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)
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.)
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
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.
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.
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)
Description: Pattern and instructions to make: (then I use a bit of description from the envelope itself)
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.
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!