Author Topic: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?  (Read 714 times)

wheezle

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Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« on: September 25, 2018, 12:56:15 PM »
Is anyone engaged in this type of business at all? My wife is considering it -- she has some experience and the necessary tools. I just don't know if it's a viable business at all. Is is possible to charge enough money to recoup costs? Etc.

beekayworld

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 09:14:38 AM »
My personal experience:

My aunt made draperies back in the 1960's at home. I don't know how she got her customers but remember her saying that draperies were a challenge for the home sewer.  While fewer people sew at home nowadays, I also feel like draperies are less popular~ especially "fancy" ones with Bishops Sleeves, etc. People seem to prefer blinds or curtains that don't have drawstrings.

When I lived in Dallas there were two places I went to for alterations. Both were open normal business hours so I didn't need to make an appointment. I wouldn't have bothered going to someone's home when these businesses were so easy to just walk into on MY schedule. 

Both had step up areas surrounded by mirrors where the item could be pinned. They also sold various trim and buttons or I could find my own to bring in. Would your wife provide an assortment of these add-ons for her customers to browse?

I know someone who had a dress made by a dressmaker who advertised on  Craigslist and specialized in Quincenaros dresses. She had to buy her own pattern and fabric and take them to the dressmaker; return for a fitting; return again for the final product.

All of this is to say that making
*clothes MAY be a possibility if she has a specialty (with lots of pictures for a Craigslist ad, and later Yelp reviews).
*Alterations I highly doubt she can do from home when so many dry cleaners and department stores offer them.
*A specialty item such as draperies MAY be possible, but my information is very old.


trollwithamustache

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 09:20:20 AM »

There are only a handful of places near me to do alterations of any sort (mens clothing, so simple stuff) and they are jammed up with business.  My limited understanding is the ladies stuff is more complicated and could take time for her to build up  a premium reputation.

wheezle

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2018, 10:44:23 AM »
All of this is to say that making
*clothes MAY be a possibility if she has a specialty (with lots of pictures for a Craigslist ad, and later Yelp reviews).
*Alterations I highly doubt she can do from home when so many dry cleaners and department stores offer them.
*A specialty item such as draperies MAY be possible, but my information is very old.
Fantastic, thank you. I hadn't been thinking of draperies, but that may be a good specialty.

There are only a handful of places near me to do alterations of any sort (mens clothing, so simple stuff) and they are jammed up with business.  My limited understanding is the ladies stuff is more complicated and could take time for her to build up  a premium reputation.
There are a bunch of bridal dress places here where people buy a cheap-ish dress and take it to someone to do the alterations. With a good reputation, this could be a very good business, I think. People would be willing to pay very well.

aurorarouge

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2018, 02:43:30 PM »
Alterations are absolutely a viable home business, but having solid expertise in an in-demand niche is critical. Sadly, "general sewing" is very undervalued when it comes to getting paid for your time and skill.

For example, my neighbor does wedding dress alterations as a part-time gig from her home sewing studio. She must bring in at least $3,000/month, based on the cost of alterations and how busy she is. BUT...she has decades of experience, hires a part time assistant, and partners with a network of dress-related partner businesses (the special cleaning and pressing service, etc.) for better prices. She's booked for months in advance and gets all her business from referrals.

We also have some local quilters who do long-arm quilting (using big, expensive machines that can turn out extremely fancy designs) for $50 - $200+ per quilt. Given the initial machine investment and the time they put into each quilt, and the fact that there are 3-4 ladies who offer the same service locally, I don't think they can be making much profit off each job.

I'd suggest your wife look into some specialized alterations classes, like for event wear or custom lingerie, and consider what would sell well in your area; machine embroidery services are popular near college campuses, and a patch sew-on service is handy for with scouts and motorcycle riders. :) Good luck!



La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2018, 04:40:21 PM »
All of this is to say that making
*clothes MAY be a possibility if she has a specialty (with lots of pictures for a Craigslist ad, and later Yelp reviews).
*Alterations I highly doubt she can do from home when so many dry cleaners and department stores offer them.
*A specialty item such as draperies MAY be possible, but my information is very old.
Fantastic, thank you. I hadn't been thinking of draperies, but that may be a good specialty.

There are only a handful of places near me to do alterations of any sort (mens clothing, so simple stuff) and they are jammed up with business.  My limited understanding is the ladies stuff is more complicated and could take time for her to build up  a premium reputation.
There are a bunch of bridal dress places here where people buy a cheap-ish dress and take it to someone to do the alterations. With a good reputation, this could be a very good business, I think. People would be willing to pay very well.

That's what I did. David's has a really long wait for alterations but I found a lady who had a good reputation on NextDoor. I prefer going to someone's house. She gave my kids cookies, loaned me shoes (I had forgotten mine!) and I was able to get dressed in the bedroom.

Oh, that's something to consider--it definitely would take a whole room for the supplies and material and for people to change clothes.

wheezle

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2018, 05:13:23 PM »
Alterations are absolutely a viable home business, but having solid expertise in an in-demand niche is critical. Sadly, "general sewing" is very undervalued when it comes to getting paid for your time and skill.

For example, my neighbor does wedding dress alterations as a part-time gig from her home sewing studio. She must bring in at least $3,000/month, based on the cost of alterations and how busy she is. BUT...she has decades of experience, hires a part time assistant, and partners with a network of dress-related partner businesses (the special cleaning and pressing service, etc.) for better prices. She's booked for months in advance and gets all her business from referrals.

We also have some local quilters who do long-arm quilting (using big, expensive machines that can turn out extremely fancy designs) for $50 - $200+ per quilt. Given the initial machine investment and the time they put into each quilt, and the fact that there are 3-4 ladies who offer the same service locally, I don't think they can be making much profit off each job.

I'd suggest your wife look into some specialized alterations classes, like for event wear or custom lingerie, and consider what would sell well in your area; machine embroidery services are popular near college campuses, and a patch sew-on service is handy for with scouts and motorcycle riders. :) Good luck!
Excellent, thank you! I really do think she'd be keen on the special occasion thing.

That's what I did. David's has a really long wait for alterations but I found a lady who had a good reputation on NextDoor. I prefer going to someone's house. She gave my kids cookies, loaned me shoes (I had forgotten mine!) and I was able to get dressed in the bedroom.

Oh, that's something to consider--it definitely would take a whole room for the supplies and material and for people to change clothes.
I was thinking of a place like David's, and this is exactly the type of service I'd had in mind.

And since she already plans on claiming a whole "craft room," I'm sure the space will be available!

hoping2retire35

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2018, 07:07:25 AM »
If she can learn the method, pleating kilts can be done anywhere.

http://www.newhousehighland.com/tartans.html
I think he has a four year waiting list or something.

anonymouscow

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2018, 07:20:01 AM »
My mom is a home based seamstress for the past 30+ years. Mostly hemming, embroidery, and doll clothes from what I remember. I don't think she makes that much money, but it allows her to stay at home. She could probably make more money if she did more marketing and looked what was in demand. She's a bit old fashioned, doesn't use the internet, credit cards, etc.

Farmgirl

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2018, 01:00:53 PM »
I did this type of work for several years in the early 1990's while the kids were little.  Mostly repairs and hems, with occasional custom dressmaking.  I also did custom window treatments.  I made $12K my first year with only one ad, one time,  in a little Penny Pincher type of publication.

Upside:  Home with the kids.  Had more work than I could handle.  Most of it paid in cash.

Downside:  Window Treatment work is not easy.  Many times I had to get my husband to help install because most people don't know what to do.  Lugging ladders, etc.  You need to have a clean place to lay out long pieces of fabric.  You might be called upon to do a shopping trip with the client because they will never figure out what to buy.   Now.... Alternations.  You need to not mind people coming in and out of your home.   While some would arrive with a pair of jeans already pinned, some need a private clean space to change.  You also need to be aware of nosey neighbors wondering what you are doing and not being zoned as a "business".  Fortunately, I never had a complaint.   

wheezle

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Re: Sewing/Alterations at-home business?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2018, 02:28:03 PM »
I did this type of work for several years in the early 1990's while the kids were little.  Mostly repairs and hems, with occasional custom dressmaking.  I also did custom window treatments.  I made $12K my first year with only one ad, one time,  in a little Penny Pincher type of publication.

Upside:  Home with the kids.  Had more work than I could handle.  Most of it paid in cash.

Downside:  Window Treatment work is not easy.  Many times I had to get my husband to help install because most people don't know what to do.  Lugging ladders, etc.  You need to have a clean place to lay out long pieces of fabric.  You might be called upon to do a shopping trip with the client because they will never figure out what to buy.   Now.... Alternations.  You need to not mind people coming in and out of your home.   While some would arrive with a pair of jeans already pinned, some need a private clean space to change.  You also need to be aware of nosey neighbors wondering what you are doing and not being zoned as a "business".  Fortunately, I never had a complaint.   
Very helpful, thank you! I'm willing to help out with the window-treatment idea, or anything else for that matter. Sounds like you did very well...