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Sisters stitch together a business

Chip Ellis
Sisters Aleesa White and Emma Doss create one-of-a-kind embroidered and appliquéd items using hi-tech sewing machines and computer-aided design.
Chip Ellis A plain girl's T-shirt becomes a work of art with special touches by White and Doss. A "cupcake" made from baby socks and washcloths is another item the sisters create.
Chip Ellis White and Doss purchased two elaborate Singer embroidery sewing machines, as well as a simpler machine by Brother. Some patterns came with the machines, and they purchase others online at appliqué websites, and they've also created original patterns.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- They call themselves Sister Stitches. Growing up in Madison, though, siblings Aleesa White and Emma Doss didn't sew much at all.

"The only thing I ever sewed was a pair of boxer shorts in 12th-grade home economics class," said Doss, a 1993 Scott High School graduate.

"I couldn't hardly sew on a button," added White, a 1997 graduate.

The sisters finish each other's sentences, and they are thankful to have a business that allows them to be home with their children as well as to work with each other. Doss worked at Columbia Gas and White worked in a doctor's office, but when children came along, they wanted to be home with their kids.

"It's all happened so fast," Doss said.

"It just started a year ago," White continued. "We were making shirts for our own kids, and for friends. We did some things for baby showers, and someone said, 'You could sell these.'"

"It's snowballed," Doss ended.

Part of the push to make clothing came from the pair's first-born children, both boys. They found it hard to find cute, affordable clothing for their sons.

"Boys deserve to look good, too," Doss said, laughing.

White has 7-year-old Eli and Adelyn, 3, and Doss has Isaac, 8, and Riley, 3. The older children attend Brookview Elementary School, and the two toddlers "help" their mothers with the business.

They purchased two elaborate Singer embroidery sewing machines, as well as a simpler machine by Brother. Some patterns came with the machines, and they purchase others online at appliqué websites. They also have created many original patterns that they carefully store alongside ribbons, rhinestones and fabric.

The pair makes weekly trips to JoAnn Fabric in Dunbar to buy thread and other materials. They purchase fabric from Town Square Fabrics & Crafts in Danville, as well.

The "boy" items include T-shirts with appliquéd neckties fashioned from sports- and superhero-themed fabrics. Cartoon characters and trucks are popular, too.

But it's obvious that the sisters enjoy creating "girly" items - they embellish many of the items with rhinestones and other jewels.

"We like a little bit of bling," Doss said.

As a tip for their customers and for others who purchase clothing with "bling," the sisters caution against using high-efficiency detergent on studded pieces.

"The high-efficiency detergent eats the glue right off the rhinestones," White said. "It dissolves it. So we recommend folks just turn the clothes inside out and don't use the high efficiency detergent."

One of the most popular items Sister Stitches produces is a "cake" for baby showers. It's made from cloth towels, diapers, onesies, socks and other baby items. Each piece is embroidered with the baby's name and appliquéd with infant motifs. They charge $100 for the "cake," but they barely break even when they add up all of the elements in the gift.

They make tutus and onesies for baby girls, and recently they're making "team" shirts for moms, dads, siblings and players with sports-themed fabrics.

To order from Sister Stitches, visit their Facebook page or contact White at pjaleesa@frontier.com or 304-369-1375 or Doss at buddynemma@frontier.com or 304-369-3902. The pair will deliver items to Charleston and surrounding areas or will ship upon request.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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