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need art store garment advice

susanna | Posted in General Discussion on

Unbelievably (to me) I now have the opportunity to make and/or sew anything I want for a store my friends are opening. I am thinking of making linen or hemp skirts in a variety of sizes, simple patterns but with design elements such as hand embroidery on a pocket, godets in another material, etc.

I am thinking one skirt each in sizes xs, s, m, l, and xl. But what to charge? I have read several opinions on setting prices. What do threads readers recommend?

Also I have heard that using a commercial pattern to make things for sale in a store or at a crafts show can get you in trouble if They ever hear about it. Is this true?

Another thing is, I wonder what smaller items would be interesting for shoppers. This store will be selling mostly handmade items like blown glass, jewelry, paintings, and knitted items. But I know people like to purchase lower cost, unique items. Has anyone seen anything little and interesting while out and about? For instance, I was thinking of making little felted pocketbooks for girls, or making weird little dolls to perch on shelves.

I really enjoy the ideas threads readers share and am asking once again for advice and opinions.

I am so excited about this. I will also be having a crafts class on Thursday nights where people can drop in and work on things informally. I have wanted to do this my whole life and can hardly believe it!

Thank you in advance for your replies.


  1. katina | | #1

    Scarves are always popular items. 

    Good luck!


  2. sueb | | #2

    You absolutely cannot sell items that you make from a commercial pattern and you're right, doing so will get you in a lot of trouble.  You will have to draft your own patterns if you wish to sell the clothing items that you make or buy some software that lets you print out patterns that you can use to make sellable wearables.  Check out http://www.wildginger.com for some software.  Some of their low end software products are inexpensive and will give you some basic pattern pieces to work from.  Check the U.S. copyright office for more info on copying someone elses patterns: http://www.copyright.gov/ 

    You will also need to conform to wearable product tagging requirments which can vary from state to state. You have to label any wearable with a fiber content tag and care instructions and some childrens items must be made from non flammable materials.   More information about this here:


    You'll also need to check with your local state government to find out which items that you make will need to be taxable.

    As far as pricing, you need to determine your total materials cost for creating the item and then add whatever your hourly rate that you want to pay yourself for the amount of time that it took to make the item.  You don't say whether or not you'll be selling these items to the store owners at the retail price and taking a commission cut or if you're selling to them wholesale.  Selling to a retailer at a wholesale price is typically 50% of the suggested retail price that they will in turn sell the item for.  So if you're suggested retail price for the itme is $20 then you would sell it to them for $10.

    There are several books out on the market now for making a living selling handcrafted goods.   Check Amazon.com or your local library.  If you're venturing into selling your items for a living you should also check to see if you can get wholesale discounts from your supplier, typically most will offer wholesale discounts to you when you supply them with your resale certificate number.  Check with your local government offices on how to get one of them.

    Good luck !



    1. susanna | | #6

      Thank you for the useful advice and websites, which I am about to check out. Also, thank you to everyone who has replied so far with ideas for merchandise.

      I am putting together a crafts group and those interested want to try silk painting. I have never done this, so we will all be in on this together as we learn.

      Never thought of the drawstring bags for jewelry but was wondering what to do with scraps of fleece, silk, and flannel, and I think those will work well. Today I will make some flower pins as well. Thank you very much for your answers!

      1. SewTruTerry | | #7

        How about childrens hats or little girl dresses? These are relatively small and go together quickly and don't necessarily have to have the perfect fit like adults like to have.  Plus you get to play with lots of color.

      2. Teaf5 | | #8

        Decades ago, I sewed clothes on consignment for a boutique and was advised to charge five times the cost of my materials for each piece. However, this usually priced the item beyond what customers would pay for a similar garment in a quality department store, and the larger pieces languished, even though the customers would rave over the quality of my handwork.Smaller items, things that don't need to fit, and accessories are much more profitable. The cost of the materials is lower, and they are more likely to appeal to someone buying a gift. Bags, hats, scarves, totes, pins, even aprons are good sellers nowadays, especially if you have a special theme or motif that appeals to a large group (floral, country, angels, butterflies, Asian, Americana, etc.)Good business practices, including record-keeping, taxes, inventory control, and time management, are essential if you're planning to do very much production. Otherwise, you might find yourself swamped with unsold merchandise, too many orders, or operating costs that wipe out any profits. Even on a small scale, making items to sell can be very, very time consuming, so start slowly and carefully and be ready to make changes so that you can continue to enjoy the rewards of your work.

        1. susanna | | #9

          Thank you for this answers. My intuition has been telling me to start slowly and be careful. I have endless ideas, but only so much time, since I work 4 days a week elsewhere (and have to cook, eat, sleep, exercise, do laundry, drive, etc.). It's good to get a reiteration of the importance of practicality, especially since this opportunity means a lot to me.

          1. Teaf5 | | #10

            Good luck in your venture; may it be a positive adventure!

  3. mainestitcher | | #3

    I don't care for the style at all, but hobo bags seem to be selling well.

    Some stones used for jewelry are relatively soft, and need protection from being scratched by other items in the jewelry box. Little drawstring bags?

    You are correct that commercial patterns may not be used to manufacture items for sale. You will hear folks say if you change the design 10-20-30% it's okay. It isn't. This site gives an explanation. It's a relatively small company, but the economics and copyright info applies to the big companies as well.

    When I was a young woman, back in the stone age, our first Home Ec project was an elastic waist dirndl skirt, no pattern needed. Adding godets to the hip would be easy enough.

  4. stitchmd | | #4

    Wrap skirts are more flexible in fitting, even with different sizes.

    Flower shaped pins are very popular now and can be made from all kinds of fabric scraps. Check through some online clothing catalogs for inspiration.

    1. stitchmd | | #5

      I just notice the thread on flower pins, so there's your inspiration.

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