PROFILE | BY SHAYNA CURRAN | @SHAYNACURRAN
PHOTOS | BY LISA ABITBO
Anyone claiming that fiber arts are on their way out could easily cite the city’s sleepy fabric stores as evidence. That said, only six months ago the swank “sewing lounge”, Gather Here, opened shop in Cambridge and has proven that not only are there modern, sexy fabrics and patterns out there, but also a multi-generational community of crafters willing to make something cool, cute and chic right here.
D.I.Y. enthusiasts with little studio space at home, rejoice. GH is the only place this side of the river where you can pick out materials for your next dress (quilt, felted merkin, what have you) and complete your project on premises (or at least soldier through the tricky bits). Renting space at GH starts at $10/hour, which is a helluva lot cheaper alternative to renting out a studio if you are trying to create after your day job. GH is fully stocked with Bernina sewing-machines, sergers and irons, but their most professional piece of equipment is their knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff. In addition to individualized help, GH offers classes, their most popular being an exercise in self-reliance that would make momma proud: “Skip the Tailor.”
Every item in the store is hand-selected by the owner, Virginia Johnson, who accrued her eye for fashionable color-pallettes and patterns as a costume designer for film and academia (The Social Network and Tufts University, respectively). Johnson has achieved her dream of opening a stitch parlor in the Boston area after admiring these relatively new urban institutions, which are popping up in other major cities.
What makes GH unique in its selection, aside from cosmetic value, is that there are no synthetic fabrics in sight. “Our focus is on all-natural fibers. Organic cotton-jerseys, organic quilting-cottons, all with a modern, contemporary aesthetic. If you want gold lamé, you’ll have to go elsewhere.”
Their color selection of fancy Guterman threads will suit whatever funky, fresh fabric you choose to take home. But if you are looking for every shade of bias tape, button and zipper, you will find only the coolest colors (canary yellow and cobalt blue, holla!). Not the stuff you’d find at your grandma’s supply shoppe.
This neighborhood gem has yet to exist during knitting’s busiest season and anticipates the holidays as a high-volume time for people and their projects (sign up for GH classes early). Although a trunk show of locally made goods as gifts is also in the works, GH will encourage crafty present-makin’ with a tutorial at this year’s Bazaar Bizarre, “maybe something involving t-shirts and hula-hoops. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
Gather Here, at any given time, is brimming with creative energy. You might see friends (or soon-to-be friends) unwinding with their new project and a refreshing beverage, young people selecting cottons for their new purse line, or a class on making tiny, fabric birds, occupied by students aged 9-59. “It doesn’t matter what happens financially,” Virginia says with confidence, “because I feel like I threw a great party. I brought people together that may have felt isolated and thought they were the only people still working with their hands.”
[370 Broadway, Cambridge. 781.775.9504. @gather_here. gatherhereonline.com]