Burke Brewer is #MadeForKnoxville.

A one-of-a-kind seamstress making bespoke garments, Burke helps women feel confident in their bodies with clothes made just for them. 

For years, Burke poured her life and career into advocating for others. After filling several roles in human services and simultaneously working on a few side hustles, she realized her own health had taken a back seat. Reflecting on what she enjoyed most in life, Burke decided to shift her part time hobby of sewing into a full-time endeavor. She now teaches sewing classes and helps others feel the satisfaction of creating a well-fitting garment. Burke takes on each client and project with care, taking her clients’ personal style and unique body type into consideration. With each bespoke garment she makes, she equips her clients to walk with confidence.

“I’ve learned that sustained, consistent effort over time is incredibly important to not only maintaining your personal well-being but also being successful as an entrepreneur.”

In Their Own Words…

Modern Seamstress is East Tennessee’s only bespoke clothier for women offering customized clothing, alterations, and private sewing lessons. I started sewing in 2011, frustrated with the lack of natural fibers and garments that fit my body, and am proud to say that twelve years later, I make all of my clothing. I started Modern Seamstress in late 2015 to share my love of sewing with others and offered a coat sewing class that I taught in my dining room. I learned that each of my students was fed up with trying to find clothing, and all lit up with excitement when they realized they finally had a garment that fit them. This was my proof of concept and I went on to create bespoke garments for others, provide alteration services, and teach group sewing classes. Last fall, I left a career of nearly 20 years in the mental health and disability advocacy & employment fields to focus full-time on Modern Seamstress and I could not be happier! 

What led to entrepreneurship:

My biggest pivot moment occurred in fall 2022. I had been working as a disability rights advocate protecting children from abuse and neglect in institutions. After nearly four years of this work (and many more in the human services), I was exhausted beyond belief. I resigned from my position as a Director and took a much needed break to decide what was next. During my time of rest and reflection, I realized that my true passion was sewing, and I made the decision to pursue it full-time rather than treat it as a side hustle. I’m thankful to have years of entrepreneurial experience under my belt from owning my own counseling agency, running a local arts venue, and running Modern Seamstress on the side.

Lessons learned:

I have learned so many lessons as an entrepreneur but the biggest one is that the process is a marathon, not a sprint. In year’s past I took on too much, overloaded my schedule, and didn’t really intentionally focus fully on any one thing. I had a ton of energy until I hit a wall with one of my businesses. I’ve learned that sustained, consistent effort over time is incredibly important to not only maintaining your personal well-being but also being successful as an entrepreneur.


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