Former flight attendant establishes sewing start up in Central

Combining fun with work has led a former flight attendant to create a novel enterprise in Central

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 March, 2013, 6:41am

You've heard of a book club and a coffee club, but a sewing club? It may seem a little old-fashioned, but a band of loyal enthusiasts are hoping to stir up more interest in going back to basics in the craft of sewing.

The Sewing Lounge, based on Lyttleton Road in Central, is a haven for those who want to enjoy a few hours in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with fellow sewers.

Its founder, Melanie Bell, was originally from Detroit and came to Hong Kong 16 years ago to work as a flight attendant.

A year ago, she decided to provide a platform for sewers and crafters to share their ideas and creativity. She had lived in Berlin for a time, where she experienced the world's first sewing cafe, and felt the time was right to start up one of her own in Hong Kong.

"I learned to sew from my mother. As a teenager I loved making clothes for myself and friends," she says. "After college, I lost interest in sewing and didn't take it up again until years later when I lived in Berlin. It's a chance for people that love to sew and craft to get together."

She now combines her hobby with her full-time job as general secretary for the Dragonair Pilots Association.

Bell believes that whether it is a handmade skirt or cushion cover, it carries a special significance because it is the result of a person's own work and creativity - and a chance to make something unique for a beloved one.

In setting up the club, Bell soon found that as well as sewing she had lots in common with other members. Before long they were all getting on famously. They make up a small and personal group, whose members enjoy one another's company.

"Some of my best friends are fellow sewers," she says. "You learn about people and their lives while they sew. We all enjoy a good laugh and a chat, too. It helps us all to de-stress."

Although The Sewing Lounge has members as old as 70 and as young as 12, most people are under 35. Some members are just trying to improve their skills, while others are in the fashion industry and are looking to add to their collection. One factory owner in Shenzhen even learned to sew here so he could relate better to his workers and understand the problems they faced.

"I think we have something for everyone," Bell said. "We're flexible and looking forward to some more good times ahead."