Thrifty Thurston Explores Family Friendly Sewing, Craft Classes

olympia arbutus folk
Arbutus Folk School offers a variety of handcrafting classes, such as an Introduction to Blacksmithing workshop.


By Laurie O’Brien

get logoWhat better way to bond with your family members – both young and old – or a friend, than learning a usable skill together? As any truly thrifty person knows, sometimes you do have to spend a little to save a little. Here, Thrifty Thurston focuses on some local businesses that offer classes that can translate into savings when it comes to gift giving or creating goods for your personal use.

Each of the following businesses offer classes designed so that students walk away with a finished project at the end. Many of them also offer recurring sessions so that people can bring in projects and receive expert help from teachers or shop regulars. Oftentimes these help nights are free or at a nominal cost.

olympia arbutus folk
Arbutus Folk School offers a variety of handcrafting classes, such as an Introduction to Blacksmithing workshop.

Arbutus Folk School

The newest player in the Olympia craft scene is the Arbutus Folk School. Located on the corner of 4th Avenue and Cherry Street, directly across from the Olympia City Hall, this new school offers everything from woodworking and blacksmithing to fiber arts and ceramics.  I recently observed a group of students learning how to hand forge nails and decorative items.  Arbutus also has a fully equipped wood shop where students can learn how to properly use table saws and hand held woodworking tools.

A listing of current classes can be found here.

Bayside Quilting

Most area quilters are already familiar with Bayside and its extensive selection of fabric and the large Handiquilter Avante they have available. However, if you’re a novice quilter, the homey shop also offers classes designed to teach basic skills.  Instructor Barbara Glass offers multiple Learn to Quilt in Four Hours classes each month. Students need to bring their own machines, but the class includes all the materials, including backing and batting, for participants to go home with a finished table runner.  Students should have a working knowledge of their machines, but if a group of novice sewers all sign up for the same class, it can be tailored to include basic skills. A Learn to Use Your Sewing Machine class is also offered, and is designed to teach students about the various features available to them on their machines.

Bayside Quilting is located on State Avenue in downtown Olympia. A list of current classes can be found here.

Canvas Works

olympia knitting class
Knitting classes, at Canvas Works in downtown Olympia, are suitable for families of all ages.

Anyone in the area who does any sort of needle craft knows about Canvas Works and its huge selection of yarn and fabrics. As a periodic knitter, I took a few classes at the downtown store a number of years ago. Imagine my surprise when I went in recently and discovered a whole sewing workroom.  The sewing space may be used free of charge when you bring your own machine. If you would like to use one of the shop’s machines, the cost is $10 per day. An industrial machine for heavier projects is also available for $25 per day.

The first Friday of every month at Canvas Works is a free social night when customers are encouraged to bring in knitting, crochet, felting, spinning, or sewing projects and mingle and seek help from the creative community and shop staff.

In addition to offering a lengthy list of classes, when you buy your supplies at Canvas Works you can enjoy free knitting, crocheting, and sewing help anytime during store hours.

A list of current classes can be found here.

Gee-Gee’s Quilting

For readers residing in Yelm, Gee-Gee’s Quilting is the place to go for quilting classes. In addition to beginning quilting, specialty skills classes are offered, and a monthly “Open Sew” occurs on a select Monday evening.

A list of current classes can be found here.


olympia sewing class
Bayside Quilting teaches basic skills as well as educating you on how to use your sewing machine.

(re)Fabulous is a great place for completely novice sewers to learn how to thread a needle and handle a bobbin. If you are interested in making your clothes fit differently, (re)Fabulous is a great place to learn solid technical skills.  Classes are geared toward specific age groups – adults, teens, tweens, and even younger children. Located on Black Lake Boulevard in West Olympia, (re)Fabulous also offers private lessons and special group workshops.

To learn more about classes, go here then use the pull down menu to select the type of class you’re interested in.

Ruby Street Quiltworks

A look at the list of current classes offered at Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater shows some advanced technique classes as well as a number of fun workshops designed for the social quilter!

For current classes, check here.

Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County.  The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community.  If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at  For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email