Modern Domestic - view from sewing studio mezzanine
Image: Kristin Belz
The view from the sewing studio mezzanine at Modern Domestic, a three-year old shop on NE Alberta that offers classes, machine rentals and everything you need to try out sewing.

DIY comes in different shapes and sizes, especially in Portland. You can grow your own vegetables, raise your own chickens, and sew your own clothes. Or you can support your fellow Portlanders by purchasing what they've grown and raised and sewn. Either one is morally defensible in our ethics-centered city.

But sometimes you might have a notion to break out of your comfort zone and do something yourself that you haven't done before. A great way to do this is to try your hand at sewing – which doesn't have to mean hand sewing or buying your own sewing machine.  The sewing studio is where to go.

Modern Domestic is one of a handful of shops where you can go to use their sewing machines and/or learn to sew. It's a type of retail establishment that didn't even exist in previous generations, but seems tailor-made (pun intended) to Portland and the 21st century modern/throwback mash-up lifestyle.

I had a fantasy that I could just walk in off the street with some fabric and an hour or so later walk out with beautiful cloth napkins in hand. Turns out that's not a realistic expectation, but a similar goal would not be difficult to achieve. It might take a few hours. I'd make napkins with a "serger" – a special sewing machine that hem the edge of a single layer of fabric so it won't unravel. I only know this because my mother has a serger and has made napkins for me. Wouldn't she be surprised if I did such a project myself?

Do you have the urge to serge? Try this class. Modern Domestic and other studios around town offer a range of classes each month, often for about $30-$50 a session.

Here's a slide show tour of what Modern Domestic has and what you might try out.

Modern Domestic
1408 NE Alberta Street
Portland, OR 

For more home and garden ideas and inspiration, sign up for our weekly At Home newsletter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, and visit our Home & Design page.