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a questionable one. There weren’t a lot of questions to be asked this week. Well, actually, I take that back. There are always lots of questions to be asked. I am a questionable one, but let’s not go down that yellow brick road. What I mean is that a question bubbled up that stayed for awhile, more than the come-and-go of a regular thought. This week Sallie posted photos of a dress she she recently made (mad props go to Sallie on her newest creation). Made from fabric that was sent to her as a gift from this Sonja, the dress stood out because of its silhouette. That’s not to say that the construction did not stand out – the tie in the back was a great construction detail – but the silhouette trumped the construction. I’ve been a follower of Sallie for a some time and her most recent project was similar to another project of hers, an ikat dress, in that both had a focus on silhouette. I don’t know of this was the case with Sallie but could the similarity between the projects be blamed on the fact that when she sewed the ikat dress, she loved it so much that she decided to continue with another project that built upon that project? When I finished my pair of Ohhh Lulu undies, I loved everything about the process of sewing lingerie so much that I wanted to go further with it. I wanted to eat up everything elastics, zigzag stitches, stretch lace, etc. Not literally, of course.

And it’s this that brought created my question. When we find our niche, is this a good thing or a bad thing? I may have found my niche with lingerie (key word – may) and I have many plans to show and tell you what I have recently learned about this category of sewing but I don’t want to forget about dresses, sleeves, slopers, and all the other fun pattern making and sewing stuff that I have been into for years. So, do niche’s limit us? Or are niche’s good because in having such a narrow scope, we learn A LOT about a LITTLE (rather than a LITTLE about A LOT). Looks like my questions is still in question.


  1. Reply

    Clare Mountain

    I think niches are GREAT for business. If you were sewing to sell, then having a niche is great for finding your ‘right’ people – people who totally get you, and want your product.
    If you’re sewing for fun though, I say go with the flow. As soon as we put limitations on ourselves, things start to feel like a chore. If you feel like sewing lingerie at the moment, go with it! And likewise, if you desperately want to make a new dress, make one.
    I think the great, defining thing about what you make is that it’s always beautifully constructed with perfection down to the detail.

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    melissa whitney

    Who says we can’t have more than one niche?

    • Reply


      Amen sista! I touched on this in my reply to Sallie’s comment (above)

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    I often find myself asking about having a niche. I agree with Melissa, why can’t we have more than one niche? Or what if we think we’re good at more than one thing only to find out years later what our true niche is. I guess we’ll never know until we get that “ah hah” moment. If you’re excited and passionate about lingerie, then go with it 😉

    • Reply


      Yep. Again, I touched on this is my reply to Sallie’s comment but I’ll add that it’s definitely important to go with what you’re loving RIGHT NOW

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    Maddie, a great post once again. You always bring up very relevant topics that we all are thinking about. Niches are one of them. I’ve thought about it not only applied to sewing but to drawing as well. I started focusing on fashion illustration some time ago but drawing is so vast and I sometimes worry that focusing on one aspect of the craft can limit me, but then again, we can’t take on absolutely everything at once. Believe me, I’ve tried.
    I believe focusing on a niche is really good professionally, to stay consistent and for clients to understand exactly what you offer- not to seem like you are all over the place and nowhere, at the same time.
    But for personal work and doing stuff for fun, I think it’s nice to explore as much as you like and try out everything that interests you. I love learning new techniques and practicing different types of apparel.
    Looking at it this way makes me less nervous about it.

    • Reply


      I like how you’ve broken down niche’s into personal and professional. Professionally speaking, I think that niche’s are not forever at that accumulating niches over time will make you a “master.” Along with that, it’s important to stay in a niche long enough to avoid seeming inconsistent. Personally, though, I think jumping from project to project is fun. Life is too short to worry about if you’re inconsistent! Just do what you want!

      • Reply


        “Life is too short to worry about if you’re inconsistent! Just do what you want!” Exactly! Words to live by.

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    I love those leopard print studded oxfords!

    As for sewing niches, I don’t think they limit you. It’s good to know what works best on your body type and what you are comfortable with, it means you are more likely to wear your finished pieces.

    • Reply


      The shoes are Steve Madden and I have a funny story about them, other than they were a bitch to break in…

      I first saw these shoes in Nordstrom while I was in Florida. The next day, when I was in Marshalls (I’m a high-low shopper), I saw the exact pair, $60 less. Such a steal that even this frugal gal could splurge!

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    I love Sallie’s dress so much– it really is perfect on her! I think that niche sewing means that you’ve found a great intersection of style, form, and function that’s unique to you. If you’re finding yourself drawn to certain silhouettes or types of clothing, it’s probably because they help you to express yourself and to feel and look good!

    • Reply


      I see your point but it creates another question (I’m full of them), how is lingerie a reflection of myself? Eeek! I may not want to answer that!

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    Wow Maddie – such a thoughtful post, as always, and I feel so honored that my dress stood out to you and provoked questions. Finding a niche… hmm…
    I think there are times in everyone’s creative journey (no matter what that may be) where its good to experiment with anything and everything, but after awhile this can leave you feeling unfocused and unproductive. When this happens one of my solutions is to set some kind of limitation (eg. “I will only focus on lingerie for now…”) It doesn’t mean that you don’t have other interests and you don’t have to commit to this forever and ever, Amen! But by setting yourself limitations or narrowing your scope you may find that you push your creativity far more than you would if you just did a little bit of everything. And all of these are experiences that will feed into the next.
    So I don’t think that finding a niche is a bad thing. But its like anything in life – nothing is fixed. Just because this is your niche right now, doesn’t mean it has to be your niche later. And in your case, all your knowledge on sleeves and slopers and patternmaking doesn’t go away just because you’re choosing to focus on lingerie. You’re not wasting it, it will always be there for you should you choose to shift your focus again. And I’ll always be along for the ride <3

    • Reply


      Amen sister! I think you hit this one right on spot! I think that in order to become a “master” in this hobby, like Clare Schaeffer (spelling?), you have to go from niche to niche until you have a lot of niches. When I first started technical design, I was in jackets. After a year, I switched to sweaters, knits, and intimates.

      I think it’s important though that while your in one niche, you stay involved in the other niches. Example – even though I’m spending my extracurricular time studying lingerie, I am still reading blog posts on other projects that involve sleeves, rises, ect.

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    Marisa Noelle

    Such a thoughtful post Maddie! I don’t think niches really limit you – I think we excel in our niches because it’s where our passion dwells in most cases. I know it’s easy to feel comfortable in our niche, but the moment that comfort & passion no longer satisfy, is usually the moment we need to move onto the next thing.

    • Reply


      Yep. This can go along with Sallie’s comment and my response (below). Niche’s are not a forever thing – just because I’m in a niche right now doesn’t mean I will be in THIS niche forever. At some point, my PASSION will be gone and I will be TOO COMFORTABLE. At that point, it’s time to a new niche!

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    Like you said, key word is “may”. This is obviously something you’re really excited about right now, and if that’s where your passion is at the moment, run with it. There’s nothing saying that all other sewing has lost interest for you, or that you’ll never make anything else again. And sewing is way more fun when it’s projects that you care about!

    I really stopped by to tell you that I finally got my Esty Lingerie order placed–thanks again–and this seemed like the most appropriate recent post to leave it on! I’ll also be interested to see your lingerie posts, since being engaged means I want cuter stuff. (And I’ve seen enough me-made bras over the last year or so that I’m intrigued, even as I seriously question how a non-foam cup will work under my knit tops…)

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    I’m so with you! Funny because I have been writing and thinking about the same thing. All I can think about is designing lingerie right now. I like learning a lot about a little, and getting very good at it, but these are good things to ponder. I have had many niches in the last 20 years. At one point I was a music critic and I knew everything there was to know about music at the time but I grew very restless and moved on to film studies then this then that. You’ll keep exploring but there will always be signature interests that stay with you from season to season.

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