August 10, 2017

Show IH: ModSewing, a site that lets you generate custom sewing patterns!


This is definitely a niche company, so I'll start from the beginning.

When you're sewing a piece of clothing using a pattern (i.e. a template showing you how to cut out the fabric and where to sew it together), you start off by cutting the pattern to a standard size. Then, in order to really tailor it to fit you, you either do a process called 'grading' (aka tons of geometry and cutting), or you just do madddd trial and error, try it on a million times and alter it, until it finally fits.

Both options are pretty annoying, and by far my least favorite part of sewing.

So, as a software engineer and hobby seamstress, I figured I could make a website that helps you take all your measurements, then uses those measurements to create a pattern in exactly your size, on the very first try.

I launched it yesterday, and I now have a mailing list with ~130 people, and a facebook group with ~80 people, and everyone seems very enthusiastic about the idea. I launched by posting on garment sewing facebook groups which have pretty enthusiastic and supportive users.

My next steps: try to get the word out a little more, and then add designs that people in my fb group are requesting (ie. by launching early, I learned that EVERYONE wants something with sleeves).

let me know if you have any suggestions or q's, and thanks a ton for reading!

  1. 2

    Nice site! Have you ever thought about letting other people sell their patterns, kind of like the bootstrap css template shops? They'll probably help market the site for you as well.

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      Thanks! I like the idea! Super long term, I want to make a tool that lets people make their own patterns with my algorithm.

  2. 2

    Hi, I don;t know anything about this industry but the design of the site looks really good.

    Maybe there are relevant subredddits that you can post and can help with getting the word out, also I think fb ads could work good for something like this

  3. 2

    A while ago, I learned to sew by hand for small things (torn holes, patches, etc). Then, I learned how to sew with a machine.

    I hate grading. Something about the 2D pattern turning into 3D shape and the process that my brain cannot comprehend. I can see this site being VERY useful.

    Start building a list of blogs, scrape the contact information and reach out to them. Same goes for YouTube, Instagram, and others. Maybe even reach out to Spoonflower and do a collaboration contest?

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      I hadn't heart of spoonflower!!! What a cool site. I'll definitely keep that in mind once I add some more patterns to the site. And youtube and insta are things I hadn't considered yet either. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. 1

    If hobbyist sewing is a niche then we might as well all pack up and go home. I know LOADS of middle aged, middle class female seamstresses.

    One of the consistent things about them is they have money to spend.

    There are loads of places to get an audience - think physical, e.g. sewing clubs etc. You could get some good feedback there.

    I think this has potential to be a great business.

    1. 2

      [I am totally kidding, I just couldn't resist]

      I originally thought it was more of a niche because I'm not really part of the demographic, since very few people in my social circle circle are into sewing, so when I explain the concept to people I often get blank stares. But posting on several fb groups over the past few days showed me that they are definitely out there.

      And it's very true, often the clothes I sew end up being more expensive than the clothes I buy, so what's a couple extra bucks to get it fitting right. I will definitely be on the lookout for physical groups I can join. I think that would be a way to get even more enthusiastic people.


      1. 1

        This is ideal though isn't it? You're a rarity - a technologist in your domain who has domain knowledge and the technical chops to create a solution.

        Just need to get out there and work out what the challenges are that seamstresses face and, more importantly, what they will pay to solve.

    2. 2

      "If hobbyist sewing is a niche then we might as well all pack up and go home. I know LOADS of middle aged, middle class female seamstresses."

      Hobby sewing is not the niche. The site that is focusing on a niche within the seamstress sewing community, which is grading.

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        Willing to be convinced, but that's not how I read the OP.

        I read it that grading is a current way of tailoring clothes, similar to what many cutters would call "made to measure", but it has flaws.

        Hence the different approach the OP is taking.

        Besides, the method by which you solve a problem is just the solution - the market is who you present your solution to. I don't think you should define your niche/market by your solution. Yes, it might be those that are currently grading initially, and maybe that's a good beachhead, but it feels like expanding to other levels/approaches wouldn't be too hard.

        BTW OP, I have a little experience in mens suits - AIUI this approach is what a "proper" cutter would do, using your measurements to create a pattern which is then cut.

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          Well, if you want to be really specific, it's a "niche company".

          Sewing is not the niche, but the projects requiring grading is, like apparel and then skirts within the category of apparel in this case.

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          That explains why suits are so expensive.

          I want to include menswear at some point too, but glad I didn't focus on it for launch. I expected the audience to be overwhelmingly female, but it's been 100% female so far. I think I'll focus on involving more dudes once the rest of the business is stable.

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            Definitely, good idea. I reckon there might be some hipster blokes who do this, but much much MUCH smaller niche.

            I actually think good properly tailored suits are decent value compared to "designer" suits which are often the same price!

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              Yes!! And I could see someone taking their own measurements then giving the pattern to someone else to actually sew up. I like it!