5 o'clock Coffee · Others

A festive stitch and bitch


I hate sewing. It’s one of those necessary evils that needs to be done every now and again, especially if you own a lot of vintage clothing and are a burlesque performer, like myself. I just lack the patience, though I wish I could sew my own clothes, it would save me thousands. I would probably be writing this from the Bahamas!!

But then again, if I was stationed in the Bahamas I would be missing all the fun to be had in Berlin, especially around Christmas time. Which brings me to last week, when I attended the launch workshop of the newly established Berlin Sewing Salon.

Berlin Sewing Salon by F. Ciancetta

The BSS is the brainchild of Mariya Ivanova, an expat living in Berlin. Mariya is an expert in Costume and Dressmaking with lots of experience working and teaching in London. The concept of the Berlin Sewing Salon is to learn new sewing skills in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Classes are suitable for both beginners and more advanced students, and are taught in English. The workshops cover hand stitching, repairs, alterations, pattern making, embroidery and so on. I thought this concept would be interesting for vintage loving people, so I decided to give it a try.

Mariya, the creator of the Berlin Sewing Salon

(FYI: Stitch and bitch is a phrase that’s been used to describe social knitting groups since the 1940s)

The first class was ‘Make your own Christmas decorations’. What better way to get festive than making my own from scratch (since I can’t seem to locate my stash of Xmas deco), have a bit of Lebkuchen and meet new people? That’s my kind of Sunday!

The Berlin Sewing Salon is homed at Holz Kohlen Koks, an indie art gallery in Neukölln. The place was easy to reach (off the Karl Marx Strasse near Hermannplatz) and was very welcoming, with its wood burning stove, a table full of colourful sewing materials and wood covered walls.

Holz Kohlen Koks on Reuterstr.

The atmosphere was super relaxed, Christmas swing was playing and I was offered a glass of wine and some festive treats. Very soon we all got chatting and started our class. First we got to choose the fabric and some templates to cut (all materials were provided). Then the teacher demonstrated two different kinds of stitches, a basic one and a more advanced one. If I had to do this at home by myself, I would have probably cleaned my whole flat just to avoid the sewing – that’s what I do when I’m daunted by a task, don’t ask me why – but in a social setting and with two hours at hand, I just got on with it without stress. I actually really enjoyed it!

So in less than one hour I made my first beautiful wonky star and learnt a few tips on how to sew straight – that’s not my forte – plus interfacing, fraying and stuffing! Mariya was at hand to advise everyone and we all checked in on our progress. I was then ready to tackle a felt heart using the blanket stitching. Honestly I thought I wouldn’t have the patience to do it, but actually I found it easier than the plain stitch and soon finished my second decoration. I have to say I am proud of my creations!

The two hours flew by really quickly, and I found the whole afternoon rather therapeutic. I really really like the concept of sewing in company, and with a teacher showing you some new things. It makes sewing a relaxing pleasure rather than an annoying task. At 10 Euro when booked in advance the class is a bargain; and it is extremely rewarding. I can’t wait for the upcoming classes in the next few months!

Ongoing regular classes start in January 2016 at:

Holz Kohlen Koks, Reuterstrasse 82, 12053 Berlin

Please check Berlin Vintage Salon for detailed info about upcoming dates.

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