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Working At Home ——- With Children

Posted By on November 6, 2013

The very sound of “working at home” is music to the ears of so many people nowdays — with gas prices soaring, costs of daycare, food, clothing and every necessity going higher and higher it’s no wonder the idea of working at home is something we would all love to do.  In addition, with cut backs and layoffs at many work locations, finding something to do as a work at home job may be the only alternative.

OK, so you’ve been sewing for years and years and you can now finally start a sewing business of some kind at home.  Perhaps you’ve been into crafting and creating unique items is your specialty.  Perhaps your children are a little on the plump side, so you can say that you’ve been sewing for plus size children all the years you’ve sewn for your own children, or you’ve been taking home clothing alteration work from fellow employees where you used to work, so you already have a little “business on the side” going.

Another highlight in working from home is the prospect of being able to spend more time with your children.

HOLD ON!  Are you planning to “work” at home, or “spend more time with the children”, which means not much work will be done.

The very FIRST thing that needs to be done is to set a schedule and stick to it!  The children and spouse have to realize that you’ll be needing time to get your work done – whether you’re sewing, doing alterations, making crafts, whatever it is, will take time to get completed.

My daughter has 2 1/2 year old quadruplets, and an older son who is 3 1/2 (gonna be 4 next month).  She has a very strict schedule for them — babies (quadruplets) take a nap at 9:30 in the morning — sometimes they sleep, sometimes they play for an hour, but they are in their rooms.  Then at 1:30 all five of the children are down for a nap.  They sleep until 4:30 or 5:00, which is her “quiet baby time” as well as WORK time.  After naps comes supper, playtime outside, bath, snacks and the babies are in bed at 8 pm; the older brother in bed at 9.  There is never a squabble or fight – it has been this way since the babies turned 6 months old.   She then can work from 9 pm until around midnight. I’m constantly amazed at the amount of work she gets done during those seemingly small periods of time.

If you have older children, plan to do your work while they are in school, then work out summer camps, etc for during the summer months when they aren’t in school.  If they are old enough to be able to help you, give them some little “jobs” to do, otherwise perhaps you can have a small desk on one side of the room where they can be coloring, reading, etc while you’re working.

The second item of importance is to have a designated work area.  The location is up to you – it might be setting up an office or work area in the garage, or in a spare bedroom.  Wherever the work area is, the children must be taught that it is indeed a work area, and they are not to go in and rummage around unless they have permission from you.  In addition, they must not disturb you while you are working unless there is an emergency.

Working from home with children in the house can be very tricky, however it CAN BE DONE!  I’m sure there are thousands of “work at home” moms that have figured this out, and I’m also sure there are many more that are struggling every day trying to get work done in order to get some money in to help pay the bills.

If you are just now contemplating working at home, make a tentative schedule ahead of time and make sure you, your spouse and your children are prepared for the adjustment.  It may take some getting used to, and the original planned schedule may need to be altered a little, but with patience and perseverance it can be worked out.

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How To Make New Sleeve Styles From One Basic Sleeve Pattern

Posted By on November 4, 2013

If you’re in a sewing business, whether you sew for children or for women, you can impress your customers by letting them know you can “change up” their pattern by making different sleeve styles than just the one that came with the pattern.  A basic short sleeve pattern is great, but by changing it to different sleeve types, you can make the entire dress or blouse look different.  You can save your customer money by making changes to one basic pattern, and end up giving her a whole wardrobe of designs.

Let’s start with the sleeve.  It’s very easy to change a sleeve into a new style, if you follow a few basic instructions.  For this tutorial, we’re going to change the basic short sleeve into a Bell Sleeve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the sleeve variation, you’ll be cutting the basic sleeve in one or more places, so I would suggest that you reinforce the back of the basic sleeve pattern with iron on pellon, so that the basic sleeve won’t get ripped.  When you make the NEW sleeve style, you may want to pin it to pattern paper and cut the new sleeve style, making a new pattern.

STEP 1:  For the bell sleeve, you will “cut” and “separate” the basic sleeve from the bottom.  On the basic pattern, draw in the center vertical line, then measure 2″ to the left and right of the center line, and draw two additional vertical lines.  Beginning at the bottom, cut each of the vertical lines almost to the top, keeping the main piece attached at the top.

STEP 2:  At the bottom of the sleeve, separate the “cut” sections so there are openings of 1 5/8″ between each section, as shown.  Lay the basic “cut” sleeve pattern onto pattern paper and pin the sections in place on the pattern paper.

 

STEP 3:  At the bottom of the center “cut” line, measure DOWN 3/4″ and make a mark.  Draw in the new lower sleeve line with a smooth curving line as shown in the above drawing.

 

Trace around the “new” sleeve pattern on the pattern paper so you’ll have a permanent pattern.  We also suggest that you cut out the picture that’s associated with the sleeve style and tape it to the new sleeve pattern, and perhaps even label it “Bell Sleeve”, so you can keep it to mix and match with other necklines and collars for garment variations.  This new sleeve pattern / style can be sewn according to the pattern instructions.

 

You can see how easy it is to change the basic sleeve into a completely different style.  If you would like to learn how to make TEN different sleeve styles from that ONE basic pattern, check out the sleeve changing class at SewWithSarah.com.

By offering this service to your customers, you will be able to increase your business and profits.  I would suggest that you make sample sleeves showing the new ones that you can make for the customer to see and choose from.  Since you’ll be using the sleeve from the customers’ pattern package to make any new sleeves for that particular customer, you can be assured that they will fit her.

If you’re sewing for plus size children, you can use the same class to change sleeve styles for children’s patterns.  Or Check the website PlusSizeChildren to see additional patterns and pattern making classes for children.

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Crafts – A Remedy For Stress

Posted By on November 1, 2013

We live in a stress filled world!  Prices rising, jobs declining, kids still want to eat, mortgage company still wants that monthly payment, power bill needs to be paid.  How much more stress can we take???

A large number of pressured people are turning to crafts not only to express creativity but to work off anxieties.  Crafts fit wonderfully into their stressed-out schedules and limited budgets.

Craft work can provide a necessary balance in life.  With crafting you can feel the pride of accomplishment as you finish a project, see the sparkle in the eyes of a special person that you have made an item for, and perhaps are able to make a few extra dollars with your crafts when friends, co-workers and relatives ask you to make your special items for them.  Whether your crafting is jewelry, purses and handbags, making chldren’s items, knitting, crocheting or wherever your interest lies, it still feels GOOD to get your mind off the daily stress as you craft.

Crafting can bring families closer together as you teach your children how to make craft items.  Children LOVE to do what you’re doing, and if you can provide them with little projects according to their ages and skill levels, you’ll be starting them on a lifetime of creativity.  AND, as the children get a little older, you could perhaps add some of their projects to your online Ebay or ETSY store that you’ve probably started by now, and let them earn a little money of their own.

Speaking of crafts, if you’re like me, my collection of sewing and craft magazines can get so high the stack starts to slip and slide and get completely out of control.  The only reason I keep all those magazines is because I’ve found an article I want to keep, or pattern I want to order, etc.

I realized that the only reason to save an article, picture or clipping from a magazine or newsletter is so I could quickly find it again when I need it, and the only way to do that is to have my collection in some order.  I’ve come up with a couple “save and store” methods for those articles, magazines and newsletters.

**If you have only a few newsletters and magazines you can keep them in a chronological order, and use what I call an “annotated table of contents” to help you find articles.  Annotating is a way to personalize the contents page by adding notes about what’s of most interest to you.  You can even tape a sheet of paper to the inside front cover and make your own index of interesting items.

**If you’re willing to tear up your magazines and save only the “good stuff”, you can really save space and time.  Get into the habit of reading magazines with pen and scissors in hand.  Underline and make margin notes as you read.  Years later, you won’t have to reread the entire article to figure out why you saved it.  Clip worthy items promptly so you don’t have to read through the whole magazine twice.

Now sort your pile of clipped, annotated articles according to categories that you’ll think to look in when you need them later.  For example, filing a book review by subject instead of by title may be most logical as you’ll be looking under that “subject” when looking for that particular item.  When you decide on a category for the clipped pages, write it in an upper corner.  Labeling makes it faster to refile in the future.

Now that you’ve gotten a stack of articles, patterns, book reviews, etc, it’s time to get them filed.  I bought a 3″ notebook binder and filled it with plastic page protector sheets.  Slip the clippings and articles into the page protector sheets, and you’ll have a much neater, more organized method of keeping all those goodies that you want to use as future reference items.

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Fabulous Fall Sale on Coupon Clutches

Posted By on October 17, 2013

 

Coupon clutches are fabric covered coupon organizers that look like a designer tote bag.  Fabric binder covers come in 2″, 3″, 4″ or 5″ sizes and will hold over 3,000 coupons!  With the coupon clutch you can save money and be stylish at the same time.  There are dozens of styles to choose from, so you’re sure to find at least one that you’ll love.   During our Fabulous Fall Sale, you can take a whopping $5 of a $25 order with promo code FALL5 or take $10 off a $45 order with the promo code FALL10 .  Visit Coupon Clutch to check out all the great styles available.  This offer ends at midnight CST on Thursday, October 31st.  While you’re at the site be sure to check out all the great deals in the clearance section – these promo codes will work on the clearance items as well.

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Adjust Your Sewing Machine Tension

Posted By on October 16, 2013

Have you noticed when you’re changing from one project to another the thread all of a sudden starts to loop, get tangled in the bobbin area or other crazy things?    The fact is that as you change projects and start sewing on different weight materials, you should test the stitching on a piece of scrap material of the same weight you’re changing to, before beginning the actual project.

As an example, if you’re changing from a denim type material to a silky type material, you would definitely want to make sure the tension is correct and the stitching looks right before you start to sew on the new project.

First, be sure you KNOW where the upper tension is located on your sewing machine (check your manual).  It can be on the front of the machine, the left side (or end) of the machine, or it could be at the top of the machine, depending on the make and manufacturer of your machine.

Before attempting to adjust the upper tension, you will need to understand how the upper and lower thread works together to form a stitch and do a test to see if the tension is actually “off” (see Figure 7A, 7B and 7C).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above diagrams show you how the tension SHOULD be and how they would look if there is a problem.

To determine whether the upper tension is too tight or too lose for the fabric you want to use, try the following test.  Take a small scrap of the fabric, fold it, and stitch a line on the bias of the fabric, using different colors of thread in the bobbin and on top.  Grasp the bias line of stitching between the thumb and index finger.  Space the hands about 3 inches apart and pull with an even, quick force until one thread breaks, as in the following diagram.

 

 

 

 

 

If the broken thread is the color of the thread in the needle, it means that the upper tension is too tight.  If the broken thread is the color of the bobbin thread, the upper tension is too loose.  If both threads break together and take more force to break it, then the tensions are balanced.

 

 

The above sewing machine repair tip is brought to you by Reuben O. Doyle, author of Sewing Machine Repair for the Home Sewer — as well as author of the Complete Guide To Treadle Sewing Machines, Serger Repair for the Home Sewer and Sewing Machine Repair as a Home Business.  In addition to checking out the Sewing Machine Repair book at SewMachineRepair.com, you can also check it out at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip Junkie handmade projects

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25 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty – Part 3

Posted By on October 14, 2013

The realistic goal of building customer loyalty is to try to capture and retain the customer for a period of time and build “limited” loyalty.  There are many ways you can increase customer loyalty and improve the prospects of keeping the customers longer.  This final segment concludes the listing of ways to build customer loyalty.  By implementing as many as possible that pertain to your particular type of business, the better chance you have of keeping that “fickle” customer.

17.  Show customers how to save money.  Everyone wants to save a buck when they can, and if you can take the initiative to show customers how they can save some money, they’ll stick with you longer because they know you’re looking out for them.

18.  Recognize your faithful long-term customers.  The customers that keep buying and keep ordering from you deserve special treatment.  Offer “preferred customer” specials that you send out to only those faithful customers.  Let them know that you appreciate their business.

19.  Practice “niche” marketing.  Look for markets which BEST match your company’s products and services.  Then strive to become a big fish in a small pond.  Competition is generally less intense in niche markets and your strong position will fend off unwanted intruders.   We have done this with our patterns and classes for Plus Size Children.   Find your NICHE and work as hard as you can to become THE big fish in the pond!

20.  Offer customer-convenient hours.  If you have a store, can you stay open an hour later to provide extra shopping time for working people?  If you have a home business, can you offer “after hours by appointment”, or extend your hours to 6 or 7 pm a couple days a week?

21.  Use a voice mail or answering machine for after hour calls.  By making this service available to your customers, they can complete a request or ask their question and realize that it’s taken care of so they won’t have to remember to call the second time the next day.

22.  Return all telephone calls.  The voice mail or answering machine won’t provide any customer service at all unless you return the calls, and return them promptly.  Develop a reputation for returning calls, and solving any questions or problems your customers may have.

23.  Give customers a surprise.  Kids aren’t the only ones that like surprises.  Perhaps you can offer a “one day in-store” special every Thursday, for example.  Let the customer’s know that something special will be happening each Thursday.  Since only the customers that shop there that day will be aware of the surprise special, you’ll see a definite increase in shoppers.  Be sure the “surprise” is a valuable discount or “freebie” that’s given away with each purchase that day.  You might try giving out candy with Valentine’s Day purchases, or perhaps a rose with a Mother’s Day purchase.  If you’re a sewing or alteration business working out of your home, you might make some pot holders with “we appreciate your business” on them to give out to customers.   Even small “surprises” make the customer feel special.

24.  Introduce something new.  “New” can be anything from changing display racks around, changing window displays on a weekly basis, or even offering a temporary “new” item that doesn’t even relate to what you normally sell.  If you have a customer area in your sewing business at your home, put up some craft items that you’ve made to sell.  “Decorate” the customer area with an assortment of baby doll quilts, wall hangings, and the like, all with price tags on them, then change up the area every couple of weeks.

25.  Increase your promotional efforts.  Keep your name in front of the people.  The more your name becomes a “household word”, the more business will come your way.  Whether you do classified advertising, display advertising, flyers, posters, newsletters, posts on forums, writing up your own blog, etc, your name and business must constantly be where customers can see it.  Small gifts, such as pens, refrigerator magnets or coffee mugs with your logo on it will bring your name to mind every time the customer uses the item.

Recognize the fact that the economic pie is shrinking as the numbers of businesses grow, therefore the quickest way to increase your share of the market is to take business away from the competition.  How can you take business away from the competitor?  By incorporating as many of the twenty-five tips as possible.  These strategies are designed to give YOU the extra edge over the competition.

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How To Make A Custom Fitted Skirt For An Overweight/Obese child

Posted By on October 9, 2013

Skirts are a very easy clothing garment to make, however “easy” becomes “difficult” or “impossible” when you’re dealing with making clothing for the plus size/overweight/obese girls.  The answer to this dilema is to make the pattern using the CHILD’S measurements, and not the “standard” measurements the commercial pattern companies use.  The only measurements necessary to make this custom fitted 6-gore skirt for ANY overweight/plus size girl is her waist, hip and skirt length.   The skirt will fit perfectly every time because you’re using the personal measurements of your daughter/granddaughter or whoever it is that needs the clothing.

Fabric required for the 6-gore skirt:  54″ wide fabric — skirt length + 6 inches (6″ is for the hem and allowance at the waistline for elastic).  For this sample skirt, the fabric requirement is 22″ (16″ length + 6″ for hem/waist allowance).  I would go ahead and purchase 2/3 yard (24″) just in case the fabric wasn’t cut exactly straight when buying it.

Skill level:  Intermediate

To give you an illustration of how easy it is to make a custom fitted elastic waist  pattern for the plus size/overweight/supersize child, let’s make a 6-gore skirt.  For this example we’re using a waist measurement of 30 inches, hip measurement 39 inches and skirt length of 16 inches (these are the “average” measurements of an overweight 10 year old girl).  Remember, when you make the skirt for your daughter/granddaughter, you simply use HER waist, hip and skirt length measurements instead of these sample ones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  Begin by making a “T” — the top of the “T” is equal to the child’s waist measurement divided by 6.  This sample has a waist of 30″, so divide 30″ by 6 to equal 5″.  The vertical line (drawn from the center of the top line) is the skirt length, and our sample is 16″.

B.  The hipline is normally 6″ below the waist, so at that point you’ll make a horizontal line equal to hip divided by 6 + 1/4″.  Our sample hip measurement is 39″, so the horizontal line is 6 plus 1/4″ or 6 3/4″.

C.  With a straight yardstick, draw in the outside lines of the skirt piece, connecting the waist to hip to the bottom and draw in the bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D.   Now take the Hip divided by 6 + 1/4″ measurement (in this case it would be 6 3/4″) and center it along the top of the “T” (remember this is an elastic waist skirt, and the waist must be large enough to come up over the hips).  Next draw in the outside lines of the skirt piece, connecting the waist to hip to bottom and draw in the bottom line.  Measure UP 1/4″ at each side and draw in the slightly curved line.  You have now finished making ONE section of the 6-gore skirt.

E.  Remember that you have NOT allowed for seams yet — the pattern piece you just finished was made according to our sample measurements (or YOUR own daughter/granddaughter’s measurements).  At this time  you will need to add in the seam allowances.  At the waistline, as you can see, you’ll need to add an allowance equal to TWICE the WIDTH of your elastic plus 3/8″ — for example, if you’re using 1″ elastic, the additional amount at the top of the skirt would be 2 3/8″ — 2 inches so when you fold the waistband, the elastic will be covered and 3/8″ for the seam allowance at the top of the skirt for the  elastic waistband.  Then add the 5/8″ seam allowance along both sides and the 3″ hem allowance.

You will need to cut SIX of these pieces from the fabric, using the center “T” as the straight grain line (this is a 6-gore skirt).

 

 

 

 

 

Pin all six sections together, as shown in the above picture and sew.  After you’re finished sewing the side seams, you’re ready to do the elastic waistband.   Instructions for making the self band elastic waistband and inserting the elastic is as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  In the previous Step E, you were instructed how to make the waist allowance on the fabric to be twice the width of the elastic etc, so now we’re ready for the elastic.   Mark the waistline with a basting thread, as indicated in the above drawing.  Cut a length of elastic to fit around the waist plus 1/2″.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  Press under the upper edge of the waist area 3/8″.

B.  Fold the casing to the inside of the skirt, pinning the casing at the waistline previously stitched with a basting thread.  Stitch the waistband casing down at the original basted waistline, leaving about 2″ not sewn at one of the seams.

C.  To insert the elastic, attach a safety pin at one end of the elastic and tunnel the elastic through the casing starting at the unsewn casing area and pushing the closed safety pin/elastic through the casing.  Push the pin/elastic around through the casing to the same opening, being careful to keep the other end of the elastic OUTSIDE of the casing.

D.  Overlap the elastic ends and machine stitch the ends securely.

E.  Evenly space the waistline fullness then stitch the opening closed.

The last step is to sew the hem.  You can do this by folding under 1/2″ along the bottom, then fold and pin the remaining 2 1/2″ (you made a 3″ hem allowance), and stitch the hem in place.  The custom fitted 6-gore skirt is ready for your supersize child – and you can see that it fits perfectly.  Here is a picture of the finished skirt:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tutorial was provided by PlusSizeChildren.com and PatternsThatFitYou.com.  For additional patterns and pattern making books/classes, please check out the sites given.  You can make all types of garments – skirts, dresses, jeans, shorts, tops – for the overweight, plus size boys and girls, using their own measurements to make the patterns.  The Plus Size Children’s ready-made patterns are made according to actual plus size children’s measurements – just compare your plus size child’s measurements to those on our patterns to see which size range you’d need for your child.  Patterns come in size ranges of 2-4-6, 8-10-12, and 14-16, and all patterns have several different styles included .  The ready made patterns include blouses, skirts, jumpers, jeans, shorts for girls and various tops for boys as well as jeans, jean shorts,  and carpenter pants and shorts.

 

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25 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty – Part 2

Posted By on October 7, 2013

Companies, large and small, are working harder than ever to become 100% customer sensitive as they attempt to gain and keep their customers.  Yet the customers still leave.  What can we, as small and medium size businesses, do to get the “edge” over the competition?  This second segment of our three part series gives even more ways to acquire and keep those valued customers.

9.  Stay in touch with your customers.  Send helpful information to them.  A one-page “newsletter” or “tips for the day” or a “bulletin” can do wonders for retaining those precious customers.  You can always add a couple of “specials” to the information sheet, just don’t make it all advertising.

10.  Make your business look different.  After awhile, all stores and businesses “look alike” to the customers.  Think about what you can do to set your store or business apart – change the colors or change the sign, or the company logo.  Add an additional line of products or services to what you already have.  Make an effort to be different.

11.  Ship FREE.  If you do anything by mail, you will see a dramatic increase in business if you offer to ship free.  “Fast, free shipping” would certainly catch the customer’s attention.

12.  Send holiday “thank you” cards.  Since Christmas cards can sometimes “get lost in the shuffle”, why not try sending a “thank you” card at Thanksgiving?

13.  Offer more “freebies” than your competitors.  This is especially valuable to mail order, direct mail or on-line businesses.  However, any type of business can offer a “freebie” in conjunction with a special sale.  A “freebie” with a high perceived value, can increase the sale of almost any product or service.

14.  Be enthusiastic.  An up-beat, positive attitude will let the customer know you are happy they are doing business with you.  Enthusiasm rubs off.  People will stay around longer in an enthusiastic atmosphere than they will where it seems cold and indifferent.  And the longer customers stay around the more they will probably buy!

15.  Hold a customer “appreciation” day.  Years ago one particular store in the small town I grew up in, held an appreciation day every year, and gave out balloons to the kids, had hot dogs and coffee available free and really went all out with banners and signs and goodies for the customers.  All day long it was like a family reunion with people everywhere.  And customers were buying!

16.  Answer the telephone promptly and don’t act hurried.  Acting hurried raises the customer’s anxiety level and gives them the idea that you really would rather be doing something else instead of talking to them.  It’s telling the customer that you’re “too busy” for them.  Even if you ARE busy, use a normal conversational tone on the telephone or the customer will call somewhere else where the attendant will have time for them.

Start putting these “customer loyalty” principles to use in your own business and propel your business forward faster than the competition.  Go back and review the first segment again and start putting it all together.
Next week we’ll add the final segment to building customer loyalty.

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How To Alter Skirt Patterns For Plus Size/Overweight Children

Posted By on October 2, 2013

Regardless of what size pattern you buy for your plus size/overweight child, there are always changes that need to be made.  Sometimes a single change will do it, and other times there may be 2, 3, 4 changes necessary before the store bought pattern will actually fit the plus size child.  We are starting a series of alterations to patterns that may be needed in order to get the fit you want for your plus size child.

The first clothing garment we will work on will be the skirt.  Many of the overweight children have a large protruding stomach, so we’ll start with that issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LARGE ABDOMEN (stomach) – the skirt will be too short and will ride up in the front.  Draw a horizontal line across the fullest part of the abdomen on the pattern as indicated.  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 shown.  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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.  WAIST/HIP – check your child’s waist and hip measurements and compare them to the measurements on the pattern.  If the amount of change is the same for both, make the necessary change at the center front and center back lines.  draw in the new skirt lines as shown with dashed lines.

B.  LARGE WAIST – To make just the waist larger, extend the front and back waist line each 1/4 of the total necessary amount.  Draw in the new waist to hipline curve as shown with dashed lines.

These alterations to store bought patterns is an excerpt from the book “Altering Store Bought Patterns For Plus Size Children“.  Additional pattern making classes and full size clothing patterns for plus size children can be seen at PatternsThatFitYou.com and PlusSizeChildren.com.  If you have a lot of plus size children in your area, you might want to consider going into business sewing for them – check our our Sewing For Plus Size Children As A Home Business manual.

 

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25 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty – Part 1

Posted By on September 30, 2013

There was a time in this country when customers were fiercely loyal.  Today, however, customers seem to have a “what’s in it for me” attitude, and will jump from one merchant to another to “find the best deal”, or whatever will satisfy their needs at that moment.  They do business on a one-way basis.  Yet, there is always the lure of “customers for life” possibility.  In the following segments, we’ll outline various ways to build customer loyalty.  Depending on the type of business you have – brick & mortar store, mail order business, online website business – you may be able to incorporate many of the methods outlined.

1.  Provide the very best service!  Educate the customers on HOW you provide the best service, then do what you say you’ll do!  Show enthusiasm for going out of your way to prove that you’re highly service-oriented.

2.  Offer a superior guarantee.  Every business can offer a guarantee of some kind.  A desirable guarantee will bring and keep the customers.

3.  Offer a higher quality product or service.  You must be specific – tell the customers exactly WHY your quality is unmatched by the competitors.  People will pay for quality, but only when they realize the value.  Again, be specific, and it must be convincing.  Customers are not fooled by unkept claims.  don’t make unrealistic promises.  When competition is tough, it’s easy to overpromise, and that can make your marketing position even worse.  The goal is to look better, not worse.

4.  Provide toll-free telephone access.  Those that provide 800 number service are letting their customers know that they are making it as easy as possible for them to communicate with the business.  This would not apply to those who are doing business strictly in a local area, and would not be doing business in any area except where local calls can be made.

5.  Get customer feed-back.  Listen to what the customers are saying.  Use their suggestions to help shape your business.  Make sure it’s the customers who are running your business.  A marketing-driven company operates just one way:  the total effort – product, service, price and promotion – must be adapted to the needs and wants of customers.

6.  Say “thank you” at every opportunity.  Let the customer know that they are noticed and appreciated.  Show appreciation.  Let your customers know that you WANT their business.  Don’t ever assume that they know.  Don’t think that price is all they care about.  Customers want to know they are appreciated.  Good word of mouth “advertising” comes from the customers that KNOW you care about them and that you appreciate them.

7.  Concentrate on consulting.  Develop new ways to tailor your products and services to meet precise needs of the customer.  Spend more time with your customers.  Be more helpful, understanding and supportive.

8.  Respond promptly.  Address customer complaints immediately.  For every customer that complains, there may be many that remain silent, but disappear as customers.  It is very important, therefore, to satisfy those that do complain, in order to try to keep them as customers.  Help your customers solve their problems better than anyone else.

Next week we’ll cover the next 8 ways to build customer loyalty, which in turn means victory, success and ever-increasing profits for YOU.

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