I received my first sewing machine as a high school graduation present. After many little basic skirts and slip-on shorts, I tried my hand at drapes and bed skirts, Halloween costumes and fleece blankets. I ventured into quilts and flower girl dresses and my obsession was born. I am sure that many of you are just like me, sewing projects around the house and making the occasional baby gift. Well, it is time to put that machine to good use and make some money.
1. Decide what it is that you like to sew the most. This is important because it is easy to put off doing something you do not like to do and that makes it hard to get your work done on time. For me it is drapes and Halloween costumes. If I take a job for say a flower girl dress I think is tedious and frustrating I am liable to charge way to much for my time and not do half of the job I might making something I love.
2. Create a list of basics and assign prices to your time. Remember that your time is valuable…even if it seems like you are doing something you love to do anyway. I charge a base of $5 a stitch line. For instance a lined drape panel has 6 stitch lines, (2 hems, 2 sides, 2 lines for the rod pocket) so I charge $30 for the sewing of a lined panel. Many times I have a customer who wants a two color drape…by setting such a simple base I am able to add $5 for the extra color and so forth. Costumes are a different story I charge by the approximate time it takes to make it. A simple poodle skirt will take about an hour so I charge $10. A princess gown
runs $35-50 and so on.
3. Set some parameters in writing.If you do not lay down ground rules people can take advantage of you. Make a list of things that challenge you and add fees to those items. I charge a surcharge for trim that is 6″ or longer because I like to baste it down first so it doesn’t get caught up in my machine. I also charge a fee for fabrics like some silks or embroidered sheers that are harder to work with. Any lengths over 109″ get an extra $5 laid on them as well. As your business gets off the ground you will most likely add more exceptions to your rules.
4. Make some business cards. This is key because people cannot come to a store and buy your product. They need to have a reminder of your name and number. Check Vista print for specials. My first set of cards ran me just the cost of shipping. Remember to explain what you do on your cards. Something like budget-minded custom interiors or perfect custom-fit prom dresses.
5. Promote yourself. Leave those cards anywhere you can. Once a month I go up to the local fabric store and drop off cards. Put them on any bulletin board you find, at the grocery, pediatricians office, school. Keep the cards in your purse at all time as you never know when a girl scout mom needs a patch sewn on. Add a note to your neighborhood or church newsletter. Donate yourservice to a local charity auction.
Always have fun with what you are doing. Never take on a project you doubt you can do. Never sew for nothing even if you charge $1 for the sewing of a boy scout badge or $5 for hemming of pants, your time is valuable. Good luck and happy stitching.