Daily Life

Sew much fun! – Sewing classes at Stitch Budapest

Tote bag
Posted by Cat Ramos

My grandmother has this old Singer sewing machine that I never really learned how to use. It was so intimidating. In high school, we only ever “learned” about the parts of a sewing machine, and the closest thing to machine sewing that we got is making a paper pattern for shorts. That’s your grade for the semester, guys! 

It is really difficult to find sewing courses in Manila for hobbyists like me. As I remember, TESDA would usually have these courses, but scheduled during the weekdays so I could never attend because of work.

And sew it begins…

Late last year, I found an English language sewing course right here in Budapest. I originally wanted to sign up for the Eco-Friendly sewing workshop, but it was always full, so I enrolled for the next available English course, Fundamentals of Dress Making.

There were 5 of us in class: one Mexican, one Malaysian, one Maltan, one Bulgarian and me (Philippines). The teacher, Zsuzsi Vig, is of course Hungarian. The first day was getting to know the sewing machine – three of us were complete beginners, having zero knowledge of the machine.

The first class was about getting to know the machine, which was like an alien being to me, with all its moving parts. We learned how to wind a bobbin, load and thread it. I didn’t get it the first time, and was getting frustrated at how I cannot get the bobbin thread to come up from out the bottom. It took a few replays of a Made to Sew Youtube video for me to finally get it right! Thank you, Aneka and Made to Sew!

We also learned how to take body measurements in preparation for making the dress or shirt we choose. We pored over Burda magazine patterns, and decided on a simple dress. However, it became apparent soon that 3 of us (lels, me included) will never get to the stage where we could finish a dress in 4 weeks, much less start! Remember, 3 of us are absolute beginners.

Zsuzsi then decided to split the class – the 2 will go on to making their dresses and 3 of us will just do some simple projects, like this little drawstring bag. I could really sew a fully functioning bag! Achievement unlocked!

Sewing a simple drawstring bag
Sewing a simple drawstring bag

In December of last year, Lidl had their promo on Singer sewing machines. They sell the Tradition 2282 model for only 36,999 HUF. Zsuzsi vouched for the quality of this model, so of course, I had to get it. On the day the promo began, I woke up at 6am just so I could be at Lidl for the opening — in case people were cueing up for the machines, you know. As these are very cheap, they tend to get sold pretty quickly. I didn’t want to risk that!

Sewing is much harder than it seams.

I knew I have a lot left to learn, plus I really enjoy going to classes and learning how to make new things, so I decided to enrol again — this time, it was the Fun Sewing Projects course. We made cute but useful things like a padded fabric box and pencil case. Our final project was a market bag with wooden handles. So pretty! Not gonna lie, I haven’t used mine for supermarket shopping at all. It is way too pretty to be soiled.

The goal of this course is to get beginners to apply their freshly learned skills into creating useful items. We were not expected to be able to make something like trousers, which I don’t plan on doing anyway 🙂

Fabric box
Fabric box – I use this as my mini trash bin when sewing
Drawstring bag
Drawstring bag – one of the very first projects that I could actually use! I use it as a carrying bag for my Hobonichi planner and my shoe pencil case.
Market bag with wooden handles
Market bag with wooden handles

I became a sewciopath

During the Christmas holidays (and basically the entire winter), I didn’t want to do anything except sew. I spent so many hours on Youtube and Pinterest, looking at more beginner projects to try. Even experimented with using iron-on interfacing. Browsing online fabric shops became a daily habit for me.

Shoe-shaped pencil case
Shoe-shaped pencil case
Facial tissue holder
Facial tissue holder to hang from my bag
Tote bag
Tote bag I made for G’s birthday present (instead of using wrapping paper) – this fabric is from IKEA. I love it because it is thick and sturdy.

Around the start of the year, Zsuzsi opened the Eco-Friendly sewing course, and finally I was able to snag a spot in the course that I originally wanted. Now I can make those ridiculously expensive reusable napkins and sandwich bags that I see at craft fairs — for just a fraction of the price! I think many of my friends will get some eco-friendly things for Christmas…

In this course, we learned how to work with new materials like mesh and polyurethane laminate (PUL, a kind of waterproofing material), and how to use a serger. Really, the serger is like the Megatron of all sewing machines. It’s like a monster!

Produce bags
Mesh bags for produce – my sister told me to make her some of these, in this newspaper fabric too 🙂
Reusable sandwich wrap
Reusable sandwich wrap

Then COVID-19 happened, and the studio had to close from March. Terrible, imagine no sewing classes for 3 whole months??

But I kept myself busy. I made lots and lots of masks. It was my friend Mary’s idea, actually. She told me she can pay me if I make masks for her. It was the start of the pandemic, and people were hoarding anything they can hoard. Masks were already in short supply.

Thanks to the abundance of Pinterest tutorials, I managed to make nice masks in 2 different styles. Some of my other friends heard about it, and wanted to order too. I decided to just sell the masks for the extremely low price of 400 HUF, just to cover the costs of materials (fabric, thread and elastic).

Face masks for COVID
Masks in Hungarian colors!
Face mask
Face mask featuring this cute cat fabric
Face masks
More face masks!
Corona sewing bingo! I never had a curbside fabric pick up. But I always get my online orders via Foxpost, where the seller sends the items to a locker and sends me the code (by text message) to open the locker. I like it better this way. No dealing with humans!

The studio reopened in June, and we started the Sewing for the Kitchen course (no pictures yet, as everything is partially finished). We are making a pot holder, oven mitt, apron and a lunch bag/carrier.

There were also a couple of new techniques and tricks that we learned in this course like how to make binding and how to work with batting.

Sew you think I am gifted…

I owe it to Zsuzsi! I never really thought I would ever learn to sew by machine, but I can do so many things now. I know I have a very long way to go, but I really enjoy going to these courses by Stitch Budapest. I have a busy work schedule, but Zsuzsi has classes on weekends. She has classes in Hungarian and English with various “themes”, with the eco-friendly course being one of the most popular. The courses are also not very expensive, and each course builds up on what you already know but also expect to learn something completely new, whether it is a new skill like quilting or working with a new material.

The courses are also kept small and Zsuzsi controls the class pace very well – no one is left behind and all students get personalized attention and instruction. Pre-Corona, the most I’ve seen were 5 students in a class. But post-Corona, Zsuzsi keeps it to only 3 people per class, and all students must wear masks.

Without a doubt, my weekly Stitch Budapest classes injected much color into my creative life! I am very excited at all the possible things I can learn to create from now. ♥

Start your creative journey – join a class at Stitch Budapest!
Address: Somogyi Béla utca 18, 1085
Webpage: https://stitchbudapest.com/

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