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Condo development to replace beloved local creative space

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Stitch Lab Sewing Studio to close

A room full of colorful fabrics and notions with a woman shopping at the end of the room
Stitch Lab Sewing Studio fabric room

Stitch Lab Sewing Studio, the South Austin business that opened up worlds of creative possibilities for anyone—novice or expert—involved and interested in textile arts, announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that it would be closing its doors in February.

Lab owner Leslie Bonnell’s statement made clear that, while the prime South First property where the business’ two small buildings—converted single-family homes—operate will be sold for a planned condo development, the current landowners should not be cast as a villain in the situation: “You need to know that our landlords are truly good people, longtime South Austin residents, who have been incredibly supportive of Stitch Lab, so they mustn’t be vilified in any way! ... They just have to cope with the astronomical property taxes in this area. ...”

She added that a combination of scant possible relocation spots, the expenses of moving, and the high cost of doing business in Austin led to the decision to shutter. Bonnell added that she has “been saddened and alarmed to see so many small creative Austin businesses close down lately, as redevelopment of our funky old shop spaces runs rampant.”

Bonnell and crew will continue to operate full-speed until the closing, holding classes, selling fabric and other items, and hosting events until then.

Stitch has been in business for 14 years and has offered classes in such areas as sewing, quilting, crocheting, craft-making, silkscreening, and many more. It also sells a variety of unusual, rare, and quirky materials, patterns, tools, notions, and more that appeal to makers looking for quality and difference in their materials.

At least as important is the community created around the store and workspace, one infused with wit, warmth, support, goofiness, and a hardcore DIY ethos. Those qualities, combined with the labyrinth of former and new connections and the mad skills of Bonnell and the other instructors, made it hard to imagine its being and thriving anywhere but Austin.

“The outpouring of love and support since we announced our closing today is so beautifully overwhelming,” Bonnell wrote Curbed Austin in a text. “So many tears today, but such beautiful messages of love and appreciation.

“Lots of people are angry with the raging growth of this city,” she continued, “It’s hard to be mad at this town, when it has given me so many opportunities to cobble together creative and rewarding work for myself and others. But sometimes, I do get a little mad.”