Sewing for Craft Fairs and Fund Drives

Projects, Pricing, and Pointers

Mother's Day Crafts Fair
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 that will sell to make money for a group or organization. Your sewing skills are a great money maker at both of these venues!

Your first decision is what 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.

One of the items I do for craft fairs is a simple tote bag but I embroider the outline of my state and a star where my little town is located with the name of the town, a comma and the state below the state outline.

Seasonal items such as keep cool scarves, Fleece Face Warmers, blankets or items for the home are also sought after items, during an appropriate season or as holiday gifts. But 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 are probably sales tax that needs to be collected and turned into the state. Be sure to do all of the paperwork involved to avoid hefty fines.

We'll assume you are going to use a pattern that has a copyright. Now you must decide if your ideas are going to pass legal tests or could land you in the middle of a lawsuit.

Selling something from a purchased pattern comes with the restrictions that are on the pattern.

I do not pretend to be a lawyer but can provide you with legal information that you should read before you decide to mass produce and sell an item made from a purchased pattern. This information is provided as a guide. If at anytime you are planning on going to large scale mass production using a purchased pattern, I strongly suggest you obtain a legal opinion before you proceed.

As you will see there are many "translations" to what seems like a simple issue.

With that said, never redistribute a purchased pattern, an Internet pattern or printed material under any circumstances. Republishing an Internet pattern or a printed pattern, on your website or to sell on a craft site is illegal and can lead to legal issues. Links are almost always welcome on the Internet so link but don't copy!

The Fabric and Materials

Always read bolt end information on fabric since some are licensed prints so that redistribution, rather than for personal use, is restricted and selling items from a licensed print can land you in hot water. If you are in doubt or have any reason to think you should obtain proof, take a picture of the both end 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

We live in an age of many allergies and many people have a problem with various products. Make labels or inserts that say what your product is made of and laundering instructions. If you were wise and 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. 

If you love peanuts or other foods that can cause problems for other people, wash your hands and don't have those foods near your materials since the simple transference could cause an allergic reaction similar to when someone who is allergic to peanuts, kisses someone who had a Snickers bar or a peanut butter sandwich.

Don't take the chance!

Tips for Items That Will Sell

  • Items that are pressed and finished will sell better than an item that's a crumpled mess.
  • Trim your threads. Don't leave strings dangling at the end of seams and top stitching.
  • If it's a unique item, offer signs or displays that show how the item is used and why it's great.
  • 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. The idea is that other visitors will see the item and possibly come looking for what you're selling.
  • Any time you use homegrown items, such as lavender from your garden to make sachets, clearly label that you are using "Home Grown Lavender" since so many people are concerned about how "natural" a natural item really is.
  • Make sure your top stitching is straight lines of stitching. Irregular and uneven stitching will look very unprofessional to the consumer.


Pricing

Don't sell yourself short. Remember 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 and equipment, as well as the materials in the item all, need to be taken into consideration when you price the item.