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Working at Home/Sewing

Katydid_ | Posted in The Archives on

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I am proud to be the mother of 5 children, all of whom I am home schooling. I am privileged to get to stay home with my children. I also need to find a way to earn some income to be able to make ends meet. I and my daughters are avid sewers and we would like to be able to use our skills in a more productive way. I have taken in some local sewing and alteration jobs, but my daughters and I would like to find a way to market our skills. We are trying to find items and products that we can sew at home, maybe even mass produce some items. I have a wide range of sewing skills, but am not interested in embroidery and quilting.

Please write back here if you have any suggestions for a small business that we can start.

Also anyone who owns and operates an in-home-sewing-business please write and share with us about your business and what type of sewing you do.

Replies

  1. silkscape_ | | #1

    *
    Hi!

    there are so many areas you could get into with sewing it might be wise to buy some books that you can browse through. I can recommend some if need be. I have run my home business for over 3 years. I am just getting to make some money now as I bought quite a bit of equipment and supplies over the first couple of years. I still don't make much though.

    The biggest mistake is charging too little. I am getting better about this but still make the mistake when I am doing a particular thing for the first time.

    I do alterations, contract work, some custom, and teach. Teaching is so far the least paying. I'm now trying to do some classes at home (instead of at shops), so I can run them the way I want, and get paid a more reasonable amount for it. I enjoy it or I wouldn't be teaching in shops at all. It also forces me to keep current and review my skills often. Most of my business is alterations. Everyone needs that and there is almost always work.

    If you attempt to make things to sell retail you should be aware that it is VERY difficult to make moeny that way. You either have to be very astute at marketting and make sure you charge enough to make money with the quality things you make. Or, you have to have a very unique, novel, INEXPENSIVE item to sell that you can make very quickly and cheaply. At most craft fairs, I wouldn't try to sell anythign more than $15, maybe less.

    Perhaps the girls can come up with some trendy thing to make that would sell to kids their own age, like bandanas or scrunchies.

    Best of luck!
    Dawn

    1. L._Muhammad | | #2

      *Maybe you could make wheelchair and walker pockets for people. You can make these from discounted remnants and sell to retirement villages and rest homes for $5.00. They are easy to do. You'd just need to contact various facilities, then schedule appointments to display the pockets.Chair pockets are also great for the remote and books, etc. All of these could be made in a variety of sizes and shapes.

      1. kimberly_skinner | | #3

        *I made cloth diapers, the fitted kind. I bought all my fabric on-line as a deep discount, and used priority mail for shipping, since they also provide free packaging supplies. I ran the business for a year, and did really well. Just search for that niche market....

        1. Sally_Smart | | #4

          *Hi. I'm curious to know why you ran your business for only one year. I work out of the home and am considering a home-based business upon retirement. I expect I would get bored making many multiples of a particular item. Why did you quit?

          1. Jean_ | | #5

            *The obvious smart-aleck answer to that is that the babies were trained.Sorry, I just couldn't help it. ;)

          2. kimberly_skinner | | #6

            *Hi Sally,Exhaustion! LOL. Seriously, I never imagined I would do so much business, and I reached a point where I was working so much, I really wasn't "there" for my kids. And, I was working late at night to try to keep up, the stress of filling all the orders was bugging me.... I was getting so many orders at that point that I had a waiting list to even place orders, but that only slowed things down a little bit. I needed to either scale way, way back, or rent some space and hire some people. My toddler's bout with ear infections made up my mind for me. :-) It was a lot of fun, and I managed to come up with new designs and new fabrics so things didn't get too tiresome. But, it is production work still. I was really happy when I could get back to making my kids play clothes, but it was fun and I still feel the occasional twinge of regret at giving it up. Maybe I'll re-open something similar when my kids hit school.

          3. Jillian | | #7

            *I do sewing at home for others. At first I simply did alterations for local people after putting ads in the local paper. Then others started calling me for additional sewing jobs for businesses, I like that best. Example businesses need help making displays for trade shows, ie table covers.

          4. Gail_Thompson | | #8

            *This message is for Katydid Re:Sewing at home business. I did this off and on for about 19 years. I agree that it can be impossible to make a living by sewing things for retail. Alterations or custom orders are more profitable, but can become overwhelming, and time consuming thus the reason we want to work at home (i.. to be available to our families) is diminished.There is, however, and excellent and very enjoyable way to earn a decent living and have a good life while sewing and working at home. Is there a State Historical Site near you? Sewing period clothing for Historical sites is very nice work. Typically there is a period in time for which you must study, I mainly did 1870's. The individual sites have a budget for seamstresses, and the manufacture and upkeep of the clothing. The work is mainly done September through April, which roughly corresponds to the school year. This is because the sites are busiest in the Summers and they want their clothing finished by May.

          5. silkscape_ | | #9

            *I have also done costumes for local theaters and at the college drama shop. Thing is, they usually will have staff to do their costumes but often run short of time and need to contract out to get done on time for the show. It's very fun b/c you never know what the heck you might end up working on!!! On the other hand...you have to be willing to accept the work when they have it, and turn it around very quickly. I have taken my kids to see some of the costumes I've worked on "in action" at the shows, and it's a lot of fun!

          6. JoEllen_Sue | | #10

            *Katydid,When you get this figured out PLEASE let us know here on the board. This sounds like what I need to be doing. I wish to find a way to be able to stay at home with my children, home school them, and train them right. You are on the right track and I envy you. You have five children just like I do, ages 4, 5, 8, 9, and 12. They are a handful, but I love them.I do have sewing skills that I could use to make some income, what I have to work out-of-home for is the health insurance. Hope to make other arrangements if possible...

          7. Katydid_ | | #11

            *I know, health insurance for self-employed is really THE problem. My husband is also a self-employed farmer, we have to buy our own health insurance, and it is costing us $900. per month without anyone going to a Dr. and we have $1000. deductables and 80/20 copays. We can't switch to another company because of pre-existing health problems. [We would be better off if one of us got a job at Walmart.]

          8. silkscape_ | | #12

            *I wonder if you could get into the group health plan offered by PACC (Professional Association of Custom Clothiers). I know that one is offered, but honestly I don't know much about it since I haven't looked into it. In any case, any of you who are into a sewing business might want to seriously consider PACC. I've gotten a lot out of it in the past 9 or so months since I joined. You can find them at paccprofessionals.org

          9. karla_isler | | #13

            *Something that I have thought about doing is sewing pretty lace or tapestry fabrics on bath towels to make custom bath sets they are so expensive in stores and they make great gifts. Also, placemats,runners,and napkins are good to start with you can sell them seperately or in sets and the customer can customize their colors easier than finding them in any store and paying a ridiculous price.

          10. Sarah_Kayla | | #14

            *Just figure out your real costs before you decide what to charge. How much do all the trims really cost you? How much do the towels cost you? Include your time honestly. Cleanup time counts. Don't undercharge for your time. Can you purchase the towels in bulk?Then look again at those expensive towels. Does half of what they cost in the store really cover all of your costs?? Don't forget to figure in time you meet with clients as well as charging an additional fee for rush jobs.Those expensive towels may be quite cheap once you figure it all out.

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