Yvonne Stanford started sewing 17 years ago in a factory in Jamaica in the West Indies. She witnessed the closing down of shirt and other apparel outlets in Jamaica as in America and watched as clothing manufacturers moved overseas where labor was cheaper. This left people in Jamaica and America without jobs, but Stanford didn't give up sewing and has continued her trade ever since.
Now she is in Lehigh Acres and she's still sewing, but this time she's sewing as a specialist for her customers in Lehigh. She has lived in Lehigh since 1979
Stanford has a small shop in the Lehigh Acres Flea Market on Homestead Rd., just across from the Lehigh Acres Sheriff's substation.
Yvonne Stanford, left, works with a customer at her dress shop at the Lehigh Acres Flea market. Photo by Mel Toadvine
Bea Kram of Lehigh, a customer, said it is difficult to find people who can do alterations and fittings for people in the area and now that she has found Yvonne Stanford, she's a regular customer.
If there is not a customer in the shop, Stanford is working at her portable sewing machine sitting on a table facing the outside the shop. Behind her is a row of all types of dresses for women, from leisure to party dresses, all made by Stanford. And they are for sale and she says she has all sizes.
If you find something you like and it is not your size, she says that is not a problem because she does alterations or she can make another if the one you select is too small.
They look like dress off the rack of any apparel store.
"But the clothes are better made," she said. "As far as clothing being made in other countries, well they just don't make them like we did in Jamaica and in the United States." she said.
She does sewing work for both men and women. A man who may buy a pair of pants in a local store can bring it to her to be shortened. Give her a day and she'll usually have it ready by the next day.
"I've been a seamstress all of my life and I enjoy sewing. I learned as a teenager and have been making some of my own clothes ever since," she said.
Stanford has six children and they live away all except for one and she may be the lucky one when she needs a stitch taken out or something done to fix up a dress.
"I can make a dress from scratch or from a pattern. If someone brings me a pattern and the cloth, I can do whatever they want," she said.
And Stanford can take dresses and put her magic in them and modernize them. "I can bring them up to date, to make them look more contemporary," she said. "That means I can even change the style."
Hours at Yvonne Stanford's shop are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday. She is closed on Mondays and sometimes may decide to open on a Saturday.
With the difficult economic times, Stanford says it is a good way to save money by having your clothes kept up to date. You can reach her at 201-560-3720, or just stop by and tell her what you would like have done. And like she said, men are welcome to come to have their clothes altered, or repairs made, too.