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Skirting the Rules owner Nikki Caulfield opened her alterations and tailoring business on the second floor of Norby’s Department Store in downtown Detroit Lakes. The DL native has always had a flare for sewing and has lent her talents to what she calls “her baby” — the Shakespeare in the Park productions. Paula Quam/Tribune

Caulfield opens alterations store in Norby’s

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One local lady is breaking free of her everyday pattern and stitching together her own business.  Detroit Lakes native Nikki Caulfield has opened an alterations and tailoring business called Skirting the Rules.

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“I taught English grammar for a while, so I very much enjoy plays on words,” she said from her quaint little space on the second floor of Norby’s Department Store, “and I knew I’d be playing around with some skirts and things, so I thought the name was perfect.”

Caulfield, whose grandmother taught her how to sew as soon as she was tall enough to reach the pedal, never realized how much she loved sewing until she went off to college and into the theater department.

She thought she was going into the acting end of it. 

“But then when I walked into the costume shop, I was done. I was like…this is home,” smiled Caulfield. “I’m never leaving here again.”

Although she created costumes for various theater shows, including Detroit Lakes’ Shakespeare in the Park productions, Caulfield’s real job was running a tutoring center for college students in Fargo.

“But I think I just got kind of burned out on the intensity of what I was doing there and the commute to Fargo,” she said. “And I missed being in the shop making things and fixing things, and this opportunity came up to lease this space in Norby’s, so I thought, why not? Why not do what I really like to do here in town?”

Now the lady with a master’s degree in education is the master of her own domain as she sits among the endless spools of thread, beads, fabric, decorative trim, needles and sequence, humming right along with what she calls her “workhorse” sewing machine.

She now goes by several titles, seamstress, tailor, dressmaker, and whatever needs a sewing, she can do it — with a couple of limitations.

“I don’t do leather or outerwear,” she explained, saying she isn’t set up for the heavy-duty jobs.

But give her pants that need hemming, a shirt that needs mending, a dress that needs creating, and she’s your girl.

Right now she’s being kept quite busy with prom and wedding season right around the corner, which is also right down her alley.

“Special occasion wear has a lot in common with some of the costuming I’ve done,” she said. “It’s all kind of the same thing.”

And although she says she feels like she’s now doing what she’s meant to do, she admits there are challenges to the job.

“I equate it to a surgeon — you never quite know what you’re going to find until you open up the dress,” she laughed.

And although Caulfield can also be given a picture to create apparel that resembles it “tailor made to fit her customer,” she is also dabbling with her own creations.

She is busy sewing together her own versions of the convertible style of dress that she will be selling.

“It’s with two really long strips of fabric that you can wrap however you want along the top to wear it in different styles,” she explained, adding that she will likely be at the Street Faire in Detroit Lakes this summer selling some of her clothing creations.

Caulfield is “Skirting the Rules” Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will also work on weekends.  For more information, log on to www.skirtsrule.com, e-mail her at nikki@skirtsrule.com or call 218-234-5938.

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