Listen up, Queens! Located in the heart of Forest Hills is Learning Lab, an 800 square-feet community space that  offers educational opportunities for children to learn and grow, from tutoring to sewing class. They also offer enrichment programs, a summer program, and a wide variety of weekend classes and special events. Co-founded by Queens parents Han-Ching Lin and Jenny Lin, this is a hot spot for learning and creating. One of our favorite offerings: making clothes for American Girl dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, and whoever else a kid loves!

Kid Couture
One unique class offered at Learning Lab is Fashion Design and Fiber Crafts—with an emphasis on sewing—held most Saturday afternoons. (The fee is $30 per class; and you can register online.) The instructor is professional Broadway costume designer Amelia Dombrowski, a Queens mom of three who has worked on shows such as Xanadu, High Fidelity, and A Tale of Two Cities.

One popular class Dombrowski teaches is Doll Clothes Making. Popular with both girls and boys, newbies learn the basics of hand-sewing; more experienced students who have taken other classes with Dombrowski—or elsewhere—are allowed to use one of the two on-site sewing machines to make their doll outfit.

Most kids like to make clothes for their American Girl doll, but some have brought in stuffed animals or even action figures. There are roughly 20 or more kids per class; at a variety of skill levels, and Dombrowski says it’s all very inviting, interactive, and fun. It’s a great way for parents to bond with their kids. During class, Dombrowski walks around helping all the kids who need/ask, and makes sure every child leaves with a completed doll outfit. This is important to her.

What to Bring
Dombrowski provides all the materials kids need to create their doll clothes; including all the felt and various fabrics. The patterns and embroidery techniques are very basic, and hand sewing them doesn’t require too many steps, making it easier for young kids who have never sewn before; and of course, a parent can assist them. Fabrics are cut by hand, and most kids come into Doll Clothes class with no sewing experience, and are excited to leave with a finished garment for their doll or stuffed animal. “Many kids are shocked and proud that they learned to sew,” says Dobrowski.

Children ages 5-6 need to be accompanied by an adult; but children ages 7-15 can be dropped off. All of Dombrowski’s Sewing Crafts classes are 90 minutes; and it’s best to register online in advance.

Not every one of Dombrowski’s classes focus specifically on Doll Clothes Making, so it’s best to follow Dombrowski on facebook to learn when the next Doll Clothes class (which is popular) will be. (Currently, one is scheduled for March 24th at Learning Lab.)

Kids who come almost every weekend to one of her sewing classes have learned to make other items, such as blankets, tote bags, skirts for themselves, and even stuffed animal monsters.

This season, Learning Lab will be hosting some chess workshops for families, as well as some Mommy and Me art and yoga classes on the weekends; and more. Be sure to check out their events online to explore everything Learning Lab has to offer kids of all ages.

Learning Lab
97-16 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, Queens

All photos courtesy of Learning Lab

Have you been to Learning Lab? Give us your review in the comments!

—Rachel Sokol