On the corner of Sibert Avenue and Kelly Street sits a quaint white house with a sign out front that reads, “Dress & Drape, Sewing unlimited, Try us and see.” This has been the location for Eveline Garin’s sewing business for 37 years and the 89-year-old seamstress said she doesn’t intend to give it up anytime soon.
“The thing about it is, it keeps me busy and out of mischief; and also her,” Garin said, motioning to her daughter Pam Clark who works by her side. “In the way of sewing, I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t done.”
Garin, who hails from London, England came to the United States as a war bride in 1946, and first visited Destin with her husband 10 years later.
“As soon as my husband saw the sign, ‘The luckiest fishing village in the world,’ he said ‘We’ve got to come back,’” Garin said of that first trip. “After that, we came down here twice a year, once for Easter by ourselves, then right after school got out with the kids.”
Garin said she and her husband finally made the move to Destin in 1976, and fit right in to the Gulf-side community.
“My husband Thomas helped Captain Delbert Marler run the Florida Girl,” she said. “When I got down here, they found out they couldn’t sell the condos if they had no drapes and carpets in them. I think there were four of us here that did sewing, so we made drapery for them and they started selling the condos because people could picture their furniture in there.”
From then on, Garin said she had her work cut out for her with a never ending demand for her meticulous drapes and matching pillow sets, and of course the consistent dress making and altering business.
“Everyone around here knows if there’s something they need, they can come here and find what they are looking for,” said Garin. “I’ve had some of the same customers here for 20 to 30 years. It’s been repeat business because I’m up to two and three generations of doing it here in Destin.”
Long time customer and Destin resident, Camille Morgan can attest to that longevity as she said she has been going to Dress and Drape since they opened in 1976.
“They are darling people and they do beautiful work,” said Morgan. “Pam took a quilt that I asked her to repair and it was in bad shape, and she spent 200 hours working on it. You don’t find people that work like that anymore, it’s highly unusual. We are lucky to have them in Destin. We need more people like them in Destin.”
As for Clark, she said the pair of them have accumulated 127 years of sewing experience, and their work complements each other because they each bring their own style and skill set to the table.
“We have different expertise’s,” said Clark. “We do everything, but there are certain things that I’ve done more than she has. I do all the weird, odd and difficult stuff, but she still does the hemming.”
When asked if she would ever retire, Garin said she’d tried that once, and it didn’t stick.
“When my husband retired he said to me, ‘I’m retired how come you’re not retired?’” said Garin. “So I said, ‘Ok let me have a month and I’ll get all my stuff together and I’ll follow you around.’ And he said, ‘On second thought, I think I’ll let you keep sewing.’”
With her 90th birthday approaching in October, Garin said she plans to continue sewing until her fingers stop holding thread.
“It’s keeping me going,” she said. “I’m lucky. I’m doing what I like and I have an occupation that I love.”