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Forget home economics, Spool of Thread takes the "ew" out of sewing.
Spool of Thread celebrated the grand opening of its fabric store and sewing lounge in June 2010. Located on East 15th between Main and Fraser, the huge storefront window opens into a stark, white minimalist space—the perfect background for funky, bright patterns to pop.
101-649 E 15 Ave, Vancouver
Map | Flickr | Twitter
A sewing lounge that provides the tools and space for making all sorts of projects, Spool of Thread boasts six Janome sewing machines, a large industrial cutting table, irons and ironing boards and dress forms that are all included in an $8 per hour rental fee.
Perfect for those who live in shoebox apartments and have run out of room to store anything, let alone a full-sized sewing machine, you can drop-in and sew whenever a class is not on (though you must be able to operate a machine on your own, of course).
A monthly class schedule is posted online as well as on the in-store chalkboard. Sewing 101 (reversible tote bag or pillowcase) or equivalent skills are required to move on to more advanced projects like the duvet cover, a-line skirt or schoolhouse tunic.
Sewing 101 is a three-hour class. Offered several times a month, it does fill up fast. Classes are small, with a maximum of six people per workshop. Your best bet is to sign up for the e-newsletter on the website and book a class as soon as you receive the new monthly schedule.
Owners Lili and Henry source out gorgeous, unique and hard-to-find fabrics that you can check out on their Flickr page.
My friend snatched up an adorable print of colourful hedgehogs on the spot—not knowing what she would ever use it for—but knowing instantly that it had to be hers. I stumbled across some creamy fabric covered in red cherries, sitting next to a red and teal print and decided they were meant to be together in the form of my reversible tote bag.
While the fabrics are fantastic, they may also be a teeny bit on the expensive side, so I recommend shopping around and knowing what you are looking for and what you are willing to pay.
Having run quickly in the opposite direction after being introduced to a sewing machine in Grade 9 home economics, I have since realized the sewing machine can be a tool of independence and creative liberation as opposed to the symbol of domestic slavery Mrs. French so fondly championed…
Sewing 101 re-introduced me to the components of the machine—the pedal, spool, bobbin and foot—and we got on just fine. My class was taught by Caro, a wonderful woman who has been sewing for years, but who had never taught a sewing class before that night. Besides a few pauses when she was searching for sewing-related words she was used to saying in French, Caro navigated her way through her first class beautifully.
She even shared with me at the end of the night, that she is creating a pattern for an owl doll that she hopes to teach in a future class… I know a few people who will be racing to get to the front of that line!
In Sewing 101 you learn to follow a simple pattern, how to properly pin and mark material and how important a really good pair of scissors are for cutting a straight line. (I blame all crooked cutting on being left-handed.)
The funny thing is, you think your material is straight until, in the case of a reversible tote bag, you have to sew the inside and outside materials together… you quickly discover which students were taking their sweet, careful time and which were cutting at warp-speed.
I was terrified to stick the fabric in the machine for fear of ruining my tote bag, but it was surprisingly smooth sailings throughout. My foot pedal was set to a fairly slow speed and I didn’t dare increase it the entire length of the class. There was one moment where I stitched too close to a corner and couldn’t iron the seam flat open, but luckily it was a piece that would be safely tucked on the inside of my tote bag and no one would ever see it!
At the end of the three-hour class, everyone had a beautifully finished reversible tote bag. I can only guess how many friends and family members will be receiving tote bags for Christmas this year as graduates of Sewing 101 practice their newly acquired skills.
Not including the class fee, my material cost me about $20, not far off from the price of a storebought tote bag, and learning how to make it myself was way more satisfying.
Next up for me will be zippered pouches (perfect for makeup or other odds and ends in my purse) and then a new duvet cover. Even my boyfriend is excited about that one.