Our teachers Jonathan (L) and Gertie (R) with Alvinna
Every Saturday for the last 8 weeks, once a week, for 2 hours each week, I’ve been heading across town to The Sewing Studio for my Beginner Sewing Class. Some time last year I found it online while hunting for sewing classes. Although the curriculum was really appealing, I didn’t sign up right away. But a few months later, by lucky luck, Denise Wild who runs The Sewing Studio tweeted a special discount in celebration of her birthday. I happened to see the tweet (!) and took it as a sign to try it out. I later saw it advertised on Groupon as well.
Although there are a variety of options in New York for sewing classes, I still had a hard time finding just the right one. So here are some details on my class. Hopefully it will help anyone interested in Sewing decide if this is the right class for them!
Studio Space and Equipment
The studio itself is pretty spacious, bright, and clean. Made up of one main room, a sitting area, and a smaller room for holding another class. The main room had good table top space for preparing your pattern, a serger station, and 2 ironing stations. The sewing machines were set up in 2 long rows on opposite sides of the room. The smaller room was also similarly set up. We worked on Janome Sewist 500s and also had access to 4 sergers (also Janome).
The class size was about 8 people per class with 2 classes going on at the same time. One in the main room and one in the smaller room. The curriculum is more geared towards Dressmaking as most beginning sewing classes are. The main class project was a skirt piece and main techniques were finishing seams, zippers, darts, basting, gathers along with learning to read commercial sewing patterns.
The 3 class projects included: Drawstring Bag, Zippered Pouch, and Skirt. For our Skirt Project, we were able to choose our own skirt pattern from whatever commercial patterns we wanted which was a surprise to me! There were a few restrictions but in general we hunted down our own skirt pattern to sew.
The class structure was more free-form. For our main projects, students worked on independent projects with the help of mentors (our instructors). e.g., If someone needed to install darts, you could go over and watch the demo if you chose to. You can see the full course details on their website.
What I Liked
What I first noticed and liked was the studio itself was bright clean and pretty spacious with lots of cute little details! Not an essential but definitely a plus in New York. Space-wise this one was the best I’ve seen so far. And I checked into quite a few. So it was a plus for me.
We were able to pick our own skirt patterns to complete. This is something I didn’t see any other classes offering. Most classes have set projects for all students.
A major bonus for me was that towards the end of our 8-week course we were allowed to come in early or stay late if we needed extra time to finish our skirts! A really nice courtesy to extend to students.
For those in need of a serger, they offer another free-form class that allows access to these machines for personal projects. Another nice perk considering who has the space for that in NY? And that the average home sewer may not choose to invest in one even if they did.
What I Didn’t Like
Oddly enough, it was the free-form structure that I also didn’t like. My skirt didn’t need darts or much sizing modifications to fit so I really never learned them first-hand. I watched the demos of the techniques but it’s not really the same as doing. Yet I got to make a skirt that I wanted and that I’ll wear! So it really just depends on what you’re looking for.
What I was most interested in learning was some fundamental dressmaking techniques related to fitting a garment to yourself or garment modifications in general like hems. More tailoring related I guess. A pretty broad subject to tackle and possibly a more intermediate course.
I think it’s a nice option for those looking to work in this format, independent projects with mentors. It’s a fun environment, great for a nice hobby class. And a nice way to have sewing time with a sewing machine. For a beginner who may not have one, it’s a good way to try out a sewing machine for 8-sessions.
For the price, $390, it’s pricey like all sewing classes. Most courses like this will range from $345-$425. But from researching and shopping around and given the time we were allowed to spend in class, I think it’s a great value.
I was really intent on working on my piece but now that it’s over I feel like I’d quite miss my days at The Sewing Studio. Denise and all the teachers are really what make it unique.
Our Completed Projects: Skirt Mania!
On to the good stuff! Here are some of the completed class projects. There were quite a few Pencil Skirts and A-line Skirts, great for practicing darts, alterations, and hems. A Gathered Skirt and a Ruffled Skirt. Full details of my completed class project.
Each class had 1 instructor. Our class of 8 was taught by Jonathan. Since it was held on Saturday, there was a third class after ours taught by Gertie. There were a few other teachers we saw that I didn’t get a chance to meet but they all seemed to be just as nice as the ones I met.
Jonathan, who is also a sample maker, shared lots of fashion industry techniques as well as helpful sewing anecdotes. I felt he made beginning sewing feel less daunting.
Here’s Jonathan extending a sleeve on a pattern piece for Fusion 2011 Parsons vs. F.I.T. Runway Competition. He is currently studying Fashion Illustration at Parsons and is one of 15 students selected to represent Parsons. Go Jonathan!
I also got a chance to work with Gertie when I stayed late after class to work on my skirt. For those who sew and have trolled the internet for sewing resources you might find her familiar.
Yes, that’s Gertie from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing. I came across her site while searching for how-tos on sewing. Here is Gertie demonstrating how to sew a Lap Zipper. She was very warm and friendly and was great at figuring out how to fix mistakes!