Feb 16, 2009

Sewing is Growning Among Us

I love getting articles about sewing. This one just came across my screen. Meet the Threadheads from the NY Post.

In a building on the Lower East Side, a labyrinth-like hallway opens to a narrow, cheery space. It's home to Make, a sewing studio. In it there are sewing machines, turquoise Ikea chairs—and owner Diana Rupp, who patiently takes keen sewers through the machinations of making something from scratch. "Five years ago, it was all about knitting," says Diana. "These days, I can't schedule enough sewing classes."

Today, it seems there's a crafter whipping out a sewing machine on every corner. The Sewing & Craft Alliance boasts that there are 35 million home sewers in America, up from 30 million in 2000. In New York City, sewing groups are cropping up everywhere. Over on Park Avenue South, sewing tutorials are broadcast online at Threadbanger.com, a site that gets a million views a month.

So why is sewing so hip right now? Put it down, in part, to the Project Runway effect. "These girls I teach, they are obsessed with Project Runway [the reality TV show that features wannabe fashion designers]," says Diana, who hosts an Intro to Sewing Machine class ($80) at Make twice a week. Patti Gilstrap, who runs Home Ec., a sewing space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, concurs: "We have a lot of Project Runway fans. They discuss it in the middle of class."

Sewing has taken off among us. Many of us have a great desire to create things with using our sewing machine. The lost art of sewing has returned. I know this because of the (almost) three years I've been open the more time that passes the fuller my classes get. I have taught more people this January than I have in the years past.

Project Runway and all the "do it yourself" shows have planted the sewing seed in many. We talk about these shows all the time in class. When I ask people if they watch them everyone get's a big smile and shakes their heads yes.

After reading this article I've realized I do offer great prices to my classes. I want to make it affordable for everyone to learn. I also run a machine class twice a week but charge half the price they are getting in NYC.

More of the article:

One thing sewers do need is space, something that's at a premium in Gotham. Such logistical problems are solved by places like Home Ec.—a warehouse-like space on Third Avenue with vintage wares and fabrics for sale at the front and eight Kenmore sewing machines at the rear. At its Build A Bag workshop ($95), one brisk December evening, a group of would-be sewers are hard at work. Emily Geanacopoulos, 24, in skinny black jeans and a hoodie, is finishing a tote for a friend. "Working here is just so much more peaceful and relaxing," says Emily. "At home, my sewing machine is under my loft bed, and my room is so small."

Faygie Andrusia, who works as a doula in Crown Heights, has selected a cotton stripe for her bag. "I don't have any sewing skills," the 23-year-old says. "I decided I just really wanted to know how to do it." Across the room, Christine Scott, 38, and Jill Dowling, 38, are laying out patterns for their bags. "I'd prefer to make stuff," Christine says, "rather than buy more cheap things I don't need."

The sewing scene is not just about making new items. One of the most popular classes at Home Ec. is Altered States ($125). In three sessions, students learn how to make their wardrobe new with what they already have, by taking up hems, adjusting seams and adding found fabric.

Home Ec. teacher Patti says that Etsy .com, the online marketplace of all things handmade, has also contributed to the recent interest in sewing. Etsy's 1.5 million crafters buy and sell millions of items each year, and sales are thriving despite the shaky economy. (In 2005, the site had sales of $166,000; in 2008, its sales were worth $87 million.) "Right when the economy tanked at the end of September, we had a huge spike," says Adam Brown, Etsy's publicist. Rob Czar of Threadbanger.com says sewing's popularity is linked to the eco movement—and New Yorkers' wallets. "The economy is a huge factor," says Rob. "Making clothes means one less trip to the store."

I think the economy is a big factor why people want to learn the art of sewing. I also think the reason why the teens and 20sometings have the desire to learn because their grandparents did it for a living and wanted better for their children thus not teaching them the art. Some tried to teach their children but at the time the kids saw it as not being cool. Now it's a cool thing to do with the youth. Their parents didn't learn for the grandparents and sometimes the grandparents are too old to teach them.

I can say I've probably taught well over 500 people the art of sewing in the past few years. I'm not getting rich at teaching but the rewards are many for me when I can see what my students do with the knowledge I give them.

Keep sewing - and don't forget you can make your own schedule at Learn 2 Sew and the classes are very affordable. If you know how to sew and you don't need any instruction you can join any sewing class when seats are available for only $5 per hour.

Until next time,
Enjoy your moments ~ make them "sew" much fun,

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