Let’s talk about quality sewing skills. Let’s face it, just like most people are average, most hand-made Ebay and Etsy items are average. That’s just a fact. But what makes something average versus awesome?

Is your work less impressive than others? If so, you need to be realistic about what you’re going to get at auction. Is it time to get a better product, learn a different technique, go back and take more classes. Are you making something exactly like a million other ladies? I love that quote by Dolf De Roos,

“Don’t learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade”

I’m happy to admit that I’m not a great seamstress, in fact, it’s probably the weakest part of my work. So when I say you need to evaluate your skills, I’m not trying to be overly judgmental, or discourage you. Many of you are much better seamstresses than me.

But here’s the good news. You’re probably your own harshest critic. Sometimes this isn’t true, but lots of times artists are brutal with themselves, and the average person, not informed on the tradecraft, will look at the finished product and be very impressed. So go easy.

Get other people’s perspective. Take your best shot at selling, and if the response is flat, ask yourself the hard questions about quality. But maybe it’s just your listing that’s bad. Maybe it’s just your photography. Maybe it’s just your credibility indicators. Maybe it’s just your pricing strategy. That’s where the Auction Blueprint might come in handy. Remember the story about Picasso and the lady.

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

You’re Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

It’s perfect! she gushed. You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?

Five thousand dollars‘ the artist replied.

B-b-but, what? The woman sputtered. How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life”.

What’s the morale of the story? I suppose there are a couple of ideas that stand out. As an artist, people will always try to impose their reality upon you. Their price, they’re schedule, they’re ‘deal’. They’ll try to compare you to others, to explain to you why you shouldn’t get the price you want. You’ve got to know how your quality compares to others, and hold your ground. If it doesn’t compare well, keep working at it. But if it’s awesome, then stand firm.

9 Comments on Sewing Skills…

  1. I use my daughter as a guide:she doesn’t sew,,so I ask her what she thinks of the outfit I made.
    She has bought clothes for my grandaughters dolls before I started making them,,so she can let me know how mine stack up in quality to the others she has bought,from other ebay sellers and things bought in stores.
    So I say ask someone that doesn’t sew what they think!

  2. I am my own worst enemy. I use to sew for childrens boutiques and commanded a high price, but I never felt like i was worth it, it became so stressful i had to stop doing customs.

    • HI Anna, It might be hard to believe, but I often feel the same way… My husband thinks it part of what leads to my succcess though, the harder I am on myself the better my items get over time. Each time the detail and scale get better 🙂 That’s what makes a great artist! If people are willing to pay the prices, you need to trust that you and your items are worth it!


  3. Cinnamon I know I should not be so hard on myself but I am such a perfectionist that I could not keep up with demand, lol. I am thinking doll clothes will be much easier for me. I am very good at tiny sewing so I am not worried about that. also by selling online I know I can control it much better than trying to keep up with a shop owners demands since I will be the shop owner. My daughter is now into AG dolls but not happy with the clothing offered so I know this is a place to be also with pagent sewing as I did before the increasing price of materials and time devoted was cutting seriously into profit. so I am believe that as soon as I get everything moved and unpacked in july I will be ready to start production and design. maybe a few limited editions of pagent dresses are in order, lol

    • Funny, I’ve actually had requests for pagent dress outfits and patterns 🙂 They’d probably do pretty well!

  4. well give me a few months to develop it. I know the outfits and patterns will do very well. they are typically 2 piece so tops and bottoms can be mixed and matched

  5. I think my sewing skills are very good so I thought I was pricing appropriately in my shop but haven’t sold anything there. I went to a small town carnival ( of all things lol) and when people saw my products I actually sold a couple hundred dollars of clothing. I got $10.99 for basic denim shorts!

  6. my comment comes in the form of a question: Is it necessary to include care labels in doll clothes.

    • We include a branded label, but not care instructions. I think if you did it would be valuable to your buyers.

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