The Make and Do Studio in Stockton Heath
PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 January 2017
Sewing success in Stockton Heath
When Maeri Howard moved to the UK from New York, it was meant to be for two years. ‘That was 25 years ago,’ she laughed, when she reminisced as to how she came to be in Stockton Heath. ‘I worked for a publishing company and had to come over here for a placement in the North West. I looked on a map and thought Warrington looked nearby to motorways and the airport.’
Maeri, who is originally from the state of Vermont, later moved to Stockton Heath in 2009 with her husband, Gwyndaf Evans, when she was pregnant with their third child.
‘I decided I didn’t want to go back to work, so instead I started a couple of sewing workshops. I grew up on a very rural farm. It was very hand to mouth at times so back then learning how to make clothes was a necessity rather than a luxury. People were quiet apprehensive when I told them what I was going to be doing but what started nine years ago as a few classes has now developed into the Make and Do Studio, running four-six classes on average per week.’
Along with seven other tutors, Maeri teaches a variety of workshops, ranging from beginners and crochet to dress making, leather purses and soft furnishings. ‘It just organically developed. There wasn’t really a market for it when I first started but I think once the Great British Sewing Bee aired, it encouraged others to give it a go and really changed the trajectory of the business.’
The studio runs from Maeri’s home, in what formerly was her husband’s cinema room. It’s a one-stop shop on a small level for crafting. As well as the workshops you can also buy equipment to sew at home and have your machine serviced.
So why did she keep it at home despite the increasing popularity of the business? ‘It keeps the classes homely and relaxed. You can keep the numbers in each one low, so people are more comfortable and can ask questions freely. There’s also the social element where you can make friends - plus fresh tea, coffee and snacks!
Maeri admits that a little part of her thought it may take off as it was an untapped market, but she is still surprised by just how popular it is: ‘You always have to keep on top of what the next big trend is, especially as many people return for different classes. The majority of attendees are over 30 due to the majority of workshops taking place during the day – but we do get some younger people in the evenings. We’ve even had a few men, one wanted to make his own leather seat for his Vespa.’