Sonia Le is an independent fashion designer who works from her studio at the Tannery Arts Center. She’s also a teacher, helping to instill the skills of fashion into a new generation. We caught up with Sonia to learn more about her multifaceted sewing practice, and why sewing is a valuable life skill in the twenty-first century.
Tell us about your Tannery studio. What happens here?
I sell one-of-a-kind wearable art. I do custom work, like pillows with all organic products, bathing suits, and embroidery. I create women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories. I also make wearable art, with LED lights and lots of other fun stuff. I teach sewing classes for kids and adults as well. On First Fridays, I demonstrate embroidery on my big embroidery machine.
How has having a studio at the Tannery helped your business?
I love it because it’s so convenient for me as I also live here. And having a teenager too, it’s easier for me to have my own hours. But it’s a lot of work, and it’s just me; I don’t have any help yet. But word’s getting around about what I do.
Why is learning to sew important, when we usually just buy the clothes we need?
Clothing is not made like it used to be. And it costs so much money to keep buying new clothes. I teach teens in the fashionTEENS program how to repurpose and make something out of materials that aren’t normally used for fashion. I give students all the shortcuts and all the tools to alter their own clothes. I teach youth that they can be in charge of something they want to create. It’s fun to see how they get empowered by something they didn’t think they could do. I had one student who did not want to do anything at first, but I just got her to make a jumpsuit and then she wouldn’t take it off!
In addition to her open studio, Sonia will have a display of vintage sewing machines from her personal collection on display in Studio 119 at the Tannery this First Friday, September 6 from 6-8:30 pm.