Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Make Lounge

So, yesterday evening I spent three hours tussling with zipper foots, interfacing, unruly zigzag stitching and a whole host of other sewing vocabulary that previously read like a foreign language to me.

I was, with 9 other women, attending the second part of an A-line skirt workshop at the Make Lounge in Islington. The concept is social, short workshops on all things crafty in a friendly and stylish atmosphere.

I bought a second-hand sewing machine last year, and leapt into trying to sew without any real idea of what I was doing. Unsurprisingly my attempts were a little disappointing, to say the least. The Make Lounge appealed because it only required a one or two week commitment rather than the longer courses that I'd found at local colleges or sewing shops. The idea of nibbling and drinking while you learnt also appealed to me, so I signed up first for a cushion cover workshop.

That was pretty good. It turned out that the proffered snacks only extended to tea, warm Pinot Grigio and those little packets of biscuits you get in hotels, but we learned a lot, and I loved being able to take home something complete (and quite cute, if I say so myself) at the end of it.

This time - the A line skirt workshop - the sewing stepped up a notch, and I found a little streak of sewing rage emerging (not surprising given the tube rage, road rage, not-winning-at-board-games rage, people-who-don't-say-thankyou-when-you-hold-the-door-open rage, and various other afflictions I suffer). First of all my fabric was too light, and the zigzags wouldn't work. Then I found I hadn't got the right type of zip and I had to rip it all out and re-sew.

I started to feel a little bit like I was back in Mrs White's textiles class, circa 1995. Albeit, a textiles class with Lily Allen on the ipod, the aforementioned white wine, and a much lovelier teacher than Mrs White ever was. (Do they still do 'Textiles' at school btw? Ridiculous name really - I didn't learn anything about textiles, just how to do some dodgy batik and tie die).

However, when I finally got to take home an (almost!) finished skirt I did start to feel a small sense of accomplishment. My aim in taking the course was to equip myself to be able to read a simple pattern and to sew - properly - by myself. I think now I should be able to make something very simple to a decent standard.

So, rubbish snacks, nice environment (though pretty cramped!), nice teacher, ok teaching, pretty expensive, all-in-all though a worthwhile use of three hours and a good concept.

They've recently also expanded the little shop that fronts the workshop space, which is full of terribly trendy embroidery patterns and sewing books. They could do with adding a nice little café; somewhere people could stop by in the day and grab a juice and a flapjack after they've browsed books or patterns, or where they could get hot drinks and snacks from during or before doing a workshop. It would be full of people stitching, knitting, planning, discussing craft projects. Could be pretty nice.

I would love to have some kind of workshop space attached to the imaginary café. Or just to use the space after hours for classes, courses, clubs. Sewing requires a huge amount of equipment and materials, but there would be other easier things peripatetic teachers could use the place for. It would be nice.

See more Make Lounge workshops here: http://www.themakelounge.com/workshops

Picture from Make Lounge website, as above

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