Knitting may have been all the rage a few years ago, but today, it's all about sewing, with sewing converts eager to design their own fashions and accessories. "It's a way to express yourself," says Steven Berger, CEO of the Craft and Hobby Association.
Susan Goldie, co-founder of Sewnow! Fashion Studio in Lafayette, California, is providing a place to sew as well as lessons for sewing newbies. Her diverse clients rent time on the professional-quality sewing machines, and parties and embroidery services round out her offerings. Goldie says that even before her December 2006 opening, the store garnered a lot of interest. "It's been exciting to have people just come in and check out what's going on and hear their enthusiasm for the products [and services]," says Goldie, 41. All the creativity is pushing first-year sales projections to $250,000.
Sewing-related businesses are kindling originality nationwide. "We've made a space for the creative community, and the energy is inspiring," says Melissa Alvarado, 30, who co-founded Stitch Lounge in 2004 in San Francisco with Melissa Rannals, 30, and Hope Meng, 29. With classes, private lessons and a boutique to sell their clients' creations, these childhood friends project 2007 revenue of about $150,000, running the store part time.
Sewing machines themselves are getting futuristic. Dean F. Shulman, senior vice president of Brother International, a sewing machine manufacturer in Bridgewater, New Jersey, cites advances such as USB connectors and color LCD screens. New technology even enables users to download patterns from the internet.
Where the sewing trend will go is anyone's guess, but Berger thinks beading might be the next hip craft. "People are getting more creative [overall]," he says, "and that's fueling the fire."