Teresa DeWitt explains she has sewn for years. And after she discovered her machine would embroider, she began creating custom items for friends and family.
It was just a small business she ran from her home.
But finally her sewing machine quit and the repairman announced it could no longer be repaired. So DeWitt decided to get a commercial embroidery machine and ever since she has been busier than ever, expanding her lines and in September opening DeWitt Embroidery at 1525 E. Malone Ave.
"I became legit," announced DeWitt with a smile about her business, tucked in the small group of shops next to the Sikeston Bowling Alley.
It apparently was a move welcomed by Sikeston. Immediately, she said she discovered, "I'm in Bulldog country!" However, she has also found a demand for her one-of-a-kind creations throughout the region and even out-of-state.
DeWitt says she can personalize almost anything. The front room of her store is packed with items waiting to be embroidered. There are hats, jackets, blankets, bags, robes, shirts and even director's chairs all available on site and DeWitt said if a customer doesn't find just the right color or item, she can easily order it from her suppliers.
"I can pretty well monogram anything," said DeWitt. "I will give it a try anyway."
Among her popular items are the fleece throws. DeWitt explained she goes to a mill where she buys the fleece in a rainbow of colors. She then cuts and sews her own blankets which she will embroider to her customers' needs.
While many choose a blanket with their school logos, there is another popular alternative - a birth certificate throw. According to DeWitt, she creates the throw - in pink or blue depending on the sex of the newborn - adding the baby's name, date of birth and vital statistics.
As for designs, DeWitt can create names and initials in a variety of typestyles. She has a file of some 5,000 different items she can embroider.
Corporate logos are also popular and for the more detailed logos or designs, she works with a digitizer. The digitizer creates the design on his computer, detailing the stitching. This is e-mailed to DeWitt who then downloads it from her computer on to a floppy disc which is then inserted into her embroidery machine to recreate the design on material.
She explained some designs can be very complicated. One she is currently working on includes the seal of the State of Missouri and takes some 22,000 stitches to complete.
As for pricing, DeWitt basis it on the job, rather than the number of stitches. "People love to have their name on anything. You want to make it feasible so they can have it," she said.
She pointed out because she can supply the items to be embroidered, it is typically more economical to buy them from her rather than purchase it elsewhere and bring it in to be monogrammed. Also she noted she does not require a minimum order and adds she works with non-profit groups which are placing orders for items to be resold, providing a discount so "we both make a profit."
While she enjoys trying her hand at varied designs and creations, DeWitt admitted she does have her favorites. "I like doing fun things, especially for the moms. I like to be creative," she said.
There are some limits to what she can do. She worried while adding names to a family quilt and to handmade Christmas stockings, but successfully completed those jobs. When asked to personalize a leather purse, she turned the job down. "If I can't embroider something I will tell the customer up front," she said. "After all, there is a chance for error, human error or machine error."
With the holidays rapidly approaching, DeWitt said the personalized gifts are proving to be popular at Christmas, not just in Sikeston but everywhere. And she foresees the boom continuing: "When I went to market this past spring and saw all the things available and all the people interested in embroidery I was amazed."
DeWitt Embroidery is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The telephone number is 471-2283.