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)

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.

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

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!

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!

34 thoughts on “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Selling Sewing Patterns for Profit ~ Part 2”

  1. I have good luck with the larger envelope Vogue pattern. The best pattern I ever got was for the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern for about $150. Not sure what they currently do

    1. Yes! I finally sourced one of those…but the lower value one. Still looking! I think they still do well. I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface on good Vogue BOLOs. I love the large envelopes!

  2. Excellent Read! Thank you so much for sharing. You have made me feel more comfortable about listing my patterns. Thanks again.

      1. Thank you for the information. Very help. One question is there are many pattern photos provided by the companies. Can I use them directly for new pattern rather than taking photos myself? Thank you for your time.

        1. I generally take my own photos for my patterns. Many people scan them. This way, the buyer can see exactly what they are getting. I also take pictures of the insides of the pattern…the condition, whether cut or uncut.
          You can get into kind of a sticky area when you try to use other people’s or companies photos. Plus, many selling venues don’t appreciate stock photos..even if they allow or don’t catch everyone doing it.
          Hope that makes sense!

  3. Thank you for this tutorial! A few years back I found a large box of 50’s-70’s patterns. Made a lot of cash on individual patterns that were uncut, and sold the cut patterns off in 2 lots. The most memorable was an circa 1950’s Edith Head suit pattern that sold for $65. Included in the box were notes, magazine articles, and recipes by the original owner. Very sweet glimpse into what life was like for a homemaker back in the day!

  4. I sell patterns too, I got so excited when I got that rag quilt one haha. I’m always on the look out for them! Thanks for the fun post 🙂

  5. Thank you so much for this information! I don’t sew, so I never thought to peruse the patterns when I’m out thrifting. Tonight I remembered to take a peek and the Butterick genie pattern was sitting right on top of the stack! I bought it and . . . I now need to read your information about opening an Etsy shop. I’ve been building up a stock of items to sell, but I have much to learn!

    1. Excellent! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions! Etsy may have changed a few things since I wrote those articles..I need to double check!

  6. I have an entire catalog’s worth of Style and Simplicity patterns from 1973. All uncut, factory folded, straight out of the pattern drawers from a shop that went out of business. Its a niche offering, and I don’t expect to get much per pattern, so I’m trying to find the lowest cost place to list them. Etsy and eBay seem like the obvious choices, but I’ve heard people have had luck with their own shops via tools like Shopify. Given my unique supply and limited offering, what would you suggest I do? (If it matters, I plan to spend time promoting via Instagram and Facebook.)

    1. I think I would choose Etsy. The fees are lower so selling each pattern at a lower price point won’t hurt so much. Etsy has a good audience for them as well and promoting via IG and FB is perfect. Ebay has a bigger audience but patterns tend to sell for less there. Shopify is an option but from what I’ve heard is an enormous amount of work and takes time to build. Have fun!

  7. Thank you so much for your information. I am going to start selling patterns I never used. I started to list on Etsy, but was surprised at the cost of shipping, after adding the dimensions. Do you have any recommendations on how to make it less expensive to ship. Thank you again for taking the time to write a tutorial.

  8. I have 5 containers of patterns – mostly womens but also men, kids, craft, etc I have no interest in selling them but would pass them on to someone who is already set up to sell. Payment for shipping would be nice.

  9. Thanks so much for this. Both part 1 and 2 are extremely helpful.
    My grandmother handed me down sewing patterns from 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. I want to sell them on eBay but some of them their envelope is in pretty rough shape. Is it even worth selling those? I know some of the uncut ones with really worn envelopes are 50s Vogue patterns.

  10. Thank you SOOOO much for these inspiring and informative articles. I am downsizing and unloading a lifetime pattern collection and just started selling them online. I know your tips will help me with future sales. I never dreamed some of the patterns would bring such a high amount. Like you said, “who knew”., Again, thank you for sharing your expertise.

  11. I have over 1000 patterns which I would like to sell. You inspire me. I am a bit nervous to begin but will try Etsy.

  12. Thank you for this article, it was very useful! Quick question, I recently came into hundreds of patterns from the 1940s-1960s. One of them is a toddler dress and bloomers set, Advance 5804, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere on the internet. It’s not on the Vintage Pattern Wikia site and there are no current or old listings of it on eBay or Etsy. Are patterns like this worth any more as a “rare” pattern?

    1. That’s a good question and sorry for the delay in answering! It sometimes can indicate a greater value since there are so few…but it can also mean no one is looking for it. It can’t hurt to price it a bit higher (depending on condition) – using comps of similar patterns from other brands to guide you. You can always drop the price after a bit…or just wait for that right buyer.

  13. Are shipping increases causing sales to go down 0n patterns? Is there a way to sale the $3-$5 pattern when shipping doubles or triples the price?

    1. I have not noticed a dip in pattern sales. I also usually don’t list a pattern for less than $9. I charge a shipping flat rate for pattern sales – a bit less than it costs and then I cover the difference. My ROI is good enough to do that. I also use Pirate Ship for international sales and can charge a bit less than other sellers. I sell a bunch of patterns overseas. If a pattern is truly a $3-5 pattern (oversaturated) then I hold onto it…or sell it in a lot.

  14. Love your articles!
    I recently went to a sale with tons of vintage fabric from the 60s and 70s. Under the tables were bundles of patterns. I saw that they had labels reading Vogue Paris Originals, Vogue Americana and Vogue Couturier Design. The bundles were taped so I couldn’t get a good look at them. Took a chance and bought them. Got home and started untaping the bundles and found something odd. Each pattern was in an old clear plastic pantyhose sleeve which I imagine was just a way of protecting them. But upon closer inspection, some were in the original envelopes but quite a few are wrapped in what appears to be a counter catalog book page. The few I have found match the actual patterns, just a larger image. So far all those patterns are factory folded w/instructions and what appear to be some really rare and nice designer names.
    Would you know the reason for this packaging? Or lack of? And how it would affect the value?
    Thank you!

  15. I have a pattern from the Fashionable Dress Pattern Co., I’m having a hard time determining what it’s worth. The only place I’ve seen it in my research is on a digital library site but there is no value on it. If somebody out there can point me in the right direction I would really appreciate it. I’ve at all of the sites that come up when you search vintage patterns.


    1. Sorry for the late reply. I too, haven’t heard of that company. There are several great groups on Facebook such as Vintage Sewing Pattern Nerds who may be able to shed some light.

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