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3 generations of seamstresses open shop

Staff Writer

Three generations of seamstresses are behind a new sewing shop in Lincolnton, continuing on a trade that is becoming increasingly rare.
Alterations And Sew Much More, owned by Rachel Freeman and her mother Rebecca Naylor, opened for business last month at 518 N. Generals Blvd., beside the Goodwill.
Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the store provides all sewing-related services, from alterations, hemming and replacing zippers to custom-made clothing and costumes, which they sell on-site. They also do work on home decor (such as draperies, pillows, cushions and bedding items) and on some leather goods using their industrial sewing machines.
These professional machines also allow the clothing they alter to look “like it came from a store,” Freeman said.
She anticipates that alterations of formal wear will be a big part of their business, especially around both prom and wedding seasons.
Her grandmother, Necia Wolfe, also contributes, making quilts, bags and pin cushions for sale.
Freeman previously ran a shop in Marion. Her mother, a native of Illinois, has owned sewing shops in various states, having worked as a professional seamstress for 30 years. Naylor moved to Iron Station about a year and a half ago, with plans to retire. However, she said she got “bored,” and she eventually decided to join Freeman in opening the new shop, though she noted this was the first time her daughter would be her boss.
Growing up, Freeman, who now lives in Lincolnton, learned from her as she sewed clothing, with her mother having made her prom, homecoming and wedding dresses.
When she, in turn, had daughters, she carried on the tradition, making clothing for them, as well. Over the years, she has worked for her mom, sewn costumes and sold them online, made from scratch the garments for entire wedding parties and designed and made home decor. Since running the shop in Marion, she has also worked locally with dry cleaners and designers, in addition to making cheerleading, ROTC and other items for schools.
She describes her time learning from her mom as an “apprenticeship” of sorts, though she has also expanded on that by delving into other areas. Naylor, for instance, prefers doing alterations, while Freeman likes designing and creating clothing. She’s even able to replicate a design from a photograph.
With sewing becoming more and more of a lost art, Freeman, who is not quite 40, said people often seem “dubious” that she’s really a seamstress. Nonetheless, she hopes to push her skills on to the next generation, adding that her daughters may eventually carry on the family trade.
For now, she’s looking ahead to future plans for her new shop.
“There is so much still to do,” she said.
She hopes to have twice the amount of clothing for sale soon, which customers can try on in dressing rooms in the store. Freeman is also getting ready to prepare a Christmas display with stockings, table-runners and more to be up soon. She and her mother have also weighed potentially offering sewing lessons.
Depending on demand, they may look into hiring a few other hands to help out.
Down the road, Freeman said she would even be interested in opening a chain of sewing shops.
Already, she said she’s been surprised by the amount of business they’ve received. Much of it so far has come from people who buy items next door at the Goodwill and bring them directly over to be altered, Freeman added.
She also noted that their prices are based on the amount of time it takes them to complete an alteration. With a typical turnaround of a couple days, and never more than a week out, she believes her shop’s pricing is very competitive. They also offer rush service for a small fee.
She partly, and jokingly, attributes their “nice, short timeline” to both her and her mother being “workaholics” and insomniacs.
Freeman also encourages people to always inquire if they are uncertain if her store can provide a certain service.
“Ask — you never know; we can probably do something,” she said.
In the past, they have repaired items ranging from boat covers to dog beds, and have also helped salvage the wardrobes of people who have lost weight and whose clothes no longer fit.
Freeman is certainly passionate about what she does.
“Clothing is such a great thing,” she said.
She loves the endless possibilities that exist for how it can be changed and transformed and become something new.
Most important, she added, is to “be creative.”

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