How to find sewing contractors

Perhaps it would surprise you that I don’t have a magic list of sewing contractors. While I have a leg up in many respects, it’s still a challenge. I’m curious as to how people go about searching for contractors in the first place. The reason is that I get questions like this everyday but I don’t have the same problems finding names. If the question is from a member of the forum (a supporting member of this site), first I send them there to search for referrals other members have mentioned (or who are contractors themselves). If not a member, I can’t help them in part because I can’t make a living giving away free information but mostly because I don’t know if the person is sufficiently prepared to enter into a relationship with a manufacturer using my name as a lever. Sometimes because I’m curious though and I’ll search to find a range of contractors in their area and wonder why they couldn’t find them themselves. Once, I found a contractor who was literally, five blocks from the DE‘s house (she is now very happily using this contractor). By the way, this DE (love her to death) swore up and down for two years there wasn’t a contractor she could use within 200 miles.

These are the strategies I use to find manufacturers of apparel and sewn products. Within an hour, I’ll have more names than I can sort through.

The rest of this article is gated, limited to members of Fashion-Incubator’s forum. If you are interested in joining, read this before registering.

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  1. Angela says:

    Living in a major metropolitan it is not that I can’t find a contractor. The yellow pages turns out a list of at least 30. My problem is that I would like a reference or referal to one that others have used. Walking in to a contractor to have samples made is an open checkbook scenario. A scene from which I just got scorched pretty badly. I’m not willing to say that it didn’t take the conntractor 5 hours to sew a polo shirt but if it did take them that long (at $40.00/hour) I would have like to know in advance that they move at a snails pace and run chronically 2 weeks behind. BTW there were no patterning problems AND they had a sew-by. During my years as a contractor I got nearly all of my business from referals and I always carry around business card of people I would refer out. When so much is at steak I am hesitant to go to anybody again that I don’t get through referal or with references.

  2. Trisha Stevens says:


    I was trying to access your strategies on finding sewing contractors but it took me to a place to sign in. Is this right? Also,what is an FI that people mentioned on this site?


  3. Trisha,

    yes, this is right. The forum is where we get into specifics, and it’s available to people who have bought Kathleen’s book, which ensures that the discussion in the forum goes beyond what is in the book and doesn’t always go back over the basics. You can get the book here:

    FI or F-I is, the site we are on right now and the community who use it.

  4. Gail Seymour says:

    I was thinking about manufacturing a line of cotton unisex kimono style robes a while back, before the economy took a nosedive. I did a lookup in the yellow pages online here in FL, using the keywords “contract sewing”. I called every comany that I could find, and spoke to most of them that were located in the greater Miami area, which has been known for manufacturing beachwear and resortwear. Most of the companies that were willing to talk to me have companies that they constantly work for, and as a result, they weren’t open to taking on any new business. The rest of them had contracts with the government. One company, that I actually went to visit, had to downsize. Business got so slow that she was forced to give up her business location, and moved her business into what looked like a guest house adjacent to her home. She had three women sewing for her. But again, with no lack of steady cusotmers, now that she had downsized, she wasn’t open to working with someone new like me, who wasn’t able to give her steady work and who would need to start out with smallish orders. She also started a new business that was unrelated, and she wasn’t that keen on continuing in dialog with me. I finally found a woman in Oregon who is an expert craftsperson, who moved out to the countryside, where it’s hard to make a living, who said that she’d help me. She is overqualfied for my needs, but still, every time I put an ad in the local paper and interviewed people interested in making money at home part time by doing sewing for me, they were flakey. It worked when I lived in Sedona, AZ since the folks there seemed otbe more stable, but here in FL, people move a lot and their life circumstances change. It’s not easy. When I’m ready and the market recovers a bit, I’ll go to Indonesia, rent a house and stay there for a while to oversee the manufacturing of my robes in the capital city of Dempasar, and figure out how to get my finished merchandise back to the US, without it taking six months or more by boat. Most people who go there to buy items other than furniture bring lots of suitcases, and put their merchanidse on the plane, which I might have to do.

  5. Alena says:

    Finding a sewing contractor took time for me and it was through a referral. I keep having people coming up to me asking me who my sewing contractor is and also for the contact details. Because my sewing contractor is small and as it is , is inundated by orders that I sometimes feel that back lash through delivery delays, therefore I am reluctant to share my resource with others. In fact, I think it is insensitive to ask what I feel is confidential company information. Am I wrong?

  6. Kathleen says:

    I don’t think you’re wrong. It’s why I don’t mention contractors by name on the site. We only do referrals in our private forum and even then, only after the individual has fleshed out their plan so we know they’re ready to move forward. Otherwise the contractor will lose confidence in us for sending them people who are unprepared and will waste their time.

  7. Alena says:

    Thank you Kathleen, I appreciate your response which is a much needed affirmative. And you are absolutely right, providing referrals to people who may not be serious or ready (often reflected in the fact that they don’t have a business plan) is justification enough. I love your site and thank you for sharing your experience with all of us here!

  8. Daniel Oakman says:

    I am looking for a sew contractor in the miami area for sew on tag to already made clothing. does anyone here have any suggestions?

    Thank you.

  9. Denise says:

    I have an existing product. I have been making these for approx. 5 years. Even with the bad economy i am still growing. It has gotten to the point i need help. I have put together a business plan but it hinges on finding a manufacture to help me make them. I have had some send me back samples that were not even close. They dont seem to understand this is not a new product. I am getting a little frustrated.

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