Marlborough woman touts the art of sewing


By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer

Sandi Barrett is a 'sewist'
Sandi Barrett

Marlborough – Some folks shy away from detail work. Not Sandi Barrett. In all the work she does, she is into the details. But she’s also the creative type. It’s been a winning combination for her.  

Barrett, longtime resident of Marlborough, is a mother of three daughters and grandmother of two. She’s a blogger, freelance writer, upholsterer, and seamstress, but she prefers the term, “sewist.” 


A passion for sewing

“I like the term ‘sewist’. It’s gender neutral. And I feel I am more than a seamstress.  I draft, design, teach, drape and construct garments,” she explained.  

She also upholsters, makes slipcovers, window treatments, quilts and more, but now she’s focusing on garments. Her specialty is designing and constructing heirloom christening gowns from wedding dresses. Her first heirloom christening dress was made from her own wedding gown for her granddaughter. 

A christening dress sewn by Sandi Barrett
A christening dress sewn by Sandi Barrett

“Who needs a wedding dress stuffed away in a box?” she asked.


Sharing her passion by teaching 

Barrett not only loves to sew—she’s been doing this for over 40 years—she loves to teach sewing.  She gives both private—in her studio or online—and group lessons, currently via Zoom sessions.  

“I love bringing more people into the sewing community,” she said.   

She also works with designers and inventors making prototype samples.  

“These tend to be fun and challenging projects. In order for designers to sell their concepts they need prototype garments. I construct the prototypes, draft patterns and outline construction details,” she said. 

In addition, Barrett is a pattern tester, the perfect match for a writer and seamstress.

“I make sure pattern instructions are written clearly, the garment goes together perfectly and the outcome matches the pattern description,” she explained.

If you’ve ever sewed, you know perfection is important. But even if you select the right size for a pattern, it may not fit perfectly. Barrett’s custom fitting course addresses this problem. 

“In my custom fitting course students learn how to select the correct size and make a practice garment to ensure getting the desired fit,” she noted. 

Getting the perfect fit is not all that’s involved in finding success in this industry. Barrett’s an innovator, just like the world she works in.


The importance of sustainability 

“The creativity in the fashion world is fascinating,” but the fashion and clothing industry is not without its problems. 

“The amount of waste in the industry is unnecessary. I practice ‘Slow Fashion’ and zero waste sewing more now than ever. I work hard to achieve close to zero waste,” she explained. “’Fast Fashion’ is the here-today-gone-tomorrow fashion. ‘Slow Fashion’ entertains the idea of creating and purchasing garments that are classic and will carry over from year to year. Creating garments that have longevity is better for our earth.”  


A resurgence in craft 

As a child Barrett had fabric to play with and everyone sewed.  Is this craft making a comeback?

 “The pandemic has driven people back to their sewing machines.  The need for masks and hospital gowns became a new way for individuals to express themselves and support a cause.  Many enjoyed the process and are branching out,” she said. “When you construct your own garment, in addition to getting the color and pattern you like, you can make it fit your body so you look great, feel great, and be great.” 

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