Sewing to Sell // Book Review + Giveaway

Sewing to sell. My first craft show was last weekend, and I can tell you that sewing to sell is a ton of work! The sewing is the least of it, too. Sewing To Sell is also a new book that I just so happen to be reviewing today. SO, expect to hear a little about both (sewing + selling, and Sewing To Sell) in this post.

Four months ago I decided to do something totally random by applying for a booth at The Little Craft Show. I’ve never sold anything at a craft show (and had never really even been to a craft show (high school fundraisers are not the same)). Heck, I hadn’t even sold anything out of my Etsy shop at that point! So I filled out the application, sent in the fees for my maybe hopefully booth, and waited. Part of me hoped they’d like my stuff enough to let me in, and the other part of me hoped they’d say no so I wouldn’t have to kill myself September through November to make enough inventory. I was accepted as a vendor and spent the next three months sewing. A lot. I didn’t die.

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Somewhere between sewing all night and occasionally binge-watching television, I was given the opportunity to review Virginia Lindsay‘s new book Sewing To Sell. “Perfect,” I thought. “I’ll read it and make some of the projects and learn a ton and have the best show ever and sell all the things!” SPOILER. It didn’t exactly work out like that. Instead of reading the entire book, I skimmed through the sections where I thought I could learn the most (‘Selling at Craft Shows,’ ‘Setting Up Your Booth,’ ‘Promoting Yourself,’ ‘Show Pricing,’ and ‘Packaging for Show Sales’). Instead of making some of the projects (did I mention there are 16 projects for you to sew and sell yourself!?), I made one of the projects. I made it 24 times, though–so that’s something. I absolutely did learn a ton from the limited selection I read. Now that my first show is behind me, I’ll be settling in to read the rest. And last, instead of having the best show ever and selling all the things…

I had an okay show and sold some of the things. Actually, I’m not even sure that’s an accurate statement since I don’t really know what makes a good show, let along the “best show ever.” No one I’ve met has said “yeah, it was awesome! I made $xyz!” I think I may have set my expectations a little too high. Sometimes that happens when I get too much encouragement (please tell me you know what I mean). I’ve read that a fantastic show equates to bringing in 10x your booth fee. I brought in 6x my fee, and sold 51 (of 300+) items. I already know several changes that could have helped me sell more (I’ll write about that in another post, though).

Virginia’s book is one that anyone who has an interest in sewing (and selling, or not) will enjoy. She covers everything from finding your sewing style to legal aspects of setting up shop to even providing suggested price points for all sixteen included projects. There are also some great interviews with talented sewists, as well as countless tips and ideas tucked into the margins and presented within the book’s beautiful photos. I’m itching to make the organizer, quilt, and oven mitts!

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There are still many craft-show-thoughts running through my brain, but one thing I definitely want to share with you is the Zipped Pouch project from Sewing To Sell. I chose this project to sew for my show because it looked quick and easy, AND would help broaden my products’ intended recipients. Basically, I was worried that having a booth full of only kid stuff would exclude a lot of potential customers, but I didn’t have much time to invest in dreaming up items for not-kids. I also needed an item to donate to the show’s raffle prize pool (and I didn’t want to give away something the recipient might not have use for (like baby shoes!)). So I made 24 zipped pouches in seven different prints. Check ’em out!

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They are super cute, but I only sold one. After the show I realized that DUH anyone who entered my booth did so because they saw the cute kids clothing and shoes from the aisle. No one could see these pouches if they were just walking by. I accidentally sabotaged my idea of appealing to a childless shopper by not displaying the pouches in a way that would catch a by-passer’s attention. Live and learn, right? The bright side is that my Etsy shop is now very well-stocked.

Now! Virginia has generously offered to allow me to give away a copy of Sewing To Sell to one lucky reader (who also happens to reside in the contiguous USA, sorry guys!). To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question: What would you hope to learn from Sewing To Sell? I’ll pick a winner at 10pm CST on Saturday December 13. Get to it!

34 Comments Sewing to Sell // Book Review + Giveaway

  1. Andrea S.

    Thanks for the great giveaway! I’d like to start an Etsy shop or start selling at craft shows, but wouldn’t want to do it unless I’m completely prepared…basically until I read this book!

    Reply
  2. Laura denlinger

    I have sold @ a craft sale for 2 years now, & would love to read this book! I did about the same both years & feel like I really should be able to increase, not stay the same!

    Reply
  3. Renee

    Craft shows are tough, especially building an inventory – sounds like you did do well though! I found that the things that sold best were newborn items. everyone likes to spend money on babies. I bet you got a lot of compliments on those shoes btw – they’re awesome!

    Reply
  4. Virginia Lindsay

    The pouches are so cute! Your first is always hard but It sounds like it was fairly successful after all. Save this for next year and schedule several shows at once! Then you won’t feel so much pressure to sell it all at once. Thanks so much for reviewing the book Tasha.

    Reply
  5. Barbara Whitehead

    Will be retiring after 43 years at the same job. I love hand and machine work and would hope to learn how to put my talents to work making a little extra retirement income.

    Reply
  6. Jeannie K

    I’m getting ready to open my Etsy shop – yikes! I’m hoping to learn how to make it the best shop in the world – yeah, I’m the same way with too much encouragement ;-)

    And, I love the zipper pouches!

    Reply
  7. Amanda

    I’d love some project ideas, but also to learn more about actually starting a craft business-especially how to price items.

    Reply
  8. Amy

    I’m super interested in sewing items to sell but am at a bit of a loss of how to get started-so many things to consider. Would live to read this book.

    Reply
  9. Rachel Riggs

    I want to learn the best strategies for setting up a booth, and how much inventory to prepare. I wonder how many different types of items to have, as well as how many of each size to have in stock. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Elise

    I’d love some advice on selling in person. I’ve been selling online for about a year, but have yet to do a craft show.

    Reply
  11. Beverly

    I would want to learn the tricks of doing well at a craft show. I’ve never sold anything but am sure interested in doing so someday.

    Reply
  12. Sarah

    This book is stalking me! Or is it the other way around haha :) I think I could learn heaps from this book, but I’d definitely like to learn more about craft fairs. Thanks for sharing your experience Tasha, your stuff is the best!

    Reply
  13. Jacklynn Grimm

    I want help in deciding how many different projects to sell in my booth, and of course how to price them so I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time. This book sounds like it would be a goldmine of information, thanks for the chance to win! jacklynnsteven at netzero dot com

    Reply
  14. Ashley

    I love reading your honesty about everything Tasha! Your booth looked lovely, and your sewing style is amazing. I’m asking Ryan to buy me something from the shop for Christmas :) Thanks for the good read, and I think this book is on the list too.

    Reply
  15. Cindy

    I have both an Etsy shop and do local craft shows. I struggle the most with pricing! I love the interaction with customers at shows.

    Reply
  16. Elizabeth McDonald (catskill quilter)

    I need information about selling online! I suspect that the competition is much tougher…

    Reply
  17. Sarah Helene

    CUTE-AS-CAN-BE plus these are practical! Love the variety of prints used. I’d love to be the winner of this book — info on craft fairs and sales galore. Thanks. Sarah in Minneapolis

    Reply
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