Any workshop that lets me loose on glorious piles of Liberty print fabric is always going to get my vote. But I try not to let my rose-printed glasses get in the way of true judgment – Sew Over It is the latest sewing-café-come-workshop to open in London, and I want to find out if it makes the grade.
The café in Clapham North is dedicated to all things sewing and is a light, bright burst of freshness on what is otherwise a fairly dreary road. It was set up two months ago by fashion designer Lisa Comfort, who is committed to making sure sewing does not become a lost skill. “I feel very strongly that everyone should be able to sew a little – it is such a useful skill to have and a great stress reliever,” she tells me.
Lisa has created a warm, stylish locale, where people can bring their sewing projects, hire a machine and share tips and advice with like-minded sewers. She also runs sewing workshops, which is why I’m here – I’m about to learn how to fashion a patchwork lampshade out of Liberty fabrics, and I can’t wait to get started!
The lovely Dominique is our teacher. Our group of five settle downstairs, with a choice of cake (carrot) and a pot of tea (Yorkshire!). A Yorkshire tea pot stood alongside Liberty fabric is almost too much. On seeing the samples I’m like a tabby on concentrated cat nip; restraining myself from rolling in them is difficult. With utmost self-control, I choose 20 different swatches for my patchwork lamp. It’s interesting to see the other girls’ choices. While one opts for all paisley, I was drawn to the more iconic prints and art nouveau designs.
We cut our strips of fabric to size, having fun with colours and clashing prints, and get ready to sew. Dominique is wonderfully clear when showing the group how to wind a bobbin and thread the machine. As we are a small group, she is able to get around all of us to help with our little hitches – nobody is left twiddling their thumbs.
I sew my patchwork together using a simple running stitch, and iron it flat once finished to make sure it fits on the lampshade panel. Two pairs of hands are needed to roll the fabric onto the sticky side of the panel, but everyone helps each other and before long we’re all getting handy with the double-sided sticky tape to fasten the patchwork onto the lampshade frame.
By the end, we are all looking at our finished lampshades puzzling over how we managed to create them in three hours! The takeaway product is really impressive, but the class would be no problem for a complete beginner to sewing. I find it extremely theraputic. I had a hectic working week, and genuinely feel rejuvinated when I come away. And at £60 for three hours, with cake, tea, a friendly tutor and all materials provided, I say it’s well worth it. Just look at the result!
Check out sewoverit.co.uk for more course details or to enquire about one-to-one tuition.
Sew Over It, 78 Landor Road, London, SW9 9PH
0207 326 0376