Friday, 3 June 2011

How To Start A Fabric Business With No Or Very Little Money.

If you want to start your own small fabric business, maybe to raise some extra cash, getting your fabric stock together can easily be done with no or little money (I know because I have done it myself, on Ebay).

Throughout my post I will include some upcycled/recycled fabric that is being sold on Etsy.  My first choice is a Charming Mini Pack of Vintage Fabric Pack from aLittleShabbyShack.  The little packs are so prettily put together I would buy one just for the joy of receiving it in the post!

25 6'x 6' inch recycled plaid cotton shirt at SewDanish

To begin with you wouldn't go too far wrong checking out your own stash.  Are there pieces that you will never use, or that's taking up far too much space (it's OK we're all guilty of that)?  

You can sell them as full pieces or cut them into smaller useful sizes such as Fat Quarters or smaller quilting sized bundles.

vintage fabric 24 6x6 squares charm pack at sosovintage

I find that some online companies, such as Cath Kidston, don't sell smaller than 1 meter pieces, which is quite expensive at around £20 per mtr when you only need half or a FQ.  So there is always demand for smaller pieces, especially if they're out of print such as this piece.

Cath Kidston Rosali Rose Fat Quarter at

Ready colour coordinate bundles of your stash for selling, useful for those of us who haven't got 'an eye' for matching colours.
Like this Cath Kidston Cowboy Bundle in lovely reds and blues from EmmasFabric,

Do you have a lovely bag of scraps that just gets bigger and bigger and fall out of your stash space every time you open it?  (I have one of those, it falls open on me like 'Snakes on a Plane')  Separate the bundle into nice sized bags (maybe sandwich bag size) and sell them on.

Fabric scrap bundle --- Kawaii (cute) mix of fabrics at PetiteMaison

If you don't have the funds to buy brand new fabric to sell, you could always go to Charity Shops/Car Boot Sales to buy pieces of clothing/soft furnishing/curtains that have stunning print and cut them into smaller pieces, again you can pack them up into useful bundles.

And don't forget your own clothes and soft furnishings, where the fabric makes them too lovely to throw away and yet too worn out to use yourself or give to charity.  Cut off all the good bits and sell on.

Vintage Fabric 70's Pastel Jersey Knit Printed Multi Colored at Freshandswanky

Check out one of my earlier Posts, Top 10 Cuts of Fabric To Boost Sales, with ideas of how to cut up your fabric pieces into useful (sellable) sizes.

Debs left this really useful comment:
As a maker of small items, and soft furnishings, I have masses of scraps, so when I do a craft fair I tip them into a big basket, hang some little brown carriers on the side and offer 'Fill a bag' for £1, or sometimes for charity. It's surprising how many people buy a bag full - quite often young girls for their textile projects at school.

I hope this has given you some inspiration to start selling.  Bear in mind that some online Marketplaces charge a listing fee so there will be a cost before you have your first sale.

My website has no listing fee, so starting out can truly be completely free!

Does anyone have any great ideas how to get together 'fabric stock' with no or little money?

Thanks for dropping by as always! X


Nadilah Magee said...

What a great idea, never think about it. Sometimes we just don't know how to do it, and I want to thank you for sharing the info. Sometimes, we need a little cash.
Great story.

Posie Patchwork said...

Absolutely, it's how i did it 10 years ago & still going strong. Love Posie

Emma Thomsen said...

Hi Nadilah, I'm glad you found it useful! And Posie Patchwork it's great you agree with me, do you have any suggestions I didn't think of? Thanks for dropping by.

Danielle said...

Thanks for posting this! I've been brainstorming a lot about how to make extra $. This should be obvious for me since I am over run with fabrics. But sometimes when you are on top of something, you can't see it! Hmmmm.....

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

What a really fabulous post Emma. This has to be the best TIPS post of the year so far! Thank You xx

Amy (Blighty Boutique) said...

Great post. I love Cath Kidston's Rosali for Ikea and I love those fat quarters too x

Letticeleaf said...

Brilliant idea... I've already started to 'bite the bullet' and get bundles together for our next Kitsch and Stitch Fair - 3rd September. That's the plug out of the way!
Trouble is and here's the rub, can I part with them!?! LLX

Anonymous said...

what lovely bundles of fabric! I use some scraps in small patchwork projects and hate throwing away fabrics, I have even freecycled them. Will have to keep an eye on ebay for future projects.

liniecat said...

here in Uk I buy from jumble sales traditionally where clothing items are generally priced at around 25p or 30p.
Car boot sales also have jumbly clothing often spread out on a tarpaulin beside the sales tables.
Its the luck of the draw but Ive stumbled on wonderful old vintage cottons, batiks or laura ashley prints, so its well worth the small cost and the laundering to have such a variety to work with.

I keep threatening to bag and sell them too but its abit like selling your children!

Emma Thomsen said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments, it's great to pass on ideas and really appreciate receiving your ideas in return! Good luck sorting out your stashes, I hope it's not too painful! ;)

lilyloves said...

Hi Emma, I did it slightly differently but can definitely vouch for the fact that it IS possible to build a successful fabric business with very little money. You just need to be prepared to grow very slowly and organicly.

When I started Sewbox I think I had about £1,000 available to buy stock. I know that sounds like an awful lot of money but you can normally wangle an ordinary overdraft to help out :) and then once you start selling, as money comes in you can buy more stock. And the real growth will come after 6 months or so when you can start to ask suppliers for credit terms. This allows you to buy stock but pay for it 30 or 60 days later - by which time you will hopefully have sold some of it and raised some cash! However most imported fabric isn't available on credit terms unfortunately, but British suppliers are usually sympathetic (once you've established a trading history with them).

Of course having stock is only one half of the equation, you also need people to find your shop, and I've just blogged about this actually, I hope you don't mind me linking to an article here on my blog about promoting your business for free -

Good luck with your business!

Emma Thomsen said...

Thanks Lilyloves, that's really helpful. You are very welcome to leave a link - every little helps as they say.

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

hi honey, just to say i have blogged abou this fab post xx

Scarlett said...

Such a great post, thanks for sharing :o) Scarlett x

Emma Thomsen said...

Annie thanks for the mention I really appreciate it!

Scarlett, I'm glad you enjoyed this post, thanks for dropping by.

Caroline Lovis said...

This has to be the most useful post I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and congratulations on having done it so well

Jo said...

Hi Emma,
I found your blog through Annie's (The felt Fairy) post. The is such an excellent and useful post. I'm just making things for fun at the moment, little creatures and things and started out by buying scraps of Liberty fabric from an ebay seller and felt from Annie. Great for making lots of little bits and pieces. I'll definitely pop back for more reading and have another nosey about soon!

Emma Thomsen said...

Caroline & Jo, I'm glad you found this post so interesting - it's so good to share! Thank you for dropping by I really appreciate it! ;)

Jade Graham said...

getting your fabric stock together can easily be done with no or little money (I know because I have done it myself, on Ebay). online business

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