After seeing how well-received my Quick & Dirty Guide to Selling Coffee Mugs for Profit was, I thought I’d throw together another guide for another of my niches. Sewing patterns. (This post may contain affiliate links. See my policy here. )
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.
My favorite to sell is Vogue. Vintage designer Vogue patterns are just dreamy…the fashions of the past are so interesting! Even vintage non-designer Vogue patterns are just fun. Look at this one. (sold for $30)
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.
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.
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.
Update: 8/15/19 – Part Two is here! Click here to check it out!
Part Two – The Quick and Dirty Guide to Selling Sewing Patterns for Profit