Sewing is quickly becoming a lost art, and sewists are in higher demand than ever. Once you get the word out that you do seamstress work, you may soon find you have more work than you ever imagined. After getting a sense of the quantity of work available, you can choose the type of work you want to do, and you’ll get a feel for the prices people are willing to pay for your expertise and help. One kind of sewing expertise that is in demand is repairing or altering ready-made items.
Fixing Ready-Made Garments
Sewists are needed who are skilled at fixing ready-made garments. What might this type of work include? Prepare yourself for anything and everything! Repairing tears and holes; repairing or replacing zippers in slacks, skirts, blue jeans or jackets; replacing buttons, replacing linings; lengthening or shortening hems; sewing on patches; taking in or letting out the waist of men’s trousers; repairing beadwork; and all sorts of unique and unusual requests.
Working with a Dry Cleaner
Dry cleaners are reliable sources for this type of work. People have come to know that dry cleaners have connections with sewists. Most dry cleaners work with independent sewists. Most sewists pick up garments and other items at one of the dry cleaner’s locations and return them within a few days. You’d be amazed at the variety of sewing work that comes through a well-established dry cleaning business. Prepare yourself for the type. There will be delicate garments, everyday wear, and heavy-duty garments. Some garments are brand new, some are average, and other clothes are in such bad shape that you wonder why they wouldn’t just buy a new one. People become attached to clothing — it may be their most comfortable pair of jeans, it might have sentimental value, or they may not be able to afford something new. But whatever the reason, treat each garment with respect. And if you are working with a dry cleaner, you can’t pick and choose which garments or projects you want to work on, or you will soon be out of work. It’s all or nothing.
If you want to work with a dry cleaner, you have to contact them. Find the addresses for all the dry cleaners in your local area. Send them a brief letter of introduction, a couple of business cards, and a short price list. You might get a call back right away, and you may not. There is turn-over eventually in every business, so send follow-up mailings every 3 to 6 months. When they need a new sewist, and sooner or later they will, they already have your information.
In the course of performing repairs and alterations, unique supplies may be needed, especially when it comes to zippers. The internet is a vast resource for speciality supplies. Another good source of advice and supplier suggestions is a local tailor.
You will need a variety of thread as well. Rather than buying a bunch on the internet, consider buying a spool or two at a time as you need it, and if you shop at a retailer that offers coupons or special sales, take full advantage of not having to pay the total price for necessary supplies.
Marketing your home-based sewing business is vital to finding new customers and increasing your income. Here are a few ideas that are specific to finding repair and alteration work:
- Craig’s List — This is a reliable way to find customers. Ads are free, and Craig’s List has become a reliable source for professional services.
- Boutiques – Introduce yourself to independent business owners and be sure to leave several business cards behind. Stop back now and then so they know you are serious and that you are available to help their customers.
- Bridal Shops – If you have the patience and skill to work with bridal gowns, bridesmaids’ gowns, mother of the bride dresses or other special occasion garments, then don’t hesitate to introduce to local shop owner or managers.
- Family and Friends – This won’t be your best source of business, but more importantly, you can ask them to spread the word about your business.