By the Numbers – a Peek at Shiny Happy World Sales

I look at broad sales figures every month, but I only break things down item by item twice a year. I’d love to do it more often, but the only way I can run a sales report is to get every single transaction item by item and then compile the numbers. It takes a TON of time. As in – I ran that Paypal report on July 1 and I’m just now finished breaking it all down. Sheesh! It’s been a busy summer, but still.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the results with you. I love charts and graphs and spreadsheets. For this information and the way I want to look at it, a pie chart is the best.

Shiny Happy World sales - first half of 2014

I use this free graph-creator I found online. It’s for kids and it’s the best one I’ve found. :-)

That number in parentheses after each category tells you how many patterns I have in that category.

I have multiple sketchbooks full of ideas for things I want to make. I’m never stumped for an idea. For me the challenge is deciding which idea is best for me and my business.

I’ve also been feeling like my shop is a little cluttered lately. Like maybe I have too many patterns, and some of the best ones are being overshadowed by some that are much slower sellers.

So I wanted to look at a couple of things with this information. Which categories sell best? Which specific patterns sell best? I also want to know which categories and patterns aren’t “pulling their weight.”

Cats Quilt Pattern from Shiny Happy WorldQuilt Patterns

Obviously my bestselling category. And when I look at the specifics, the applique patterns are outselling the pieced patterns by a HUGE margin. Yay! Those are my favorites to create.

I have 19 total patterns (that sold at least one copy) in this category, but a lot of those are applique patterns for individual blocks which sell almost not at all. I really only have 11 quilt patterns – so this is a place I might do some trimming.

In case you were wondering – the Cats Quilt is the bestseller, followed closely by Scary Squares. Those two patterns alone account for 50% of my total quilt pattern sales!

Bertie Bunny - a cuddly sewing pattern from Shiny Happy WorldSewing Patterns

This one is my second best, with about 20% of my sales. But it takes 51 patterns to get there!

50% of the sales in this category come from the top 10 patterns. Of those. . .

The bestseller was Bertie Bunny. That makes sense since Easter fell in this time period and he’s new and has incredibly cute, kissable toes. :-)

All of the bestsellers are toys. (Yay again! Those are my favorites!) You have to get down to #26 in the list before you hit the first non-toy pattern (the Get to Work Apron). I decided last year I would pretty much stop designing any non-toy sewing patterns (unless it’s something I’m really excited about), and that decision definitely stands.

Emma Elephant - felt softie materials kit from Shiny Happy WorldTools & Supplies and Kits

I combined these here because they’re the only physical products I sell and that makes me have to look at them a different way. Tools & Supplies account for about 18% of my sales, with Kits (a new category) accounting for another 4%.

I had barely gotten started with kits at this point (I’ve added several new ones since June) and they’re off to a strong start. Strong enough that I’m continuing to add more.

One thing I always have to remember with this category is that it costs me a lot. I have to buy the materials, packing and shipping supplies, and it takes me time to prepare the kits, pack the orders, print postage and run to the post office.

This is also a category where I never go looking for new items. I only sell items that I actually use in my own work, and I decide to add new items when I hear from you all that you can’t find a certain tool or supply that I recommend.

The bestseller is wool felt (YUM!), followed closely by The Magical Embroidery Stuff.

Cuddle Club - a softie kit club from ShinyCuddle Club and Party Animals

These two clubs are the most exciting additions to my shop this year, and I’m thrilled that they’re doing so well! They’re so much fun! The Cuddle Club accounts for about 10% of sales, and Party Animals for about 8%.

Like the last categories, these cost a lot of money for me. But the way I have the ordering set up (with a window of time after sign-ups cut off so I can order just the supplies I need) helps keep that under control. I love packing up the kits and sending them out, knowing that soon a BUNCH of people are going to get a surprise in their mailboxes. :-)

I’ll definitely be continuing these next year. I’m already planning a new Cuddle Club body type for the next Cuddle Club mailing, and I’m starting to brainstorm themes for a new batch of Party Animals next year. Jo suggested a play date instead of a party, with mama and baby animals. We’ll see!

I’m also planning to add an applique quilt block-of-the month next year, with kit materials available. (I have SO MANY REQUESTS about where I buy my fabric!) and I’m thinking of adding a Dress Up Bunch Club too. More on that as the end of the year approaches.

Flora the Felt Bird - a free pattern from Shiny Happy World

Felt Patterns and Embroidery Patterns

Here’s another interesting pair of categories. I’m including them here together for a reason – because I think felt patterns are what my embroidery patterns are morphing into.

Felt patterns account for about 5% of sales, with just 11 patterns available. Embroidery patterns account for 4% of sales, with a whopping 41 patterns!

My #1 bestselling embroidery pattern (Rainbow Girls) earned a measly $115 in the first half of the year. Maybe this is a category that isn’t “pulling its weight.”

I’ve given this a lot of thought. It isn’t that you all don’t like to embroider. You do! That shows in the felt patterns and the response to free patterns like the coasters this week.

And I don’t think it’s so much that people especially like embroidering on felt (though it’s delightful). I think it’s that all the felt embroidery patterns are for specific projects. It’s not just a design, it’s a THING.

So – more felt embroidery! And when I do non-felt embroidery, it will be for a specific thing. Maybe some designs that coordinate with the applique quilts? Those could be used on quilt labels, coordinating PJs, etc. Or some holiday designs that can be framed in small hoops and hung on your tree?

Putting It to Use

Every time I crunch numbers like this, I make a list of what I’ve learned and how I’m going to use that info going forward. After all – running reports and crunching numbers is only worth my time if I actually do something with that information, right?

1. Clubs are awesome! Do more!

2. No more pieced quilts. The applique designs are my favorites anyway. :-) I’m officially letting go of the pressure to be a “real” quilt designer and make more pieced quilts.

3. No more embroidery patterns unless they are for a specific project.

4. No more single-animal applique patterns. In fact – that’s the first section of my shop I’m going to declutter. I’m going to remove all of the existing ones from my shop on September 2. If you want just a single puppy, or one of the safari animals – get it now.

So that’s it! A not-so-quick look at one of the way I look at my sales numbers and use that info to help me make netter decisions going forward. :-)

Happy Wednesday!

That's me!





  1. I really appreciate this look into the business side of things. Thanks so much for sharing!
    I’ve only hesitantly and barely started listing some of my embroidery work on Etsy and it’s so interesting to get these glimpses of crafting as a business–there are so many ins and outs I never would have thought of on my own.
    btw, Bertie the Bunny is also my personal favorite. I haven’t made her yet, but oh my goodness, I want to! She’s on my long, long list of projects I want to make. :)

    • I think we all have a long list like that. I keep mine next to the huge pile of want-to-read books by my bed. :-)

  2. Jordana SAYS...

    If you could have seen my face when I read “mama and baby animals” you would have NO DOUBT it’s the right move. It was a gasp that turned into a squee! I would absolutely pay more for two felt figures, especially if they still came with an adorable accessory.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! It’s really helpful to me! I hadn’t thought about including accessories with the mamas and babies (I can’t increase the price without unsubscribing and resubscribing everyone – which would be a logistical nightmare) – but now you’ve got the wheels spinning. The animals would be standing and clothed – like the Party Animals. I LOVE doing the little outfits! But maybe I could do an additional bundle – sold separately from the kit club – of toys for them to play with. I keep thinking of a little duck pull toy, a jump rope, a big cardboard box, a drum. It could be tons of fun!

  3. Monica SAYS...

    I also love the idea of mamas and babies!! I also think you are making the right move by concentrating on appliqué quilts. They are what makes you unique! I LOVE them! What an interesting look into the business side of things. Thanks for sharing it! :) Oh and I love the idea of embroidery designs to add to quilts!

    • Thanks so much! :-) Embroiderey designs to pair with the quilts will be coming soon – definitely with my next quilt pattern. It will take me a little while to get caught up on the existing patterns, but I’ll get there. :-)

  4. Totally love this! Thanks for puttingnin all the effort! Really interesting about the quilt patterns selling more than stuffed animals, wonder if this is telling about the market more broadly? (more quilters buy than plushie folks?)

    • I think it might be that there are just more quilters, period. But there are few other factors that I think are at play here. A quilt pattern is pretty versatile – you can use it to make a quilt, but also a pillow, a tote bag, etc. And with my applique patterns you have even more versatility, because you can use those images to decorate T-shirts, holiday stockings, as individual wall hangings, etc. With a softie pattern you can really just make a softie. It’s going to be an awesome, huggable bundle of cuteness – but it’s still just one thing.

  5. Laura SAYS...

    Pretty smart analysis, especially the piece about felt embroidery vs regular embroidery. When I look at the plain embroidery I think the patterns are cute, but what would I do with it once it was complete. I want to end up with something I can gift, and the felt embroidery does that for me. As far as removing stuff from the store, since it,s not physical merchandise, what about creating a bargain bin category and pitting all the slow sellers there? I think the patterns get delivered automatically, so it seems like the cost of keeping them, as long as they don’t cause shopping fatigue, is pretty low. And finally, on the kits, I think there is some room to increase the prices given the labor you have to put in and how dang cute they are. We who buy the kits are obviously willing to pay for convenience! Oh, and one more thing… Since you love spreadsheets, and if you don’t already use the Pivot table feature in Excel, you should check it out – it makes slicing and dicing super easy. Email me if you’d like some pointers on this. Just a couple of thoughts :)

    • Thanks so much for all the terrific thoughts. And for the suggestion on Pivot tables! I keep hearing about that feature but I’ve never tried it before. Must change that. . . :-)