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How To Stay Motivated

Posted By on March 21, 2017

Staying motivated when working out of your house can be a real test for all of us.  Sometimes friends and family members can be the major robber of our business motivation and momentum – the problem is that they probably don’t even realize it.

When I first quit my day job and started writing books and doing sewing / craft items, it seemed like everyone thought I was on a permanent vacation!  It was nothing for friends or neighbors to simply stop by to visit or ask about going shopping, etc.  Or I’d get calls from one of the kids wanting me to babysit their sick child since the child was too sick to go to school but the mother needed to go to work.

It didn’t take long for me to learn the word NO!  Unless friends AND family realize that you are SERIOUS about working from your home, you will continually get comments like “you’re not WORKING – you’re at HOME”.  You have to put your foot down and insist that those well-meaning friends and family understand that the REASON you’re at home is because you have WORK TO DO!

It takes a great deal of motivation and “I WILL do this” attitude to get any home business off the ground and keep it going; therefore you must get the respect you need and deserve for making that happen.

Set a work schedule  – four days a week from this time to this time; school days while the kids are in school; 2 hours per night after the kids go to bed — whatever works for you is what it will take.  However, whatever schedule you set up – STICK TO IT!  Let those friends and family know what your work schedule is, so they won’t be just dropping by, etc.

You, individually, can also be a cause of lack of motivation by letting little non-work habits creep into your schedule.  Don’t read the paper during your scheduled WORK time; don’t decide to do a manicure while you’re “thinking” about the next step in the project you’re working on.

By keeping your mind on your goals (have you set some business goals?) you will be able to see that you are actually moving forward in your business, which will help keep the motivation and momentum going.  What are you working toward?  Extra money for a vacation?  Money for the kids’ education?  Money to help with the bills and keep food on the table?  Make a little list of what the extra dollars are for and keep that list by your sewing machine, near your computer or taped to your work table.  Every time you look at the list of reasons that you’re doing what you’re doing, you will put forth a little more effort, which will cause the momentum to grow and keep your business headed in the right direction.

We have a couple of books that could help you stay focused on your home business – “501 Tips & Strategies For Home Business Entrepreneurs” and  “Jumpstart Your Business With Proven Techniques”.   Check them out today.

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Is Your Business In A Slump?

Posted By on March 14, 2017

Nearly every business, whether brick and mortar store, online store or home business experiences a slow down or slump at certain times of the year.  Many businesses see this slow down at the beginning of the year – people are trying to figure out how to pay off those credit cards that went over the limit during the Christmas season or right around tax season, when a lot of us are trying to come up with the dollars owed to Uncle Sam.  Other times might be right after school lets out in the spring when families are only thinking about vacations, summer camps for the kids, etc.  Others may see this slow down right at the time school starts – school clothes, school supplies, new this and new that really do take a chunk out of the budget, so other areas of spending have to be cut back.

The thing to remember during these times is to recognize that these times DO COME, so to get down in the mouth, consider quitting the business, give up the website, or close your doors is nonsense!  This is the time to get PROACTIVE and use the little bit of extra time to do some business promotions, get the word out about your business and prepare for the onslaught of business AFTER the slow down ends.  I’m going to give you a few ways that you can become PROACTIVE to keep your business on the right track.

** If you’re in a craft or sewing business and make patterns to sell, this is a great time to use your extra hours brainstorming on new patterns that you could be working on.  Because there are two of us working on this blog and both do crafts and sewing as well as making patterns, we usually are working on new craft patterns, such as the Mermaid Tail Pattern and the Athletic Non-Slip Headband Pattern, and at this time are working hard on a bunch of new patterns for our Women’s Sewing Patterns category.  We’ll be having new ones coming into the store on a regular basis and we specialize in awesome designs for full figure/plus size women as well as the small-extra large women’s styles.

** Do you have a blog (Web log)?  If not, this is a good time to get one started.  You can write about anything you want – from talking about your personal life – letting others know how you manage to get to that stack of sewing or alterations and still take care of your family.  Or you can do a sewing/personal blog to mix together what you’ve been working on as well as cute pictures of your children or grandchildren and perhaps some snapshots of your latest projects you made for the little ones.  Or do a blog something like Denise’s “Shopper Strategy” that helps others save money as well as gives great information to the readers.

** Do you have something unique in your business that could be newsworthy?  Have you just started a new sewing niche?  Write up a press release to send to your local newspaper — they are always on the lookout for new material for their paper.  Who knows – you might make the first page or even the headline of the “local” section of your paper.  Think about how much this could increase your business.

** Are there some products or services that you’ve been wanting to start, but just haven’t had the time to get involved with?  Now is the time to take a second look at them, write down what additional things you could add to your business, and get started now while you have the time.

** Are you one who makes craft items?  From time to time we go through our boxes and shelves of fabric remnants and figure out what items we can make from them.  If you love making crafty things and want to know where and how to sell them you can check out our “business books” category and specifically the “How To Sell Your Handmade Items” book.  There are a LOT of places where your craft items can be sold – adding profits to your business!

I would say that while you’re considering and doing any or all of the things we’ve just talked about, you’ll run out of “free” time before you know it, and you’ll be looking for an extra few minutes here and there to do another post on the sewing forums or add posts to your own blog, make that new pattern you’ve put on your “to do” list, etc.

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Quit Buying Patterns – Redesign Ones You Already Have

Posted By on March 6, 2017

CollarNeckSleeves

As in a lot of different areas, we have to be creative in thinking of ways to save money.  One of the best ways I’ve found to save money for myself as well as customers I sew for is to change the style of the patterns already in use rather than buy new patterns just to get a different neck style, or different types of sleeves or collars, among other things

By using ONE basic pattern that you know fits well, you can make more clothes than would ever fit in your closet by just learning how to change the neckline into different styles, or how to change the basic sleeve into 10 different styles, or how to make collars to add to the basic pattern.

If you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, don’t go out and try to find nice looking maternity patterns – once again, simply use the patterns you have in your sewing room and convert them into maternity styles.

By doing pattern makeovers on the patterns you already own, you will be able to save probably one hundred or more dollars over the course of a year.  After all, the more you save by not buying patterns, the more money you’ll have to buy fabric!

All of the above mentioned pattern makeover and pattern changing classes are available in three different size ranges:  Petite, Average Size, and Full Figure/Plus Size.

Check out all the pattern making and pattern changing classes at SewWithSarah.com – you’ll be amazed at how many clothing styles you can make from just ONE BASIC pattern that you know fits you perfectly!  And, from now through March 25 ALL the pattern making and pattern changing classes will be discounted 50% by using the code change50.

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Dreading Spring Cleaning? Use Our Dust Busters For Easy Cleaning

Posted By on February 28, 2017

Regardless of what type of home business you have – sewing, alterations, crafting – there’s always cleaning that has to be done.  With spring cleaning just around the corner, we thought timing might be perfect to show you our variety of  “dust busters”.  The dust busters can be made with old towels or cheap towels found at yard sales or estate sales.  HEY!  Why not make up a few and make a little “spring cleaning helpers” corner in your customer waiting area (with price tags on each item) and see how fast they sell!

(A)  To extend the life of your sponge mop and make mopping much easier,  simply make a “mop cover” out of left over scrap terry cloth or an old worn bath towel.  Cut the terry cloth about 2 1/2″ – 3″ bigger than the mop, sew quarter inch elastic around the outside edge (the elastic piece should be the size of the sponge mop), and presto, a washable, durable mop head.  After use, just throw it into the washer and dryer so it will be clean for the next time.

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(B)  The same type of terry cloth cover can be made for your dust mop.  This new covered dust mop is perfect to get those hard to reach corners and walls by the ceiling as well as under the beds.

(C)  For a “broom duster” sew two old hand towels on three sides, leaving one end open.  Sew elastic around the open end (elastic from discarded panty hose is just about the right size!).  This cover will slip over a broom to use for dusting in those hard to reach places and perfect to get the cobwebs out of the garage or off the porch ceilings.  Once again, when finished simply throw it in the washer and dryer to clean it for the next time.

(D)  Still another dust buster idea is to take that old towel you used to make the mop covers out of and cut a strip the length of the towel and 2 1/2″ wide.  Sew the strip with 1/4″ seams and turn right side out.  This strip easily slides onto a yardstick, which can be used to slide under the refrigerator, washer and dryer for quick cleaning.  When finished, throw it into the washer and dryer along with the other dust busters, so they’ll be clean for the next time.

By doing a quick and easy “dust buster” spring cleaning, you’ll be able to spend more of your time in the sewing room!

For additional hints and tips, check out our “500 Kwik & Easy Sewing Tips” book.   Only $9.95 – you’ll be glad you did.

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Make Athletic Non-Slip Headbands For Pennies!

Posted By on February 21, 2017

It’s about that time of year when it warms up enough we can get outside and run!  OR jog or walk.

But wait – it’s windy some days and even if it isn’t windy, there always seems to be a problem with our headbands.  They move around – won’t stay where you want them – so much for the hair style!

Introducing our NON-SLIP Athletic Hair Band patterns.  These headbands are super easy to make and contain one secret item that keeps the band from slipping.  The non-slip athletic hair bands can be made for pennies and you NEVER have to worry about them moving or slipping around.

The best part is that you can make dozens of bands in any width you’d like.  Make one to match each of your outfits – all for just pennies.

Hint………don’t show off all your new non-slip athletic headbands too much – all your friends will be begging you to make some for them!

Or, wait!  Does this sound like a possible super exciting money maker??? Check them out – Athletic Non-Slip Headband patterns! Only $3 for the pattern!

headbands2 (2)   headbands4

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Topstitching Is Tops

Posted By on February 14, 2017

Sometimes the little “extra” that we can do for our customer is what keeps them coming back to us.  Topstitching is one of those areas where we can recommend the extra detail to really “set off” a garment.

For style and an elegant touch of professionalism in sewing your garment, topstitching is tops! You can add this detail along a finished edge or along a seam by machine or by hand. The choices for topstitching are numerous – placement on the garment, number of rows to make, type of thread to use and the size of the needle are all to be considered.

Topstitching thread is normally identified on the spool, or you can purchase buttonhole twist. There are many types of thread that can be used for topstitching – cotton, nylon, silk, and must be selected according to the type of fabric that will have the topstitching detail.

Use a good, smooth ballpoint needle, preferably a size 18. Size 16 or smaller will suffice for many fabrics. The larger needle requirement is merely to allow the threads to pass through the needle easily.

The use of a stitching-tape enables easy placement of even rows. The tape can be separated at the desired width and adhered to the fabric in perfect position. Stitch alongside of the edge.

Ordinarily, topstitching is done on the top or right side, just as the word implies; however it can be worked from the wrong side with any special thread on the bobbin.

No advice can substitute for actually perfecting your technique on some sample swatches. Make some duplicates of the thickness of the actual fabric, lining and interlining of the garment that you’ll be topstitching, then test the threads and design of the topstitching in order to make sure the tension will be right and you’ll have a professional looking design.

Your machine manual may have some special suggestions. If your machine is built to accomodate a double or triple needle, you’ll be able to follow the directions within the manual in order to get the tension right for the topstitching.

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Grow Your Business With Customer Service

Posted By on February 7, 2017

I’ll bet you’re wondering HOW can you grow / build a business just by giving great customer service!  Think about your customers for a minute — how do they feel about you and your customer service?  Are you quick to respond to them?  Do you take care of small issues before they become big problems?

Smile!  That’s a key part of customer service!  Whether it’s in person or on the telephone – smile.  Your tone of voice IS reflective of whether you’re smiling while talking on the phone, or if you feel like you’ve been interrupted for the 10th time from an important project.

If you tell somebody you’re going to do something (try to find a special fabric, locate a pattern or check out a new trim) – DO IT!  It may be a small deal to you and very unimportant, but to the customer, it is EVERYTHING at this moment, so be sure to follow through on what you tell the customers.

Deal with questions promptly – don’t make the customer wait an hour or two or day or two for an answer.  Just last Friday evening I checked in on my computer before shutting down for the night (about 9 pm), and I’d gotten an email from a lady asking a question about an order she’d placed two days before.  I immediately checked it out and wrote her back before shutting down.  The next day I had a glowing email from the customer, saying “what FABULOUS customer service!  I figured maybe I’d get an answer by Monday or Tuesday, because of the weekend, and you took the time to answer me within MINUTES of my email!  I WILL be letting my friends know about your super customer service!”

So, there it is in a nutshell — how do you grow your business with customer service?  Your customers ARE the most important advertising your business will ever have – you just can’t pay enough for word of mouth advertising from the customers.  Customers with glowing reports about your excellent customer service will generate more new customers than you can imagine!

We have two books that give additional information on how to grow and succeed in your business:  “Jumpstart Your Business – Proven Techniques and Strategies” and “501 Tips and Strategies For Home Business Entrepreneurs”.  The books are $7.95 each and could be the best books you have on your bookshelf!

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New Pattern Designer In Our Family!

Posted By on February 1, 2017

My granddaughter, now 11 and part of a set of quadruplets, started “making things” when she was old enough to use a pair of kids scissors.

Sarah had previously made things from paper and cardboard, from very intricate snowflakes to cardboard box “stores” where she would “sell” her handmade items to her siblings and grandmother for a penny or two.

This past year she has been learning to sew – both hand sewing and machine sewing.  She LOVES creating and her “I do it myself” attitude (first words out of her mouth when learning to talk!) gives her the confidence to try things and figure out how to complete her projects.

The Narwhal stuffed toy (done entirely without help) is the first pattern and project she has agreed for us to put up for sale for her.  She drew every pattern piece, cut the fabric and handstitched the toy without asking for, or accepting, any help!  She has asked us to put any and all dollars she makes from the sales of her patterns into a college fund for her.

Narwhal stuffed toy

What do you think about the newest addition to our family of pattern designers and her Narwhal Fleece Stuffed Toy Pattern?

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AWESOME New Patterns Now Available

Posted By on January 24, 2017

We have some AWESOME new patterns in our pattern store that you won’t want to miss out on!

Just for starters, we have patterns for the ever popular “sea creature tail” blankets, including the Mermaid Tail Blanket, Shark Tail Blanket and Orca Whale Tail Blanket.  Look at the picture and decide which one you’d like to make first!

 

Shark Tail Blanket

Mermaid Tail Blanket

AND, we’re going to give you a 25% discount on any and ALL patterns from our craft pattern store, now through Jan 31 (one week only, so you must hurry), using the code January25.

Because Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly, you may want to make a Mega Heart Pillow for your favorite valentine girl or boy!  Or, you may want to give the new Mega Pineapple Pillow a try (the Mega Pineapple pillow pattern also includes a “mini” pineapple pillow pattern).

Fill your cart and don’t forget to use the code January25 for your 25% discount.

We have more new and exciting patterns coming up, so we encourage you to check back regularly.

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Save Your Receipts

Posted By on January 17, 2017

Well, it’s too late to start accumulating write offs  for taxes LAST year, however there is plenty of time to think about what to keep THIS year for tax purposes.

I don’t know if you will end up getting a refund of some sort or will have to pay, however the business receipts you keep can make a huge difference in the final totals on your taxes!

Keep and file ALL business related expense receipts.  You’ll be amazed at how those 47 cent stamp receipts add up over a years’ time.  Any fabrics/notions that you purchase for business use can be a tax deduction.  Also, if you haven’t already done so, get a small pocket calendar that you can keep in the car for business miles.  When you run to the fabric store for more fabric, write down the miles for that day.  If you’re making a run to the post office to get some orders mailed, write down the beginning and ending odometer reading so you’ll have the miles for that trip. At the end of the year that calendar becomes part of my tax information box to keep in case it’s ever needed.

If you’re looking at a new computer, printer or other office equipment, they can be written off as well.  Be sure to add in the cost of paper, printer cartridges and any other office equipment or supplies.

Ask your tax preparer about home office deductions – you could even write off part of your power bill, cable bill and telephone bill.

Take advantage of all the ways you can help yourself at tax time.

I keep an expanding file that is labeled for postage, inventory, office supplies, etc where I keep all my receipts filed during the year, then at the end of the year all I have to do is add the receipts in each category for totals to put on the tax forms.

If you’ve already set up a system for keeping receipts, bravo to you — if you haven’t already set up a filing system, it is not too late to start right now.

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