Port shop owner relies on trusty 1922 Singer to keep clothes in stitches
Port Washington seamstress Jane Guetchidjian knows most people aren’t interested in mastering the fine art of fixing a zipper or altering a
“Sewing is a lot like cooking. Once you learn the basics, you can do pretty much anything. But people just want to get it done, so they
bring it to me,” Guetchidjian said.
“It really is an art, like cooking. Once you know how to sew, you can make your clothes really fit well.”
Her shop, Jane’s Handy Sewing, located in a storefront at 129 W. Washington St., is truly a one-woman operation.
The cozy shop is filled with clothes waiting to be mended, as well as an array of craft items made by Guetchidjian and people she knows.
“I grew up in the restaurant business, but I married a tailor and started sewing when my husband opened a tailor shop — Frenchy’s
Tailoring — in Thiensville,” she said.
The couple ran that shop for 20 years.
Her husband has since passed away, but Guetchidjian has kept the tailoring business going.
She points to a well-used 1922 Singer sewing machine that was a fixture at the Thiensville shop.
“This is my workhorse. I use it every day. It is like my Chevy truck — all it needs is to be cleaned and a little oil and it keeps going and
going,” Guetchidjian said.
She said she does about 90% of her work on one of three machines she has in the shop, with hand work reserved for things like sewing on
Guetchidjian said a lot of her business comes from customers of thrift stores who find a well-made garment for a good price, but want it to
fit them better.
“A lot of the clothes people buy off the rack don’t fit them because stores don’t carry an unlimited number of sizes. That seems to be
especially true for men’s clothes,” she said.
But, Guetchidjian said, it is not all about making sales, even though she keeps her prices reasonable.
“If someone brings in a garment they want altered, I’ll tell them if the item is not worth the price it is going to cost to repair,” Guetchidjian
Much of her tailoring is done on high-end clothing, like suits and dresses that are going to be worn for a special occasions.
“It used to be men wore suits to work every day and to church, but now things are super casual. When they want a suit to fit, they come to
me,” Guetchidjian said.
Her shop is open Tuesdays through Fridays, and Saturday mornings.
Image Information: JANE GUETCHIDJIAN CONSIDERS the 1922 Singer sewing machine the workhorse of her sewing business. Photo by Mark Jaeger