Have you recently taken up sewing as a hobby and wonder whether you can turn your newly-found skill into a career someday? Maybe you’ve been sewing for a long time and would like to finally take the plunge into generating some income from your passion.
Sewing can be a viable career option for many as the skills can transfer to many industries and sectors such as fashion design, textile research, or repairs and alterations. A good living can be made with sewing if you have the right skill set and ambition.
Fabric and handmade items are of great importance to the world, so there will always be job opportunities for those who love to sew. But how much can you hope to make from turning your hobby into your side hustle into a fully-fledged career? Keep reading to find out what kind of income you can expect, the costs of starting your own business, and more.
Can You Make Money from Sewing?
Absolutely! There are many career opportunities in sewing. Some may require additional skills and experience in other fields, but a strong knowledge of sewing and its techniques is a valuable skill in the eyes of various employers.
Here are just some of the sewing career titles available to you once you’ve developed your skills as a sewist:
Textile Research – specifically in the role of a research scientist or a lab assistant studying, and researching certain textile materials
Apparel Design – designing clothes for a living
Textile Media Work – this allows you to combine your sewing knowledge with media skills to bring your work and sewing style to a larger audience in roles such as fashion illustrator, fashion photographer, photo stylist, textile copywriter, fashion writer, etc
Textile Production – this can involve roles like machine operator, quality control inspector, machine technician, production supervisor, etc.
Fashion Merchandising – if making clothes and fashion is specifically your passion, this sector can open up many roles such as merchandise planning and buying, executive trainee, retail buyer, resident buyer, etc
As for sewing at home as a hobby, this can open the door to many viable career possibilities with time and consistent effort. These include things like:
Commercial pattern development – collaborating with fellow designers, getting your designs published in magazines, craft websites, pattern books, etc
as well as…
- Pattern grader/checker
- Fitting model
- Design director
- Fabric editor
Making money from sewing may involve finding an entry-level job that suits you, such as a seamstress at an industrial plant, and working your way up from there.
However, you can also make money from sewing at home if you hone your skills and build up an audience through blogging, social media, and e-commerce avenues, in addition to submitting your work to related companies and publications.
How Much Can You Earn from Sewing?
According to Zip recruiter, the average annual salary in sewing for 2022 is about $29,060 with top earners making about $35,000 a year. Specifically typical machinist salaries in the US come to about $23,500, whilst machine operators can currently earn between $26,400 and up to $52,412 depending on their experience, skill, and other factors.
This is a projection of typical sewing-related jobs – but what kind of money can small sewing businesses and designers working from home hope to make? Well, this can only be answered by you!
To get an idea of how much you could earn from sewing at home, you’ll need to begin by looking at the competition – how much do they charge for similar items to yours? Then you’ll need to factor in the cost of your materials and how much time it took you to make each item, so the basic equation looks like this:
Your time + material costs = the amount of money put into making an item. (then consider how much you should charge to turn a profit).
Some sellers on Etsy or similar shops could sell a range of hand-sewn bags for $60 each whilst another designer could sell a larger range for only $40, so it helps to do your market research to get a feel for how much you can realistically expect to make considering your sewing skills and experience.
What Can I Sew that Will Make Money?
There are so many sewing projects big and small that you can turn your hand to in order to generate a little extra income. Things like…
Gifts and Accessories
These can be super simple creations like pincushions, keyrings, badges, decorations (like tree and holiday decorations), bunting, throw cushions, and mini purses.
Many of the simplest bag designs require just a few basic straight seams and will take you no time at all. Plus with everyone trying to be a bit more eco-friendly, handmade shopper bags and totes are a potential big seller!
When you’re not making items, fellow sewists may be interested in your personal designs – as will sewing magazines and companies if you put yourself out there!
Factory-made doll and toy clothes will never be as durable (or as special) as ones that have been handmade and there is still a market for personalized doll dresses, hats, and other accessories.
Once you’re a little more skilled, sewing together cute stuffed animals and toys always do well online and in local craft stalls.
If you can neatly sew two pieces of fabric together, it won’t be long before you can become confident in quilt-making. It may take a lot of time and effort, but the pay-off can be huge, personally and financially.
If you’re skilled at making doll clothes, making baby clothes is the next step up which will always be valuable. And the next step after that – adult clothing.
In addition to making actual items to sell and designing patterns to share for a fee, you can also make money from sewing in the following ways, especially as your skills improve:
- You can teach others to sew
- Design or create one-off costumes
- Make repairs and alterations
Also, keep an eye on trending niches – 2020 for example brought facemasks to the forefront of everyone’s mind, so try keeping up to date with what people need/search for most.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Sewing Business?
According to the small business promoters Starter Story, the average startup costs of starting a sewing business are around $19,267, with the minimum cost starting as low as $62 up to a maximum startup costs projection of around $35,923.
Startup costs will of course vary from person to person and their situation. Factors such as location (at home or paying office rent and permit fees, etc), insurance, software and IT support, website design and hosting costs, transport, advertising, Wi-Fi costs, and much more.
Don’t let this deter you though – every business has to start small and start somewhere, so if sewing is something you really want to transform from hobby to career, then all you need to take the first steps is to keep honing your skills, find a niche, and the right audience.