Vintage sheet loveliness and maybe a rant!

2 Jul

If you come here often you will undoubtedly know of my love of vintage sheets that has emerged in the last 12 months. You’ll probably be aware of my Etsy shop where I’ve started selling packs of vintage sheet charm squares because to be honest I can’t use all the fabric I have.

Vintage sheet charms 5"

Many packs of charms have now been sent across the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and the UK. So I’ve had my thinking cap on and have now added Vintage Sheet Bunting Kits to the shop so that you can make your own delicious, unique bunting to decorate your house or garden.

Vintage Sheet Bunting

Vintage Sheet Bunting

Vintage Sheet Bunting

So, yes this is a blatant attempt at self promotion.


Well I had a stall at a craft fair yesterday, I had a few sales, had some lovely conversations with people but went to bed feeling disheartened. I’ve been in discussions with a local shop owner about stocking my work in their shop, but they want/need to mark everything up by 100% or take 50% of the retail price (same thing, different way of looking at it!).
So the option is that I work for nothing, or sell my work for a lot more than I already do (which means it probably wouldn’t sell). In my mind there is no point in me selling my work and not covering my costs, that’s obvious isn’t it?
I’ve suggested 30% of final sale price and will wait to see the response, I’m not holding my breath but I am feeling satisfied that I’m standing my ground on this.

The silver lining in the cloud is that I had a couple of big orders from the shop over the weekend, they’ve gone in the post this morning and I now need to get a whole lot of cutting done!

So if you need cheering up and even if you don’t here’s a code for 10% off anything in the shop until 10pm (UK time) on Wednesday 4th July. Code: JUL0212

I’d love to hear your thoughts, do you sell your work or do you sew/craft for the love of it?

Linking up with maybe some more cheerful posts:

Sew Happy Geek

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16 Replies to “Vintage sheet loveliness and maybe a rant!

  1. I sew for the love of it … or rather to stay sane, late night creative outlet way-ish. I guess I could sew well enough to sell what I do – but I absolutely hate having to do something, deadlines etc … I can just about manage to sew somethign for a birthday in time – so I tend to not like it the closer it gets to the actual date and it looks like I need to hurry up to manage in time.
    I don’t like sewing the same thing over and over again – speaks against selling too.
    But I guess other’s have to sell their sewing products else there would be no place to buy if you can’t do it yourself

    I hope you are not in contact with a fabric shop – you could try to ask second hand / charity shops, they might sell them for a smaller “donation” – also hairdresser, flower shop …

  2. 50% is standard for a shop,especially bricks and mortar. It is hard though, If the shop owner is confident it will sell at double price I would be tempted to let her try. It is incredibly hard to make money from craft, especially in the UK

  3. Constantly amazes me how much people will pay for commercially produced items, and how little for lovely handmade ones 🙁 I’ve given up selling, but make lots of presents. The vintage bunting looks great!

  4. I do love the vintage sheets & I feel your pain on the sales. Most people don’t appreciate the time & effort that goes into home sewn goodies.

  5. Stick to your guns Mary and continue stocking your Etsy shop. Try not to be too disheartened as I am sure something will turn up for you one way or another.
    Good Luck

  6. I would stick to the easy shop – mine started verrrrry slowly, and it took a long time to figure out exactly what people were looking for (and, crucially, how they were searching for it), but over the past couple of years it’s grown into something that takes up literally every spare moment I have and earns us a bit of extra income. I could never make any kind of sensible money stocking someone else, it’s just not worthwhile for me.

  7. Mary – I was really interested in your post. I think its so frustrating that people are not prepared to pay that little bit extra for something that has been hand crafted, I am in the process of making some bags to try and sell and I thought I might try ebay?? I see that Inside Out in Princesshay have a sign in their window asking for designers/makers but I bet they want to mark everything up by 50%. The trouble is the fabric that I want to use for my bags isn’t cheap fabric (i.e. Amy Butler etc).
    I have to say that after your ‘rant’ I’m so impressed that you are then prepared to give people discount in your etsy shop! What a star! Elaine.

  8. Oh remind me to tell you some time about the bear fairs that cost me over £1k to attend in total where I sold absolutely nothing… I was approached by several shops, but my problem was that with a full time job I couldn’t keep up with potential demand, and I had the same cost challenges as you with that too – either hike the price up, or get paid in negative numbers…

  9. Mary you are such a generous soul – I think you have the right balance of self promotion (your Esty shop with a discount!) and donations (siblings together). We all know that handmade items are never priced at what they are worth to make. I started a facebook shop with high expectations but ended up giving the t-shirts away to local charities to help them reach their own goals instead. Now I do craft to keep for myself (finally) and to bless others. I am also a bit like Leo in that I don’t want to make multiples of something either. I still love all your Zakka Style SAL items too.

  10. It’s a hard one – my dad makes stained glass and some days he can sell loads and expensive pieces at that, other times even the cheapest pieces are too expensive for the audience – you have to pick your fairs wisely.
    If you do ‘sale or return’ maybe it could come good. It’s hard; when I costed out those twin quilts it would have been a ridiculous amount that no-one in their right mind would pay!

  11. I feel you. The only time I ever had a successful “selling my craftiness” streak was in the fifth grade, when I used to bring my box of glass seed beads and embroidery floss to school and make jewelry during recess. Everyone started wanting to buy things, and I sold a bunch of stuff! But, looking back, my mother had paid for the materials, and I hadn’t yet learned how valuable my time really was, so while at the time I thought I was rolling in dough, I probably wasn’t. I’ve always thought the idea of selling my handmade things on etsy would be a dream come true… for the last 3 years… but I’ve never taken the plunge, because in reality I’m just not that productive! Part of me thinks it would turn my hobby of sewing, something I love, into work, something I hate! BUT, I too, love vintage sheets. And I once spent 150 bucks on sheet fat quarter bundles on etsy in one night, after a few too many glasses of wine. So do what you do, and hope for the best. Cause if I hadn’t already bought more sheets than I could ever use in my lifetime, I’d go buy some from you right this minute. Best of luck 😀

  12. Hi there I am stopping by to help cheer you up. I find shops hard to work with and the local market or craft fairs are not any better. I think if your on line is work keep it up. I find I am very picky about what I buy and what I want sometimes, a little on line special thing is the best. Glad to hear you have more orders.

  13. Hi Mary, it’s been really interesting reading your post and the responses above (reading krista’s, it sounds like you need to target very drunk buyers!). I’m only just thinking of selling what I do, and it’s still in the realm of ‘someday’, so your experience has been really enlightening to me. I’ve recently bought and read ‘The Craft Business Handbook’ by Alison McNicol and found it very useful as a beginner to all things business. I think your etsy shop sounds like the way to go for now, and direct sales via word of mouth locally. I’ve sold one or two things to friends and family and I’m hoping that word of mouth will bring a steady flow. I look forward to hearing how you get on.

  14. Pingback: It's a wrap | mary emmens

  15. You are meant to factor such things into your costs! To arrive at the wholesale price you add together your costs which include: your labour, cost of materials and overheads. Then (you have already been paid), you mark up what sort of a profit you think reasonable. This gives you your wholesale price. The retail price is double this. The wholesaler gets a good deal it is true. But how else are they meant to make a profit? Their overheads will be much larger and they need to charge more than you do to cover it. The only plus to you for selling wholesale is possibly guaranteed sales and lots of them, which may justify the work involved. To some people it does to others not.

    This is the trouble with a craft business, we are used to and can only afford the prices we pay from imported goods where the costs are lower. The market cannot support the artisan asking for the price they need and deserve for their craft. The buyer can neither afford it nor want to pay it! It is very unfortunate but there is nothing we can do about it. As soon as you factor in your time and charge what it cost you, then you are on a looser. Most etsy sellers etc are selling for a hobby or little extra income that they wouldn’t have otherwise. If you hope to earn an actual living we are on difficult ground.

    Some goods are easily marked up and sold – for instance jewellery as the perceived value by the customer is high. But craft is priced low as those who can think they ‘can make that’ and those who don’t either don’t buy into its charm or fail to see why they should pay so much more for some thing they can get so cheaply in a shop e.g. a pair of knitted socks. It’s depressing and sad. I’m going ahead anyway with my planned business (which I do need to earn from) to see if I might find a way through. I fear not though!

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