Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Embroidery skills put this woman's business in high demand

SPRING HILL — Sheri Jung is poised to take her show on the road.

While patrons have searched out her shop, A Matter of Stitches, in Winchester Plaza, there's nothing like carrying her products to customers where they gather. That's in the offing — a mobile trailer painted and waiting.

With sewing machines singing background music at her 2-year-old shop, Jung turns ordinary shirts, hats, headbands, scarves, even boat cushions into wearable and functional art with her custom embroidery.

"If I can hoop it, it gets embroidered," the craft entrepreneur declares, referring to hoops holding fabric taut under the pierce and pressure of needle and thread.

Jung reproduces pictures, writes script and creates swirls and embellishments on any textile from a color wheel of threads, matte to metallic.

Patches or emblems, like miniature signs bearing brief messages, are Jung's biggest sellers. Veterans and bikers are her most constant customers. They and their followers are big on holiday celebrations and memorial assemblies, weekend festivals and events, roundups and run-arounds. And they're keen on special patches, banners and shirts to mark their attendance and support.

Enter Jung to fill the desire.

Customers choose a basic shape for a patch, or Jung will design one. She stocks templates for stitched figures and symbols or will create original characters and representations on demand.

The same applies to shirts and other wearables, many more that she designs at her whim and sells off the rack. In fact, her showroom resembles that of a specialty clothing store.

As for custom embroidery, "People bring in everything — blankets, swatches to add a name to, hats, their own jackets," she said. Needlers at a nearby quilt shop bring their quilt projects for embroidered signatures or other enrichment.

Jung, 58 and an embroiderer for 40 years, operates two computerized Melco Amaya sewing machines, top of the line starting at $15,000 each.

"I hand digitize everything from scratch," she noted, pointing out that the machines can stitch up to 14 different threads at once.

One afternoon last week, a machine was zinging nine colors of thread through a 2 ½- by 3 ½-inch patch, eight patches per hoop, 1,150 stitches per minute, 85,000 stitches per patch. She calculated three hours to produce an order of 20 patches. Some orders run to 20 hours of continuous machination, including inevitable pauses to add another spool of thread or reattach a break.

"In memory of … " patches are in particular demand, often needed for spur-of-the-moment services.

"When I get a memorial patch request in," Jung said, "I stop everything and make them."

She will turn around such an order in a day's time.

Jung, with community payback in mind, also gives special time to requests by veterans, biker groups and various charities, for which she will often donate her work for raffles or other fundraisers.

Jung manages to feed her creative craving while catering to customer whimsy.

"Now, I'm adding bling," she said, showing off a woman's tank top bearing a message spelled out in mock rhinestones. A T-top's lower hem is fringed and bedazzled with branded colored beads.

A Matter of Stitches has gathered its customers solely by word of mouth and for the quality of custom products she turns out, Jung said. Known throughout the event community as "Stitches," she noted, "At every event, people know me and ask, 'Can you do this?' and I go from there."

Within a couple of months, going to those events is expected to include bringing along a trailer of goods. With a mobile sewing machine, Jung says she also will be able to stitch on site.

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

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