Q&A with Heather Viel, owner of Simple Stitches

Heather Viel and her daugher Kendall

Where did you learn how to sew?
I learned it from my mom. She made a lot of our clothes growing up, and since I inherited my height genetics from her, I had to learn how to hem and sew so my pants were the right length and clothes actually fit me.

How long have you been sewing?
About 25 years. The first dress I sewed for myself was when I was in Grade 8.

What made you decide to start your own business?
I started Simple Stitches when we still lived in Sexsmith. I saw a lot of people asking on Facebook for clothing repairs and figured I could help.

What are some of the services you offer?
I like to stick with simple alterations like hemming or zipper replacements – just because it is easier and faster. But I can do all sorts of alterations and custom work. If I feel like it is beyond my comfort zone or skill level, I won’t take the job.

Do you offer prom gown alterations or wedding gown alterations?
I have done bridesmaids and prom alterations as well as one wedding gown adjustment. If I know I have time, I will take a look at the job to see if it is a job I want to tackle. But wedding gowns especially take up a lot of room to do the work well, and I don’t always have the space or time to devote to those jobs. I do those on a case-by-case basis.

Do you sew with all sorts of fabrics?
Yes, I can. Satin or velvet fabrics are tricky and can be frustrating, but I won’t say no to a job because of the type of fabric.

Do you require a special machine for thicker fabrics such as jean fabric or leather?
Denim and leather can put stress on a smaller machine, but I can work on jeans quite easily. I did some adjustments to leather motorbike-riding chaps once, so I can also work with leather; it just depends on the work that needs to be done.

Are some materials easier to work with than others?
For sure. Cotton and polyester blends are by far the easiest to work with. Flannel and felt are fairly easy too. Anything where the fabric doesn’t slip is generally easy to work with. Satins and velvets are the tricky ones.

Do you attend markets to sell your items?
I do, but because I usually do work on a request basis, I don’t usually have much stock on hand.

What is your bestseller?
I get asked to do a lot of zippers and hems. That is by far the most of what I do.

What do you like most your business?
The fact that I can help people. I like using my skills to help others.

Do you work well with deadlines?
Most often I do quite well with deadlines, but because I do have a family to care for too, I sometimes have to put sewing on the backburner to care for sick kids or other scheduled commitments. I don’t like to take on a job if I know I can’t get it done within a couple of weeks.

Do you take on custom orders?
I do take on custom orders. I like the challenge of making something out of nothing, so making custom items is a fun part of the business for me.

How do you deal with someone requesting a rush order?
If an order is rush I will only take it if I know I can finish it completely and well by the deadline.

How do we find you?
I have a page on Facebook called Simple Stitches where you can message me or you can phone me at (780) 864-2799 or (780) 512-7735.