jute lumbar pillow Business Secrets from Successful Sewpreneur Melissa Mortenson decorative pillow shams

Hello We All Sew fans! My name is Melissa Mortenson and I’;m proud to be a BERNINA Brand Ambassador. ?I am also the girl behind the?Polka Dot Chair Blog, a published author and licensed fabric designer. Over the last few years I’;ve been able to turn my sewing hobby into a business and today I’;m going to share with you a few tips if you are an aspiring Sew-preneuer.

My very first book, “;Project Teen: 21 Handmade Gifts Teens will Actually Love”; was published last September and am giving away a signed copy to a lucky reader today. ?Make sure you keep reading to the end to find out how to enter.

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I started blogging in 2008 and have tried a lot of different things to turn my hobby into a job. Some worked, many didn’;t. I have to say that I have learned A LOT by trial and error and am still learning as I go. ?There are a few things that I’;ve learned that I think may?help someone who wants to make a career from sewing.

First up: Pick a Focus.

When I first began blogging I was writing sewing patterns and selling handmade tote bags. ?I opened an Etsy shop and soon realized that I didn’;t have the man power to keep up with both ventures. I made the decision to focus more on pattern writing and blogging instead of selling handmade goods. ?I have a dear friend who also faced a similar dilemma and went the handmade goods route. We’;ve both been able to stay busy and grow our businesses, and both learned it’;s hard to do both. Pick what your best at and focus on that.

Next: If you want it to be a viable?business?then treat it that way.

First of all ask yourselfjute lumbar pillow, is this a hobby or a business? If it’;s a business, treat it that way. Even though I work at home I have set hours that I work. I keep my business expenses separate from our family finances and I try to interact with people and companies that I work with in a professional manner.

Honor commitments and meet deadlines

Even though I work at home and can set my own schedule, I’;ve made it a priority to never miss a deadline. ?I frequently work with companies and have projects and time lines worked out with them to turn in my work. ?I don’;t email them and ask for more time, or send something late. ? Whether you are working with shops or selling goods, always do your best work and keep to the commitments you make.

Know when to say NO

This one took me a little while to realize. The largest amount of my time is spent creating content for my blog. I decided that as part of this I wanted to work with companies to create content for them. ?As I started doing this I began receiving requests from companies that wanted to work with me. Many of which wanted to offer me little to no?compensation. For a while I took the jobs in the hope that it would lead to something more. 9 times out of 10 it didn’;t. Whatever your business is recognize your worth and don’;t get overly excited and say yes to something that you probably should have said no to. Now I’;m much more selective with the projects I take on. This has helped me to free up time to work on other projects, like writing books and designing fabric. I was never going to have time to do either one if I took every job that came?my way.

Set goals

A few years ago I decided that I would like to try to write a book. I enjoy the?design?and writing process and it seemed only natural to me to extend that into writing a sewing book. ?For years I would say “;I’;m going to write a book”; then do nothing about it. ?I think I was waiting for someone to email me with some fantastic offer to write a book for them. Well the offer never came. ?I decided on New Years Day in 2013 that if it was going to happen it was going to be because I made it a goal and went after it. ?I spent the month of January that year putting together a 65 page book proposal and then sent it off to a publisher. A couple of months later I heard back from them and spend the rest of 2013 writing and editing my book. ?None of this would have happened had I not made it a goal that January to write that book proposal.

Dream a Little

If you had asked me a few years ago what my biggest “;dream”; was with regards to sewing, I would have said it was to have my own line of fabric. Assuming at the time that it would NEVER EVER happen.. it would just always be one of those “;dreams”;. Recently, after I had spent a great deal of time researching the industry and learning the skills I needed to design fabric, I pitched an idea to a fabric company and they liked it. ? My first fabric line Derby Style releases this month, and it never would have happened had I not at least had that dream. ?Be realistic with your goals but don’;t be afraid to dream just a little bit.

Bounce Back Quickly and Have a Thick Skin

I have been told “;no”; more times than I’;ve been told “;yes”; when it comes to my sewing business. ?Many times?it may seem that everyone around you is having great success but not?you. Know that behind the scenes that’;s not the case. ?There is a lot that you don’;t see. When set backs come don’;t let them keep you down for long. Take time to regroup and keep moving forward towards accomplishing your goals.


When I decided to pitch a book to be published I wanted to make sure that it was on a topic that I felt strongly about. ?I have?three teenagers and figured that would be a great place to start looking for inspiration.

Doesn’;t it sometimes seem that when your kids are little there are a million things that you can sew for them, but then they start to grow up and you seem to run out of ideas. Well I wasn’;t one that wanted to stop sewing for my kids as they became teens and tweens and I figured that I wasn’;t alone in feeling that way. ?My book “;Project Teen”; is full of handmade gift ideas to sew for the teens and tweens in your life. It’;s also a great recourse of fun projects for a teen who loves to sew.

?I’;m giving away a signed copy to a lucky reader. To enter just leave a comment on this post.?

The lucky winner is: Amy M., OR. Enjoy Melissa’;s book!

Tell me:

Since it’;s New Years and many people are setting goals (both business and personal) and making resolutions, what is your resolution this year? Or do you not make them at all? I’;m curious what everyone’;s thoughts are on the subject.

?Open to US residents only.

Here are a few additional photos of some of the projects in the book:



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