Why is it that a sewing machine can strike fear in our hearts? Once the go-to tool of our foremothers, these simple machines can conjure nightmares of tangled thread and monstrous creations like shirts with lop-sided sleeves and wonky collars. Push aside those visions and imagine the excitement of picking a gorgeous fabric and the pride as your stitches get straighter and stronger. You can also take comfort that once you release that machine from the exile of your basement, you won’t have to go it alone. There’s a wealth of classes, mentors, and clubs to help you graduate from pillowcases to patterned shirts to party dresses. Joyce Yarling, owner of Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville, has witnessed many people falling in love with sewing. Among the clients are mothers who want to make fun original clothes for their children and twentysomethings inspired by Project Runway. The shop also hosts Camp SEW WOW for kids. Explains Yarling, “We’re bringing these people back to the whole creative process.”
This 81-year-old Asheville institution offers classes for adults and kids, from making simple dresses to decorative stitching, and more. The shop’s Sit & Sew sessions allow competent sewers to work side-by-side with an accomplished seamstress on projects that may require some guidance to complete. 9 Reed St., Asheville; (828) 274-3146; www.fabricsandbuttons.com
Anyone who’s taken the Haywood Road exit off of I-240 in Asheville has surely noticed the absence of the boy mannequin that stood for years in the window of the old dry goods shop. (Hopefully, he’s gone on to a better modeling gig.) The revived DryGoods Shop offers more than handmade items for sale, including custom clothing and jewelry. Owners Leigh Anne Hilbert and Jean Potter are bringing crafters together. Anyone is welcome to drop in and work on a project at the craft table. “The whole community aspect is important. I want to provide a place for people to learn new things,” says Hilbert. The shop also offers classes such as Love Your Machine, which teaches you the ins and outs of your sewing machine, and hand-stitching skills. “It’s empowering to people to know how to sew on a button. Once you see you can do something, there’s no limit.” The Drygoods Shop: Home to the united craft front 474 Haywood Rd., West Asheville (828) 505-8595 www.thedrygoodsshop.blogspot.com
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College offers several sewing sessions for beginners starting in September. Students learn the basics of using a sewing machine and how to care for it, along with terminology and techniques while making a pillowcase and top. Classes are $55. Click on the continuing education tab at www.abtech.edu. Spin a Yarn...Weave a Web in West Jefferson offers classes in traditional fiber arts, including crocheting, felting, knitting, rug hooking, spinning, and weaving. A handful of crafters teach beginners to advanced students at shop owner Nancy Weaver-Hoffman’s farm, Foxfire Holler. Classes vary from hourly to private lessons to longer intensive sessions. Call (336) 846-7746, or visit www.firefoxholler.com for details. For additional classes, visit wncmagazine.com.