Tracy McElfresh may just be Dayton's most well-known dressmaker and sewing specialist. Recently, she embarked on a new journey opening up her own sew shop called Tracy's Sewing Studio, located at 2655 Olson Drive in Kettering.
McElfresh previously partnered with Jesy Anderson (now at Needle, Ink and Thread in Beavercreek) for four years at Sew Dayton. Her true passion is to create vintage style dresses and travel to teach others the craft.
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"She primarily loved teaching the classes, and I primarily loved making custom work," McElfresh said. "We both had different strengths and that was wonderful. But, with running everything we ran, I didn't have any time to do custom work unless I took it home. So, one of the steps [we took] after two years was we ended the custom work. We merely did the classes."
"It wasn't what I wanted to be doing. I didn't want to be tied down to the store. I want to go and live social. I wanted to go to other places to meet other people," McElfresh continued.
The decision to open her own shop has given her the freedom to make custom designs for her customers, extend her major opportunities to teach at her favorite fabric shops and create costumes and uniforms for schools in the Dayton area. She also teaches many people at parties or even in the comfort of their own homes.
"I wanted to have a place where people were comfortable to meet me at. Working out of my home is really challenging [because] a lot of people don't want to go to your house to meet you and you have to clean your house," she said. "I just want to create beautiful things so, that's my main focus here."
Tracy devotes her days to helping out the community, teaching classes, making trips to people's homes and creating custom creations. Her new website makes all of that so much easier to manage.
"I have a brand new, shiny website and the blogging section is all me. My husband does edit for me because it needs a second set of eyes," she laughed. "I am able to sell products like dresses, vintage patterns, vintage sewing books and offer classes. It makes it a lot easier for people to buy classes this way than having to call in."
Although nobody’s future is for certain, Tracy does have a few goals set for 2018 already.
"I'm obsessed with two things; Japanese art of boro and one-piece dresses," McElfresh said.
The Japanese boro is simply using every bit of scrap fabric to make one creation. With this idea in mind Tracy has created two dresses; the Frida dress inspired by renowned painter, Frida Kahlo's 1939 painting, "The Two Frida's" and also the Insta-dress inspired by a 1950s simple design.
Her next goal is to start selling her own patterns via her website and to expand her reach outside of Dayton.
"I would love to teach at one of those vacation spots in Mexico. The Frida dress I would love to teach at a resort, traveling and trying something new," she explained.