Sewing for a Living

Sewing for a Living

For the lucky people who discover early on what they want to do for a living, picking a career can be as easy as following interests. But sometimes, knowing your primary interest isn’t enough to form a decision on a career since you don’t know what in the world you could do in the field that would actually make you money. I mean, come on. I could love collecting quarter-machine stickers, but unless at least one of them become a collector’s item, what exactly am I going to do career-wise with that interest?Sewing1

You might have a similar struggle with sewing since it’s often treated as a hobby or a practical exercise, but as hesitant as you might be to try your hand at it for a living, you can absolutely earn money working in the sewing world. In fact, Sewing Machines Plus is currently hiring salespeople. Just sayin’.

If you’re looking for something a little different than a salesperson though, here are six career options that you can explore to make cash with your interest in sewing.

1. Be a seamstress. This might be the most obvious choice, so let’s go ahead and cover it! As a seamstress, you’ll have the opportunity to be the community go-to for sewing repairs, which works out well since certain people aren’t interested in making those repairs themselves! You can use your interest to earn money while helping out people with their clothing needs. Sound good?

2. Make clothes. On the same train of thought, you can make clothes to sell for people who don’t have the interest or skill to make these projects themselves. If you can construct something fancy, like a prom dress, you might find that you can make real money for weddings and dances by allowing people to have more input in their clothes designs than they can get by shopping retail. It might take time to prepare yourself for these kinds of tasks, but talk about the creativity involved with this one!Sewing5

3. Write. If you have interests in sewing and writing, this is a good fit! You might not find that perfect writing opportunity as soon as you start looking for it, but trust me when I say that a consistent effort in looking for freelance writing jobs can lead to some possibilities that are in line with non-writing interests. Fitness, education, and traveling are varied topics that you could find freelance offers for, and they’ll hopefully give you an idea of how assorted freelance subjects can be. It’s reasonable then to believe that someday a sewing-related possibility could come your way if you keep searching for it! You might even end up with a career writing regularly for a famous magazine that deals with sewing.

4. Own a shop. There’s variety in this option because your shop could be for a number of things. Maybe it’s exclusively to sell the clothes you make, or it might be a collection of community sewing projects all sold under one roof. Maybe you’re only interested in selling quilts, or baby supplies, or handmade home décor… Whatever your niche and however far your reach for merchandise, if you have the knack for running a business, this might be the career for you!Sewing2

5. Teach. If you search online *right now,* you could find job listings for tutors or teachers in the field of sewing. This makes sense since sewing beginners might breathe a little easier with someone there to guide them in their early projects and learning experiences. You might not even have to look online to get a chance at this type of job if you happen to know someone who wants to learn to sew. Then maybe one student leads to another, and perhaps one day you can have a full class of people waiting to learn about sewing. As a side note, if you’re technologically inclined, you might think of filming classes, making them look professional, and selling them as DVD’s through vendors. It might take a while for this to really take off, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen!

6. Make Patterns. It’s entirely possible that you adore sewing, but you’re not overly interested in teaching the practice. Maybe your appreciation of the sewing process is primarily in the most technical aspects—like building patterns. If so, be aware that a pattern maker is a job possibility! You could land a job as a pattern maker for a designer or company to put ideas to paper, but honestly, what’s to stop you from creating your own designs, mapping out the patterns, presenting them in a professional manner, and selling them? In fact, this would be an interesting detail to add to that shop that was mentioned earlier! Either way, it’s possible to make money by making patterns!

And there you have it—six ways you could earn money by putting your love of sewing into a career choice. Some of these might be easier to attain, like a seamstress, but even the more obscure options can be done part-time to boost your income. Basically, you can make a living on your sewing!

Sewing Themed Books

Sewing Themed Books

I don’t know about where you live, but in New England, we’ve had a lot of storms this summer. Thankfully, we haven’t lost power. But we’ve been stuck inside quite a bit. That means there’s been lots of time to sew! So much time, in fact, I’m out of projects! Horrors! Has that ever happened to you? It’s left me feeling a bit adrift. There’s another storm going on as I write this and I’m looking at my sewing machine with desire and my heart and no idea what to make. Even my scrap stash is pretty depleted. Boo! So, I’m going to read sewing themed books and mysteries instead! Here’s some of my favorites!

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Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series

Main character, Victoria “Tori” Sinclair is a transplant to Sweet Briar, SC. She joins the sewing circle and takes a job as head library. The series currently runs to 12 books and it’s highly likely that author Elizabeth Lynn Casey will keep them coming! With all the storms we’ve been having, I can curl up with a cup of tea and finish all 12 books this summer!

Magical Dress Making Series

Texas hospitality, a haunted dress shop and a Manhattan fashion designer. All the elements of a great story! Book six of this series by Melissa Bourbon was released in 2015. Hopefully the rain will stop and I won’t be completely done with the series before she releases the next one!

Deadly Notions Mystery Series

No sewing project is complete without the perfect notions. Turns out, no sewing mystery series is complete without them either! Cate Price weaves tales of Daisy and her husband Joe living in Pennsylvania. Joe renovates their house while Daisy has found her calling working at a quaint shop that sells sewing bits and bobs, antiques and jewelry. Book number three was released in 2015. With the rain raging, I might get through all of these just this week!

At least by reading about sewing I won’t feel like my sewing machine is missing me too much! What are some of your favorite sewing themed books?

Thanks for the Fabric, Tahari

Thanks for the Fabric, Tahari

Throughout my career I’ve worked on a variety of projects. People often ask what my favorite show to work was, or what my favorite period is. Both of those questions are difficult for me to answer. I could probably tell you what my least favorite show to work on was but narrowing them all down to one single absolute best and favorite is not possible.

It all depends. Some projects require more creativity than others. Some are relatively simple straightforward gigs that involve hemming a staggeringly large number of pants. Some shows are more stressful than others with a higher than normal rate of last minute changes. Some involve working with difficult people. Others are filled with co-workers that quickly become family.

Whenever I mention any of the period shows or movies I’ve worked on, people usually say, “Oh that must be so much fun!” When I say I work on a contemporary procedural crime drama, the response is more something like, “Oh. The show with the tattoos?” or “That’s interesting.” Meaning: That doesn’t sound interesting at all. Don’t actors just wear store bought clothes? What do you possibly have to tailor on those shows?

To this all I can do is laugh. No major actor or actress on any contemporary procedural crime drama wears clothing that hasn’t been fit and altered specifically for him or her.

There are, always, a few exceptions to this, notably when a talented costume designer knows the cut and style of high-end clothing well enough to know which designer label will fit a particular actor the best with little or no alteration. Frank Fleming who designs Power for Starz Network is an absolute master at this.

I truly enjoy working on Blindspot (my current gig). Everyone in the costume/wardrobe department is absolutely amazing and all the actors are lovely to work with.

One of the lead actresses wears a lot of expensive high-end dresses and skirts and blouses. Most of the dresses I alter for her require alterations in the shoulder, side, and waist seams. Altering the shoulder seams means the neckline will need to be altered and the sleeve taken out and reset. Altering the side seam means (again) the sleeve will need to be removed and put back on. Basically, I must take apart the entire dress and put it back together (Thanks for the fabric, Tahari! or Black Halo or Escada or Nanette Lepore).

We also do things like changing necklines (from a high scoop to a vee) and changing short sleeves to long sleeves or even adding sleeves altogether. Jared B Leese who designs Blindspot comes up with many creative and brilliant ways to alter something so that it no longer is a dress ‘off the rack’. He’ll ask things like, “Can you open this neckline?” or “Will you make sleeves for this dress?” or “What if we turn this into a v-neck – do you think that would look better.”

The answer is always “yes”.

This beautiful suede Tahari dress used to have a high crew neckline and short sleeves:

Tahari dress with new neckline and sleeves.

Tahari dress with new neckline and sleeves.

This lovely dress (also by Tahari, I think) used to be sleeves and all suede. We replaced the center panel and added some sleeves.

Tahari dress with new sleeves and center piece.

Tahari dress with new sleeves and center piece.

And this Black Halo dress used to be navy.

To be honest, this one was a complete rebuild. I copied the pattern from the existing dress, made a few adjustments and cut out and built a whole new dress.

Make of Black halo dress.

Make of Black halo dress.

See, contemporary procedural crime dramas are anything but boring (and often my favorite type of show to work on).

Just a closer view of the Black Halo dress.

Just a closer view of the Black Halo dress.

Sew Fine Dress Making

Sew Fine

Need the perfect dress for an upcoming special event? Instead of perusing rack after rack of unimaginative, pricey finery consider making it yourself. Not only will you get exactly what you’re looking for, it’s a sure thing that no one else will be wearing the same dress as you.

Points for Originality

Even if you’re not a someone who designs her own patterns, making and wearing your own dress will definitely get you noticed. You’ll look stunning and you’ll be wearing something completely unique. In this day and age when everyone wants to be recognized for their personality and individual contributions, you’ll certainly earn points for wearing something stunning that you made yourself.

Your Choice

Rather than trying to find something that shows off your style, fits your budget and looks great on you from the limited selections in department store – making a dress yourself means you’ll be able to choose the style, fit and fabric that’s best for you. Show off your natural beauty with a dress that accents your coloring and body type.

Works for Formal Functions Too

Formal events like galas or weddings may not seem like that best opportunity to make your own dress, but it’s actually a great time to do so. Making a more formal dress may take a bit longer, but the results will amaze everyone. If you’ve never taken on something like this, trust me, it’s not as hard as you think!

There are some extra steps like creating the tulle under layer(s), feeding the whale bone (plastic) bodice pieces and/or adding lace or other details. Although these seem intimidating, anyone with basic sewing skills can do them – you just have to be willing to try.

Show It Off

Show It OffAfter all the hard work you put in to making your amazing dress, show it off at the big event. Get up, dance, strut your stuff to and from the buffet table, and when people start complimenting you on your attire, don’t be afraid to say you made it. Although you don’t want to overshadow the guest of honor (unless it’s you, of course) there’s nothing wrong with showing off your finery.

If you can, add some handmade accessories to complete the look. Items like hand made, one-of-a-kind jewelry, scarves or shawls will give your dress the final splash and pizazz it needs. If you don’t make any of these items yourself, maybe you’ve got some crafty friends who do and would like to contribute to your amazing look.

Remember

A few points to remember:

  1. Hem with shoes in mind. If you’re wearing heals to the big event, make sure you have those shoes on when determining hem length so the dress will fall correctly.
  2. Event location. If the event is going to be indoors or outdoors, you may need incorporate layers or a cover up depending on the time of year and your sensitivity to cold/heat.
  3. Make a muslin first. If you’re at all unsure about the dress you’re going to make – how well it’ll fit or will look on you – take the time to make a muslin demo piece first. It does extend the length of time it takes you to arrive at the finished product, but it can also mean the difference between a project you love and one you don’t.