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where is my niche?

BellaGabriella | Posted in General Discussion on

About a month ago I posted and said I wanted to fulfill a dream of a p/t biz sewing for children. I think I said “couture.” I guess I shouldn’t have used that word. Anyway, after overthinking it I thought maybe I should do the tote bag / lap quilt thing, but the thing is, I LOVE to piece I just HATE to quilt! I usually tie them off. And, all sewing can’t be work so I have to pick what I want to do for work and for fun, and to me, patchwork is fun! And sewing for me!

I really, really, really want to sew for babies and children. Everyday, special occasion, holiday, special event. Reasons: I have a small sewing room and like to work on small things and they are small people. They are fun and friendly and tell you exactly what they do and do not like. Most little girls (and big ones) love to look and feel pretty, and a pretty dress does just that. I love detail and attention to detail and designing and simplicity and cotton and polka dots and embroidery floss and eyelet and ribbons and fun buttons and hidden pockets for special things. I would love to add a pull-string pouch or a pretty scrunchie or matching barettes or a tiny doll with a matching outfit just because.

So tell me wise women of THREADS, am I deluding myself or would this be a good thing?



  1. Digi | | #1

    Hi Nancy:  I think you could make a very good niche for yourself with this kind of business ...especially if you made the thrust of your market to "grandparents".  We (I've been one for years and getting to be a "grand"), love to buy all of these special things for our little ones ...even though we ourselves spend a lot of time in our sewing rooms.  After all, there's never enough hours in a day to "do all".

    Since you said you like all the ribbons etc., have you thought about possibly specializing in baptismal gowns (both for girls and boys) and/or christening gowns?  If you look into most children's shops, they are very costly - and you might be able to supply these boutique with your specialty.  This would hold true too, for other types of very special little dresses. 

    Anyway, it was just a thought.  All the best in your new business and ...enjoy the journey!

  2. katina | | #2

    Hi Nancy

     I totally understand your love of all the special details. I do this too, also in my knitting, and find it very rewarding. Is it possible to have someone else do the quilting? Does the quilting have to be very intricate for these projects? My friend and I make quilts and laprobes for orphanages and refugee centres. We make them of very bright and cheerful cottons and quilt them in a simple grid pattern. Don't let the quilting deter you!

    Good luck.


  3. MaryinColorado | | #3

    I also think Christening gowns would be a very lucrative way to begin.  Also wedding attire for the little ones such as flower girl and junior bridesmaid dresses as the selection of these is limited and expensive.  Often the ones in shops are polyester and sometimes very "scratchy" materials and very few styles and sizes.  First Communion dresses too.  Some people still like to give thier little girls fancy tea parties and birthday parties where they wear beautiful little dresses and matching outfits for thier dolls or teddy bears or bunnies. 

    Check out http://www.marthapullen.com for lots of patterns, supplies, and ideas too.  She has a tv show on PBS and has the SEW BEAUTIFUL mag. 

    When my daughter and grand daughter were little girls, I made and bought them adorable unique clothes.  Cotton dresses with matching bloomers or shorts so they could be dressier but still play on the playground without thier panties showing.  Matching hats, or even baseball caps and straw hats can have embellishments added to match outfits too.  "Sew" much fun and possibly very rewarding financially and on a personal level.  I've often thought of doing this myself but don't like the business aspect of it for me.

    Good luck!  You never know until you try.  Oh, there's a book "Dream Sewing Spaces" you might check out at the library.  There is one lady in there that has a sewing room set up for making children's clothing exclusively.  You're right, it wouldn't take up much space and you could have alot of fun with it.

    I'm going to send you a little idea that you might like for using rick rack.  Mary

  4. rodezzy | | #4

    You sound like that would be the perfect sewing for you to do for the small ones. 

    I love to create and piece quilts also, I hate the quilting part, especially on bed sized quilts.  We have people in our guild that charge decent prices for the quilting.  That helps.  Some of the members also send their quilts out of town to be quilted with great success.

  5. sewelegant | | #5

    Well, for one thing... You Have The Perfect Name!

  6. sewingkmulkey | | #6

    Now that my 6 year old granddaughter has an American Girl doll I've really enjoyed sewing matching outfits for them.  My gd just loves it when I make a fancy outfit for her and one that matches for her doll!  I've been thinking that there might be a good market for this concept.  The thought of sewing these items as a business sounds great to me.


    1. GailAnn | | #7

      I a bit out of touch with little girls, these days.  Is there any one popular doll, like the Barbie of my own youth?  I ask because I can remember my own grandmother, supplementing her income by sewing clothes for Barbie dolls.

      Ladies use to wear corsages on the lapels of their Winter coats, about that same time, and my Grandmother's Christmas Corsages were highly in demand.

      Thanks for the walk down memory lane.  Gail

      1. BellaGabriella | | #8

        oh, you Ladies are my cheerleaders! I was hoping I picked a good niche! I have to really focus at my day job because I'm getting sooooo excited about this! I think I'm even less tired! LOL

        I can't wait to get started. I've been re-reading my sewing business and marketing books and going through back issues of magazines. I used to subscribe to "Sew Beautiful" and "Creative Needle" when my daughter - who is now 21 - was young. I did pick up the last issue of SB (Easter issue #117) because I fell in love with the dress on the cover. THAT DRESS whooshed me back to my dream. (Too bad I'm not 20 years younger, but hey, so what?)

        I'll start by making some samples of dresses from patterns, but add my own details. I'll need some business cards, sources for ribbons and buttons. Piping! I was watching a quilting show the other day and she put piping between her binding and the quilt edge. She chose a bright red and it made the quilt POP! I can put piping around sleeves, cuffs, collars...I feel lightheaded!

        Mary - can't wait to hear about the rickrack idea.

        Gail - They still have Barbie but they also have Bratz dolls. Personally, I still have my Midge doll who is currently wearing a sleeveless summer gown with contrasting wrap.

        And my name is really my name. :)



        1. damascusannie | | #10

          Be sure to double-check for licensing issues with your patterns. Some companies guard their interests quite closely and state that you can't sell garments made from their patterns without entering into a licensing agreement with them that usually includes either a licensing fee, a royalty agreement or both.

          1. sewingkmulkey | | #11

            Very good and valid point!

          2. rodezzy | | #12

            Good luck with your new business, the excitment in your thread is contagious.  You sound so very happy, that I'm happy just reading it.  Yipeeeeee!   Sometimes you just never know where inspiration will come from.  I love this site.

        2. sewelegant | | #13

          I am not proficient in Italian, but I think Bella is synomynous with beautiful and Gabriel was an angel so you can be the maker of beautifully angelic clothing! 

          1. BellaGabriella | | #14

            Wow...I didn't think of it that way! It almost makes me cry! There sure is alot of emotion in planning a biz, isn't there?

            Damascusannie - you can't sell clothing made from their patterns. The client has to buy the pattern, or you can design your own, which I haven't learned how to do yet.

            Oh, I hope I have the you-know-whats to see this through...


          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #16

            If I may offer a suggestion, the next step you should take is to make up a business plan.  This will help you figure out a lot and is not as hard as it sounds. 

            Write down what you have on hand in supplies.  This inclueds tools and materials, keep all receipts- start keeping your books NOW.

            Write down all your skill sets, wether they seem to apply or not.

            Write down all your possible ideas in a list.  Research each for cost of production and what the local market will bear for selling price.

            Research possible market venues (how are you proposing to sell your goods or fund your enterprise)

            Set your goals.  Start date.  First project complete.  First show date etc.  and draw up a timeline.  Set aside the time like a job on paper to see how much time you really need. 

            You will find this will get you on your way much faster, and will keep you more organized , and on track to your goal. 

            You will also find it a satisfying way to track your progress and a source of encouragement.  Good Luck and God Bless  Cathy

          3. BellaGabriella | | #17

            EXCELLENT suggestions! Thank you! I just listed them in my notebook and added a few of my own. This will definitely make it feel more like the start of a business and less of a dream.

            I did pick up some patterns over the weekend for samples.  I'm so excited about this! I hope I remember that while doing the administrative and marketing parts.


          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            Glad you found the suggestion helpful.  It is always better to make a plan and then work it!  A Goal is the Destination, the timeline is the journey, and the plan is the roadmap.  Maps and timefames may change, but the destination is the same.  Happy Travels!  Cathy

      2. sewingkmulkey | | #9

        Gail,Barbie dolls are still popular but the store bought clothes are so cheap I don't think there's a sewing market for them. The dolls I'm talking about are made by American Girl. The dolls are expensive as well as the clothing so I think sewing for them might be more lucrative. The website on ebay designated for these dolls is quite large so I believe it could be a good choice. Karen

  7. tadochas | | #15

    I think you sound like a doll, yourself, and   you are a woman of my own heart.  I cannot think of one little girl,my nice included, though a tomboy at times, that does not love these things.

    Martha Stewart had a show on which a young girl began a business making tu-tus out of a very soft fabric, not tulle, and the little girls love them.  I would do them in pastels, b/c I think a child is prettiest in them, and when in their little lives will they be best suited for wearing such colors.   Just a whole  lot of beautiful little ice-cream color dolls in their clothes.  My Mother told me about the pastels, and I think she is right.  Little girls are adorable in pastels, and with your loving thoughts for them, I think you could do more good for more little girls than you could dream -- what about all those little ones from disadvantaged homes?

    I grew up working at the local YMCA, and the little girls who were latch-key (that is, is it not) when their parents are not home when they come home from school -- were thrown in with the little girls from wealthier families -- what wouldn't they have done to feel as pretty and have shiny, scrubbed bright little glowing faces as their wealthier counterparts did?

    I am sick -- 2 failed back surgeries -- perhaps, between we two, we could get many women to do just a few things, and 10,000 women doing just a few things -- its like making dollls for them for Christmas -- I will never forget the hurt I saw in those little faces.  The only time the turf was even was in the swimming pool for free swim or lessons, but even then it was difficult -- suits were hand-me-downs.   Due to two failed back surgeries, I have  days when all I can do is sit --  what about a pretty beaded bracelet or headband?

    We could do so much -- what little girl wouldn't love her own embellished quilt in pretty colors.  Her very own to cuddle with when things on the home front are not so happy, or just down-right frightening?


    DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY TO GET SOMETHING GOING FOR A WHOLE GROUP OF LITTLE GIRLS?  THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS SWEET, BUT A LITTLE KINDNESS GOES A LONG WAY, EVEN A LIFETIME.  And there are so many of us that are good with needles and threads -- that is not even beginnning to speak to the thousands of elderly in nursing homes, without anything -- what would a pretty quilt or new dress do for them?

    I sound like such a Pollyanna -- for some of those ladies, I bet its been years since they have had a new dress --,I wouldn't even know where to begin with the men.


    Hopeful -- it is, up to us.  God works thrus us, he can't do it alone.



    Edited 6/7/2008 6:42 pm ET by tadochas

    1. BellaGabriella | | #19

      Thank you very much for your comments. It's nice to hear that I'm on the right track from everyone!

      I'm not sure what you mean about your following comment:

      DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRY TO GET SOMETHING GOING FOR A WHOLE GROUP OF LITTLE GIRLS?  THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS SWEET, BUT A LITTLE KINDNESS GOES A LONG WAY, EVEN A LIFETIME.  And there are so many of us that are good with needles and threads -- that is not even beginnning to speak to the thousands of elderly in nursing homes, without anything -- what would a pretty quilt or new dress do for them?

      Are you suggesting I consider putting together a group or club who sew for others, sort of a "Creative Kindness" circle? Would this be via the internet? Please elaborate. It is an intriguing concept.

      I'm off to work now, but I'll check back later.



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