In today’s world of Social Media, many share their truth, their journey. so with this in mind, I thought I would share my sewing journey. As some of you will know I became self-employed after redundancy and have been teaching sewing courses for the past 5 years. Those years have seen struggles, laughter, fun, and pure hard work culminating in almost a lost business due to the covid lockdowns. Now is my time to share what it has taken and the journey I have traveled that has led me to today.
My first time at a sewing machine was in senior school where we had a year of sewing lessons once a week. The first project was to make an apron to wear in Domestic Science, ( from this statement you can work out how old I am ) From the apron we went on making a dress and to this day I remember loving the fabric it was a mix of bright colours in a swirly pattern, a straight short dress with a lace collar. When sewing lessons stopped and we had more maths lessons I did not sew again until my mum bought me a Ronco cordless portable sewing machine for Christmas one year. Battery operated and quite hard to operate, it required your right hand to turn on and keep it on, and then your left hand was left to guide the fabric through the needle. Despite its difficulty of use I loved it and made myself new clothes from skirts, trousers, and even a trouser suit.
As soon as I left school and started work the first thing I did with my first paycheque was bought a sewing machine, there was a shop just opposite the Bank where I worked and I bought it on a monthly payment scheme over 9 months, it was a metal machine so very heavy, a Toyota make and carrying it home on the bus from work was a struggle!
I continued to make my clothes, completed projects for the home, and when some years later my daughter was born I made her dresses until having a handmade dress by mum was no longer cool. My daughter’s primary school asked me to make school hall curtains, ( my daughter had told them her mum sewed!) They were floor to ceiling in length! After that my next big sew was to make 12 choir robes for the church choir that I sang in, that was a challenge as I was initially told I had 6 months to be told a short while after I only had 3. So alongside working part-time I did thankfully complete them on time!
LIfe as they say then took over and apart from sewing curtains or home items occasionally my sewing machine remained idle. I did other hobbies craft related, crochet, knitting, making cards, embroidery, and cross-stitch ( my mum had always encouraged us as children to have hobbies)It was some years later that my daughter wanted to machine sew and we started to make things which led us to start to sell our wares, having stalls at craft fairs and even running a local monthly fair ourselves. We enjoyed setting up our table and sharing our passion for sewing handmade with others who made handmade items,I loved these times. As anyone who has a stall at a craft fair will tell you actually making a profit is difficult many people would not pay the cost if you added the cost of materials and time so really it is a labour of love.
We loved to spend our time sewing projects to sell and did have some very good sales from certain projects that are still popular today. This was all back 7-8 years ago and it was in 2014 when I was made redundant from my role as a Regional Mentoring Manager that I decided I wanted to try going self-employed. I had two routes as well as a qualified teacher I am also a qualified Life Coach ( and do have clients from time to time )but my main focus was to teach sewing I wanted to turn my hobby into my job!
Sounds like a great idea but the reality is very different, writing courses and cutting patterns for sessions is time-consuming, and then needing customers to take up the courses required dedication as well as a passion for the job. I began teaching 1 to 1 in my kitchen and then in my summer house ( which was purchased for my LIfe coaching sessions). I had a meeting with Hobby craft and was really very lucky to be allowed to teach and run my courses one evening a week. ( thankyou Hobbycraft) in those early days initially, I would sit and just sew to get interest from customers in the store and people did begin to sign up with me.
Luckily for me, the number of students grew and I wrote more courses so that now I have 12 courses that I can offer. Around that time I made an empty room in my house into a craft studio and started to deliver courses at home. Sadly the craft fairs had to cease as I did not have the time to make things to sell as I was busy with new sewing courses. There are a few fairs that we do still attend each year as we enjoy them so much. I also have taken on commissions and work for other businesses that required sewing skills.
My sewing business was a success and then March 2020 hit and like so many others who were self-employed my business came to an abrupt halt! Being self-employed meant challenges ahead again like many others. I had to rethink, I started making face masks to sell which was going well until I started getting some bad comments from trolls on the internet so I opted to stop selling them. I have been making some items to sell and have opened an Etsy shop as well as now offering Learn to sew courses online. This is a very different way of teaching, sewing, and sorting out issues with sewing machines online can be a bit of a challenge but it has worked and I have enjoyed the challenge but most importantly my customers have become sewers which is what my job satisfaction is all about, seeing people achieve and begin or continue their sewing journey.
So what lies ahead for the future? Going forward at some point I will be returning to Hobby Craft to run courses but have made the decision to only do online courses from home.
So this is my journey so far, from a hobby to a career with all the issues I have faced it has been a bumpy journey at times and after the last year of losing business, I have picked myself up and found new ways of working. I have had to accept new challenges to be able to continue with my sewing business. My second thread of development is growing my Life coaching business. Having been qualified as a coach for 20 years and the business ticking away in the background while I focused on my sewing business now is the time to focus on that business as well in tandem with the sewing courses and working one to one.
More challenges ahead for me no doubt but I am determined and dedicated to looking forward rebuild and to meeting sewers’ new and past customers in 2021.