Do friends and family members ask for you to make quilts for them? Is someone asking where you got that pillow that you quilted yourself? Sometimes, when we get good at our craft, we find people who want to buy our work. That’s when a business starts to grow, so where do you start?
Today we’re going to dive into how you can start your own at-home quilting business. Now, a quilting business doesn’t mean you have to create projects endlessly; in fact, there are possibilities in pattern creation, custom requested works, and more. In this post, we’ve pulled together some steps to make your own quilting business and how to start.
Create Your Business Plan
While a business can start with some scribbled plans in your notes app, creating a successful one without a real plan is much more challenging. Businesses, large and small, begin to see success when some serious planning and budgeting is put into play. A business plan is a roadmap you create for your company.
Business plans should include:
- Description of your business
- How do you plan to manage it
- The products and services you plan to sell
- Market and competitor research
- Budget and finance plans
- Marketing and advertising plans
All of these things can be completed by you, but if you decide to build your brand and go legal, look for a professional who focuses on small businesses. They can help you decide on a business structure that’s best for your plan and are more likely to have contacts that can help you in finance and marketing matters when you need it. Need help creating your plans? Keep up with JUKI Business Plus blog posts to help you start your business here.
Getting the Right Equipment
Now that you have your business idea in motion let’s start thinking about the equipment you’ll need for your small business.
The best thing about quilting is it doesn’t require a specialty machine. There are two basic types of machine quilting that quilters can access on most sewing machines—straight line and free motion.
This type is best accomplished by replacing a regular presser foot with a walking foot and even feed foot. A walking foot is a specialized pressure foot that grips the top of the quilt sandwich, advancing it through the machine at the same rate as the quilt’s back, which touches and is moved along by the sewing machine’s feed dogs.
A machine like the TL-2010Q is perfect for basic straight stitches and piecing. However, a free motion quilting machine like the TL-18QVP or Miyabi J-350QVP is required for designs like curves and intricate patterns.
Free Motion Quilting
With free motion quilting, you’re able to create intricate designs as if you had hand-stitched them into the quilt. Learning FMQ takes time, but many resources are available that teach you to create unique designs.
For FMQ, the machine’s feed dogs are lowered, meaning nothing is in place under the quilt sandwich to guide it along. The quilter is in total control of the motion. Now your speed and how fast you run the sewing machine work together to determine stitch length. You have options on sewing feet like a darning foot or a special foot for machine quilting. Remember that special feet resemble a darning foot but have larger openings.
A machine like the Miyabi J-350QVP is perfect for free motion quilting since you have a large workspace and can use the machine bars to move and design intricate pieces.
What to Sell
If you’ve thought about opening your quilting business, you probably already have some ideas set aside on what you would sell in your shop. However, there are so many ways to make money with your long-arm or sewing machine, so let’s review some options for what you can do with yours!
Not everyone has the skills for quilting, and that’s where quilters like you come in to help! With so many quilt lovers in the world who don’t have the time and skills to create their ideas, you can offer services for making custom quilts. A venture like this is excellent because of revenue, as shoppers pay well for handcrafted personalized items.
Use that machine! Mass production doesn’t have to mean creating 100’s of quilts, but instead using simple designs and creating multiples of the quilt to sell in marketplaces or e-shops. Also, not every quilt has to be unique, as many homeowners enjoy simple pieces they can add to family rooms and bedrooms.
Owning a quilting business doesn’t mean just selling quilts. Many quilters love to try their hand at creating new projects. Create patterns and upload their PDF files onto your site! By selling physical copies to your local quilt shop, you now have a product that people can continually purchase that doesn’t require you to quilt!
Do you have a long arm at home? Many quilters work on domestic home machines, meaning they don’t have that large workspace long-arm quilters have. Offer long-arm rentals to local quilters for hourly rates, and enjoy that time to work on other projects. You can also offer your skills for rent and finish quilts for others on your long arm.
If you’ve been quilting for years, attended quilting classes yourself, and find yourself teaching friends and family, look into teaching! Contact your local quilt shop’s favorite sewing brands, or start your own social media channel. There are always new quilters in the world looking for instruction, and with technology, you can offer online and in-person education.
How and Where to Sell
Now that you have an idea of what services and products you can offer let’s discuss how you will reach your audience and sell to them. In our day and age, many small businesses begin on social media platforms or e-shops.
Social Media and Sales
The best way to reach your audience is through social media platforms. Easily accessible and free to use, sites like Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and more have opened up new sales channels for small businesses. One of the first things you should do when starting a side-hustle is set up a business or company page. Many customers now run to social media sites to see if your company is legit before ordering. In addition, these sites offer customers the opportunity to see what kind of products and services you offer, customer reviews, and so much more.
Social media sites now offer selling points for businesses as well. Facebook marketplace, for example, is perfect for selling home goods. Anyone can post an item for sale, and you can hit niche markets easily by discovering pages and groups for specific topics. Facebook marketplace does hold guidelines that sellers must abide by when selling, and can be found here. (link guidelines)
Instagram offers its version of an e-shop now as well. With Instagram shopping, you’re able to post products for sale directly onto your Instagram account. Think of this as a digital storefront for your shop. You can include graphics, videos, shopping tags, and more to drive sales. It also allows you to place full product descriptions, advertisements, and more. However, unlike Facebook, there is an approval process for selling on Instagram’s shop. To have a shop on Instagram, you need a business page, Instagram shop approval, and a small fee is applied.
Remember that you don’t need to invest money when selling on social media off the bat. Instead, you can focus on organically growing your business by word of mouth, using engaging posts, and attaching hashtags to your descriptions.
If you feel you’ve outgrown selling on social media sites and want to upgrade, the next step we recommend is researching e-shops. Now there are multiple options when it comes to opening an e-shop, so we gathered a few of the top ones below:
eBay: This eCommerce site has been a go-to for sellers since 1995. With the ability to sell any form of product and service, you can sell services like finishing quilts, or you sell your hand-made projects. Their fees include non-refundable product/service listings and fee charges if you’re placing your product in multiple categories for sale. The perks of this site revolve around its popularity. With eBay constantly having high traffic, your items can easily be accessed by customers all over the country.
Etsy: Artisan-focused and highly popular, Etsy is the perfect e-shop location for someone opening their small business. This site allows you to promote and sell your handcrafted products at low fees. Listing fees are $0.20 for each item and will last for four months. This site is great for upgrading their shops but isn’t ready to fully commit to a website.
Shopify: Shopify is an excellent option for those opening their first e-shop. With Shopify, you can create a website to sell your products and customize the site to your aesthetic. This is a significant step when building your credibility as an established business! Everything is now done on this site, from placing products and selling to handling inventory and processing payments. Shopify comes with a monthly fee from a Basic package of $29 to an Advanced package for $299.
If you’re someone who enjoys selling in person, research your local farmer’s markets and artisan fairs! You can purchase a shop space and sell to new customers you wouldn’t have reached online by communicating with these event planners. These events do require a larger budget and should be planned accordingly. Keep in mind the furniture you’ll need to showcase your products, how you’ll handle money, and other variables like food, inventory, and more. ‘
Get To Work
Now that you have a basic rundown of what you need to start your new side business, it’s time to sit down and plan! Circling back to the start of our planning, it’s time to create that business plan. Remember to include your product/service plan, marketing plan, budget plan, and finance plan. Starting a business plan is like building a roadmap. Follow the roadmap, and you’ll have a much higher chance of reaching your destination, a thriving business, than trying to jump into this with a few notes written down.
We hope this has been able to help you get a clearer vision for your future quilting business! So if you’re looking to start your own quilting business, join us here to learn more about JUKI Business plus and how we can help you today!