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 ‘homemade'? 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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142 Responses to Did you make that? Compliment or not?

  1. Rae Shaw says:

    Im always happy because when they here the words: I made it ….I usually have to help them pick their jaw off the floor!!!! (not bragging)

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      In this comments section you re allowed to brag! very happy for you, because you can inspire many around you to pick up the hobby.

  2. Renee says:

    Thank you for your article. My co-workers always ask and I love it! Now that I make my own clothes I realize how crappy RTW can be – crooked seams and topstitching, illfitting, threads uncut….seriously?!? I never noticed it before, and some fabrics are so cheap. I love looking at high end designer clothing and copying designs and techniques at a fraction of their cost. I have inspired two family members and one coworker to sew and now we inspire each other. So fun!

    • Karen Boyd says:

      Once you start to see how many sloppy things are sold, you can be easier on yourself (myself) and not rip out ever seam with a tiny wave in it.

  3. M Wilcox says:

    I’m insecure so I usually take it to mean, “That looks homemade.” Which is ridiculous because I’ve been sewing historical costumes for re-enactment groups, theater and movies for decades!
    I made a dress to wear to my sister in law’s wedding that was stunning and unique but when people kept asking me if I made it, I couldn’t help thinking, “What did I do wrong? This is top-notch technique and skill, and an eye-catching design!”
    As stated by others, I HATE it when people find out I sew and then want me to do repairs or alterations. It feels like they’re saying, “Oh, Mr. Picasso, I’m so glad I met you! Can you paint my shed?”

    • Mayra Cecilia says:


    • Karen Boyd says:

      Its even better when they offer to pay you….. A friend of mine had a window treatment business. An older women asked her to make some curtains for two windows and handed her about $10 USD for materials and labor. I have a lot of answers, such as I will be glad to put that item on my mending pile and do it when after I get the other things done. This worked really well if my children were present and would add that they usually grew out of things before I got to them. Another time I agreed to trade for them washing my windows and screens. Or I offer to teach them how to do it themselves.

  4. Aless says:

    I get comments from a family member (who loves & buys designer labels).’You’re so creative(I’m not. I mostly copy!)’,’You must be sooo clever’ (as if I work for NASA!), and the doozy……’I don’t have time to sew.’ (inferring that I must be a kept woman! ;-/ ). I have been sensitive about her comments for decades.Lately I reply to the latter with,
    ‘I love sewing so much I have always found time to sew, even when I worked full time and the kids lived at home.’ That seems to hit the mark!!

  5. Karen says:

    It depends ……. at times I have had to rush in making/completing a project and I KNOW it is only a mediocre job — then I find myself apologizing and pointing out all the things that I did wrong. When I KNOW I have done a good job (ie. when it meets my expectations) I am happy to say that I made it. Then I can bore people to death by talking about the project and/or what I have on my sewing machine now or what I am planning to make. It just depends on how I view the “quality” of the item.

  6. Debra says:

    Absolutely a compliment and I feel really good about it. For some people who look for detail, they tell me it must be nice to be able to sew. I just try to think about how I can do it better. I think a cover stitch machine can do just that!

  7. Justina Ngozi Ibeanu says:

    Most of my friends know I make clothes, so that question is so normal and I always repy that I made them myself.

    • Melissa says:

      Oh indeed its a compliment to me, my skills, etc. A compliment to one garment Ive made leads to future expectations that WHATEVER I wear they assume Ive made it too so they ask. They are always amazed at the entire undertaking of sewing AND seeing well enough to waer anything in public. So I feel good at the compliments although I dont really need the compliments because I know I’m good at sewing, etc. Compliments are ALWAYS welcomed. Thanks for listening. Melissa Bailey

  8. Minta says:

    It depends on who it comes from and how they say it. Mostly I take it as a compliment. But I don’t sew much, I am a Crocheter and we get the same question all the time also.

  9. Marcia Barnaby says:

    I say thank you, I take it as a compliment. Most people know I sew. If it’s another sewer I talk about any challenges I had. I always ask if they sew. If they do not I. Suggest learning, I belong to American Sewing Guild, I have also taught beginner sewers in my home. I do encourage learning to all, men too! My husband can sew as well.

  10. Pam mason says:

    It depends on the tone it is asked in. I usually say yes. “Where did you get that?” or “That’s pretty, did you make it?” is more of a compliment for me.

  11. Bernie Ryan says:

    Of course I feel good when someone compliments my outfit! I’m even happier if it’s something I made. I own a lot of ready-to-wear that isn’t perfect, why should I judge my own work harshly? I see so much self-judgment in these comments. Please! Be proud of the work of your hands. Anyone who criticizes your work doesn’t deserve your time or thoughts. Don’t let them dump their misery on you. Just get on with creating, enjoy the process, and show off your work. You might even get more people interested in sewing!

  12. Cathline Ritter says:

    Yes, it’s a compliment to know you look and feel good in something you created.

  13. Lucy says:

    I usually say yes and thank you. If I think they might be interested, I tell them what kind of fabric I used.

  14. Nancy says:

    I’m never sure if they like it or not, but I always reply with something like “I like it, it is definitely my style.”

  15. Vanessa says:

    People are often astonished that I am capable of making something to wear though they readily accept my bag making skills. A lot of my sewing in recent years has been alterations to and reforms of ready to ready to wear, both of new stuff and garments picked up at charity shops as part of my fight against waste (and, I must admit, against adding to my stash).
    My mum made most of my clothes when I was small and I don’t remember when I started doing it myself but I’ve always been one who sees something she likes and thinks “how can I make that?” rather than “where can I buy it?”

  16. Michele Stevenson says:

    I always am happy and say of course I made it.

  17. Mary Ann Broughton says:

    I am very happy when people ask that but mostly it would be asked of me by friends who know I sew. Since I like to talk about sewing it gives me an opportunity to tell others about this wonderful craft and hopefully spur them on to sewing also. My favorite items to sew are tops, skirts and pants and have always wanted a coverstitch to sew hems and belt loops, etc. properly.

  18. Reba Day says:

    I tell them I did made it but I”m still learning, but the next time I will do better [Practice makes perfect] right. The person did”nt make me feel good.
    Reba Day

  19. Sue says:

    I always hope for someone to ask where I bought my outfit and feel great when I respond with “I made it”!

  20. Betty Garvert says:

    Yes I take it as a compliment. I am proud of what I see and I

    like to know that other women see that as an accomplishment.

  21. Ellen says:

    I used to be embarrassed, but after almost 50 years of sewing, I happily take it as a compliment, especially from those who know I sew. If a stranger compliments my outfit, I proudly let them know I made it, and usually receive even more nice comments. I love to sew, it makes me happy… and sometimes projects don’t turn out exactly perfect, but I know I won’t see anyone else with the exact same outfit, and accept the flaws as a “designer’s option” 🙂

  22. Lynn Barber says:

    I’m almost always a happy puppy. As a small child I became fascinated by my grandma taking a flat piece of material and making me a new school dress. I loved her and started sewing at 4 and designing at 11. I’ve made everything from bras to a fur(imitation) coat with matching beret and muff, and for my home everything from pillow cases to drapes for my whole house….and even a boat canvas.

  23. Deborah D Andrews says:

    I love to let people know I’ve made something that I received a compliment on because I want to inspire them to see. One never knows when their next sewing bff is standing before them!

  24. Toni says:

    Its’s a compliment! People I meet ask what is the project or the next project being worked on. They bounce ideas of their own and I the same. I enjoy the inspirations, challenges, and the “muse” of people I meet to keep on sewing, creating, and doing.

  25. LaTanya Huntley says:

    I honestly don’t take it as a compliment. I like to hear someone ask me where I purchased a particular item and then i like to say “o I made that” lol.

  26. Janette Gustafson says:

    I take it as a compliment if I am happy with the garment myself. However, if I am not too sure about the garment, I have doubts when I am asked. Mostly, particularly family and friends are complimentary.

  27. Linda Thiele says:

    I say thank you, many people know I sew and have sewn since I learned in 4-H when I was 10 years old. Some ask how did I do a certain technique I use, I will explain. I am a 4-H leader and teach sewing for more than 30 years. I t is fun teaching the girls and boys to sew on different machines and sergers. Lately some are learning machine embroidery. People are usually impressed by items my 4-H members and I sew. A great lesson is that you can great creative when a mistake is made sewing and learn from taking out and redoing stitches and do not forget to always press before you stitch the next seam. Clothes you sew yourself are usually better constructed than the clothing you purchase and last longer. Sewing is a great skill to learn whether sewing garments, quilts, pillows, crafts or upholstery.

  28. Kris Born says:

    My biggest problem when I make something is people say, “oh, you sew. Could you “just” make me some curtains, or “just alter my suit”. It is getting to be that I don’t want to tell what I made because they always want me to sew for them. I usually say “no, sorry, I don’t have time to sew your project”.

    • Jackie Feltham says:

      I am thinking of having a label made that says something like: “Yes, I made this. No I will not hem your pants.” I can generally ease out of the request by stating that i am not good with fitting, therefore i wouldn’t attempt to make something for another person. That is not a lie, while I consider my construction skills to be better than average, I can manage to fit for me, but in general my fitting skills leave a lot to be desired.

  29. Ran Dickman says:

    I often have people ask me “where did you find/get that?” And I feel proud telling them I made it!
    Or my kids clothes! People often comment how unique they are. She must shop from Scandinavia. Very proud moments when my kids tell “My mummy made it!”

  30. Lynne Whittles says:

    It’s always nice to have compliments if something turns out well and I feel that it looks okay, but what I really love, is if I make something for someone else and they really love it and use or wear it

  31. Bello Odunayo says:

    It has always been my pleasure and take it as compliment whenever my sewing works is being admired.

  32. Ajibade Bukola says:

    First thing that comes out of me is a SMILE (like am doing right now). My passion for sewing is extraordinary because I LOVE it it’s my JOY. I actually have one style for my body statue which i love to sew always but the feeling i get seeing my dress on someone else’s body makes me a happy person. I LOVE TO SEW and willing to learn more every day by day.


    I am thrilled when some one asks me if I made it. I love to sew. Especially if I made something for me to wear, and it fit well. I love to see their reaction when I say, “Yes, I made this.”

  34. charlotte COOK says:

    I’m usually a happy puppy! I’ve gotten to the point in life where I dress for me personally and to make my husband proud. Most of my friends who would ask about clothing know I sew and feel free to ask if I made it. I make most of my things, except jeans, but I’m beginning to get the itch to try some. I am a musician, so I learned long ago never to point out the flaws in my performance, so I do the same with sewing. I smile, say “Thank you, I’m glad you like it.” Keep your mistakes in the sewing room, close to your chest, to borrow a phrase from poker players.

  35. kacole17 says:

    I feel very complimented & proud . I use to feel embarrased knowing it wasn’t perfect but as with age coming along I realized I was blessed with a gift & very grateful for it. I hope everyone finds what makes them happy & goes for it. Growing up in a project ,1 of 11 kids we didn’t have the means.Today you can google or youtube anything. I taught myself by going to the library. If I wasn’t reading or browsing I was doodling on my 5×7 beige math paper and thankfully there are still libraries You can do this.

  36. Janet M says:

    I learned to sew out of necessity by altering almost everything since the late 70s. Not quite 5 foot tall, not quite an A cup…….. Still haven’t mastered the small bust adjustment for fitted princess seams but oh well.

  37. Suzanne says:

    Guess I’m (almost) a happy puppy. If people compliment something I’ve made, I don’t tell them I made it, I simply say, “Thank you”.
    If someone who knows I sew says something on the order of, “you made that didn’t you?” I just say “yes”. and drop the subject.

  38. Lauri Márquez says:

    I usually take it as a compliment. My family and friends love everything I make so they are my best inspiration.

  39. Debbie Trotter says:

    I feel proud of what I make. It might not be perfect, but it was made with my two hands. A lot of people can’t sew nor do they care anything about it. It makes me feel happy when I make things and am able to wear them. I like the idea that you start with a piece of material and transform it into something that you can actually wear. Sewing is about learning how to do new things. Anybody can go to the store and buy a dress, blouse or pants, but not everyone has the patients to figure out how to make there own. I feel a sense of accomplishment & pride when someone ask, did you make that. The point is, you put the time into the project to learn and you actually have something to show for all of efforts. Be proud you made it.

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