WEST FARGO — Jennifer McTighe knows her way around a sewing machine. The mechanics of a sewing machine, that is.
“I actually don’t care to sew, but I’ll be the first person to open up a sewing machine and replace the motor, replace the belts, that kind of thing,” she said.
Doing business as SewStitch~N~Thread, McTighe buys, repairs and sells vintage sewing machines from the Reliable Vacuum store in the Family Fare at 1100 13th Ave. E. She also takes in donated machines that she refurbishes before giving them to deserving families and nonprofits. Any machines beyond repair are used for parts.
McTighe developed her maintenance and repair skills growing up on a farm near Kragnes, Minn.
“I grew up on the farm where you do everything yourself," she said. "I had a very a strong mother who always said, 'If it’s broken, you don’t call. You fix it.'"
She started fixing sewing machines as a "hobby" after a few friends asked her to service their machines. She quickly began to think of her new "hobby" as a business opportunity. Not only did she enjoy the work, she said she felt good about keeping vintage sewing machines out of the landfill.
“Those are fantastic machines. So, when I am able to donate them out to people, they’re going to run a long time. Any that I donate, I offer free service on them going forward as well,” she said.
Many sewing machines are built so cheaply today that McTighe said they're not worth fixing.
“The new ones you buy right now are all made of plastic. The gears are made of plastic and you can’t replace those,” she said.
In addition to sewing machines, she also services and repairs vacuums for her partner, John McTighe, at Reliable Vacuum.
McTighe said Jennifer is a great asset to his business.
"Without her, we wouldn't be able to run and operate the way we do. She's been an invaluable help here," he said. "And what we do is kind of specific. There aren't any schools for it, so it's all trial and error."
On Monday afternoon, Nov. 19, McTighe said they delivered refurbished sewing machines and vacuums to PATH North Dakota, a private, nonprofit child and family services agency.
"It gives us a good feeling to be able to help," he said.
"I love what I do and love all the people I meet," Jennifer added. "It's my way to give back to the community."
Just don't ask her to sew.
"Sewing is not for everybody, but I'll fix your machine so you can sew," she said.
Where: 1100 13th Ave. E., West Fargo
Online: Search "SewStitch~N~Thread" on Facebook.