Sew For Dough

You’re here because you’d like to start sewing for profit.

Chances are, you like to either construct garments or alter them, right? Not many people like to do both. I started out constructing bridesmaid dresses, then bridal gowns and now I only do alterations. Maybe you’re good at home decor. Figure out what you’d like to do first.

Do you have a catchy business name? Once you do, get a business license with your city. I got a business license, not because I am going to sell anything (you don’t collect sales tax on a service like sewing), but I got it to be legitimate. I don’t have to pay an annual license fee. In this city, it’s free. But, this way, I have a full fledged, honorable business going on.

I got business cards printed up. I made some flyers…not professionally, mind you, just good. Hot off my own printer. They had the important facts on them.

They described what my business entails, what types of sewing I offer and that references are available. They gave prices on each service and how they compared with other businesses in town. (Don’t under price yourself. But, if you’re just starting up in your area, and your competitors are pricing their hems at $18, for example, you could pull in alot of customers at $15 each). Offer to pick up and deliver if you can. My business is so busy, that I only do that for my oldest customers who can’t get out.

I walked the upper class neighborhoods for 2 afternoons (that’s all!) putting these flyers on people’s doorknobs. Sometimes, if they didn’t have a doorknob, I stuck it under the newspaper rubber band on the front porch. Get creative on where you leave it so they’ll find it.

That’s it! Do you know that I did this one time and I’ve had more customers than I can keep up with? Word of mouth is powerful. There are all sorts of people who need a good seamstress and they never think to look in the yellow pages. Actually, I have advertised in the paper occasionally with no results. It’s a waste of time in this area. Save yourself some big money and make the flyers.

Leaving flyers may be against the law where you live. Check it out first. If they are, then start spreading the word in your neighborhood.

I specialize in bridal alterations, so I also visited a few bridal shops until I got on as their sole seamstress. In my situation, I only work from home, not in their shop. So, that means my hours are flexible and I can see people during my preset hours.  It was a great advantage when my kids were growing up.

I usually work from 8-5 Monday through Friday. I think I’ve only seen people on Saturdays twice ever! Customers are flexible with their schedules.

If you’d like to look at pricing strategies, click on this post.

I hope I have encouraged you to start getting serious about your sewing profession. In this economy, the time is ripe!

Note: To find other related posts on this topic, look at the left side of this page and click under “More Articles, Select Category”. You’ll get a drop down menu. Then, click on “Sew For Dough” or any other category you are interested in. There are several pages of information under each category, so I hope you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. If not, send me an email and I’ll get right back to you.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy this site!

31 Responses

  1. Linda, you are doing a great job on this blog!! I love it–keep it up. You are an amazing seamstress!

  2. What would be a fair price be to make a pair of lined panels? Also a crib sheet.
    Thanks! 🙂

  3. This information was very helpful. Do you use an industrial machine for denim jeans,or just a top stitch needle and “jeans” thread. Also do you have a hemmer(curved needle) or just use the blind hemmer stitch function.I guess you could sew the hem by hand.

  4. Thank you for the information on starting your own business. If I wanted to make tote bags and sell them would I have to get a resale license? Or would that be considered a sewing service?
    Thank You

    • Hi Sandy,
      That is a great question. You would need a sales tax license because you’ll need to collect sales tax. So, you’ll need one for both the city you live in and one for the state you live in. When I used to sell items, I got on the plan where you only pay your taxes once a year which simplified things immensely for me. Before you get that license you have to think of a business name and get your name registered. I think the county does that for you. This may all sound difficult, but it is very easy. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Your best bet is to call your county sales tax office. They will tell you what you need and how to go about it.

      Hope that helps,

  5. Hi Linda! This is, by far, the best site I have found so far! I am very seriously in the process of starting an at-home alterations business. My situation is: I have no formal training, however I’ve been sewing since I’m little, I have challenged myself to do pretty difficult things from hemming brides maids gowns, mine and all my extended families clothing repairs, reupholstering a rattan set of furniture by taking apart the original cushions and removing the zippers. I exactly duplicated the cushions and re-installed all zippers. It looked identical to the original. I make shower curtains, regular curtains, pillows, and table runners (easy stuff). I am very pleased with my work and just recently pieced two dresses together to make my sister’s gown for her daughter’s wedding to the amazement of everyone (including myself) . Everyone tells me I should do this on the side. Is this ‘good enough’ reason to think that my skills are up to par to do light alterations, home creations type work from home? I already have a job lined up (official – for money! – I never take money from family!) If you have an opinion on this, I’d really appreciate it. I’ve purchased many books, and pretty much everything that’s discussed, I have done and have been very proud of the finished product. I am a perfectionist and would love to do this. I just wish my confidence level was in sync with my desire! Thanks so much for your very informative site.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Sharon,
      Yep. Go for it! Your confidence will increase as you go. My best advice is to read my post on pricing. Most people don’t charge enough for their work and it is a business, not a hobby!
      Write back and let me know if you took the plunge!

  6. Hi Linda,
    I was hoping you might offer an insight into how you juggle(d) work and family life when your children were smaller.

    My little business is getting busier and busier (which is great and for which i am grateful!) but at present I only work 3 days a week as my youngest is only 2 yrs old. I am finding that having people pop round to drop things off and for fittings coupled with the sometimes constant telephone calls are becoming a bit intrusive. Is there a way to balance this out – do you/did you have a set schedule for seeing customers?

    I am totally thrilled that my business is doing well but i really don’t want it to be at the expense of a harmonious family life! Perhaps this is something to grin and bear til little one is at school and i can do more – but any advice in the meantime would be so much appreciated!

    Thank you Linda once again for your brilliant blog!
    Best wishes

  7. Aw, this was a really good post.

  8. Thank you so much for the info. It really help and gave me hope. Also some great ideas.
    I’m in the yellow pages and have a Facebook page. I also pick up and deliver. So it seems I”m on the right track so far. Starting small. But hope to make this a full time job in the future. Thank you again for all the useful info.

  9. Love the valuable information you give.. I am just starting my business from home and need structure!… You are a great help to me!.. Thank you!
    God Bless

  10. I was just wondering, for those of us who just want to make a little extra money doing alterations/repairs from home, not actually creating an official business, would anyone know what the rules are. I’m assuming it boils down to how much is actually made, but not sure. I know it is supposed to be declared as income, and if it’s not that much it probably doesn’t even count when it comes to filing taxes, but I’d like to know what I’m legally responsible to do. I’d like to advertise, so if anyone knows where to find the answers to this, I would greatly appreciate it!

    • Requirements for the Self-Employed:
      You must file an individual tax return if you had net earnings (earnings after expenses) totaling at least $400. You have to file income tax on your income, and you must also pay self-employment taxes totaling 15.3 percent of your profit from your self-employment. This represents both your employee and employer share of your Social Security and Medicare taxes.

      For more information, contact the internal revenue service or your accountant, if you have one.

  11. Very informative.

  12. I want to open a small alteration business but I want to know if I need to be licensed for tailoring?

  13. I have been mulling over the idea of an alterations business for years. Your blog gave me the answers to pretty much all my concerns, especially about whether or not flyers really generate business. You’ve given me the push to get started. Thanks for your informative blog!

  14. Hi Linda! I’m so happy I found your blog : ). I recently got into the sewing business myself and have found a lot the information you post here very useful. My question is: how do you manage selling products along with offering alteration services? In terms of marketing those products you sell..

    I’m asking because although I do alterations, I really like making things as well. From pillows to handbags etc. But I’m trying to figure out the best way to go about this, marketing wise. A part of me just says go out there and just do it..but if you have any tips or advice, I would love to hear!

    Thank you for such an informative post.

    • Hi Susan,
      Great question! I started out years ago making diaper bags and purses and even though my products were well received, I couldn’t make the kind of money I needed to justify the time I spent on making them. The amount per hour that I made was so low, I knew something had to change. Once I started doing alterations, the money was so much better that I stopped making the bags. I still continued to sell them, but found that since I didn’t have alot of traffic each day, nor enough interested customers, I stopped selling them. I just couldn’t justify doing both alterations and construction and it felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders from being stretched in two directions. I guess my best advice is to figure out your business plan and goals and go from there. If you feel like you can do both, I’d consult a marketing expert to help you figure out a strategy, or just try selling your items on Etsy or at local stores, if possible, and see how they do. You’ll find out quickly which route you should take. Also, be sure and ask trusted friends and non biased family members what they think. They know you and your products and they can be very helpful. I hope that helps and I hope you find just the right fit for you!

  15. Linda,

    Thank you so much for the advice. Sorry for the late reply, but I just moved and had a few things going on! I really appreciate your help : )

    All the best.


  16. Love this blog. Thank you! Question ..where do all of you buy your sewing supplies needles, sewing feet, etc.? I am so over Joann Fabric have had it with their attitude and their bait and switch coupon rules. We used to have a great family fabric store, Saftlers, nearby that I would gladly spend a little extra on supplies because of their fantastic customer relationships and helpful attitude. Looking for an alternative.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t had a good experience with Joann Fabrics. There are plenty of places online to shop: Amazon, Nancy’s Notions,, Fabric Depot, Wawak, Overstock, etc. Perhaps Hancock of Peducah is still an option too. Hopefully, this list will help you.

      • Thank you sew much for the list } Have always been a bit leery about buying fabric online but will take the plunge. It seems I am not the only one with the Joann experience. While I was there two other people walked away from register leaving their stuff behind..not the first time I have seen this happen. My sister in law refuses to set foot in store after her experiences. Too bad!

  17. hands down is great for sewing needs. For sewing feet etc. I would recommend They have all sorts of parts and feet for various sewing machine makes and models and also wonderful videos with demos using various feet.

  18. Thank you will check out site.

  19. I am trying to begin an at home business of sewing. See a big need for it in this community. Not to mention I love to sew! I am finding your articles an inspiration and big help to some of my questions, especially knowing what to charge for different jobs I do. Will try to follow your postings!!

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