Instructors
 
 
Owner, Leslie Bonnell is a former costume designer who decided to start offering sewing classes in her Bouldin Creek home studio in 2001. Sharing years of experience, tips, tricks along with a special brand of patience, style and humor, Leslie built a loyal following in her tiny studio. As word spread like wildfire about her great classes, Leslie decided to hire on additional top notch instructors to help accommodate the demand. In November of 2009, the Stitch Lab found a new home at 1000 S. 1st St. in a charming 1920's bungalow where more classes along with a fantastic selection of beautiful fabrics are offered.

"My friend took me to a beginning sewing class at the Stitch Lab. I am just now trying to start learning how to use a sewing machine and I'm having to get over my irrational fear that the machine will go wild, rampage out of control, and SEW MY FINGERS!!!  So you can see what kind of 'fraidy cat/newbie' I am.

Our instructor was Leslie and she was great!!! She had a super clear, calm way of explaining everything and a great deal of patience. There were only four people in our class so we all got special attention when we had issues. By the end of the class I surprised myself by completing a cute little bag. I was so excited because I really didn't think I could do it (I don't know WHERE I got this sew-phobia but it was serious!).

Now that I cleared the first hurdle, I'm all excited to go back and pick out some material from Stitch Lab's awesome collection and make MORE STUFF! Thank you Stitch Lab!  Thank you Leslie!" -- Morgan

Becky Joiner has always loved doing anything creative & crafty. She's constantly discovering new facets in her love of sewing, knitting, crochet, art, and anything d.i.y. She has a BFA in Illustration and never has idle hands, with 3 kiddos, a husband, a cat and a pup at home! She is also a regular contributor to Kids Crafts 1-2-3 Magazine. Currently, Becky teaches Private Lessons at Stitch Lab.
"I took three crochet classes from Becky and they were all awesome. I am using the skills that I learned everyday. I am looking forward to my next class with her." -- Barbara
Jack of all trades, master of none — Carol Cunningham spends every second of her free time (and some not-so-free) knitting, crocheting, sewing, glueing, binding, printing (and super fake, choreographed dancing). Carol keeps the home fires burning as the Stitch Lab Office Administrator!
"...Carol kicks butt! I've never met her, but we spoke on the phone one time and emailed multiple times. I had a conflict with finding childcare and a class I had registered for, and she was incredibly helpful with swapping classes out and even let me know when my spot filled up. I was concerned that it wouldn't fill and I would have felt bad, like I had lost Stitch Lab business because of my conflicted scheduling. All of the girls have been great, but that was an out-of-her-way kind of help that far exceeded any of my hopes." -- Sarah
Emily Jean Gilardi earned her BFA in Theatre Arts from Flagler College in St Augustine, Florida. Since graduation, she's worked as a theatrical costume designer around Florida and in Austin. You may have seen her work on stage at The Vortex, with Austin Shakespeare, or at ZACH! Emily loves fashion, thrift store shopping, listening to records and working as the newest shop gal here at the Stitch Lab! Emily Jean also hosts many of our Sewing Lounges.
"I love the Stitch Lab! I have taken classes at other shops around Austin, and while I have nothing negative to say about the other shops, Stitch Lab has taken my sewing to another level. I am so excited for every class! All the girls there are really wonderful!  Walking around the shop gives me a warm fuzzy feeling!" -- Jennifer
Emily Krug is the Retail Manager and Office Admin Assistant at Stitch Lab. She moved to Austin in 2011, after graduating from Bennington College with a focus in Costume Design. As she's working to carve out her life here, she enjoys being as crafty as possible. Emily has recently discovered a love of hand sewing. Her favorite thing to make is clothing, preferably with cats on them. Her current goal is to sew one pattern a week. She loves being able to touch beautiful fabric all day, and is always inspired by the students and instructors at Stitch Lab. Emily hosts many of our Sewing Lounges.
"Emily helped me pick fabrics for the projects and she was so sweet and has a great eye. 100% positive!" -- Tess
Visiting Austin from upstate New York, Hope Chambrone immediately fell in love with its charm—and weirdness! She's worked as a seamstress in a vintage clothing shop and as an instructor for the non-profit SewGreen, teaching children and adults, instilling confidence and igniting a passion for sewing. Hope mainly sews garments from vintage patterns and designs crochet sweater patterns. Part of the Retail Staff at Stitch Lab, she loves knowing what customers are working on—seeing them light up about their passion project. She says it always feels really good to help the customer pick that fabric that ties everything together. Hope also teaches crochet classes, hosts Stitch Lounges, and teaches classes and camps for kids, 'tweens & teens at Stitch Lab. She enjoys reading, going to the library, drinking tea, playing Sudoku, and putting little hats on her cat, Mo.
"Hope is incredibly friendly and talented! I was in awe of the amazing hand-made dress she was wearing, and I was impressed to learn she has crocheted an entire sweater for her boyfriend. I enjoy chatting with her when I'm in the shop, and she gives great advice about fabric and class materials." -- Kristen
Janet was born and raised in Massachusetts, but got to Texas as fast as she could! She's worked as a massage therapist, personal assistant, swing dance instructor, and commercial artist—one very creative person! Janet began her teaching experience in the world of swing dancing, and brings a lively hands-on approach to her sewing classes. Over the last few years, her sewing focus has shifted from crafting unique memorabilia t-shirt quilts to stitching up a perfect dress for every occasion, with flowing dance dresses at the top of her list. When she’s not dreaming up her next outfit, making hats, slippers, bathing suits and hot packs for sore shoulders, she's running around town with side-kick Nikki, her surprisingly mellow long haired chihuahua. Janet teaches the Beginning I Sewing Series, Crash Course, Zipper Lab, Roman Shades, and hosts some of our popular Stitch Lounges!
"Janet was great! Keeping students together who have different skill levels is tough - I thought she did a great job, especially considering some of us showed up unprepared (me, very sorry!). Thanks for a great start to my sewing skills mastery! " -- Fawn
Josey Murphy started out as a student in our tween/teen summer camps at Stitch Lab, worked a summer or two in high school as a summer camp assistant here, then finally moved up to Summer Camp Instructor Extraordinaire! Josey teaches many of our kids classes and summer camps, and takes Private Lessons at Stitch Lab. In her free time, Josey is an accomplished seamstress, making all of her costumes for various Cosplay events!
"Vera had a wonderful time--she talked about it day and night! She can't wait to come back in August. Vera says, 'I love Josey, she was the sweetest!'" -- Amy
Kat McTee began teaching classes in screenprinting, dyeing, hand embroidery, and color theory (to name but a few subjects) in 2004. A longtime Austinite and native Texan, she's happiest when looking at art, drinking iced tea, driving through the middle of nowhere, and/or laughing at your jokes. Kat earned her BA in American Studies and Cultural Anthropology at UT before studying at the Southwest School of Art and Craft, and turning to visual art full-time. Kat teaches Adventures in Screen Printing, Screen Print Crash Course, Screen Printing Deluxe, Multicolor Screen Printing, Embriodery I, Color 101, Sugar Skull Embroidery, Stamp Carving, and various other textile & needleart classes at Stitch Lab. She loves helping students demystify art-making and find their own happy creative paths.
"You have such a wonderful resource in Kat. She's knowledgable about so many things and able to communicate that knowledge clearly, effectively, and enthusiastically. I've taken her embroidery classes too and look forward to the screen printing one of these days. Thanks, Stitch Lab!" -- Kaila
Keith Gruber has been a sewer ever since his grandma introduced him to quilting. From a very young age, Keith started to develop an eye for fashion and a love of sewing. Currently, Keith is enjoying his first year of college, majoring in costume design and musical theater! He started out, a few years ago, as a student in camps for Kids, Tweens and Teens at Stitch Lab, graduated into interning as a camp assistant, and now Keith teaches many of our summer camps! Keith spends his free time taking his friends on photo shoots and making YouTube videos!
"Keith was a fabulous student, and even more stellar camp assistant, and we can't wait to see him conquer teaching camps this summer. SEW excited to have him back - the kids love him!" -- Carol
Always interested in art, but never much of an artist, Lindsay Woodward discovered sewing by chance after graduating from college with a BA in Art History. It was a perfect blend of her interests in design, fashion, and crafts, and it quickly became a passion. Now, Lindsay has an almost entirely hand-made wardrobe and blogs about her creations at www.lindsaywoodward.com. She loves inspiring the same passion in her students and watching them grow creatively! Lindsay teaches many of our camps & classes for kids, 'tweens & teens at Stitch Lab, as well as Private Lessons.
"My daughter loved [the Kids Holiday Day Camp] and her instructor (Lindsey)! She liked the projects she made and felt like she learned something new. Thank you." -- Emily
Megan Mullenax Haas is an art teacher and artist who enjoys working with kids of all ages. Megan has a BFA and BA in art education and an MFA in Painting, but fell in love with sewing after adding an embroidery element to an art series. She is self-taught on the machine and remembers what it is like to be a beginner! Megan looks forward to summer camps and holiday camps when she has breaks from teaching visual art during the school year. She teaches many of the camps & classes for kids, 'tweens & teens at Stitch Lab!
"Our daughter LOVED her time at stitch lab and her instructor was wonderful. She is hooked on sewing now. Thank you so much for offering a valuable camp that provided individual attention and did not have superfluous activities. Loved that you had a plan of what she'd make each day and stuck to it (plus the bonus projects). This was money well spent. Thank you!" -- Mary
Born and raised in Texas, Melissa Ashton grew up in the tiny town of Iowa Park, just north of Dallas. She earned her BFA in Graphic Design and Advertising at the Art Institute of Dallas. She's worked as a Graphic Designer, and designed textiles, garments, and jewelry, which led her to Austin after selling pieces at a Renegade Craft Fair. Melissa first learned how to sew a simple back stitch from her Grandfather, who was a taxidermist. She enjoys hand embroidery and machine embroidery, but has recently fallen in love with designing intimates. She's currently in the process of developing a lingerie line for curvy women! Melissa is one of our newest Retail Shop Gals at Stitch Lab, and hosts many of our free Stitch Lounges. She loves seeing the wonderful projects everyone is working on, and is constantly inspired by all of the creatives that both work and shop here.
"I LOVE this little shop! Great trendy fabrics and everyone is so helpful and knowledgeable! And the classes are a LOT of fun!" -- Meredith
Niku Arbabi joined Stitch Lab in 2010 as both instructor and retail staff. A life-long sewist and crafter, she loves to empower her students with the DIY approach to sewing and crafting their world. She's held workshops on craftivism, sewing, stamp carving, and self-publishing at conferences, and community events — including the annual Generating Momentum National Conference On Youth Activistism in Saskatchewan, and Austin Skillshare. Her zines include Scrappy and Niku Says Sew. At Stitch Lab, Niku teaches Embroidery I & II, Hand Sewing Basics, Cross Stitch, Hello Crewel World, Beginning I Sewing, Beginning II Sewing, Beginner Quilting, Crash Course, Simple Skirts, PJ Pants, Twirly Tiered Skirt, Easy Fashions for Littles, Baby Gift Sets, Oilcloth Zippered Bags Sets, Placemat & Napkin Sets, Fab Fabric Shopping Bags, and SEW much more!
"[Niku] has such a great way of balancing keeping us all on the same page yet providing each of us with personalized attention as we work at our own individual paces. She's encouraging, funny and creative, and I know when she's the instructor, I'll have a great time and learn new things too!" -- Summer
Tina Sparkles is an author, artist and expert instructor. She is the head of our fashion department and has been teaching sewing and fashion courses at the Stitch Lab since 2009. She also teaches at the Griffin School, has been active in the Austin fashion and arts community for over 10 years, and recently started Grad School! In addition to loving traditional garment and pattern-making methods, Tina likes to explore sustainability, new technology, art and activism in her work and classes. Currently, Tina teaches the DIY Fashion Design Semester Intensive, DIY Pattern Making 101, Textiles 101, the DIY Pattern Making: Slopers Series and Design with Slopers Series, the Bathing Suits Series, Electro Textiles and Private Lessons at Stitch Lab.
"I just need to say that I love Tina Sparkles! My pattern class was an excellent into to pattern altering and creating and turned out to be useful for my garment sewing class too. I can't wait to take more classes with her! Thanks" -- Rachel
Too many hats and too many needles always keep Stitch Lab Gal, Vanessa Villalva, busy. Sewing has also enabled her to keep homeless pets warm and collared all over! Vanessa loves helping Stitch Lab customers find that perfect fabric for the perfect projects, helping students one-on-one in Private Lessons, teaching her Doggie Duds class, and teaching many of our classes and camps for kids, 'tweens & teens! Vanessa is also our in-house sewing machine whisperer! Her spare time is spent creating custom and unique sewing projects for herself, friends, customers and to sell. Send any custom order inquiries to vanessa@ronkita.biz!
“Vanessa loves sewing and it shows! Every time I see her in the shop, she is wearing a new creation. Her mod sense of style is so very Stitch Lab and so very Vanessa, I am totally inspired to start sewing my own wardrobe! Best of all, I know Vanessa will be there to help me get exactly what I need. Thanks, Stitch Lab!” -- Frances

 

1000 South 1st Street ~ Austin, Texas ~ 78704 | info@stitchlab.biz | (512) 440-0712