Stitching Up Savings With Sewing Discounts

Local sewing shop offers employee discount on lessons, workshops

Martha Timmons, left, and daughter Emily Synan, center, show off the Roman shade they created with the help of Toni Mason, right, owner of Sew Crafty. Photo by Marsha A. Green.

Martha Timmons watched as her daughter boldly began cutting peach and white fabric to make window shades.

The two women carefully stitched rings to the back of the fabric to guide the Roman shade into neatly pleated folds. But when they hung the shade, it sagged crookedly, despite their best efforts to fix it.

"Maybe we should get some help," Timmons told her daughter.

They turned to Sew Crafty, a downtown Durham sewing and craft store that offers Duke employees a 10 percent discount on adult workshops and 20 percent discount on the first private sewing lesson through PERQS, the employee discount program.

Timmons, an institutional review board specialist for the School of Medicine, recalled receiving an email advertising the special discount through the PERQS program. "When that shade wouldn't hang right, I just kind of put two and two together and called to make an appointment," she said.

Sew Crafty, which has offered private sewing lessons since opening in 2004, expanded in 2010 to include a large studio with eight sewing machines for workshops. The workshops cover how to sew crafts such as tote bags, purses and pillows.

"It is often cheaper to buy something, but when you sew, you can personalize it," said Toni Mason, owner of Sew Crafty. "The satisfaction of being creative is priceless."

Last October, Timmons and her daughter, Emily Synan, walked into the brightly lit shop for a private lesson. They laid out the uncooperative Roman shade on a cutting table. Mason smoothed the fabric and showed them why the shade wasn't working: it wasn't cut perfectly square. 

Timmons and Synan watched intently as Mason demonstrated each step necessary to finish the project by creating a miniature Roman shade that pleated tidily into straight, even folds.

"She even taught us how to sew the side seams of the shade to make it look more professional," said Synan.

Just before Christmas, they returned to Sew Crafty to show off the handiwork: A Roman shade that hung straight and piled softly into folds when Mason pulled the cords.

"It's beautiful," said Mason, stroking the pleats and carefully examining the stitching. Added Synan, "and it looks great in my kitchen."