BANGI, March 19 — Do you want to pick up sewing? Learning that life skill is easier with classes at The Craftsical Studio with expert sewers Nabila Khalid (Abby) and Syarifah Nur Amanina Syed Abdullah (Nina).
They met through Nina’s husband, as he was college mates with Abby in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; both women bonded over a mutual passion for sewing.
“Abby started sewing first then I started later, making these handmade products. One day I saw she wrote a Facebook post that she wanted to have a studio. At that time I had been making handmade products for two years, selling at booths at a very small scale but she had already gone big. She is a household name already. So I thought opening a studio will be a good business,” said Nina who provided the capital.
They surveyed several locations but finally settled for Bangi. Last October, The Craftsical Studio opened its doors. The studio not only holds workshops but is also a retail outlet for their baby products and custom-made bags. There is also a prayer room for Muslims.
Strapped by a tight budget, the duo did the interior design for the studio themselves within one month. The simple design and large space makes it ideal for their workshops. “It’s strategic with the right lighting, just like what we imagined. The most important thing is that we want to make the students feel comfortable during workshops,” said Nina.
Looking at them, nobody would have thought that just a couple of years ago Abby did not know how to sew. Abby got married while she was studying chemical engineering but she couldn’t find a job that matched her field of studies so she became a housewife.
Looking for something to occupy her time, she initially tried her hand at baking but felt like there was no “soul” in it... as far as she was concerned. “I was looking for a new hobby. I Googled then I saw that sewing macam best aje (seems cool),” said Abby who took up a sewing course at Pusat Latihan Kraftangan Epal.
In 2013, she started Sarang Craft by Abby (https://www.facebook.com/SarangCraftbyAbby/) with a sewing machine she received as a gift from her parents. “At first I was just hand sewing felt plush toys for my daughter. I posted photos on Facebook then orders came in from my friends. After that, a lot of orders started coming in.”
One of her first creations with her sewing machine was a Nursing Cover that Abby used when she breastfed her daughter in public. She was surprised and extremely touched when people started to order it after she posted it online.
An established name in the sewing world, Abby has also stitched her way to become a Guinness World Record holder. Last April, Abby was one of 606 participants who took part in a mass sewing event in the Putrajaya Corporation Complex.
She also picked up a second record when she helped sew 60,000 fabric flowers for an art installation as part of the Putrajaya International Islamic Arts & Culture Festival. Each participant made 50 pieces each.
Ultimately Abby’s goal is to go beyond sewing with pre-bought patterns and move into making her own patterns. “My 2017 resolution is to be a pattern maker which is an advancement as a crafter. You can make your own pattern and sell it online. A pattern maker does everything from scratch, from the measurements until the finished product,” said Abby.
Under her own Sarang Craft brand, Abby teaches students at The Craftsical Studio to make baby products such as diaper clutches, diaper stackers, baby blankets, patchwork, bags, wallets and pouches. “I concentrate on workshops during weekends. During weekdays, I focus on making my products based on pre-orders.
“The minute I post something on social media, it’s snapped up so I prefer to do customised orders,” said Abby. Customers choose their own fabric and Abby will let them know an estimated time when it can be completed.
The partnership for the studio works well for the duo who have their own roles. Nina will oversee operations and help out with the teaching. Abby is in charge of the custom orders and conducts the workshops.
“Abby is a great partner to work with because she is active in events and networking. It’s good for the studio also,” said Nina. Sometimes they also invite guest instructors who are experts in sewing other patterns. The criterion is that they have to be skilful and detailed in their sewing. For variety, they have also held classes for decoupage.
As for the workshops at Craftsical, their students span all ages, from 20 to 40. Their oldest student was a 70-year-old woman who had impressive sewing skills. Once there was also a student who came all the way from Singapore.
Most of the workshop students are housewives with free time. There was also a doctor who participated in one of the workshops. “The students make themselves feel at home. Sometimes they are so focused on their sewing that they don’t eat anything until they finish,” said Abby.
At Craftsical you can find all the tools you need to make baby products, bags and wallets. There are six sewing machines, three irons, a steam press, all kinds of fabric, hardware and other miscellaneous items.
You can also rent the sewing machine for the whole day for a small fee. If you prefer to bring your own fabric and sewing machine, that’s possible as well. There are no hard and fast rules at the studio.
The fees of each workshop vary according to different projects. The classes are for all skill levels — catering to everyone from novices to advanced sewers. What’s included in the fees are the materials for the sewing project such as fabric, interfacing, zippers, buttons and refreshments. Usually a workshop lasts from morning till evening, so finger food and lunch are provided.
If you are curious about sewing but you’ve never sewn in your life, Abby suggests that you take the beginner’s class where you can start by making a simple pencil case. “For beginners, I teach an introduction to the sewing machine, how to put in the thread and how to troubleshoot the small problems on the sewing machine. We practise on paper and work on the finished product,” said Abby.
On March 25, there will be a sewing market organised by Modern Sewists Malaysia; Abby is on the committee. Join in the fun as domestic sewing enthusiasts, crafters and sewing entrepreneurs will gather and promote the love of sewing. There will also be a supplies market, a sewing machine demonstration and sewing workshops held at the event which will be at Passion 3, Petaling Jaya.
The Craftsical Studio
B-6-3B, Level 6, Block B,
Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor
Tel: 016-722 0412 (Abby)/ 013- 710 4671 (Nina)