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

  1. bubbieone says:

    Happy puppy. Everyone knows that I am a seamstress, so when they ask me if I made it myself it is usually with a tinge of jealousy, as if “oh my goodness, I would kill for one like it”. Makes me f

  2. Shanleigh Hugo says:

    People have sometimes asked me where I bought my “dress” or skirt etc, and have said “Wow! That looks super!” (Thankfully I’ve never picked up on any snarkiness – they seemed genuinely impressed). So even if it was something simple to make, or there are flaws that I’m painfully aware of, I have realised that most people can’t make themselves anything, & are genuinely pleasantly surprised when u say you made it. Thankfully I feel less awkward these days, as I’m more accomplished at my sewing. Also, it certainly helps to have access to great, on-trend .pdf patterns, which is something I only discovered about a year or so ago, and which helps greatly to get that “bought” look 😁 and so much more convenient than paper patterns!

  3. Patricia A says:

    Something came up at a party I was at last weekend and I commented that I had made my phone bag. Everyone said the most amazingly wonderful things about it. I was most surprised as most of them were sewing ladies. Or maybe they appreciated the effort involved.
    I ended up telling them all were to find the free pattern and embroidery design for the bag. Then one of them spotted the bigger bag that I had hanging on the back of my chair and asked rather incredulously, did I make that too. Simple proud response of YES.
    I have learnt to be proud of my work and not to show where I could have done better. 🙂
    When I was a child I used to always comment on the homemade dresses made by one much older sister. Neither of us knew how I knew what was homemade until I joined the Sewing Guild as an adult many, many years later. Where I learnt about pressing your work as you sew. That is, pressing your seams and pressing hems, etc. Not ironing. All my sister’s hems on the outfits she made were ’rounded’ even though she ironed them well, as she didn’t press as she went while sewing.

  4. Becky Alexander says:

    I usually take it as a compliment. Most of the time, people just admire what I’m wearing and I say, “Thanks, I made it myself!” and they are even more impressed. However, when I was younger, my mother made most of my clothes and I was just beginning to sew; one of my classmates looked down on my “home-made” clothes, not because they were poorly made, but because she was a snob. It just made me want to sew better. As I got older, I once found a dress in a store that cost over $100; I found a pattern and the same fabric and made it myself for a fraction of the cost! So, now I don’t worry about what people say!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Snob or not she was probably still jelous. Handmade is far better, unique, better fit and the quality can be controlled.

  5. Brenda says:

    I’ve never been asked because I’m new to sewing and so no one really knows I do. But whenever someone compliments me on something I’m wearing that I did make, I’m beaming with pride to tell them ” Thanks! I made it myself!”

  6. Laurie Devers says:

    When I was in my twenties I was sewing all of my clothes. If someone would compliment me on what I was wearing, I would simply say thank you. If my husband happened to be with me, he would tell them I made it myself. I asked him not to do this because it embarrassed me. After that if someone said something about what I was wearing, he would tell them I bought it at Joann’s. He was so proud of what I was able to accomplish on my sewing machine. It still makes me uncomfortable, but I love that my husband is proud of me! His opinion is always very important to me!

  7. Sandra Sanders says:

    Once some people ask me if I sew, then they ask me to mend their clothing. It’s really frustrating because a lot of it is just a little hand sewing and I know their capable of doing it, they just don’t want to. And most of the time I don’t get paid anything to do the repairs.

  8. Wynn says:

    I used to make most of my own clothes when I was in my mid to late teens. A “friend” knew, as we were in a small Australian country town and a lot of women sewed for their family, and she would come up and say, did you make that?” When I’d proudly say yes, she’d say, “I knew because of that,” and point the top maybe it was the sleeve seam, and say, “the sewing is crooked,” or say something like that. Yes, she was mean. I don’t remember saying anything back. Looking back, I think she must have been jealous. Fortunately I was doing a course at night classes so I was always learning something new. I guess you just have to let those comments go.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes, you do, and indeed she was jealous. Anyone can learn to sew, but choosing the right fabric and the right pattern for yourself take some self-knowledge… perhaps this is what she was able to see on you.

  9. Jan says:

    I take it as a compliment. In fact, I’m always making random things and sharing them with family and friends, and I love it when someone asks them “where did you get that?” and they say “Jan made it.” So much so that I that’s what I named my blog.
    I think if it’s not meant to be a compliment there will be a little snarkiness in the delivery. Usually that comes from a place you expect it. Frequently it will be tinged with a little envy. I can’t remember when I last heard it in that tone. Maybe junior high?
    So I am like that slobbery little puppy, wagging tail and all.

  10. Lynda Adami says:

    I’ve sewn for many years – in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I seemed to be the only person I knew who ‘sewed’ and despite the fact that I was fairly happy with what I made I got the feeling from others that ‘home made’ was ‘looked down’ on. However, more recently sewing has become popular and I think the ability to sew is appreciated more and I’m now proud to say ‘yes’ I made this and I love sewing and ‘yes’ I could make that for you but I don’t have time…! Carry on sewing !!

  11. Sheila Perl says:

    I always take it as a compliment now, when I was younger and less confident I would point out my mistakes and wonder if it looked “homemade”.
    Now I just glow and accept the compliments!

  12. Christi Sims says:

    I loved reading this article. I make bags and have only been sewing a few years now. I guess I’m extremely insecure because whenever someone asks me if I made my bag/purse I spend the next few minutes pointing out what I could’ve done better! It’s like I want to point out the flaws before they have a chance to judge me and usually the flaws are so small or non existent they would never notice them if I’d just smile and be proud of my work! My hubby keeps telling me to stop pointing things out because he’s a perfectionist and doesn’t notice and he’s so proud of me! Thanks for helping me look at things differently!

  13. Debi says:

    I always take it as a compliment. I am proud of everything I sew. Not every item is perfect, but that’s OK. I know I do an excellent job and perfection is next to impossible. Usually when people ask where I got something, and I tell them I made it, they respond with incredulity. They can’t believe I made something so nice! I’ve never had anyone give me a negative reaction.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t understand people worrying that it’s not good enough. If it’s good enough for me, I don’t care what anybody else thinks. If anyone ever responds negatively to someone stating that they made it, I think it’s because they are jealous and insecure, because they know they couldn’t do it.

    When the next question is, “Can you make me one?” I’ve learned to respond with, “I’m sorry; I barely have time to sew for myself and my family.” I’m not interested in sewing for others, so I don’t let anyone pressure me into doing it.

  14. Bob says:

    I am my worst critic. I know where are the flaws are in the things that I make, and to be truthful, 99% cannot be seen. So, if someone asks if I made it, yes, I take it as a compliment.

    Though I try to be as meticulous as possible, one of the things I decided early on in learning to sew was to always be happy with my work. And yes, try to do better next time! If you do not love your work, then why do it?

  15. Diana says:

    Usually someone likes my outfit, and they want to know where I bought it. I tell them I designed it and constructed it myself. I never say I made something. I am a craftsmanship, and proud of it.

  16. Donna Dee says:

    I love it when they ask! We (quilter’s & seamstresses) seem to think there are many that can do this but that’s because we know so many others that do. There are many more people out there that do not have the talent. I take it as a compliment and often those that ask are the ones that do wish they could do it also. I’m lucky to have a daughter in-law that loves all my sewing & quilting. She treasures all that I make for her & proudly shows them off to her friends telling them how much she loves her MamaDee’s homemade gifts. Not too many can say that of a daughter in-law. Happy sewing!

  17. James says:

    It’s not that I read it as an insult, but it’s usually followed by ‘could you make me one’. And then followed by outrage when I quote a price.

What do you think?