The Stitch Witch

When you step into Stitch Witch office, you easily find yourself swept away by the bustle taking place within. There’s a melodic cacophony that’s created by the hum of sewing machines, the jingling of the front door as it swings open and shut, and the crackle of garment bags.  Clothing racks stuffed to the brim with everything from tuxedos to tutu-lined costumes staccato the small floorspace.  Most notable, however, is the wall behind the main desk.  It’s adorned ceiling to floor with color-coordinated thimbles of thread.  It’s a real treat to the eyes.  Decorative, but also utilitarian.  Very cool.

Mary, the Stitch Witch herself, is a real firecracker.  She’s a lovely woman with fiery red hair and an edgy style that’s emblematic of the hours she’s spent mending the never-ending influx of trends that pass through her office.  And while she’s got plenty of spunk, one can’t help but also get the sense that she’s a bit, well, taxed by the business.  You can’t blame her.  She is to the Tahoe tailoring market what the iPhone is to wireless communication – a monopoly holder.

She is to the Tahoe tailoring market what the iPhone is to wireless communication – a total monopoly holder.

Let’s be real here.  Everyone knows the Stitch Witch.  Everyone.  You know her.  I know her.  Your boss knows her.  Heck, even your grandmother who came to visit three years ago and ripped the sleeve of her ski jacket knows her.  If it’s fabric, and needs repair – she’s your go-to gal.  If it’s skin, and you need stitches, then you should probably go somewhere else.  Like a hospital.

I pop in to chat with Mary at about 11 a.m. on a weekday morning.  Of course, she’s fully immersed on a project when I stroll through those jingling doors.  “Oh goodness, it’s already eleven!?” are her first words to me.  I nod.

I remind her our chat is going to be quick – I know she’s extremely busy and I myself have things to do.  Namely, reorganizing my sock drawer and changing out the litter in my hamster’s cage.  The questions I have for her are random at best, and a bit off-kilter.  My goal is to better acquaint myself with her personality and hopefully share in a good belly laugh.  I attempt this by asking what I believe is an especially important question.

“So, how often do you encounter the ‘hole-in-the-crotch’ dilemma?”  That’s right, I went right for the infamous wardrobe malfunction we’ve all been afflicted with at least once in our lifetime, if not once a year.  Don’t act like it hasn’t – and don’t worry.  You are not alone in your plight.

“Oh, once a day, at least!” Mary exclaims.

 “So, how often do you encounter the ‘hole-in-the-crotch- dilemma?” That’s right, I went right for the infamous wardrobe malfunction that has afflicted each of us at least once in our lifetime, if not once a year.

I’m cracking up.  Who knew such an epidemic existed in Tahoe.  People really need to get their sizes right while shopping, or quit forcing their jeans into compromising positions.  Although I’m not one to preach.  I was recently driving to Reno for a hot date when I glanced down to find my cheetah print skivvies peeking through a gaping hole in my brand new red pants.  Needless to say, I sat cross-legged most of the night.

“So what trends have you seen come through here?” I press on, “please say MC Hammer pants or those shoulder-puffs from the 80’s!”

“Everything that we wore in the sixties is here.”  She emphasizes her point by tapping her index finger on the desk. “WE came out with bellbottom pants – those are not new.”

I nod, thinking about those Lucky Brand flare jeans crumpled in the back of my closet.

“The low-rise – we called them hip-huggers back in the 60’s.”

“Really?!  That was a thing back then?  I thought it was all about the high-rise.. or was that the 70’s?”

“That was later!  But the low-rise, oh yeah!  With a big white belt!  We all had that!”

My mind drifts back to a vintage photo shown to me by my mother.  Front and center in the sepia colored image is my mom, huddled between her friends and donning a pair of bellbottoms with – what else – a big, white belt.

“And I was three months pregnant with you!” I recall my mom proudly declaring as I studied the snapshot.

“Mom, you’re suffocating me in this photo!”

The belt is cinched so tight her waist literally looks like it’s 13 inches around.  Thank god I was receiving my oxygen via umbilical cord at the time, because otherwise I imagine my fetus would have been desperately clamoring for air.

“[Fashion] is the same thing, new name, and slightly different…whatever,” Mary says, waving her hands in the air. “I know it’s going to come back to the stuff from the 80’s, like football shoulders!”

80sI stiffen at the idea, although deep down, I think she’s right.  It will probably take no longer than the blink of an eye for stiff, sky-high hair and cameltoe-inducing bikinis to swing back onto the scene.  Hasn’t Miley Cyrus already embarked on the latter?  Either way, watch out Aquanet hairspray, your glory days aren’t over yet!

I inform Mary that when all this takes place, I’ll be sure to find her and remind her she “totally predicted this!”  We share a good chuckle.

“Truth be told, there’s only so.. many.. shapes that will fit on the human body, and they’ve been through all of them, so all they can do is recycle!”

“Unless people wanna’ start wearing a parachute around, or a potato sack!” I shoot back, laughing.

We discuss the potential revival of flapper era clothing, which she believes has already returned and gone once.  “It was during the days of Twiggy.  There was no shape to clothing, and you were supposed to have no shape either!”  I wonder if she’s stepped inside an H&M anytime recently, because I’m convinced everything in there is designed for figures resembling popsicle sticks.

As our conversation dwindles, I attempt to pry some stories out of her.  More specifically, incidents that have occurred in the biz that she found strange and/or hilarious.  I’m hoping for something like, “Oh, there was this guy who came in here and needed me to repair his inflatable sumo-wrestler costume for a blind date he had coming up.” Instead, I’m met with “There’s so many I can’t even think of one.”  I wilt, although, I completely understand.  Answering broad questions can be a daunting task.  It’s like when someone asks about your favorite flavor of ice cream or childhood memory.  Give me an hour and then maybe I’ll be able to come up with something specific.

There’s a reason everyone goes to Mary with their beloved garments – it’s because she cares. She does great work, and she’s always true to her word.

“At the time, [when something funny happens], we all laugh and joke about it,” she chuckles, ” but then a week later it’s completely forgotten.”  I find comfort in this thought, mainly because I no longer need to feel insecure about bringing in those red pants with the gaping crotch hole.  Sure, she may enjoy a good chuckle for the first minute or so, but then the event will be filed away to the back of her mind.

The time comes for me to be on my way.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my random conversation with the Stitch Witch.  She’s lovely.  She’s fun.  She’s a trooper.  There’s a reason everyone goes to Mary with their beloved garments- it’s because she cares.  She does great work, and she’s always true to her word.  Ask any of her loyal customers.  During my first visit, I was in her office for no more than five minutes when a woman gushed to me,”She’s amazing!  I’ve been coming to her for years!”  

So the next time you hear a ‘rrrrrrrrrip’ coming from your rumpus while bending over to honor the ten second rule after dropping a chunk of ham on the floor, you know where to go.  And be sure to let her know you’re still holding onto that neon spandex – it’s only a matter of time before the 80’s are back.


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