Sewing to Sell - a review of an amazing book

A book review and a giveaway!

Hi! As we are coming closer to Christmas I am finally finding the time to sew some Christmas gifts. I have started to make a list of a few projects (new and good old) that I want to make and this organizer was on top of the list.

As soon as I finished sewing this handy organizer I knew it had to be mine... So I am giving myself a Christmas present. :) 

I have been telling you later that I have a couple of new big projects coming up soon so organization and focus are the keywords here. I do need them now as much as I need oxygen. And I have always been a list and schedule kind of person. So I am using this organizer to keep together all my monthly and weekly schedules, a calendar, a few business cards, and lots of lists - to-do, to-sew, to-buy...

It has the perfect size to keep my beautiful new notebook, so I can jot down all my ideas and thoughts for the upcoming projects. And just in case you are wondering where I got it, it was offered by my blogging friend Constança from Saidos da Concha. (If you don't know her blog I can tell you that you are missing one of the most amazing blogs on homemaking and crafts.)

This organizer was made using one of the 16 patterns from the book Sewing to Sell - How to Sell Locally and Online, The Beginners Guide to Starting an online Business, by Virginia Lindsay. 

Virginia is the creator of Gingercake Patterns and Gingercake blog. I immediately felt connected with Virginia once I read her about page. Her story is the same as mine and (I bet) the same as so many of you. She started sewing again when her kids were really small and she was spending more time at home. And then she goes on " I loved all the bright and beautiful fabrics available and I became addicted to searching for new projects all the time!" and I was all hands in the air "That's me! That's me!"

Virginia has some great patterns on her pattern shop and some handmade items on her Etsy shop, so make sure you visit both and get yourself and your loved ones some Christmas presents! :)

Sewing to sell is a book that focus on several aspects that you need to have in mind when creating a home-based sewing business. Virginia talks about how to find your sewing style, how to identify your customers, how to choose which items to sew and sell and what materials you need for that. She also talks about the whole process of setting up a business and starting to sell, attending craft shows, photography, marketing, pricing and packaging. There are lots of great interviews with business owners and useful tips!

 If you are planning on starting a handmade/sewing business this is a must read! I know it is helping me a lot! Having all the things that I need to set my business in one place and so clearly explained is truly helpful.

Another great thing about this book is that it comes with sixteen projects (patterns and instructions!) for you to make and sell freely! The projects are organized in categories (projects that are useful items, projects that make the best use of materials and projects that are great sellers) and include items for kids and babies, fashion accessories, for the home, to gift someone, and for the sewist and business women. They include, among others, a cute pincushion, a insulated lunch bag, a oven mitt, a baby set, a quilt, and a few bags and pouches. (see images below, courtesy of C&T Publishing)

And the Handy Organizer that I chose to make (image also courtesy of C&T Publishing).

I have used three different Japanese fabrics that I had sitting on my stash for years!... They are all cutesy and made of cotton and linen. I have a crush on Japanese fabrics. I love their quality and prints. 

These Japanese zakka fabrics were the first I bought when I first started to buy fabrics a few years ago when I started to blog (back in 2007) and started to think about going back to sewing again.

Here is a photo of my cotton+linen Japanese fabric stash.

This is my do-not-cut stash. I bet you have your own, right? :)
This is actually the second time in so many years that I had found the courage to use these amazing fabrics. First time was to make my kids a fabric game, blogged here.

Actually, there is a whole chapter on Sewing to Sell about buying and using fabric!
Virginia's advice is to have a plan - build a stash wisely, making smart fabric-buying choices. I needed to read that!

I have a huge fabric stash. I call it my "private fabric store" since I can just go there and get almost any kind of fabric type and print I want... Although that seems to be a good thing, on one hand, on the other hand sometimes it isn't that great...  

I buy a lot from my local fabric store. They have a dozen of huge bins full of good remnants and bolt ends. They should be called the treasure bins. :)  So, I am the kind of person who usually buys fabric without having a specific project in mind... I just hoard whichever I like and see potential in. But I have to make myself some justice and let you know that I make choices - first I grab every single remnant I like but before I go pay it I stop for a few minutes and go through all that (sometimes 10, sometimes 20) fabric and I often end up leaving some behind. (And I almost always regret that I did... but that's another story! :) )

From time to time I buy yardage when I have a specific project in mind and I have never bought bolts. 

So, I really feel like I need to change my approach when it comes to buying fabric... I need to be more pragmatic and project oriented. Now that I am going to start a small sewing business I feel like I have to make smart buys. And that also goes by buying coordinated fabrics... Sometimes I need to make an outfit - top and bottom - and I have a hard time finding perfect coordinates on my stash...

Another problem I have sometimes is that since I mostly buy remnants, I often end up not having enough yardage to make what I want... I have lots of single yards... Not a long time ago I could easily use just 1 yard on a dress for my girls, but not anymore... So now I can only use them to make tops and blouses for them. 

How about you? What's your fabric buying method? Do you hoard or do you buy when you need it?

Sometime ago I decided to organize my stash - a tough task I can tell you... By the way, how do you organize yours? By type of fabric, by color, by print?... 
I came to the conclusion that I did not have many solids... Solids are basics that everyone must have! They can be coordinated with any print and between themselves to make gorgeous color blocked outfits.

These are from my stash. It is about 1/10 of what I have from each category... Cottons and rayons (top left), corduroy, twill, denim and flannel (top right), tweed and wool (bottom left) and knits (bottom right)...

These are my precious... :)

Sewing to Sell is an amazing new book from C&T Publishing (which means great standards and quality) and it was released about one month ago. This blog post is part of a book tour so make sure to have a look on these blogs if you want to know more from Sewing to Sell and see a few more handmade items from the patterns that come with the book.

And guess what? You can win a copy of Sewing to Sell! C&T Publishing will be sending a copy to one of you - USA only! Winners will be picked randomly by, by Dec. 22nd.
Just leave a comment below - I would love to know more about how you buy and use your fabric! 

Happy sewing!


  1. First of all, I was so flattered to see that X-mas card so cozy on your beautiful organizer! It means a lot to me!

    Second of all, so glad to know you are starting your own business! I am sure you will be very successful!!

    I too have a thing for fabric.

    My organization of fabrics is very unorganized... but I tend to arrange them by fabric type. I have mostly light weight cottons on my fabric stash, but I also have corduroy, denim, fleece, and silk. (these last two were an inherited from my husband's aunt who was a professional seamstress).

    When I have to make small projects, I look for fabric in my stash. But for bigger projects I go straight to the store and buy specificaclly for that project. Which is not very smart, I guess...

    Since I haven't had the time to sew latelly as much as I would like to, I have tried to stay away from fabric stores, or at least look the other way when I go to the haberdashery to buy yarns.

    I sure woukd like to win a copy of this book and read it :)

  2. OMG Sara, que inveja dos teus tecidos, e esse organizer é lindo!!! Eu tenho poucos tecidos, até há bem pouco tempo era muito racional com as compras, e tirando fat quarters (para pormenores), só comprava tecido depois de decidir um projecto especifico, por isso antes de fazer qualquer coisa tinha sempre que ir comprar tecidos. No último mês, perdi a cabeça e comprei uma data de tecidos só porque sim... e estou a adorar a sensação de partir do tecido que tenho para procurar o projecto/molde perfeito, em vez do contrário! Adoro das duas formas! Acho que vou continuar a comprar quando vejo o que gosto só porque sim, mas também a procurar um tecido depois de ter um determinado molde em vista! Tenho os meus tecidos arrumados por categorias: (a) tecidos com 1 metro ou mais; (b) fat quarters/restos com mais ou menos 50cm; e (c) scraps. Ainda não tenho o suficiente para organizar por cores ou tipo de tecido! :-)

  3. I buy the same way you do! Plus, I've picked up a lot at garage sales...bags full for a couple bucks, so I'm even less picky there, but then I don't use them! I need to learn a better method. I do sew a lot though, but I make a trip to the store for new fabric as much as I use stuff form my stash.

  4. GReat blog post Sara! I am so glad to see you being honest about fabric and choices. I know I still find myself buying things I don't need and it always ends up just stitting there- not enough for a child dress but then i resist cutting into that full yard for a small project! lol. THanks so much for doing this with me and I am so excited to hear about your handmade business. I hope you enjoy the process!

  5. Ficou tão giro o organizer ;-) e tanto tecido giro :-D

  6. I love to buy colorful prints and usually end up going back for basics to coordinate with it once I start a project!

  7. I love the blog and would love to win this book to learn more about selling my goods. Thank you

  8. I still consider myself a beginner and a lot of my fabric was gifted to me. I haven't been brave enough to buy much online but I find I buy fabric a lot like I used to with yarn ... looking for great deals without an idea what I'm going to make with it! Before I get too much more in the house I need to figure out a better way of organizing and storing it.

  9. Love your honesty and Im right there with you...buying fabric I love without a specific project in mind :-) Yep, my stash is overflowing, LOLOL! Thanks for the chance to win this awesome book! Happy Holidays!

  10. I'm expecting this book for Xmas!! Can't wait - Virginia patterns are great and flawless (currently working on a couple of lunch bags) ;)
    I wish I could say my fabric stash is rational and organized (Not!) - I buy fabric when I love it and have a bit of cash to spurge on it :) To my defense, I usually have a project (or two) in mind, but somehow the pile keeps growing ...
    I stocked by fabric type (Liberty, vaiyella, flannel, wool) and patterns (plaids, solids, floral) and usually purchase 1-yard or more :)

  11. I am a fabric addict……..there, I said it. I love fabric and keep buying it thinking i will come up with a project later. I keep thinking I will start using up the tons of fabric stacked in my sewing room then buy new fabric only when i have a specific project in mind. Maybe after the start of the new year!!!

  12. I love fabric -- don't we all? I usually buy when something gorgeous is at a great price,and if it fits one of my "categories" of fabrics I use all of the time: brights, solids, 1930's, batiks. (Recently I decided that I really love Civil War prints, especially for scrap quilts -- and now I have another category!)

  13. I love to pick fabrics by color combinations. I make a lot of clothing so I like large cuts and modern pairings. I would love this book to add to my collection and take my little business to the next level.

  14. I love that peek of your stash! It's great to evaluate it every once in awhile - one thing that helps me is to move things on from what I had "earmarked" them for in my head to be available for other uses.

  15. I previously only bought fabric when I needed it, but now I'm subscribed to too many newsletters and Facebook pages that tell me about sales happening and I've developed a bit of a stash. However, I love the stash personally because then I don't feel like I'm running to the fabric store every time I realize I need something to match a particular fabric, especially since half the time I couldn't find anything I liked to match anyway. I have noticed I tend to buy a lot of patterned fabric as well. I need to get more solids! Thanks for the giveaway.

  16. First- I can totally relate to that beginning! Second, I would so love to read her book now that I've began selling. Thanks for the review and opportunity to win!

  17. I have so much fabric, and yet I feel like there isn't anything that I want to make with what I have! I have been given tub after tub, I buy at the local discount fabric shop, and then here and there. I just started organizing it today. Maybe I can find some coordinating material to make the kids outfits? I want to sell, but it scares me. This book would be such an awesome read!

  18. I have tons of fabric and have the same problem--not enough coordinates. When I buy at the fabric store, I try to find a few fabrics that match one coordinate, although in a pinch I have been buying more solids to coordinate.

  19. I need this book, hoping I win during one of the blog hop stops, but if not I will have to buy it. I buy my fabric when I see it on sale, love a good sale, and also have a hard time buying solids because I like all of the the pretty prints.

  20. Beautiful fabrics and organizer! I live 3+ hours from a fabric store, so I order my fabrics online. I tend to buy home dec and denims for making bags and knits for making clothing. I would love to win this book! Thank you, Angie mamalusco at live dot com

  21. I love going through the remnant bins at my local fabric shop with the intention of making bibs or bup cloths. :)


Thank you for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you soon!