Liz Bruckner | Date posted: May 10th, 2010
Monika Kurc lives and breathes sewing. Working both as a home décor designer and seamstress-for-hire, it’s fair to say she knows her way around a sewing machine. Here’s how she went from a casual sewer to an in-demand seamstress — and never saw any of it coming.
LoveSewing: How did you get started as a seamstress?
Monika Kurc: I started sewing when I was still in high school. There was a machine at home that no one was using, so I decided to give it a whirl. I was lucky enough to have a professional seamstress and tailor for a neighbour, so whenever I needed guidance, she came to my rescue. Initially, though, I never wanted to be a seamstress — sewing was just a hobby. It wasn’t until I moved to Canada and couldn’t use my university education in art history that I really looked at it as a career option.
LS: What’s the best part of the job?
MK: Enjoying the finished product and seeing clients happy and appreciative is one of the best parts of what I do.
LS: How skilled does someone have to be to work as a professional seamstress?
MK: This profession requires a lot of attention to detail and the ability to read patterns. It’s not difficult to sew, and you can learn absolutely everything about a sewing machine if you set your mind to it — it just takes patience.
LS: Beyond manual skill, what other traits does a seamstress need?
MK: So many. Creative thinking for one. You can make a million-dollar outfit with pieces of cotton if you have imagination, so thinking outside the box is important — especially if you want to take being a seamstress to the next level. Patience is another big component. There are so many times you have to re-open something and start again, so having the foresight to see that there will be a few problems makes the job easier in the end.
LS: Now that you’re a designer, what do you look for in a seamstress?
MK: You have to be able to use a sewing machine, obviously, but your hands, as well. Not everything can be sewn with a machine — most expensive couture pieces are crafted by hand, so having that skill is a must. Also, someone who’s open to being taught new techniques is key. It’s difficult to work with a seamstress who has established her style because she likely already has a routine and may not be open to suggestions from others.
LS: Any tips for someone wanting to enter the field?
MK: Like what you do, otherwise it’s not worth it. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or learn from your mistakes — there’s no better way to master a skill. Later, focus on the area of sewing you do well in. Always look for ways to improve your work and make it unique. Getting too comfortable has a way of spoiling whatever you do.