Local Studio Sows the Seeds of Creativity
It may have started as a fun activity to do with her daughter, but Valerie Salmon has expanded her lifelong passion for sewing into a small business.
A Sewing Studio occupies a quaint storefront in the Village of WestClay in Carmel and caters to children aged seven to 12, but even teens take classes. The business grew from its inception in Salmon’s nearby home in 2012 to a commercial location in 2016.
As a child, Salmon grew up around her mother’s tailoring shop in the Philippines, where she learned the craft from talented seamstresses and tailors. She made doll clothes when she was young, and grew with her skills to make prom dresses and eventually evening gowns.
“It was a fluke thing,” says Salmon of starting a children’s sewing school. “I had an elementary school-age daughter and taught her friends to sew. I thought it was fun for the kids. Sewing is kind of a dying art, and I’ve been around it my entire life and wanted to pass it down to another generation. I had no idea it was going to be a hit.”
When the kids’ pickup time resulted in cars circling her home-based business, it was time to find a larger space. Now, with a son entering his senior year in high school and a daughter attending classes at Indiana University, Salmon remains as busy as ever.
To her students she is known as Miss Valerie, and her once-per-week classes are attended by 75 to 100 children during the school year with a curriculum she developed. Self-paced projects include clothes, bags, zipper pouches, stuffed animals and even aprons.
“I keep it fun or they will lose interest,” Salmon says.
Some of her students have been coming to A Sewing Studio for years. While they’re busy having fun, the students are focused, following directions, learning machine mechanisms and patience through mistakes, using math skills and mastering hand-eye coordination.
Salmon says the simple act of sewing can be therapeutic and relaxing.
“The hour goes by so fast, and they’re never ready to leave,” she says. “They’re around people with similar interests, music is playing, and they’re chatting, roaming and watching other projects. They might be standing, pinning, cutting – there’s some snacking going on. It’s their time to unwind from busy school activities. It’s their fun hour.”
A Sewing Studio also offers camps, weekend workshops and birthday sewing parties. For these events, Salmon precuts the chosen craft materials and the students go home with their finished projects.
“Most kids love instant gratification and are happy with not having to do the preparations,” she says with a laugh.
Salmon often coordinates themes with upcoming holidays such as ghosts, Frankenstein figures and bats. Thanksgiving might bring bunting banners with pumpkin pie slices, or appliqué turkeys and acorn purses. During the winter holidays, she has patterns to make banners for decorating the house, a 3-D fabric Christmas tree, gingerbread men and even secret gifts for moms and dads from their crafty kids.
During her recent two-and-a-half month closure during the statewide order related to the coronavirus pandemic, Salmon found a way to give her clientele a creative outlet with project kits. Her $15 precut kits came boxed with instructions in kid-friendly form, and included more than 30 types of animals to choose from or a sleepover theme to create pajamas for 18-inch dolls.
“I’m resourceful, and my wheels are always turning,” Salmon says. “What can I do for all the bored kids playing video games and FaceTiming?”
Weekly classes started back up in early August, now with a reduced class size and a face mask requirement. All equipment is sanitized between uses. While some students showed an interest in making face masks early on, Salmon says they still prefer their more fun and creative projects.
“The main goal is to keep the kids interested,” she says. “My husband thought it would be a short-term thing and he supported me, and then this exploded by word of mouth and became something new to the community. Nine years later, and I’m still doing it. I love kids – they’re sponges and they’re great people. When I go to work, it truly is not like a job. We’re creating and it’s fun.”
A Sewing Studio is located at 12775 Horseferry Road in Carmel. Call 317-440-7709 or visit asewingstudio.com for more information.
It may have started as a fun activity to do with her daughter, but Valerie Salmon has expanded her lifelong passion for sewing into a small business, A Sewing Studio.