PORT TOWNSEND — After opening the Come Sew studio, a light-filled upstairs space at 810 Water St. a year ago in June, Anita Edwards has decided to change formats.
This past week, Edwards turned the formerly for-profit business into a free sewing and fiber-art space, replete with its small fleet of sewing machines, cutting table and supply of fabric remnants. There’s also a large-screen television for watching sewing videos on YouTube.
Come Sew is now open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and by appointment, while Edwards encourages people to visit the website, comesew.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 360-344-2079.
“People can definitely come in and make masks,” she said Wednesday, Come Sew’s first free day.
Teens and adults can also make whole outfits, do alterations and otherwise express themselves through sewing. Edwards is a believer in skipping the cheap, “disposable” fashions out there and instead creating apparel that lasts, fits the wearer well and doesn’t pollute the environment.
At Come Sew, studio users must wear face masks and practice social distancing; there’s room for up to five people at a time in the space, whose large windows face downtown Port Townsend.
Edwards and volunteer teacher Lisa Karlstrom have been offering classes at Come Sew. The classes are history, Edwards said. But both women are now on hand as coaches, to work with beginners and intermediate sewists at mutually agreed-upon times.
Teachers who want to lead their own fiber art or sewing-related workshops, and groups who want to have sew-alongs, can also arrange to use the space and its equipment at no cost.
“I like the studio a lot. It makes me sit down and sew,” said Edwards, an artist who, before opening Come Sew, has constructed elaborate dresses for the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show.
She has also designed adaptive clothing for people with special needs and sews one-of-a-kind pieces for her evolving wardrobe.
There may be times, Edwards added, that she’ll close the place so she can go traveling, attend a cultural event or both. While running Come Sew as a business, she sought to keep it open five hours a day five days a week, with the classes and workshops continually offered. She’s since realized she wants more freedom and flexibility.
An avid international traveler, Edwards hopes for a time when she can take a big trip again.
After moving with her husband Mike Edwards to Port Townsend about 11 years ago, she began thinking about a community sewing studio, a place where young people can learn their way around a sewing machine, and where anyone without a machine could come and work.
She reached the point of thinking: Either I make it happen now, or never.
In addition, “it gets me out of the house,” she said.
Edwards has gotten a lot done this year, including 20 sets of curtains she donated to Bayside Housing & Services for the tiny shelters built in Port Townsend this summer.
“Turning 70 this year was kind of a wake-up call,” Edwards said, alerting her to the things that matter in her life.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz@peninsuladaily news.com.