Who Knew? Sewing and Sipping Beer is Popular in Denver

Photo: courtesy of Marsha Lee Gusmerotti of Sipping & Sewing

Photo: courtesy of Marsha Lee Gusmerotti of Sipping & Sewing

This Unexpected Pairing Has Landed at 30 Breweries

By Monica Parpal Stockbridge

The craft beer scene has become a way of life in Colorado, and many independent breweries offer activities like trivia and yoga to differentiate themselves. But the newest and most sought-after brewery event in Denver may surprise you: learning to sew on a sewing machine.

You heard that right. People are hauling their sewing machines, fabric and accessories into craft breweries all over the Denver-metro area to learn how to use a piece of equipment that’s making a comeback in today’s DIY culture.

Known as Sipping & Sewing, the classes are the brainchild of sewing instructor and craft beer lover Marsha Lee Gusmerotti. Women and men take her classes to learn basic stitches, hemming, and even how to create drawstring crowler bags and handmade beer koozies. 

“There are so many people who inherited a sewing machine or got it as a gift and have no clue how to use it,” Gusmerotti says. “Having classes in a brewery makes it more of an event.”

Gusmerotti, who grew up in rural Nebraska watching her mom and her grandmother sew, found a love for the craft while working a side job as a seamstress in her college’s theater costume shop. She later took her skills (and her degree in fashion design) to New York, where she taught sewing at a women’s shelter. 

Photo: courtesy of Marsha Lee Gusmerotti of Sipping & Sewing

Photo: courtesy of Marsha Lee Gusmerotti of Sipping & Sewing

After moving to Denver, Gusmerotti hit on the idea that people might enjoy learning to sew while enjoying a beer with friends. “Why not make it an experience, more than just a sewing class?” she thought. So, in spring 2017, she emailed her local brewery to pitch the idea. That brewery was Fiction Beer Company.

“I supported Marsha's Sipping & Sewing classes because she was a regular customer who had her own business that she was starting,” says bartender Laura Hoppis. “Unlike a lot of classes that take place around town, she was helping people to learn a utilizable skill. Her classes offer a fun, casual environment where people could learn the basics of how to use their machine.” 

Since then, Marma Designs Sipping & Sewing (a play on Marsha’s first name) has grown to nearly 30 breweries in the metro area. Gusmerotti’s classes offer a way to support local businesses all while learning a new skill in a social setting. 

“No one else (that I know of) is doing anything like this currently,” says Deana Hill, Maven of Miscellany at Odyssey Beerwerks in Arvada. “Marsha’s occupying a unique space for craft brewery activities that really draws people in.” 

Just about any brewery with a reasonable noise level and low tables (so students can reach their sewing machine foot pedals) can be a perfect environment for learning to sew. And it’s good for the breweries, too, because Gusmerotti’s classes bring in new audiences, especially young parents and professionals new to the Denver area. “Where else can you go drink great beer and come home with something cool that you’ve made with your own two hands (with the help of a sewing machine!)?” Hill adds. 

Gusmerotti also teaches sewing at after-school programs and libraries, spreading sewing to all ages and skill levels in Denver. “A lot of people question if they are capable of learning to sew,” she says. Her answer? “Yes, you can learn, and no, you won’t sew through your finger!” By the end of her classes, Gusmerotti’s students have made something they can go home and brag about. “You can go home feeling accomplished,” she says. 

Learn more about Marma Designs Sipping & Sewing classes and sign up at https://www.facebook.com/MarmaDesigns