How to Start Your Own Sewing and Quilting Business

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Always hang samples so customers can see the quality of your workmanship.
Always hang samples so customers can see the quality of your workmanship. (Image: Steve Baccon/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Some women talk about it. Others take the bull by the horns and make their dreams happen. To join the latter group and launch your own sewing and quilting business, you’ll need patience, common sense and enough cash to get your enterprise up and running. Whether you plan to operate from space in your home or set up shop elsewhere, you’ll wind up living everyone’s dream: doing what you love and making a living at it.

Things You'll Need

  • Worktable
  • Machinery
  • Equipment
  • Supplies

Put together a simple business plan that outlines your idea for a sewing and quilting business. Write down goals and objectives, figure out how much cash you need to launch your enterprise and draft a shopping list that covers everything from store fixtures to the sewing and quilting materials you’ll need to help sell your services and designs.

Remodel a section of your home — garage, workroom, bedroom, loft — if you intend to run your business from there, or rent a storefront in a neighborhood that attracts shoppers looking for handmade quilts, garments and gifts. Install professional worktables, set up your sewing and quilting machines and install lots of shelves to stock supplies and materials. Hang samples of your best work throughout your workspace.

Purchase new equipment if your current machines need upgrading. Buy a commercial sewing machine for high-volume work. An embroidery machine will be an advantage, as you’ll be able to customize garments and quilts. Upgrade your quilt-making equipment too. Locate suppliers that can be depended upon for variety and fast delivery.

Put into place a business structure to manage the non-creative aspects of your sewing and quilting business. A computer with spreadsheet or accounting software will help you keep track of payables and receivables. Build a client list on your desktop that will help you market to your patrons. Affiliate with financial institutions so you can take credit cards.

Price your sewing and quilting creations and services competitively. Survey seamstresses and quilters in your area to learn what they charge, and then base your fee scale along the lines of their prices. Draft business policies. Create a template for an order form that details customers' orders down to the thread color they prefer. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a deposit that covers, at the very least, materials you need to start a new quilt or garment.

Market your products and services in clever ways. Exhibit your work at banks, libraries and other public venues. Create a signature line of small items to introduce your business to potential customers — stuffed rabbits, quilted place mats and quirky embroidered pillows. Sell your creations at craft fairs, church bazaars and gift shows. Bring photos of your larger products; someone may be in the market for a quilt or dress once she sees the workmanship in your smaller creations. Always carry business cards.

Operate your sewing and quilting business with integrity and fairness. Don’t take commissions you can’t fulfill, and always deliver goods when promised. Expect occasional complaints — every business experiences dissatisfied customers on occasion. Add credibility to your business by joining an organization like the International Quilt Association or the American Sewing Guild. This is, after all, your profession.

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