Reaping What You Sew

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Sacramento is in stitches over the opening of two new businesses catering to sewing enthusiasts and people who love fiber arts and fabrics. 

Sewn Stitch Studio, which opened last fall in East Sacramento, is the brainchild of sewist Janice Chang, who envisioned a space where beginners and veterans alike could sew side by side in a workshop environment.

The cozy studio, which occupies a converted Craftsman home, is outfitted with five Janome sewing machines, a cutting station and all the tools a person needs to complete a project, be it a quilt, a dress or a yoga bag. 

Chang offers classes (a three-hour beginner session is $45) as well as open-studio time, when customers can use the machines and tools for $10 an hour. Chang says the open-studio format, where you can reserve a machine or drop in and work on your own, is what makes Sewn Stitch unique. “People have a lot of ideas, but they might not know how to execute them,” she says. “I’m encouraging people to come in with ideas, and I can help them figure them out.” The studio’s front room includes a retail space where Chang sells a small but well-curated selection of fabrics, including precut, color-coordinated bundles for beginning quilters. 

Chang, a former retail manager at REI and a self-taught sewist who took up the craft 18 years ago, founded Sewn Stitch Studio to build a community of makers in Sacramento. “I hope that eventually it will get to the point that you could come in here and there will always be someone who could help you if you were stuck or give you an opinion on what fabrics go together,” she says.

Chang credits pioneering maker-entrepreneur Bridget Lewis, who opened the shop/classroom/gallery venture Delta Workshop in Land Park in 2013, with encouraging her to move forward with Sewn Stitch. “Bridget has been one of my biggest supporters from the very beginning,” says Chang. 

Just two miles from Sewn Stitch, former librarian Lori Easterwood opened Make/Do Sacramento, a charming Oak Park retail shop chock-full of vintage fabrics and buttons, hand-stitched handkerchiefs and unusual handcrafted goods, including handbags created by Easterwood’s mother, Linda Easterwood, who makes creative use of heirloom materials in her work. 

Lori Easterwood scours estate sales in search of decades-old fabrics (she’s been collecting them for years) that will catch the eye of modern-day quilters and crafters. She is tickled by the renewed interest in sewing arts that is afoot in Sacramento. “People need those skills,” she says.

Easterwood is the same person who supported crafters and do-it-yourselfers when she worked for the Sacramento Public Library, helping launch the ingenious Library of Things program that allows patrons to borrow sewing machines, crafting tools, musical instruments and more. 

The Library of Things, Sewn Stitch and Make/Do signal a growing appreciation for handmade things, something that heartens Chang. “It’s great that more people want to learn to sew,” she says. “I think more and more people are wanting to make things that are their style or create something personal.”

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