A small change can make a big difference!
Lawd, my face in this. Anyway, this isn’t actually a post about how I should always tuck in my shirt and roll up my sleeves (though I should) – it’s actually about small businesses and how I learned to sew!
In the fall of 2010 I moved in with my boyfriend. With almost no forethought we nabbed a studio apartment, bought the world’s most uncomfortable futon, and discovered we did in fact get along well.
I realized pretty quickly we lived within walking distance of my beloved Cambridge Public Library (I cannot stress enough how casually we signed that lease, yikes, kids), and on one such walk to the library, I saw a notice in a tiny shop front that a store would soon be opening…Gather Here! I was there on opening day. I bought…YARN.
I do not have the thing within a person that makes them knit. However, the store was cozy and warm and bewitching, and I’d always wanted to learn to sew, so that winter I signed up for a class. I remember it cost $60 (no small thing to me then, and still not a sum to sneeze at now) and we students each made a tote bag in 2 sessions. I was smitten!
After experimenting with rented machine time, which quickly adds up, I badgered my mom out of her old Singer (sorry mom, hi mom). 8 years later, both I and that business have moved into bigger digs (they’re still in Cambridge, I’m now next door in Somerville). It’s safe to say that class changed my life. It’s not that I was careening towards disaster, but since then I’ve spent a ton of time and money on sewing, and consider that cheap for the skills and self-love I’ve gained.
Obviously Gather Here was my most exciting port of call on Small Business Saturday. It’s not the place you go when you’re seeking a bargain, but the selection of fabric and yarn is lovely, and I’m not going to spend what I spend on rent and then undercut the character of the neighborhood I love, only to save, like, $6.
I bought fabric for a shirt! I made a shirt! I did not like that shirt! I tucked it in! Now I like that shirt! See, small changes can = big effects!
The shirt is my camp-collared Archer; my changes to the pattern are detailed here. This time I grew on the facings to reduce bulk. My fabric was a stiff linen/cotton so the collar sits pretty traditionally despite the lack of a collar stand.
I also made…tum-te-tum…a fanny pack! The cotton webbing, buckle, and zipper were also Small Business Saturday purchases. I had the fabric left over from a much, much earlier project (though it also originated in Gather Here, once upon a time).
I quilted my largest canvas scrap and used it to sew an unlined boxy zipper pouch, plus little side tabs that connect to the webbing. You could use almost any box pouch tutorial, adjusted for the size you want – how about this one? Or, lucky you, Sarah Kirsten recently released a free pouch pattern calculator!
Guys. Fanny packs are LUXURY. Mine fits my wallet, keys, phone, and a folded-up fabric shopping bag. My hands are free! No straps are slipping off my shoulder or slicing into the side of my neck! I am ready for adventure*! *provided that that adventure requires my wallet, etc.
Anyway, I clearly have some squishy feelings on the topic of shopping local and shopping at small businesses. So don’t ask me, ask the American Independent Business Alliance – they have CITATIONS. If you have the ability and access to shop at a small business, I strongly encourage it! It can really have a big effect on you and your community.
Do you have a local fiber store that changed your life? How did you learn to sew?
Pattern: modified Grainline Archer + Colette Negroni
Pattern cost: N/A
Size: 8 at bust, graded to 12 at hip
Total time: 6 hours
Total cost: $33.32
Pattern: self-drafted fanny pack
Pattern cost: N/A
Supplies: zipper, $1.30, buckle, $1.00, webbing, $4.47, Gather Here; canvas scraps, thread from stash
Total time: 3.5 hours
Total cost: $6.77