Not Just for Grannies Anymore: The Rise of The Urban Sewing Lounge

thread den sewing lounge photo
Photo: Thread Den Sewing Lounge

Just as community gardens all over are bringing together urban gardeners, there's an updated version of the old-fashioned sewing circle popping up in many city neighbourhoods: the sewing lounge.

With crafting and the DIY mentality making a huge comeback, activities like sewing and knitting are moving out of the home and onto the streets. So the sewing lounge is where newbies and long-time enthusiasts alike can find common ground -- plus learn some new tricks.

But what differentiates the ol' sewing circle from the modern sewing lounge? San Francisco's Stitch Lounge describes itself as:

...a drop-in urban sewing lounge open for Bay Area urbanites to sew and socialize. Imagine a location for a modern sewing circle, where you can use (but don't have to keep and maintain in your city-sized apartment) all the sewing equipment you need.

Essentially, the sewing lounge is many things rolled up in one: it's a community space for sewing enthusiasts, a place to share skills, take classes, rent a machine or find sewing supplies and patterns -- and of course, to meet people from different walks of life.

According to blogs like Sew Craftful, the concept behind the sewing lounge is to make sewing accessible and fun -- community and self-sufficiency in one.

And it seems to be catching on, with "hip, happening social" sewing lounge scenes popping up in New York, San Francisco, Portland, London, Melbourne, Montreal and Toronto (check out this list here by Be Sew Stylish).

Photo: SewCrafty sewing lounge in Houston, TX CosmoPolitician via Flickr / Creative Commons

Apparently, it also helps sometimes that these places cater to a specific niche, whether it's beginners' classes or remaking and restyling old clothes into new. For instance, Vancouver's first sewing lounge Spool & Thread reports that ten percent of their clientele are men, indicating a rising trend of "dudes who sew", thus giving them cause to consider a men's sewing group.

But that doesn't mean such a gathering place has to be a retail store necessarily; you could always eschew the commercial aspect and just start your own sewing lounge.

So what could this mean for sewing? Says Nedved:

Sewing's not what it used to be. And hopefully, as more people get into it, we'll see more great independently designed fashions out on the street.

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