The Quick and Dirty Guide to Selling Sewing Patterns for Profit ~ Part 2

Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about the first part to this tutorial. You can find the first part of “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Selling Sewing Patterns for Profit” here. (This post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure page)

A follow up post to the article The Quick and Dirty Guide to Selling Sewing Patterns. This post covers BOLOS, shipping, and listing on Ebay or Etsy. Make money online with sewing patterns!

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!


What Is My Vintage Item Worth?

How to Research Your Thrifted Vintage Finds!

Whether you inherited great-aunt Martha’s estate or you are an Ebay/Etsy seller and come across killer deals at the flea market…there comes a time when you want to know “what are my vintage items worth?”. For our purposes today we will be focusing mostly on the reseller angle. (This post contains affiliate links – see our full disclosure here)

The short answer is “they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay”.

While this is definitely true, by gathering information about our item we can possibly increase the amount someone is willing to pay. Understanding the rarity (or not) of our items plus their background and history can hopefully get us to a reasonable asking price and the item into the hands of a new owner.

The following are a few options that I use when I’m researching the vintage items I sell on Ebay or Etsy. In doing this, I’m trying to find out more about my item. I want to learn the history of the item, the age, the designer. I want to know how rare or common the item is…how does the condition of mine compare to the condition of others available?

Once I have that information, that can help me with pricing my items. I can see what other similar items have sold for and how recently. I can see how many are available at the current time.

Online Selling Sites

This is probably where I start most of the time. I search right on Ebay itself. Other sellers’ listings can be a gold mine of information. I do take a look at current listings to see what’s available but for pricing ideas, it’s absolutely important to search the “SOLDS”. To find the sold prices on Ebay: from your search results page look along the left side of the screen – you probably have to scroll down a bit until you see the “Sold Items” checkbox on the side. Click that.

Finding Sold Prices on Ebay

The prices will change to green. That’s how you know the item is sold. On a side note…if you just check the “Completed Items” box right above the “Sold Items” one, you’ll see all the items that have ended, sold and unsold. This may also give you an idea of how desirable the vintage item is – if many were listed and only few sold, that may tell you something.

If you have the Ebay app on your phone, the process is similar. Search results page, hit the “Filter” or “Sort” link at the top, scroll down and toggle the “Sold Items” tab.

You can also search Etsy and Ruby Lane for information and pricing ideas. Since both of these sites are focused on vintage and antique items you may be more successful finding your items there.

On Ruby Lane, you can see a limited number of solds since many sellers remove their sold items monthly. On your search results page, scroll down to the very end of the results. Recently sold items that fit your search terms will be at the end of the list.

Etsy does not have a sold items section…HOWEVER…if you come across a link to a specific sold item, either through a search engine or Pinterest, you can put that link into Flipper Tools. This will work for older Ruby Lane sold items as well as Best Offers accepted on Ebay.

Worthpoint

After searching Ebay and Etsy, my next stop is definitely Worthpoint. No, it’s not free. Yes, I pay for it and have done so for several years. Honestly, I don’t think there is a day that has gone by when I’m working and listing that I haven’t accessed it. I think it’s invaluable for vintage selling.
Ebay search only goes back 90 days but Worthpoint shows Ebay solds (and other sources) going back several years.

Sometimes as sellers of vintage and collectibles, we come across items that are a bit more rare. Here’s an example.

I’m still researching this vintage enameled egg shaped locket and really have no idea the exact age. I bought it online and it was described by the seller as a Russian egg locket. I can’t confirm or deny that. There are no marks. It’s not gold and the stones are rhinestones. I can understand the Russian reference since it’s reminiscent of Faberge eggs and the double headed eagle with the crown on top looks very Imperial.

But what surprised me was that I couldn’t find many others like it. Several egg shaped enamel lockets but none with the figural eagle on top. So I turned to Worthpoint and I found….ONE. Well, at least the closest to it I could find.

Worthpoint Results

Holy schnikes. Okay, so mine is not guilloche enamel, it’s just black enamel. And I don’t have the stand that this one does. But it definitely sold for a lot more than I expected. I just discovered a missing tiny stone so that will affect my price as well.

This has happened countless times over the years, where research on Worthpoint has helped me get more information on my vintage items and caused me to price higher than I might have first been inclined.

If you’d like to try it out, Worthpoint has a free trial. Click here to get 7 free days or 7 free lookups. You will get billed if you continue to use the service after the free trial, so keep that in mind. There are a couple levels of subscription. I’ve always just used the Price Guide, so I can’t comment on the Marks Library value.

Search Engines

We all know Google. Google is actually pretty invaluable. But don’t forget different aspects of this search engine that may help you. When I type in some keywords or search terms, I not only read through the initial text page, but I also click on the Images tab. I can scan pictures pretty quickly to see if I can find a match to my item. Either to another similar item for sale or to a website that discusses the item.

You can also upload a photo of your item to Google and conduct an image search that way. Google will scan images all over the web to find a match to your item. The results can be pretty comical but sometimes you hit a match. This can work well for logos. Take nice clear, up close photos with clean backgrounds.

Your phone may also have a similar capability. Google used to have Goggles, but now I think they have Google Lens. My husband’s Samsung phone has Bixby Vision.

Don’t stop with Google. Many people I’ve spoken to have good success with Bing and Yahoo. It just may give you some results that Google doesn’t.

Facebook Groups

Don’t laugh! There is a wealth of information out there among the people!! On Facebook, collectors have gathered into (sometimes very specific) groups in order to discuss their favorite subject, share their collections and show off their knowledge. Take advantage of it!

I recently got this pair of salt and pepper shakers identified. It was in the Mid Century Modern Dinnerware group and the commenter identified them as Laurel pottery. She was a Laurel historian and I trusted her experience. Knowing the maker helped me realize that with the damage mine have – they probably weren’t worth listing. Still deciding.

Here are a sampling of groups I use to get answers. Also, I sometimes just read through the posts to learn.

Vintage Pottery and Chinaware Identification

I love VINTAGE TIES (pre-1960)

Sarah Coventry and Emmons Identification and History

West German Pottery

Mid Century Italian Ceramic & Bitossi

Mid Century Modern Dinnerware

What is this? Antique, vintage and unusual item identification

Like I said, that is just a sampling. There are SO many groups on Facebook for every category imaginable. Do a search for the category of your item and see what comes up. These are ones I’ve used repeatedly over the years and so I stay in the groups. And as mentioned, I love scrolling through them occasionally – it’s an education in itself.

A couple tips about Facebook groups: Be patient. You’ll have to ask to join the group and it may take awhile to get approved. Read the group description carefully. If the group is about pre-1960s ties, don’t post your wide 70s polyester beauties and ask for help. See if other people have asked for help and gotten a response. You may have to try more than one group. And lastly, don’t be thin-skinned, lol. This is a general social media rule but some of the groups can be a little intimidating if you take them too seriously.

A few thoughts on research in general

So, these are the main sources of information I use when researching my vintage items for reselling. Ebay or Etsy themselves, Worthpoint, search engines and Facebook groups. At times, though, there just isn’t information to be found. Comps just aren’t there. You have to know when to walk away and just list your item the best you can. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis.

What about you? What are some other sources of information you’ve used to research your vintage items? Leave a comment below!