Michelle Pederson and Gail Chipman call themselves “big shoppers” when it comes to fabric stores. Now, they’re on the other side of the counter.
Sew It Seams opened its doors in Philomath back on Aug. 31 at 1233 Main St. The business offers quality quilting cottons, flannel, notions, yarn and patterns. Classes will be starting up again soon and items from locals are sold on consignment.
Pederson said the prospects of launching the business heightened with closures of other shops in the region combined with a strong desire for in-person shopping.
“I don’t want to go online to buy fabric, I want to be able to feel it and see the quality of it,” Pederson said. “That’s where I got started and then I approached Gail and we partnered up.”
Sewing has been a big part of both of their lives.
“I learned to sew when I was in grade school,” Chipman said. “Both my mom taught me and I had some 4-H sewing. I’ve been doing sewing, crafting and now quilting for about 20 years.”
Added Pederson, “My mom taught me to sew before I was in first grade — same kind of thing … I’ve been sewing all this time.”
The pandemic has impacted business to a certain extent — primarily forcing Sew It Seams to suspend its classes. But the opening date late last summer was not in doubt with all of the preparations they had done.
“There wasn’t a pandemic when we started the planning,” Pederson said. “We ended up just deciding to go for it.”
The two owners hired four part-time employees to serve customers. They said Sew It Seams is doing pretty good business.
“We do have a nice following and we have our regulars — there are two of them out there right now,” Pederson said, motioning toward the front of the store.
Chipman believes the pandemic has helped their type of business, including the thousands of people who are making masks.
“It’s a tough time, some people I don’t think are coming out of their homes, but a lot of people are out of work and they’re home needing something to do,” Chipman said. “So I think that’s what’s keeping us alive — the need for sewing both masks and activities for children as well as adults in the sewing world.”
Pederson takes a phone call, an individual from Eugene who’s interested in making the drive up to Philomath for a shopping excursion.
“We actually get people from the coast that are coming over for doctor’s visits or whatever, and so we’ve got a large number of people from the coast and then we have people from the north coming down,” Pederson said. “Albany just lost one of their brick-and-mortar quilt shops. Everybody’s converging here and it’s kind of nice.”
With a number of related businesses shutting down, it might make one wonder if sewing and quilting has evolved into an antiquated activity with a smaller base. However, Pederson pointed out that the shops that closed were all related to retirements or just life circumstances, not because business was bad.
The process of putting together a business plan was also encouraging.
“I had no idea that the community for quilting and sewing was so large,” Chipman said. “We’re very well encouraged and supported for being here so I feel good about the need. But we have lots of people like Michelle and I that like to shop and like to sew and they come from Coburg and Eugene and a lot from the Portland area. Quilters do that.”
Sew It Seams plans to start up its classes again soon. Past class topics have included things like knitting, wood appliqué, paper piercing, burrito-inspired pillowcases and others.
“People bought a lot more sewing machines to make masks to help out and some of them had never sewn anything before and so now, they’ve got this sewing machine and what do they do with it?” Pederson said.
The store site in Philomath has worked well.
“It is a handy place to be — we didn’t plan that, we just fell into this,” Chipman said. “A friend of mine noticed that the place was for lease and we were having a hard time finding a place that was the right square footage and right price, so we were just lucky to find this place.”
SEW IT SEAMS Address: 1233 Main St., Philomath
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
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