A timeworn and venerable profession that has spawned names as famous as Betsy Ross and Ralph Lauren involves the sewing and/or weaving of natural or synthetic materials into clothing, symbols, or other usable items. The machinery and implements have changed, the styles have changed, but the basic principles remain the same. Opportunities abound today as they have for centuries, and a major attraction is that many of us already own the principal tool, a sewing machine.
One of these opportunities is designing and making clothing for special occasions and activities, such as wedding party apparel, prom dresses, and costumes of all kinds for dancing, skating, expeditions, musicals, stage productions, re-enactments, and customized theme uniforms for waiters and waitresses. Also, people with special physical needs, such as spine curvature, mastectomy patients, preemies, Down’s syndrome children, and wheelchair-bound people have need for clothing tailored to their requirements. For example, clothing that will make dressing and undressing easier and more comfortable like step-in openings or Velcro closings instead of buttons and zippers. Handmade accessories, such as walker caddies, wheelchair totes, and easy-to-access cloth handbags, are also possible ideas. You can see how they are sold online at stores like Down’s Designs, Libre Clothing, and the Xeni Collection.
Other people who have need for custom clothing are members of religious groups with specialized dress customs, businesspeople with nonstandard proportions, and slender women who must go to girls’ departments to find clothing that fits. Or how about reproducing people’s favorite items of clothing that are out of style or discontinued?
Opportunities lie in choosing a more exotic specialty based on where you live, your skills, and personal interests. For example, if you live in a northern climate you might design a line of stylish muffs and mittens. Today’s synthetic furs and materials provide a variety of attractive looks and versatile linings. You might also consider clothing that’s wearable art. If you have a special love for animals, you might create custom clothing for pets, such as sweaters, parkas, or holiday costumes. You could also develop a line of pet wear specializing in a particular breed. You can create from sustainable materials and even trash. For example, a company like Atayne make athletic clothing from trash.
Clothing for dolls has a market too. For example ,teddy bear collectors and sew clothing for teddy bears, ranging from Air Force uniforms to Victorian dresses. You can find stores like 800Bear.com.
And of course there is custom sewing for home decor as well, from draperies and valances to pillows, bedspreads, duvets, slipcovers, tablecloths, placemats, napkins, pillows, and shams. You could also produce any number of handmade gift items to sell at boutiques, art fairs, bazaars, and on the Web. No matter what products you decide to offer, you should consider selling your merchandise on the Internet to take full advantage of your sales potential.
Creating items for sale or auction at charity or organizational fundraisers is yet another option. By relating the design of your items to the logo or theme of the organization or by offering something quite stunning, be it throws, tiny purses, or ornate bustiers, you can draw a profit for both yourself and the charity.
Doing alteration and tailoring work is another option that can be done at home, in your own storefront, or for dry cleaners, boutiques, and other local retailers. If you can offer quick turnaround and last-minute service, you will most likely find yourself very much appreciated and highly recommended, as people often discover something doesn’t fit right before they’re preparing for a significant event. With jeans costing in the hundreds of dollars as well as it being a challenge to find a perfect fit, reweaving torn denims has become a growing niche. You can see how people have done this on sites like sites like Denim Therapy.
Designing and creating custom clothing and other items requires superior sewing skills and will usually involve acquiring special attachments and features for your sewing machine to produce a finely finished look and enable you to work with certain fabrics, such as denim. Fitting and pattern making are yet additional requisite skills. Communication skills are also important, as you need to have a clear understanding and agreement as to what a customer wants and needs before you invest your time and money in materials, design, and creation. A seamstress also needs a keen sensitivity to the needs and circumstances of the customers. For example, many a bride or bridesmaid is overly conscious of her waistline, and a customer with a disability or disfigurement may be especially self-conscious about aspects of his/her appearance.
Besides sewing itself there is also a need for sewing educators. Sewing teachers can run classes or provide private instruction. Your classroom might be one you set up as a “sewing cafe” where people who like to sew their own clothes can benefit from your expert help. You’ll need to provide sewing machines just like Internet cafes provide computers. The Home Sewing Association (http://www.sewing.org/), an organization of business members that support home sewing, offers a course teaching how to become a sewing educator.
Sewing is a creative career, that when done well, can lead to a dedicated following of greatly appreciative clientele. While custom sewing remains an essentially local business because of the need for fitting, if you have a line of items you’ve developed, you can also sell them on the web or distribute them via retail outlets. Launch Your Own Line enable you to sell your own products.
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