The Urban Craft Center: It's All Sew Simple

— by Caroline on Crack

Me sewing

Yay! I now know how to sew. Look out for my new clothing line! OK, actually I now know how to make a tiny pillowcase and an itty-bitty drawstring bag. Picked up these nifty skills at Santa Monica’s Urban Craft Center down there on Main Street where they teach craft courses like Intro to Sewing. Classes can range in price from $15 to $550 (for non-members) depending on how many courses a subject has.

My 2-hour class was $45 and included use of the machine and materials. There are only six spots available for students. They keep the attendance count low so that everyone can get some instruction from the teacher, and we really need it. At least I did.

Ya see, I don’t know the first thing about sewing. However, my mom is a very accomplished seamstress. Growing up she made us clothes and even toys from patterns she bought at craft stores. I remember the sound of her Singer sewing machine whirring away all day. She loved to sew and of course wanted me to get into it as well so she gave me a nice new Singer.

Unfortunately that poor machine has been taking up space in my closet for years. I tried once to sew some lining into my Carrie Bradshaw Halloween tutu but the thread kept breaking and I wasn’t sure if I had set up the machine correctly so I gave up and just made sure to wear a skirt under my tutu instead.

But my friend Jules told me about the Urban Craft Center, saying we should take a class just for fun. Intro to Sewing called my name. It promised to teach us “the essentials — machine setup and terminology, threading, sewing straight lines and simple decorative stitches” and all in just two hours! I’m in!

On a Thursday night, we met in the quiet craft store. Our instructor told us that tonight we would be learning how to make a little pillowcase as well as a drawstring bag. She showed us her little cute examples of what we were supposed to be aiming for. Each item featured delicate sewing patterns. Instantly I felt overwhelmed. How the heck are we going to learn how to do that in such a short amount of time?

And to top it off, our instructor made everything seem really easy…that is until we tried to do it ourselves. How do you spool the bobbin or change the feet or sew in a straight line for that matter? Fortunately because there were only six of us she could spend some time with each student and take us through the process.

We figured out how to make these Janome sewing machines create just the stitch we wanted and practiced straight stitches, zig zags and more complex decorative stitches.

And then it was on to actually creating our tiny pillowcase. We had the option of picking fabric from the selection offered in the store (which you have to pay extra for) or working with the freebie white or natural colored cloth. Since this was my first time I didn’t want to mess up on something nice so I went with the freebie fabric.

By the end of the night I had made my own little pillowcase and purse. Imperfect though they were I was pretty proud of them. “What class do we take next?” we eagerly asked our instructor still basking in the glory of our accomplishments. She told us that the spring schedule will be offering a course in how to sew your own summer dresses!

So back to my clothing line, what should I call it?

BTW, if you don’t have your own sewing machine, you can always purchase a membership for the center and partake of the studio space and work on your projects there. The two types of memberships are the $45 one which includes unlimited access to the studio during operating hours and member only prices on the classes; the $65 one includes all that as well as amenities like a free locker for you to store your crafty art in and 10% off in the store. Or you can rent studio space for $6 for one hour, $11 for two or $15 for three hours and up.

Urban Craft Center
2433 Main Street
Santa Monica, California 90405 (map)
(310) 392-0139
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-8pm