Every time I make a sale on Etsy I get so excited!
Which I think is both warranted and unwarranted. Warranted because someone likes something that I make enough to pay money for it! But unwarranted because the actual process isn’t that exciting. Unless it’s something made-to-order, all that happens after somebody buys something is transferring the money from PayPal to ship it and then I put it in the mail. Although, I will say that I actually kind of enjoy putting things in the mail, and I’m getting a lot better at it! Especially at the big post office where you can do everything yourself. You’d be surprised how confusing it is sometimes to figure out all the shipping stuff and which packaging to use!
The reason for this post: I sold a laptop case just now! Woo!
In honor of putting the finishing touches on my first dress sale ever (!), here are some things I learned from it (as well as some things I knew previously that helped me out and some things that are just good to know in general).
Measure at least twice. Especially when you’re first starting out, it is easy to inaccurately measure. Make sure you don’t hold the tape measure too tight.
Write your measurements down. Numbers are confusing! And hard to remember! Make sure you write the numbers down when you measure yourself. Otherwise you’ll have to remeasure when you’re making the pattern (which isn’t all that bad, but writing them down just saves times!)
Keep your measurements handy. I keep mine written on a post-it note taped on the wall near my sewing area. It’s good for reference, and saves you time when you go to make things! For the most part, after a certain age, we all stop growing short of weight. So your measurements are going to stay pretty much the same. However, it never hurts to remeasure yourself every once in a while in case anything has changed.
Draft a pattern. I knew this previously (I’ve made lots of patterns before), but really, it’s super easy. Additionally, it will help you immensely with sizing, should you ever want to grade the pattern and make it into different sizes. Aside from that, making a pattern lets you make the dress again and again if you want to and really like it! If you don’t know how to draft a pattern, there are numerous places on the internet to look (I like this one) and also books (I use this one!) Both of those require you to have basic knowledge of sewing terminology and techniques, but if you’re going to draft a pattern, you should know that stuff anyway.
Over-estimate measurements when you make patterns. I will be the first one to tell you that it’s really a pain to waste fabric. So I know where you’re coming from— why make a pattern bigger than it needs to be and waste fabric? I know. It seems stupid. But would you rather waste a little fabric (not much! I’m talking adding an inch or so) and make the pattern pieces bigger, or cut them what you think is the right size and then end up with a garment that doesn’t fit? This is especially important when you’re making things for other people. If someone pays you to make something, it’s a pretty bad scenario if the thing you make doesn’t fit. With this dress I just finished, I added an inch to the bust and waist measurement, and boy am I glad! I measured the finished product, and even though I added an inch, the final one came out with the original measurements.
You don’t need an invisible zipper foot to sew an invisible zipper! I’m sure it’s a lot easier if you do, but seriously, have you ever tried to find an invisible zipper foot to buy? IT IS SO HARD. Especially if you have an older machine— I’ve had no such luck (although, I will admit, I didn’t try THAT hard, mostly because I don’t have the money). But you don’t need it! After you iron the zipper (don’t skimp on the ironing here. The more, the better), the pins are your friends. Pin it in such a way that the pins are folding the zipper open so that you can see the two lines of stitching. From there, use the regular zipper foot (that, you can’t get by without. You can’t sew ANY zipper without it, unless you hand sew!) and just go reaaaal slow, making sure you stay very close to the lines of stitching.
Always finish your seams. Not all of them. The side seams aren’t as important, but still. I usually always finish waist lines. Especially if the fabric frays easily, this can become really important.
Don’t be afraid to thrift fabrics! I was a little nervous about this to begin with. With all the other gross things you find in thrift stores, it’s easy to fear that the fabric you find will be gross, too. But if you look around, you can find really good stuff! Some thrift stores even have a dedicated fabric section, but sheets work well too! I’ve found so many good bed sheets at thrift stores that I’ve made things out of. I’ve also heard that curtains work well, but I personally have never found any that I like. Check for stains in the store and then give it a good washing when you get home (this is also good to figure out how to wash the fabric!), and you’re set!
Don’t be afraid to use other garments as reference points! Some things are hard to measure. Like really hard. Sweep, armhole height, shoulder width, and neck width are all measurements that when measuring them on yourself involve a lot of estimating and leave a lot of room for error. So, to eliminate this guessing game, get out a shirt or a skirt that fits you well! For the body measurements (armhole height, shoulder width, and neck width), you can just measure them straight off the shirt and you’ll have a good fit. And for the sweep (the sweep is the circumference of the bottom of a skirt), just grab a favorite skirt that is most similar to the style of skirt you’re trying to make, and measure around it to get a starting point.
And last, but certainly not least,
Do not over work yourself or work once you start to get overly tired. Basically, if you do this, you are doomed. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve over-worked myself and then made some mistake that’s rendered whatever I was making useless.
And that completes my list. I hope this helps!
P.s. here’s the picture of the dress. I sold it on Etsy, and come Monday it will be in the hands of its new owner!
I’ve been toying with this idea in my head for a while and it just now came into fruition! I just listed it on Etsy. I recently learned how to grade patterns (from this book, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to learn about pattern-making!), and so now I’m offering custom made dresses on Etsy!
I’ve had one of these for a while now (this one’s not mine, I just don’t have a good picture of mine at the mo).
But it was missing the slide plate, the thumb screw, and the foot. Since those are all easily replaceable, I’ve slowly been getting them, and today I ordered the last two pieces I need! So once those get here I’ll be able to use it! I’m hoping it’ll last me a good long time, seeing as it’s made of metal. It’s also missing the spool stick to load the bobbin with, but I’m not worried as I have another machine I can do that with. Mine’s also not this clean, but that will come in time! I’m just super excited to have it working again! The only bad thing is that it’s a straight-stitch only machine (not like it’s higher end counter-parts that use these neato cams!), but again, I have another sewing machine that I can do that on in a pinch!
I didn’t really have a good hat to wear for winter, so I made this one! It was my first experience knitting a hat in the round (I’ve only done mittens and gloves before), and I am pretty satisfied with the results.
For my most recent Textiles class project, the assignment was to make a bag or purse or case of some sort, and it has to be lined. I’ve made cases and lined them before (obviously) but I decided to step away from laptop cases and do something a bit more ambitious. I was having trouble finding a purse/bag I liked that was good for biking and every day use, so I made one! I like this one a lot, so I might try to make another one (a slightly modified one with a zipper pocket on the outside) and sell it on Etsy.
I just listed both of these items on my Etsy store today! First, I made another laptop case. It’s the same pattern as the first one, but this time it’s with a neat umbrella fabric that I am a big fan of.