Sewing As A Part Time Income

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Many of us have contemplated sewing for a source of part-time income. I, myself sold children’s designs for a few years, along with doing repairs and alterations. I found it very satisfying, but hardly a dependable source of income.

Part of the reason for this I think, was the ever present threat of someone else doing the same work for less. Many women find it hard to charge a decent amount for their work. A lady in our community constructed an unlined jacket for someone for ten dollars. I was made to look like a very high priced villain. A simple alteration costs more than that.

If you are contemplating sewing for any sort of income, please check around to what others are charging. You may be selling yourself short. You may also be surprised to see the quality of the work involved. I have been surprised to see very shoddy workmanship with some while others work tirelessly for a few paltry dollars. Always make sure all your threads are neatly tucked under and secured. Perfect your buttonholes, collar points, even hemming can become an art. Make sure the inside of your garments are as well finished as the outside. I was told many years ago that this was the sign of a quality garment.

If you have doubts as to your ability to work with certain fabrics, buy remnants and experiment. Velvets and satins are tricky. Sewing for others during the holiday season or a special occasion (think wedding)can be a nightmare. It is better to turn the job down until you are more confident in your skills and have a good idea of how long it will take you to complete the job. Weddings can be a very emotional time for the bride, her mother and attendants. I sold fabrics to a bride who had absolutely no say in anything. Her mother was running that show. They tried to scrimp by with barely enough fabric to save money. The bride came back weeks later, practically in tears, needing more of the same fabric. She knew her chances were slim to none of me having any more of the fabric. As luck would have it, I did have more, but this is a prime example of how emotions can run high with this sort of a job. Then, they were not happy with the job the seamstress did on the bridesmaids dresses. What did they expect, full dresses, very fitted for twenty-five dollars each. As you can see, it was a fiasco from start to finish.

My point is, don’t get caught in this sort of situation. If you can’t fill their requirements, don’t take the job on. Not all customers realize what they are doing when they ask for something to be done. They don’t realize the time it takes, the work involved or the know how required to make a quality product on time. It is your job, as the seamstress, to explain this to the potential customer. Your quality of work is what will set you apart from all the others. The impression you leave with the customer, good or bad, stays with them. Always remember that.

I could go on and on about the pitfalls of sewing for others, this is just a reminder to not underestimate yourself or to let the customer talk you into something you are not sure of. Remember, you are in the drivers seat.

Mary Wilkins is the mother of three grown children and six perfect grandchildren. She is also the owner/editor of

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