Maria De Vila-Goncalves had always thought about opening her own business, to the point where she had the name picked out: Maria Sews a Lot.
The name was inspired by a comment made by her then-small daughter, telling her she should call the business that, because Maria "sews a lot."
More than 10 years later, opened at 262 Main St. in Milford.
De Vila-Goncalves started sewing as a child in Portugual. She creates anything that can be made with fabric and thread, including: window treatments, embroidery, pillows, smocks, aprons, knitted bags, and personalized bookbags. The most recent idea — Heirloom Bears — came from a request from a customer, who wanted to recycle a bridesmaid's dress into a teddy bear.
She sells much of the work on etsy, a website for handmade items.
She also works as a contractor for designers, who have an item that they need produced. Her second-floor shop looks out on Main Street, and is filled with fabrics, samples and works-in-progress.
She learned to sew from her mother, and a woman in their village of Tourem, Portugual, who had a shop on the Main Street. De Vila-Goncalves took sewing classes at Milford High, when they were a part of the home economics offerings, and went on to earn a degree in fashion from Bay Path College. She continues to take classes now, to learn new skills.
"I started sewing when I was 6 years old, and I've been sewing ever since," she said.
In September, with the help of a friend and a former co-worker, De Vila-Goncalves with separate classes for teens and adults.
She and sewing instructor Anne Barnes met when they were co-workers at in Milford. De Vila-Goncalves worked at the fabric and craft store, on and off, for almost 20 years.
Since opening Maria Sews a Lot, she said she's seen the demand for hand-sewn products that she always thought was there. And people have already started contacting her about the sewing classes, which she's advertised by posting fliers at fabric stores.
"It's a forgotten skill," she said. "You need to learn how to sew."
Maria Sews a Lot is open by appointment. Call the shop at 774-696-6250 for information. Free parking is available on Main Street.