Top 4 reason Sewing Birthday Parties are the best!

1. Anyone can have one! Yes! ANYONE can have a sewing birthday party!
Well anyone who is turning at least 7 years old, that is! There are no pre-requisite skills for the birthday child or guests! Our sewing birthday parties are in a way where each child learns how to safely use the sewing machine at the birthday party. They then have a chance to practice their skills at the party. And then yes, they actually make a real project to take home. It’s amazing how fast kids pick up on using the sewing machine with our special sewing machines made for beginners!

2. Projects made at a kids sewing birthday party are objects of love that kids & parents will be proud of, take home, and cherish for years to come.
The projects you make at our sewing parties are not throw aways. They are quality keepsake items made from fabric that will serve as childhood memories for years and years. We all know that kids do a lot of activities. Kids make  lot of things and they bring home A LOT of stuff they make. So much that sometimes parent’s don’t know what to do with everything, let alone where to keep it all. When you attend a sewing birthday party, each guest will make an adorable project from fabric that will be finished in a way that will hold up, not fall apart and last for years to come, because it’s made of fabric. We can’t tell you how many parents we’ve met through the years who let me know they still have ALL the sewing projects their son or daughter made in in our classes or at birthday parties they’ve attended.

3. You can have a sewing birthday party just about ANYWHERE.
Yes, that’s right. Sewing birthdays can take place in all kinds of different places. They definitely don’t have to happen in a sewing studio. Our sewing parties are mobile and work wonderfully in living rooms, pizza parlors, church basements or just about anywhere there are a couple of tables and room for all the kids. Our trained instructors are used to setting up sewing machines and cutting tables in all kinds of different places. We’re really good at making the space work and we’re more than comfortable teaching kids in many different atmospheres. A sewing birthday party feels really comfortable and cozy when it’s taking place in your home. Or if you’d like to hold it in a local place of business, most places are okay with it, as long as you’re purchasing something from their establishment. The possibilities are endless when you can take the sewing birthday party on the road!

4. Since sewing is usually a brand new activity for the kids, they’re (almost) always really into it!
What kid doesn’t want to learn how to use a machine that allows you to make clothing, stuffed animals,accessories and stuff to decorate your bedroom? Especially a machine that has a gas pedal attached to it that they are allowed to control. It’s rare that you’ll find a child who is not immediately really interested in learning how to make something with a sewing machine. There’s a sense of pride you get when it’s your turn to use this machine that is ordinarily used by adults. And when learning to use it in this party setting, accompanied by our train instructors, you feel safe. You know guests are learning how to use the machine properly and safely.

Email marketing to promote my sewing classes – Where the heck do I begin?

SEW you’re ready to up your email marketing game!

Awesome!

Let me help you get started!

First off – Don’t worry about how small your email list is!

That will grow. Everybody has got to start somewhere, right?

But right now, just jump right in and start writing an awesome email to your database!

Write an email that is immediately going to have an impact on people signing up for your classes!

Couple pointers:

  • Get right to the point. Don’t beat around the bush. You’re telling your customers about what you have going on and the purpose is to get people to sign up. Try to just that.
  • Don’t include EVERYTHING you have going on. I find emails are way more effective if you stick to one or two majors things you have going on. Too many messages gets way overwhelming for your reader!
  • Don’t include a bunch of photos. People love emails that seems like they’re personally talking to them. Everyone is sick of real promotional type emails full of huge images, selling selling selling. Describe what you have going in non-pushy sales language. Maybe include one photo and that’s it.
  • Use your BCC & NEVER write an email from your regular email system and copy a bunch of people on it. All it takes one angry person to hit reply all and you’ve got a situation!

Okay……..Go!

Not sure what to write? Okay we can help with that as well!

Would you like a free example of high converting promotion email we sent recently?

Get your Free Promotional Email Sample

And start promoting your awesome sewing classes today!

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And start promoting your awesome sewing classes today!

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Do you want to get started teaching adult sewing classes ASAP? Try this clutch project!

Back in the day, would you believe M Avery Designs Sewing Studio got our start teaching sewing classes “Girl’s Night Out” Handbag Parties!

Ladies would book themselves and their closest girl pals for a night of wine, snacks, laughter and of course, learning how to sew their very own handbag.

It was a great Friday or Saturday night activity, creative bachelorette party or even unique baby shower! We still do these parties today because they’re SEW much fun. They’re also a great way to show a bunch of ladies who don’t normally sew, just how fun sewing can be!

If you’re looking for a great project to jump in and try teaching in a class at your own studio (or even at a coffee shop, boutique or some other mobile location) we’ve got the perfect project to get your started!

fold_over_clutch_megan

This adorable fold over clutch, that even has a zipper is easy enough to complete sewing novice can complete it in a 2 hour workshop! But it’s also fool-proof & way cuter that you’d expect a 2 hour bag to come out! I mean, it even has a zipper!

Don’t let that zipper fool you!

You don’t need to take my word for it! We’re giving this bag pattern, tutorial and lesson plan so you can try it out for yourself!

Just sign up here to get the download. It’s that simple!

Get started teaching today!

Fold_over_clutch_megan

Download this FREE zippered clutch Hipstitch Academy sewing project curriculum! Includes project pattern & tutorial.

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Hiring Great Sewing Instructors – What’s the Secret Sauce?

Often I tell people how finding great people to teach sewing is probably the hardest thing about running my sewing studio business.

Good people are hard to find! Especially when you’re most likely only hiring them part time!

Do you want a free customizable Help Wanted Ad you can use to find great people for your sewing business? If so, keep reading!

When you’re looking to hire great people for your team, the person you’re hiring will have to have some pretty specific qualifications:

  • They need to know how to sew pretty well.
  • They need to be organized.
  • They should be cheerful and great with people.
  • And most important, they should be good at teaching!

You’ve got some specific needs! And you’ve probably got some to add to this list!

But what’s the trick to finding these special people who’d fit in with your team?

First and foremost –  I find it’s helpful to write a really thorough help wanted ad! And I’ve got one that I’m going to share with you!

Your help wanted ad should be detailed about what you are looking for in order to weed out the people who aren’t going to fit right out of the gate!

Your ad should entice people to WANT to work for your company!

AND your ad should show applicants how serious you are about finding good people.

Sign up below and we’ll get you the ad, ASAP!

Do you need some help with hiring great instructors?

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Download the FREE Hipstitch Academy sample "Help Wanted" ad so you can start hiring great sewing instructors today!

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An Affordable Dress Form We Actually LOVE!

photo 2As a sewing teacher and owner of a sewing studio, I have a lot of students asking me to recommend dress forms for use at home. I’m often at a loss for what to tell them as the good dress forms are very expensive! And the affordable ones just aren’t worth it because the quality is so poor.

But recently a site called The Shop Company contacted me and asked if I would like to review one of their dress forms. It seemed like a good opportunity since their forms are available online and are relatively affordable. If I liked it, I would have a great recommendation for my students looking to purchase dress forms. AND the studio would get a brand new dress form out of the deal. Sign me up!

Here’s what I love about our Shop Company Dress Form:

  • From the get-go, it was super easy to put together. It came with clear instructions on putting the pieces together and I had it up and ready to rock in about 10 minutes.

  • Right away you could tell it was a good quality dress form. It felt really sturdy with it’s metal base and was very balanced as soon as I got it put together. Will be able to with stand the rough handling to 10 year old aspiring fashion designers.
    photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The cage at the bottom helps you to get your hems level. Very handy!

  • The foot pedal on it makes it super easy to raise and lower the dress form depending on what you’re working on and how tall you are. Often our stitchers are shorter than usual.

  • She’s on wheels so moving her around the studio is a snap.

  • There are detachable arms that come with it. This makes it really useful for trying out different sleeve options.

  • There is enough padding on the dress form to be able to pin easily. You may need to pin at a side angle because you can’t do it straight in like on a higher end model, but I’ll save the $600 any day and pin at a slight angle.

  • This form is professional quality and has all the marks you need for draping, pattern making, and fitting: princess seams, armhole plates, side seams, neckline, waistline tape, under bust seams, etc.  Extremely handy.

  • You can’t beat the price! The model that the Shop Company sent our studio retails on their website for about $225. Just to price comparison a bit, a much lower quality dress form (in my opinion) is the Dritz Full Figure Dress form. On Joann’s website this dress form retails for $289 and even with the 40% off coupon, it’s not even close to worth it compared to how much better this dress form from the Shop Company is.

  • It’s just a very good looking dress form. The quality fabric on it makes it look pretty in our studio.
    photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m happy to report I have a dress form that I am happy to recommend to students looking to purchase one for themselves!

My 3 Must Have Sewing Machine Features

Between the machines we’ve used for our sewing classes over the years (which have been MANY) and all the different machine models people have brought to class and private lessons, I’m guessing it’s close to 100 different kinds of sewing machines.

I’ve never really been to picky about what machines we will teach our students are allowed to sew on in our classes. If you’ve got an old vintage singer from your grandmother, you’re welcome to bring it and use it in class, as long as it works properly!  You’re even welcome to bring it to our sewing machines basics class and we’ll teach you how to thread it and use it!

And back in our first sewing classes, we literally had a mish-mash of old and new sewing machines that we taught our sewing classes on. We started our business on a shoestring, so whatever machines we could get our hands on, as long as they were operating, we’d use them in our sewing classes. We didn’t have the money to purchase all of one kind of sewing machines until a few years later!

But after we did start teaching classes on all of one kind of sewing machine, we realized pretty quickly how much easier it is to teach when every one has the same sewing machine! We also learned about a few features of the sewing machine we can no longer live without when teaching sewing classes. And they’re somewhat surprising things we didn’t give much thought to before.

Here they are:

1. Needle up button


needle_up

It’s funny because I’ve always worked on old sewing machines with no fancy features. When I’m at sewing trade shows, in a sewing machine shop or when my students bring in the fancier models that have all kinds of automatic features, I really don’t get that excited! It all just seems to me like a bunch  of extra stuff you don’t really need. Kind of like extra sewing gadgets and tools. They just take up extra space and you almost always can make-do without them.

But when I learned how great it was to have that “Needle-up Button” on the sewing machine, my life was changed forever.

Here’s the reason. On a regular, non-fancy sewing machine, the flywheel makes the needle go up and down. If you teach your students to turn it towards you, you’re good to go. But for whatever that isn’t always natural for a new sewing student! Often new sewing students:

  1.  Turn the fly wheel away from you (the wrong way), which most sewing machines hate!
  2. Or they turn the flywheel part of the way (up or down) leaving the needle somewhere between up and down. When you then try to pull your project away to cut the threads, there are three or four threads there (?) or it feels hard to pull away because it’s tangled inside the sewing machine.

If you teach you students to utilize the needle up/down button, these problems are eliminated and you may even hear a choir of angels singing in then background of your sewing class.

2. Automatic Speed control

speed_control

This is also another one of these features where you don’t realize how essential it is until you use it!

OMG – I can no longer teach kids how to sew without the feauture. And believe me, I just tried last week! We do a lot of off-site classes and I tend to try to leave machines at the schools we teach at. I was low on machines when it came for this class to start. I brought a couple of machines I had in the studio from before we started using the SB700t for most of our classes. I had an older model brother & my trusty tank of a Bernina from the 80’s. Of course this class was super young and most had not sewn before. We got through the first 1 hour of class, but I’ll be purchasing a couple of machines with the speed control before I teach there again this week.

Not having the ability to start them off really slow is completely nerve wracking as a teacher. They don’t have the necessary foot control to make the speed slow and steady. And while I have done it before (hundreds of times) knowing what I now know, it’s just easier to pick up a few more machines to not have the stress of teaching on a machine that vrooms out of control the minute the kids foot hits the pedal.

3. That the machine doesn’t sew when the presser foot is up.

presser_footPretty self explanatory, but another one that doesn’t become crystal clear until you get used to sewing on a machine that wont go unless the presser foot is up.

 

Hindsight is 20/20 they say, but wow! Try going back to teaching on a machine that will happily work even when the presser foot is up?! Ugh, the worst! All the threads getting tangled & the chance for little fingers to slide under the raised presser foot are far to great! It’s enough to make you go out and purchase a couple more machines with this feature before teaching again with the ones that don’t have it.

 

On that note, I’m going to close this blog post and immediately head to my local brother dealership, Rocks Paper Scissors in Monthclair NJ ! I need two machines for the little fingered class I’ll be teaching at 3pm. Have a great weekend, y’all!

 

 

 

Where do I turn for Sewing & Business Inspiration?

It’s sometimes overwhelming all the sewing & entrepreneurial information that is at our fingertips these days!

I’m a fan of all of it and wanted to share with you some of my favorites!

Lately I am totally hooked on podcasts. I think it’s such a refreshing way to learn because it doesn’t involve staring at a screen!

I can do all sorts of other things while I listen like sew or excercise!  I’ve listed my favorites below.

I’ve also included some of my favorite sewing events, retreats and conferences! I don’t attend a lot of them, but wish I could add more to my schedule.

You can also check out my favorite youtube channels and of course all my top favorite blogs & websites.

We’d love to hear about your favorites! Please feel free to list them in the comments! xo, Megan

My Favorite Podcasts

Being Boss
Seamwork Radio
Modern Sewciety
Craftsanity
While She Naps
Girl Boss Radio
Dear Handmade Life
Sewing Out Loud
Dear Sugar
Elise Gets Crafty
The Introvert Entrepreneur

My Favorite Youtube Channels

Creative Bug
The Fat Quarter Shop
Craftsy
Thread Banger
Jo-ann Fabric & Craft Stores
Crafty Gemini Creates
Marie TV
Sew Over It
Man Sewing
A Beautiful Mess

My Favorite Websites & Blogs

Tilly and the Buttons
Oona Balloona
Grainline Studio
Male Pattern Boldness
Jolies Bobines
Sewaholic
Sew Mama Sew
Craftsy
Craft Industry Alliance

My Favorite Events, Retreats, Conferences & Trade Shows

Sew Pro
Quilt Market
Quiltcon
Sewtopia
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo
Camp Workroom Social
Association of Sewing & Design Professionals

 

How I Use Email Marketing to Promote Sewing Classes

As the school year is progressing here in the Eastern US, all our sewing classes are slowly but surely getting up and running (both for kids & adults). As the chief marketer of my sewing business,  I find myself sending a lot of emails.

Over the years, I have discovered that sending strategically targeted emails to my mailing list makes a ton of difference in acquiring sign ups to my classes. And according to these statistics I found about email marketing, that totally makes sense.

According to US Marketers, June 2016, here are the median ROI (return on investment) for select marketing channels

  • Email – 122%
  • Social Media – 28%
  • Direct Mail – 27%
  • Paid Search – 25%
  • Online Display 18%

According to US Marketers, June 2016, the CPA (cost per acquisition) for select channels are the following:

  • Direct Mail $27.53
  • Social Media $21.95
  • Paid Search $21.50
  • Online Display $19.50
  • Email $10.23*
    *Side note: If you’re using Mail Chimp and you don’t have a large list (I believe under 2000 people), it’s free to use! So that CPA would be the time it takes you to write the email. 

SEW – now that we know email marketing is the way to go (and in most cases can be done for free, or little money) how do we get started using email marketing?

You need a list, but how do you start accumulating email addresses?

Website – Add a pop up that captures peoples email addresses and adds them directly to your subscription list.

Classes/Birthday Parties : Have “email address” as one of the fields on your waiver.

-Free events like street fairs & networking nights: Have a list displayed so people can sign up spot for your list.

Free promotional workshops: Invite people in for Easy free workshops. It not only is a way to build your list, it give people a taste of sewing and wanting to learn more.

What should the email say? Try to remember the 4 U’s: 

The four U’s represent the following words:
Urgent – Try to include something that’s time sensitive and is going to get people to act on something. To buy something, download something, attend a class or event, etc.
Unique – Try to make your email interesting and different. Everyone get’s tons of emails. Make yours stand out so it gets read.
Useful – Offer a benefit, solve a problem, or provide some sort of value for your audience.
Ultra Specific – Include as many details as you can. Date, time, pricing, location, etc. Do skimp on the details!

What’s the deal with sewing machine needles? Why SEW confusing?

What's the deal with sewing machine needles?

One of my favorite roles as sewing teacher is showing someone how to make THEIR sewing machine work for them.

Expensive, cheap, fancy, simple, old, new, Brother, Singer, Bernina. We love them ALL.

We don’t selling sewing machines in our studio, so we’re never urging them to buy one of ours, nor are we partial to one brand. I feel strongly that you can make *almost* any sewing machine work for you, as long as you treat it right.

So when people bring their cheap-o singer machines they bought in target and all it does is jam. Yeah – we can work with that. In fact, there is something totally satisfying about showing someone how to get that baby going!

Here’s the first thing I check: What’s happening with the needle?

  • Is the needle inserted in the machine correctly? Be sure the flat part of the upper needle is facing towards the back. Sometimes this is where the writing is. Writing & flat side should be facing away from you. The eye of the needle should be visible from the front. Place your finger behind the eye to make the whole more visible. Most modern sewing machines the needle will thread front to back. If you have an older machine and suspect it threads left to write, confirm by checking the manual or by doing a google search.
  • Is the needle pushed up as far as it’s supposed to go? When you insert the needle into the spot where it goes, make sure the screw that holds the needle in there is all the loosened. Then when you push the needle up, you should feel it hit the bar. That’s when you tighten. First tighten with your fingers and then follow up tighten with a screw driver to make sure the needle doesn’t fall out later while you’re sewing. 
  • Is it bent? Even the slightest bend in the needle can affect the way your sewing machine is stitching. Take the needle out of your sewing machine and inspect it closely. Lay it on the table and see if it lays flat? Run your finger along to see if there is a curve to the needle. 
  • Is the sewing machine threaded correctly? Maybe this one should go first, but I wanted this post to be more about troubleshoot your sewing machine needle. But it goes without saying that if your sewing machine is not threaded correctly, it’s not going to sew correctly. Check your manual or do a quick google search if you don’t have access to the manual. Follow the steps CLOSELY and thread your needle. 9 times out of 10 if you’re machine is not working, it’s just not threaded correctly. 
  • Is it the right type of needle for their machine? Nowadays most home sewing machines use the same type of sewing machine needle. It has a flat back and rounded front. These are the ones that you’ll find at your notions stores. Some common brands are Singer (which tend to be slightly longer than other brands, but if you have a singer will work just fine), Schmetz & Organ. All are available on Amazon, as well.  But maybe you’re sewing on an older model and it requires a special type of needle. Again – you’re going to have to check your manual or find a PDF of the manual on google.
  • Is it the right type of needle for what they are sewing? The really big question – Keep on reading for a little sewing machine needle primer. 

Universal Point – The point is slightly rounded and can be used for most woven fabrics. These needles come in different sizes. The three most common sizes are 70/10 (sm), 80/12 (med) and 90/14 (lg). There are two numbers listed because needle manufacturers include both the american sizing (first number) and the European sizing, rather than just one or the other. In our classes we tend to keep the largest size on our machines, most of the time. They aren’t as easy to break and tend to last the longest. But if a student is working with very thin, delicate fabric, we’ll switch it up to a slightly smaller universal needle or even a sharp point needle (see below).

Ball Point – These are the needles used for sewing knit fabrics. The tip of the needle is rounded so that when it goes in and out of the stretchy fabric fibers it doesn’t break the threads in the weave. If you’ve noticed that you’re sewing knits and it’s not sewing a stitch each time the needles goes up and down, this is why. Try switching to a ball point needle and you’ll see a dramatic difference. Quick note, keep your ball points in a special container and be sure to take it off the machine after your done sewing knits (unless of course that’s all you sew.).

Sharp Point – The tips of these needles are, you guessed it, sharp. They are used with woven fabrics that require a slightly sharper tip when sewing. For example sharps are better for fabrics that have a slightly tighter weave and tend to be a little more delicate.

There are obviously way more types of needles than just the three I’ve listed above, but in all my years of sewing and teaching, these are the three we tend to use over and over again. The less sewing junk I have to deal with the happier person and teacher I am.

I hope this helps clarify all your sewing machine needle questions. If you have something specific that is still confusing you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Our first video chat – In case you missed it, here’s the recording!

FullSizeRender (1)We  had a nice little chat yesterday morning with about 5 people joining in. We’ve decided that we’ll definitely make it a monthly thing. I love to connect with people doing similar things as me and really get inspired every time I talk with all of you!

Along the course of the call we all got to know each other a bit and learn bit more about our businesses. What’s working, what’s not, what were struggling with, how we can make it grow, etc.

We also spent a lot of the conversation talking about having employees and all agreed this is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of having your own business. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Its funny because after the call I had one of my most challenging days with my summer camp instructors. They’re wonderful people, but one of them made a really big mistake yesterday and the other didn’t know what was going on when I asked her about it (and she really should have as she had explained the situation to a parent and had no idea what she was talking about. Ugh!) It was so hard to shake that feeling of dread all day after it happened.

Anyway – if you missed the call, most of it is recorded.

I have also added dates for the next to calls in September and in October. We’d love for you to join us for those!

Hope you have a great Wednesday!

xo,
Megan

PS: If you’re in need of sewing class curriculum for 1st – 6th graders, there are 10 new projects for sale on the website. I’d love to hear what you think!