Monday, August 23, 2010

Domestic Diva: Stitch Lab

I was thrilled when one of my girlfriends e-mailed me a few months ago about Stitch Lab, an adorable sewing store in South Austin that holds weekly sewing classes of various experience levels. My automatic reply was, "Yes, I want to go too!" My friend Taylor and I signed up for the beginner sewing class even though both of us have some experience sewing, but it had been a while and neither have any sort of formal training. See, Taylor and I have this joke about seeing something in the store and saying, "I can make that!" We both like to jump into projects, whether we have the skills or not and learn by doing. I've had to rip out many a seam in my days because I didn't use a pattern... well sewing is not like my cooking. You do need to know what you are doing, and using a pattern has proved very helpful.

Isn't this adorable? Leslie Bonnel, the crafty and sassy leader of Stitch Lab found this frayed house in South Austin and along with a team of creative and willing friends, they flipped the house in less than a month to open what is now a warm and welcoming space for crafters.

The 1920's bungalow was turned from shabby to fabulous with refurbished wood floors, restored cabinets with original glass pulls and dark, rich wood - all provide a fabulous backdrop for the bright colors of the fabric.  

The colors! The space at Stitch Lab is open, bright and cheery and stocked with everything you need to create something new every day. To say the space is inspiring is an understatement, it makes me want to turn my spare bedroom into my personal craft room (which I've since decided I AM DOING!)

I arrived early on day one (of course.) I wanted to get my sewing machine dusted off and set up correctly. I chose this sunny spot in front of the window at the front of the house.

The manual - I'm so glad I held on to that little booklet. I had so much to get reacquainted with.

Here is Taylor as we learned to put thread on the bobbin, load it correctly and practice a basic stitch.

She was a pro - of course. (I'm convinced we have crafty genes.) In this series we learned all functions of the sewing machine, all basic machine skills, an introduction to hand sewing skills and everything you need to know about fabrics, marking, pinning and cutting.

By the end of the first night, Taylor and I had each made ourselves these drawstring bags. Not sure what I'm going to do with mine, but it was a great starter project and got us reacquainted with our machines and comfortable sewing again.

Night two we tackled a more advanced project - a 14 inch square pillow with piping and a ZIPPER!
I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to learn how to insert a zipper, the possibilities after learning this skill are endless. Taylor worked with this super fun and vibrant brown, red, pink and yellow floral fabric.
I chose a silk cream fabric with a repeating figure eight design stitched on to it. So maybe we were supposed to choose something easy like cotton to work with - didn't they know I have a problem following directions? I march to the beat of my own drum.
This fabric was going to be perfect for my Master Bedroom Makeover. Since I'm married now I need to learn to share - and Jim said the pink and red colors I have going on in the master bedroom are not going to cut it so my new color scheme will be cream with chocolate brown and a dusty blue.

This pillow was step one in the right direction.

Pictures of Taylor pinning the zipper to the fabric for her pillow.
Our amazing instructor Hayley, who since art school has worked for Polo Ralph Lauren, as a costume designer for theater and independent film production. Since she's been back in Austin Hayley has even designed a line of unique, one-of-a-kind handbags, run a successful sewing studio and is launching her first quilt fabric line this year. I swear, being around such talented people is just contagious - I wanted to soak up all the knowledge she had to give.

Yes, I was that student asking a billion questions. How many times have you poked yourself with a needle, has sewing ever made you cry, what does your home craft room look like? Her answers were: More times than I can count, one time I threw my sewing machine off the table I was so mad, it's set with everything a seamstress needs.

Here are my two finished pillows! I took a picture of the back of my 14 inch square pillow to show the zipper I put in. The piping, which I thought was going to be tough, really wasn't. I'm going to also teach myself how to make my own piping, I know I can.
The third night of class we had a choice of projects. Taylor made a really cute messenger bag (I wish I had a picture of it) and I made a more advanced pillow. The bolster pillow was made out of this great silk chocolate brown and dusty blue material, and I use a solid brown for the circular ends.

My favorite part (which turned out to be the hardest part) were the beads that I used on my seam instead of piping. It was a bugger to complete but I'm very happy with the finished decorative pillow.

Oh look, a zipper on the bolster too!

What's so cool about Stitch Lab is that they offer an Open Sewing Studio during the week for crafters who may need a little assistance, advice, and support on individual sewing projects. It's a chance for me to suck the creativity right out of them... wait, that didn't sound quite right. I mean feed off their energy, or something like that. But sometimes you just need a little extra help on a project, but don’t need a full class series - and I'm uber excited this is an option for me.

Click HERE to visit the Stitch Lab website!

I will surely keep you updated on the room makeovers. Kitchen is done, office is in the works, master bedroom is in the works and the spare bedroom that is becoming my craft room is still a disaster.


  1. we want to see pictures of your kitchen and other projects as well. you are so inspiring. best wishes on all your new projects.

  2. Yeah! Congrats! And wonderful blog post about our darling Stitch Lab!


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