A home workshop in Damariscotta Mills is providing new life for sewing machines of all kinds across the Midcoast and further afield.
Oliver Butler, of Nobleboro, started Sewing Machine Services Repairs and Sales as a way to find work he enjoyed at home. With newly expanded regular hours, he has taken the business at 14 Main St. to a full-time occupation.
Butler started out only on vintage machines and now services all ages, though older models still make up much of the business. The longevity of early machines and their heirloom nature means much of what comes in the door has personal meaning for the customer.
“One of my favorite parts is meeting new people every day, especially when they come in with a sentimental machine that was their grandmother’s or mother’s,” he said. “It’s always fun to bring their family heirloom back to life and have it be at its best quality.”
Only a handful of sewing machine repair shops exist in the state, drawing Butler customers from Portland to Bangor to points north.
He repairs industrial and domestic sewing, embroidery, serger, and long-arm quilting machines, along with almost anything else that can sew.
He learned the trade himself by taking examples apart and putting them back together, with additional training from a retiring Midcoast repairman and apprenticeships with friends who serviced long-arm quilting machines around Maine.
Though he started in carpentry, Butler has a lifelong interest in sewing and how those machines work to make stitches and fasten fabric together.
“I can remember when I was so little I could sit on the treadle of my great-grandmother’s sewing machine and rock back and forth on it, looking up at the machine above me,” he said.
Butler also likes to sew himself and uses a Kenmore 158 at home for patching clothes and small sewing projects. Kenmore is a favorite brand of his for being well-built and dependable, he said.
In addition to repairs, Butler finds and restores vintage machines to sell through his social media pages, primarily the sought-after Featherweight models produced by Singer from the 1930s through the ‘60s.
“People are starting to realize that vintage machines are much more well-built machines, so they can be more dependable,” he said. “A lot of people are pulling out their old machines that are in the attic or in the basement, getting them going again.”
New machines are often highly computerized, some of them needing certified repairmen, but Butler said their challenges are often mechanical ones he knows how to address.
No matter the age or style of the machine, whether brought to the shop or fixed on a house call, Butler said he enjoys bringing them back into service and interacting with his customers.
“It’s always fun to make them happy and listen to their memories,” he said.
A basic machine tune-up is $100 and other rates vary by project. House calls are available for larger machines.
Sewing Machine Services Repairs and Sales, at 14 Main St. in Nobleboro, is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment for house calls on afternoons and weekends.
For more information, call 350-9205, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find Sewing Machine Services on Facebook or Instagram.