I’ve been sewing for over four years now. Ever since I first started, I’ve been hooked. Sewing calms me down. It’s a major stress relief for me. Even though it can be frustrating sometimes (I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thrown my seam ripper across the room), it still brings me a lot of joy to spend hours at a time in front of my sewing machine. Whether I’m in a good or bad mood, sewing with a good documentary playing in the background is one of my favorite ways to spend my time. I was excited when I first started selfless sewing because it gave me something to work on when I had nothing to make for myself. After working on a few projects for others, I felt inspired. I thought that maybe that would be the route I would focus on; I would still keep my shop, but I thought I could mainly sew for friends and build up an in-person clientele. It would be great!
I was wrong. What started off being awesome and pride-inducing turned into one of the most stressful times I’ve endured in my life.
No More Selfless Sewing…
I didn’t have many problems with my clients. Things ran smoothly for the most part. But one thing I didn’t consider was how fast word would spread that I know how to sew, or that I even own a sewing machine. The more people found out, the more…scary they could get. I hate to use the word “scary”, but some folks got really intense! This is a typical conversation that I often have:
Friend: I heard that you know how to sew.
Me: Yes, I do!
Friend: That’s so great! It’s a lost art. I wish I knew how to sew. Can you make me a dress for an event I’m going to next weekend?
Me: I’m sorry, but it takes me at least a month to make a dress, so I wouldn’t be able to commit to-
Friend: OH COME ON IT’S JUST A DRESS I’LL PAY YOU ALL I NEED IS A SIMPLE DRESS YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO PUT A ZIPPER JUST MAKE ME A DRESS I NEED MODEST CLOTHES AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT!!!!!!!
I’m serious. You’d be surprised how many people don’t take “no” for an answer!
Along with those intense conversations, can you believe that I’ve actually had people come by my house and drop things off for me to alter, as if this is a full-service shop?? I wish I were making that up. When I told one friend that I wouldn’t be able to replace a zipper for her, she explained that she just didn’t want to go to a professional and pay a hefty price for the service. But…I wasn’t about to do it for a cheaper price…Then there was another friend who, when I tactfully explained that I can’t fix fit issues just yet, responded with ”WELL IT’S SIMPLE. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STITCH A DIAGONAL LINE IN THE WAIST.” What now? I obviously declined to do it, and I will not be altering anything for her in the future.
The demands that people have made actually threatened to take away my joy of sewing. I’ve had people beg me to make them things, try to force me to implement their irrelevant ideas in my shop, demand that I make them something heinously immodest, and even expect me to work for free because they think this is just a hobby. So I’ve decided to only sew for myself and my shop.
As angry as I am for how people attack me for clothes, not everyone has been awful. There are a select few that I plan to make things for because they respect my time and effort. My Etsy customers have been phenomenal as well.
I also realize that sewing really is a novelty skill. On top of that, it seems like more and more women are looking for modest clothes. So those two issues magically become resolved when they find out that they know a seamstress. In their mind, they’ve found someone to make or fix their entire wardrobe. As much as I would love to do that, I’m not going to risk losing my joy in sewing for people who don’t respect me or my craft.
Have you had any weird selfless sewing experiences? Please let me know that I’m not the only one!