Teaching sewing skills that will last a lifetime
The School of Sewing & Upcycling began in 2015. We set up in a small shop in Buckley Street, Footscray and began to share our love of sewing with you. In 2019, we shifted to our current home right on the border of Footscray and Yarraville – a big, bright and welcoming space where many people come to hone their sewing skills.
At SOSU, we believe that sewing is a wonderful life skill and we want to share it with you. Learning how to alter and mend the things that you have as well as learning the skills to create your own gorgeous garments will help you to be more creative and sustainable. We offer a wide range of full and half-day workshops or ongoing courses that will build, refresh or consolidate your sewing skills. We have a great mix of beginner and skilled sewers of all ages learning at our school. Or we can also arrange private lessons for those that learn better one-on-one. It’s just you and your teacher so that you can really get into that special project.
We’ll teach you the language of patterns and the essential sewing techniques you need to create piece after piece that fits you! No longer do you need to settle for off-the-rack clothes. Make and adjust clothes to fit your body type and personal style, so that you can feel comfortable and amazing every day.
We believe that anyone can sew! You just need to give yourself the space and time to learn. Our teaching crew will be there to support you along the way. We can’t wait to see what you create.
Everyone is welcome
We are for all genders, all body types, all ages and all abilities. Our space is welcoming and comfortable to learn in – it’s something that we work very hard at. Develop the skills to create your own garments and hack that pattern to suit your body. You will be rocking your very own personal style before you know it – without having to find something off-the-rack or something that conforms to gender norms.
Sustainability & Upcycling
At the SOSU, we are big believers in using what you have before buying something new. There are materials all around us just waiting to be upcycled and transformed into your next favourite project. Learn how to upcycle your old doona cover, an unworn garment or repurpose a fabric remnant into an amazing new piece for your wardrobe. Our team will teach you how to adjust those amazing op shop finds into something that fits you perfectly. We love to see your sustainable style flourish and grow so that together we can reduce fabric waste.
Our collection of various scraps and bits of fabric in the studio and put them to good use along with donated and pre-loved thrifted fabric, buttons, bindings, elastics and other haberdashery gems. You never know – they could be part of your next project!
There’s something special about the art of sewing that brings people together to champion a good cause. Whether it’s making pouches for injured wildlife, raising funds for war-affected communities or swapping fabrics and patterns sustainably, you’ll experience the power of our community of like-minded folk, who are at the heart of everything we do.
We know you’ll have questions about the space and how things work at our school, so here are some details on what to expect on the day.
The School is located at Level 1, 1-3 Whitehall St, Footscray and is within 5 minutes walk from the main street of Footscray and the train station. You can catch Bus 216 or 402 and alight at Whitehall Street/Hopkins Street (opposite St Monica’s Primary School). Free 2 hour & 4 hour parking is available on either side of Whitehall Street. Alternatively you can park in the parallel street to Whitehall St (Moreland Street) that has parking spaces for ticketed parking: Cost $2.20per hour/$7.40 per day. Please ensure you check the signs.
Enter through a glass door to the right of the building (next to Physio Plus). Turn left for the Lift to take you to the First Floor or straight up the blue stairs. Follow the signs to your sewing room, choose a spot at the table and plug your machine in! Get ready to learn and unleash your creativity.
You’ll find a central shared sewing table with loads of power points, ironing boards and a cutting table. If you need a hand to carry your gear up we’d be only too happy to help. There is an area to sit and sift through books for inspiration and table for your cups of tea and coffee. Our unisex bathrooms are located at end of the hall. You can expect your class sizes to be between 5 and 8 people.
Meet your teachers
Sustainable – Knowledgeable – Bold
Zoe Gymer-Waldron (she/her) is a pattern maker and costume designer. She studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), completing a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Costume) followed by an Internship at V&A Museum in London, UK.
Zoe is one of those people who just ‘gets’ how things go together. An experienced pattern maker and costume designer, she is able to deconstruct and reconstruct patterns with stunning results. Known around these parts as the ‘Overlocker Whisperer’, she will help you to make friends with your overlocker, so that you can feel confident in taming the ‘4 Threaded Beast’.
With a teaching style that is all about confidence-building, Zoe wants to take you forward on your sewing journey so you can achieve what you set out to do without getting disheartened or overwhelmed. She likes to work in a hands-on way and help you to understand everything there is to know about sewing. Along the way, Zoe will feed you lots of tips and tricks for a fabulous finish. Whether it be cutting out pyjama pants, or making an 18th-century gown, Zoe will help you achieve your sewing goals, cheering you on at every step!
Upcycler – Community – Founder
Gaye Naismith (she/her) is the Founder of the School of Sewing and Upcycling, who loves to share her 35 years of sewing experience. Gaye is a sustainable clothing die-hard, a dedicated op-shopper and a talented upcycler with extensive knowledge of garment construction, using sewing patterns, hand stitching techniques, mending, alteration and professional finishing. She holds an MA in Visual Culture, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and has a current Working with Children Check.
Teaching in groups or one-on-one, Gaye loves to work with students of all ages and genders. She wholeheartedly believes that anyone can sew and she loves her students to get creative and explore new skills.
For Gaye, choosing handmade and second-hand garments is more than just an expression of personal style. It’s about using, maintaining and appreciating textiles that embody the skills, efforts and creativity of the people that made them, whether manufactured or ‘me-made’.
Daydreamer – Maker – Welcoming
Melanie Bower (she/her) is happiest when she is experimenting and loves to create a welcoming learning environment where tinkering is encouraged. She holds degrees in Fashion Design and Fine Art from RMIT and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. She has extensive experience freelancing and working within her own studio practice. She loves teaching, learning from her students and being part of a community of makers.
Melanie loves to pattern-hack to get the perfect fit or the perfect hybrid. A lover of textiles, her classes often involve show and tell about fabric stores and op shops. Not to mention introducing students to sewing podcasts and other resources. One of her favourite things is to help her students to express themselves through fashion, providing them with a safe and friendly environment to achieve their personal goals. She will encourage you to take your next step, whether that’s using an overlocker for the first time or diving into the construction of a difficult pattern.
Inventive – Experimental – Approachable
Jo Riches (she/her) is a self-confessed textile addict. She holds a degree in Fashion from RMIT and a Certificate IV in Teaching and Assessment. After graduating, she worked in the local fashion industry for some iconic Melbourne labels; during which time she soaked up almost as much valuable knowledge as she did during Uni.
Jo has a keen eye and solid instincts for fabric choices to get great results with drape, shape and structure. This makes her an excellent op-shopper as she is able to spot the good stuff amongst the rack. Jo loves to manipulate fabric into new textures to create a new sensory feel. She appreciates the skill involved in a quality finish on a garment
Jo loves to be approachable when teaching. After all, there are no silly questions! She’s a big fan of making the most out of what’s available and experimenting to create something unexpected and beautiful. This is something that Jo loves about teaching at SOSU! If you’re just starting out, she will make sure you have confidence in what you are doing. If you’re a little more advanced, Jo loves to challenge your design choices and really bring out your creativity.
Communicator – Visual – Resourceful
Alison Pyle (she/her) is a bespoke tailor with the unique talent of being about to translate your stories and needs into the unique garment of your dreams. Alison holds a Bachelor of Education Arts/Crafts majoring in textiles. She worked as a high school teacher for a while, before going on to start her own dressmaking studio in the Nicholas Building in Melbourne.
Alison loves to get chatting with a quick Q&A session to gain an understanding of where you are at in your sewing journey and to get a feel for your sewing goals and needs. She’s a big believer that everyone is different and as such, have different goals. With a greater understanding of your backstory, she can help you to create your dream garment with creativity and flair.
Making countless garments over the years, Alison just loves textiles and garment construction. She lives and breathes it! She can’t wait to share her knowledge with you, so that you can use your inner perfectionist to create the best garment possible.