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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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Do Your Blouses and Dresses Bunch or Wrinkle In The Bodice Area?

Posted By on September 25, 2013

Misses size patterns are made with a standard “B” cup and half sizes are made with a standard “C” cup.  If you use a Misses size pattern and wear an “A”, “C” or “D” cup bra, your bodice will be baggy (A cup) or tight with wrinkles (C or D cup).  The same thing applies to half sizes that wear an “A”, “B” or “D” cup bra.  The Shape-A-Dart tool has PRE-MEASURED dart widths to correct darts on all commercial patterns, beginning with size 6 and going through 24 1/2, and includes sizes 38 to 46.  Simply find YOUR pattern size and PERSONAL bra cup size on the Shape-A-Dart and make the correction.

Do your blouses, dresses and jackets look like the “before” pictures?  Simply adjust the dart on the pattern with a Shape-A-Dart, following the easy instructions that are included, and you will have a perfect fitting garment and a “fit that flatters”!  You can see this tool at ShapeADart.com.

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Hand Sewing Secrets

Posted By on September 23, 2013

For those of us in the sewing or craft businesses, there’s always hand sewing that needs to be done.  Some projects require more handwork than others, but very seldom do we skate through a project without at least a little hand sewing to do.  There are a lot of little things that can be done to make the hand sewing go much faster, so I’ll list a few of these “secrets” here.

1.  Keep small pieces of handwork near the telephone so you can work as you talk.  You’ll be surprised how much “extra” sewing you’ll get done this way.  I was AMAZED at the amount of hand sewing I got done in a days time using the “telephone time” that would otherwise have been wasted.

2.  For hand sewing, thread several needles before you start.  This will eliminate having to stop as often to re-thread – just reach for another needle.  This works GREAT for hand sewing while on the telephone.

3.  When getting thread ready for hand sewing, thread the needle FIRST then take the length off the spool.  If you knot the end that comes off the spool last, you will have much less tangling and knotting of the thread while you sew.

4.  To reduce tangles when hand sewing, keep your thread length under 20″.

5.  When hand sewing hems, keep the stitches loose so the hems will not get the “gathered” look.

6. Before discarding old rubber gloves, cut off a 2″ length of the thumb and needle fingers — these work great on hand sewing projects where the needle is hard to pull through the fabric.

7.  By using a fine sharp needle for hand basting, you will eliminate the unsightly stitch marks which will be left if you use a thicker needle.

8.  And, when hand basting, DO NOT knot the thread – it will be easier to remove if you don’t have to worry about the knot.

As we all know in our businesses, time is money, so whatever we can do to speed up a project just a little bit will add minutes, then hours to our sewing time.  There are times that I’ve gotten a project finished enough ahead of my “schedule”, that I’ve been able to start cutting something else out, or do some extra sewing on a different project.  WOW!  Does that ever feel good!

 

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Sewing For Plus Size Children

Posted By on August 9, 2013

As we get ready for the fall season and school to begin, we once again get many emails asking for information on how to sew good fitting clothing for plus size children.  Shopping for clothes for plus size children is very hard considering the fact that so few clothing stores carry clothing that will fit these children.  Pattern companies are not much better, since their patterns will only fit large size children of the same age – for example patterns for size 14 or the plus size 14 — but what happens if you  have a daughter that is only 8 years old that has the measurements of a 14 year old.  Those patterns will never fit the younger child because the younger person won’t be as tall as a regular 14 year old, nor will the arms be the length of an actual 14 year old.

At Plus Size Children.com we carry patterns that are made using actual measurements of those plus size children – boys and girls – that are 8 years old, 10 years old, etc.  As a sample of what we have, you can check out the shorts/pants for plus size girls, or perhaps the blouses and tops that are available.  Browse through all the categories and see what all is available.

If you have patterns already in your sewing room, but they just won’t fit the plus sizes, you probably would like to check out the book “Altering Store Bought Patterns For Plus Size Children” - this book gives information on how to alter the chest, waist/abdomen, hips, etc for the plus sizes.

School starts here the 19th of August, so we’re either at the fabric store or at the sewing machine!  I just love it when we can let the kids help pick fabrics, and they’re at the age now that they like to help pin the pieces, then take the pins out when finished with the sewing.  By helping make the garments, they’re so proud to wear the clothes and show them off.

Happy Sewing!

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School Starts Soon. 50% Sale Starts TODAY!

Posted By on July 30, 2013

In just three weeks school will be starting again in our area.  Summer seems great for the kids, but long before school actually starts, the kids get BORED – tired of the “everyday” things that they do, and are as ready for school to start as their parents!

The big thing is —- are YOU ready for the kids to start school?  If your kids are like my grandchildren – they’ve outgrown the clothes they wore last year and we are BUSY getting clothing made for this year.   As you probably already know, I have a set of 7 year old quadruplet grandchildren (and their BIG brother who just turned 9 this past Sunday)!  These kids can be difficult to find or make clothes for them!  The two boys will wear anything — one of them likes shirts that button down the front and the other one likes pullovers, but does want collars on them (easy peasy!).   The girls, on the other hand are the difficult ones!  One of the girls wants ONLY pink things – pink stripes, pink printed, pink polka dots – just as long as it is pink, so we shop for as many different pink patterns and shades of pink fabrics as we can find, then get busy sewing.   The other granddaughter wants purple – so it’s the same story as with her sister – only it means finding fabrics of all kinds in purple shades and prints.  As you have probably guessed, they NEVER share their clothes!

 

I’m thrilled to let you know that we are having a Sizzling Summer Sale at PatternsThatFitYou, where we’re giving a 50% discount on all downloadable books, patterns and classes, through August 15.   Use the promo code SUMMER50 to take advantage of the huge sale prices!  Grab a bunch of the books, patterns and classes now while the sale is on – don’t forget the Holiday Season will be coming up quicker than you think, and with these books and classes you’ll be ready for all your fall sewing, whether you’re sewing for men, women, children or doing the crafty sewing.

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New Kindle Version of Sewing Machine Repair Book

Posted By on July 6, 2013

We are super excited to announce that the new Kindle version of our best selling Sewing Machine Repair for the Home Sewer book is now available. Now you can grab this helpful book and take it everywhere with you on your reader or smartphone, or even read it on your computer, for just $19.95 – a lower price than the $24.95 print version!

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