Needlework is stocked full of fabrics and community initiatives

Lauren O'Donnell
March 5, 2020
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Located at 174 James St. N, Needlework is stocked full of brightly coloured fabric that represents every colour from the colour wheel. The store is co-owned by Elizabeth Simpson and Kate Hudson. Simpson and Hudson initially met through the creative group Beehive Craft Collective. Now, their business has become a second home for makers in the city.

Ottawa Street is widely considered to be the fabric destination for Hamilton, so what makes Needlework worth the trip up to James Street North? Whereas most stores only sell fabric and sewing supplies, Needlework holds workshops and classes in order to encourage and educate both beginner and experienced crafters. They can help you make anything from a pillowcase to your own winter coat.

In addition to classes, Needlework also offers $9 by-the-hour access to their sewing machines, or $110 yearly subscriptions. In order to use the machines, you need to have some sewing experience. Don’t worry if you’re not experienced—you can take one of their introductory courses and they’ll teach you how. Once you have a basic understanding of a sewing machine, you can come in and sew any time. Simpson says that many customers come in to work on their own projects, ranging anywhere from quilts to clothes.

“[I]t really becomes I think, like a second home for a lot of people, because if they have downtime [or] they don’t feel like being at home, they can just come and spend the day at Needlework,” said Simpson.

Simpson says that a lot of customers come in to sew, tailor or repair their own clothing. This is a great way to practice sustainability in your day-to-day life as it discourages fast fashion; clothes that are well made and fit you well are less likely to be thrown away after a few months.

Needlework allows people who may not have the resources or experience to sew, to be able to pick up new skills and express their creativity in a supportive environment. It makes sewing more accessible to those who may not have the tools necessary to get started. Most sewing machines cost at least $100, and that’s on the lower end. If you want to give sewing a try and decide it’s not for you, it’s much easier to spend $9 for an hour than $100 for something you may not use much.

“If you don’t have space at home to have all that gear out or equipment you can come to our shop and spend the afternoon just working on something creative, if you need to get away from schoolwork or what have you … buying a brand new sewing machine and all the tools is an investment in itself as well as having to store all of it,” said Simpson.

Needlework encourages customers to express their creativity. Recently, Simpson and Hudson have started running a class on garment pattern sewing. Sewing patterns can be notoriously difficult to follow, especially for less experienced sewers. Each participant is asked to bring in any pattern that they want, provided that it is marked by the studio as beginner-friendly. This gives people the opportunity to create whatever piece they want, and to make something perfectly tailored for them.

On the last Monday of every month, Needlework hosts a craft night that is open for everyone, bringing together a group of like-minded craft-enthusiasts for an evening of creativity and community. Many even bring their own knitting projects from home.

“[W]hen people come to craft night we always say bring whatever you want. It’s more just like a social evening for people who are interested . . . in craft, and knitting is really portable. And it’s nice to be able to sit at our big cutting table across from other people, other makers and still be working on something,” said Simpson.

Needlework has created a space for artists from across all walks of life, uniting them through their shared love of sewing and creativity. Whether you’re an expert sewer or a complete beginner, they can help you on your journey to creating something uniquely yours.


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  • Lauren O'Donnell

    Lauren is in her fourth and final year of English and Cultural Studies. She is a big fan of sustainable fashion, body positivity, and 80s pop music. In her spare time, Lauren can be found hanging out with her cat, Lyric.

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