Anyone with a grandparent or parent who could take pieces of fabric and stitch them into something useful, wearable, or pretty will recognize the impulse that fuels Kathryn Reid’s new business, SewHampton, which offers sewing lessons to people of all ages.
Ms. Reid, an event producer primarily for corporate clients, has been sewing since she was a girl, first making Barbie clothes, later working in costume shops for college theater productions, and then making her own clothes as cash-strapped college grad. When her daughter was younger, she taught her to sew, too, but it was only last year that she decided to turn her lifelong hobby into a business.
Her daughter had heard that the Ross School was looking for someone to teach fashion design at its summer camp. “It sounded like fun,” Ms. Reid said, and it was. “I really loved it.” Her campers ranged in age from 8 to 12 and some knew nothing at all about sewing. “The goal for them was to do a fashion show at the end of two weeks.” For those who don’t know a bobbin from a thimble or a lockstitch from a backstitch, that sounds like a daunting task, but “once they started, they just blossomed.”
Ms. Reid, who lives in Springs, had so much fun with her campers that she just kept going, launching SewHampton in September. “I’ve been in the event and corporate meeting industry for a long time, but I’m at a phase in my life where I wanted to see what the next thing would be,” she said. She offers basic hand and machine sewing lessons to children as young as 6, and to adults who have never learned to sew or want to hone their skills or re-learn things they have long since forgotten.
A few months back, she bought a fleet of five Brother sewing machines and a stock of sewing kits, so she could take the lessons to anyone with an interest, regardless of whether they have their own machine. That means not only private lessons for teenagers and adults, but things like Sip and Sew sessions at the Springs Presbyterian Church, picking simple projects that participants 14 and older could complete in two hours. Classes cost about $50 plus fabric costs. And for kids with “Project Runway” dreams, she does sewing birthday and slumber parties, helping them make their own pajama pants or tote bags.
She has continued her affiliation with Ross by leading an after-school sewing program one day a week.
She thought her business would be geared primarily toward kids and teens, but her clients, she said, run the gamut. For those who want to learn to make clothing, she demonstrates how to read and lay out patterns — “the foundations,” she said. “Once you get the basic understanding of how garments come together,” it’s “totally up to you and your creativity.”
Her students push her to learn new techniques and to bone up on old ones she has forgotten. “My creativity is being re-awakened by what my students want to do,” she said.
She is also thinking creatively about what’s in store for SewHampton in the future — an after-school fashion school, perhaps, or a downtown retail space where people could take classes, have sewing parties, or rent sewing machine time.
No matter how old-fashioned sewing may be, no matter how plugged in and tech-crazy people become, “sewing is something that hasn’t been replaced,” Ms. Reid said. “You don’t have a little tablet that does it for you. There’s something very therapeutic about it.”
SewHampton can be found on Facebook and on the Web at sewhampton.com.