For one day only

How much can you learn in a single session? TONY writers attend some super-short classes to find out.

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  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Simple Alterations

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Simple Alterations

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Simple Alterations

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Simple Alterations

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Simple Alterations

The class
Simple Alterations
Make, 195 Chrystie St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, studio 402 (212-533-9995, makeworkshop.com). Aug 25; $80 (materials included).

What I learned
For most of my adult life, shopping for jeans to fit my 5'4" frame has been a traumatic experience. Every outing to a denim department leaves me wondering why the market seems targeted toward former WNBA players, and just how much a pair of jeans will really cost with tailoring factored in.

While I am still contemplating my initial question, my second has been eliminated after the two-hour "Simple Alterations" workshop at Make on the Lower East Side. The monthly class, led by owner Diana Rupp, author of Sew Everything Workshop: The Complete Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide, is one of the most practical options on a menu of lessons that includes everything from panty making and batik printing to embroidering a portrait on fabric.

The studio exuded stylish warmth—sort of like a sewing circle in a Real Simple photo shoot. Before the class, Rupp, who has the enthusiasm of a cheerleader with none of the cloying peppiness, laid out scraps of cloth, photocopied instructions from her book and recommendations for where to get sewing supplies. First we learned how to fix buttons elegantly and securely, which included a few simple tricks such as knots that don't leave big threads hanging.

Then we advanced to hemming—which, when properly executed, requires measuring, ironing, folding and pinning before the actual sewing. By the end of the tutorial, we all successfully passed a practice piece of denim through one of several sewing machines lining the wall. I could almost see my wallet widening with my future tailoring savings.

For the grand finale, we all brought out items we wanted to alter, and Rupp went through the stash with instructions on how we could best accomplish the desired result. I produced a Benetton dress that I've been hanging on to since 1999, which needed to lose a foot of length. By the end of class, this maxi was floating nicely above my knee. Next up: fixing the dropped hem on those wide-leg slacks at the back of my closet.—Amanda Angel

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