Straight Grain Studio
Sewing café looks to breathe new life into modern fashion
Three Words for Success
On Paris Rd. sits Straight Grain Studio, a “sewing café” that made its debut on the Columbia small business scene on November 14, 2014. Stephens College professor Tina Marks owns and operates the unique store. Marks took time in between a fitting appointment and an alterations drop-off to explain the concept behind her shop on December 2.
Making Her Mark
After reading about a sewing café in Paris, France, Marks was ready to open her own version a little closer to home.
Marks wanted to open the studio to help people make their own garments even without previous sewing experience. Marks teaches a variety of classes at the studio. The classes teach everything from beginning sewing skills to pattern making. She believes creating garments from scratch is a way to ensure garments are sustainable.
“I think that part of that whole DIY movement, and I think that young people are interested, you know anytime that we have an advancement in technology there is always a swing toward the opposite, just to kind of counterbalance it, to look at old techniques and craftsmanship” says Marks.
One of the classes Marks teaches at Stephens College is sustainability fashion. The students in this class are expected to make usable textiles out of old items that would otherwise be discarded. Marks sells some of the sustainability items in her store like an old dog food bag that has been turned into a tote. Her favorite material to repurpose is denim because the fabric quality is high and denim does not biodegrade quickly. These items also add creative flair to the environment of the studio.
From Idea to Reality
An idea that stems back to 1982 has finally taken form at Straight Grain Studio in 2014.
Class in the Café
The studio has a lot to offer--which is why Marks is catering to mulitple age groups. She hopes to help college-aged customers as they learn to sew while helping older clientele create custom-fit patterns to make their own garments.
“As a 50 something, [I] don’t want to wear old lady clothes every day because I want to look hip and cool and you know I’m in fashion, but I don’t have the perfect figure. I never did, even when I was younger. And I am finding there are a lot of women who are out there who want help” says Marks.
Marks' patternmaking class was one of the first classes a customer enrolled in. The class helps clients measure their own body and make a pattern to custom fit. The pattern can then be made into numerous garments.
Claire Major is enrolled in a patternmaking class that met on November 18, 2014. Major talks about her interest in the class and why she believes participating in the class is to her benefit.
Claire says the pattern making class is a good investment because she will be able to get a lot of use out of the pattern. She plans on making as many blouses as possible with her creation.
Marks hopes her store will impact the members of the community for the better. She believes making garments from scratch that complement their figures can help women feel good about themselves. Marks prides herself on her knowledge of fashion and style and hopes her clients will be able to make garments that fit their body types and personalities.
A Look Around the Studio
The sewing café has sewing machines for customers to rent, a variety of high quality fabric for making garments and trinkets made by Marks' textile students at Stephens College. Tina previously worked as a barista in college and hopes to add a small café in the back that sells various kinds of coffee and cookies.
All of the fabrics currently being sold at Straight Grain were once part of Marks' personal collection. The bright vintage fabrics are high quality with fun prints and patterns.