CRAFT is making a comeback as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovers when she visits Monmouthshire’s first sewing and craft hub SEW AT HOME making haberdashery chic mainstream.
WHEN you think of sewing your mind may immediately flash back to the horror of school textile class where useless sewing projects were forced upon you, and you just couldn’t seem to thread-that-needle.
But Sew at Home, Monmouthshire’s first sewing and craft hub is a completely different environment from that chaotic textile classroom.
Opening just four weeks ago by owner and professional interior designer Helmi Sloper, of Helmi Vaga Interiors, the shop and workshop provides the perfect place for advanced or beginner sewers to relax and sew by the hour or through various workshops.
Tucked away in White Swan Court, Monmouthshire, Mrs Sloper is busy preparing for a pyjama pant making workshop that morning.
As part of the business, customers can either take part in workshops teaching valuable skills such as basic sewing skills or receive hands-on tuition to make certain items like shirts, or pyjama pants.
Keen sewers also have the opportunity to simply turn up and sew by the hour by renting one of the sewing machines and enjoying a cup of tea or a coffee.
“I think all crafts and hobbies have come back,” Mrs Sloper said.
“It’s programmes such as Kirstie Allsopp's Home Style and the Great British Bake Off that have made it popular again.
“Ever since I was a girl I have always sewn.
“I went to college and did fashion and design before completing a diploma in interior design at Nottingham’s National Design Academy.
“Life takes you in different directions, but I have always had an interest in design, so I completed my diploma in interior design and set up my business Helmi Vaga Interiors -but it wasn’t easy.”
The mother of three is in her element with the new business bringing both interior design and her love of sewing together.
“It’s bringing the two bits together.
“The one side of the business is the making side while the other side is the shop, so it is my two interests.
“The concept of the business came from the first sewing café in Paris.
“Here people can sew by the hour and people like to come and use the equipment for £6.
“We are just getting established and may consider expanding the premises upstairs as well as having a premise in Cardiff as it takes off.”
The business is certainly taking off with people of all ages and abilities flocking to Sew at Home to try their hand at what could become the latest craze.
“All sorts of people come in to the shop- the elderly generation as well as quite a few young people who have come to the sewing machine skills workshops,” Mrs Sloper.
The shop has also seen many people come in to sew by the hour bringing in items they have never go round to completing, and gaining confidence in their abilities from the hands ion tuition.
Hairdresser Heather Gonzalez, 39, is one such individual with decided to come along to the pyjama making workshop to rediscover her love of sewing.
“I used to sew in school and I loved it, and I used to want to be a fashion designer but I thought hairdressing had more jobs so I went in to that.
“But now my youngest child has gone to school I wanted to do something for myself again.”
Becky Paget, a sewing teacher who runs workshops at Stitch at Home, is busy teaching the art of pattern cutting to sewer Heather Gonzalez.
She said: “I have worked at Newport Sewing Centre for 21 years now and I have seen a big increase in people sewing.
“People used to sew because they have to but now they want to take things further and make things that are individual.
“Home crafts like this are increasingly popular with things like dress making coming back.
“I think in the past there has been snobbery about how people sew as people used to class a good sewer by what the inside looked like, but now people don’t have time for that and it is more about what it looks like.
“The shop only been open four weeks but in that time there has been a lot of interest in the workshops.
“I think people will be looking for things to do in the New Year and sewing could be one of them.”
Many people have come into the shop with their own weird and wonderful projects with one middle aged lady making draught excluder's to give to family and friends as Christmas presents.
“So far we have done workshops such as needle felting, and basic sewing machine skills, which was very popular as people want to learn,” Mrs Sloper added.
“We have also run project specific workshops such a lino printing; sew a table runner and napkin set and lampshade making.”
Upcoming course include a four week workshop starting January 23 called ‘learn to make a shirt.’
“I thought of this because a male customer came in to the shop and he was really interested,” Helmi said.
“He was asking the workshops and said that he wanted to make a shirt.”
The shop itself draws in customers by stocking exclusive designer products by designers such asDenmark brand Green Gate as well as an array of coloured and patterned fabrics from Milton and Manor.
While those taking part in the workshops will be given materials to make their creations from.
“We have had people who are not sure what to bring so it is easier to get everything from the workshop so they don’t have to worry!” said Mrs Sloper.
Workshops cost £34-40 including refreshments, tuition and fabrics.
The next workshops such as dress making techniques will be held this month with a special cami knickers and garter making workshop in February.
For more information visitwww.sew-at-home.co.uk or facebook page www.facebook.com/SewAtHomeMonmouth .
A facebook group called Monmouth Sew Stitch And Bitch has also been set up for anyone who is interested in sewing , knitting, craft, needlework, crochet www.facebook.com/groups/639756292701126