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#SewTalk: How to react if people ask you to fix things?

Hi Everyone! Please excuse for late #SewTalk Monday coming on Tuesday – sometimes the world around you starts spinning even faster than usual, adding more things labelled “urgent and important” and forcing on some extra re-prioritisation. But enough about that and let’s talk about our favourite topic – sewing!  Boy oh boy, this week’s #SewTalk pickle is a good one:

When people learn that I sew, they constantly start asking to fix their clothing – replace the zipper, take-in a dress, hem pants and etc., but I don’t like doing that. How can I politely say “no” in this situation? Or should I just take it as a compliment and do what asked?

Oh, how I totally understand you – fixing things for others is something that instantly kills my sewing mojo (talked a bit more about that in last week’s #SewTalk). No, seriously: if you want me to lose love for sewing, just give me a pair of pants to hem – I will avoid the sewing machine for as long as I can! As this activity gives me zero joy and is not very interesting financially (because, well, let’s face it: people who ask you to fix something for them, usually want you to do it free of charge), therefore I politely decline such requests most of the time – you can call me selfish, but with the limited time that we all have, I am just not okay with the idea of doing something I don’t like, something that does not develop my skills any further nor gives reasonable financial benefits, and fixing clothing for other falls exactly in this category.

Throughout the time I found two politely, yet effective ways to decline such proposals, depending on how they are asking and my inner reasoning:

  • “Sorry, but my skills are not yet at the level where I could do this fix in the quality that is needed and just cannot take a risk of ruining this clothing for you”. For the longest time I did not feel secure about my sewing skills and I would not take up on doing any project for others, let alone “trying” to fix something – the good thing is, people usually accept such honest reasoning (or, more likely, don’t want you to “test” your skills on their 100 Eur pants, ha!).

  • “Thank you for asking this, but I don’t do fixing, however there is a local atelier just around the corner that does a good job with great quality-price ratio!”. Sometimes, the cold-hard truth is the best way to go – you don’t like fixing clothing and that’s it. But do add a suggestion where they could find help – people will not feel uncomfortable with the decline, if you will offer a suggestion to them!

  • “I feel flattered that you trust my skills to perform this task, but at the moment I have a lot going on and all my projects are planned few months ahead. You should check this local atelier – they will be able to do it for you almost instantly and you won’t have to wait!”. We live at times where people value time over anything and so they will surely understand this reasoning, as long as you add a notion where they can find a quicker help!

In conclusion, I  would like to add that asking people to do favours is a two way street: if you don’t like to be asked to fix clothing for others, think twice before asking people to do something they don’t have to for you (I always feel a little bad for programmers, as they are used to hearing “Oh, you work with computers? I have a problem with mine, can you take a look?”).

That’s it for today’s #SewTalk – if you have a question you would like to ask, let me know in the comments below or send an email at and I will answer them next week!

Wish you all a great and productive week!

Yours truly, Julie


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