It’s Monday morning! Are we all ready for another week of excitement leading up to Christmas? I’ve got a book review and a little project to share with you today.
Virginia Lindsay, who runs the Gingercake pattern shop, has just written and published a book called Sewing To Sell, which is a conversational rundown of specifics on running your own business selling handmades.
In the book she shares tips on the business aspect of selling your handmades, as well as the organization of your supplies, getting the most out of your time and fabric yardage, personal touches, packaging, photographing your items in an enticing way, and knowing your audience. As a person who has dreams of someday devoting part of my time to thinking up and making some items to sell in an online shop, I found the book interesting and helpful. It was a good reminder too that you don’t want to just jump into selling things without a good plan. Especially for me, a rather disorganized mess of a mom as it is.
Not only does she share helpful information about running a small craft business, but she also gives you some good basic template patterns that you can customize to sell. I decided to sew one of the projects in the book, customize it to suit my style, and try to photograph it in a way that I might if I were running an etsy shop. I’m not sure how successful I was on the second part, but I do really love how my project turned out.
I realize that a pincushion is probably a pretty introductory sewing project, but it’s one of those things I’ve never made a real version of. Like curtains. Never sewed them. I did cinch together a wonky sperical “thing” with stuffing inside, which has been functioning as a wobbling pin cushion with rolling escape tactics for a while now. It was time to make a new one. And a useful item that’s quick to sew and lets you use up all those pretty scraps you’ve got shoved into a plastic Target bag in your closet….that’s something I can appreciate.
PS If you make it all the way to the bottom of the post, I’ll give you a sneak peek into what my house really looks like behind the little photo studio I set up for my pincushion…..hahaha.
In the book, there’s a boxy pincushion tutorial, which was super easy and quick. The stuffing part did take a while though. I can imagine if I were making a bunch of these to sell, I would be spending a lot of time with a knitting needle and an audiobook.
One of the sections in the book is about lighting your photos so they look nice for an online listing. I attempted to use natural light in a window and used a white piece of foam board as a reflector. Winter can be a real pain in the ass when it comes to getting nice blog photos. I also tried to set up the cushion to show its use and relative size with the little embroidery scissors.
For some reason, my photos look a lot darker now that I’ve uploaded them than they did when I was editing them. I’m not sure what the deal is with that. Maybe it was because I was editing photos in a dark room and the computer screen was overly bright to compensate. Hmm. I’ll just title my online listing the “moody pincushion”.
The color palette of this scene makes me happy.
One of the things in the book that stuck with me was the part on knowing your customer. She advises you to not make a bunch of things that are targeted for different types of customers, but to instead try to narrow down a style and stick with it. Know yourself, know your customer. Then make and sell all the things. I’m paraphrasing of course. Lol.
It did make me think though about who I would want to sell to if I started a shop. I would say that my style is modern/quirky with a bit of hippie mixed in.
About my supplies and modifications to the pattern:
Fabrics – Both fabrics were gifts from my friend Kristin of Skirt As Top. She knows my style and sent me some things that I’ve been hoarding.
Stuffing – Instead of stuffing with polyfill, I used some wool roving that Kristin also sent me a while ago (I’m feeling the need to send her something after writing this). I like the feel of natural fibers best, and wanted the weight and durability of wool in my pincushion. I suppose that detail might not matter to the mass majority of people, so I’m not sure how lucrative it would be as a selling point considering the cost difference between natural fibers and polyfill, but it’s something I would try to make work were I to be opening up a shop.
Button and thread – I used a nice heavy button that I bought a long time ago in Portlant at Bolt (between that and the fabrics and stuffing coming from a portland friend, this is a very PDX pincushion. No wonder the photos are moody). Instead of using embroidery thread, I used a scrap of Madeline Tosh DK from a hat that I made recently (and didn’t blog. The unblogged item list is growing out of control).
Just to show how a photo taken in a little tiny corner of a person’s living area can be deceptively clean and clutter free, I’ll give you all a chuckle with a wide shot of my photo setup
There’s my pincushion basking in the meager natural winter light on our paint stained dining table. The foam board has already been hacked into for some other project, and is being propped up by a globe. The chairs are all tipped over because it’s the only way to keep the baby from using them to climb up onto the table. And there’s still a breakfast mess on the high chair. Real life, folks!
So there you have it! My moody pincushion. Oh and one more thing
A GIVEAWAY (this is Christmas time after all)
Virginia has generously offered to give a free copy of the book to one of my lovely readers
so if you would like to win your own copy of Sewing to Sell….
Leave a comment telling me what you would classify your person sense of style as.
Giveaway is open to readers in the US and will end on Friday December 12. The winner will be notified by email. yay!
Here’s a list of all my other buddies on the book review tour.
FYI, I was given an e-copy of the book by the publisher, but all opinions are my own!