Downtown Niles business services, sells sewing machines, hosts quilting classes

NILES – Dale Dean III has always been taken in by the workings of a sewing machine.

Dean recalls when he was a child, watching his grandmother create clothing using her machine. She used to take care of him growing up, and the sewing machine always caught his attention. One day, when he beat her home from school, he decided to take a closer look at what force was behind all of this creation.

He sat down and carefully took apart the sewing machine, marking where he thought everything came from. Excited, he brought his grandmother into the room where he had started solving the mystery and had each piece laid out, the machine no longer intact.

While Dean’s grandmother was not happy with his work, it did lead to acting on his fascination: he got sewing lessons.

“It worked out, in a roundabout way,” Dean said.

Dean served a seven-year apprenticeship getting to know the ins and outs of each machine he encountered.

Today, Dean owns Sew Happy Sales and Service. For the last decade, the business has been mobile as Dean and Shaun Johnson serviced machines around the area. Dean and Johnson were walking the trails connecting the parks in Niles, and saw a “for sale” sign in the window of the building that now houses the business.

Sew Happy Sales and Service, at 15 N. Second St., overlooks the St. Joseph River.

“We lived here in Niles, and we wanted to be in downtown,” Dean said. “We talked to the woman who owned it, and she ripped the sign out of the window by the end.”
Johnson and Dean spent the summer months completely redoing the building to make it the open and bright space it is now. The backwall is lined with bolts of colorful fabrics for quilting, along with sewing machines and projects. The side wall is lined with several Bernina sewing machines, along with other supplies sewers of every level might need.

Sew Happy Sales and Service sells fabrics and Bernina Sewing Machines. They offer scissor sharpening, and service all makes and models of sewing machines, both residential and commercial.

“It’s like a car with oil. The viscosity can change in the oil and you can lose some of the lubrication properties over the year or so,” Johnson said. “We usually recommend that you service [a sewing machine] once a year. With a commercial machine, probably a little bit more because they’re used eight hours a day.”

Classes are also a growing service the business offers.
“We have classes for beginners, for people who don’t know how to sew at all, all the way to people who have been sewing for quite a while,” Dean said.

One of the classes the shop offers is a row by row quilt top class.

“By the end of the classes, you’ll have the whole top of the quilt done,” Dean said. “That’s an intermediate or advanced-beginner class.”

After the top of the quilt is completed, the student can have the shop complete the quilt.

Dean’s enthusiasm for sewing and sewing machines comes through in ways outside of work, as well. He works on projects for family, as well as beginning to work on a plush fox.

“Basically, anything baby related,” Dean said. “I’ve been making a lot of stuff for my sister, who is due at the end of the month.”

Sew Happy Sales and Service is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. More information may be found at their Facebook page, Sew Happy Sales & Service, or

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