Years of keeping Sisters in stitches
Last updated 3/16/2021 at Noon
Marsha Marr’s identity is so tightly stitched to her craft that for many people she and her business are synonymous: For decades in Sisters, Marr has been Miss-Sew-It-All.
Her little shop on Hood Avenue has also been her home for years. Now that’s changing. She’s moving herself and her operation to her fiancé’s property near the Rodeo Grounds east of Sisters. She plans to scale back a bit on her work, working just a couple of days a week and focusing on the months of the year when sewing is in high demand — prom season and Halloween being prominent examples.
The move reflects a wonderful development in Marr’s life.
“I’m 66 years old, and I’ve finally found true love,” she said.
She met Craig Waters when he was installing new windows at her Hood Avenue shop/home. She saw him looking through the window at her and…
“It was instant,” she said.
Love blossomed, and Waters became part of the family.
“My two kids adore him,” Marr said.
Waters has put up a purpose-built outbuilding on his ranch property, so Marr can continue to live and work in the same spot as she has for many years.
Cleaning out the Hood Avenue site has brought back a flood of memories.
“I found my first ad in the paper,” she told The Nugget. “1988.”
Marr recalled that she had been a DJ in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in the 1980s, when she decided she wanted a major change. She packed up a collection of records (which she still has) and moved to the Pacific Northwest, landing a position as a tailor at Nordstrom’s in Salem.
She got married. Her then-husband commuted between Salem and Sisters, where he worked for Barclay Logging. The couple decided to move here in 1987, and Marr set up shop the following year.
Sewing had been a constant in her life since her teens. She recalled being 16 years old when her sister sought her help.
“Can you fix so-and-so’s prom dress?” her sister asked.
“Sure,” Marsha replied.
“I was 16, “ she told The Nugget, “and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
For some seamstresses, sewing is a merely a job, a way to make a living. It was always much more than that for Marr, which is probably why she has built a five-star reputation on Internet review sites. From repairs to elaborate costumes, Marr has always poured herself into the work with a level of true craftsmanship that is not often seen anymore, in an environment where so much is disposable and that which is hand-made is often out of ordinary folks’ reach.
The costume end of Marr’s business was almost an accidental development. She made Sesame Street costumes for her children and herself for a Halloween parade.
“Mindy was six years old and in her walker and I made it Oscar the Grouch,” Marr recalled.
Her son was Cookie Monster, and she was Big Bird. The costumes — like everything she crafts — were first-rate, and people noticed. They sought her out for costumes for their own events.
Costuming took off and led to her move to her Hood Avenue location in the early 1990s. She eventually sought permission from the City of Sisters to create a live-work situation there, and she’s been on the site ever since. Church folks and volunteers have helped over the years to make the vintage building a comfortable living space.
Marr recognizes the many gifts living in the community has given.
“I’ve been blessed for 33 years,” she said.
Marr says she’ll be “semi-retired” working out of her new location. But she’s not walking away from the craft that she has embodied for so long.
“I don’t want to quit,” she said. “I don’t want to stop sewing. I love it so.”