Friday, April 17, 2009


These are some of my favorite sewing help books.  The Graced by Lace by Debra S. Bonito isn't really a help book, but it is beautiful!!!  The Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Laflin Ahles and Heirloom Sewing by Martha Pullen are wonderful. The embroidery book was published by Better Homes and Gardens and has some interesting techniques.

I have some questions that only you, my blogger friends, can answer.   
First, I'll tell you that yesterday was my last official day as a math interventionist.  Next week I'm going 4 days to help with the TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program), and then I'm through.  I cannot believe that I went back after being retired for a year.  But, I taught for 32 years, and it has been hard to get it out of my system.  I missed the kids and my teacher friends.  I'm over it now, though.  I really do want to concentrate more on my sewing.

My plans are to:
1. teach some beginning sewing classes.  A friend has a dance studio with extra rooms.  She wants me to rent one of her rooms and has already lined up students for me (adults and children).  
2. sew for myself again. I need a dress form.
3.  sew more for profit.  I especially want to sew for children.  I mostly want to make one-of-a-kind special occasion type things.  To start with, though, I'll probably sew about anything that someone will pay me to make.
4.  get myself and my sewing room even more organized.  This is something I've worked on for the past year and a half.
5.  sell my design for the wrap that I made for my Mom to some company.  I've had numerous people tell me that I should.

Now, for some questions:
1.  What does TNT stand for?
2.  Are the dress forms that JoAnn's has on sale for $99 worth it, or should I hold out for a better one?
3.  How do I decide how much to charge people?  I have trouble charging what something is worth.  I mostly sew for friends, now, and I just can't bring myself to charge what I should.  
4.  Should I have my clients buy the fabrics and patterns or find out what they want and buy them myself?  I'm afraid that they won't know what to purchase.  
5.  I want to incorporate some of my antique linens, etc... into some of my creations.  I guess I would have my clients come to look through what I have and choose what they want.  What do you think?  The lady I'm sewing for now (for her grandchildren) is trusting me to do whatever I think will work.  She told me some of the things she wants me to do, but is giving me leeway, otherwise.  This is what I'd really like to do.
6.   How much do I charge to teach sewing?  By the class? By the series of sessions?  I think it would be best to give them a materials list and have them purchase their own and have extra of everything in case someone buys the wrong thing or forgets to buy something.  Is this best? My friend Cindy has given me some advice on this already.  She has an awesome shop and teaching studio.  Check her out!!  Her husband makes sewing tables that would be perfect if you don't have much space to devote to your sewing!!!!
7.  Do I need to get a business license at this point?  I guess I will if I advertise and use my friends space in her studio.  Hum?
8.  How do I go about selling my design to a company?  I was told I would need to patent it first.  I thought about making several of these and taking them to a convalescent store near me.  I really don't like making the same thing over and over, but I guess if it would be a money maker it would be ok.  No more dance costumes for a bunch of growing kids who are all different sizes though. 
9.  Should I have a separate blog that Only has photos and descriptions of things I've made, or do I need a web page? Or, would a slide show on my sidebar be enough.  (If I can figure out how to get it on there)
10.I'm sure I will come up with lots more questions and I feel sure you will answer them for me. I am soooooo glad that I found this sewing blogger world!!!  Just think, people from all over the world with similar interest who are helping and encouraging each other.  I love it! 


gwensews said...

Wow, Julia! First of all--congratulations on retiring, yet again, and good luck with your new career. It sounds like you are excited!

Some of your questions can be answered with a book called "The Business of Sewing" by Barbara Wright Sykes. It's available at

1. TNT=tried and true
2. I would research dresss forms and make a decision.
4. I would purchase fabric and patterns myself. People who don't sew won't know what to buy. (I had my own alteration business, and I can tell you that unexperienced people can be a nightmare)

I think your other questions can be answered with the book.

I'm excited for you!

Jazzy Jemz said...

Congrats on retiring!

Can't say anything about joannes dress forms. I have found cheaper on Ebay.

To figure out how much to sell do some exploring on etsy and artfire to find the price range for your items.

Price too low and you are shortchanging your art. Price too high and it may be too high. So check out the market. You can also get feedback from other sellers.

Good luck on doing something for you ! I wish you the best in your new endeavors!

window dressing said...

Congratulations on the retirement! It sounds like you are probably going to be more busy after retirement. If it's what you love though it's going to be a lot of fun. I don't have the knowledge to answer any of your questions though but maybe one. Is the dressform for yourself? If it is I would strongly suggest making your own ductape form. I bought a dress form a while back and used it a handful of times because my "real curves" did not correspond to that of the form. A duct tape dress form is a replica of your exact body curves if you have them and all. There are a lot of sites online giving directions just google it. It might take two or three hours of your day but you have an exact duplicate of yourself. Good luck with all your exciting endeavours!!!!

Faye Lewis said...

The only question I could answer #1 but that's been covered already.

Cindy said...

Thanks for mentioning me. If there's one thing that gives me a lot of pleasure is giving my knowledge to others and watch what they do with it. You're going to love teaching.

Some of the questions that haven't been answered already,
4. I've done it both ways. Supplied the materials and had them supply their own. I've found it's personal preference. Sometimes the fabrics I like the next person doesn't. Sometimes it can be over whelming for a beginner to go into the store. I try to guide them through the process on how to pick up a pattern, how to read what is needed for their project.
6. You charge what people are willing to pay. Remember pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.
7. Every city is different. Give yours a call.
9. It's not much to do a website. You manage your blog beautifully, I know you can do the same on a website.
Good luck with your new adventure. I hope it brings you as much pleasure as it's brought me.

Cindy said...

Oh yeah, I bought the book Gwen mentioned above - used $2 on amazon. I can't wait to read it. You never know when you can learn something new.
Thanks Gwen!

I am Arizona; a person, not a place. said...

I have a JoAnn's dress form and I like it, but now that I'm a more experienced sewist I wish I had a pinnable dressform. If you make children's clothing you may want to get a child's dressform, too. If you google "Child dressform" you'll get a few companies that sell them. You can get 1/2 and full dressforms.

I don't know how to approach pattern companies other than to suggest emailing them with your offer and a description and photo of your creation. You may also want to consider self publishing your pattern and offering it for sale on BurdaStyle or Etsy. There is a website devoted to helping sewn product manufacturers...its at The website sounds like it wouldn't apply to small businesses, but that's what its all about; helping small designers get their businesses off the ground. Check it may find it helpful.

Good luck!

Myra said...

Hi, you commented today on my blog, love your stuff. In answer to your questions, TNT's are those patterns that are tried and true, you have them down. Dress forms, I have a uniquely you, which was not much more than a Joann's deal. It is foam, pinnable, has a cover you fit to you and the foam fills it in, works fairly well. I think I bought from Sew-Vac Direct online. Check them out, if you find it cheaper, they or another seller will adjust the price. As far as prices on clothes for sale, that I am still trying to figure out, too. Check etsy, artfire sellers and go for somewhere you are comfortable, say around the middle or popular range, depending on the article. And Gwen is right, purchase the material for the client if possible, and let them reimburse you in the cost. In our rural area, I have been told craft booths are a good way to get started, esp at the town and church fairs.

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