When Katherine Magne couldn’t find an in-person sewing community, she decided she’d start one herself. That was the start of Winnipeg Sews.

What she thought would be a small group meeting once a month, quickly turned into sold-out classes. Community centres and libraries held her over for about a year before she settled on a dedicated class space. That’s when Katherine established Winnipeg Sews in the South Osborne Xchange on Mulvey Avenue in South Osborne. 

Now, Winnipeg Sews offers a diverse range of classes that can empower even absolute beginners to sew their own wardrobes. Shirts, jeans, and underwear all have their own separate classes, while the most popular class, “Hello Machine,” teaches the very basics.

Katherine is heavily involved in the slow fashion movement, as is the entire concept of home sewing. It’s about products that are created to last, in safe and fair working conditions. Learning what it takes to produce a t-shirt, can recontextualize what it means to find a $2 shirt at Walmart.

Katherine in the studio

“You make something, mend it, then you mend it again, then you turn it into rags, it keeps things out of the garbage,” says Katherine.

Now, instead of spending a long day at the mall, searching for the perfect pair of black jeans, Katherine is able to skip all that and create a pair herself that fits exactly how she likes. She doesn’t need to think about what’s available to her anymore, and says learning to sew means no longer being restricted to what’s in the mall, where stores essentially tell you what you want to wear.

For the past six years, Katherine has clothed her family of six entirely from either her own machine or the thrift store. 

Her children take full advantage of having no restrictions. She gets some pretty specific requests, like a lightsaber that rips off their pants.

What started off as a hobby, slowly grew into a full-time job. Before Winnipeg Sews, Katherine worked in law, which she says shares a lot of overlapping skills. Both call for attention to detail, deadlines, and deal with linear, step-by-step processes, but unlike law, sewing is a relaxing process.

It’s a basic skill that she says many are only now coming back to learn in their adult years. Some come to sew for slow fashion, some for alternations, and others for mending. 

The teaching is the best part for Katherine. She says it’s been a blessing to connect, and she finds it rewarding to see adults reconnecting with their clothing in a new way. Sometimes that looks like finally finding something that fits, realizing just how long it takes to make a simple shirt, or accepting their own mistakes.

Winnipeg Sews also offers kids classes, and Katherine loves seeing the kids being ‘bonkers wild creative,’ and knowing that they’ll grow up with this important skill.

In addition to sewing classes, Winnipeg Sews supports home sewers by offering a small selection of fabric, and pattern printing.

Katherine takes care of pretty much everything at Winnipeg Sews, which includes a little admin work in the mornings, fabric sourcing, website work, class descriptions, scheduling classes, and teaching about 80 hours or so a month. 

If you’re interested in getting started with sewing or continuing your sewing education, Winnipeg Sews is currently offering both small sized and private classes. 

So many people get stuck sewing in their dark basements at night, that Katherine encourages them to come and experience her wonderful class space. The large windows let in plenty of sunlight, and each student gets their own table.

You can find out more and check out the available classes on their website at https://www.winnipegsews.com/

Winnipeg Sews at the South Osborne Xchange