How to Say No to Sewing Requests

Do you find saying no to sewing requests difficult? You’re not alone! When people find out you can sew suddenly you are the go-to person for all sorts of projects and it’s easy to feel pressured into doing something you don’t really want to do.

At first, you might be a little flattered- until you realize that your friend or family member expects couture work for below sweatshop prices. I’m here to tell you it’s OK to say no. I know it’s not easy, but no is not a four-letter word.

“I tried!” you might protest. Perhaps you gave them a reason and they came right back at you with the perfect “can’t say no to this” rebuttal. After 3 or 4 tries you felt so pressured you gave in. Some people are pushy! I understand and I’ve been there.

We are socialized to try to please people and avoid conflict, however, it’s not rude to kindly, but firmly decline. It’s necessary to have boundaries. Value yourself just as you would someone else. Calmly inform them you only sew for yourself, for pleasure, on your precious (and scarce) free time.

Meme of ridiculous sewing request.  ($50 for a ballgown.)
This popular meme has been shared many times by many a frustrated seamstress.

Those who ask might be well-meaning, but they likely have no clue what it takes to do the project they want. If you are fe­eling gracious you might explain to them about fabric costs and how many hours it might take. If they are looking for a good deal (at your expense) this should dissuade them.

However, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. A simple refusal is not rude! However, if you have a particularly insistent person asking you might try some of the following responses:

1.) Sure, I can make it. My rate is $25/ hour in addition to material and notions cost. That dress looks like about $200 worth of fabric and would take me about 20 hours to make. So roughly around $700 for the dress. I’m only considering doing this because you’re such a good friend though. What?! You saw it for sale for $150? That’s a great deal! You should buy it.

2.) Why don’t I teach you how to make it? You can come over and we’ll make it together! It will probably only take a couple weeks. Oh… you don’t have time for that? Yeah, I don’t either… I don’t know what I was thinking.

3.) I actually have no time… oh it’s so easy and should take no time you say? You’re right, I’ll go ahead and send you a link to a couple good YouTube tutorials so you can do it yourself!

4.) I only sew for pleasure, and I don’t enjoy commissions/ repairs/ alterations. Have you checked out the local tailors?

5.) I’d love to do XYZ for you but have no time. Why don’t we trade? You can bring materials over to my house, babysit my two children and cook dinner while I sew it for you. (PS- I’d loooooove for someone to take me up on this, alas no one has yet.)

6.) Start singing that Meghan Trainor “my name is NO. My sign is NO. My number is NO” song and see if they get it.

7.) I don’t really have the skill set to do that project, but thanks for your confidence in me though!

8.) I honestly just hate alterations, it’s not about the money.

9.) Sewing for other people stresses me out so I don’t accept commissions. I sew for fun.

10.) Daaahling, you couldn’t afford me. (hahaha) But seriously though, No.

BONUS ANSWER:
If this person still insists you can and should do XYZ for them you can always just say “yeah sure, I’ll try and get around to it when I have time” and then never do it.

My father wanted me to reverse engineer his favorite pair of shorts and sew him up a batch. Seriously. He didn’t take no for an answer and just dropped off the shorts at my place. Ok, then. Two years later he asked if he could have his shorts back and hasn’t asked for anything else since, LOL.

My poor husband doesn’t even bother asking me to hem his pants anymore. (I always do intend to actually hem them for him though… it’s just sooo boring that it takes me a long time to get around it. )

Once you start saying no it gets easier and easier each time. Just remember it’s not rude to let people know you don’t want to do something. After all, these pushy people asking us for favors are our friends and family. They care about us, they just have no clue about sewing. Explain, stand your ground and move on. Hope you have a great sewing day!

Just Say No carved on tree.
Just Say No To That Sewing Thing You Don’t Want to do!

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Christine from That Sewing Life

Hi, I’m Christine!  My goal is to help you sew something awesome- even if you have no time.  Just one step at a time and anything is possible!