Hello Friends! Welcome to the first edition of In the Spotlight! This is a feature that will be running on the blog. I’ll be interviewing brick-and-mortar stores, creative spaces/studios, online shops, as well as quilters, sewists, designers, and other creators.
Today’s interview is with the lovely ladies of Urban Sewciety. Co-owners Meg and Megan are sponsoring The Polaroid Sew-Along, so I thought it would be great to share a little more information about them and what they have going on. If you are local and are participating in the Sew-Along, be sure to read all the way down for their upcoming May Sewcial and an in-store polaroid event! Pssssst… there is a discount code down there too! So read on!
Urban Sewciety is a sewing shop and studio that is located just on the edge of downtown Westfield, NJ. Westfield is a cute little community just under an hour by train from NYC. It is becoming a commuter town, populated with young professionals as well as families who are looking for an active community outside of the city.
The town is full of shops, restaurants, and activities. It is constantly bustling whether full of shoppers during the holiday season, foodies looking for a great new restaurant, or folks just looking to stroll through the town and nearby parks to take in the beautiful architecture and landscaping. The town has band and orchestra concerts in the downtown park throughout the summer, as well as Jazz nigthts, where local bands and musicians set up throughout the town and play for a few hours as people listen and meander through the town. Locals love the convenience of Urban Sewciety, and anyone looking to travel to the store should know that once you are done browsing, there is a ton for you to do and experience just a short walk away.
If you are looking for a shop to visit if you are on vacation “down the shore” (Sandy Hook is only 40 minutes away), or if you and your sewing friends are looking for a destination at the end of a mini road trip, then definitely add Urban Sewciety to your list of “must visit” places!
Without further ado, the interview!
Hi Ladies! Tell me a little bit about yourselves:
I (Megan Whitney) am the founder of Urban Sewciety. I’m a civil engineer, turned stay-at-home mom, turned fabric shop owner! I’ve been an avid crafter and DIYer my whole life – I’ve done knitting, crochet, scrapbooking, cardmaking, painting – you name it – but sewing (which I started at age 6) has always been my passion. Upon graduating from college, I worked in Construction Management until I had my third child, then became a stay-at-home-mom. During that time I focused on sewing as my primary creative outlet. I discovered a passion for designing handbags and started selling my handmade creations at local boutiques and through an Etsy shop. Once all of my kids were in school full day, I was ready to get back to working outside of the home full time. In 2015, the idea came to me to open a sewing school and fabric shop, and 6 weeks later Urban Sewciety was open for business in downtown Westfield, NJ! I like to sew everything – clothing, bags, pillows, home décor, and most recently I’ve caught the quilting bug. I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about sewing… I’m on this journey to learn and develop and create along with our students and friends and I’m having a blast doing it.
I (Megan Sawyer) love everything there is about sewing! I began sewing when I was about 10 years old. My grandmother was an avid quilter and I would always watch her sew while I visited. When I was old enough she taught me how to sew. As I grew up, my middle school and high school had a great family consumer science program and I furthered my skills. I started custom orders, including handbags, pillows, quilts — literally you name it, I’ve probably made it! I began teaching sewing while I was in college as a side gig and nixed my anticipated career path after I graduated (sorry Mom and Dad!) and stuck with teaching sewing. Throughout 2015-2016 I taught for a couple different studios (one being Megan’s) and in October of 2016, we decided to become business partners. The journey has been amazing so far. The response from our students and customers is extraordinary and being able to teach something you love to someone else is what keeps me going.
Tell me about Urban Sewciety!
The concept behind Urban Sewciety was to create a community of makers who simply love to sew and want to share ideas and knowledge with others. We strive to make sewing current and appealing to modern kids, teens and adults in order to draw in new sewists and expand our community. We hope to convey the idea that quilting is not just something that your granny does and that handmade clothes don’t have to be frumpy and dull. There is a wide selection of incredibly beautiful and modern fabrics and sewing patterns available today. In our classes, we make garments that are consistent with current fashion trends – for example, our kids’ intermediate classes are currently making a cold-shoulder dress and Coachella shorts! In our fabric shop we carry apparel fabrics that are very wearable and quilting cottons that are fresh, bold, and beautiful!
You describe yourself as a fabric shop and sewing studio. Tell me more about the shop side.
Our shop carries a wide range of fabric, tools, patterns, and notions. We even have sewing swag! We are happy to be able to offer an expanding and rotating selection of current designer fabrics. We also have a huge selection of tools and notions, such as top of the line thread, rulers, rotary cutters, cutting mats, marking tools, patterns… the list goes on and on. We carry almost everything needed by sewists and quilters!
Is there any fabric line that you are particularly excited about carrying?
We loooove Cotton + Steel! We are now carrying some of our favorite prints from this manufacturer and will be adding more from their latest collections very soon. We are also proud to carry a selection of gorgeous organic cottons from Cloud 9 Fabrics, our neighbors in Cranford, NJ! For quilting solids, we carry Free Spirit Designer Solids. Many quilters have not yet discovered these solids, but they NEED TO! The colors, quality, and price offered by Free Spirit are unmatched (dare we say, even by Kona cotton)! Personally, I’ll never use any other brand.
Are there any fantastic tools or notions that you carry that you’d like to tell us about?
You introduced us to Bloc Loc rulers, and we are hooked! We are carrying 3 sizes of the Half-Square Triangle Block Loc square rulers and hope to add more products soon! Plus we have the most beautiful handcrafted seam rippers made by a personal friend of mine. We know, seam rippers are your best friend and worst enemy all at the same time – but if you’re gonna rip seams (and yes, you’re gonna) – you may as well use one of these beauties. They also happen to be super sharp, making the task go faster and easier. They make an excellent gift for your sewing friends and family members…. Hint, hint – Mother’s Day is coming!
I’d love to hear more about the Studio side!
In the studio we offer a wide range of classes, camps, and workshops geared towards kids and adults.
Our kids’ classes are offered for ages 7 and up. We start with a Beginner Workshop, where kids learn all the basics, including how to thread a machine. They also make a simple project to take home. After taking this class, kids can register for any after-school course, camp, or workshop. Doll clothing and stuffed animal projects are the most popular with our younger students; making clothing is a hit with our tweens and teens.
For adults, we have several options for beginners because we find that adults have different goals in learning to sew. Many adults just want to learn how to hem their ready-made clothing – we offer “Intro to Sewing and Hemming”, a 90-minute class, to accomplish this goal. Others want to learn to quilt, and others yet desire to make custom garments to fit their unique body. For the wanna-be quilters, we have “Mastering the Basics”, an 8-week course that is jam-packed with valuable information about designing, executing, and finishing a gorgeous quilt. We also have a 3-week Beginner Series that is the perfect foundation for those who want to gain the essential skills that provide a foundation for moving on to more advanced projects of all kinds.
We recently added our “Beyond Patchwork” series, intended to help experienced quilters take their skills to the next level. More advanced classes in other areas are coming soon!
Do you host/offer any events for the local sewing community? Opportunities for sewists to get away from their sewing machines and socialize with other locals sewists?
Last month we hosted our first “Sewcial”, a free event for sewists of all ages, levels, and interests to come together and meet up. While some sewing groups tend to be somewhat exclusive, we happily welcome everyone to our community! Whether you’re brand new to the hobby or have been sewing your whole life, and whether you make clothes, quilts, bags, or home décor – we’d love to meet you. We plan to host our Sewcials monthly, and encourage all levels and abilities to come out to have some snacks and make some new friends!
Our next Sewcial is scheduled for May 19th at 7:30pm. We would love to meet some new sewists, and get together with some of our regular sewing friends for a night of chit-chat, show-and-tell, and snacking! If you are planning on joining us, come on down! Bring a snack if you’d like, and a project to share with us! We are also planning on doing an in-store swap table for The Polaroid Sew-Along! If you would like to participate, please bring blocks that you would like to trade. The blocks need to be *untrimmed* and must all use Free Spirit Arctic White as the frame. If you are still in need of a bundle, you can find the white here and the frame, shadow, and sashing bundle here! More details to follow soon.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with readers?
YES! We would love to offer Tea & Brie readers a discount to our store! Use code TEANBRIE15 for 15% off any purchase in our web shop! This coupon is valid until May 20th. If you can’t make it into the store in person, make sure to check our our online shop!
I hope you all enjoyed the interview! I would love to keep this series going, and would love to hear your feedback. What do you think, do you like hearing about local, small business fabric and sewing stores?