“What ever happened to home economics class in school?” asked my Aunt Azelda.
“So kids don’t learn to sew. Sew what?” I joked. Yeah, she didn’t think it was funny, either.
“We have everything from basic, beginning sewing to advanced quilting and machine embroidery,” says Brian at Sew Hut in Clairemont (858-273-1377; sewhut.com). “We also have classes in beading and ribbon work. Anything that can be done on a sewing machine we teach, though basic sewing is our most popular class.”
So popular, in fact, that you’ll need to get on a waiting list before you can attend. “It’s generally a four- to six-week wait. It’s four classes, each three hours long, and it costs $70. In your first class, the teacher finds out what direction you want to go. You’re given a choice of learning to cut patterns or doing home-décor items like pillows and table runners. The teacher will give you a supply list. Then, when you come back for the next class, you learn how to do things like cut patterns and use rotary cutters. If you don’t have a machine, we’ll set one up for you.”
A “sewing café” is also available. “You can bring in anything you want to work on, and we provide teachers to help you with it. It’s $5, and it’s also a potluck; people bring a dish to share. You can check the website for scheduled events.”
Sew Hut offers unlimited free introductory classes to anyone who purchases a new sewing machine from the store. “We carry machines from $299 to $12,000. I think most frustration, for a beginner, would come from using an old machine. They’re generally harder to work with, especially when you’re using modern fabrics.”
Roselle Ellison at Home Ec. Studio in South Park (619-279-6379; homeecstudio.com) tells me that they offer classes for children and adults. “We teach kids during the week in our after-school classes. We have the machines here, and we go over the basics — things like the flywheel, the foot pedal, the stitch selector. Then we practice sewing for 30 minutes. After that, we do a project that entails laying out fabric, cutting a pattern, and sewing. A lot of the kids like to make stuffed animals. Machine use and materials are included in the price [$165 for five two-and-a-half-hour classes].”
For adults, “We have Basic Sew on Sundays. It’s a lot like the after-school class, but it’s a single three-hour class for $45. We change projects pretty often. Recently, we did a skirt project — two layers, linen — and that seemed to be a big hit. We also do private instruction by appointment [$30 an hour].”
The Grove in South Park (619-284-7684; thegrovesandiego.com) also offers classes. Co-owner Anne tells me, “Judy is the teacher; she offers private lessons for $20 an hour. Our Facebook page has a schedule for monthly basic-project classes — things like aprons, pot holders, or yoga-mat sacks. The cost runs from $20 to $40, not including materials. Judy also does a drop-in class once a month. You can come in with any project and get her expertise. It’s $10, unless you’re working with Judy’s fabrics — then it’s free. She has a great selection. We do encourage you to bring your own machine, but we can arrange a loaner.”
Monica Gassaway of La Mesa Sew & Vac (619-698-2972; lamesasewandvac.net) will be offering basic sewing classes starting in November. “We’ll have them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday after 3 p.m. The classes will be two hours long; three sessions for $40. If you signed up for the Tuesday class, you would come every Tuesday for three weeks. I start from the beginning: how to lay out a pattern, how to sew it up, how to work your machine. You bring your own machine and materials, but I will help you through the entire process — even picking out material.”
Finally, I spoke with Peggy at Sew Pro’s Sewing & Vacuum in El Cajon (619-442-3100; sew-pros.com). “We have locations in El Cajon, Oceanside, and Clairemont,” she said. “If you buy a machine from us, we provide free classes on how to use it, such as how to use the different sewing feet — walking feet, darning feet, quarter-inch feet. There’s another class on the different needles. Occasionally, we’ll have a specialty class on something such as how to make a rag quilt.” The cost is $60 for three classes.