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Video: Seamsters Become Lounge Lizards

Produced by: Gary Junken

Sewing Lounges are popping up across the country to give 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!

Stitch Lounge
182 Gouge Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
417-431-3SEW (3739)
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.
Sewing Statistics
•Stitch is the first sewing lounge (brilliant 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
1963 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
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, cosmopolitan women love to gather here in their spare time.
Sewing Statistics:
•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
•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
2054 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!
Sewing Statistics
•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

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