Sewing by the Sea began modestly, in 1991, in an old carpenter shop in the town of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island. In 1998, after infusing the local community with an excitement for quilting and sewing, as well as becoming an authorized Pfaff dealer, the business outgrew the store's location and moved just over the bridge to a 2100 sq. ft., two-story building in the neighboring town of Trenton.
The store's goal to provide year-round service to the local sewing community continued at the new location, offering a full line of Pfaff sewing machines, premium fabrics for quilting and garment sewing and a wonderful selection of patterns, notions, books. Additionally, a full lineup of classes, in a variety of sewing styles and skill levels, are offered to meet the educational needs of local customers. With square footage to spare, the upper floor of the building was converted into a quilters haven, where seamstresses of all ages could mingle, learn and share. A longarm quilting machine was acquired and quilting services began to be offered.
Machine sales, with their accompanying classes, were so popular at the Trenton store that, in 2007, when Pfaff was looking for a dealer for the southern Maine area, a "sister" shop was opened in Portland. In order to provide classes, a small selection of fabric and notions were brought in, but the Portland location primarily focuses on machines and classes, along with on-site technicians that provide maintenance and repair of all machine makes and models.
In 2014, another opportunity presented. Longtime store owner, machine salesperson, and teacher extraordinaire, Jean Libbey, was looking to retire, but needed a "home" for her Husqvarna/Viking customers. Sew Portland had the space, a technician, and willingness to try to follow her lead. So, the Husqvarna/Viking dealership moved from Brighton Avenue into the front of the warehouse on Warren along with the Pfaff machines. Since both machines are owned by the SVP family, the merger was easier than some.
After a couple of years, personal family health issues precipitated the need to close the Portland store. To maintain customer service to those who had purchased machines, the store's technician, Tyler Stanley, opened The Sewing Machine Exchange in Falmouth and the Warren Avenue location closed. This worked for a few more years, but Tyler was getting cramped for space and needed room for the ever-expanding line of machines. Therefore, in June of 2019, Tyler moved his Falmouth operation back to Portland. His repair and machine sales business is now in the Pine Tree Shopping Center on Brighton Avenue almost next door to where Jean Libby had her the original Husqvarna/Viking store. He is hoping this larger space will accommodate more demo machines and some specialty sewing and quilting items, as well as a more comfortable class area.