Molly Farley is on a mission to rehabilitate the reputation of sewing. The departure from Victorian sewing ethics is immediately evident from the relaxed, friendly vibe and the central location of her darling shop in the heart of Woodstock.
|Photo by Marie Doyon.|
She recounts the recent trajectory of her craft. “Sewing has changed from the ‘50s when the attitude was: ‘This is what sewing is. This is how it is done.’ Renegades who were experimenting and having fun were made to feel stupid,” she explains. “Women come in here in tears, because they are worried that they are about to make a mistake. You can relearn how to sew without that burden. Even if it was your mom who made you feel stupid.”
Molly—middle aged, stunning, with piercing eyes—manages to blend rocker flair and maternal instinct in seamless (ahem) harmony. She says sheepishly, “I would like to be a sewing therapist. I had someone in here recently who was so upset that she couldn’t do it right. I am like, ‘Leave that shit behind.’”
Then of course, there was the women’s lib movement. “Women stopped sewing in the ‘60s because they didn’t want to appear ‘homemakers.’ And now it has come full circle, where making something handmade is special.” She reflects for a second, then adds, “We had to go there, for feminism, but handmade things are valuable. The way we fix our current world, is to reuse and recycle.”
Speaking of ditching gender stereotypes, Molly proudly shares that she teaches two boys, ages 9 and 10. “Just the fact that boys don’t feel like [sewing] is dumb, is indicative of how it’s changing, which I think is a great sign. When I was growing up, it was so divided.”
Aside from the one-on-one sewing classes Molly teaches, the shop offers alterations and what the ladies call “curated thrift.” Molly explains, “These are things that we love and hand-picked. We wash everything and fix it up, add embellishments, update some things. And it’s working—people love it.” They have some high-end pieces but generally they try to keep it affordable. They also sell artisanal, organic, and vintage fabrics for their stitching clients.
The shop feels very much like a little community center, which seems appropriate since the idea came out of a gathering of women who would come together every week for a “stitchy day.” They would sit together and chat while they worked, and consult with each other when they’d hit a problem. Former co-owner Sally Russ and Molly decided to start the business two years ago. Sally rented a space in Bearsville, which they were in for six months, before moving to their current Rock City location. Molly says fondly, “Sally was definitely our enabler. She had the space, she had the fabric obsession.”
Molly has another unofficial partner in Kiran Sancious, who works one day a week, but is there nearly every other day sewing and chatting with customers. Kiran chimes in, “It’s like, what did I do before? It’s a raison d’etre. And we have so much fun.” Kiran, another Stitchy Day sewer, was hooked as soon as Sew Woodstock opened. In feigned seriousness she says, “It’s like an obsession I don’t really have control of. I am just compelled. My car drives me here, I don’t drive. I say, ‘I’m not turning, I’m not turning.’” Then of course she turns.
Leaving behind rigid norms and gender profiling, sewing reveals itself as a light, fun, and tremendously useful craft—and one you can do into your nineties! And Molly is well-poised to get you on your way (or to provide a little sewing counseling to rewrite those bad Home Ec memories).
15 Rock City Rd.
Woodstock, NY 12498