Getting crafty on the Kojo Nnamdi show

I was on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show today, talking about crafting and making and maker culture. It was super fun, and you can listen to me mix economics and crafting, speculating speaking extremely knowledgeably about how the recession and down economy have contributed to the crafting revival.

An article about something besides economic doom and gloom

In addition to obsessing about the economy and the courts, I also like to make things. And I like to write about making things. Living in DC, though, my desire to make things is sometimes stymied by the fact that the District has no fabric stores at all. As I explain in the Washington City Paper.

Allison Lince-Bentley, of Bits of Thread. Photo by Darrow Montgomery for the Washington City Paper.

To get to the District’s only fabric store, you must walk through a metal gate, past two buzzers, and up a narrow set of carpeted stairs, into two crammed room above a McDonald’s. The store has a limited selection, with pieces of gently used fabric at prices that match their secondhand nature. Material hangs from posts made of plastic tubing, an odd assortment of textures and patterns. Plastic bags full of thread are sorted by color, and piled on plastic bins. Mismatched glass jars full of buttons sit on a windowsill, and a stack of vintage sewing magazines lays on a folding table near the door. It’s an unorthodox setup.

The Adams Morgan shop is a collaboration between the Bits of Thread sewing studio and Scrap D.C., a local nonprofit that rescues potentially useful arts and craft supplies headed to the dump. It’s an amazing example of creative reuse, but with most of the fabrics cut into lengths too short for a dress, it’s not the ideal resource for an aspiring seamstress. Yet in a city so full of makers and craftsters, this tiny room of off-cuts is pretty much all we’ve got.

The piece goes on to explore the glory days, when DC had something like three fabric stores, why they got pushed out, and why they can’t come back.