Did you make that? Compliment or not?

did you make thatWord gets around that you sew after a while.  Even for some reason if we don’t talk much about our hobby, sooner or later everyone is going to know that you sew your own clothes, or bags or other accessories, or things for the home.

This inevitably leads to the question “Did you make that?” when you are seen in a new outfit, or have a new bag or give a gift of any kind made from fabric, or even hang some new curtains in your home.

How does that make you feel if someone asks?  Is it a compliment when someone asks if you made that new dress you are wearing? Does it make you feel good?  Do you feel delighted that someone assumes you are such a great sewer that you created garments that look as good as ready-to-wear?  Are you thinking that the fit is so good they assume it was custom made?  Is it so unique that you just can’t buy anything like it therefore it must be your own original design?

Yay, they love my new dress. Watch me twirl everyone!

Or does it fill you with doubt and dread that they think it looks ‘home made’? Do you worry about the finish, did you use the wrong fabric, is there a loose thread? Or do they just think it doesn’t look very good, like you might not have bought it in a shop?  Is my zipper wonky? Are they only asking because they think it looks bad and are trying not to hurt my feelings?

Or maybe this is an ideal opportunity and just what you want to hear because you are a sewing teacher, or have a store selling your sewn items and it’s the perfect excuse for you to launch casually into your sales pitch – get a new customer for your sewing classes or make a sale of a bag just like yours.

What do you say?

It could be that how you react to the question is more important than the question itself.

Miserable moggy – Do you cringe, shy away, say “It’s not very good but I sorta like it?” Do you point out the small errors and apologise for them?  “It’s not puurrr-fect but…”  Do you always assume the worst?  Maybe the person really liked it and now they might feel bad about asking in case you took it as a criticism.  🙁


photo credit: it’s still raining via photopin (license)

Happy puppy – Or do you beam and smile, take it as the biggest compliment,  and tell them all about how much you love to sew, how much you love your new dress or bag, and how you would love to help them learn to sew as well (if they want to). Yay!  Feel proud, you did an awesome job.


photo credit: Pup Bounding in Field via photopin (license)

Why do people ask?

Maybe people are just disappointed when you go out in ready to wear and they look forward to seeing your own original creations, something that makes you stand out from the crowd.  It can be a real conversation starter to ask if you made your own outfit and when you say no, you bought this one, oh, OK.  If you didn’t make it, then do chatter on about what you are working on right now, or a recent project you are particularly proud of – that person wouldn’t have asked if they weren’t interested to know.


My hubby loves it when I wear things I’ve made myself.  Makes him feel really proud, and he tells everyone that I made my dress I’m wearing.  I don’t always have the right thing to wear for every event so when he asks if I’m going to wear one of my dresses, sometimes I have to say no because I might not have something dressy enough, but then he always encourages me to at least take one of my bags.  Makes me feel good about myself and my sewing that he wants to be seen out with me in something I’ve made.  To me, that’s the biggest and best compliment of all.

Your turn

Tell me, what do you think?  Is it a compliment if someone asks if you made something yourself?  How do you answer?

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24 Responses to Did you make that? Compliment or not?

  1. Robin says:

    Miserable Moggy. I teach in an elementary school and know very well that women can be catty. (haha, I made a ‘moggy’ joke unintentionally!)

  2. April says:

    Everyone who knows me knows I love to sew, and they always assume that I made any new dresses my twin girls are wearing, or handbags we’re carrying. But it really makes me feel good when a complete stranger asks where we bought an item I made. 🙂

  3. Karen says:

    I will ask someone if they have sewn a garment themselves if it fits properly. That is what I notice. People who sew take the trouble to adjust the pattern/garment so it hangs properly. Sad to say, but RTW usually has some issues. I used to get very frustrated by slightly wobbley seams, cornsers that don’t sit properly, things of that sort. Then I started taking a good look at RTW garments.
    I have a long way to go, but already I am way ahead of many of the RTW clothes. I take queries as a compliment for the most part. The real duds I make never see the world beyond the sewing/dining room. lol

  4. Judy says:

    Definitely Happy Puppy! I make most of my short sleeved shirts (simple camp shirt pattern), but the fabric I use doesn’t resemble any RTW shirts. Sunflowers, Texas themed, Baseball team theme, shamrocks (for St Patrick’s Day), etc. My friends know that I sew and are always looking to see if I have made a new shirt. I know where the imperfections of each shirt are . . . but I don’t point them out. I subscribe to the Galloping Horse school of sewing / quilting: Could you see the imperfection from the saddle of a Galloping Horse? If the answer is no, keep the site of the imperfection to yourself.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      “the Galloping Horse school of sewing” Ha, ha, ha, that is a really good line! May I quote you on that! I like the way you think! Thankfully, most people focus on the good side of things.

      • Judy says:

        Yes, Mayra, you may quote me. I didn’t come up with the idea, but overheard it at a Quilt Club meeting, when one member was unhappy with how the points of her quilt block had not come together to her satisfaction. A friend took her quilt block and started shaking it around, asking her if she could see the imperfection now. Of course she could not. We (sewers / sewists / quilters / crafters) tend to dwell on what’s wrong instead of celebrating what’s right. Just my 2 cents worth here.

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          I think all quilters are perfectionist and you have to be, imagine if you added 2mm every time you cut a square?

  5. sjuliano says:

    I really don’t take it as a compliment because it’s certainly not the first thing I think of when I admire someone’s outfit. But I do like to hear, “Where did you buy that?”.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Sue, I guess if you made it and someone asks “where did you buy that” it’s probably a pretty good compliment!

  6. vpisu90 says:

    It used to upset me when people asked because I assumed my workmanship was lacking and they noticed and were too polite to say anything, but now I take it as a complement especially if I’m wearing “ready-to-wear” because they feel I’m skilled enough that they can’t tell if it’s made by me or bought at a department store. I started sewing at a very young age and would try challenging patterns just to see if I could make them. I’m a bit hard-headed so I will keep at something until I get it.

  7. Lorraine Saxon says:

    I think it is a compliment from people who know I sew.

  8. Anais R says:

    I’ve never been asked that exact question, but I did get a “where did you buy this?” which felt like a million bucks! 😀 Happy Puppy all the way!

  9. Allie Minx says:

    I do both. I take it as a compliment and feel proud that I make my own clothes. And I blather on about how awesome sewing is and offer to make one for the commenter. But I also point out flaws. And then I wonder afterwards if the person asked because the clothing item looked wonky or if they asked because they know I sew. It’s an expert marriage of pride and insecurity, if I do say so.

  10. ~ Karen ~ says:

    I usually take it as a compliment, although it’s generally people who know that I sew who ask if I made something. People who don’t know me might comment on something I’m wearing, and then I can tell them that I made it (or upgraded/refashioned it).

    When I was a teenager, a girl about my age asked my mom if I had made something that I was wearing and then added that you can’t find clothes like that in the stores. Since I’ve never been into fashion trends and pretty much just wear what I like without regard to what “everyone else” is wearing, I think it’s neat that someone can recognize that I created my own garments because they aren’t run-of-the-mill.

  11. Linda Kiefer says:

    I enjoy the compliment but sometimes having other people point out in conversation “she made that” is a bit uncomfortable like I was some kind of exotic bird put on display! That being said, and being in my 70’s most of my friends have sewn at same time or other so I know the compliments are genuine and that I have made something that fits ME properly and looks good. The only difference between a “home sewer” and a “couture seamstress” is how YOU view yourself! The rest is just practice and patience.

  12. Pat S. says:

    I like to make my handbags….only I make them with a long cross-body strap. Since I started using a cane, that gives me a free hand to shop with or hold my husband’s hand (the best use!)

    I always enjoy having someone comment on my purse….I’m a quilter, so I like to use patchwork or applique for the designs, and I make them different on each side.

    I always take it as a compliment.

  13. Sue says:

    I love that people know I make most of my own clothes.
    I’m tall and thin so find buying dresses and pants a real mission – Everything is always too short so its just easier to make my own and I’m really proud of the stuff I turn out.
    I also often get asked “Can you make me one too?” or one of my girls will come home and say ” Mom if you make 10 of these I can sell them at varsity – everybody wants one.”

    I take it as a compliment every time.

  14. Miranda says:

    This was good food for thought. I’m encouraged to be more like the happy puppy. I love the saying on the t-shirt!

  15. facileetbeaugusta says:

    I take it as a compliment too. I’m so proud of wearing something I made by myself. Even if it is only a bag. Many people ask me if I can make a bag for them too. And that makes me feel soooo good.

  16. Sarah Kakia says:

    I live in southern Africa, we have a lot of home industries producing home-made ready to wear, mostly in traditional styles and fabrics (though not as much as West Africa), and a lot of commercial brands available. For the people who know I sew, it’s mostly just part of the conversation.
    As a housewife, I would go to business functions with my husband and his female colleagues would sometimes struggle to relate to me. ‘You look nice’ was a safe opener for them. Wearing something I made myself would give me an opening to show that drool and diapers was not my whole world, that even though I’m doing something they don’t care to do, I am also doing something they can’t do.

  17. Sher says:

    This is a good question and I suppose it depends on who is asking. If it’s someone who doesn’t know me very well, I’d be concerned that they spotted a crooked seam or hanging thread. I would be like the sad (but adorable) kitty. However, everyone who personally knows me, knows that I’m addicted to my stitching and hate to have to come out of my studio. So then I take it as a compliment! Many times it’s even followed by a “can you make me one?” I can never say no to my daughter, daughter in law, sister, or either of my moms.

    I cut my mom’s hair a couple days ago and my sister said, “Oh my God, she can do that too?” So yes, definitely a compliment.

  18. Paddy says:

    I’ve not made anything that I can wear out of the house (yet), but I’ve had some people say they like the bags I’ve made (one recognised the fabric and wanted to know how it was sewn together, so she could make something similar).
    I’m getting better at taking it as a compliment now 😉

  19. Great timing on this post. With so many new seamstresses (and seamsters!) I see them apologizing because their creations are perfect. Unless you are buying real couture, I doubt that RTW is perfect either.

    Sometimes people ask if I’ve made something, but usually it’s because they either want one or want to know where I got the fabric. Actually, I think most people I know assume that I’ve made most of my stuff. If a complete stranger asked me if I made something, then I would wonder why they asked.

    Right now the clothes I wear is mostly RTW but that is because I dropped a bit of weight and didn’t have the energy or time to sew. Now I am getting back behind the machine.

    I am believer in clothes as background, I want people to say that I look great but not say,”WOW, what a great dress.” Do you see the difference?

What do you think?