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Adding Profit To Your Sewing And Crafts

Posted By on September 18, 2018

Many times it is difficult to determine the actual costs involved in making craft or sewing items.  For example, if you’re using your scraps to make aprons, beach bags, purses or toys, how would you figure the cost of the item, and therefore how much to charge for the completed item.

An easy way to “estimate” the cost of fabric used would be to determine how much total fabric is used for the project.  If you’re using left over print fabric, scraps of solid colors of fabric, and add larger pieces of muslin or interfacing material, a general rule would be to perhaps figure you’ve used a total of 1/2 a yard or 1 yard combined of all the pieces – whatever you figure you have used.  Then for a cost of the fabrics I’d use an average of what most of the fabrics would have cost me at the fabric store — perhaps $4.75 per yard, give or take, depending on what types of fabric you’re using.  You can get a good estimate of costs per project, but don’t forget your time that’s been spent because that is also part of the total cost.

Some good hints that I’ve seen on insuring that your sewing items or craft projects will be the type that people will want to buy are as follows:

** Use good materials.  Never use those “end pieces” that perhaps have little snags or holes in them and try to hide the imperfections in the seams.

** Wash your hands frequently to keep your products fresh and clean.

** Learn to make your products easily, quickly AND skillfully.  If you can get skillful enough to make an item in half an hour instead of taking an hour that it previously took, you can readily see that you can double your production and therefore double up on the profits.

** Your products must be practical as well as attractive.

** Your product must bear the stamp of your personality to be distinctive.  Don’t depend on someone else’s ideas – use your own initiative.

** Be professional — on the phone, at the craft shows and in your own home if customers come into your home for service and purchases.

If you have additional ways that you use to figure your cost of sewing or craft items, please pass them along to us and we’ll get them posted for our readers.    How to price sewing and craft items is always one of the biggest questions we hear, so anything you can pass along to help our readers would be appreciated.

If you’re wanting to find additional craft items to make, check out the many craft patterns at SewWithSarah.com.

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Tips For Sewing Specialty Fabrics

Posted By on September 11, 2018

Sometimes when we “get on a roll” with the sewing projects we’re doing, it is so easy to simply sew everything using the same type of thread, and not even think about changing the needle when changing fabrics.  We’ve collected a variety of tips that we all need to think about before changing from one fabric type to another.   Other tips help with purchasing specialty fabrics, cutting the fabrics, storing the fabric or completed garment.  There are many variables when working with those specialty fabrics.  Here are a few things to think about:

** On some fabrics it is almost impossible to tell the right side from the wrong side.  Here are a couple pointers:

A. On tricot or a sweater knit, if you pull on the crosswise “grain”, the fabric will curl to the right side.

B. On double knits, look for the small selvage holes.  They will appear to be “pushed in” on the right side.

** And speaking of fabric “curling”, single knits and tricot have a tendency to curl at the edges and make sewing difficult.  Try spray starch along the edges – the seams will lay flat for stitching.

** After you’ve cut out a garment from your specialty fabric, make a couple of 8″ squares of the fabric that you can use later to test fusible interfacings on, to test thread colors, or to test stitch length if you’re doing any topstitching.  Also use it to make a sample buttonhole if you’ll be needing buttonholes, to check what they will look like before making one on the actual garment.

** In some types of fabric, such as chiffon, you may find the needle will drag the fabric down into the needle hole when you begin to sew.  Make sure you are using a fine needle, have the tensions set properly, and if the problem still exists, place a piece of gummed tape over the needle hole in the throat plate of the machine.  The tape will prevent the fabric from being “pulled” down, and can be removed easily later.

** The advantages of using silk thread for sewing “drycleanable” fabrics include its strength, elasticity, smooth finish and freedom from tangling.  The strength and elasticity makes for longer wear and less popping of seams at points of strain.

** When cutting any type of knit fabric, never let it hang down off the table, as that may stretch it and change the size.

** Some silks are washable – to be sure, take a small square or corner of the fabric and cover it with a damp cotton cloth.  Press the cotton cloth with a hot iron for a few seconds.  If any color shows on the cotton, the garment should be taken to the dry cleaners.  If no color shows, the best way to wash silk is in warm water, by hand, using a mild soap.

** Use extra fine pins for pinning silks – “silk” pins are too coarse for silk.

** When storing sheer or knitted silk, store it flat.  If you must hang a silk garment, pad it well with tissue paper and cover it with muslin or other cloth.

** Speaking of silk – if you let your silk garments air dry, they may turn yellow.

** Be very careful if using steam on silk – you may end up with water spots on the garment.

The above tips are an excerpt from the book 500 Kwik and Easy Sewing Tips.  This book contains so many tips, you’ll find yourself  “bookmarking” every page.  And at the super $9.95 price, this may be the most used book in your sewing library!

 

 

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Are You Using The Right Thread?

Posted By on September 4, 2018

All of us that are in the sewing, clothing alteration or crafts businesses can get a little “lazy” sometimes and neglect some of the basic rules of sewing, such as changing our sewing machine needles, or making sure we’re using the right thread for the project at hand.

Thread type is chosen for its compatibility with the fabric’s structure and fiber content as well as the type of project being worked on.

There are many types of threads – carpet thread, darning thread, embroidery thread, crochet thread, basting thread, and buttonhole twist as examples. This post will deal only with the threads that are primarily used with most projects done on a sewing machine.

The following chart shows various types of sewing thread and their usage. Where size numbers apply, the higher the number, the finer the thread – the median size is 50. Where letters indicate the size, A is fine and D is heavy.

GENERAL PURPOSE THREADS

COTTON: A medium thickness (size 50) is available in a wide range of colors, and is used for sewing on light and medium weight cottons, rayons and linens. Cotton thread is usually mercerized, a finishing process that makes it smooth and lustrous, also helping it to take dye better. The lack of “give” in cotton thread makes it an unwise choice for knits or other stretchy fabrics, as the stitches will tend to pop.

SILK: A fine (size A) strong thread for sewing on silk and wool. Its fineness makes it ideal for basting all fabric types, as it does not leave holes from stitching or imprints after pressing. Because of its elasticity, silk is also suitable for sewing any type of knit. Silk thread is recommended for tailoring because it can be molded along with the fabric in shaped areas.

NYLON: A fine (size A) strong thread for sewing light to medium weight synthetics. This is especially suited to nylon tricot.

POLYESTER: An all-purpose weight (approximately size 50) is suitable for sewing on most fabrics, but particularly recommended for woven synthetics; also for knits and other stretch fabrics of any fiber. Most polyester threads have a wax or silicone finish to help them slip through the fabric with a minimum of friction.

COTTON-WRAPPED POLYESTER: An all-purpose weight (approximately size 50) for sewing on knits or wovens of synthetic or natural fibers or blends. The polyester core gives this type of thread strength and elasticity, the cotton wrapping gives it a tough, heat resistant surface.

HEAVY DUTY THREADS

COTTON; POLYESTER; COTTON-WRAPPED POLYESTER: These are coarse threads (approximately size 40) used where extra strength is required for sewing of heavy vinyl, coating or upholstery fabrics.

Regardless of the project you will be working on, it is very important to purchase a good quality thread. The “5 spools of thread for a buck” is not a bargain. The fibers of the “bargain” thread splits easily while you’re sewing and can cause knotting of the thread, breakage of the thread and can also cause a build-up of lint in the bobbin area and along the thread line from the spool to the needle. If you hold a length of the bargain thread up to a light you can readily see the frayed edges and roughness of the thread.

When buying thread for your project it is recommended that you select thread one shade darker than the fabric in order for it to blend in harmoniously. If the fabric is a plaid or multi-color print, select that color that is most dominant.

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Are You Using The Right Sewing Machine Needle?

Posted By on August 28, 2018

As we get caught up in trying to get sewing projects completed and move on to the next one in the limited time available it is so very easy just to jump from project to project without giving any thought to whether or not we have the right needle in the sewing machine.

It can be a costly mistake to simply use the same needle for everything you sew until it breaks.  The size of the needle you use depends upon the size of the fabric yarns in the fabric.  The finer the yarns, the finer the needle needs to be.  In general, a needle should be fine enough to penetrate the fabric without marring it, yet have a large enough eye that the thread does not fray or break during the sewing process.

Needle types related to fabric structure are sharp point (regular) for woven fabrics, ball point for knits, and wedge point for leather and vinyl.

The REGULAR SHARP POINT NEEDLE is ideal for all woven fabrics because it helps to produce an even stitch and causes a minimum of fabric puckering.  This needle is not recommended for knits, as it has a tendency to “cut” yarns and cause skipped stitches.  This needle comes in a wide range of sizes from the finest size 9 to a
heavy size 18.

The BALL POINT NEEDLE is specifically designed for knit and elastic fabrics and has a “rounded” point rather than a sharp point.  This needle pushes between the fabric yarns rather than “cutting through”
the yarns.  This needle comes in sizes 9 to 16 and the larger the needle size, the more “rounded” the needle point is.

The WEDGE POINT NEEDLE, which is designed for leather and vinyl, easily pierces these fabrics to make a hole that will close back upon itself.  This eliminates unattractive holes in the garment, and also reduces the risk of the stitches tearing the fabric.  The wedge point needle comes in sizes 11 to 18.  The size 11 needle is designed for soft pliable leathers,while size 18 is designed for heavy or multiple layers of leather or vinyl.

In addition to choosing the right TYPE of needle, it is also important to know the proper needle SIZE for the type of fabric being used.  As a general rule you can utilize the following fabric category/needle size information when choosing the needle for your next project.

DELICATE fabrics such as silk, chiffon, voile, fine lace and organdy would need a fine “size 9” needle.

LIGHTWEIGHT fabrics such as synthetic sheers, batiste, taffeta, velvet, stretch fabric, tricot and plastic film would need a “size 11” needle.

MEDIUM WEIGHT fabrics such as gingham, poplin, linen, muslin, chambray, wool crepe, flannel, knits, jersey, wool, chintz, satin, raw silk, wool suiting, stretch fabric and drapery fabrics would need a “size 14” needle.

MEDIUM-HEAVY fabrics such as sail cloth, gabardine, heavy suiting, tweed and heavy drapery fabrics would need a “size 16” needle.

HEAVY fabrics such as denim, overcoatings, ticking, upholstery and canvas fabrics would need a “size 18” needle.

One final needle pointer is always replace dull, bent or nicked needles.  If you hit a pin, you should immediately change the needle.  A bent needle, even if only “slightly” bent or nicked can cause skipped stitches and can easily cause damage to your fabric by tearing the fabric yarns.

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50% Off ALL Plus Size Children’s Sewing Patterns

Posted By on July 31, 2018

Back To School Sale On Plus Size Children Patterns – 50% Discount

 

Just in time for school sewing, we are having a super 50% Discount sale on ALL Plus Size Children Sewing Patterns.  Now through August 15 only, take advantage of this huge sale – use promo code PATTERNS and fill your shopping cart.  These are downloadable sewing patterns with full size pattern pieces and complete instructions for sewing the patterns.

Check out the variety of patterns we have in the following categories:

Plus Size Boys

Plus Size Girls Blouses

Plus Size Girls Slacks and Shorts

Plus Size Girls Dress and Skirts

Plus Size Girls Nightwear

Check the measurements of YOUR plus size / overweight boys and girls and I’m sure they will match our sizing, as all of our patterns are made using REAL plus size childrens’ measurements.

Each of the patterns come in two size ranges – 8/10/12 and 14/16.  If your child has a 32” waist, for example, you would need to use the size 10 pattern.  If your child has a 36” waist, you would need to use the size 14 pattern.

Check your childs’ measurements to these sewing pattern measurements:

Size 8 10 12
Chest 34 36 38
Waist 30 32 34
Hip 36 38 40

 

Size 14 16
Chest 40 44
Waist 36 38
Hip 44 46

Each sewing pattern comes with several variations that you can make, giving you many styles that can be made from each one.

Hurry – this Back To School sale only goes through Aug. 15.  Use promo code PATTERNS to get the huge discount price!

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Altering Store Bought Patterns For Overweight Children – Chest

Posted By on July 24, 2018

Overweight children, plus size children and obese children will usually have much larger chests than average size children.  In addition, they will usually have large upper arms that make altering store bought patterns very difficult.  This tutorial will address both areas needing to be altered.

FULL CHEST

AlterPSC1

With a large full chest, wrinkles will show on the center part of the bodice, as shown.  To correct, cut across the center pattern front, open as much as necessary and redraw the pattern.

HEAVY ARMS

AlterPSC2

For heavy arms cut the sleeve pattern and spread the two sleeve pieces as shown in the illustration.   Redraw the sleeve cap.  By making this correction you will be enlarging the sleeve cap, so it will be necessary to enlarge the armholes.  Lower the front and back armhole line each 1/2 of the total amount required.

For more in depth information about altering patterns for overweight children, plus size children and obese children, check out our book  “Altering Store Bought Patterns For Hard To Fit Children”.   This book contains 70 pages and covers the alteration process for every garment you’d want to make for boys and girls, including large abdomens, large hips and derriere, larger than normal chest, adjusting the crotch length and much more.  Each alteration process has step by step instructions and diagrams.

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own patterns for overweight children, plus size children and obese children, we have classes available for boys and girls!  Simply take their measurements and follow our step by step instructions to make dozens and dozens of styles.

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Altering Store Bought Patterns For Overweight Children – Abdomen

Posted By on July 17, 2018

Large abdomen (stomach) is one of the main problems with plus size children, overweight children and obese children.  A large abdomen will cause skirts and pants to be too short in front and cause skirts to ride up in the front.

AlterPSCA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To correct the store bought (commercial) pattern, draw a horizontal line across the fullest part of the abdomen on the pattern.  Cut the line, beginning at the center front and cut to within 1/2″ from the side seam.  Separate the pieces the necessary amount and tape in place, as indicated.  Redraw the center front line, as indicated with dashed lines, from the bottom to the top, keeping the original line straight.  This correction will make the waist larger so you will have to make the “fullness” into a small amount of gathers, which would give a little extra fullness for the large tummy.

For more in depth information about altering patterns for overweight children, plus size children and obese children, check out our book “Altering Store Bought Patterns for Hard To Fit Children”.   This book contains 70 pages and covers the alteration process for every garment you’d want to make for boys and girls, including large abdomens, large hips and derriere, larger than normal chest, adjusting the crotch length and much more.  Each alteration process has step by step instructions and diagrams.

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own patterns for overweight children, plus size children and obese children, we have classes available for both boys and girls!  Simply take the measurements of the one you want to sew for and follow our step by step instructions on how to make dozens and dozens of patterns.

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Make A Palm Tree Quilt

Posted By on July 3, 2018

I have a palm tree pattern that I downloaded free from Patterns2Go, and have been trying to decide how to use it to show off the beauty of it.

Palm Tree Cross Stitch Pattern

The pattern is a counted cross stitch pattern, however because I’m convinced that those of us who sew and do crafts ALSO do other things, such as quilting, counted cross stitch, plastic canvas items, etc, I want to talk about my palm tree today.

At Patterns2Go, the thread colors are available to print as well as the pattern, so now I’ve decided to do a palm tree quilt.  I’ve decided to do squares of white, light green and tan, then do the palm tree on aida cloth squares and do perhaps 5 or 7 squares of the palm tree to put among the colored squares.  Think I’ll then use the darker green for a border and white on the back.

This pattern would make a very pretty picture to frame and hang, or to use in a wall hanging as well.

Check out the pattern – this could be made for a gift for somebody special or just to hang on YOUR wall!!

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What If Your 10 Year Old Has A 34″ Waist????

Posted By on June 12, 2018

My friend was getting frantic!  Her 10 year old son with a 34” waist wasn’t fitting into ANY type of pants.  Even a boys’ size 14-16 pants had only a 28” waist.

She bought him a pair of 34” waist MEN’S Levi jeans, thinking that would do the trick.  Look at how they fit this 10 year old…..

JacobsJeans1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I told her we could do a perfect fit for him using our Plus Size Children Pattern 6105 – boys jeans, and use the 8-10-12 size range.  The size 12 measurements were exactly what her son needed.  Check out how the Plus Size Children pattern fit…

JacobJeans2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case it is your 10 year old daughter or granddaughter with the 34” waist, we also have plus size children girls’ jeans pattern that will fit her.

Additional Plus Size Children sewing patterns are available including:

Plus Size Girls Blouses, Plus Size Girls Skirts/Dresses, Plus Size Girls long pants/shorts.

Overweight boys and girls want to have comfortable clothing that fits right and looks good on them.  Plus Size Children sewing patterns were made specifically for the overweight children, using actual measurements from plus size children.

If you’re looking for swimwear for overweight girls or swim trunks for overweight boys, we have sewing patterns for both categories.

If you’re needing pattern paper for making patterns or altering patterns, my recommendation is the Pellon Easy Pattern 830 pattern paper.  Pellon Easy Pattern 830 is 45” wide and is even machine washable.

 

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Six Creative Marketing Techniques

Posted By on August 22, 2017

Home sewing / crafting entrepreneurs are always on the look-out for new ways to promote their products or services.  It makes no difference if your business is just a local one or an online venture, advertising is a MUST in order to keep our names in front of potential customers.

Some of the following ideas have been used by us for years, and I would hardly consider them “new”, but I’m amazed at the number of people who say “I would never have thought of that!”  Whether you choose one or a combination of the following ways to promote your business, the most successful methods can be incorporated into your year-round promotional strategies.

1.  MAKE “MINI-FLYERS” – One of my personal favorites are “mini-flyers” that contain advertising messages about your products or services.  Mini-Flyers are made 6 or 10 to a page (depending on what size you want them) and contain basic information such as a catchy phrase about your product or service, followed by “FREE information” or “FREE catalog”, a website address if you have one, and your name and address.  The “mini-flyers” can be made easily in Microsoft Publisher, or similar software, that can be saved and reprinted as needed, as in the following example:

miniFlyer
We make our mini-flyers 10 to a page and use the Publisher format for Avery labels.  The mini-flyers can then be made on the labels or printed on regular paper to be cut apart and used.

The first thing to do with your mini-flyers that have been printed on regular paper is to put one in every bill you pay (electric bill, gas bill, newspaper bill, telephone bill, credit card bills, etc).  Remember that the clerks who open these envelopes must surely get bored with the job, and when they open your envelope and the mini-flyer falls out, you can be assured that it will be read.  It will probably also be passed around to others working in the same area.   The mini-flyers that are on labels can be stuck to every package you mail out – right next to the mailing label.  These will catch the eye of some of the postal employees along the way who will make a mental note of the website address, etc and perhaps check it out later.

2. REBATES.  Almost any business you can think of can benefit from giving rebates.  Rebates are usually associated with large purchases such as automobiles, computers, etc, but can easily be adapted to smaller businesses.  We’ve had great success with offering a “rebate” to customers who refer their friends to us.  When one of the customer’s friends makes a “first time purchase” from us, the customer receives a rebate certificate that can be used as a discount on their next purchase.

3.  GROUP RATES AND DISCOUNTS can be used by many businesses.  For example, a seamstress can contract with a community theater to do all of the alterations for an entire season, and give a 10% or 15% discount on alll the work.  School cheerleader alterations, repair work and sewing could be handled in the same way.

4.  HOLD FREE SEMINARS, workshops or lectures for people interested in your type of product or service.  If you’re in the crafts business, you could teach interested people how to make one or more of your craft items.  After the “mini-class” you could have a table of crafts, projects and/or books for sale.  Women’s clubs, sewing clubs or home extension clubs would be great places to start – they’re always looking for “program” ideas for their meetings.

5.  SUBMIT A PRODUCT, PATTERN OR YOUR WEBSITE to individual websites, such as this one, for “review”.  Naturally you’re not guaranteed that every site will do a review, but the ones that do will be putting your name and website name on the review, which will then be a permanent link to you, which could be read by potentially thousands or millions of people who may be interested in what you have to offer.  Remember, if you don’t ask (or submit your item) your answer is already a “no” — so do yourself a favor and do some submitting.

6.  MAGNETIC CAR SIGNS can be a wonderful way to increase your business.  For “local” sewing / craft businesses, be sure to do the sign with a catchy phrase about your business – “Cathy’s Quick Turn Around Alteration Service” and your phone number.  If you do the majority, or even a little, of your business online put your website address on the sign — http://SewWithSarah.com   — and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the increased traffic to your site.  Also, don’t forget – if you’re taking a vacation, be sure your magnetic sign is on the car.  It’s amazing how many people along the travel route will see your sign and check out the website.

For additional information and books to help you get started in a business or push it forward faster, visit our “Business Book” shelf and see for yourself the many ways you can make additional money with your business/website.

 

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