Portland’s fashion makerspace closes

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A class teaching immigrants to sew earlier this year at A Gathering of Stitches.

After three-plus years, A Gathering of Stitches will close its Portland facility at the end of December. The East Bayside “makerspace” that centered on fiber arts and sewing just wasn’t sustainable, according to its founder.

“I had high hopes not met. It was disappointing,” said Samantha Lindgren, a skilled seamstress who is moving her studio to Biddeford. “Any business worth its salt evolves.”

The 12 studios she rented to clothing businesses and fabric fanatics were filled. But the classes and equipment rental side of the business never took off. Lindgren opened thinking more Portlanders wanted to learn to sew, quilt and make their own frocks.

“I loved the idea of communal space, but it was a lot of work and a long slog,” said Lindgren, who had knitting machines and screen printers for rent by the hour. “Everyone’s lives are so busy, people are over-scheduled and craft is not a priority.”

Lindgren, who opened Rabelais bookstore in downtown Portland with her husband in 2005, will continue running retreats under the business name, but will no longer have a physical space to share. She will work out of Rabelais, which is now in Biddeford’s North Dam Mill.

Are makerspaces, the equivalent to co-working facilities, over? Not so fast.

The nearby Running With Scissors, the popular art makerspace, which reopened in a large East Bayside space at the same time, is thriving. And the Open Bench Project just moved to a new facility in Thompson’s Point. Lindgren’s focus was ahead of its time, she suspects.

“The difference between art and craft is a wide gap,” she said. “From what I see, slow fashion, knowing where your clothes come from, is radiating the interest in craft.”

But southern Maine was not ready.

There is a fabric and yarn sale on Dec. 10 at A Gathering of Stitches, 54 Cove St., Portland.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.