Nimble Thimble is a one-stop shop for all of your sewing needs. Owner Sharon McRae has been helping to outfit home sewists and providing seamstress services in Merritt for nearly a decade.

“Nimble Thimble is a sewing centre where I sell fabric, and notions and all the sewing doodads, as well as doing mending and repairs and custom sewing,” explained McRae.

From her storefront on Granite Ave. McRae provides repairs such as mending torn clothing and broken zippers, custom work such as hemming pants and sewing leather, as well as performing alterations.

“I do grad dresses, I do wedding dresses, I’ve done a little bit of everything it seems,” said McRae.

“A lot of zipper repairs for winter jackets, a lot of hemming of jeans. Not everybody can do it on their home machine because it’s a heavy fabric, but I have a heavy-duty machine.”

Many people in the community have come to rely on McRae’s dexterity with a needle and thread, and over the years she has gained a repeat customer base who call her a “life saver”.

“Everybody tells me I’m a life saver, because they don’t have to go to Kamloops,” McRae joked.

“In fact, I have one customer that moved away, and they keep coming back. They moved to Kamloops and they keep coming back here to get their sewing done.”

Although she was always passionate about sewing and creating, McRae decided to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education, becoming an ECE. However, with her own kids at home McRae shifted gears and devoted her time to raising them and doing repair and alteration work for the local dry cleaners.

In 2011 McRae faced a personal challenge with a marital separation, leaving her looking for something she could do that would provide her and her children with income, while still maintaining some flexibility.

“I was getting a separation at the time and I needed some way to support me and the kids,” explained McRae.

“When I first started, I didn’t know what skills I had except sewing. I did have a diploma for ECE, but I’d done that before and I didn’t really want to do that again, because I have my own kids to raise. I needed something that had flexibility, because I have a special needs kid, so I thought well, if I’m my own boss then I don’t have to answer to somebody else, and I can set my own hours and work around my schedule. I thought this would work, and the community didn’t have anything, so I thought it needed this,” McRae continued.

“I was doing sewing already for the dry cleaners, just at home, and I thought the only way to expand would be to get bigger, and add fabric and other stuff that I could sell. We were losing our fabric store at the time, and I thought I might as well add the fabric on top of it because I love quilting, too.”

McRae was able to secure a small office space in Valley Court, just off of Granite Ave. not far from her current location.

“I rented the smallest spot I could possibly rent, so the overhead was low… it was really crowded,” said McRae.

“I got my first order of fabric in and I thought ‘oh no there isn’t enough room!’, I worked in a small space and the kids would join me after school and it was really crowded then.”

However, the response to her business was overwhelmingly positive, so McRae made do with the tiny area until the opportunity to move to a larger location next door to Merritt Printing arose. When that space was no longer available, McRae transitioned once again to doing the work from home, using a bedroom in her house as a workspace.

Eventually, her current location at 2058A Granite Ave. became available.

“I thought I’m just going to have to take a leap of faith and jump in and do this,” McRae explained.

In her larger space, McRae was able to bring in a wider variety of sewing notions and expand her fabric offerings, something that has come in handy with more people staying home and doing handicrafts and projects during the pandemic, especially as face masks become more prevalent and people have begun sewing their own.

“I have mask fabric in, so I’m prepared for coronavirus,” said McRae.

“Quilting cotton is the best fabric to use for those, so I’ve got stock for that. It’s not a huge selection, but I do try to have a variety of stuff, so it kind of fits with whatever else they’ve got in their stash at home.”

For McRae, who’s grandmother was a professional seamstress, sewing is something of a family trade where she has found her niche.

“I’ve been sewing since I was 9, it’s been lifelong,” McRae explained.

“My grandmother was a professional seamstress, too… My mom taught me how to sew. I think this is what I was meant to do, and it seems to be a lost trade; a lot of people don’t do it anymore.”

Building on what her mother taught her, McRae continues to expand her knowledge.

“I’m self-taught for a lot of it,” McRae said.

“Most of what I do is learning by taking apart what people bring in and then I see how it was done and I put it back together. It’s a lot of puzzles, I’m sort of a detective.”

Most importantly, McRae enjoys the work she does, even taking on a few apprentices in order to pass her knowledge on.

“I think sewing is fun in that I’m always learning; I’m always developing my own skills.”