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Sewtique Reaps What it Sews

The Resident
By Larry Kelley

Evelyn Siefert Kennedy and her team of seamstresses at Sewtique in Groton do more than repair items such as wedding dresses, linens, quilts or leather jackets.  They restore treasured items and preserve family history.

A walk through Sewtique's sewing center on 391 Long Hill Road makes you feel like you're on a historical society tour rather than  sewing center.  Seamstress Kathy Buskey was fixing an upside down number on a Stan Musial St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey - it read '9' instead of '6.'  The past week, Dee Paskausky repaired a Rodingote, a full overcoat with large collar that was worn for horse riding in France circa 1725.

Chinese wall hangings, oriental screens, 16th Century liturgical veils, antique quilts, 1900 tablecloths, rare needlepoint cushions, family baptismal clothing and vintage wedding dresses can be seen hanging on racks or lying on tables ready to be restored.

"A lot of people are astounded that we can discolor spots and repair these vintage fabrics," Dee says.  "Some people lament the fact they've thrown family heirlooms away, not knowing there's a place to have them repaired."

In mid-February, Sewtique's staff enters peak season for wedding dress restoration.  We're not talking about your typical dry cleaners.  Dresses worn by brides from generations as far back as 1850 are sent in by families from all over the country to be repaired and then worn by current family brides.

Wedding gown restoration and textile appraisals and repairs are Sewtique's specialties.  Evelyn is a Textile Appraiser Accredited with the International Society of Appraisers.  "For years, families have taken measures to preserve art and silver, for example," Evelyn says.  "Families are learning the importance of preserving textiles.  Vintage clothing should not be hidden in a closet.  The fabric in heirloom garments is the fabric of life.  Those who preserve their heirlooms are passing along family history."

Sewtique has evolved into a full-service sewing center over the years, but the heirloom restoration services make Evelyn and her staff of Dee, Kathy, Donna Miller, Tony Lee and Elena Salvador unique.  "We're a niche business, but our success comes from our diversity whether it be gown restoration, tapestry alteration, leather repair or fabric cleaning," Evelyn says.

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