Does Your Handmade Product Need to be Perfect to Sell?

Almost a year ago I created an account on Etsy. I never put anything in it. I’m reconsidering. I have a few ideas of what I’d like to sell but I’m always faced with this question: Does my product have to be perfect to sell? For example, if there is a tiny pucker in my fabric in one spot on my product, should I not sell it? Will someone return it for that reason? What about bias tape? Does it have to be sewed perfect in order to sell? Meaning if I go off line a tiny bit in one spot, does that make it unmarketable? I’m curious what you veteran Etsy shop owners have to say. So, fill me in……….

  1. As a buyer, are you looking for a perfectly made product?
  2. As a seller, will you not put something in your shop is it’s not perfect?
  3. Give me any other info you think is important as a buyer or seller.


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Diana
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Comments

  1. says

    I have been wrestling with the EXACT same issue!! I know that I certainly look for that kind of stuff at craft fairs, not because I am trying to be nit picky but to see if those people still sell it, despite a small imperfection. A lot do, but it doesn’t bring down the cuteness factor for me. I personally would expect a handmade, hand sewn item to have some human error and wouldn’t mind, for example with the bias tape thing. But that is just me, hope I am not the minority!!

  2. says

    I am not a top seller – I only sell two o three items per month through Etsy – but it is handmade and diffrent, with my own print and I am sure that people appreciated this.
    I try to have hight quality standards, but I am bot the best one (the prices are according too). If you have an spot perhaps is better to say it in the description but only if is visible. Show to other people before.
    I try to shot pictures from all the angles because it is the best way to show everything. The most difficult part is to put how much every item costs :) Raw material, my hours working on it….
    I think that handmade is never the same that something manufacturer, could be better and everything different, one of a Kind!!
    That’s my opinion. It is good to be cristics with your own work but if you thin that could be sell it, try it, trust on you.
    Love

    Eva

  3. says

    I’m a little different because I sell vintage. But I do not hesitate to sell something that has imperfections, as long as I mention it. I say that if there is a small flaw on a couple of your items, you can either disclose that, and/or offer it at a slightly discounted rate.

    Hope that helps!

    ♥ Amber
    Silver Lining

  4. says

    Thanks for asking this question! I’ve wondered it myself. I find myself not finishing projects for my Etsy shop because they aren’t up to the standard I set for myself. I always worry about someone finding flaws in my work and thinking I didn’t honestly represent my product. But then again, if someone is a fine seamstress and able to make it better than me, would she really be buying something off Etsy instead of making it herself?

  5. says

    I would imagine that if you have very small imperfections, it wouldn’t matter much. I know as a buyer I don’t mind when there’s a small mistake… in fact, I usually don’t notice it. If it’s a big mistake, offer it at a discounted rate for people like me who don’t care and disclose the problem.

    I am going to say that I think that it depends on what the mistake is. To someone who’s not a seamstress, will it be noticeable? Does it detract from the piece? Is it distracting or make it less usable? These questions are especially important to ask yourself if you are a super-perfectionist– is this something that other people will notice, or just you? But I don’t think things need to look like they are factory/machine/professional-seamstress-for-40-years sewed to be something people will want to buy, especially on a site geared towards those who love handmade and vintage.

  6. says

    I don’t think it needs to be perfect — rarely do we see anything in retail stores that is perfect. With handmade, some variation is expected. What is not good is sloppy workmanship, but somehow I don’t think that is a problem for you. Anyway, if you take lots of good pictures, a buyer can get a pretty good idea of the quality of your product. I say, go for it — you won’t know if you don’t try!
    ~Amanda

  7. says

    My opinion might not count for much, not having actually bought anything off Etsy but if I were buying a product I would expect it to be sewn well. That doesn’t mean that it can’t have small imperfections but I wouldn’t want it to look like it was put together poorly or that it might fall apart. For the bias tape type flaw, I would expect a seller to go back and fix that mistake.
    That being said, you asked if I were looking for a “perfectly made product” and I think that’s not the case. Just something put together well that I would be pleased to show to people.
    I hope I don’t come across as rude, I don’t mean to nit pick but I’m sure there are others out there with my same opinion and I thought it was worth adding.

  8. says

    Personally, as a buyer, it depends on the price. If I’m spending a lot of money on something then I will want it to be done really well. I don’t think it has to be 100% perfect, but if there were a few noticeable imperfections, I would probably have a problem with it. If I didn’t pay a lot, it wouldn’t bother me as much.

    As a seller (I make hair accessories), I won’t list something if it doesn’t turn out the way I want or if it has any major flaws (like a big chunk of dried glue on the top, or something like that).

    That being said, sometimes the little imperfections make something really unique. I think it just depends on what the imperfection is :)

    Good luck!

  9. says

    I only sell a few handmade items in my shop (most of my items are vintage), and I have to say that I am my worst critic. When I make something for a family member or friend, I go ahead and point out any flaws in the item and they always tell me that they would have never even noticed the flaw if I wouldn’t have pointed it out. I guess it’s like when you have a blemish on your face and you think it’s horrid, but no one else really notices? What I’m saying is, I would be picky about what I put out there to sell, but don’t be overly critical. -diane

  10. says

    I go to Etsy for things I can’t buy in a store. I also go to Etsy for items FROM people I wouldn’t expect to be selling in a wholesale store. I want the imperfection. I want the artistic quality to it. If I want perfection I go to the store & if it’s not perfect, I return it. IMHO, that’s a totally different standard. It’s mostly machine made & you’re paying a hefty price. I enjoy Etsy for homemade items, made by hand, from people like you & me. I think of it kind of the same as going to a flea market or craft fair – not every item is the same, nor do I want it to be. But *I* may be in the minority.

  11. says

    I am a buyer.
    I don’t mind imperfections in vintage stuff as long as they are mentioned.
    When it is handmade I expect imperfections to a certain degree, cause I want to see it’s handmade.
    I buy at etsy things I can’t find in my local stores. What’s also important to me are shipping costs. I am European, living in the middle east, so most has to come from overseas. I shop at etsy stores that are willing to ship overseas and for reasonable prices. When I find a nice vintage towel that cost around 5 dollars shipping, I am put off by sellers asking 12-15 dollars shipping costs and will shop elsewhere.

  12. says

    THANK YOU for asking this question. I am brand new to Etsy, and I am completely struggling with the same thing. I sell my items for a very low price, and I put a little *disclaimer* letting the potential buyers know it is handmade, not perfect…that makes me feel a little bit better. But yes, this scares me, and I will be looking forward to reading other people’s responses!

  13. says

    If I’m buying handmade, I don’t want it to look like it’s been churned out by a robot. A pucker on a seam or a wonky stitch, not a problem in the slightest. I doubt I’d even notice. Maybe when you’re taking your photographs from all angles, get the “flaw” in the shot – bet no one notices.

  14. says

    Christina – you say you sell your items at a very low price – DON’T! You’re devaluing yourself and other handmade artists… sell them for what they are worth!

  15. says

    As a buyer, I’m looking at handmade items because they’re unique or charming or I want to support the handmade community. If I wanted perfect, I’d go to the mall and look for items inspected by #22.

    If there is a flaw that makes you reconsider selling an item, ask yourself if you would purchase it and if you’d be disappointed to receive it. If you decide to sell it, include the flaw in one of the photos or mention it. No harm done. Oh and if you inspect your items and find a flaw that makes it unsellable, maybe you could try to fix it?

    Don’t let the let the “what if’s” keep you from giving it a try. Good luck!

  16. says

    I have a dichroic glass pendant which my husband once bought for me for Valentine’s Day for $35 at a stall. I chose it myself, mainly for the colour. When my Mum saw it, her face fell as she asked how much we paid for it. She was devastated because there was a flaw in the colouring. What I and my husband had seen as a swirl in the colour, my mum knew to be an issue with how the pendant was made. It was not done properly, and she believed it should not have been on sale for unsuspecting people like us. I’m not familiar with how dichroic jewellery is made, but it was something along the lines of the colour had ‘dropped’. Once I knew that other people would know it was faulty I never wore it again. As far as I am concerned I was duped. $35 to wear it once. My advice is opposite to proabably everyone else: don’t sell it if it has a flaw – even if it costs you. xx

  17. says

    I buy and sell. I have stopped selling one of my items (satin capes) because I messed up as many as I had turn out well. The ‘mess’ ups were something others may not have been concerned about, but I couldn’t sell it for the price I’d asked. A few times I emailed the people and offered to remake the item or to sell them the slight flaws for half the price (those were custom ordered though). So, now I’ve just settled on products that I know I can sew easily without flaws. Fleece is great at hiding flaws! Once I had a item where the measurements were a little funky (puppet curtain). I listed it under SALE with a full description of the weird proportions and it sold with no problem. Also, when I first started my products were about 1/3 of the price they are now. I wasn’t making much for my time, but I considered it practice. Now that I’ve made hundreds of certain items, errors are few. I make sure to pick any problems out as soon as I sew them. That being said, I would expect things I buy to be a nice quality, but not perfect. Bind should be nice though, that can make or break an item in my opinion. I never sell anything that I wouldn’t give as a gift, not counting my mom or sister. A gift to my boss maybe.

  18. says

    I’m so glad you posted this. I too have opened an account, but not posted a thing. I worry that someone will feel that they’ve been “taken” if they bought it and saw that it was zig-zag stitched instead of surged, etc.

    I hate that it’s keeping me from putting myself out there! I’m trying to remind myself that people go there to find handmade items, not factory made. And, when I look at other sellers’ items they don’t always look “perfect”, but they’ve had multiple sales. And, judging from the feedback, it seems as though people are really happy with their purchases.

  19. 2littlehooligans says

    great question!! i have to admit this, but before i started selling i would zoom on others photo’s and look at their stitching to see how perfect they were. i personally don’t sell anything unless it is perfect or pretty dang close to it, and depending on what it is. i sold a few play tents that drove me nuts because of a 1″ spot. it wasn’t until the hubby said, “do you really think she will see it?” well no, but i know it is there. so yes, i seam ripped it again and fixed it, but if you are ok with it then that is all that matters. unfortunately i have this things called crafting OCD! handmade is not prefect, and most buyers know that. i personally can’t sell it unless it is perfect or if im perfectly happy with it. and remember we are our worst cridicts (did i spell that right:) if that is the only thing keeping you from sellin then use a 100% satisfaction garantee policy. that is what i do, and hopefully that will give you a littl more peace. and luckly no one has complained, (fingers crossed)because it would really bother me if someone did. so i guess i am still worried about them being perfect too:) hee, hee!

    ok, enough said, just do it! handmade is perfectly imperfect!! and if i am buying something off etsy im not expecting perfection.

    hope this helps ya.

  20. says

    Great discussion because I’m planning on going Etsy this year. I think it depends on whether pricing seems reasonable ( that’s a whole ‘nother discussion). I accept that handmade is likely not going to be the same as machine produced but that’s why we’re buying /selling handmade…because of the craftsmanship. So if it’s not major, I’d buy it if pricing is reasonable. As a potential seller, I would strive to make it as perfect as I could but if it’s a minor ( in the eye of the beholder) flaw I’d probably list it.

  21. Beth @ Sand To Pearl says

    I’m a perfectionist so if there are noticeable flaws I always sell them for a little less and make a note in the description saying why it is on sale and what I feel is wrong with it.
    Now, I know there are some etsy people who don’t care AT all and sell crap. I hate looking at something and seeing that the stitches are horribly off. Makes me never want to look at their shop again.
    There will always be minor problems with all products, nothing is PERFECT, but just make sure your item is worth selling and you’ll do fine.

  22. says

    I to sell on Etsy and have the mind set that it should be as perfect as humanly possible. Im glad you brought this subject up because its nice to read that I dont need to be such a pefectionist at every little thing.

  23. Green Gracie Home says

    Honesty is the best policy. Most of my items are made to look shabby, so it is a taste issue. But I do think that buying handmade isn’t the same as buying homemade if you get me. It should be good work, but a little imperfection makes it like an Indian blanket (they always weave in a “mistake”).

  24. Rebecca@This Present Life says

    I’m no veteran seller, but I think part of buying handmade is the imperfections. Now I’m not saying I would sell something that’s really a mistake, but going off line a little or a pucker here or there is not a big deal. I’ve also learned (as a seller) that I am my biggest critic. Things that I think are not “perfect” enough are not even visible to other people. After I finish a product, I try to hold it back and look at it as a whole, instead of every single little stitch. If it looks good then, it will look great to the buyer. Hope that helps!

  25. Janet says

    I think you’ve answered your own question. You opened a store but haven’t put anything in it. You must have a very high standard. And I appreciate that. I don’t want to spend my hard earned money on something that has flaws.
    I don’t have an Etsy store because I’m harder on myself than anybody else.

  26. Jamie @ Happy House, Happy Home says

    I’m sooo glad you asked this question, because I am having the same issues. I haven’t been able to read all the comments yet, but I can’t wait to sit down tonight and go through them all.

    Thanks for asking this question! Good luck to you! Maybe we should all start a little Etsy-Blog Girl Friends Support Group. haha!

  27. says

    I can’t wait to read all the responses because I always wonder the same thing. I have an etsy shop and I’m always terrified that someone will find something wrong with something I made. So far it hasn’t happened but I’m a worrier.

    For me, I think when you buy handmade, you expect slight imperfections. That said, there’s a difference between sloppy and slightly imperfect.

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