8 Maker Spaces in Alexandria to DIY

You may not know it, but you’re a Maker. If you’ve ever taken something apart, put something together or done a DIY project, you’re part of the Maker Movement that’s become so popular, America was recently named a “Nation of Makers.” And Alexandria, Virginia is a haven for those who want to pursue their passion and spark their creativity. From beginners to experts, the possibilities for DIY creativity are endless in Alexandria with opportunities to make your own wardrobe and jewelry, build your own bike, design works of art, create plateware for your home or get your home-brewed beer on tap at a local brewery. It’s hard to imagine anything more satisfying than learning a skill in a creative community and being able to take home the final product. Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite maker spaces in Alexandria.

Stitch Sew Shop

Stitch Sew Shop Counter_Credit S Stanton for Visit Alexandria (1 of 1)Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Stitch Sew Shop is the newest member of Alexandria’s maker-family, and the third in a trifecta of maker spaces known collectively as “Craft Old Town,” all located within one walkable block. Set foot in the modern creative space and you’ll feel like it’s been there forever, humming with sewing machines and conversation as customers create everything from skinny jeans to summer dresses. Stitch Sew Shop is a sanctuary for the modern maker, opened in May 2016 by self-taught sewing enthusiast Kalle Thompson to revive the lost art of sewing that so many previous generations celebrated. You can rent Bernina sewing machine stations by the hour, take regular classes or weekend-long mini-retreats with well-known “sew-lebrities” that include a cocktail party and two eight-hour long workshops. Whether you’ve never threaded a bobbin or are an advanced seamstress, Thompson has created a welcoming space for all experience levels that will keep you coming back for more. Want to start small but don’t know how? Try one of their DIY embroidery kits or iron-on patterns. 

fibre space

Credit: fibre space

Around the corner on King Street, fibre space is a vibrant and cozy yarn universe from friendly and passionate “fibre fiend” Danielle Romanetti. Part of “Craft Old Town,” fibre space specializes in unique yarns and fibres from hand dyed, indepependent sources for knitting, crochet and spinning. Seriously, the yarn is so soft and colorful you’ll want to make your entire wardrobe out of it. You can stop by the space for classes, designer workshops, yarn tastings, movie nights and much more in their comfortable lounge. fibre space is for everyone, and the friendly staff is there to help you every “stitch” of the way in a welcoming environment that doesn’t feel intimidating.

Potomac Bead Company

Potomac Bead Co Credit S Stanton For Visit AlexandriaCredit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Rounding out “Craft Old Town” is Potomac Bead Company, which feels like a giant treasure chest when you walk in, full of colorful beads, gemstones, crystals and more. Everything you need for DIY jewelry and beading projects is at Potomac Bead Company, with two floors of tools and supplies filled from wall-to-wall. Anyone can utilize the shop’s free workspace, or take daily classes that range from lessons in chain link jewelry making to silver smithing. The staff can help beginners design custom pieces, or teach experts how to sell their jewelry on sites like Etsy. 

The Art League School

Art_League_2_1.ceramicsKHG_720x477_72_RGBPotter Blair Meerfeld teaches Art League students during a pottery class. Credit: Kate Gelatt for The Art League

With classrooms at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and at their Madison Annex in north Old Town, The Art League School offers courses in virtually all of the fine arts with some of the most talented and well-known artists and instructors in the country. You can choose from short workshops to semester-long courses in all skill levels and mediums like printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, photography, drawing, stained glass, bookmaking and more. The Art League School is the perfect place to spark your creativity with a community of artists and other passionate students.

VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative

V_loCity_Bicycle_Cooperative_CREDIT_ACVA_720x405_72_RGBCredit: Visit Alexandria

The sky’s the limit at VéloCity Bicycle Cooperative in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, where you can build your own bike out of used parts. Have you ever gotten a flat tire on your bike and had no idea how to fix it? VéloCity empowers all experience levels with the skills to do your own bike maintenance and repair so you can hop back on your bike instead of taking the long walk home. You can stop in the volunteer-run shop for quick repairs during open hours, take training classes, or, for the ultimate challenge, create a custom-built bike.

Old City Press

Old City Press Interior_CREDIT S Stanton for Visit Alexandria (1 of 1)Credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

Old City Press revives the lost art of letterpress and makes it feel brand new in a fun and inviting workspace. With a group of friends, you can plan a customized workshop with expert artists and spend an afternoon designing your own stationery, cards, posters and more. Start from scratch as you create personalized designs, choose your own colors and press your own cards on authentic and old-school letterpresses. The staff is so friendly, they’ll feel like part of your friend group by the end of the workshop. 

The Clay Queen Pottery

Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

The Clay Queen Pottery in Del Ray is a cozy and magical space where all skill levels can take hands-on classes on the wheel and receive individualized instruction from the Clay Queen herself, Renee Altman. Altman’s private studio has the luxury of not being tied to semesters or 101 courses, so classes are conveniently “one size fits all.” 

Portner Brewhouse Craft Beer Test Kitchen®

Portner Brewhouse and CBTK Logos (1)Credit: Portner Brewhouse

If you brew your own beer, you won’t want to miss this. When Portner Brewhouse opens in the fall of 2016, homebrewers can test their recipes in the one-of-a-kind Craft Beer Test Kitchen®, with an opportunity to brew one of their recipes on the Portner Brewhouse brewing system and see it sold in the brewpub. Using customer feedback and sales data, Portner Brewhouse will give each brewer a “Recipe Report Card” along with guidance from the head brewer as you go.

More for Beginners

For beginners who want a low-key way to get creative, take a group of friends to a paint and sip party at Wine & Design or Monet Gogh Sip, or try painting pre-made ceramics at Paint This! 

Are you enjoying Alexandria’s maker spaces? Tag your photos with #ExtraordinaryALX and share!

Header image credit: S. Stanton for Visit Alexandria

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