Sewing duo to service city

January 14, 2015

Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

BY CAROLINE SELLE — The new Three Little Birds Sewing Co. studio on Gallatin St. in downtown Hyattsville offers sewing machine rentals, group classes, and a selection of specialty fabrics.

“When we first got into the space … it was just an office space,” said Riverdale resident, and co-owner, Kate Blattner. Alongside Jackie Willis, co-owner and Gaithersburg resident, Blattner officially welcomed patrons into the re-decorated studio for the grand opening on Dec. 6.

Co-owners Kate Blattner and Jackie Willis opened their sewing studio oh Gallatin Street on Dec. 6. Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

Co-owners Kate Blattner and Jackie Willis opened their sewing studio oh Gallatin Street on Dec. 6. Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

To get into the studio, patrons have to walk up a narrow stairway and take a sharp turn into a dimly lit hall. But once inside, the room is bright and airy, with shelves stacked to the ceiling with bolts of colorful and patterned fabric. One wall is covered with chalkboard paint, and three sewing machines and a “serger” (a type of sewing machine) are available for students to practice.

“It was the first place we came to and it kind of spoke to us and we just ran with it,” Willis said.

They were looking for a place that was big enough to teach classes but small enough to be affordable, and the former Gallatin St. office was perfect. “I wanted to be close to home. I wanted something for the community,” said Blattner.

Blattner and Willis first met while working together in Washington, D.C. and quickly bonded over their mutual love of sewing. Both bring years of experience to the studio: Blattner sewed through 4-H, had a previous sewing business, and made clothes for her niece, and Willis grew up sewing, made all of her homecoming and prom dresses, and received a degree in the field before teaching at the university level.

“I’ve always wanted to open a sewing studio and do something creative,” Blattner said.

Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

Three Little Birds Co.’s studio is a dual concept: it’s a space for learning and a space for shopping. On opening day, Willis moved back and forth between assisting a customer picking out several lengths of fabric for a sewing project and assisting a first-time sewing student making holiday ornaments on one of the three machines.

There were already dozens of beautiful prints to choose from. “The fabrics come from different wholesale companies,” Blattner said. “We placed our first couple orders before we ever found this space.”

The two owners have big plans for the future of their business.

“We’ll have a variety of workshops,” Blattner said. “A lot that are going to be what we’re calling project classes, so in two or three hours’ time you can walk away with an actual object that you made.” There will also be more advanced classes, potentially including one on handbags, and they’re thinking about hosting kids classes as well.

“I want to do a ‘bring your own pattern’ kind of class,” Willis said. “Commercial patterns really are confusing.” Additionally, she’s interested in hosting classes on “basic sewing, what a machine is, how it runs, what a serger is.”

And, there’s always prom season.

“Girls can come in and we can alter a dress they already bought,” Willis said. “A prom class is something I’m definitely interested in doing.” And, men’s fashion won’t be left out: she said she’s interested in teaching how to make button down shirts.

The pair said they’re interested in private lessons, too.

“We’re all ears. We want to fit our customers’ needs,” Blattner said. Whether that need is for an hour’s time on a sewing machine, a lesson on the basics, or an expert class on draping, Willis and Blattner said they intend to keep the Three Little Birds Co. studio a fun environment.

“We’re a smaller studio, so everyone’s going to get an intimate experience,” Blattner said.

Information about hours, classes and other services is available at www.threelittlebirdssewingco.com.

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