I am over at SewMamaSew today with a pattern I designed for this Baby Butterfly.
This butterfly is made to be a stroller toy (or you could attach it to your diaper bag) to entertain your baby when your out and about. Long line at the coffee shop? Stuck in traffic? Give the butterfly a little shake and hear him rattle (there is a jingle bell sewn into a little muslin bag inside the stuffing so she makes a nice sound) and squeeze his wings to hear him crinkle (a piece of a pretzel bag is sewn inside her wings!).
A quick, easy project, this sweet butterfly comes together with just a few pretty scraps and some ribbon from your stash.
Releasing this free pattern has caused me to reflect a little on what I've learned from these first three months of selling digital sewing patterns.
I began selling downloadable sewing patterns in March, both in my pattern shop on Craftsy and my shop on Etsy. All of the patterns are $6.50 and allow you to sell the toys you make with credit to me as the designer. The patterns contain step-by-step photos, clear written instructions, and full-sized templates to easily download and print out again and again. The Craftsy patterns are an instant download and the Etsy patterns I email out within 24 hours, but usually very quickly. Patterns sell just about equally well on both platforms.
The whole experience of selling digital patterns has been fantastic. After writing two books I feel very comfortable writing pattern instructions at a professional level and I am confident that I know what steps benefit most from a photo illustration. And most importantly I enjoy every part of the process of creating new patterns.
The best part of selling digital downloads, though, has been the feedback from watching what sells best. Looking at the sales numbers on a per pattern basis is incredibly informative. The biggest takeaway has been that patterns for baby toys are very popular. It would have taken me a long time to figure this out on my own without hard data to back it up. I love to sew baby gifts and clearly I'm not alone in this.
I still think patterns bundled together in a book offer value in providing a body of work that builds on itself over the course of a longer text, but these unbundled patterns allow me to release new designs much more quickly and to get immediate feedback in terms of sales numbers which is incredibly valuable.
Of the nine patterns I've released, the top three sellers are:
A few months ago I talked about how I signed a licensing contract with Simplicity to design toys for their crafts division. A few weeks ago I gave the Design Director at Simplicity access to all nine patterns so that she could choose three for their spring 2013 catalogue. (One of the great thing about the licensing arrangement is that I can still sell the patterns individually online.) Without knowing anything about the sales numbers, she chose these same three patterns! Fascinating.
Clearly these toys have broad appeal and I can see why. They are clever, cute, and not too intimidating. If you sew one and bring it to a baby shower, people are going to be impressed and you're going to feel great that you gave a unique, handmade gift. I'm right there with you!
The struggle, of course, is to allow the numbers to inform what I design next without letting sales statistics choose my creative path. I have to love what I'm working on in order for the design work to be successful AND I want to produce patterns that will sell well. So now the challenge is to create new patterns that fit both bills.
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