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Studio Spotlight: Sue Tenney, Greendale, Wisconsin

12/04/2016 4:45 PM | Cisa Kubley

Where is your business located?  In Greendale, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee.  I draw clients from the entire metro-area and beyond.

Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location? My studio is in the lower level of my home, which is mostly above ground with lots of natural light.  I have about 800 square feet, with three separate rooms – a client room, a creative/cutting room, and my sewing work room.


What kind of work do you specialize in? My business has evolved over 13 years and now I only do bridal, prom, and formal alterations, which is what I love doing.  I tend to do a lot of bridal gown restyles and pregnancy re-sizing for brides and maids.  In the bridal off-season months (Nov-Feb), I also do work on ballroom dance costumes including custom design, restyling, and alterations.


Do you work alone or do you share the space with others? I work alone. What's the first thing that clients notice about your space? That it is an organized and professional business operation, or as many state “wow, this is a real business!”   I’m single and support myself solely from my business.  Clients also notice the number of bridal gowns hanging in the work pending area, and my sample ballroom dance costumes on display. 


How did you develop your layout? I have had several configurations over the years, and am always trying to make the most efficient use of my space, which is split into small rooms with lots of doorways.  I’ve had to use grid paper and cut outs of my furniture to figure it out.  My biggest challenge was to get the ironing board accessible from the right side, and minimize the movement of bridal gowns from machine to worktable to iron! I’ve also consulted books on sewing space design, as well as any other examples I can find for ideas.


What makes your sewing space unique? Aside from my quirky décor items from Latin America, I think my space is unique because I have set up a dedicated, high speed sewing station/work table for wedding gowns – which is clean of other thread colors, lint, etc.  Then I have another high speed station for everything else – bridesmaids’ dresses, ballroom dance costumes, etc.  My serger, coverstitch, and zigzag/embroidery machine are also in this area.  I made this change a year ago, and feel it has really increased my productivity and efficiency. The other thing I have done is have a ‘creative room,’ which is where I have my reference library, woven and dance costume stashes, rhinestones, cutting tables, and mannequins.  The idea is to keep this room clean and inviting to facilitate starting a new creation - from draping concepts to pattern work, layout/cutting, rhinestoning dance costumes, and steaming bridal gowns.


Anything else you'd like to add? Because I am tall, all of my work tables are 32-35”tall.  I use balance balls for my work chairs as they strengthen core muscles and make it hard to slouch at the machines.  I also switched to a standing desk for my computer/desk this year to reduce sitting time and improve my work posture.

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