The Ramones play in the otherwise quiet studio, harmonizing with the humming of sewing machines. Summer evening sun streams in through the studio’s industrial windows, giving the seamstresses plenty of light to squint at the threads of their sewing projects. The three students trickled in at the beginning of the two-hour session, sitting down with their sewing machines and picking up where they’d left off at the last class or while continuing their work at home.
Even though three is only half the usual number of students, the energy in the room fills the space as if there were more. Anastasia moves around the room, consulting with her students on everything from how to thread their machines, to the best way to sew pleats to create a rounded corner, to calming anxieties over making mistakes. They talk and laugh about weekend experiences and hopes for their projects, and coo over Iris, Anastasia’s caramel-colored cat, who meanders from person to person, meowing for attention.
Two women are working on shirts, one in a dark blue cotton popping with orange, green, and red flowers, and the other in a green cotton with fronds of dark green leaves and understated orange flowers. The woman working on the blue shirt, Kara, sews darts on the bust, spending most of her time pinning at the table covered in sheets of measuring paper. The woman making the green shirt focuses most of her time on the edge of the scoop neckline. After completing it, she shows it to Anastasia. They discuss whether the bias binding should have been sewn a little bit closer to the edge, eventually deciding that it’s good enough for the moment. Iris meows her agreement. The woman moves onto a new project, trying on the mock-up garment and consulting with Anastasia on its fit. She pulls out a stretch of rayon decorated with purple flowers and starts laying pieces of the pattern onto it.
The third woman is working on a cushion cover for her couch. She traced the pattern for her project from the old cover. The new material is a dark taupe with white leaves. She finishes one cushion cover and she and Anastasia celebrate before she moves onto the next. She pins it carefully, then starts the sewing process by attaching the zipper to the material. “It’s easier the second time around, like anything,” she says, showing Anastasia her progress.
By the time the class is over, all three women have made significant progress on their projects. The sun has set and, as they pack up, Iris begs for some last bits of attention before her time being the in the spotlight runs out. The women finish up what they can before packing up to leave, already thinking ahead to the work they’ll accomplish during the next class.
Open studio sewing classes: Mondays 6-8 PM, Wednesdays 7-9 PM, and Sundays 4-6 PM
Written by Miranda Marnik-Said