Sewing is a lost art. Connie Tkach hears that a lot.
Tkach, a Puyallup resident, wants to change that, so this month she opened the The Sewing Project, a tuition-based sewing school.
“I love the creating process,” Tkach said. “I love taking something from a pattern and making it into something you can wear, whether it be a handbag or clothes. My heart is in equipping people with the skills to do it themselves.”
The school, located at 2121 Meridian Ave. E. in Edgewood, offers sewing classes for both adults and children.
Tkach offers four different types of classes: ongoing classes, project classes, kids summer sewing camps and sewing school.
Ongoing classes include “Basic 101: All about your sewing machine," "Basic 102: All about machine needles and different fabric textiles" and "Basic 103: All about the presser feet.”
Project classes vary in difficulty and time, ranging in price from $45 to $85. Kids summer camps are for ages 10-14 at $85. Sewing school takes place from October through May for kids and adults at $148.
When it comes to teaching others how to sew, it’s not Tkach’s first rodeo. In 2007, she joined the Pierce County Clothing and Textile Advisors (CTA) and started Threads for Life, an after-school sewing group at Meeker Elementary.
"(Sewing) is a very lost art, a very lost skill, and I think that’s one of the reasons I did Threads for Life,” Tkach said.
Tkach, who grew up in Sumner and and graduated from Sumner High School in 1984, remembered there were opportunities to learn how to sew in school — there still are some, according to the Sumner School District — but Tkach didn’t have much of an interest in sewing at the time.
When Tkach was in her early 20s, her roommate taught her to sew. But it wasn’t until her her father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and her mother with stage 4 colon cancer that she threw herself into sewing.
“My mom was my biggest cheerleader," Tkach said. "I told her my vision and my plan, of teaching kids how to sew, and she said, ‘Honey, you’ve got to do that.’
“When she got on her last leg, we moved her into her own apartment, so I brought my sewing machine over. I wanted to make it a home. I remember her just sitting there watching me. Those memories I’ll always have.”
In September 2007, Tkach’s mom passed away, her father only a couple of months later. That same year, she started Threads for Life.
“I think that helped me survive that whole entire year,” Tkach said.
When she started Threads for Life, Tkach’s daughter, Abby, who’s now 21, joined the group with her friends. Her other daughter, 16-year-old Giselle, also learned to sew and said the skill can be turned into a career in industries like fashion and upholstery repair.
“It definitely helps with a lot in the workforce,” Giselle said. “It’s just a basic good skill you should have.”
In 2011, Tkach was recognized for Threads for Life on Nancy’s Corner with Nancy Zieman, host of "Sewing with Nancy" on Wisconsin Public Television.
Tkach continued the group for nine years, and attendance continued to grow. But she’d always hoped to have her own space.
“Ever since I started Threads for Life, I knew it was going to get bigger,” she said. “My goal was to have something out in the community that I could house.”
Threads for Life halted in 2016 after space complications, but the need was still there.
“I had parents message me, calling. People were like, ‘Why aren’t you having class?’” Tkach said.
When she found her Edgewood space, her vision fell into place.
“Since I have become an educator myself, my sewing skills have grown,” said Tkach, who lives in Puyallup with her husband Steve. “Other people inspire me — even the kids inspire me. They make me love what I do even more.”
The Sewing Project
Where: 2121 Meridian Ave. E., Edgewood
Hours: Hours vary depending on class time. Refer to The Sewing Project Facebook calendar.
More information: 253-235-3999, facebook.com/createsewfashion