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.
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!
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!
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!