Dealing With Rejection


most people think that because I run my own business out of my home that I get to work in this happy little insulated bubble where I only have to do the things I want to do without interference from the outside world. And you know what? Most of the time they’re right. It’s fantastic. The best job I’ve ever had. But every once in a while something comes in from out of “left field”, (or more accurately my email account) that totally blows up my day!

Like this one that I got a few months ago—

I have sewn for over 40+ years and I must let you know how much I disliked your pattern pieces and instructions. I have only made the Quattro—-2 times just to prove I could actually make this thing. I’m still not satisfied nor would I carry the final project. First, the notches on your pattern are larger than the 1/4″ seam allowance (on all 3 of the patterns I purchased). So after I cut all the pieces with your marked notches and tried to assemble it the notches presented as holes in the outside of the purse. Second, I feel that if a pattern is written correctly I should not have to be referred to an online tutorial- But, I did do this and found you did not provide tutorials for making the entire bag, just a few of the steps of it. When I sew items from patterns like McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue etc I never have to go online and find a tutorial to help me assemble a garment. So I would like a refund.


And just so you know… a great deal of this email was written in all-caps, the Internet equivalent of YELLING!  And yes, that’s pretty much the way I looked after reading it!  You can be sure that my concentration was BLOWN for the day too! And to add insult to injury, the Quattro is our best-selling handbag pattern… EVER. We’ve only rarely fielded questions about this pattern, let alone gotten “remarks” like this! So what would YOU do if a customer wrote something like this to you?

First of all… Unjustified criticism is without a doubt the hardest thing about running a business. Thankfully, we don’t get too much correspondence like this. For the most part we have really fantastic customers who are kinder to us than we probably deserve even when we screw up (sadly it happens)!  Which brings me to the way I’ve learned to cope with treatment like this….

I keep the nice comments in a special File!

That’s right… I put every nice email I get into a special folder. Nasty emails get deleted immediately (except for this one… I set it aside in a dark place knowing someday I might want to write about my “happy” file). When one of these email bombs arrives in my Inbox or if I’m just having a dark day and need a boost, I open up that folder and read through a couple of those emails. Then I get back to work.

Try it!  Instead of keeping a rejection file, try keeping a “HAPPY” file. Don’t overuse it. Save it for when you really need that LIFT! It works, I promise! (And you know what? If you’ve ever sent me something nice, your email might just be in MY file!)

And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

Have you ever had a perfectly lovely day instantly ruined by a particular phone call or email? Is so, what do you do to regain YOUR focus? Is there something you do that helps you to “let it go” easier. And what do you think of the idea of a “HAPPY File”?  And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave any comments you might have in the space provided below.

Just a couple of footnotes that might interest you:
1- I’ve discovered thru 10+ years in this business that it’s generally NOT a good sign when a customer kicks off an interaction with the words…”I’ve been sewing for 40+ years”.
2- I recently devoted an entire post to the topic of whether notches should be cut in or out. You can read it HERE.

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51 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I would send the refund with no comment except “enclosed is the refund requested- I understand how upsetting this is- someone does not even know how to use notches! I find a session of yoga takes my mind off the upsetting things. Plus go to your nice emails- we know and love your patterns!

    • Thanks for the kind words Margie. I didn’t reply to that one. Sometimes folks are just looking for a fight and I didn’t feel like one that day (or most days). 🙂

      • Sometimes it takes a few days to calm down and think with your head instead of your feelings. We had a suggestion box at our fitness center. Most of the time were great suggestions but sometimes were just nasty complaints. It was our policy to post the suggestion along with a comment. So for the nasty ones it took me several days to calm down and then a few more to decide what to say. I Know you will do what is right for you. You have a wonderful business and I love your purses.

        • Exactly, I think if folks could just lay a project down and give it some space, they wouldnt fire off a kneejerk reaction email like this.

  2. Kat, I am an accomplished seamstress and an interior design business owner. I have 4 or 5 of your patterns but have never made one because I find them too complicated with not enough clear pictures or instructions on how to sew them. Complaints are a necessary part of any business. It helps us to improve. A you tube video of each pattern that you sell would be extremely helpful to me. I have made hundreds of bags and would love to make one of yours. I somewhat agree with your complainer but not wholly. She could have written it in a nice fashion. If you are uncomfortable doing a you tube video, maybe you could find someone who would love to demo your bags. Thanks.

    • Thanks for writing Carol and I appreciate your suggestion. With that in mind, I would suggest that perhaps you consider actually trying one of our patterns. We have color downloads available on our website to assist through sections we think might be challenging and you might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. 🙂

    • Carol–I have made several of Kat’s patterns and have had little or no issues with the instructions. They are not easy patterns to make but I find if I read through the section a few times and work to visualize the process I am successful. I’ve never had to refer to the on-line tutorials. If you are an accomplished sewer, I am quite certain you can do this! Go for it!

    • Hello Carol, I got into sewing a little over two years ago, I’ve never made a bag of any kind before, but recently purchased one of Kat’s Ditty Roo Handbag patterns. I made a copy of the instructions for my own personal use, spent time reading through and preparing [what was needed etc], and followed each step exactly as directed and highlighted through them [using the copy version] as I completed each stage, so that I didn’t lose my way. I never needed to make use of the online tutorials, and found the instructions to be very well written and the diagrams were good too. Some aspects which didn’t quite make sense to me at first only became clearer and made sense to me once certain stages were completed. I didn’t rush, but took my time and completed my bag over a couple of weeks. Do have a go at one of your patterns. My bag has been much admired and the recipient loves it.

  3. That’s a tough one. But I would ask her to return the pattern before giving a refund.

    If I had been sewing for 40+ years (oh that’s right, I have), I would know not to cut into my seam line.

    • Thanks for commenting Bonni, and I agree. I find it hard to believe she’d make something twice that she hated that much.

    • I would think that notching in only works with a 1/2-5/8″ seam allowance–she must do mostly clothing…

  4. Kat, I myself looked like you after reading that email (in your post). I’m glad you treated it in the manner which it deserved.
    I’ve purchased nearly all your patterns and love making each one that I have made. Everyone always comments on my bags and when I tell them ‘I made it’ they cannot believe it. Without your clear and detailed instructions (and the tutorials) I would not be able to make such a professionally finished product.
    Keep your head high and look at those ‘happy’ emails when needed.

  5. There are people in this world who will never be satisfied with anything – a project, a possession, a job, their life and the people around them. Nothing is ever their fault. Always much easier to blame someone/something on someone else. Rather than letting it bother you to get an email like this, pity the poor soul with her miserable life! She will never be happy.

  6. Cheri Clement

    I agree with Lois. You can’t please everyone especially the ones unhappy in their lives. You are too nice to have to put up with that behavior. Keep up the good work!

  7. I would send her money back. She’s not worth the bad advertisement if you don’t.
    We owned a fitness center and we had one member that was continually complaining. One day I was really tired of it, and as calm as I could (because inside I was fuming) I said to him, I’m sorry you feel that way, clearly you are not happy here, so I will be glad to discontinue your membership and refund your last month’s dues. Well that shut him up and he did not want to lose his membership. But in this case give her the money back. I would have reacted the same way you did.

    • I think you’re right. I think its so easy for folks to “vent” over the internet, many times in ways they would NEVER vent face to face!

  8. I can’t believe she compared your patterns to Simplicity or McCalls. Those things are terrible–I seriously wonder if they test their own patterns, sometimes!

    • I agree , Kat’s patterns are in a class way above Simplicity, Vogue, and McCalls! No comparison!

  9. Was she from the UK, by any chance? It could be some of the terms used. I’m British and I googled a couple of things from the lollapalooza, I did get confused, but hey that’s just me, I can get confused with simplicity patterns. When you use a pattern brand regularly it gets easier you understand the terminology. As for notches, well yes I cut in on a 5/8″ seam on a 1/4 I cut out, surely that’s obvious!

    I’ve done one of yours now I’ve got a couple to do, but this time it will be easier, and none of that is your fault it’s a learning curve. U

    • Thanks for writing Lyn and bravo to you for jumping in and trying it! I’d love to see the bag you made! 🙂

  10. Well, I’ve been sewing for 50 years and I find your patterns and instructions to be some of the best and most comprehensive I have ever worked with, Your illustrations are enormously helpful (and also show the notches pointing outward, not into the seam). Just because she’s been doing it for 40 years doesn’t mean she ever did it well.

    I can actually find it in me to feel sorry for her. With that level of competence, sewing must be a continuously frustrating, uphill battle with unsatisfying results. Dump that message in the trash and take another tip-toe through your “Happy” file.

  11. I have been sewing for 50 plus years….. lol…. ; I have to say that she must not know much about sewing even though she has been sewing for that long. I haven’t found anything particularly hard about your patterns, ESPECIALLY the notches. I always cut them out not in anyway and it should have been obvious that they would have to be cut smaller if she cut them in. I have learned to just let things like that roll off my shoulder because there will always be someone cranky and it seems that their problems are because they don’t use their brains properly. Common sense isn’t common. I have only made one of your bags but it turned out beautifully and I was very pleased with it. My daughter stole it because she wanted a big bag to use as a diaper bag that didn’t look like a diaper bag and she loved it. lol I have 2 other patterns that I want to make up sometime but haven’t had the time yet. I LOVE your bags!

  12. I cannot imagine using all caps to express a complaint that was not your fault. If after sewing for 40 years, she can’t figure out how to cut out notches, she should hang it up. I’ve been sewing for 52 years and I was always taught to cut out so you wouldn’t cut into the seam! Making two purses and making the same mistake twice? It’s not the pattern, it’s the maker! I have to turn down requests from my friends and family to make your purses! They love them! This weekend I am making a Boho out of Laurel Burch indigo cats FOR ME;) No one is going to steal this one. You do great work. Just consider that you can’t make everyone happy. I stopped doing sewing for outside my family for that reason. Have a great weekend and hug the kitties!

    • Thanks so much Donna! Gosh I’d love to see some of them! Drop me a few pics when you get a chance? 🙂

  13. Rebecca Elsesser

    After several years as an office manager at a major university, I can honestly say, there ARE some people that simply aren’t happy unless they are miserable!!! Blow it off ………. life is waaaaaaaay too short!!! You only walk this way but once ………… but if you do it right ….. once is enough!!

  14. I’ve sewn for 70 years, to start with, replacing buttons and darning socks. I moved on to garments, quilts, crafts etc. My mom sewed but other than that self taught. I have seen patterns that leave a lot to be desired, but not yours. I dealt with people all my working life and found that letting it ‘go in one ear and out the other’ was the way to go, and then go on with life. 🙂 If it is in the email it is easy, hit delete and forget about it.

    Having videos on your site should be a big help to those that are having technical problems. It sounds like she needs to be walked thru every cut and stitch. I say forget it and read your happy file for a few minutes and then go on and never think of her again.

  15. I wouldn’t refund anything. The worse that will happen is she won’t buy anything more from you. And, really, isn’t this a good thing??? Some people you don’t need as customers. And some people you just can’t please, anyway. She made two bags with your pattern for crying out loud — and she ruined them both by cutting into the seam allowance? Wouldn’t you think that if that was the problem the first time that you’d cut the notches outside the cutting line the second time or only notch in enough to see that the notches exist? I have that pattern and I didn’t end up cutting the notches through the seam allowance. What is she talking about? And I’ve been sewing for 55 years.

    • It struck me as wierd that she made two bags as well. If she hated it so much, why would she spend for fabric and supplies to make it again?

  16. Hi Kat, sorry to see someone has been sewing so long and learnt so little. I have been sewing 43 years and have learnt so much in just the last 10. I like notches marked inwards as I can’t accidentally cut them off the pattern! I have made the Quattro, the Lollapalooza and the Cosmo so far.

    However, as this notch issue has come up before perhaps you should put it on the website “OUR PATTERNS HAVE THE NOTCHES MARKED ON THE PATTERN POINTING IN (to prevent you cutting them off by accident) BUT YOU NEED TO CUT THEM POINTING OUT. If you have any problems or concerns with making your bag please contact us”. It would save putting it on every pattern.

    Personally I would be in favour of you starting a Group Page on where we can all post pictures of the HUNDREDS of bags made successfully from your patterns! Or you could get someone to do a sew along for you, that seems popular these days. Chin up!

    • Hi Karen
      We do have a FaceBook page where you can post pictures if you like! They are always welcomed! 🙂

  17. I have been sewing for over 40 years, but it seems to me that the question isn’t the pattern instructions as much it is the common sense of the maker. Who was it who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result? If there were holes in the outside of my bag because I was too blind to see that the notch was deeper than a quarter inch, I would have made a wider seam around the notches – I wouldn’t have waited till I was completely finished with the bag to correct the problem. And I most certainly wouldn’t have cut them in again on the second go round. I found your instructions on the Quattro to be very good and if she had read through them once or twice before she started and checked them at each step, she would likely have better results.

  18. Perhaps she needs new glasses!!!!! As my mother used to say, you can take this as you like, not even sure what it means myself!!! “Let her hang as she grows.” Obviously she’s not the best at sewing as she thinks!

  19. I still teach Home Economics classes and teach to cut notches out as I was taught by my grandmother, school and college.
    I give the good reasons you give in your post.

    • I must admit I’m always puzzled by this, especially since all of our 1/4″ seams are clearly marked.

  20. I don’t really consider this ‘rejection’. If this is just one of a few complaints about an individual bag, I consider this more of a failure of the sewer making the bag. I would call her or ask her what exactly was her step-by-step process and see where she erred. I would also want a picture of her fabrics, the bag, etc. I think the problem for most people who do complain is the fact that designers are much more detailed in their approach to sewing their patterns, thank you very much, compared to Vogue, McCalls, etc. And, anyone who has sewn for 40 + plus years and hasn’t found a commercial pattern to be flawed or left out instructions or pieces, are not using many different patterns. I also love the fact that many designers do offer the videos and tutorials because their patterns are unique in their design, construction and often more complicated than a commercial pattern. That’s THE FUN OF IT! They are so different. If you want the same ho hum in many cases, then don’t buy designer patterns, don’t stretch your mind and don’t hone your sewing skills, stick with what you know and please don’t ever consider it was your mistake, it’s always better to blame the PRO who has made this pattern over and over and over to get it just right for the buying public. Keep up the creative patterns and should you decide to pink slip your assistant, Pippin, please let me know, I just happen to have an opening in my SR for a very cute and creative assistant. A big SKD fan,
    Nancy P.

  21. I don’t think I can add any more to what has already been said. I agree that anyone with that many years of sewing experience should be able to at least construct the second bag correctly!
    I think your patterns are amazing! They are the most professional patterns that I’ve ever used, and I’m not telling how long I’ve been sewing!!! LOL
    I like your happy file! I also like to keep things that make my heart sing.

    • You know what i think it is Beth… I think SOMETIMES, folks with years and years of sewing experience feel that once they are in possession of the pattern pieces for a project, that they should be able to put it together intuitively, without instructions, and if they can’t then the instructions are at fault. And this is probably very true for clothing, and home dec projects, but not so with bags (as I know you are well aware). If you don’t put our bags together as described, they just may not go together at all, but some folks dont feel that should be so. What can i say? 🙂

      • I think you are right! Clothing is easy to put together (as a rule) and can be constructed several ways with good results, whereas your patterns are works of art and need to be respected!

        • Sorry, didn’t get my thought finished!
          So if we don’t respect a really professional pattern, we end up with notch holes in our purses, or upside down pockets, or…. whatever else you can think of! LOL

  22. Just because she has been sewing for 40 yrs. doesn’t mean that the things she makes look professional instead of “homemade”. Commercial patterns are not perfect by any means. Never had a problem with yours. I recently purchased the Quatro, but haven’t made it yet.

  23. She spent her money for your pattern and… like it or not… is entitled to her opinion