If you love sewing baby clothes for all of your children, grandchildren, and friends, or if you spend every summer designing all the costumes for the local musical, it might be time to consider making a profit off your hobby! It takes specialized skill to sew, whether you like to sew something as simple as a beginner-level pillowcase or as complicated as a thousand-dollar wedding dress. If you have that skill, all you have to do is learn how to make money sewing!
You can make money sewing a wide range of fabric items, from headscarves to stuffed animals to bespoke clothing. Your skill level and personal taste will help determine what kind of sewing project you select to make and sell. You will also need business skills like marketing and pricing to make a profit from sewing.
In this article, you’ll discover fifteen different ways to make money sewing at home. You’ll also get some ideas on how to go about starting a sewing business. Finally, you’ll find some tips on how to price sewing projects.
Can I Make Money Sewing at Home?
You can make money sewing at home, depending on your skill level, the supplies you can afford, and the time you can commit to this endeavor. All you have to do is take a quick look at Etsy to see the demand for hand-sewn items, from apparel to home decor to toys!
It’s OK to get excited if sitting and sewing for a couple of hours a day seems like the perfect job for you. Before you get too carried away, though, take a moment for some practical considerations.
First, make a realistic assessment of your skills. If you’re a whiz with an embroidery machine, but you struggle with dressmaking, you probably want to sell a product that focuses on embroidered designs.
What if you’re a beginning sewer? While you want to sell professional-looking products to build a good reputation, this doesn’t mean you have to give up if you haven’t mastered every possible sewing skill. Just make sure you sell products that fit your skill level so you don’t overreach yourself.
Second, make a list of all the sewing tools you already own and figure out what you would need to create the products you want to sell.
Do you need a serger? An embroidery machine? Or just a needle and thread?
Finally, be honest with yourself about how much time you can give to your business. No matter how much you enjoy sewing, you have other commitments in your life, too!
How To Make Money Sewing: 15 Realistic Ideas
You could choose from thousands of different sewing projects as you launch your home sewing business. The world is your oyster when it comes to selecting a project to make and sell! That said, you may find it more helpful to zero in on just a few possibilities as you start.
Take a look at these realistic options to get yourself started.
You only need basic sewing skills to create a professional-looking, useful bag! Many bags require just a few straight seams and some finished edges. Sewing most types of bags won’t take you very long, so you will save time by trying this simple project, too.
Think of all the kinds of bags you use each day, such as zipper makeup bags, reusable snack pouches or lunch bags, and handy totes to replace plastic grocery bags! With such a variety of types to choose from, you might want to break into the sewing business by starting your own line of hand-sewn bags.
Due to the trend to eliminate plastic grocery bags and protect the environment, you may find a strong market for fabric produce bags and market totes. If you feel like getting fancy, you could make these bags out of cute fabric printed with food or farm designs, or even applique some carrots, onions, and tomatoes to the bag!
2 Kitchen Cuteness
Who doesn’t love home decor items that match a unique kitchen style? You could sew themed potholders, tea towels, tea cozies, or even kitchen curtains! Buyers who want something that exemplifies their own personal style will pay a premium for a unique, handmade piece of kitchen cuteness.
Everyone needs oven mitts. Of course, you could buy your potholders at Walmart for three dollars, but if you love your kitchen, you will spend a bit more to buy a special, handmade set of oven mitts that match the color of your kitchen walls!
Honestly, you could apply this idea to any area of home decor. You could easily start a line of themed throw pillows, for example.
If you’re an experienced sewer, this kind of project will probably only take you about half an hour. But don’t panic if you’re a newbie! You only need basic skills for a project like sewing a potholder, so you may find this kind of project a perfect place to start.
3 Personalized Gifts
Offering items custom-made with personalized details for each buyer will set you apart from mainstream retail products. You could sell baby clothes embroidered with the little one’s name or make quilts based on the customer’s childhood memories. Personalizing a handmade item can be as simple or fancy as you want!
The wedding industry is another great market in this area. You could sell t-shirts embroidered with the bride and groom’s names or tote bags labeled with each bridesmaid’s initials.
Of course, you would have to set up a communication channel with customers to make sure you provide exactly the personalization that they want.
You would also have to consider how much money you want to spend launching this business. If you already have an embroidery machine, this line of business might be a perfect fit for you! If you don’t already own this pricey piece of equipment, you might want to look for another sewing project.
4 Doll Clothes and Stuffed Toys
Sewing doll clothes require some advanced skills, and you may find it challenging to work in miniature. That said, dolls come in standard sizes, so you can count on always sewing things in the same shape and size. Real people come in many different sizes, so sewing for dolls is easier in that regard!
American Girl has made 18” dolls super-popular, and you can find a market for everything from historic prairie dresses for dolls to modern jumpers, headbands, and t-shirts! This type of sewing is so popular that you can find thousands of free patterns online to get you started.
If dolls aren’t your thing, you might find it fun to sew stuffed animals. Sewing in 3D could make you feel like your brain is turned inside out, but if you’re the kind of sewer who likes this challenge, give it a try!
Imagine the market for handmade, personalized, stuffed toys. Grandparents love that kind of thing!
As you may have noticed, this sewing project does require more complex sewing skills. You will need the patience and ability to sew a two-inch sleeve into a dress, for example. That said, doll clothes use simpler measurements and use far fewer materials than people’s clothes!
5 Dog Clothes
Yes, you could sew and sell handmade dog clothes! Lots of people love their pets like their own children and treat them accordingly. Why not cash in on that market and provide an adorable pet jacket to keep a special furry friend nice and warm?
You could focus on snug winter coats for dogs. Or you could branch out and make coats with superhero capes attached. Of course, you could also add some personalized touches if you want to go all-in!
Once again, this kind of project won’t require a lot of fabric and materials. After you get used to sewing designs that fit four legs instead of two, you’ll find these projects pretty easy!
6 Baby Clothes
If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of sewing adult-sized clothing, sewing baby clothes might offer the ideal alternative. Welcoming a new baby into a family is a time of joy and much gift-giving. Many new parents want infant outfits for photos, for christenings, and every holiday!
If you have the skill to cut out, sew, and perhaps personalize baby clothes, you will find a strong market for handmade infant apparel. You may even want to zero in on a more niche market, such as hand-embroidered christening gowns.
Even if you stick with the broader category of all baby clothes, think outside the box as you select themes and colors. You don’t want to try to sell something a parent can purchase at Target. Instead, create a unique, colorful, adorable outfit that no parent or grandparent could resist!
You will need to make sure you use only safe, hypoallergenic materials for such sensitive garments. Also, your handmade baby clothes need to have nice strong seams and hold up through multiple washes because babies tend to soil clothes quickly!
Quilting requires specialized skill and tools, but if sewing quilts is your passion, you can sell these works of art for a lot of money! Seriously, hand-sewn quilts typically sell for over a thousand dollars.
Lots of quilting artists understandably refer to their work as textile art! Hand-made quilts have a long history full of artistry and deep meaning.
But if you have ever completed a quilting project, you know that it takes many hours to craft even a small quilt. You will want to consider the amount of time and effort you can afford to put into your sewing business before you start selling quilts.
In general, quilting also requires an array of special tools, from cutting mats and rotary cutters to fancy quilting machines that cost several thousand dollars. Even if you hand stitch your quilts with a needle and thread, you probably need a quilting frame to hold your work as you sew.
8 Custom Clothing
The simple fact is that everyone needs clothing, and in today’s world, what you wear often reflects your personality and position in life. Wearing a perfectly fitted suit might land you the job you want, so some customers will pay for custom clothing!
Sewing clothes is a challenging business, but if you regularly sew clothing for yourself and your family, you may feel ready to market your abilities! You could easily go in one of two directions with your line of handmade clothing.
First, you could sell clothes based on typical retail sizes, like small, medium, and large. You will want to think about finding a type of clothing that fits your vibe. For example, you could sell fluffy poodle skirts to the “rockabilly” crowd, or you could specialize in floral sundresses. If you’re a real pro, you could design and sell complicated garments like unique wedding dresses.
Second, you could sell bespoke clothing tailored to a customer’s individual measurements. This second option takes a lot of advanced skill, like the ability to draft your own patterns based on a set of measurements. That said, if you have a fashion design background and experience, you can charge a lot of money for custom-made clothing.
Tailored jackets, fitted sheath dresses, or clothes made-to-measure for people with unique body types all have a strong market.
You will need to consider the cost of materials if you move into sewing and selling larger items like clothing. You should also realistically evaluate your skills: can you design and sew a fitted suit jacket that won’t fall apart the first time the customer takes it to the dry cleaner? If you answered yes to that question, you are one of a select few home sewers, and you should get in on the need for custom clothing!
If you enjoy perfecting a mistake instead of creating something from scratch, you may want to consider starting an alterations business instead of sewing products to sell. You could hem pants, take in waistbands, or even make sure a wedding dress looks perfect for a bride’s special day!
Here’s the thing, though: like sewing clothes, tailoring demands mastery of some complex skills. Plus, while your bread and butter may be hemming trousers, you will also probably find yourself working with expensive garments like wedding gowns and prom dresses. You can’t afford to make mistakes on these!
On the bright side, the rigorous requirements of this profession mean that you will always find a market for your skill. If you’re looking for a part-time job, you may find an opening at a local tailor’s shop. If you want to work from home, you could start up your own small alterations business!
Keep in mind, though, that you will need a safe way to meet customers in person if you plan to alter their clothing. This kind of business operates quite differently from a home sewing business where you can package up your product and ship it to a far-away customer!
Etsy shows that people will pay a premium for custom-fitted lingerie made with luxurious materials! These garments practically cost an arm and a leg even when you buy them from a department store, so imagine how much you can charge for unique, luxury lingerie.
If you love silk, lace, and satin, you may enjoy this tricky type of sewing. Like with “normal” clothing, if you choose to sew and sell lingerie, you will want to narrow in on a target customer. For example, do you want to sew lace-up corsets or frothy, old-fashioned petticoats?
A smaller, more intimate item takes more advanced skill and sewing ability than something like a skirt or a pair of pants. The downside to this endeavor is that you do need a lot of sewing knowledge to craft lingerie.
If you want to corner a specialized market, you could sell lingerie based on a customer’s measurements. You have probably experienced the struggle of finding intimate items that match your body type, so imagine how much you would like to have custom-made undergarments!
At first glance, sewing costumes may seem like a more niche market than mainstream clothing, but think about all the occasions that call for costumes, from Halloween to themed parties to renaissance faires! Plus, a quick scroll through Etsy or Amazon will show you that there’s also a growing market for period clothing and costumes as reenacting eras like the Roaring 20s or the 1950s gains popularity.
Of course, you don’t have to commit to sewing hoopskirts. You could sew children’s costumes based on the most popular Disney movie each year for Halloween.
Keep in mind that quality shows in this market. Think about the racks of flimsy, one-use superhero and princess costumes you see at Walmart every October. If you make your princess dresses out of real satin or velvet, your product will truly stand out from the crowd!
12 Design Sewing Patterns
If you like working with a computer more than stitching away at a sewing machine, you may want to consider selling digital sewing patterns. Digital downloads have quite a growing market today because they cost so much less than paper patterns.
You will need graphic design skills and specialized software to make quality digital patterns. Purchasing the computer tools for this job might set you back a bit, but you can also consider using a blog or a youtube channel to promote your patterns. Giving a free “how-to” guide for making the pattern will inspire customers to try your design!
If you know a lot about pattern drafting, there’s also a niche market for tailoring patterns to a customer’s body type. This allows the average home sewer to cut out and sew a piece of clothing specifically fitted to his or her body!
13 Teach a Sewing Class
You love sewing, and maybe you enjoyed teaching your children or friends how to sew, too! Why not spread the joy of sewing by teaching a sewing class for paying students? Sewing is becoming a lost art, and people of all ages and from all walks of life would like to learn.
Plus, technology today gives you so many easy ways to offer online classes! You can teach via Zoom, Youtube, or Skype. You could start a subscription-based sewing club or teach a quilting circle once a week over zoom.
Of course, you need to know your stuff before you can teach it. You also need to enjoy seeing yourself on screen and/or have fun interacting with people!
Besides the fun of teaching, another benefit of this kind of sewing business is that you won’t have to spend a lot of money purchasing supplies. Teaching classes could work well for a flexible schedule, too!
14 Sewing Machine Repair
This one might seem farther afield to you, but if you’re good with your hands, you may want to consider getting certified as a sewing machine repair technician. Even the best sewing machines break down once in a while, and it takes special skill and knowledge to repair these appliances. This guarantees a job market for you!
On top of that, manufacturers recommend taking sewing machines in for professional cleaning regularly. You can get a lot of business just cleaning machines!
Once you get yourself trained in basic repairs, you might even consider branching out to vintage machines or restoring antique machines!
15 Trending Needs
If you like flexibility, keep an eye on trending needs in the sewing world and jump on the bandwagon in time to make money selling what everyone wants.
For example, the need for face masks has skyrocketed because of recent events, and lots of home sewers have answered this need by designing and selling comfortable, safe masks.
Of course, this last category is a bit ambiguous, but the essence of good business is your ability to provide what customers want!
How Do I Start My Own Sewing Business?
You can start a sewing business from your home in many different ways, but every method requires a marketing plan and a way to get your product to your customers. Before you start an Etsy shop, rent a booth at a farmer’s market, or launch your blog, you should take some time to create a sewing business plan. This will give you clear goals and realistic expectations.
Creating a business plan might sound like something that requires a special degree, but all you need to do is write down the answers to a few key questions.
- What are your goals? Do you want to make enough money to take yourself on a cruise once a year, or do you want to support your family with your profit? Also, set goals for how many sales you would like to make in your first year.
- What is your target market? For example, do you want to sell sundresses to teenagers or dog clothes to pet lovers? Know your market to know what they want!
- How will you market your product to that customer base? Do you plan to market on social media or just post an ad on Craigslist? Think about where your customers are most likely to see your marketing.
- Is there a lot of competition for this target market? If so, how will your product stand out from the crowd?
- What startup costs will there be? For most sewing projects, you will need at least a basic sewing machine. You may also need fabric and various notions. You may also want to start a website, which comes with its price tag, or an Etsy shop, which also has some associated fees.
- How much will you charge for your products? We’ll look at this in detail in the next section, but start thinking about how much money you want to make!
- What product will you sell? Ok, that sounds silly, but write it down! Explain what is special about your particular hand-sewn item.
Once you have a plan, understand your customers, and establish goals for yourself, you still need to figure out many details, like how you plan to get your products into your customer’s hands. Will you sell online and ship your product? Or do you prefer to set up a table once a month at the local farmer’s market?
After you think through all the logistics, your sewing business will morph from a someday dream into an attainable goal!
But what about launching a home sewing business if you have no money and can’t afford the startup costs? Well, you could start by selling products made with supplies you already have on hand. Sometimes grandmas, aunts, or friends have a stash of unwanted fabric you could beg, borrow, or steal!
In general, though, that old saying about priming the pump before you can get clear water holds true with businesses. You do have to expect some start-up costs, even for a small-scale operation.
How Much Should I Charge for Sewing Projects?
When setting prices for your sewing projects, you should consider competitive pricing and the cost of your time and materials. Deciding how much to charge for your sewing projects presents a challenge for many home sewers. This is largely because prices change depending on what customers are willing to pay for a particular item at any given time.
First, find a good way to track your competition’s pricing. Etsy offers some great tools for this, though even Googling your product will offer a snapshot of the current market. If you charge way more than someone else selling the same thing, you won’t get too many sales!
On the other hand, you do need to turn a profit.
Think about the basic equation that your time plus your materials equal the capital you have put into the item. You need to make more than that cost to make any profit at all!
You can check your receipts to find out how much the materials cost, but what about your time? How much is that worth?
Well, if you consider a typical hourly wage for a seamstress, you’re probably looking at about $15 an hour. Of course, fashion designers and skilled tailors may make a lot more, so honestly, evaluate your skill as you decide this.
Here’s the catch: suppose it takes you three hours to sew a skirt. You spent ten dollars purchasing the materials, and you pay yourself fifteen dollars an hour for the labor. Your skirt now costs a minimum of fifty-five dollars!
Will your customers pay more than $55 for that type of product?
The final challenge is to make sure your bottom-line cost falls below the market value of the product. That way, you can sell your product for more than you spent to make it, and turn a nice profit doing what you love!
Starting a home sewing business gives you a flexible and safe way to make a profit doing what you love. You can sew and sell pretty much anything, but a few practical ideas for a beginner include selling handmade tote bags or home decor items like throw pillows and potholders.
If you have expert sewing and designer skills, you can consider selling custom-made tailored clothing or starting an alterations business.
What is your favorite thing to sew? Have you thought about selling it to make a profit off your passion? Leave a comment below to let us know!
Friday 29th of October 2021
I am a very accomplished seamstress, blessed with the ability to make it if I see it. Don't need a bought pattern or sewing guidelines. My struggle is not being able to chose one or two things and focus on those.