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Hi y’all I’m new here

CJM | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello, first let me say I have really enjoyed my visits here, I found it was addictive so didn’t join at first! I have a home business designing, sewing, marketing and selling to retailers. I recently bought two new machines and still haven’t had time to really play with them, so I felt guilty everytime I visited here!

I’m originally from England but have lived in the States for about thirty years. Although I live in Alabama currently, hubby & I own a lot in Washington where we plan to retire someday: At least. he plans to retire, I can’t imagine that for myself! I have lived all over the US, both ends of CA, DC, PA, AZ, OR and now AL.

I love what I do and am so grateful not to have to work for someone else anymore. I can work in my jammies if I like! I was visiting a client’s boutique recently and offered to do an alteration for a customer. (Something I said I wouldn’t do anymore!) It’s actually a complete rework and I am frustrated with the ideas I have had. I only quoted two hours so haven’t put any actual time in yet but if I were billing for mental dedication, I might well be closer to that move to the Northwest.

If anyone has done involved alterations and would be willing to have a natter about that I would be eternally grateful.

Thanks CJ


  1. sewhat | | #1

    Hi, CJ

    I am afraid I can't help you out much, as I struggle through alterations so much that I try to avoid them whenever possible.  I would rather start from scratch then remake something!  I just wanted to let you know that your wit and humor are appreciated.  You Brits seem to write so beautifully--what are we missing over here?

    Good luck with reaching your goal as soon as you can.  Life is really grand when you can live in the place you want.  My husband and I recently moved to 10 mostly wooded acres at a small lake in Kentucky.  Love it.  So, I do wish you well, and keep on writing.


    1. CJM | | #2

      Hey Carla,

      Thanks for your kind words. Your 'special spot' sounds lovely.

      I have spent five hours today on this bloody reconstruction and think I might just lose my mind completely, or what's left of it.

      Thank you for your support.

      All Good Things,


  2. Andrea03 | | #3

    Hi, CJ!

    I'm new here also, and so sorry I don't have any advice for you, but I do have a question...

    How did you get started on your home business?  I'm a stay-at-home mom with a 14 month old and would like to make hand-sewn crafts and sell from home.   Your advice and experiences would be much appreciated!!!

    Thanks! - Andrea

    1. CJM | | #4

      Hey Andrea;

      I have lived in many cities and have contacts all over the US and Europe. I marketed to people I know, who in turn referred me to my clients. My items are high end, luxuary pieces which I limit to exclusive boutiques. I don't want a piece to be ripped off and sent to China to be assembled at slave labour prices. My Made In The USA label is important to me but not so important to my end buyers!

       It has been a slow climb, I think it generally is and very hard work, I spend fourteen hours, six days a week at my business. I have lots of money invested in all aspects of the business. I needed the creativity after many years in corporate America and really enjoy, really, really love what I do! Because my husband is also self employed success is essential to us both and we are very supportive of one another.

      I am sure there are some local stores around you that would buy well made articles, where you might not feel the pressure of having to produce. I suggest you visit small stores where you think your pieces would sell and then give it a try! If it doesn't go at least you'll have some gifts ready!

      Good Luck,


      1. Andrea03 | | #5


        Thank you for your advice!!  There are a couple of boutique shops near here that I should approach.  Right now I'm just having fun designing my purses/handbags and cloth dolls.

        One other thing, have you heard or used Brother CS-8072 or Janome 4052LX or White 2072 sewing machines?  I'm looking to buy my first machine (I've been doing a lot of hand-stitching and looking to "up-grade" to a machine!  :D ).  

        Thank you!

        1. CJM | | #8

          Hi Andrea;

          I'm a Janome person, because they work hard, haven't failed me yet and have an amazing web site. They are extremely good at customer service, I suggest you send them your needs and they will make some suggestions. You can print out the details of the machines then compare the specs. to other models

          Good Luck,


  3. lin327 | | #6

    Hi!  My advice for alterations...don't!

    Seriously, if and when I do alterations for shops I always make sure that I get to see the person in the garment.  That way if it's a major re-work then I can tell the person in advance that it's almost impossible.

    Having said that, I've been stuck with some major re-works and managed to make things look passable.  Some people expect miracles.  Sadly, I work with a sewing machine, not a magic wand!

    So what are you altering that is a problem?

    1. CJM | | #7

      Hi Linda,

      Oh believe me I have NEVER done this before and NEVER will again! It's done and is passable but she hasn't picked it up yet. Frankly, it just isn't important to me whether she is happy or not! I spent soooo much time taking a ratty, perm. wrinkled, double layered,  poly. mid-calf dress and made it into a double layered mini-skirt. The top layer has an asymetrical hem and is split in the front. I HATED this project and learned this lesson two fold!

      Thanks for your feedback, I was validated in my misery!

      I am a cat person too.


      1. lin327 | | #9

        Always glad to validate misery! LOL!

        Seriously, altering ready to wear is my least favourite thing to do.  If I get a phone call out of the blue and the person on the other end of the line says..."You made a dress for a co-worker and I was wondering if you could alter a dress I bought.  It should be quite easy...it just requires a change at the waist..."  I usually throw down the reciever and hide somewhere until the person leaves me alone.  Those calls always come from people who have no idea that what they want done is usually impossible.  I find I get more requsts for altering ready to wear and I think it must be because of the lack of quality fitting garments available in stores. 

        1. CJM | | #10

          This wasn't even a new dress, infact it looks as if it's something from the eighties! I just don't buy RTW anymore unless I'm really treating myself to a big ticket item. I don't do alterations for my own wardrobe! What was I thinking, duh. OK that's all out of my system now. (Unless she turns her nose up when she picks it up.)   


        2. becksnyc | | #11

          Even my alterations co-workers say I'm crazy, but I'd prefer to alter over new construction anyday!  Yes, I do both, but somehow it feels like I'm cheating the system when I get to revamp without making the whole garment!  Wierd, right?

          I absolutely agree about never altering without personally seeing the garment on the person.  And, the more complex the alteration, the more you should insist on second or third fittings, where practical.  Not only do you learn by seeing the results of what you do, but the customer gains confidence in you while you tweak--confidently, of course.  :-)

          Unless I am strapped economically, I won't hesitate to tell a customer that a Polly Esther "vintage"  find redoux isn't worth my time.  When we value our time, we teach our customers to do the same! Oh, but how I've learned that lesson the hard way....


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