Buying gifts for friends and family can be tricky. Buying gifts for friends and family who thrift, yard sale or stalk antique malls can be double-y tricky. You hand them a mall store gift card and they just stare at you blankly. Gift them the latest gadget and you may get a mumbled thanks.
What else is there to do besides cash? You may be surprised to know that a lot of thrift stores have gift cards! Goodwill, Value Village/Savers have gift cards…can’t hurt to ask at the ones in your area. And believe you me, a thrifter can make that $20 thrift store card go a LOT further than one from a mall 😉
And trust me, when we’re not thrifting or antiquing…we want to read about thrifting and antiquing. (I recommend this series…and I’m excited to see new volumes have come out that I haven’t caught up on yet!)
So there you go, 15 gift ideas for thrifters to get you started! Or maybe you see something for yourself? 😉
For part 2, let’s take a look at a sewing pattern listing itself, discuss a bit on pricing and shipping a bit and then the best part….the BOLOs! (patterns to Be On the LookOut for). I guess I have still more to say!
The Sewing Pattern Listing
The listing for a sewing pattern can be super easy. I pretty much follow the same formula on Ebay and Etsy (I’m sure though if you looked at my listings you’ll see discrepancies from what I say here…some days I was bored. Or feeling like things weren’t selling fast enough so I tried switching things up. Or I was listing on my phone vs desktop.)
Title For my title, I start with Brand and Pattern number. Then usually what the pattern is for, ex: “misses’ skirt”, then the size or sizes, cut or uncut, any other features, the designer (if any) and sometimes the words “sewing pattern”. I will sacrifice that last one if there are other more important things to include.
So a title may be: Vogue XXXX Christian Dior Evening Gown Size 12 Bust 32 Dress Cut but Complete or Simplicity XXXX Misses Skirt Sz 8 10 12 14 Uncut Pattern Full Long Modest
A lot of sellers just put Size 8 – 14 and I’m sure that’s fine. This is just the way I’ve always done it. When it’s a vintage sewing pattern and there’s just one size…I usually include the bust measurement as well. Since vintage sizing is not modern sizing, this gives the buyer a better sense of the true size.
Photos I know many sellers just scan or photograph the front and back of the pattern and call it good but I like to go a bit further. I take pictures of the front, a close up of the outfit, the back, close up of the diagram, close up of the chart and description, the contents – pattern and instructions. This last one lets the buyer understand visually if it’s cut or not. If the pattern is older and collectible…then pictures of any condition issues of the envelope as well.
Listing Body Here is where a good template can be handy. I’m not talking about a fancy schmancy template with roses and multi colors. Just an outline that you can use on any pattern listing and tweak the details. For example, you can type this up (or copy and paste this one) in a Word type document and paste it into your listing. Ebay has a custom template option you could use also.
(Intro line – I just copy and paste my listing title here) Brand: Pattern number: Size: Bust size: Description: Pattern and instructions to make: (then I use a bit of description from the envelope itself) Designer: Year: Condition: Envelope condition:
You’ll notice that in my description above I put “pattern and instructions to make”. I do that to avoid (hopefully) anyone who thinks they are getting a finished product. More of a problem I think with costume patterns.
NOTE:I often get asked whether to list patterns as USED or NEW. If a pattern is cut, that’s easy. It’s used. But if a pattern is uncut…it depends. You’ll get different answers from different sellers and I change my mind on this kind of often. And it depends on the platform. I’m way more picky on Amazon than Ebay. Generally, if a pattern is uncut and the envelope is in fairly good to excellent shape, I’ll call it NEW. To me, I think that’s how pattern buyers understand it…If they’re filtering for new…they just want it to be uncut. However, if the envelope is torn or shows serious wear…I’ll use USED and then right away in the condition box I’ll say..”Uncut, factory folded pattern” and then go on to describe the damage.
Pricing and Research Like most things we sell online, we need to walk the fine line between getting the most profit and pricing low enough to actually sell. We need to be realistic with sewing patterns. Many patterns will not sell for more than a couple bucks – mostly because there are SO many of them available. I personally am not a high volume, low price seller so I don’t list those patterns separately. They get re-donated or lotted up. For research and pricing help, I look at Ebay, Amazon and Etsy. If you have an Ebay store, you now have access to Terapeak. Did you know that? I also use Worthpoint – especially for the older, collectible patterns.
Speaking of older, collectible patterns there is an AH-MAZING source of info for vintage patterns. It’s called the Vintage Patterns Wikia. It’s a huge, collaborative database of sewing patterns and it’s the best place to research the date of an older pattern. The fun part is that you can add a link to YOUR listing to that sewing pattern’s page.
Shipping Here, I keep it easy. For average, lower selling priced patterns – say $25 or less…I just use a bubble mailer. First I insert the pattern into a plain, twist tie type bread bag and tape it closed. Then slide it into the bubble mailer. I’ve had many buyers thank me for the extra moisture barrier (even though my bubble mailers are also Tyvek) If you have an Ebay store…use that store credit for free bubble mailers!!! I just buy plain ones like these for selling on Etsy and Amazon. (get a variety of sizes…some patterns are bigger than others)
I don’t insert cardboard and so far, so good.
Now, if I’m selling a hard to find, vintage, antique or expensive designer pattern – I use a stay flat envelope like these. And I definitely use the bread bag first.
Nothing fancy. That’s me.
Patterns to Look For
Generally, we’re going to talk about newer patterns. As in, not the fab patterns from the 40s and 50s. That’s a whole ‘nother kettle o’fish. I do sell vintage patterns from those eras and no, they are all not home runs. Probably worth researching if you come across them though.
So, like the Star Wars themed one I shared in Part One, there are quite a few patterns that are costume or unusual that will sell for more than $25 and sometimes more than $50. These for the most part will probably catch your eye and I would think you’d probably check them naturally. NOTE: If there’s a pattern I want to check while I’m thrift shopping, I use the Amazon Seller app or the Ebay app and scan the bar code (or cover on Amazon).
Here are some examples of a few eye catching ones:
Butterick 3048/3049 – Aladdin style costumes. The second number is the kids version. Fairly rare and sales range from $30-60 Simplicity 4559 – Hawaiian dress. This probably would have caught my eye since I know the popularity of events like VLV (Viva Las Vegas). Sells for about $50. Simplicity 4443 – More Star Wars styles. Sells for $35-$50 McCalls M4695 – Renaissance or Historical costumes are always worth checking. Some are worth nothing, but patterns for men are usually a winner. This shirt pattern sells for $20-40 Simplicity 7543 – This was a new one to me. I’ll be looking for it now. Spiderman sells for $40-$45. Simplicity 3858 – Another new one for me. Mexican dance dress has sold recently on Ebay for up to $60. Simplicity 3637 – Elaborate Marie Antoinette style costume sells for $35-40 and more on Amazon.
What’s MORE interesting to me though are the surprises. Little, unassuming patterns that sell for good money. Let’s look at a few examples.
Simplicity 2245/0450 (yes, patterns sometimes have 2 numbers. If you’re not finding results under one, look on the instructions where the second number is usually listed). This is one I just discovered. I have seen Lisette patterns before and have generally ignored them. This SPECIFIC one is what I should be looking for though! It just sold for $100 on Ebay!! Who knew? Simplicity 7481 – Ah everyone’s favorite holy grail pattern…the Daisy Kingdom wrap apron. I have sold this for as much as $75. Prices have come down a bit…but I’d still be shooting for $50 for an uncut one. Simplicity 4993 – I’ve sold a couple of these but I know I must have overlooked it a few times before I found out. Research is so important! Sells for about $50. McCalls M5136 – Dance dress that looks like a simple dress to me. Now I know. Has sold for about $20-35. Simplicity 1442 – Another seemingly simple craft pattern that sells for about $50. McCalls 5151 – Dog carriers. Sells for about $30.
Isn’t that awesome!!?? Of course it’s always fun to find one of the “big money” patterns but the reality is that selling sewing patterns is more about bread and butter…but you can definitely make a profit!
What about you? Have you sold a pattern whose value surprised you? Share in the comments below!
Selling sewing patterns is definitely not a get-rich-quick method that will solve all your reselling dilemmas. But patterns are a nice bread and butter type item that can be readily found, usually at an economical price and will sell with enough time. That seems to be the story of most of the niches I’ve settled into. Mostly solid, average type items…with a few amazing stand out items to keep an eye out for that will knock your socks off.
I sold this Simplicity Star Wars sewing pattern for $145 on Ebay. (note: this also sells under Simplicity 4450 – I put both numbers in the listing)
Granted, most of my patterns sell in the $10-15 range, but there are enough $25, $50 and higher patterns to keep things interesting. Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are:
A few things to know about selling patterns
They are easy to find, easy to list, easy to store and easy to ship. Total winner in my book – and in my husband’s (shipping department).
An open envelope does not necessarily mean a used pattern. If you were to go into a sewing store today and looked at brand new patterns, the patterns are open. An exception to this are vintage Kwik Sew patterns which are the only ones I’ve found that came sealed.
When you find sewing patterns in the wild, you’ll need to know whether they are cut, uncut or uncut and factory folded (FF). Let’s discuss this a bit more.
Cut vs Uncut
I’ve gotten to the point where I can pretty much feel an uncut pattern through the envelope. I will say that I have been fooled before (mostly in older patterns where the seamstress was super neat and practically ironed the pieces back together and the cut smaller pieces are hidden within the larger pieces). Here’s a picture of an uncut pattern. Pretty easy to spot. Nice and neat. When a pattern has not been opened and refolded (even if uncut) we call that Factory Folded.
Now here’s a picture of a cut pattern.
Is a cut pattern a deal breaker? Not necessarily. You just have to make some decisions. Generally, if a pattern is cut, you will need to count the pieces to determine if it is complete. Patterns will tell you somewhere (usually on the back of the envelope) how many pieces there should be. There should also be a diagram either on the back of the envelope or in the instruction booklet inside that will show you what the pieces look like.
Generally, a cut pattern will sell better, for more money, if you can affirm that the pattern is complete. You will describe them as “cut but complete”. Some sellers deal in high volumes of patterns at lower prices and so they just list as is. They state it is unchecked and will just refund if there’s an issue. Up to you.
Another decision you will have to make is if you even want to deal in cut patterns or not. Some sellers don’t mind counting the pieces. They grab a stack and do it while watching TV. They find that buyers are not necessarily put off by a cut pattern as it saves them a step in their sewing project.
NOTE: Older, vintage patterns usually came in ONE size per pattern envelope. Newer patterns are multi-sized. So if a newer pattern is cut, you need to determine to which size it was cut and include that in your listing.
Personally, I have determined that the supply in my area of patterns I can resell is plentiful and I can find uncut, factory folded patterns often. So I personally have decided to skip the cut ones. Just not enough time in the week. I will make exceptions for patterns I know fetch higher prices and for vintage designer Vogue patterns.
What patterns to buy
Here’s where it can get a bit tricky. Values on sewing patterns can range from pennies to $100s. As I mentioned, some sellers prefer to deal in volume and will list their patterns at low prices. Some patterns are not worth as much because there are still SO MANY of that particular one available.
Some popular sewing pattern brands are: Vogue, (various Vogue Designer series such as American Designer, Paris Original, Individualist, etc) Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Advance, Kwik Sew, Burda and many more smaller or private companies.
You may remember from my Top Finds of 2018 post, I scored a giant sewing pattern haul which started from a pattern lot purchase on Mercari. There were many out of print designer Vogue patterns but also boxes and boxes of regular Vogue patterns..mostly from the 90s and early 2000s. These have been steadily selling on Ebay. Honestly, I need to get more added.
Love me my Vogue.
That’s not to say there aren’t sell-able patterns by the other companies. I sell a lot of Simplicity as well. McCalls and Butterick are also fairly steady.
As in any niche, research can be key. You may decide you just want to specialize in certain categories of patterns. You could then research those categories on Ebay and Etsy to see how profitable they can be. Keep in mind that your idea of profit and mine may vary – I try to spend less than 50 cents per pattern and list for minimum of $10. Your minimum may be higher and so more research will be needed to source patterns.
Here are some sewing pattern categories and if you click on the category you can see current asking prices on Etsy or sold prices on Ebay:
Vintage 40s / 50s / 60s / 70s patterns. Even 80s and 90s. Some sellers prefer to stick with vintage. Because these are definitely out of print they can be worth more. Also, there are people who still like to wear the fashions of the past. Some styles are even timeless so the demand for these patterns continues. There are also vintage sewing pattern collectors. They collect the patterns as fashion artwork.
Costume patterns. This is a category I’ve done pretty well with. Especially patterns that can be used at Renaissance Festivals or Cosplay conventions.
Craft patterns. So many crafty people out there!! And again, patterns go out of print. Only place to get them is online.
Dolls and doll clothing. Closely related to craft patterns, doll clothing patterns can be profitable. I’ve done pretty well with Barbie and American Girl size patterns. Sometimes lotting them up is the best way to sell them.
Baby / Children’s patterns. Personally, this is not my favorite category…no clue why. I ended up making up a “lot” of the kids patterns I had and selling them that way.
Where to source sewing patterns for resale
Thrift stores. My local Goodwills stopped offering sewing patterns recently…but then the other day I came across one that had a bunch and they were offering fill a bag for $4. Value Village (Savers) generally has sewing patterns as well. My closest one sells them for 49 cents (can be half that on sales days) but others I’ve gone to in the area prices them at 99 cents or even 1.99. My favorite little charity thrift offers them for 10 cents each.
Yard Sales and Estate Sales. Hit that craft room in the estate sale! I came across a few boxes of patterns years ago – they were all vintage – so I asked a price for all of them. Couldn’t believe when the price was like $10 or something. Several women were salivating over them as I carried them out to the car. 😉
Online. I have done this in my early pattern buying days. I have shopped Ebay or Etsy for large lots of sewing patterns and then resell them individually. I’m still tempted occasionally but then I remember my bins and bins of unlisted patterns! You can see sewing pattern lots on Ebay here. There are also lots for sale on Etsy.
Selling Apps. As I mentioned earlier, I sourced many patterns on Mercari. If you sign up through my link, you’ll get $10 to start with. Selling on Mercari is pretty easy too, so sometimes I sell some stuff from around the house and then use my earnings to go sourcing! There are also options of buying patterns locally on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and OfferUp. I found some patterns from a lady about an hour away and she was willing to ship if I paid extra.
Where to resell sewing patterns
Well, not a big surprise here but my answer will have to be Ebay and Etsy. But also don’t overlook Amazon. I sell a few patterns here and there on Amazon via Merchant Fulfilled. The shipping credit for patterns is more than what it costs to ship so you can add a buck or 2 to your profit.
I don’t list all patterns there on Amazon…mostly newer ones, in really great condition (the envelope too). Vogues do better for me on Ebay than Amazon. I would say that on Amazon – costume and craft patterns have sold the best. But I don’t have a ton listed there either. Just a venue to double check since I’ve found a handful of patterns that will sell for higher prices there.
Another option for selling patterns is on Facebook groups. You can search on Facebook for “sewing patterns” and all sorts of groups come up. Many sewing groups have a discussion group but also a sister “Buy/Sell” group. Just be alert to read the details. Many groups are vintage only.
……selling sewing patterns for resale is a possibility to keep in mind. It may not interest you. Honestly, there are times when listing patterns makes me bored out of my gourd. This is why I end up with several reselling niches. I can hop around and when one goes quiet…the others pick up the slack.
Stay posted for a follow up article to this one, probably within the week. I didn’t get a chance to cover the sewing pattern listing itself and I also want to share with you a list of (sometimes surprising) BOLOs in the pattern world. I just learned of another one today while I was researching something for this post.
Tips for shopping an antique mall for your vintage resale business.
Be patient. Antique malls can sometimes be very large and very packed with vintage, collectibles and antiques. Be prepared to spend a lot of time or to break the search up into several visits. The antique mall I visited this weekend was 70,000 square feet and has about 200 vendors! I actually went to it twice. Once on Friday and again on Sunday.
Don’t expect to buy a ton! Obviously, prices are higher at an antique mall and may be close to (or higher) than what you can sell it for on Ebay and Etsy. You may shake your head at the prices…try not to let it bother you.
Be thorough! Some booths are packed FULL of stuff. Love those kind of vendors! You may have to move things around or peek down onto bottom shelves.
Shop what you know. It can easily get very overwhelming at an antique mall. If you stopped to look up every vintage item there…you won’t make much progress. I decided to shop my niches: flatware, sewing patterns and costume jewelry. Take advantage of your knowledge and experience to see if an item still has some “meat on the bone”.
Pay special attention to the booths that DON’T deal in the niches you’re searching. They are more likely to not know exactly the value of those types of items and may price the items to move. That’s how I found my stainless flatware finds (more about that in a minute). Many of the booths either had NO flatware or only focused on sterling and silverplate. I found 2 bundles of stainless flatware. Well, actually 3…but the third was overpriced and I have an even bigger bag of that pattern in my profit pile at home, lol.
Be prepared for smaller profit margins. You may get good at ferreting out the profitable items, but you may still pay more than you would at at a thrift or yard sale. (Although…if you’ve seen the prices at my Value Village and Goodwills lately…I don’t know, not far off.)
Above is a picture of the items I found in the two trips this weekend. We were on family trip (not just our little family, in-laws too) and we got to the destination (about 3 hours away) before everyone else. I headed straight to the antique mall since I knew it would take me longer. My patient family indulged me. Fortunately there is an attached 50s diner and my boys were happy to be rewarded with milkshakes.
The antique mall was a bit overwhelming at first and my finds were slow to start with. I was fine with it…I don’t really go into big places like this with huge expectations…I just enjoy being surrounded by vintage.
I found the little baby spoon in the 1/2 off room. It’s has an atomic looking star on it…so cute! Soon after, I spotted a mannequin in a booth with several pieces of jewelry on it. Like I mentioned already, I noticed that the booth didn’t specialize in jewelry but just had a few pieces. I picked out the figural bell pendant necklace, signed ART (Arthur Pepper’s company). The price was doable so I just went for it..I may only double my money…but again, I’m mentally prepared that my profit margins are lower.
Then I found the atomic potato masher. This booth did specialize in vintage kitchen stuff…but they had it reasonably priced at $3. I’ve sold a utensil in that same pattern before.
In another booth, I found my first piece of Emmons jewelry. It was a sweater guard or clip and I’ve learned that the name is Multiplicity. Emmons Jewelry Inc. was founded in 1948 by Charles H Stuart who went on to start Sarah Coventry a year later. Like Sarah Coventry jewelry, it was only sold at home parties. The white bracelet and earrings are also Emmons and are marked with the early “EmJ” mark…probably from around 1959 or 1960. A great resource for information about Sarah Coventry and Emmons jewelry is the Facebook group: Sarah Coventry & Emmons Jewelry Identification and History
I found the bracelet and earrings on the bottom shelf, kind of shoved back in a booth that didn’t specialize in jewelry. Not in this one, that dazzled me completely. It was just totally fun to look through.
Let’s get to the flatware. Hands down, my favorite finds. The orange plastic ones I found first…it was in a booth that had some other mod and mid century items.
It was priced fairly for plastic handled flatware I would guess, but I noticed that they were marked “WMF Cromargan Germany”. Definitely one of my BOLO brands. I am pretty sure I can use the larger audience that selling online provides and get a good price for these.
On Sunday, we went back again with the rest of the family. Hubby spent a little more time digging and he found these items.
He has sold the curly type bookends before and we thought the pewter Sun Valley mug was interesting. He is a carpenter by trade and specializes in trim plus window and door installation. He knows his hardware. He was quite impressed with the door hardware set he found…and the fact that is was on sale. I’m glad he knows what he’s doing. 😉
The only thing I found on that day was the set of stainless flatware in the bag. It was even cheaper than the WMF set. It turned out to be Lauffer. YES! Another one of my favorite brands to buy and resell. The pattern is called Chevalier.
At first glance on Ebay I was a bit disappointed. Not many listings and even less solds. I knew that wasn’t the whole story and these are REALLY nice flatware pieces. Solid and heavy. Turns out the salad forks and teaspoons are a bit harder to come by. I listed them all yesterday and sold the 2 teaspoons for TRIPLE what I paid for the whole bag. Yay!!
Benefits to Shopping an Antique Mall.
So yes, there is money to made finding things to flip at an antique mall. If you’re prepared to be patient and thorough. Search where other people don’t and shop what you know. This may not be your jam. And that’s totally okay. Yes, I’d much rather hit a nice estate sale priced by the family that just wants to clean house. But consider these benefits:
At an antique mall….it’s all (okay mostly– there are collectibles allowed usually too) VINTAGE and ANTIQUES. You’re surrounded!! No sifting through decorative collectibles from TJMaxx. Hopefully.
Think of the education! It’s free! One of my favorite parts about antique store shopping is seeing the goods IN PERSON. People can show me their Bakelite finds in a Facebook group or in a blog…but I don’t really understand the smell of it or the clunky sound it makes until I touch it myself.
I buy less. Right? My profit piles are bad enough…a lower priced yard sale may make me go crazy on less than stellar stuff. In antique malls, I’m much more selective.
It’s just plain fun.
So there you have it. What about you? Any great antique malls near you? Any great finds from one? Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!
So I didn’t really want to just throw another thrifting haul post out here because the last time I was here…it was a haul post and we talked about the Profit Pile dilemma. But sometimes when I haven’t blogged for a bit, it’s the fastest way to ease back in.
But I’ll change it up a bit and share a bit of what’s been selling as well.
So in May, our little family went on a road trip to visit family and friends. We were gone for about 16 days. We traveled from Washington to Montana, down to Moab, UT and back home again through Idaho and Oregon. Of course we did some thrifting along the way. 😉
I did try to control myself a bit. lol. Some thrift stores I went in and didn’t buy anything. I went to Goodwills, a few smaller thrifts in Montana and Utah, a Savers (first time for me! I usually go to Value Village – I know, I know, same store) and a couple Idaho Youth Ranch thrifts. I also shopped in an antique mall and a private vintage dealer that my MIL is friends with.
It’s a fun side aspect of road trips. Hubby doesn’t mind and my boys are troopers. They get to hit different driving ranges (FORE!!) and I get to hit the thrift stores. It all works out.
Not shown are the many, many sewing patterns I seemed to have come across in every thrift store I went into. lol. Just what I needed…but some were hard to resist. Like this one:
I have been making a concerted effort to load up my shops with my niches. I have loads and loads of patterns and I seem to come across good ones fairly regularly. But they can’t sell if they’re not listed. So I’m trying something kind of new for me…it’s called “working hard”. ROFL. I crack myself up.
What I’m doing is actually thinking ahead about what I want to list. I normally give in to my short attention span and just grab some random items that either I just bought or that are in plain sight. I love research and so that part can slow me down.
So yesterday I grabbed about 20 patterns that were all the same brand, the same type and generally the same sizes. So I listed all Vogues, all dresses and then grouped them by size and photographed them in that order. I took all my photos, edited the photos all at once and then sat down and pounded out half the patterns last night and the other half this morning before the kids got up.
This has been recommended for YEARS by seasoned resellers but I always found excuses. I do 5 coffee mugs and I’m like….*yawn*. But I have to stop thinking and just start listing! Otherwise I will never make a dent in my pattern/flatware/jewelry backlogs. Today I pulled out some flatware and when my kiddos are done with their school work, I’ll take a bunch of pictures.
And I did sell one of the patterns I listed already! It was this one:
I may have been able to squeeze a few more bucks out of that one but I was still balancing research time vs listing time. And I ended up selling another pattern today for $25 so that was good.
Flatware sales have been doing pretty well also. Once I opened my shops back up after vacation, it seems I sold a ton of flatware! I realized my shops’ inventory was getting low. The slower selling soup spoons and knives are what I mostly have left. So I was happy on our trip to come across a set of Oneida Mansion Hall flatware that I could piece out. I paid up for it…paid about $54 for the set but I’ve sold $135 worth so far.
I also scored some dinner forks and teaspoons by Oneida in the Clarette pattern and I’ve sold about half already.
I also wanted to update you on a couple sales from the anniversary trip thrift haul in my last post. I ended up taking an offer for $40 for the Paragon cup and saucer. It was after our trip and I wanted sales! Had to fill up the coffers!
Also, the Totem serving spoon from that last haul sold pretty quickly for $24.99.
To wrap this up, I just want to mention a couple other things I found on my road trip. These weren’t vintage or even in my niches but they are something I keep an eye out for. Blank media. You might even say, blank obsolete media. There is still a demand for it. These microcassettes (for voice recorders and answering machines) and Sony MiniDiscs sold within 24 hours of listing them, for $28.99 and 49.99. Always worth double checking!
Well, I’d better get back to work! How has your Spring been going for reselling? Staying busy? Lots of yard sales to hit? Feel free to comment below!