Home ec is rarely taught in schools these days and when it is, kids tend to scoff at learning seemingly outdated skills like sewing. Liza Quiñonez is out to change that with her new business Sew Fly Fashion, which she says is “not your grandma’s sewing class.”
A self-professed Jill-of-all-trades and mother of three, Quiñonez was looking for a way to use her experience teaching fashion design at Brooklyn schools after moving to Cambridge last August when she hit on the idea for Sew Fly.
“It’s something that the students have really enjoyed and something that I’ve really enjoyed as well,” Quiñonez said. “So after trying to figure out what I was going to do with this new change, I saw an opportunity to bring a little bit of that Brooklyn flavor to the area.”
Sew Fly offers sewing classes with an attitude to kids (ages seven-12) and teens (ages 13-17). The first session is enrolling now for classes starting next week in Somerville and Arlington.
“The whole premise behind that is that I’m bringing sewing and fashion design into the now,” Quiñonez said. “I think there’s kind of a misconception with kids that sewing is something really old that doesn’t relate to their style or personality. So I wanted to bring it into the present and give it that edge that kids and teenagers can take ownership over.”
Classes are offered in eight-week sessions and will be held at Starlab Studios (453 Somerville Ave.) in Somerville and at Ready, Set, Kids! (284 Broadway) in Arlington. Sew Fly provides all the materials needed for the class, which is project-based. Students will complete four items, ranging from tote bags and backpacks to skirts and customized clothing, during the class.
“If we have a boy, we’ll tailor it to them,” Quiñonez said. “I’ve taught a lot of boys and they’ve gotten really into it. Teenage boys came thinking that they were in a girls’ class, but they got really into the mechanics of using the machine.”
Both machine- and hand-sewing techniques will be taught in the Sew Fly classes, which will have minimum of five to six kids and a maximum of 10 to 12. The classes cost $320 for the eight-week session and there’s the possibility of scholarships for families who can’t afford the fee. At the conclusion of the classes, students will participate in a Sew Fly fashion show.
“Students will have an opportunity to show off their work for their friends and family,” Quiñonez said. It helps the kids and teens “take ownership, build pride and self-confidence by presenting [their work] to a larger group of people.”
Beyond learning sewing skills, Sew Fly aims to empower students who are at a vulnerable age by encouraging body acceptance and diversity as well as combatting some of the negative images they encounter online and on television.
“I especially think that it’s important to spread that message for kids and teens,” Quiñonez said. “In their own personal development, I’m really wanting to empower young people to accept themselves and accept their bodies. I’m using fashion design as a process for doing that.”
The name Sew Fly itself derives from the message Quiñonez wants to spread. “It’s a mixture of you’re going to be sewing, but here’s the attitude. You’re a fly girl, you’re a fly boy. I’m trying to exude the attitude behind making something and showing it off.”
When Quiñonez moved from Brooklyn to Cambridge and decided to start Sew Fly, she knew she wanted to find a Somerville location to host classes. The burgeoning creative scene near Union Square especially reminded her of her former home.
“I think that there’s a need for a program like this that teaches fashion design and sewing to kids that also has that hip and funky edge that’s happening in Somerville,” Quiñonez said. “There’s an opportunity for families looking for engaging things for their kids to do.”
P.S. Enrollment is open now for Sew Fly’s spring session, which begins next week!