Seamsters Become Lounge LizardsSewing Lounges are popping up across the country to allow sewers of all ages and experiences the chance to learn the tricks of the trade. Project Runway is constantly credited as an inspiration to all aspiring designers to go out there and make their own clothing, but sewing isn’t an instinct. Instead it takes time and diligence and in many cases, formal and informal teaching. A sewing lounge is a destination for seamsters to rally as well as rent equipment and a space to work on anything they can imagine! These lounges offer classes, but even better, they offer support. Recently, I went on a search to find as many sewing lounges as possible scattered across the country.
Lounges aren’t just a school for seamsters, they’re a hip, happening social scene. They’re also the perfect way to meet new people, and get your feet wet without putting in an investment, and keep sewing equipment from filling your homes. Different lounges attract different audiences but they all share the same goal: to make sewing more accessible, let seamsters work with one another, and pass on the skills to the next generation of fashionistas.
Here’s a list of must-know lounges. In this DIY age expect to see more and more lounges popping up—hopefully near you. And if a sewing lounge doesn’t take root near you, you can always consider starting your own!
182 Gouge Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Stitch-It! This is the place where the sewing lounge originated. In a city like San Francisco, space is extremely limited and sewing equipment is known for being bulky and hogging space. Best buds Hope Meng, Melissa Alvarado, and Melissa Rannels schemed to find a solution, and in 2001 created Stitch. Stitch refers to itself as a “sewing lounge in an urban atmosphere.” Just by glancing at the pictures on their Web site, this is in fact the case. Orange walls are decked out with a painted line of stitches. Fur overhead lights provide not only a bright atmosphere, but shine down on seamsters hard at work.
•Stitch is the first sewing lounge (genius idea, girls!)
•Material and notions also available
•$5 per 1/2 hour (1 hour minimum)
•$40 per hour for private lessons
•Classes usually are 4-6 hours total, broken between two classes
•Store selling creations of local artists
•Following the DIY method, Meng, Alvarado, and Rannels wrote Sew Subversive, a book explaining how to remodel and reconstruct your garments. I never would have imagined turning a tie into a bracelet or a sweater into a hat, but this allows sewers to take last year’s styles and create new couture. *
Spark Craft Studios
50 Grove St.
Sommerville, MA 02144
Cosmopolitan and chic crafts. Resulting from an MBA project at Boston University, the idea for Spark Craft Studios switched from a vision to a reality in January of 2005. Targeting an older audience, this upscale lounge and craft boutique combines a social atmosphere with flourishing high fashion. Cozy couches and practical workspace create the best of both worlds. Spark Craft Studio offers classes in sewing, knitting, crocheting, card-making, and jewelry making. Always leaving the studio with a handmade project, it is the place for cosmopolitan women to gather in their spare time.
•Spark Craft Studios not only holds classes but they also host parties and group events.
•Fridays offer wine and craft while Sundays allow your week to begin with tea and craft.
•Opened in 2005 Spark Craft Studios is currently in the process of relocating to Porter Square.
•If you are in the area the weekend of July 7, make sure to stop by because opening weekend everything is 20% off!
The Needle Shop
2154 W. Charleston (at Hoyne)
Chicago, IL 60647
The needle can produce much more than clothing.The needle is the one tool that unites sewing, crocheting, knitting, and upholstery at the Needle Shop. Classes are all organized by both level and project, allowing the seamster to choose what they want to make. Unique from other sewing lounges, The Needle Shop focuses not only on clothing but also on interiors. As a beginner I long to learn how to make curtains, duvet covers, and upholster my furniture. Now not only can I design my wardrobe—I can design my room!
•Private lessons are offered:
$30 for one hour
$25 per person for groups of two or more
•Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
•Classes are $65 each
2625 N. Halsted st.
Chicago, IL 60614
Warming memories. Quilts are one type of sewing that is extremely personalized. T-shirt quilts let you recycle your out-of-style or favorite tee’s, memory quilts let you include important pieces of fabric into your quilt, or design a quilt to match a room in your house. My college roommate had a T-shirt quilt on her bed and every block had a story behind it. And for a Civil War English project, I focused on a theory that quilts assisted in communication during the Underground Railroad. Since then I have been fascinated with the idea of quilting and the memories a quilt can carry on to new generations. Quiltology allows an outsider an introduction into the wide world of quilting.
•Quiltology’s Bernina® Sewing Lounge contains 10 Bernina machines
•$10 per hour and $5 per additional hour in the same session
•Quiltology will custom make a quilt from you
•Already-made quilts are also for sale
835 Holly Ave
St Paul, MN 55014
Residential recreation. Located in St Paul on the third floor of Maggy Schneider’s home this sewing studio offers both industrial and home sewing machines. It’s perfect for a beginning sewer, such as myself, because I can test out different machines and find which fits me best. The Sewing Lounge camp is truly unique. With my newfound interest in sewing, I didn’t have this sort of opportunity as a child. Also appealing, the owner greatly cares about her customers. Schneider didn’t intend to have adult summer classes but after many requests, changed her mind.
•Offers summer classes
•Summer camp (Kids only!)
•Industrial and home sewing machines
•Members of the American Sewing Guild get a 10% discount on classes
•Studio time is $10 per hour
195 Chrystie Street #502
New York, NY 10002
A city with style—unlike any other. Located in the heart of my favorite city is a school and design studio for all NYC seamsters: Make Workshop. Opened by Diana Rupp and Rita, her sidekick chihuahua, Make Workshop offers the typical craft classes: sewing, jewelry making, crocheting and quilting. Diana and Rita also venture out to explore soap-making, wallpaper making, and the class I really want to take: Kool-Aid dying. At Make Workshop, you can learn to sew your own clothing, create matching jewelry and then even construct matching heels. Nothing will damper a girl’s mood more than having what you thought to be an original outfit also on the girl across the room. Make Workshop solves the problem by letting you create everything, head to toe.
•New silk-screening classes
•Includes NYC’s first private-owned yarn store
•Most classes require that you bring your own supplies
•Has a showroom for handmade projects (retail and wholesale)
Sew Fast Sew Easy
147 West 35th Street, Suite 807
NY, NY 10001
“You know that we are living in a material world. And I am a material girl” (Madonna) Do you want to be a certified seamster? Try out SFSE’s Stitch and Bitch University, a ten-week sewing crash course. SFSE takes sewing to the next level, by not only offering classes but by making it possible to have an interactive experience from your home. The Stitch and Bitch Café is an online forum allowing users to communicate via a message board. Also, in the age of the internet, SFSE offers online videos. The colorful picturesque Web site really sells the idea of sewing to the customer.
•Hours are Monday- Saturday 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
•In business almost 15 years
•Sell their own line of sewing patterns
•Courses are usually presented in a series of multiple classes so you can build skills over time
•Home sewing machines only, (SFSE believes industrial machines should be left to the factory-workers)
•SFSE works to reach out to beginning sewers and hook them into the field. The 12-year-old class is called “Material Girl.”
*Not shown on map
Sew Be It Studio
2156 Younge St.
Toronto, Ontario M4S 2A8
Fashionistas-in-training. Sew Be It is all about helping you advance your skills. With a focus on learning and guiding, Sew Be It considers themselves gurus in the fashion world. Classes are geared toward the young tween and teen. And the “Fashionista Camp” is always completely sold out. (Not surprising since this sounds perfect for the young designer!). Sew Be It also offers drop-in sessions to help anyone stuck on a project.
•Each consulting session is $15 per hour
•Sew Be It Studios has a sister company, Tiny Tailoring, in the studio to assist you in all your wardrobe needs
•Industrial machines, domestic machines, and sergers available for use
3100 S. Congress Ave. Suite 3B
Tap into your inner child. The most kid-oriented of all the lounges, Craft-O-Rama even has a Hello Kitty sewing machine! What better way to attract a little girl to sewing than to use familiar brand names. Craft-O-Rama has classes for children as young as six. And not only is Craft-O-Rama equipped with a sewing lounge, but they also have a knitting and crocheting lounge. Craft-O-Rama’s goal is to support their crafty community. Their store also offers supplies.
•Open Tuesday- Sunday
•You can reserve the knitting and crocheting lounge for as many as six people for FREE!
•Summer camp is for ages 6-17
•Offers sewing, knitting, and crocheting classes
1101 Music Lane Suite 303
Austin, TX 78704
Making the matrix. Many people jump into sewing expecting to whip up an outfit to wear later that week or even that night but the sewing gods don’t always cooperate. First Samples helps you navigate the sewing speed bumps. They refer to the process as “the sewing matrix.” A guided path to becoming a designer, the sewing matrix lets the seamster choose projects that interest them and fit their budget. Great—I can test my limits without emptying my wallet!
•Opened in January 2005
•Supervised sewing is offered an hour before and after classes for $10 per hour, (billed by the half hour)
•Classes offered Monday-Saturday
711 East Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98122
Fabrics and fun, fun, fun. A fabric store different from any other, Stitches shies away from chain store offerings. Following the three F’s (fresh, fabulous, and fashion), their fabric is always in style. And on Sundays, all are invited to work on projects together from 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. This is why I love sewing lounges. They offer a friendly atmosphere where you can all be together and work individually.
•Classes available for all levels
•Open everyday (because everyday is a great day to sew!) 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.
•Most classes are around $35
•Besides the workspace, there is a comfy area to relax, hang out, and host stitch-and-bitch groups
My vision is to have such a place in Baltimore, MD that provides a place for sewists to socialize. To provide a place for sewing machine rental. To provide a place where anyone can get help with a sewing project.
Stay tuned for more information and a grand opening date.