The selection below highlights a range of price points and activity type for any skill level (but especially beginners); all are ideal for flexing those creative muscles. Because no matter how good you are at finding free tutorials on YouTube, nothing beats having a professional standing right in front of you, eager to help you learn a craft and answer all your not-stupid questions.
The Lemon Collective
Founded by artists Linny Giffin, Kathryn Zaremba and Holley Simmons (a former Post contributor), the Lemon Collective is a space dedicated to hosting workshops led by a rotating cast of artists and makers. Some classes, including houseplants 101 ($15), terrarium with succulents ($55) are led by Simmons, who also owns She Loves Me, a flower shop right next door. But you can do more than stretch your green thumb: Learn how to use natural dyes ($35 to $50), make felted ornaments ($40 to $100) or block print your own holiday cards ($55).
On a Sunday afternoon in September, several people gathered around the large table in the back of She Loves Me as Nicole Capó Martínez, the store’s retail manager, taught the ins and outs of making flower crowns ($50). Roll your eyes all you want, but this activity was exactly what you’d want from a crafting session: quick to learn, completely customizable, a little superfluous, and, above all, fun. Each participant wound floral wire around leaves and buds to create their own design and also learned where to source flowers, greenery and wire to create more on their own. One attendee even mentioned making a crown for her wedding.
Shop Made in D.C.
Shop Made in D.C., which has three locations in the District, offers more than locally made art, food products, home decor and jewelry for purchase. The Dupont, Wharf, and Georgetown shops also host frequent workshops. Curious about block printing? Want to make your own candles? Need to brush up on a traditional Japanese stitching technique? There’s a class for that: Each lasts about two hours and typically costs between $35 and $85 (including materials).
At a recent macramé dream catcher class ($42), led by Anna Johnston, owner of plant and fiber art business Jungle & Loom, a group of about 12 people gathered at the Georgetown location. (Several were colleagues from a consulting firm: Note to companies, craft classes make for fun team-building activities.)
Johnston guided participants as they attached cotton cords to a brass ring to make their own dream catchers. The basic design didn’t include knots, but Johnston happily taught a few knotting techniques to anyone who asked, and most attendees were soon experimenting with different patterns, taking ideas from their neighbors, and crafting pieces of their own. “This is going to catch my career dreams,” said one of the consultants in a tone somewhere between sarcastic and cynical.
1710 Connecticut Ave. NW; 10 District Sq. SW; 1242 Wisconsin Ave. NW. shopmadeindc.com.
Steadfast Supply is part retail, part brand incubator: You’ll find candles, clothing, jewelry, and other goods from several area makers, plus products from independent designers around the world. The stores, located in the District’s Navy Yard and Arlington’s Ballston Quarter, also host live performances, discussions, tastings and creative workshops ranging from paper flower making ($65) to watercolor painting ($85) to cupcake decorating ($90).
At an intro to hand-lettering class ($75) in September, artist Samantha Testa, owner of lettering and watercolor business Painted Palettes, taught a small group the basics of brush and faux calligraphy using four types of pens and a workbook that Testa made.
It felt like learning cursive in elementary school all over again but with customizable greeting cards, shimmery metallic pens and a glass of wine (all included in the workshop fee). This type of class is particularly well-suited to those who want to use their hands to create something tangible but don’t necessarily want to make an object. Participants left with the aforementioned lettering materials — new pens and all — so they could keep practicing at home.
Stitch & Rivet
Owner Katie Stack, with the help of three artisan-associates, makes leather and waxed canvas bags, wallets, pouches and other accessories in this shop, which opened on the Brookland Arts Walk in February 2014. She also teaches about a dozen leather-focused workshops a year; participants can learn to make belts ($82) and leather notebook covers ($82). While classes are finished for 2019, sign-ups for next year’s classes — starting in February — begin on Nov. 18. Classes tend to fill quickly, especially when it’s one not previously offered — such as the crossbody and tote bag sessions that Stack plans to teach in 2020.
At a clutch-making class ($82) in September, a small group gathered in the back of the shop to cut leather with very sharp exacto knives, punch holes, add rivets and, eventually, create a small leather clutch. Although everyone worked from the pattern that Stack designed, each clutch ended up being a little different, thanks to Stack’s suggestions for tweaks and adjustments that made each bag unique. This class was particularly cathartic, because it involved a lot of hole punching with a mallet. (Read: You get to pound stuff and it’s loud.) As one participant aptly noted, “It’s like therapy but I get a clutch when I’m done.”
Upcoming classes: basic leather skills, Feb. 8; belt-making workshop, Feb. 22; clutch-making workshop, March 7.