Community Over Competition (NJ sewing studios if you don’t live close to Brielle)

Since I’ve opened a business in my hometown area back in October, I’ve been really lucky to meet wonderful people who have become customers and friends. My goal, all along, has been to create a space where people feel welcome and comfortable to come and learn a craft that I love so much, and more than a few times my new customers have spoken up to tell me how inviting the space is and how happy they are to have something like this in their area.

I say that not to toot-toot my own horn, but because it shows how much we as people love to connect with one another in a creative context. How much we value the time we’re given to create and make connections with other people who may hold the same interests as us. I think it really gives us a sense of belonging that we’re always searching for as humans. I’m so grateful that my hopes for the space are, so far, what others have been taking away from it.

But! I have also met some people thanks to the beauty of social media who live farther away from me that I’ve realized! I’m lucky to have sewing friends in places like the UK, Singapore, Australia and all over the states. I know how it feels to maybe find a business or brand that sparks your interest that exists in a physical place far away from you, for years without having words to describe it I dreamt of a space like what I have today to pop up in my world.

I remember the first time I found an Indie sewing company on Instagram: Sew Over It. I think it was probably 2014 and Lisa Comfort’s good cheer about modern sewing with a touch of vintage flair was like a bolt of lightening in my heart when there weren’t any clouds. I suddenly was introduced to a world of sewing I didn’t know about, and a community I felt a part of. I remember realizing , “this is it” when I saw that Sew Over It held workshops in their brightly colored shop in London and quality products to assist the home sewist… one day I could see myself doing just the same, somewhere!

Lisa Comfort of London’s Sew Over It

Fast forward to 2019 and I now know studios like this exist all over the world and boy, does that really excite me. People are being introduced to sewing all over the world in friendly shops and studios by people who are so darn passionate it makes me want to cry. It fills my cup knowing these studios are thriving (Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria, VA is actually moving and expanding this year! How AMAZING in the world today that a fabric store can grow!) and that more people are teaching others to sew even if they don’t have a permenant studio (my friend Viviana in Puerto Rico teaches workshops in a coffee shop under the name Costura Elemantal!)

So, my point here is that if you want to learn to sew and maybe don’t live nearby me in good ol’ Brielle, NJ, there are plenty of places you can start to explore the world of sewing. I want to introduce you to two shop’s I’ve been lucky to meet the owners of here in NJ in case you’re a bit too far from exit 98 to get your kid to an after school class or to spend a Saturday morning away from your family, or dog, or partner, or plants.

If you’re reading this and from a bit farther away than even the Garden State, don’t worry! Get in touch with me and ask me where you can learn to sew near you… I’m a tad obsessive and follow countless shops and studios around the world and would be happy to point you in the right direction. I’m a big believer in Community over Competition  and truly believe there is enough space for all of us to share the thing we are most passionate about.

Just Make it Sew in Bordentown, NJ

JoAnn outside her shop in the historic town of Bordentown.

Just Make it Sew is a sewing studio and fabric shop out in Bordentown, NJ run by the extra lovely JoAnn. I was visiting Bordentown back in September when my sister was vending her handmade goods at their annual Cranberry Fest and made a point to pop into their store while I was there to introduce myself, mostly because I so admired the business they have built after learning about it in mid 2018. JoAnn has an impressive background- she worked in the fashion industry for years in many different roles after she earned degrees from both LIM and FIDM. She hosts classes for kids and adults and when I met her I could tell she genuinely loves her craft and sharing it with others. She’s been in business for over 10 years, how amazing is that?

I actually had a mother/daughter duo come in recently for a beginner lesson, and I always love to ask where people are from when they first come to the studio. This pair happened to be from Robbinsville, which is out in west Jersey, maybe 15 quick minutes from Just Make it Sew. I was happy to recommend they don’t take thJoe 45 minute drive on 195 west to see me and that they visit JoAnn for more classes, especially because the daughter was definitely inspired to learn more!

Urban Sewciety in Westfield NJ

A few young students outside of Urban Sewciety in Westfield

Urban Sewciety is run by ‘the Megans’ up in picturesque Westfield, NJ. It’s a beautiful shop and sewing studio that I was able to learn about thanks to…Instagram! In late 2017 I learned about the location based sewing hashtags that the Love to Sew Podcast began to pioneer in order to help sewists build a bigger community with the help of Instagram. It was the the missing link between the Instagram sewing community and being able to have real life friends who sewed! My heart did a little flip the first time I saw that a sewing studio existed in New Jersey like the kind I had created in my head after learning about Sew Over It a few years before. I immediately emailed them asking if they taught more advanced garment making courses, popped in there that I love to teach, and the next week I met the dynamic duo in person and they brought me on to help with after school classes and teach their garment making courses.

I’m so grateful for the experience I had teaching at Urban Sewciety and the friend’s I’ve made through classes and the community in North Jersey. Even though it was a trek up the Garden State Parkway (exit 98 to 136- but nothing like my commute back in the day to Secaucus!) I loved going to work there and all I learned while I taught there. If you haven’t noticed, my forte is not quilting, and my friend Mandy who teaches my quilting classes here at Old Spool was originally a student in one of my first garment classes at US. I’ve had a wonderful amount of students-turned-friends thanks to Urban Sewciety, and thanks to that space I gained the confidence to bring sewing to my community down here at the Jersey Shore.

Again, if you’ve found me thanks to the internet or social media, I’m so happy you’re here. But, if you’re a tad too far from me to come hang out at the studio and talk about fabric.. no fear. There are welcoming, beautiful spaces where you’ll learn from talented sewists anywhere in the world!

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