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Working in bridal is a mixed bag for me. Most days I have clients coming in telling me and my boss how happy they are with the alterations and custom garments we make for them. What sadly sticks out are the people who come in demanding the moon. On one hand, I wish I could remind them that stressing your seamstress out is not going to produce great results. On the other, I get really frustrated and my confidence gets shot and I tend to blame the fact that I’m a self-taught stitcher.

As some of you know, my degree is in theater and post-modern dance. I took one costuming class and to be honest, the lighting class was more interesting to me at the time. I put my time in the costume shop but the scene shop with all the power tools made my heart sing.

Clients tend to want to know of my credentials. No. I don’t have a degree in fashion design. No. I didn’t start sewing for Barbie when I was a little girl. No. I haven’t always wanted to do what I’m doing right now. I started fitting and sewing garments 9 years ago, if that. After a lot of frustration, I got hooked. I liked the challenge and buying store bought for the postpartum body I had at the time was downright depressing.

I kept doing it.

I kept learning.

It got more and more interesting.

I liked the math.

I liked helping others get a clean fit.

Fast forward and all of a sudden, I found myself interviewing at the dress shop I work at now, clutching my handmade garments. The best of my work for my soon-to-be-boss to carefully inspect as I sweat the things I wish I had done different. I had a corset, a Victorian jacket, a lined dress. She knew I didn’t have formal training but she was impressed. Finally some validation! Validation from someone who had a fancy degree from FIT in New York. Someone who had worked with big names I even knew about.

So, when clients come in and don’t know how to sew and criticize my sewing, I shouldn’t let it bother me. But it bothers me. I should be better. Their garments should be perfect. The fit should be perfect. That’s my thing! Fit is my thing!

But sometimes it’s not perfect. And they zero in on the imperfections. The imperfections my hands have created. My self-taught hands. My measly, single mom-ish hands. The doubt sets in.

I don’t think these clients know how deeply I’m hurt when they belittle my work. Constructive criticism I can handle! Please! It’s not easy to swallow all the time but I want to keep learning and perfecting my craft. Fine tune me! It’s the rougher clients, the harsh clients, who don’t hear the way their own voices sound that burn.

Being self-taught, this means I have no day off. I don’t take a break. If I’m not called in to work, I still put in an 8-12 hour day. I fine tune myself.

For the rest of the year, I’m fine tuning my jackets. I’ll be making the Blank Slate Patterns Basic Blazer for my 7 year old son, the Blaverry Decklyn Jacket for my 9 year old daughter, and several fitted jackets for myself, with muslins for all three of us! Yes, even my kids.

I checked out a couple of Kenneth D. King videos from the library on fitting the upper torso and fitting jackets and I’m going to be studying those while I do my fittings.

I will not let the set backs of mean clients keep me from learning, sewing for myself or for others. I want to learn how to deal with people like this better but for now I’m an employee hiding out in the back.