Monday, October 7, 2013

Sewing for Money

This might be a little deep for a Monday. But hang with me, because if you have expertise on this subject, I want to hear your comments!

Most of the bloggers I follow are sewing for fun (as am I). It's relaxing, it's practical (sometimes!) and it's a great hobby. But sewing can also be a career. I'm a stay-at-home mom, but someday I'll need to return to the workforce. I've often wondered if I should try to make a career of sewing (alterations? design? factory work?).

Last week this article from The New York Times was floating around Facebook. Did you see it? It's about sewing jobs returning to the US from overseas factories, and about the lack of a properly trained workforce. Good news for people like me who MIGHT want that as a career.

I say MIGHT because I just. don't. know. A few weeks ago, I went through a sort of "audition" process with a local business to do some part-time, from-home, seasonal sewing work. After sewing up a few samples for them, I heard those comforting words "we'll call you" and guess what, no call (shocker). Okay, no big deal, my family doesn't need the extra income to put dinner on the table and maybe someday else did. And frankly, maybe (probably) my work wasn't up to snuff. Okay fine, but why was that? Was it possibly because my heart wasn't 100% in it?

I LOVE to sew. But what if I HAD to sew? Would I still love it? It terrifies me to think that something I adore so much could turn into a chore. Work. A drag. And if it were my job, isn't that what it would be? Would I sew in my free time if I had to sew in my work time? What if the opposite became true, what if I could sew, make money, and have fun?

I've obviously over-thought myself into a puddle of confusion. I may not know the answers to these questions unless I go out and try. Unless someone wants to chime in with their experience and advice?? What do you think, does sewing for money cheapen the experience? Ruin it? Take out the fun? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I've been thinking a lot about this, too, because I'm not happy with my day career and am thinking of what will come next for me. I think the happiness factor depends on how you use your sewing. If you're sewing mundane items in a factory under someone else's supervision trying to make a quota, it's probably not very fulfilling. If you're designing and interacting with customers, it would be more rewarding and you could still sew samples for yourself to enjoy. Running your own business is hard, though, and a lot of your time is eaten up by administrative things -- website, shipping, packaging, phone calls, answering emails, etc. So it's hard to say, but surely there's a balanced approach. Since you aren't starved for income, you could start sewing items on the side or doing craft fairs and see how you enjoy it. You don't have to build a whole brand from scratch.

    1. You make some good points. I think part of the issue with sewing samples for someone else was that it was THEIR vision, I had no input in the creative aspect at all. That made the technical part (the actual sewing) not quite as fun. Running your own business would include a bunch of non-creative bits (as you've mentioned) but at least you would (presumably) spend SOME time being creative!

  2. I learned to crochet. I came to LOVE crochet. I started selling my items. But only baby goods. Tiny, fast, less materials involved. I was making about $400/mo from my Etsy ship and it WAS supplementing our income. And then I got a FT job. And I didn't NEED to crochet. And it quickly became cumbersome and a chore. About 6 months later I closed my shop. Sometimes I miss the money. Those last 6 months funded my sewing addiction...err hobby ;)

    But I hear that often, that when you HAVE to do it, it becomes a chore and not in a good way.

    1. Thanks for your comment! This was really interesting. When your shop was open, did you still crochet for yourself? I would be afraid that all the fun would go out of it, even when making things for yourself. Good insights!

    2. I did manage to make myself a few hats and have two scarfs sitting in UFO status :)


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