Handmade Here: Toronto

the workroom, toronto handmade, toronto handmade community

By Debra Norton, Vintage Paper Parade

One of the things I love most about Toronto is its’ neighbourhoods.  I live in the west-end of the city, home to vibrant neighbourhoods such as The Junction, Roncesvalles, Liberty Village and Parkdale. Each offers up it’s own eclectic selection of shops, galleries and restaurants.

In nearby Parkdale, you will find The Workroom, a sew and craft by the hour space. It is one of my favourite crafty spots in the city.  It is a big, beautiful, light-filled space where you can take a class or workshop and even sew by the hour on one of their sewing machines. You will find an amazing selection of fabrics, patterns, books and notions.

Karyn Valino is the owner of The Workroom. I first met Karyn at one of her famous Trunk Shows where I was participating as a vendor. She is incredibly creative, friendly and supportive of the handmade community in Toronto.  I caught up with Karyn last week to ask her a few questions about The Workroom and what inspires her about handmade in Toronto.

the workroom, toronto handmade, toronto handmade communityTell me about yourself, your life outside The Workroom:

My name is Karyn and my biggest joy in life comes from making things. I’m a bit of a craft-aholic so when I’m not working or teaching at the workroom, I’m often working on one of a dozen projects I have on the go. Right now that could be a quilt top, some cross-stitching, a dress from a Japanese Dress book or my very late Christmas gifts!

What inspired you to open the shop?

I was inspired to open the workroom when I realized there was no local source for beautiful printed cottons, independent sewing patterns and Japanese notions. I had always wanted to have a studio, so when I thought of combining a retail shop with a sewing lounge, I thought it was the perfect business for me.

the workroom, toronto handmade, toronto handmade community
There is an active handmade/artisan community in Toronto. How has it changed since you opened The Workroom?

The Toronto handmade community is really incredible. I think that in the past three years, I’ve seen a lot of great collaborations resulting in so much more community building. One of my favourites would be Toronto Craft Alert, which has been at the epicenter of rallying the craft troops together. This is a group that is completely volunteer driven and provides so much great information to the Toronto community. Within the walls of the workroom, I’ve been really touched to observe so many great relationships develop through our classes and events. I find that aspect to be so rewarding.the workroom, toronto handmade, toronto handmade community, toronto trunk show{image credit: the workroom Love & Rummage 3 trunk show flickr set}

You regularly collaborate with local artists through your Trunk Shows, which are well loved…how did they evolve? What do you enjoy most about the Trunk Shows?

The Trunk Shows were the idea of Becky Johnson, of The Sweetie Pie Press. She had the brilliant idea to use our small space for mini craft fairs. To keep things small and manageable she thought it would be fun to have the artists contain their displays in suitcases. The Trunk Shows are something I really look forward to. My favourite part is just getting so many wonderful people into the same space at once. It often feels more like a fun party with all our lovely vendors and everyone who stops by to support the show. We have snacks, we catch up with each other and we meet new friends. I also can’t deny that I love treating myself to some handmade treasures at each show.

the workroom, toronto handmade, toronto handmade community
What are some of your favorite local shops/ a round up of great sources of handmade in Toronto?

My favourite local shops for handmade goodness would be Kid Icarus in Kensington, Tealish for handcrafted teas, Coriander Girl for local flowers and handmade gifts and Bookhou for all their amazing screen-printed products. Toronto is the best!

You can learn more about Karyn and her handmade creations at her lovely blog: http://www.makesomething.ca

Debra Norton designs stationery and paper goods for her business Vintage Paper Parade. She loves hunting for vintage treasures, sharing her love of handmade and producing and styling events to share via her blog. She has vowed to learn how to sew (formally) so she can keep up with her 9 yr. old daughter on the sewing machine!


  1. Jen says:

    aw, thanks so much for the shout out to Toronto Craft Alert karyn! (clearly i’m a bit late in finding this!). the workroom is such an incredible thing for this city to have – it keeps evolving and blossoming in to a greater and greater space and inspiration for so many different people. hoorah!!

    p.s. very happy to find this blog, we’ll be sure to add it to our links.

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