Taking stock at the half-year mark


Because we’re already halfway through 2011 and because the only sewing I’ve done in over two weeks was to badly patch my boyfriend’s ripped jean’s pocket, I decided it would be cathartic to reflect on the year so far. It was like opening a can of worms!

To say I haven’t been productive would be a lie, for in the last six months I have achieved a fair bit that I’m proud of, including:

In terms of my Ambitious aims for 2011, however, I’ve been a terrible failure so far! Aside from ticking off sew-alongs from my list, the Pattern Cutting and Garment Making course I attended was very disappointing and resulted in an unfinished muslin, I'm still nervous about sewing some of my older patterns, I’m taking more than I’m giving back to the generous sewing community, my overlocker still terrifies me and I've not even touched my poor UFOs yet! Pretty abysmal, no?

My biggest failure though is not having opened an Etsy store yet. The idea of selling my pinnies and maybe even other things for a living (or partial living), could well be a pipe dream. But if I don’t try though, I’ll never know and I’ll forever be unhappy at an office desk wondering ‘What if?’. There are many reasons I haven’t been able to get my Etsy dream off the ground yet of course – mainly it’s trying to find the time to sew. But when I look at people like Ohhh Lulu who manages to hold down a full time job and create the loveliest lingerie ever whilst also organising her own wedding, I feel ashamed. If you want something bad enough and you’re driven, then I guess you really can achieve it!

So when I get back from a break in Portugal near the end of July, I’m going to knuckle down and get some pinnies made. I have all the inspiration and fabric I need, right here in my very own stash:

Would any of you like to earn money from your sewing? Do you think it’s a pipe dream or do you think it's achievable? Maybe you already do sew for a living…any advice?


  1. I think for some people, setting hobby-related goals is a great motivator, but not for everyone. You've made some great things this year ... what are you most eager to work on next???

    You have some gorgeous fabrics picked out for aprons! I'm sure they'll come out great, whenever you decide to work on them.

    As for making money from sewing ... I think it might be stressful! I'd hate to have a dissatisfied customer (and it happens to everyone sooner or later, I think.) Also, if I paid myself a reasonable wage per hour, nobody'd be able to afford anything I made anyhow. :)

  2. Go for it Marie. I don't sew for a living, but I would love to do so part time, and have my own creative business. Not only for extra money, but also to keep me sane I guess. I don't want to reach a certain point in my life and start kicking myself for not believing in myself and made an attempt at it.

    So with all the inexperience I have in this domain, I say ' go for it'.

  3. I want more than anything to not have to have a job that drains the life of me and to do a creative job like sewing but like you I fear thats just a pipe dream :(

  4. Thank you for your comments, it's a real interesting topic, because people seem to be so divided. I'm loving your positive attitude Dibs and having met you, I's expect nothing less really ;o) Andrea, I totally agree with your comment about it being stressful and potentially having to deal with unhappy customers - which of course would be dreadful!

  5. Hi Marie,

    I have long dreamed of opening up an Etsy shop and selling bags and purses - but just like you I struggle to find the time to sew while having a day job (and making sure I spend time with my boyfriend too!)...so as of yet I haven't done it! I also set myself the goal of opening the shop this year....so perhaps I should also knuckle down when I get back from holiday and start making stock!!!

    Good luck with your shop - keep us posted on how you get on!

  6. Marie, i am in awe of your fabric stash! I spot a few in there from our favourite market stall that i also own...(and i'm planning to go back for more tomorrow!!). I think you should be pleased with what you have accomplished so far this year. And i don't think you should give up the dream of earning money from your sewing...go for it i say :) x

  7. This is an interesting topic. I'm a new sewer, but I'm already thinking about this myself. I would love to find a way to make money doing something that I really enjoy (and that takes up less time that the 70+ hours/week that my current day job does... or at least is a bit more enjoyable). I wonder if you set little goals for yourself like 4 pinnies/month, and then set a date, like 6 months from now, you might find a manageable way to open up your shop! I say go for it, but don't be too hard on yourself if you're finding your goals to be a bit too constrictive.

  8. I think you do great at managing a business. It's all about good organization and making sure you set the time aside and discipline yourself to follow a schedule. You so can do that.

    As for me, I'd love to start selling my napkins and whatnot sooner rather than later. It would be a great learning experience if nothing else, right?

  9. Marie, I don't doubt for a second that you can do it. My advice would be to start with say, a dozen aprons to launch your shop with. (If you made one every few days for over the summer you'd be on target for that). Open your shop with these dozen key pieces, then target yourself to add one more to your shop each week maximum, but make it special. You could so easily fall into production line sewing which will suck all the loveliness out of the process for you. In my humble opinion, start small and build slowly and gradually only making items you would love to receive yourself, and you can't go wrong...and will continue to enjoy it...turning something you love into a job is a fabulous thing to do I think...as long as you don't let it turn into a chore.
    You'll be great!

  10. I would too love to make a living from sewing, and I would love to open an etsy shop too :) I've done a few alterations and made a few cushions/curtains for people and I really enjoy sewing so the idea of doing it for a living really appeals to me , but I do get apprehensive about it but I guess I just have to be 'brave' and get on with it!

    I'm loving your pattern/fabric stash too xx

  11. Suzie - good luck to you too!

    Kat - thanks, I love your positive attitude!

    gingermakes - thanks for the sound advice, very helpful!

    Melizza - if I can do it so can you ;o)

    Portia - your words and advice have truly touched and inspired me...thank you so much for putting things in such a positive perspective for me!

    Sarah - good luck ;o)

  12. Those vintage patterns are amazing!
    I have the same problem as you with the etsy thing... my problem is I always think "no, my stuff's not good enough yet (especially the seam finishes since I don't have a serger); I need to make tags; I need to make things in all sizes" but most importantly: I need a name for my "label"! And that isn't easy, seeing as the name has to really fit...
    But Miss P's advice sounds good though!
    I think I just need to get over my fear and do it :) And I think your "business idea" is great, since you're concentrating on one garment type and making that special! I feel like those are always the most successful etsy stores.

  13. Go for it! So many things I've seen you make on this blog have been absolutely stunning and you seem to have a real talent for pattern matching and fabric choice. I have no doubt your shop will be a success!

    One of my goals is to learn to draft patterns and I've daydreamed about selling my creations in a few small boutiques. Nothing big, more for a personal satisfaction type of thing. Problem is it's hard for me to find time to make clothing for myself from a pattern, much less making things to sell. I guess I'm also fortunate to truly love what I do for a career, but on the other hand that means also I end of devoting a lot of time to that as well. Anyway, like you, I do look up to those who can do it all. I wish you the best of luck!

  14. Oh Thank you so much for that lovely bit about me, I really needed that today (see my blog for disappointing details).

    I thought of you the other day when I received an Etsy Finds email for Summer, and they said that Aprons were the hot thing.

    When I started, it seemed daunting and scary... but then I just posted one thing, then another, and I realized how easy and FUN it is! You just have to do it, it's not that hard - just takes a little willpower and courage.

    Your work is great, I'd love to see you on Etsy!

  15. Hi Nina! I also always think that my makes aren't quite perfect enough and as for a label name...I'm really struggling! Good luck to us both eh ;o)

    Thanks so much for the lovely complement Ashley, really appreciate it! I hope you manage to find a balance between your sewing/drafting and work, but in the meantime it's fabulous the you enjoy your work...its so important!

    Sarah Elaine - I'm so happy that I cheered you up, you already know that you're a huge inspiration to me! Thanks for the advice and for the vote of confidence, it really helps knowing that people believe in you!

  16. I think you should totally go for it! We are so lucky to live in the age of the internet and Etsy, where we can launch a small business with extremely minimal start-up costs! Nothing bad can come out of this, really. Go for it!!