I find myself without any paid sewing work this week. This is not uncommon in July, but I usually just slow down, not stop completely. I have two people sending me work next week and I expect a large order from Florida in August, so it still moving, but it may be time to expand my clients again. This happens occasionally, people change their business or decide to stop doing what they are doing for whatever personal reasons. It is why it is important to have more than one contract, even if it is possible for one person to keep you busy full time (though not in my experience).
I have had referals from current customers, but mostly they want to keep me for themselves and don't give out my name. I have had a lot of referrals from people I no longer work for. Referals don't always work out. A lot of times it is just chit chat and the person who gets my name isn't really ready to start. Or they want to collaborate with me not hire me. Though I would consider a collaboration with the right person, I'm at a point in my life where I don't want to be a partner, I want to be a paid employee.
I started my search today on the internet. I put "seamstress michigan" into the search engine. I ended up filpping thru about 41 pages and getting a handful of places that I will send an email. I don't know how many will even respond, but its a start. You never know whose business has recently picked up or who has lost a seamstress.
I have also had luck in the past by going to an Art Fair or Show and inquiring in booths if they need any sewing help and/or dropping off a business card. The rejection rate is high, but if you are successful it can result in a long term relationship. The got the woman I work for in Virginia this way. She wasn't at the Show, but someone I talked to gave her my card. I've been working for her since 2001. She is one whose business is changing away from clothing and starting to focus more on accessories, because she has aquired several wholesale accounts over the last couple of years.
I also found a couple wesites that are worth checking regularly to see if they have a good fit for me:
Sewing Want Ads
You will have to try your own search in your area and see what comes up.
While working at a place insead of home isn't an option for me, it may be for you, especially if you are just starting out and need to inspire confidence. If I was in my 20's again, like I was when I was starting out, I'd even consider relocating, there are certainly a lot more opportunities in New York or California than in Michigan!
I went to a lot of interviews back then where they were not impressed with my youth or my experience (zip!). You may have to start out doing something that you don't like just to get the experience. I made a lot of swimsuits and little girls dance costumes, and I sure wasn't making much! I learned a lot though and it was all worthwhile.
I also have a website that needs updating, Production Seamstress, it does generate some interest.