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Located in the heart of the Garment District, Mood Fabrics (225 West 37th Street) may be famous as the supplier of choice to Project Runway contestants, but beginner students can learn to "make it work" for themselves for free with the purchase of the necessary supplies for the class. Since beginning classes in 2014, Mood has seen more than 2,000 students in its six-week classes.
According to the delightfully named creative director Ben Pinpin, students leave with a genuine sense of accomplishment after completing their first projects. "When many of our students come to class, they think they are coming to learn the skill of sewing, drawing or knitting, he explained to Racked, "[but] then leave realizing, ‘Wow, I feel different!'" In addition to the beginner classes, Mood U offers a variety of intermediate and advanced sessions for both adults and children in everything from design to patternmaking.
The New York Sewing Center
Also located in the Garment District and founded by three friends with an interest and education in the craft, the New York Sewing Center (257 West 38th Street, Suite 5F) has small classes for amateurs, ranging from the hour-and-a-half Sewing Machine Basics Workshop ($180) to the five-week Sewing 101 ($425) to private lessons ($60 per hour).
According to co-founder Kristine Banasik, sewing can be both the stress reliever and money saver a lot of New Yorkers are looking for. "Sewing has always therapeutic to me and I find that it's extremely rewarding," she said, adding that students can eventually "save money on alterations, gifts, and clothing for special events. I'm making my own wedding gown." While that's maybe a bit ambitious for first-timers, the Sewing Center also offers a beginners' lingerie workshop ($180), for those who'd like to learn to make their own lace panties.
Upper East Side
Pins & Needles
Pins and Needles (1045 Lexington Ave, 2nd floor) offers a range of skills for adult newbies with lessons that range from $90 per hour for private instruction to Tailoring Essentials ($90) to Sewing Machine Basics ($100, plus materials cost). Instructor Rachel Low says that the simplest classes are among the most popular, since it takes the mystery out of machine sewing.
"It really goes over the basic fundamentals of the sewing machine, and by the end of class you have made yourself a tote bag," Low told us. "This is a great way to get a taste of sewing, and also for someone looking for a quick refresher." Pins and Needles also offers birthday parties and bridal showers for those who are looking for crafty alternatives to the brunches and nights out.
A DIY haven off the Bowery, Make Workshop (195 Chrystie St, Suite 501) offers classes in everything from leatherwork to needlepoint—but for the amateur seamstress, there are a number of offerings to get you started. Intro to Sewing Machine ($80, plus materials) walks beginners through the basics and sends them home with a fabric wallet in two hours.
Founded by craft book author and former fashion editor Diana Rupp in 2002, Make Workshop's class concepts are based on "her real passion: making stuff." Other beginner level classes include Sewing I: Make a Skirt ($200, plus supplies) and simple accessories, such as Men's Tie ($100, plus supplies.)
Esaie Couture Design School
Tucked away in Prospect Park South, Esaie Couture Design School (1515 Church Ave) is a one-stop shop for everything needle and thread. The beginner's class list includes everything from a Four-Day Sewing Boot Camp for Adult New Sewers ($250) that offers the basics skills necessary to create a tote, skirt, blouse and dress to the "Sew Simple" Beginner Sewing Workshop ($99, or $45 with a Groupon promo code) that goes over machine and stitch basics.
With small classes and passionate teachers that cater to "the creative type," Esaie's "classes are designed to teach all aspects, and to progressively build your skills." They'll even fix an old sewing machines, in case you have one lying around that you've never used.
If you want your sewing classes to be more of a couture experience, Brooklyn Height's Sew NY (62 Livingston St) has just one-on-one and semi-private classes with instructor Laura McCracken. Classes start at $88, but discounts are available if you purchases packages of multiple classes. The focus here is firmly on craft and informed by their ethos that "sewing is an acquired skill and takes time and patience," so students are encouraged to go at their own pace.
Also Around Town
During the school year, both Pratt and FIT offer non-credit sewing classes in their Continuing Education divisions. Be sure to check with their registrars' offices for cost, schedule and admission policies.
If you're interested in non-apparel options for sewing, you can also check out The City Quilter for such offbeat offerings as umbrellas, dolls and dog jackets.
And while most of the above schools have programs for children and teens, The Fashion Class specifically caters to kids, offering sewing birthday parties and other young fashionista-friendly classes.