Whenever autumn rolls around, I begin fantasizing about whipping up cute little handmade goodies — knitting a pair of mittens for my sister, bringing hand-poured candles to my friend’s housewarming party, making pretty lavender sachets for my linen closet. Problem is, I’m not exactly Martha Stewart.
Luckily, Philly is teeming with crafty-cool people who are nice enough to impart their craft-making knowledge to us less-than-handy folks. And I’m not talking stodgy quilting circles: These classes are actually fun, and you get to walk away with your cool new handiwork. Watch out, Martha.
1. Soap-making at Duross & Langel
It’s pure, sudsy fun at Duross & Langel’s two-hour Sunday School workshops, where sassy-sweet co-owner Steve Duross teaches you how to create some of the skincare products (soaps, balms, salves, scrubs) he sells in his cult-fave shop. Combine colors, extracts, oils and scents to make your very own soaps (don’t wear precious duds) — and, yes, you get to bring all of your soapy creations home. Of course, if your bath bar pales in comparison to D&L’s version, don’t worry: Students get a 20 percent discount to use after class. Classes are $35; call to reserve a spot. 117 South 13th Street, 215-592-SOAP, durossandlangel.com.
2. Sewing at Spool
Learn your way around a sewing machine in Spool’s bright, airy and utterly adorable South Street shop. Sign up for their beginner class, and after two two-hour sessions (held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.), you’ll have a super-chic grocery tote to show for it. Check out their website for a pic of a finished product — trust me, it’s totally worth the inevitable pin-pricks. $48 for two sessions, includes materials; call to sign up. 1912 South Street, 215-545-0755, spoolsewing.com.
3. Ceramics at the Clay Studio
Perfect for the bar-weary set, the Clay Studio’s Friday evening “Date Nights” let you mingle while learning the basics of the potting wheel. Instructors guide you through wheel-throwing, and you get to design, throw and glaze your own piece. If your significant other scoffs at the idea of spending a Friday night at a clay studio, just tell him that they serve up free beer, wine and snacks. $25 for members, $30 for nonmembers. (Hint: There’s only room for 25 students per class and spots fill quickly, so call to book the October 17th session soon.) 139 North 2nd Street, 215-925-3453, theclaystudio.org.
4. Handbags at 1154 Lill
This DIY handbag company lets those of us who don’t know how to operate a sewing machine (see number 2) play designer. Leave the actual bag construction up to them, and enjoy mixing and matching fabrics, colors and styles to create your dream arm candy. Pick out your bag type first (they offer everything from clutches and wallets to hobos and totes), then choose interior, exterior, strap and accent fabrics (they’ve got over 150 different fabrics). Visit their website to learn more about bag-making parties, which you can either hold in-store or at a location of your choice. 115 South 13th Street, 215-923-8030, 1154lill.com.
5. Gift-making at Cloth & Bobbin
You need to have a very basic knowledge of sewing for Cloth & Bobbin’s Sunday afternoon gift-making sessions (again, see number 2 — or check out Cloth & Bobbin’s basic sewing class on October 14th), but once you get the whole threading-your-machine thing down, call and reserve a spot to learn how to craft cute gifty goods like aprons, placemats, napkins, fabric frames, and wine bottle bags. $30 per class. 235 Haverford Avenue, Narberth, 610-667-5366, clothandbobbin.com.