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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: familymgrkendra
Date: 11-27-2005, 12:00 PM (1 of 11)
I am a beginner sewer and could really use some ideas on some EASY projects that I can do that will be profitable. I am a SAHM to my 3 young boys and my DH has been unemployed for 1 month and we really need some income coming in. I would LOVE some ideas for something that I can make that I can sell either via ebay, at craft shows or just to friends. THANK YOU for your assistance/suggestions!
User: familymgrkendra
Member since: 05-12-2005
Total posts: 9
From: Linda in Colorado
Date: 11-27-2005, 01:07 PM (2 of 11)
Oh, my, I think you have opened the proverbial can of worms here. What will sell and what will not is totally subjective.

I have friends in the crafts business who will sell a lots of a particular product at one crafts show, and not sell even one at the next. According to my friends, business is always either up or down, hardly ever in the middle.

Having said that, making and selling products can be lucrative, if you have the staying power to hang in there until your product takes off. From the sound of your post, I'd say you are looking for something surefire that will sell immediately. That may or may not happen.

Some suggestions, none guaranteed : look for a niche, such as coats for dogs, or receiving blankets for babies, or something that you use all the time in your family. Offer to personalize your item(s), with a first name or with initials or a monogram.

Check out what others are selling, or look in stores to see what is being offered. If you find yourself saying, "I could do that better", you may have hit on something worth doing.

In any event, plese keep us posted on what you decide to do.
User: Linda in Colorado
Member since: 03-27-2000
Total posts: 102
From: MaryW
Date: 11-28-2005, 09:27 AM (3 of 11)
Small gift type things usually sell quickly. I used to buy baby panels, make into a quilt with baby bib or other accessories to match. This makes for a nice baby gift or for a shower. Make pencil cases and fill with colored markers or maybe backpacks for kids with their initials. I had a friend who could never make enough kids fleece hats this time of year. She also knit and crocheted them for babies.

Linda is right, there are a million things that might sell, or not. :yawn: Sorry I couldn't be of more help. I know how it is when the income stops.
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: paroper
Date: 11-28-2005, 11:28 AM (4 of 11)
I don't have any particular suggestions on the projects but I do have some pointers. You're going to have to invest front money before you start so do things that don't require a lot of fabric and trims. You need something snappy that you can make and turn around quickly without a lot of investment. If your items catch on quickly, you can be totally snowed with orders or requests. You want something that looks great (eye appeal) without a lot of time invested so that you can meet the demands and fill up your stock.

I was told once to specialize when I started sewing: General garment sewing, tailoring, home dec, wedding garments, etc. That isn't such a bad idea because if you fill up a booth somewhere with a lot of different types of things it can be confusing. If you specialize in mostly baby things or children's things, kitchen things or home dec ideas, you'll attract more attention to the variety of items you have than to bury a variety of things together so that you don't attract the customers that might be interested in a particular items you have. If you have a way to personalize things, then make up some samples and take orders. This time of year you can become buried in requests on the spot that will get you behind.

Charge a good price for your garments. Don't undersell your work! There are venues where every customer expects a bargain and they won't pay well for your work, there are others where the same customer will pay big money for the same item. If you have a high priced bouti1ue in town, maybe a child's boutique or even a kitchen or bath boutique, consider doing something for them. Many private boutiques will purchase your good directly from you for good money and resell it for obscene prices. No, you don't get their price for the item but you can clear your inventory quickly and get good money. You don't have the same amount of legal book work either. If you do this, you may want to make a logo or a small tag or something to identify your business (depending on the items you sell). The garment/tags make the item look more expensive. When I was sewing, I had a professional tag. Many of my customers commented on how nice it looked. The tage had the name of the business and the town so that they could contact me. I had a friend who sold long silky neck scarves to a local chain of ladies garment stores. She made a mint! They were quick and easy to do and she worked a full time job while doing it.

What ever you decide to do, be sure and check state/local ordinances about collecting taxes, keeping books, etc. Our state offers a free workshop for new business owners. They tell them how to name their business, how to collect/pay sales taxes, how to register the business, keep good records, etc. It is well worth the time and puts the needed resources in one place, saving you a lot of time and money. If you sell from your home, you may need a zoning change or a business license.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: purselady
Date: 02-03-2006, 07:20 AM (5 of 11)
Hi, I am new here, I make purses. They sell really well here. I started with one pattern, but since then have changed it to be my own, I offer different sizes and such. My child size purse w/ all the latest children's fabrics is usually my best seller wherever I go. Also, my holiday themed purses do good. I do custom orders, I will search for the fabrics if someone wants something I don't have. Hope this helps a bit. I have started taking in alterations also,now that people know I sew.
User: purselady
Member since: 02-03-2006
Total posts: 19
From: stitcheasy2003
Date: 02-04-2006, 06:59 AM (6 of 11)
Where or did you make your professional tags? How? thank you
User: stitcheasy2003
Member since: 01-28-2006
Total posts: 20
From: crazy4quilting
Date: 03-06-2006, 12:47 AM (7 of 11)
I tried the craft shows, etc. It's just like what was mentioned above. Somethings sell good sometimes and other times they don't. I found through my experiences, that the smaller ticket items were always hot sellers. (i.e. Eyeglass cases made out of potholders - could be used for pencil cases too $2 - $3 a piece, homemade cigar box purses - much easier to make than you think. You can get anywhere from $10 - $15 per purse.) I tried getting the hanes white T-Shirts and embroidering them w/ seasonal designs as well as cartoon characters. I would try to sell them for $10.00 a piece, but didn't get many bites. I wound up giving most away as Christmas Presents. I also did handtowels for $3 a piece. I also did cutom beaded jewlery, etc.

I think the secret is to creating something specialized that no one else will have. I think my biggest sellers at the craft shows was when I did iron on T-Shirts. I would just get the iron-on transfers from Wally World, then design some images on my computer/funny sayings, etc. print and then iron on. I ususally got $6 - $8 a shirt. If you can get the T's for $2, the Iron ons are $1 per page, you're making a pretty good return. Trust me - easy quick and simple. If you can even go there with a laptop, printer, camera, you could take photos- transfer them iron. You could sell for a much higher price, because then the item becomes a personalzied one.

I was at one craft sale, and they had one lady that had a "Dress Your Bear" table. She was selling bears, plus you got to pick out one outfit with each purchase of a bear, plus she was selling the outfits separately too. She was making a killing. She was charging people $35.00 a bear. I thought to myself, how hard would it be to go to the Dollar General, pick up some bears for $3 - $5 a piece and then get some doll clothes patterns and sew away. The thing that made the outfits so cute, was because they were specialized, like a cheer leader, ballerina, safari, construction worker, farmer, etc. I bet the outfits alone would only be $2 - $3 in materials. Let's face long would it take to make that. Not too long.

Another thing I found out that is selling well these days is Doggie Couture. Some people are willing to pay $15 - $20 for cutom made little hats for dogs..everything from country western to harley davidson leather type hats for the dogs. Just some ideas. Hope this helps.
A Girl Can Never Have Too Much Fabric!
User: crazy4quilting
Member since: 03-14-2002
Total posts: 51
From: millboroquilter
Date: 03-06-2006, 03:59 AM (8 of 11)
Where I live, (In Cattle Country) You look for a need and you fill it.

I live on the NE border and so Chickens and Turkeys are OUT!

I made about 3 dozen yo yo Turkeys and stuck a tooth pick sign on them that read "Eat Nebraska Beef". I put an out-ragious price on them at 7.99 each. asked a friend to sell them at her truck stop. I sold out in about 2 weeks. (I know because I only go to town about every two weeks.) The reason they sold is becasue Beef producers are passionate about the american public eating good food and not imported foods that they don't know where they came from or what is in them. So they strive to produce a product that they eat themselves and they make sure their familes thier children and grand children have good food. They are proud of the product they produce and they are not afraid to say so. This same idea would sell in WY, North Dakota, South Dakota Montana and so on. I am going to try these at the local sale barns and see if they sell.

Next I tried little flower pot dolls I made with red bandana fabric for dresses and black cowgirls hats. they had dangly ribbon legs with tiny spool feet.Thier arms held a wooden heart which I wrote on, "EAT Nebraska Beef" and "I love Nebraska" I sold "ALL" of them (30) at 8.99 each. I gave my friend a dollar for everyone sold. She was glad to have something to sell without ordering it and paying shipping and if it didn't sell she wasn't out. The old... you scratch my back I'll scratch yours works out here in cattle country. These sold like hot cakes becasue this is cowboy country. Everyone follows the Rodeo circuit and everyone knows everyone in seveal surrounding states. they all know who is on top in the bull riding in the PRCA and so on. plus add your country pride and honor and they will sell.

Also I sell the heck out of used Bean cans. I wash them out take an old used Bouce dryer sheet - iron it - then use it as a backing to sew on. I cut out fabric with horses, cowboys what ever I have and then build on it sewing all around it with scraps, mostly old holey hankies (I wash them first) and old work shirt fabric strips. trim it around the edges and then I hot glue it on the can add some twine from the hay bales we have already feed to the cattle and BANG instant pencil holder (WESTERN and everything!). Western is HOT out here! You can add That grassy stuff I think they call it raffia , but I don't have any where to buy stuff like that so I just glue on pieces of broam grass from the road ditches and sometimes rose hip bearries or what really looks nice is a few pheasant feathers. Try making and selling something small and cheap but always try to use what you have available especially if it is free.

By the way if I could buy my sugar and flour in fabric sacks.. I would how about you? Remeber the old sugar and flour sacks our great grandmothers used? I still have some of thiers and I still use them. I used to buy laundry soap and would get a free dessert glass in every box. Why don't companies do that any more? I still use my grand mothers green oatmeal dishes she got free back in the 30's. Use it or loose it. I think we should all write to or call and tell companies we are tired of paper or plastic we want fabric. then maybe the fabric stores would not go out of business.

I can see it now Debbie Munns fabric bag and inside it dried cran berries. And the print??? well Christmas of course! Cranberries for christmas dinner and fabric to make the napkin out of. I think it could work how about you?

Hey thier is a businesss for you, make fabric bags for some business out of fabric scraps then they can market thier product in the bag. Remember the bags the smoking tobacco comes in for those who roll thier own. how about a bag for M & M's, for Beans, or macaroone noodles or something like that.

Don't be afraid to ask, all they can say is no. and No doesn't hurt. I sell this stuff to support my last child in college she leaves in Sept. I've sent 3 through college and this is the 4th and last. After she is through school the money will go into a college fund for our grand kids.

Hope these ideas from a country gal help ya.
Always in Stitches on the Ranch
User: millboroquilter
Member since: 03-06-2006
Total posts: 1
From: MrsSnuggly
Date: 06-06-2006, 11:46 AM (9 of 11)
Just opened a bag of rice that comes in fabric bags. It has a zipper - and the rice is in plastic inside....completely reusable and it doesn't make a mess. Yep - wish flour and sugar came in the same - we go through that stuff pretty fast (then again I make our bread alot and my husband makes homemade waffles for the kids....) but it would be nice to not add to the trash.

I would think selling at a local store or festival would be the fastest as ebay is unpredicatable. Have luck
User: MrsSnuggly
Member since: 05-21-2006
Total posts: 104
From: paroper
Date: 06-06-2006, 11:54 AM (10 of 11)
Boy! NOW I feel old. I can remember when flour came in cloth sacks (I think that cornmeal probably did too). I don't remember about sugar. Grandmother used so much flour with her bread making that I can remember that. She didn't use as much sugar. I can remember dishes coming in the oatmeal too. The bags didn't have zippers though they were sewn with a chain stitch just like the oat bags for the cattle.

Bernina 200e, Artista V5 Designer Plus, Explorations, Magic Box, Bernina 2000DE & 335 Bernette Serger, Bernina 1530 Sewing Machine, Bernina 1300 DC Overlock (with coverstitch)
User: paroper
Member since: 02-03-2004
Total posts: 3775
From: Patty22
Date: 06-06-2006, 05:00 PM (11 of 11)
What great ideas Millboroquilter! You are not only busy, but clever indeed.

I remember all kind of goods coming with premiums inside....and the biggie to my mother was getting kitchen and bathroom towels in the boxes of dreft detergent. I don't remember the printed flour sacks (although I did have slips made from them when little), but I do remember the chicken feed coming in pretty prints.

I was just a little coffee shop in a small town and I saw where a local quilter had taken her fabric scraps to make notecards and was selling them for $8 apiece (the fabric was used for creating a collage and embellished with trim.)

I love the idea of sewers campaigning companies to change their packaging! Where do we sign the petitions now? Names, addresses, flooding their marketing departments................I'm a product of the 60/70's at heart :up:
User: Patty22
Member since: 03-29-2006
Total posts: 1194
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