Today’s Artist Profile is all about Sara McMillen, owner and operator of Sew by Sara, located right here in Sidney, Montana.
Melissa: Tell about how you got started in fashion and sewing.
Sara: I first learned to sew when my mom taught me when I was about 5 years old. And now at 30 years old, I can confidently say I have 25 year of sewing experience. I was involved in the local 4-H sewing program, competing in the fashion revues and Make It Yourself With Wool contests.
When I was deciding on a career path and college after high school, I knew I wanted to continue sewing clothes and hoped to work in the fashion industry in some way or another. I decided to go to The Art Institute of Seattle in the fall of 2008. The fashion program was just what I was looking for. Before I graduated, I started looking into jobs and internships and decided that New York City was where I should be. I finished school at The Art Institute of New York City in June 2011. I also had a chance to intern for a designer who sold her evening wear at places like Sax 5th Ave and Nordstrom’s. While I was finishing college and looking for a full-time job, I taught sewing lessons in Manhattan at The Sewing Studio. We taught classes of 8-12 students. We would teach beginning and intermediate sewing. Even one on one lessons.
Melissa: That is an impressive resume! What brought you back to Montana?
Sara: At the end of 2012, I decided it was time to come back home to Montana. It was a hard decision to make because I thought the big corporate fashion life was for me. But I’m happy to be back in Sidney where I met my husband, Brandon Mueller. We were married in 2017, and I even made part of my own wedding dress.
Melissa: What services does your sewing business, Sew By Sara offer?
Sara: It’s a custom sewing and alterations business. Most of the time you can find me in my sewing room working on the smaller items such as repairing and hemming jeans, fixing zippers, altering skirts and other small mending jobs. At least once a week I spend my day altering formal dresses such as bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses. Another important job, especially during the summer, is bridal alterations. I strive to make each dress look stylish and fit properly for their special day. I will even help the groom and groomsmen with their suits and pants.
After moving back to Sidney, I offered my sewing service to those that starting reaching out about altering or mending their clothing items. I was able to build up a wonderful customer base in the Sidney/Williston/Watford City area. I can now confidently say I work as a full-time seamstress, sewing for a living and it’s wonderful.
Because I just love to sew and create, I opened an Etsy shop online to sell some of my very own handmade goods. I started a few years ago making leather handbags. I’ve since expanded to makeup bags, clutches and other purse styles. This is where I can be creative and design and sew styles that I like best.
Melissa: Thanks so much for donating one of your beautiful bags and leather clutches to the Wine & Food Festival. Why do you feel it’s important to support the Wine & Food Festival?
Sara: It’s a fundraiser to help support the community and I like supporting the local organizations in the community that affect our healthcare.
Melissa: Thanks so much for donating one of your beautiful bags and leather clutches to the Wine & Food Festival.
To contact Sara, call her at 406-480-3891, or check out her business links: