Dear Seller…. how about a little help…

A few weeks ago someone sent me an email asking for some advice about her Ebay listings. She was discouraged that her doll outfits weren’t going anywhere… it was like they had just stalled and she was considering selling her dolls and getting out of the sewing business. I could feel her pain and her heartache over making something and thinking it was really nice… only to have it receive very few hits, hopeful, because a few questions were asked about it, and then, ultimately getting that awful email from Ebay… “I’m sorry! Your item did not sell! Would you like to Relist?” NO! I don’t want to relist! I just want to cry! Why didn’t it sell? So and so’s dresses aren’t even as nice as mine and hers sell… what’s wrong with mine? Why won’t people buy from me?

How many of you can relate to that?

I’ve been right there with you with no sales before and believe me, I’ve cried too! Many times! I know what it’s like to work 2 or 3 days on something and then have it sell for $24.99 or not have it sell it all… So I’m going to try and lift up your spirits and see if I can help you… and trust me, I AM NO EXPERT… I just have a lot of experience in doing this for 10 years on Ebay and 10 years of selling at my local Farmer’s Market.
I’ll just tell you my thoughts in no particular order…

~ You HAVE to use nice fabrics… not just something you found at the thrift shop. People only have SO much money to spend and they generally like to spend it wisely. If you have crummy fabrics, your sales won’t be as nice as if you used a better quality fabric. I’m not saying you have to use $12.99 a yard cotton fabrics, but watch for sales and pick up the pretty fabrics…the ones that make your heart sing, the dainty fabrics, the soft fabrics, the ones that aren’t stiff or look like they would fade, or have too big of prints on them. Use fabrics that make your dolls prettier!

I’m working on this dress right now, but isn’t Betsy McCall pretty in it. It compliments her, don’t you think?


~ Make sure your pictures are as clear and precise as you can make them. I know it’s easy to use your phone for your listings but a phone camera generally doesn’t produce a picture that is as sharp and crisp as a camera. It doesn’t have to be an expensive 35mm camera either. I have a little Casio camera with 7.2 megapixels and it takes pretty clear pictures for my Ebay listings. It was $91.00 and even though my daughter, Rebecca thinks I need something better, I’m perfectly content with it. Sometimes the pictures taken on a phone camera look somewhat fuzzy… it’s hard to make out the details on them and hard to see the quality of your work. I know it’s easier to take pictures on your phone, but it’s not as good as when a camera is used. People want to see clear, precise pictures when they are buying something. If they can’t see the workmanship and the stitching, they aren’t as likely to buy.



~ Don’t just have your description in one BIG paragraph. Nobody wants to read something that is just line after line after line of words. Break it up a bit. Make it less “wordy.” Maybe put one sentence on each line… or do it bullet style… you know like:
…just use the descriptive words instead of sentences, maybe like this:
* Blue cotton pants with turned up cuffs
*Cream short sleeve top with decorative pocket and snaps in the back
*Silver shoes with bows at the toes

~ Work on your lighting so you don’t have shadows… (I’m still working on this since I switched up my sewing room. The lighting is in a different place and I need to keep figuring out what works best.) Lighting is probably one of the top things that can make a difference in your listings.

~ Make sure your doll clothes or whatever it is you are making are neat… no stray threads laying on top of the fabric, no gathering stitches showing, make sure the neck opening of the doll dress is centered on the dolls neck, make sure the sleeves are both puffed up or laying flat, make sure the sleeves are the same length under the arms…don’t have one cuff up under the dolls armpit and the other one halfway to her elbow.

~ Press! Press! Press! Nothing says homemade like an outfit that hasn’t been pressed! Press as you go too. There really isn’t any getting around this… You HAVE to press as you go! Make sure everything you are sewing is as crisp as can be… flat edges, smooth hems, wrinkle free skirts. Using a steam iron is best if you have one. If you can’t get the center crease out of your fabric, DON’T cut your doll skirt out where it’s going right down the middle and jumping out at you. Cut it off to the side if you have to.



~ If you are listing a doll dress, use a 3/4 shot for your Gallery picture. There really isn’t any need to show the whole set from head to toe for your Gallery picture. Include the dolls head and just past her waist. (Doesn’t this Gallery picture of Lian and Janie make you want to open up the listing and see the rest of the dress?)



This will let your viewers see it and they’ll know there is more included but you’ll get them to see the details on the top, which really is the focal point of the dress. Even if you have a dress with a fancy bottom, still zoom in on it for your Gallery picture. You have to get their attention first. Your listing has to catch their eye. Most people think they HAVE to show the whole outfit, but really you don’t. Once they are intrigued enough to click on it, they’ll go ahead and look at the rest of the pictures.

~ Turn your dolls slightly sideways when you take their pictures. I try to take most of my pictures with the doll NOT looking straight into the camera. Have them look sideways or down (NOT UP) but not so many pictures looking STRAIGHT into the camera. It’s the least flattering shot there is. Try to pose your dolls in pretty positions, not always just standing there like they are soldiers in a line up.



~ Always think of ways to improve your sewing or your skills for whatever it is you do. Read books…I’m reading 3 right now on crafting and how to make your business more profitable. There are a ton of things you can learn from just simple books like these. I may have to do a book review when I’m done.

~ Well, that’s about all I have to share… All you sellers who can relate to this, just hang in there. It’s slow on Ebay right now… it will pick up soon when it’s closer to the holidays. Just keep sewing even when you don’t feel like it. There have been times when I was sewing and crying at the same time.. but I kept sewing… don’t give up. I’ve been sewing and selling my doll clothes since 2006…so 10 years now, and it takes a long time to get a following of people who like your things well enough to keep coming back. I have been VERY blessed to have had that happen to me! But I am nobody any different than you! If I can be successful, so can YOU!

So these few points were what I shared with this lady and I checked a few days later to see if she had done anything I mentioned. She had taken new pictures and pressed her doll hats for a crisper look. I’m happy to tell you 3 out of the 4 dresses sold! She was thrilled and so was I!

Happy Sewing and Selling to all!!!

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

Please spread the word!Pin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPrint this pageEmail this to someone


  1. Great ideas. I’m so pleased it worked.
    I’ve been thinking what I look for as a buyer.

    *Good pictures — my friend Nikki said that once her pictures improved so did her sales and prices. In her case, it was access to a better camera and much better lighting. That allowed her backgrounds to show up better, and that attracted more attention.

    *Well groomed dolls — hair should be neat and shining, dolls should be wearing shoes and probably socks or tights. A seller who does not take care of her dolls is not going to take care of the clothes she sells.

    *Fabric design should be centered. If it’s not, the seller doesn’t know much about sewing and the inside of the dress will be messy, which means that the outside will usually have some problems in addition to not looking quite right because of the fabric placement.

    *Gathers — if a design catches my eye, the next thing I look for is the quality of the gathering. If it’s not precise and even, there will be other sewing flaws I will see after I receive the outfit. I don’t buy things with poor gathers.

    *Hem — it should be invisible. If it’s a narrow machine stitched hem, it’s likely to gather and make the dress look cheap. Some fabrics, like taffeta and satin, are worse about this than others.

    *Packaging — if the item arrives messy from careless packing, I know the seller doesn’t care about her work or her (now former) buyer. If the item looks messy in the pictures, it must be very hard to find or I won’t buy it. If it looks neat in the photos, I expect it to be neat when it arrives. If it’s not, I am not likely to buy from that person again.

    Most sellers put small items in small plastic bags or wrap them in tissue or wrap them and then bag the wrapped item. Recently someone sent me a rare early garden party dress which they just tossed into an envelope, catching some of the delicate chiffon in the top of the envelope. I’m very careful opening envelopes, nevertheless, I cut the hem of the dress. Fortunately I could feel the texture change and stopped quickly, and the cut was on a underskirt and could be repaired to some extent. I wrote a polite note to explain the problem and the seller seemed upset, saying that since it was a soft item, she thought it would be safe. The “soft item” included flowers, which are easily crushed and could have snagged the dress. It was absolutely certain to be wrinkled, and had proven itself to be unsafe. You know that joke about the person whose computer doesn’t work because it’s not plugged in? It was like that — this is not a person who is going to learn from mistakes, this is someone who doesn’t understand the nature of fabric and should move on to selling something indestructible. I gave her a neutral rating, which Ebay hates, because I didn’t have the heart to give her the negative one she deserved.

    When I receive one of Jeanne’s outfits, it’s packed like the Smithsonian would pack Jackie Kennedy’s inaugural ball gown. I immediately feel I have something worth twice what I paid. It also means that I’ll be looking to see what she offers next and will hope to buy from her again.

    *Communication — you don’t get much communication on Ebay, but you do get some on Etsy. I have found most of these people to be cheerful, charming, and helpful. If the competition is going to be cheerful, charming, and helpful, then you as a seller have to meet those standards as well.

    It’s going to be fun to see what other people look for.

    • OH my goodness Marilyn,
      You either need to write a book or start your own blog! All your thoughts are wonderful and adds a lot more to what I mentioned. Your one line….”I don’t buy things that have poor gathers” made me laugh. Lots of people would never notice…or maybe they do, but they don’t know they do! YOU DO! :o)
      I picked up my phone very early this morning and read your comments! They made me smile…then I went back to sleep. Thank you SO much…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Wow, great post. I don’t sell, but if I did I would take your words to heart.
    Headed out to fix a cabin plumbing valve. 6 hour round trip. 🙁

    • Hi Joy,
      Today must be a good work day. We just finished the porch painting. It hasn’t looked this good EVER! When my hubby gets the top of the rafters bleached off, I’ll take pictures and show you what we did.
      I hope you have success on your plumbing trip… plumbing ALWAYS requires an extra trip into town for something you forgot you needed. :o(
      Thanks so much Joy,
      Blessings, Jeanne

      • This is special. A cabin 30 miles from a plumbing store, if they have it. Snowed yesterday so there were several inches of beautiful snow. So we brought everything we thought we might need and more, and we had success!! Our shark bite plumbing piece was stuck, but got it working. So worried about that. Fixed the shutoff valve and the system is working. Got the pump going and got water!! Always so happy when the faucet finally starts flowing. Yay. We pump water from a spring near the cabin. Temp inside the cabin was not even showing. Like around 0. Took two hours to warm to 50. I’ve been doing the cabin plumbing turn on and shut down since I was in college, many years ago. But there can always be a problem. We were fixing a bad leak in the shut off valve to the outside, so the pump was not shutting off. Hard to explain.(perhaps George would know.) Cabin sits right on the river. River was flowing nicely and so beautiful with the snow. Sorry to bore everyone, but tired after a 6 hour roundtrip drive. Sacramento traffic was awful.
        Absolutely nothing to do with dollies!

        • HI Joy,
          It’s okay it wasn’t about dolls…sometimes mine isn’t either! I could have told about painting my porch today, but will save that for another day.
          I’m glad your plumbing task was completely successful and there is NOTHING as nice as running water, is there? And WOW…no extra trips to the plumbing store. George would be impressed big time!
          Thanks Joy,
          Blessings, Jeanne

  3. Marilyn gives great advice. As I’ve perused sellers over the years, I certainly say “Amen” to the pictures being clear, neat dolls, hair, IRON, IRON, IRON (as Jeanne points out), quality sewing (which we all know Jeanne excels in), and communication is just tops when it happens.

    Thanks for giving us your advice, Jeanne. I hope one day to be a seller and appreciate the inspiration you’ve been with your work.


    • Thank you Becky,
      Yes, I think Marilyn covered all the bases as far as selling goes. I should compile ALL the ideas in one place for everyone.
      Thank you for your sweet compliments and I hope some day to see you selling your things too! It’s not that hard…
      Thanks again,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Still “fighting” with the pics…but they are improving! Thanks, you are the best!

    • HI Teresa,
      I really like the latest little dress you have made the the LD’s…I think it’s my favorite of what I’ve seen you make so far. It is just SWEET from head to toe! Your doll is such a cutie pie!
      Thanks Teresa,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. I agree with all the girls above. Marilyn really made some excellent points. And Jeanne, when I receive your boxes, besides being so excited, when I open the box, the carefully packed outfit is protected with tissue under the skirt and all around the outfit. As Marilyn said, Smithsonian style. The dresses all arrive like they just came off the ironing board. I also agree that when the doll looks well cared for, it does give one the feeling, “this person is meticulous with her dolls and sewing.”
    Jeanne, you always style your dolls hair according to the era and that is so complimentary to the outfit as well as your accessories and then your wonderful little stories. The complete care you give your little models is admirable.
    I have total confidence in the perfection of your sewing and the care of the outfit as well as the packaging. Good tutorial!!

    • Thank you Paula,
      I try hard and wouldn’t want to receive something that was not packed well. I have gotten a few things like that and it’s really disappointing.
      I have always tried to make my doll clothes the most excellent way I know how, and hair, shoes and packing just go hand in hand with the whole process.
      Thanks so much for your very kind words.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Shara Smith says:

    Really good advice, Jeanne:) Often times the color choices can be a determining factor too.. as well as seasons. Offering a summer outfit at Christmas just doesnt work for most buyers.

    Press as you go.. best advice ever!! Details make the outfit.. dont cut corners. Hand finish hems and seams..I always think ” what would I want to buy?”

    • HI Shara,
      You are so right about the timing of the dresses…I just saw a Halloween dress the other day on Ebay and almost did a double take… “What?” Halloween has passed… keep your dresses current…
      Thanks for your added comments Shara… when you do it all, your doll dresses will be more appealing!
      Lots of good advice for sellers here today!
      Thanks Shara,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. Anne Johnson says:

    A wonderfully informative and inspirational post, Jeanne! It is very kind-hearted of you to offer tips to the seller who came to you for help, as well as to all the aspiring entrepreneurs who may read your blog. You always put your entire heart and soul into your sewing, and it definitely shows, distinguishing you from all the rest. I believe this is the reason “Dear Seller” sought you out. Your desire to help others extends even to your competition! But for those of us who regularly read your blog, we know that you put your heart and soul into EVERYTHING you do, from repairing a bouncy house for your church, to taking your mom to medical appointments, to altering a dress for your daughter, to decorating an apartment for a young student and his family, to preparing five handmade pizzas for your husband’s meeting. And the list goes on. Everyday on your blog, you offer us a glimpse into the ordinary and not-so-ordinary ways you give of yourself, and we come away amazed at your tenacity, endurance and energy, not to mention your strength, courage and faith. Bless you, dear Jeanne, for all you do to inspire and uplift so many. Wishing you a beautiful Thursday that includes some time to pursue a little of what YOU love!

    • HI Anne,
      Wow… what sweet things you’ve shared… I am very humbled at what you wrote. I am blessed and just like to share what I know and what I have with others. So many people need a helping hand and a little friendly advice at the right time just might make someone’s day! I hope so!
      Being selfish or keeping everything I know all to myself would make me miserable. I’m not worried that someone will “steal” my ideas and become better than me… I’m where I am because the Lord caused me to be where I am. I do what I love to do and the Lord blesses me each day and I’m so glad He does!
      Thank you sweet Anne,
      The porch is painted and now it’s time for some sewing! YAY!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. Linda Doyle says:

    Well, I don’t know what I could possibly add to all the wonderful ideas about selling, between you, Jeanne, and your wonderful readers! Of course I don’t sell, and never will, who would buy from me anyway? It has to be a labor of love to make it worth your time and trouble. You really have to know about a multitude of things when making the dresses, not just how to sew.
    You can certainly say ironing is one of the most important things you can do when making a doll dress! Puckered seams don’t look nice and tell the buyer the sewer just is going too fast and really doesn’t care. Your dresses always look so professionally done, because they are! I remember seeing an outfit you made for Molly on Ebay a long time ago, maybe right after you started sewing, and thought I would like to bid. Well, I did, but you know how that went, way over my head! I thought for sure you must be a very uppity person who would never want to have much to do with me! How very wrong I was! I am SO glad I kept up with you and I guess it must have been AG Playthings, that we started corresponding. I’m not sure where I am going with this, but I just want you to know that I ALWAYS loved your outfits and admired you from afar.
    It helps to know what sells now and what doesn’t, too. You have to know your clientele, and what they want, what kind of dolls they have and know good pricing. You have hit just every good point, Jeanne, and that’s why you are among the best of the best! Best of all you are a wonderful friend to so many people, who care a LOT about you!

    • Oh Linda,
      You almost made me cry as I read what you wrote. I do remember you thinking I was some uppity lady and that was not me but I didn’t know how to let you know. I TOO am so glad you didn’t give up on me. I would truly miss your friendship!
      Thank you for your sweeter than sweet compliments, Linda.
      What a dear friend you have become.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Your post was just full of good information, and I liked what Marilyn pointed out too. I don’t buy doll clothes from eBay as I make my own, but I have looked at enough listings to understand the points you both are making. I think my main issue with some of the listing photos are dolls that look messy and unkempt. I agree with what Marilyn said that if you can’t take care of your doll(s), you probably don’t put much care into the sewing. And for heavens sake, put shoes on the doll!
    I think it’s great that you dedicated a whole post to helping someone else improve their sales. It says a lot about the kind of person you are!

    • Thank you Carolyn,
      To me, the stuff I mentioned just comes naturally, but to some, it might not. It’s pretty easy to figure out… make your dolls look good and they will get noticed! Marilyn and a few others had some great tips too! I am so with you on the “no shoes” on my dolly… seriously? Come on, spend $6.00 and get a pair of shoes!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Carolyn!
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. Hi Jeanne,
    What a kind act, you are so sweet to share your knowledge. I’m sure “dear seller” really appreciates all your suggestions. I really enjoyed reading this post and what Marilyn added should also be noted. There is nothing more off putting than an unkept doll and second for me is clothing that is ill fitting and not pressed. I don’t mind seeing dresses that are out of season remember it’s summer time in Australia!

    • HI Ingrid,
      I actually answered the lady who emailed me that night… today’s post was just a bit of what I wrote to her. The information to her was based on her dresses she had on Ebay and some she had that were completed sales. I gave her a little bit more specific advice that was meant just for her dresses.
      I used to alwayes think that… there’s somebody who is living in a warmer climate and maybe they want shorts and sleeveless dresses in December… but for the most part I stick with the seasons around here.
      Do YOU live in Australia, Ingrid? Just wondering?
      Blessings, Jeanne

  11. Charlotte Trayer says:

    Very interesting post today Jeanne, and I enjoyed reading the comments, too. I sew for my own dolls and sometimes for a swap, and am what I call a “slow, picky sewer”….that is, I take my time, and do it right.

    I found your camera tips very helpful, as would anyone who takes pictures of her dolls to post on a FB page or group of some kind. Thanks!

    • Thanks Charlotte,
      I KNOW you must be a picky seamstress…as you are a 4H judge! I’M glad you enjoyed the post and maybe learned something you didn’t already know…
      Blessings, Jeanne

Speak Your Mind