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Veronica Brackett started sewing her own clothes in seventh grade. Her mother had required her to know how to pin, cut, mark fabric and sew by the time she was 10.
“She would buy as much fabric as we would sew,” Brackett said. “Everyone in my family sews; it’s a part of my DNA and I just never stopped.”
So much so, that she went to Ray Vogue School and after graduating, started working as a pattern grader for a mass production company and did custom work. In 1986, she started working at Vogue Fabrics in Lansing, Illinois. When she moved to Chicago in 1993 she began teaching sewing classes at Vogue’s Evanston shop, one of four Vogue locations at the time.
In recent years, Vogue has been downsizing and closing shops, shifting more business online – and then COVID-19 hit. Brackett couldn’t teach anymore and didn’t know what to do.
Months passed and she started hearing from former students, many asking what her next steps were. They wanted to follow her and keep taking her classes, Brackett said, so she did something she always wanted to do: She opened her own sewing studio.
Sew Design Studio, at 2608 Green Bay Road in Evanston, had its ribbon-cutting November 11. The business started as a promise Brackett made to herself in 1974 – a contract she and her cousin wrote about what they wanted to do when they became “grown-ups.” Her cousin framed it as a gift for Brackett the night before her October open house at Sew Design.
“I have had these moments in my life where I thought, do I want to do this? COVID made me take a step of faith. We can deceive ourselves and think people have it all figured out,” Brackett said. “After seeing our contract again, I realized I always knew what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted my own business. We only get one chance at life; life is our runway. I have been living my dream and now, I am living it more fully.”
For many years, she designed wedding dresses and in the ’80s, the popular wedding headpiece. She knew she couldn’t do custom work and teach full time so as time passed, she chose to teach because she sees it as “pretty amazing and rewarding.” But that didn’t stop her from her favorite creation, designing and sewing her daughter’s wedding dress
“I have made tons of dresses but my daughter’s, that was a labor of love,” Brackett said.
Brackett offers multiple classes based on skill level and said many of her students take classes over again, but not for the reason she first thought. She was worried they weren’t understanding the material, but they said that wasn’t why. They just wanted to keep working with Brackett.
“Sewing is like therapy for people, it’s their time to be creative, it feeds their soul,” she said. “And when people are really passionate about something, they’ll follow it.”
Over the last three decades, Brackett created a loyal fan base in the Chicago area. After her classes at Vogue ended and supporters got word she was opening up a studio in Evanston, her classes immediately filled when she began offering them in October, she said.
Brackett said students come from Oak Park, South Loop, Arlington Heights, Rockford and even Wisconsin to work with her in her new space. The difference from years past: This time she’s finally the boss.