Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sewing Class: The Workroom

As a child, I wanted to design my own clothing, and I suppose this is why I cherish online shopping so much. I get a very specific idea of something I'd like to wear and I won't stop until I've found that tiny little eBay shop in Estonia that charges an arm and a leg for this one style in the right colour. This childhood dream could have saved me loads of money and scrounging, but it's just that the sewing machines are out to get me.

This is what I told myself when I was 12 and threw my arms up in despair as that damn sewing machine chomped up a piece of fabric for the 20th time. With the exception of half a semester of economics and my Mum showing me once or twice, I had no real sewing machine experience growing up. I just know that every time I tried to use one, it never worked out for me (assuming I ever got far enough to understand what came after that bobbin business).

When we moved to Parkdale, I immediately noticed the storefront a block away call The Workroom, and it was adorable. Every evening, I would see people sitting at the dimly lit sewing machines working away, and it didn't take me long to look into their sew-by-the-hour; $8 an hour. I was interested until I remembered my previous experiences...
Hm. Maybe they have classes. Sure enough, just what a budding seamstress needed: $55 for a 3-hour course in Sewing Fundamentals, made specifically for people who have never touched a sewing machine (or have the kiss of death when they do). This class is also required if you ever want to sew by then hour at The Workroom. There are dozens of other classes including cross-stitch, dying, stationary printing, quilting, pattern design, and embroidery (among how to sew basically anything from your own clothes to upholstering furniture). Prices range from $55 (sewing fundamentals, leather clutch purse, alternations, etc.) to $220 (pattern sewing, japanese dresses, upholstery, etc.), with some higher price points for specific quilting projects. I hope to take some more of these classes as I get a bit more comfortable with the machines, but for today, this is all I wanted.

Classes are typically a couple evenings a week with a handful of weekend classes, so I booked super early (like, 5 weeks early) for the next available Saturday class. With only 6 spots in each class, it books up pretty quick - half of our class got their sewing machines for Christmas, so you can see what sort of wait time there is for these weekend workshops.

The class would have us making an envelope cushion cover for a 16" cushion. You could either bring your own supplies, or buy them at the shop. I opted to buy my fabric from Designer Fabrics (whoa, that website) but got the thread and pillow form from The Workroom ($3 for Mettler thread spool, $9 for a 16" inner cushion). It was the perfect class atmosphere when walking in; sun pouring through the bay windows, creaky hardwood floor, colourful fabrics lining the walls; in my world of cubicles and boardrooms, it was refreshing to be in a place that actually wanted you to enjoy yourself while learning.
Not my photo, but there was a dog there as well. Maisy trotted and lay around the shop, occasionally getting tangled in a sewing machine or two.

The first 45 minutes of class was just talk; how to thread the machine, stitch types, spacing, learning what each part does, what not to touch, common mistakes, common remedies; I don't think there's a single feature on the machine that I'm left wondering about. Most of us were taught on new Bernina machines with digital displays, but there are some manual machines for those who want something a bit more relatable (unless you have $1,400 lying around).
Once we got into sewing, we learned to cut from a pattern, overlock the edges, and iron the folds as we prepared to sew. I'll definitely be a fan of outlining the pattern with chalk because cutting along paper? Nope. Once the groundwork was laid out, we got to sewing. I can't really explain this part without being both long-winded and boring, so let's just say it turned out to be this!
Really quite proud. The seams are straight, the corners are squared, and it's designed to be just small enough for a firm, tight fit.

I'm definitely interested in taking more of The Workroom's classes (I'd love to work with leather or alter my own clothes), but in the mean time, this is all I need! As I mentioned in the first post, I want to make my own curtains, and this is really simply enough! The hardest part now will be finding a fabric that works in our tiny living room. Any suggests for a white room with brown carpet, black furniture, and turquoise accents? Didn't think so.

I'll be sure to update here when I make my curtains and see how my sewing knowledge holds up.

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