Spools of thread are stacked neatly along shelves, rolls of fabric lay near paper patterns in the form of little shirts and skirts, and a red mannequin stands silently under colourful portraits. The hum of a sewing machine brings it all together.
The scene above is a regular morning at Bewitching Stitchery.
Located in downtown Oshawa, Bewitching Stitchery is a local boutique owned by Christie McBride that offers custom clothing for anyone, including those with special requirements.
Accessibility clothing is a prominent part of her venture. Some garments include swimwear for transgender children, a dress with special zipper access for children with medical tubes in their stomach and a shirt with snaps on the side for someone in a body cast.
“What I’ve been told by the parents is the only place you can buy transgender underwear for kids locally is a sex shop in Toronto. That’s not somewhere you’re going to want to take your kid,” she explained. “So here, they have the privacy to do a proper fitting, take a look at the materials and see what makes them happy.”
Aside from accessibility clothing, McBride also offers ‘Grow-With-Me’ clothing which is designed to last a child years instead of months.
The 35-year-old entrepreneur learnt to sew from her grandmother when she was six.
“My grandmother was a seamstress in Germany before she moved here. I came along when my mom was only 17 so she went to work and I stayed with my grandmother,” said McBride. “I just used to sit and watch her sew, and I just picked it up.”
The mom of four always sewed items for friends and family. In 2014, she decided to make it a commercial business. After years of working from home, McBride moved to an official studio last August.
“The biggest challenge for me when I was working at home was always setting up and taking down, trying to work around the kids,” said McBride. “Here, I can set up a project and it stays up. It’s a lot of time saved for me so I’ve been able to increase the amount of stuff I can make now.”
All of her products are handmade, sustainable and ethically-sourced. While it is a step in the right direction, McBride says finding reliable sources for materials and supplies can be a challenge.
“I’m very picky. I only shop Canadian so that kind of limits where you can go,” McBride said. “It’s taken me a couple years to source which local shops across Canada are reliable, have the kind of stuff I need and I can afford to bring in.”
While her price points tend to be on the higher scale, McBride can also work according to one’s budget.
“I come from a low-income family growing up so I’m very conscious of how much my items cost,” she added. “I try to remain as affordable as possible for people.”
The studio is open 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. weekdays and by appointment on weekends. McBride’s products can also be found at pop-up markets and community events.
“Everyone has the right to feel good. I don’t care if you’re six-foot-six, I don’t care if you’re three-foot-two…I don’t care what size you are,” McBride said. “I want you to be happy and have something that fits you well.”