stuff to sew and sell that’s out of the box..? Do you think you can sell it? Go ahead and do it. Everybody loves novel items. You can sew clothes for pets. They all need coats and sweaters for winters. Even socks for dogs are a done thing. Many owners like to protect the paws of their pets on walks so that they stay clean.
Things To Keep In Mind
- In choosing the right sewing business for yourself you have to be aware of your skill level. Do not stop learning new tricks to improve constantly.
- Plan things out a bit. Do some research. What is the demand for your services? Are there other businesses around that are going the same thing? What are they charging? Usually, it makes a great deal of sense to build a business around a niche, which involves doing something that no one else is doing, or doing it better or differently.
- You also need to find out about business permits, traffic considerations, sign regulations. Check if there are any zoning restrictions in your area that prohibits hanging a sign on your own property. Given that this is a people business where you really need to see your customers (e.g. fittings, consultations, etc), determine the rules in terms of traffic. Your neighbourhood zoning rules may prohibit constant comings and goings of people in your house. In some cases, even though you think you are operating within the bounds of the law, your neighbours may find your business to be a disturbance and complain.
Cost Of Starting Up
If you do not have the equipment yet, buy the best you can afford, even if it is second-hand. Good equipment goes a long way in making work easier, with an assurance of good results.
Your major investment for this business is the sewing machine. Sewing machines cost anywhere from $129 to $6,000, depending on its features. Check out the different brands and models, and what they can do and how well they function.
Other equipment you will need are measuring tape and rulers, shearing and cutting scissors, pattern markers, needles, threads etc. You also need to purchase a full-length mirror.
We have written about the sewing machines and other sewing tools in other posts. Kindly read them.
Pricing Your Work
Pricing is an extremely important aspect of any business. After all all your profits depend on how much you sell your services for. The more your profit margin, the more will be your income. You need to look at the market and the competition carefully to gauge the going rates. You do not want to oust yourself by marking your rates too high.
You need to consider the going rates and also the quality of your service or product. If it is superior then you can consider charging more than your competition. Otherwise it is a good idea to stay competitive by charging the same or lesser rates.
If you are running a custom sewing business, keep a journal on how much time you devoted to consultation on the proposed sewing project, time in acquiring patterns, fabric or sundries necessary to the project, actual sewing time, any difficulties you may experience in completing the project, what you learned and what you might do differently next time.
Keeping a journal on your sewing project helps not only to organise, but will help when you determine what you will charge the general public for your sewing time, skill sets, consultation, design knowledge, and of course materials.
A good way to determine what you need to charge is to calculate the time you need to spend on the job.
Do not sell your services too low. Try and establish a decent hourly wage for yourself but also calculate a fixed benchmark for certain common and similar jobs.
Alterations : $5 – $25
Evening Gowns : $200 – $3000
Wedding Dresses – $700 – $5000
Dresses : $150 – $1000
There are several variable factors in sewing a garment. One of them is fabric. The other is design. There are often more than one choice of fabric available for a garment. Discuss this option with your client as one might be more expensive than the other. Raw material affects the pricing to a great extent. Choose one that your client is comfortable with.
The element of design determines the amount of time you spend making your garment. The more intricate the design the more time it requires to finish. If you means that you spend more time making a dress means that it should cost more. Explain this to client as well. Any dress that takes time to make will cost more in accordance with the man hours devoted to it.
Potential Income For Your Sewing Business
Once you line up enough business to keep yourself busy, you can expect to earn $20,000 to $35,000 per year. An experienced seamstress with a solid client base can earn as much as $60,000. You can exceed this range if you hire employees to do the work while you’re out marketing your business.