Shop Class: Cut from the DIY cloth

Now that the fall season is finally here, it’s time to snuggle up with knitting needles, sewing machines and easy-to-follow patterns to craft your own handmade wardrobe.

Knitting Workshops at Vagabond Boutique

37 N. Third St., 267-671-0737,

Snuggle up on a blustery day with a new knitted scarf.
This month, Vagabond Boutique in Old City will host its annual series of knitting classes in the store. Vagabond kicks off the season with a four-week beginners knitting class. The classes will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 8 through Nov. 5. For $110, attendees receive all necessary materials, including patterns, needles and yarn, along with lessons in basic knitting skills.

On Oct. 11 and Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, the store will hold a basic hat class, where students can learn the skills needed to knit their own hats. The class is $65, and includes all necessary materials. The catch is that each class holds only six students, so it’s first come, first served. Stop in at Vagabond to sign up, or peruse its boutique and yarn shop to stock up on fall knitting essentials. The back room houses luxury yarns, plush wools and all the knitting needles needed to make cozy scarves and sweaters.

McCall’s sewing patterns, while thorough and timeless, can be intimidating for first-time sewers. Conversely, Betsy Ross patterns provide everything a newcomer needs: instructions, fabric and a simple design (Il Cho/TTN).

Classes at the Philadelphia Sewing Collective

Old Pine Community Center, 401 Lombard St.,

The sewing bug must be contagious. Temple alumna Megan Haupt caught it from her mother and grandmother when she was just 7 years old. Haupt is spreading the bug around Philadelphia with her brainchild, the Philadelphia Sewing Collective. After pursuing a career in costume design, Haupt combined her talent for project management with her love of sewing.

Her group is full of talented craftspeople that provide sewing skills and resources for everyone – whether you are a rookie or an established dressmaker. This fall, PSC is offering a range of classes for both beginner and experienced sewers. Haupt will teach a basic sewing class on Fridays from Nov. 7 through Dec. 5, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This four-week intensive workshop teaches beginners how to turn a pattern and a piece of fabric into their first handmade garment.

Be sure to look into the Little Black Dress class, too, to learn how to make a wardrobe essential.
For those who don’t have time to invest in a class, check out the Monday night Sewing Café. On every fourth Monday of the month, PSC hosts a free walk-in workshop from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. It provides sewing machines and other equipment, so prepare to take a project and chat with other Philly sewers.

Betsy Ross Patterns
Available at Art Star Gallery & Boutique
623 N. Second St. 215-238-1557,

If the world of do-it-yourself fashion is too intimidating, don’t fret. Aimee Dolby will help quell those fears with her company Betsy Ross Patterns, which specializes in creating easy-to-follow pattern kits for beginner sewers.

Betsy Ross offers patterns and instructions for basic garment and accessory design such as shoulder bags, clutches, A-line skirts, fun raglan tops and even sundresses. Dolby’s patterns are simple, yet very fashionable. They can also be easily customized into one-of-a-kind designs for the ambitious seamstress.

Dolby also sells complete kits, which include patterns, fabric specifically chosen by her and necessities needed to finish off a garment. Start off with one of her A-line skirt kits in a floral fabric, or try the new “apartment pants” pattern. These simple pajama pants are perfect for lounging around on the weekend and are easy to stitch together.

Nicole Saylor can be reached at

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