Headingley’s newest cafe brings tasty food and quality coffees together with sewing machines, workshops and a mini craft shop.
Workshop isn’t your usual cafe. Sure, you can grab a coffee and a slice of cake, but it also doubles as a craft shop and a sewing studio, so you can learn how to make your own clothes and get all the equipment you need to do it. It’s the brainchild of Aliss Oxley, a sewing lover who has a degree in Fashion Design with Textiles. After working as a designer in the fashion industry, she wanted to do something different, so she came up with a new concept that brought together all her passions.
“A lot of crafts, such as sewing, knitting and embroidery aren’t taught as a compulsory subject anymore and because of this they’re often getting lost,” Aliss explained. “I wanted to create a place where people could learn new skills, but also make it accessible, easy and fun. I think the fact that you can come in simply for a coffee and a cake does this and while it is a sewing cafe, it’s not necessarily the first thing you see – even if you’d never thought to try the craft before, I wanted it to be a place that sparks a conversation and makes you consider the potential of learning a new skill.”
The venue is quite Scandinavian in style – expect clean lines and white walls with oodles of natural light courtesy of the two big windows at the front and back of the venue. The first thing you encounter is the shop – it’s your new go-to for sewing equipment, from fabrics to needles and calico cloths, but it also acts as a mini gift shop, stocking ceramics, cards and stationery as well as prints from local artists.
Behind that, you’ll find the cafe where you can order a brew and pair it with a slice of cake. All their teas are sourced from Bird & Blend, an independent tea mixologist in Brighton, who do everything from a classic breakfast to the more daring blue raspberry. The Blending Room in Hull provides their coffee, and it’s a rich, full and smooth Brazilian blend with notes of orange, hazelnut and chocolate.
Whatever you go for, they’ll have a host of sweet treats for you to pair it with. They work with The Porterhouse Cake Company and vegan bakers That Old Chestnut to make sure there’s something for everyone. Their range changes up regularly, but Aliss has a few favourites to recommend, “The Porterhouse Cake Company’s Carrot and Courgette Cake has been a particular favourite since we opened. It’s really moist with just the right balance of flavours. That Old Chestnut supply us with a Chocolate Orange Tiffin too, which is super flavoursome and I love being able to have a vegan option on offer.”
They’re the perfect brainfood to accompany your sewing session. They have six sewing machines available for £5 an hour, as well as two overlockers and an iron – anyone can come in and use them, you can just grab a table in the cafe because nearly all of them has a power supply. All Aliss asks is for you to drop them a message first so they can get the equipment ready for you before you arrive.
They’ve turned this sometimes lonely craft into a social activity. You can go to meet-ups with like-minded crafters and share your ideas over a cuppa. If you want to improve your skills, they’ve got that covered too with a range of sewing classes aimed at both beginners and more experienced sewers. And they’re also going to put on loads of other craft workshops too, from advent calendar making to baby mobile classes.
All of this is just the start, however, and they’ve already got exciting plans for 2019. They’re going to introduce a weekly alterations service run by their in-house tailor and you can look forward to the launch of their own range of patterns in the new year, which you can try in their ‘Sew Along’ classes with step-by-step instructions on how to make them.
Workshop is one of those rare things – a unique concept that’s open to everyone. You can pick up presents, stock up on equipment, learn a new skill or just pop in for a brew. Why not stick your head in the next time you’re in the centre of Headingley and see what all the fuss is about?
Workshop Sewing Cafe, 24 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AD. It’s open 8am to 5.30pm Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday.