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The Next Textile Makerspace could be located in Elgin, IL

Maker spaces are popping up all over the country. I am attracted to this concept like a bee to a flower. There are so many things to explore in a makerspace that a creative person would never get bored.

image from Keeping creativity alive.com

Not familiar with Makerspace? In simple terms, makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine  equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling it’s  community members to design, prototype and create works that wouldn’t otherwise be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone.

It gives both the creator and the educator a space to learn and explore ideas together. Build things, test ideas, and learn from failures. These places build communities of like minded individuals who can come together to share and explore their ideas in a very hands on way. They are supervised and open to all ages. Each location of course is unique and therefore may have different equipment, rules and fees for using their spaces. But the goal is the same. To give people a place to create and explore without having to invest in costly equipment. Inventors, entrepreneurs, crafters, cosplayers and more can come together for the same purpose. This to me is a dream come true. One happy, creative environment.

 

About Me and my thoughts about a textile makerspace

I own a sewing studio dedicated to teaching sewing & quilting to adults and children as young as 6. I started teaching in my early 20’s, and have had several false starts to my business. I fell in love with sewing and quilting, but never dreamed my passion would some day lead to a business. Well it did. And in January of 2012 I took my passion to the classroom. At first I didn’t think I knew enough to teach (after all I am self taught). Who am I to teach others?

Teaching and working children gave me such joy and is still a big part of my business today. In 2016,  I moved my home based business to a 1200 square foot studio located on the corner of Bowes and McLean in Elgin, IL. Things have gone very well for me since opening this studio, but I feel there is still so much more I could do if I had the time and the resources to do them. I am only reaching a small fraction of the population and only covering basic skills. There are many days when customers come to me with things that I don’t know how to do, and when that happens, I am saddened by the fact that I know I won’t have the time to learn it quick enough to teach them. This results in me turning away people who may or may not find the help they need.

My dream was to have a space where people can come to learn whatever they wanted in any area of sewing that interested them. That is exactly what I created here at Sewing 4 Fun. However, this method of teaching isn’t always easy and I can only take a small number of students at a time. There are only so many hours in a day/week, so as you can imagine, growing my business hasn’t been easy. I don’t want to be a retail outlet (like so many other shops). Sure retail (selling fabric and machines) would be a much faster way to make money. But making money isn’t the only reason to open a business. Yes money is needed to keep it open, but my mission is to expose as many people as i can to the art of creating using primarily textiles.

 

When I discovered Makerspace

When I first stumbled onto this Makerspace thing, I thought Wow, this is something I want to know more about. I would love to see that happen in my studio! Creating a place where many teachers and many students can come together and learn from each other. We all have skills, we all have passions, why not share them with others? When I teach, I get such a “high” from watching my students bring their ideas to life. Some of them work out and others not so much. But we don’t worry about the mistakes….in fact we have a saying in class: “There are no mistakes, only opportunities for change”

We learn our best lessons from doing something. I truly believe this is how all humans learn. You can read all the text books you want, watch as many videos as you want, but the real learning starts when you put that information into action. Taking  raw materials and turning them into something new and useful is fun. But it’s also the journey that makes creating so much fun. People always ask me “what do you love about sewing?”. My answer is “ALL OF IT”. Everything from idea to finished project bring me joy. I want to spread that joy with others, which is why I teach.

I feel compelled to explore this idea fully, and figure out a way to bring it to life. I see many spaces out there that are focused on robotics, electronics, woodworking, metals, weaving and many do offer sewing and embroidery. What I don’t sew as of today, are any centers that are purely focused on textiles. That would be my dream center!!

What if I could create that dream center?

Here would be the beginnings of my wish list for equipment:

  • General sewing machines (for all kinds of sewing needs)
  • Embroidery machines
  • Long arm machine for long arm quilting
  • Industrial sewing machines that could handle leather, vinyl or doing upholstery.
  • Die cutting machines for fabric
  • 3-D printers
  • Printer that could handle large paper like that used for pattern making
  • Screen printers

What we could do in this space:

  • Sewing clothing, crafts, home decor & more
  • Quilting (small or large)
  • Upcycling or repurposing fabrics
  • Printing, stamping or dying fabrics using a variety of techniques
  • Screen print clothing, bags, hats and more
  • Textile art
  • knitting with needles or looms
  • crochet with needles or looms
  • weaving
  • hand sewing
  • hand embroidery and needle point arts
  • Machine emboridery
  • Pattern drafting using computer software
  • Pattern drafting using paper methods
  • Pattern drafting using draping methods
  • Costume making
  • Purses, bags & accessories

I’m sure there is much more you could add to these lists. Without any research this is what I came up with in just a few minutes. Yep, my creative juices are already flowing. Kids need this. Adults need this too. We all need a place to play. In today’s stress filled world with all its negativity and violence this kind of place is very much needed. Let’s put our heads together and figure out a way to make a safe happy haven for our kids and ourselves. These kids will be our future engineers, fashion designers, inventors and so much more.

image from littlecityfarm.blogspot.com

If money were no object, and I could afford the equipment, materials and have the staff to manage the equipment, supplies and space I would do it in a heartbeat. However the reality is I don’t have access to that kind of funding right now. Therefore, this article is just for the purpose of introducing you to the concepts of Makerspace and my idea of how cool it would be if I could turn my sewing classroom in to something much bigger. I will do more research and if i can find a way to make this happen. I will. After all, I turned one passion into a thriving business, why can’t I take it further?

Creating starts with an idea…I have the idea, now what? What’s my next step? Would you like to be in on the ground floor with me and brainstorm this idea? If you live near my studio and want to share your thoughts about this concept, please leave me a comment. Or better yet, contact me directly. My info is at the top of every page on the right side.

If and when things progress toward this idea, you can be sure I’ll be posting more about here on my blog. In the meantime, if you are at all interested in learning to sew or quilt, I would love it if you’d check out one of my ongoing classes. Remember I offer classes for adults and kids as young as 6. I even provide the machines if you needed them. See I already have a makerspace, now I just need to expand it. 😉

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