LAKEVIEW — Designer Tania Mackey wants to revive the “dying art” of sewing by teaching classes out of her Lakeview store.
Mackey opened Niczka Studio, 3140 N. Lincoln Ave., in June after spending the past several months operating out of a pop-up storefront in West Town.
Niczka offers handmade clothing, custom pieces, alterations and thrift flips, but Mackey said she hopes to expand the practice to start teaching sewing classes.
“I want this to become a creative space where people can come in, learn about sewing and leave with a finished piece depending on what level of classes they take,” Mackey said. “Sewing is a dying art, and it can’t be.”
The store will offer classes for kids and adults of different skill levels, Mackey said.
“The classes are always going to be a tutorial so people get to bring something home,” Mackey said. “The beginner class for kids would be on how to make a seasonal pillowcase or something simple so I can show them how to start and finish stitches.”
In the more advanced classes, kids could learn how to make things like pencil cases, shorts, skirts or mini messenger bags, Mackey said.
For adults, Mackey said she envisions “sip and sew” classes where people could have drinks with friends while learning how to sew, whether that’s a beginner’s class or more targeted classes on hemming, taking in jackets or pants and creating other items.
“I think these classes would be great to launch for the winter because it gives you something to do inside with your friends or kids,” Mackey said.
But before she can start teaching, Niczka Studio needs more sewing machines to accommodate the classes. Mackey said she’s been collecting donations through the boutique’s Facebook page and has already received four sewing machines. People can contact Mackey through Niczka’s Facebook page if they’d like to donate a machine.
“If you have a working sewing machine that you don’t use and it’s collecting dust, it would definitely get used here for a good cause,” Mackey said.
Before finding its more permanent home in Lakeview, Niczka was run out of a 550-square-foot pop-up storefront occupied by the West Town Chamber of Commerce.
Mackey, who opened the pop-up in December, said she had worked on her clothing boutique “on the side” for the past five years while working other jobs. Opening the store was a dream of hers since learning to sew from her mother in junior high, Mackey said.
Mackey said it was a “weird time” to open the store in the middle of the pandemic, but the timing felt right to her.
“If I can get through a month like this, then I can make it anywhere after this,” she said. “It wasn’t super planned. … It was me being sick of not pursuing my dream.”
Niczka Studio is open 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. The shop is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: