Sew Busy, Sew Little Time

Summer Teal turns sewing hobby into thriving, part-time business


Alexis Alexander

Summer Teal, English teacher, sits at her desk with her sewing pieces, literature, and a picture of her family. Each day, Teal deftly balances her responsibilities as mother, wife, English teacher, and business owner.

An English teacher from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but a seamstress, mother, and tutor in her spare time, Summer Teal was inspired by different people to take on two side businesses on top of an already busy schedule.

“I found a sewing box of my grandma’s when she passed away. It was just full of random buttons in little paper envelopes titled ‘extra buttons.’ It inspired me to sew and incorporate salvaged and vintage fabrics and notions into my sewing designs,” Teal said of the inspiration behind her business, Xtrabuttons.

Sewing evolved from a hobby to a side business that she runs while she’s not teaching AP Language and Composition and Literature and Composition 2.

Teal’s customers can purchase either pre-made creations or request custom orders. Xtrabuttons has a shop on Etsy and a platform on Instagram at @my_xtrabuttons.

After receiving an order, Teal ships the already-made product or begins a new creation by sewing, wood burning, or embroidering. Most of her customers come from online, but some orders come from her students who know of her side-business.

Despite the abundance of writing her students produce, Teal strives not to take work home so that afternoons are dedicated to her family — husband Stephen Teal, Economic teacher, and daughters Zoey, Anjin, Judah, and Noah — her side businesses. Completing all of her tasks each day requires multitasking such as sewing while helping her children with homework or when supporting them at their soccer practices and games.

Zoey thinks that her mom’s sewing business “is a great creative outlet.” Although Zoey doesn’t sew, Teal “has always taught [Zoey] and [her] sisters to be creative and artistic.”

Teal’s favorite sewing projects are currently custom orders, which allow her to expand her creativity. The steps to complete a custom order are first “a client will send a picture of something.” Second, “[they] work together to alter it and convert it to fabric. The collaboration is a lot of fun and the finished project is something that is perfect for the client.”

Teal has projects that not only involve her time, but her love. The thoughtfulness and skill of her work are evident in the hand-sewn aprons, embroidered backpacks, and fabric coffee sleeves.

Teal said, “the fact that people like what I make is encouraging.”

Teal lives an undoubtedly busy life, but it’s a life filled with love, literature, business, and creativity.