New Biz Adds to Midtown Fabric

A new local business is coming to Midtown, and it’s breaking all of the rules.

All of the quilt rules, that is. Sew Memphis – a boutique selling cotton for quilts, children’s clothes, purses and aprons – has set up shop at 688 S. Cox St., just north of Central Avenue.

The business, owned by Susan Schwartz and Mary Allison Cates, is shooting for a May 1 opening. And in addition to its bright and eclectic inventory of fabrics to choose from for quilt-making and the like, Sew Memphis will also offer classes for beginners.

“We hope to have quilters who feel comfortable coming here, knowing that there’s not going to be a lot of quilting rules… like your seams have got to be exactly so-and-so and your thread’s got to be organic,” Schwartz said. “Nothing wrong with organic thread, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just something fun to do that’s not intimidating. I mean when you think about quilts, the original purpose of them was a necessity and a mom maybe taught a daughter how to do it. There weren’t a bunch of rules then.”

Schwartz, who recently retired from the federal government, and Cates both live in the area and are strong believers in its community-centricity. So much so, in fact, that they plan to be open late one night a week for people to come and “just hang out,” Schwartz said.

A sanctuary for sewers of all skill levels, if you will, similar to what nearby yarn shop Stash hosts weekly in the Cooper-Young district.

“We hope to kind of build this feeling of community with people who want to learn to sew or people who can already sew,” Schwartz said. “I think the concept goes well with the antiques markets and art studios that are down on Central, so really that whole kind of Cooper-Young feel is extending this way.”

So far, Sew Memphis’ marketing efforts have been focused on word of mouth, as well as pages on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Since Schwartz and Cates are green to entrepreneurship, they’re using those platforms to broadcast their quest of bringing a new kind of material to Midtown, both in the conceptual and the physical sense.

“We’re just kind of getting started and trying to figure out all of the processes that go along with owning a business,” Schwartz said. “We’re super excited and kind of feeling our way. Both of us are just that way personally.”