After spending well over a decade working with fashion designers to start or grow their businesses, I have since realized that many people who have that passion for sewing do not fully appreciate how much massive demand there is for their skill.
For many, it is all about sewing and selling the end product. You love the craft, it's your passion, you make a garment or perhaps an apron, you offer it for sale to an end user, perhaps on your own online website or on Etsy. And sure enough, you are making sales.
For others, it is about knowing how to sew and then teaching others how to sew. Which is fantastic. I also have online sewing and pattern drafting courses so I would never say that is a bad idea at all. It has made me a pretty decent amount of money!
However, in a highly competitive industry such as the fashion industry, targeting only end users is you leaving lots of money on the table!
Stop throwing money in the bin!
I'll give you 2 examples!
Example 1: Garment Production Consulting
Earlier today, I received an email from a popular ladieswear clothing brand. The company's request? They believed I could help them reduce inefficiencies in their garment production process and help the brand scale better. And I definitely can!
Here is an extract of the email.
Why was I the perfect person to approach? Probably for the following reasons:
1. I wrote a book titled 'How to Start a Clothing Factory' - of which I had sold well over a thousand copies. My reviews of the book speak for themselves and how struggling fashion businesses turned their businesses around.
2. I was able to write this book because I had run a Clothing Factory producing clothing for fashion designers, mostly professionals such as bankers with full time jobs who wanted to start their own clothing lines and sell to their colleagues. So I thoroughly understood the garment production process from start to finish.
3. I put my Fashion Design degree, accounting background and research skills to good use. I went beyond mere garment construction to fully understanding the importance of each step in the process, its relevance in the fashion industry ecosystem and value chain and how each step can be sold as a separate product or service.
So simply put, I transformed the sewing skills, which I learnt in Fashion School, into something much more than just sewing and it didn't affect any other thing I did.
Example 2: Facemask Production
During the pandemic, because I already ran a Clothing Factory, I got requests from not only individuals who needed facemasks but also companies who needed face masks.
Because I already had a system in place, I made tens of thousands of facemasks, some orders which I completed in less than a week. It was like clockwork! And the best part is, it did not affect me selling masks directly to my customers as well.
Why am I telling you all this?
If only you knew just how much money you can make from your sewing hobby, you would leverage on what you normally do without thinking and what you already enjoy doing and monetize each of the steps in your current process to make more money.
That way, you are not only dependent on end users buying your products, you are also targeting other fashion businesses (who have more money to spend).
I can safely tell you that as a fashion business mentor, I have mentored LOTS of fashion designers who have no idea where to get their patterns made, much less getting their samples created on time for mass production.
In fact, one person I currently mentor has had her sample destroyed 3 times at her own expense. And some patterns for other designers have cost more than $1,000.
Being relatively new to New York, I had no idea patterns cost that much at all! Patterns you can probably get done in a day, get paid and move on with your work!
So now, without going into the nitty gritty, let me dissect your sewing skill and highlight 5 ways you can make more money from your sewing hobby - still doing what you love, increasing your profits, reducing your stress levels looking for customers and running the business of your dreams.
Because I tell you, these B2B customers will find you if you position your business properly. They desperately need your services because the survival of their businesses and clothing brands depend on it!
5 Ways to Make More Money from Your Sewing Skills
I stumbled on a clothing factory in the New York Fashion District when I went searching for a sewing space rental near me (long story for another day). Anyway, on chatting with the staff, I was told I had to bring my pattern, bring my sample for them to create their own sample, get my patterns graded myself and get my fabrics. All they did was the mass production.
I was surprised! With the exception of sourcing for fabrics for the customers of the Clothing Factory, I did everything else for the designers. Even when I produced my own clothing line in China, they did all the work - including sourcing for fabrics. Only then did I fully understand the challenges the designers I mentored in New York were also facing.
Perhaps my experience was a one off but that got me thinking. Why are sewing enthusiasts not targeting other designers and offering them these same services?
So as an advanced sewer, let's look at the typical steps in the garment production process:
1. Create a design
2. Choose a size chart or take body measurements
3. Draft a pattern
4. Create a sample / toile
5. Adjust and grade the pattern
6. We can add sourcing for fabrics (if you really enjoy fabric buying).
There are other areas in the garment production process such as creation of fashion illustrations, technical flats and tech packs / spec sheets which you can also make money from but those are outside the core of your sewing skills and may be a bit complicated so I'll just leave it at the first 5.
These 5 steps are services that you can offer other designers or aspiring fashion designers looking to start their own clothing brands and it does not affect your ability to still produce your own clothes for your end users.
Create designs for sale
Of course to make anything at all, you have to start with a design. There are designers out there looking for designs to buy for their lines. Some people just want to sell clothes so why not create some designs or a catalogue so you can sell your designs to them. I know I have bought many designs in the past just more my library.
Create size charts
You might think 'why can't they just get that from a website or a pattern book'. After operating in the fashion industry for years, I can safely tell you that size charts are not always accurate - especially if you have a client that has a unique body shape and is creating a clothing brand for people just like them.
This is one of the biggest headaches for new fashion businesses and since you have been sewing for years, you can bring your wealth of experience to the table. When clients sent me size charts from websites, just one look at the charts and I could instantly tell if it would work for them or not.
Most times it didn't and I would work with them to build their own charts from scratch. I have created size charts for plus sizes, 'petite' sizes, 'taille' sizes, apple shaped bodies, pear shaped bodies, etc. I never charged for it because I was more focused on production but it is something you can charge for and the clients are willing to pay for as well.
Draft a pattern
This one's easy. You need a pattern to create the clothes right? Especially for mass production. The pattern really is the garment on paper. If you are an expert in pattern drafting, this will be your biggest cash cow! You can either create the patterns for their design or simply sell the patterns for the designs they bought off you.
As an advanced sewer, the assumption is that you can create patterns from scratch and alter patterns. This might not be the case if you only work with ready made sewing patterns. However, learning how to create patterns is really easy.
In fact, I have an online pattern drafting course that teaches the principles behind altering your block patterns into so many different styles. Once you understand the principles, you can pretty much create anything.
This is one major need out there so I suggest you hone your skills in pattern drafting so you can take full advantage of the skill. I will drop the link to my online pattern drafting course once I am done switching my LMS!
Create a sample
Of course you sew already. And if you created the pattern, then you already know how to sew it. So why not offer a sample / toile production service to fashion brands? You are already doing what you love doing anyway so why not charge for the service? They probably would not complain as much as end users will and if you do a great job, they'll keep coming back!
Adjust & Grade the Pattern
This is probably the easiest of the lot. And you can make a lot of money from it. And the best part is - you don't even have to be the one to create the original pattern. Once the pattern has been certified ok, all you need to do is grade it - either manually or digitally and send it off to them. Easy peasy!
Phew! I have written quite a bit for you to digest! Hope it has helped you to see the full potential of your skill and a hobby. For me, if you can make even more money doing what you already do - in a fraction of the time, then why not?!
There are people out there who desperately need your services so why not meet them at their point of need! Trust me, from experience, it is well worth it!
If you have questions on any of the ideas I gave, do drop them in the comments section and I will be happy to shed more light on how you can go about it!
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About the Author
Hi there! My name is Temi.
I am passionate about helping fashion lovers and sewing hobbyists reach their true potential and live their rich lives through their talent and skill. I will help you turn your passion for fashion from mere love and skill into a profitable business.
You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Temi Williams ‧ Fashion Professional & Educator