The recent explosion of sewing classes and sewing cafes is an interesting phenomenon. I'm pleased to see a growing trend towards a DIY mentality and the increased desire to learn the skills our grandmothers relied on (if that is what this represents). I thought that maybe I could pick up a sewing-teaching gig at one of these places if I ever lost my job, and I enjoy looking at cute buttons and trims that they often sell as much as the next sewer, but I haven't really kept a close eye on the proliferation of these establishments.
However, I have recently been doing a bit of research because I've been brewing a plan to do a bit of sewing teaching in a different kind of environment and heard about Sew Over It through my enquiries. Based in Clapham, London, it seems to provide the best range of classes that I've seen, including mini-courses of around two hours focussing on specific skills like making button holes or inserting zips. I could see those being really useful for beginner-sewers who want to flesh out their skill-set without having to sign-up to make an entire blouse or skirt making course. They also run a mens' survival sewing class, which is SUCH a great idea. Plus, Sew Over It offers a drop-in option where you can use the space and machinery for £5 an hour and includes free tea and coffee. This is how I spent a chunk of last Sunday.
Normally, I wouldn't usually be interested in forking out to use a sewing space when I'm lucky enough to have that at work and home, but I was heading up to London to see Michelle (pictured above) and we've never really sewn/crafted together before AND she may be moving to that area and was pleased for the opportunity to explore a little more, so it all kind of made sense to go and pay Sew Over It a visit.
It is a nice place. It is very clean and pretty with lots of light. The downstairs area was being used for a class so we stayed upstairs which serves as the cafe, shop and drop-in sewing area. All around were examples of the garments and products that you can learn to make in their classes, or make at home using their pre-prepared kits and packs. IMO, the decor and feel of the place is pretty representative of the dominant aesthetic of current mainstream craft culture (Amy Bulter prints, teapots, cupcakes, you know). Which is fine. It's very feminine, cute and no-doubt inviting to many. But I do fear that this look puts off a some people who don't want to make things that are very girlie in style. And I'd be surprised if many guys turn up for their mens' survival sewing class and feel entirely comfortable sitting there surrounded by so much pink!This gripe isn't specific to Sew Over It: I'm just concerned how much experimentation and freedom to make mistakes you can feel in such a cute and pristine environment. I'm also worried that the message about using these skills to preserve your existing clothes and live more sustainably isn't really being put across when everything on display and for sale is brand new. They do offer a customisation class, but neatly sell 'customisation packs' with new lace embellishments and strings of pearls.
So, did I buy?! Yep. No I don't buy new fabric, but I do indulge in new patterns and notions from time to time. Sew Over It stock a decent selection of the newer Colette Patterns. I bought the Violet blouse pattern for Michelle for Christmas (don't worry about her reading this, she knows!) and the Clover trousers for myself. I've been eyeing this pattern up on the internet for a while, but with shipping from the US to UK, it was pricier than I could justify so I treated myself when I saw it for sale without the postage. And these leopard buttons! They are shell and so awesome that I'm sure they'd make the plainest garment special. I think I'll save them for when a thrifted solid colour cardigan comes my way and needs jazzing up.
So, what about you? Have you spent time in any sewing cafes? What was your overall experience? What did you like about it?