How to Successfully Sew for Craft Fairs and Fund Drives

Mother's Day Crafts Fair
Mario Sánchez Prada/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Craft fairs are one of the first places people think of to sell their home sewn items. Fundraisers are always looking for donated items. Your sewing skills are a great money maker at both of these venues!

Decide if you will be selling at the craft fair or donating to an organization. Novel items are always a great hit. If machine embroidery is an option, consider the name of the town or state and provide an embroidered design that will not be found anywhere else. Seasonal items such as cool scarves, fleece face warmers, blankets, or items for the home are also sought after items. Before you make a final decision, there are things that must be considered.

The Legal Issues

Always check local and state laws regarding sales tax. If you are going to sell, there is probably a sales tax that needs to be collected and turned into the state. Do all of the paperwork involved to avoid hefty fines.

If you use a pattern that has a copyright, decide if your ideas are going to pass legal tests or could land you in the middle of a lawsuit. Never redistribute a purchased pattern, an internet pattern, or printed material under any circumstances. Republishing an internet pattern or a printed pattern can lead to legal issues.

The Fabric and Materials

Read bolt end information on fabric. Some are licensed prints so that redistribution, is restricted and selling items from a licensed print can cause trouble. If you are in doubt or have any reason to think you should obtain proof, take a picture of the information for your records or make a print out of online information that is provided for the fabric when you place the order. Follow laws! For example, children's sleepwear has specific regulations regarding being flame resistant and those regulations are in place for a reason. Never sell something that breaks the laws and regulations regarding the time you're selling.

Remember Your Consumer

Make labels or inserts that say what your product is made of and laundering instructions. If you already have preshrunk the fabric, proudly advertise that fact on your insert so the consumer knows they can safely launder the item with your instructions without concerns about the fabric shrinking. Keep a clean booth and provide a mirror or try on space if appropriate.

Tips

  • Items that are pressed and finished will sell better than an item that's a mess.
  • Trim your threads. Don't leave strings dangling at the end of seams and topstitching.
  • If it's a unique item, offer signs or displays that show how the item is used and why it's special.
  • When possible, use clear plastic bags to package the items so that as the customer becomes your advertising as the walk around the rest of the sale.
  • Any time you use homegrown items, such as lavender from your garden to make sachets, clearly label that you are using "homegrown lavender" since that is a selling point.
  • Make sure your topstitching is straight lines of stitching. Irregular and uneven stitching will look very unprofessional to the consumer.


Pricing

Don't sell yourself short. The item you have made may be able to be bought for a few dollars at the big box store but yours should be better quality. Your time, equipment, and materials all need to be taken into consideration when you price the item.