Friday, August 27, 2010

Sewing for Clients Part I: Current Project/ Loving the process

I'm still in AK working like crazy but things have slowed down enough for me to make this post. Upon my return I'll be exclusively working on a project for a client. This project has been a work in progress for the last two months since we were stalled due to schedule conflicts and other interruptions.   Well now I'm in full speed and plan to have this complete the 2nd week of September, since I'll be out of town on a work related trip to AK for 10 days.

My client came to me because she wanted me to make a version of this Mock wrap teal dress featured in the Metro (I think that's the name) magazine.The dress is stunning and is a great look for most any woman.
So my job was to find a pattern similar to what my client wanted and to modify it accordingly. The above dress has godets, a collared mock wrap top, and long sleeves with cuffs. So I got to looking and found Simplicity 3877. As you can see view A of the dress (the khaki one) is the closest match. It just so happens that my client loved this version of the dress and didn't want me to make any changes to it so it would look like her inspiration dress. The only change we plan to make is to remove the sleeve tabs which she didn't care to much for. Instead we'll lengthen the sleeve to convert it into a 3/4 sleeve. We picked a dark turquoise stretch sateen which is recommended for the project. It has the perfect combination of rich color, sheen, and stretch. I found the fabric at Walmart a year ago and only paid about $6 for a little less than 6yds of fabric (the fabric department closed shortly thereafter :( ). So the dress in the magazine is for $39.99 and the supplies for my version will cost about $9.  Since my Client is a dear friend of mine from church (whom I've been trying to dress for some time now) , I'm actually not charging her for my services (labor) on this dress. She's given so much to me and it's my honor to make her something so special.
(Pattern and fabric)

 I absolutely love the Simplicity 3877 pattern!!! You may recall that I made version D back in May. This is a pretty popular pattern on pattern review.
(Simplicity 3877 view D)

I'm super excited about this project!! I've already completed fittings with my client and actually didn't have to do any alterations with the exception of what I mentioned about the sleeve above. She fit perfectly into a pattern size 12 for this dress.

All in all, I really love to sew for people. I've done so for a variety of people and for a variety of occasions. You can see a few of the items I've sewn for others mixed in with some of my other sewing garments on my Face Book page HERE.  The pictures of clients featured here are from a couple of years back. I don't have any pics of recent clients. To be honest I probably would not want to do client sewing everyday (hey, I wouldn't have any time to sew for myself) but picking up several projects a year is pretty fun. Hey one day, I imagine having a shop where I can offer my services in such a way and for a broader range of people. Right now I have my studio and like to take on only what my schedule as Wife, Mom, and Full Time Employee will allow.

The thing I LOVE MOST about sewing for others is being a part of the process of making a woman  feel beautiful. No one can deny the power of clothing and it's effects on its wearer.  Most of the sewing I've done was for Women who've needed formal gowns for special occassions such as weddings, proms, etc. Making them a One-of-a-Kind garment that's customized and well-fitted just always seems to make their event that much more special. Plus, I find every woman I work with to be quite fascinating!!! They all come in different shapes and sizes and in no way are less beautiful. Some Women can be so critical themselves and their Body. It's amazing how the right clothes can accentuate any figure and just lift the Spirits of Women. I love to be apart of the process of helping Women figure out the styles and colors that look great on their body.

I also sew for people because I like a CHALLENGE. In that regard I'm a masochist in the truest since of the word. Sewing for myself is challenging enough but it's even the more so when sewing for clients. I'm used to fitting my own body but it's a whole other ball game when you have to do it for others. But for every new  challenge I encounter there's potential for a new lesson on fit and sewing. Case in point, I've never had to do a FBA in sewing for myself, but I've had a couple of clients I've had to do so on. Sewing for those clients helped give me experience in that area. There's been other cases just like this. Trust me I've learned a TON from the few people I've sewn for. Sewing for others will definitely test your ability to problem solve and improvise!

I understand that there's alot of people who either do not like to sew for others or have had bad experiences doing so. And I can understand this, I don't believe it's for everyone. Trust me I've had a few adventures of my own and have learned alot along the way. Out of all the jobs I've done in the last 4 years (roughly 12 or so) , I can say that there was only one that I would have loved to have a do-over. Although my client liked it, I could have picked a better fabric alternative. It was a lesson learned and definitely one I'll always remember.

Trust me, I know sewing for others isn't an easy undertaking. It's definitely not something everyone wants to get involved in. To do so you have to be alot of things and organized is just the beginning. Sewing for other is time consuming and a heavily involved process. For me the love of doing it outweighs its challenges. In the next post I'll share a little bit of my STRATEGY with you. More next post.......

But first, what are your thoughts on sewing for others? In your opinion what are the pro's and con's? Does one outweigh the other? I'm interested in hearing your perspective (smile)!

BTW, if you're interested in the FABRIC GIVEAWAY from last post, don't forget to visit it and leave your comment.


  1. I am so happy for you, sewing for others IS a big challenge but one that you seem cut out to do :)

  2. That's great that you love to sew for others. You have a true gift.


  3. Great post! One day I want to a) have an Etsy store to sell my hand-made bras and undies and b) when I retire I would like to sew as a sideline business - or design - in some capacity.

    Right now, I can barely figure out my own body :-) so it's not time to sew for others - though I have done it on occasion. I can only imagine how much it teaches. All the things you don't have to worry about on your own frame, will inevitably appear on someone else's. Amazing learning experience though.

  4. Most of the time I do not like to sew for others because: of fitting issues mainly. I do have a fair share of fitting issues when sewing for myself, but by trying the garment on about a million times, I'm able to get pretty much a good fit. When sewing for others they are not there to try on as many times as I need. Secondly, most people want to use me for alterations. I do not like alterations. Oh, I have to do them for myself of course, and with the weight I've lost I'm doing a whole lot of it lately. I have some friends who act as though I should be happy that they asked me to do their alterations. Or, they act as though the reason I have the skill is so I can gladly do it for others. I'll hem a pair of pants occasionally, but that's about it, I certainly do not do ZIPPERS! I don't like patching (just get you another pair), or maybe I should just donate them a sewing machine so they can do it themselves. All kidding aside, I work full time, and find it necessary to reserve my sewing time for me.

  5. Great point Faye! Yes sewing for others does require alot of fine tuning and a definite need to have the client available. Scheduling fitting can be tricky and depends on the level of difficulty of what you sew. Good point I often have to deal with this with clients and find creative ways to make it happen.

    LOL, on the alterations! I actually do alterations since I have an actual sewing business on the side. I get more business on alterations then dressmaking. I mean who doesn't need a repair from time to time. I do it all but prefer the easy stuff. I recently replaced a zipper in a pair of Italian made trousers and about loss my mind. But I took it apart and put it back together perfectly. It took a couple of days and I'm sure I got a gray hair out of the deal! LOL!

  6. I have done a very limited amount of sewing for others for money, but at this point in my life, I just don't think I would enjoy it. I do have an Etsy shop, but I make purses, so fitting isn't really an issue. :)

    However, I love making children's clothes, so watch out whenever I have those little things called grandchildren. Not any time soon though.

  7. I wish you all the best with your dreams of owning a store and making clothes for people. I too have a dream like that. It's also good that you have started to have clients, this how you network and build your clientele.

    For me, I am trying to improve my skills. I have and will sew for others soon. Oh btw, I worked as a part time alterations girl at a boutique several years ago. So I can relate to the zipper issue. :)

  8. I've only been sewing for 2 years now, and in that time I went from a total beginner to an advanced beginner. I started by sewing only for myself, trying on every garment 3000 times and fixing the fit slowly until it was perfect. I learned a LOT by doing so, so these days I sew something nice for myself and then my sister or my mother come to visit and they like the garment so much they snatch it right away. I've made 5-6 pairs of perfect fit pants, and didn't get to keep any of them. I must say I take that as the greatest compliment they could ever give me, I love seeing them style the garment I've made and wear it proudly. I love it when they get compliments, and it brings me great joy knowing every single piece is unique and cannot be bought in RTW stores. Sewing is truly the greatest hobby I've ever had, it gives me freedom and creativity and you never stop learning from it! One day, who knows, I'm dreaming of turning this hobby into a business myself. One can dream, right?:)
    Thanks for sharing Victoria, I can't wait to see the final dress you make for your client.

  9. I hope you enjoy the project. I know your client will appreciate it.

  10. This dress sounds like it's going to be gorgeous - I love the pattern and the version you made for youself is beautiful. I think it's great that you sew for others. Personally I don't, yet, have enough confidence in my work to be able to do that - except, perhaps, for my lovely Mum who would forgive any number of faults!

  11. Victoria, you must be "Super Woman"! I don't know how you manage a full time career, part-time seamstress, children, husband and household in general!!!! I agree with Faye 100%!! Years ago, I started sewing for clients and was so stressed from the demands placed on me that I almost gave up the craft totally! I started sewing for others because like you, I really enjoyed making others look and feel good! Unfortunately, two things, some wanted $600 worth of work for $50! An example of this, I made a wedding dress for a lady and we agreed on my costs $100 plus she would purchase the materials. When the dress was complete, she argued the $125 she paid for the materials was the total costs and did not want to pay me the $100 for labor! Can you believe that...$225 total for a wedding dress and she was trying to not pay me! Not to mention the 6 additional weeks of changing items back and forth, that I'd originally informed her would be a problem!

    This didn't deter me, I still tried working with other clients as well but these types of incidents continued. Secondly, what I learned from this was it took all of the fun from my craft and became "a job" and I really didn't want that, this is my "beloved hobby".

    I do plan on creating an online shop, but this will be solely for items I want to sell and build on that concept when I retire. Like a lot of you, I have such limited time now, my hobby is sometimes my solace and gives me great comfort, I don't want anything to change it and will protect that at all costs!!

    Good luck on the dress, sounds beautiful and I can't wait to see it!

  12. Eugenia, I've seen your work!!! It looks fantastic. Hey if I couldn't sew I'd be the first in line asking you to make me some clothes (wink)!

    Thanks for the compliments:) It might be the fact that I only have one child that I'm barely pulling off the Super Woman act!!! LOL!!!

    Thanks for sharing your story. Trust me I know that scenario all too well. People want work and beautifully, customized clothes but don't want to pay labor costs! You're right, $225 for a customized wedding dress is a steal. Heck I bought mine off the rack and paid over double that!!! You definitely made some good points. I hope to cover some of these in my next post:)

  13. That dress looks awesome on her! I love the fabric!


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