Sewing seeds of creativity in Luling with Needle & Thread Sewing Academy & Alterations

Luling area sewing school operator and alteration service Needle & Thread Academy and Alterations will soon move into its new commercial space on Oak Lane later this month, a testament to owner Brenda Clesi’s ability to teach local students viable skills while having fun at the same time.

Clesi, 54, says she can trace her love of sewing and design she later turned into a full-fledged business to her summers spent in the Northeast during her teenage years.

“My aunt owned a fabric store in New York, so I would spend my summers there working at her fabric store,” Clesi said.

It was at her aunt’s store that she first learned to sew, a skill she gradually built on over the years, later sewing many of her own children’s clothing and dresses herself. She began working full time with her local church in various administrative roles, and put her sewing passion on the side temporarily, occasionally diving into a craft or sewing project in her free time.

It was not until the pandemic hit when she found herself seeking an additional income source, that she began alteration work. As her alteration business progressed, her husband recognized Clesi had a passion for both teaching and sewing, and suggested she also consider combining her two loves into one, teaching sewing classes.

“So – I started teaching last August; I started with anywhere from five to seven kids for the year,” Clesi said.

By word of mouth only, her business quickly grew to accomodate 20 students, with additional demand spilling over into a waiting list. She offered a student-led fashion show and later summer camps this past summer, but her home studio soon began to burst at the seams, prompting her to seek a larger space. With the help of a local business coach, she eventually settled on a new commercial location at 100 Oak Lane in Luling, which she plans to begin operating from in September.

“It’s got two [main] rooms – so it’s perfect for doing the sewing classes on one side, and my alterations on another side,” Clesi said. “And it’s right around the corner.”

Her new studio will allow Clesi to now open up on Saturday, when she will offer adult sewing classes on Saturday morning, along with offering special monthly project workshops such as an upcoming October workshop focused on rustic pumpkins.

Needle & Thread Sewing Academy and Alterations features classes incorporating both sewing and design elements, allowing her students to learn basic sewing techniques which they can later apply to learning clothing construction along with clothing and fabric design.

“We start with doing embroidery stitching, [teaching students] to do hand stitching and sewing buttons,” Clesi said, building on those skills later to involve hand stitching and stuffing small fabric doll creations Clesi calls “monsters.”

“Then we move on to sewing machines,” Clesi explained. “I try to make it fun and educational for the kids, because they’re there to have fun…they’re learning, but having fun.”

Her sewing academy even includes its own themed fashion shows where students model their own outfits they choose fabrics for, cut out patterns and sew together. Advanced students can later move on to more advanced skills and techniques such as designing and stitching their own purses, clothing design or creating their own fabrics.

“Our [fashion show] theme this year is ‘An Afternoon in Paris,’ so we will have coffee and French dessert served at the coffee show,” Clesi mentioned.

For more information on Needle & Thread Sewing Academy and Alterations, or for class scheduling and availability, visit her business page on Facebook.

 

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