Below: The original butcher shop at 800 S. 8th St
Welcome to Butcher's!
Hi there! Thanks for taking a peek inside our studio. I hope we get to meet in person very soon. I’m Amalia, founder of Butcher’s and lover of the craft and art of sewing. I opened our first studio in 2014 with the vision of creating a space where people of all ages and backgrounds could learn how to sew professional-looking pieces at home and begin (or continue) their journey to a handmade lifestyle. I was frustrated that the only options for aspiring sewists--as I had once been--were taking a class at a fabric store with limited apparel projects or enrolling in a pricey design school, as I had done. Why couldn’t we teach people the design school secrets to make items look well-made and contemporary in a more relaxed setting and for far less than continuing ed tuition? Well, the answer was...we could!
Since our humble beginnings we’ve established a community of which I’m very proud. This includes our instructors, who share their talent generously and who never stop following their curiosity to push the knowledge of their crafts further. When class isn’t in session, it’s not uncommon to find a Butcher’s teacher experimenting with a new technique or learning from another instructor with a different area of expertise. Our teachers walk the walk: our garment-making teachers make their own clothing, our quilting teachers piece up seemingly fabric-defying designs in their spare time, and our needlecraft teachers have Instagram feeds full of their latest embroidery, sashiko or bead work.
The heart of our community is the thousands of people who have made the leap from thinking about learning something new to doing something new by taking a class with us. It takes a push of courage to tackle a new skill and I’m honored that so many have put that responsibility in our hands. Our students are people who have sewn for decades and those who’ve never sewn a button. Wherever you’re at, we’ll meet you there and take you as many steps forward as you’d like to go.
If you were to wander into our Bella Vista studio at 800 S. 8th Street today looking for a pound of mortadella sausage, I'm afraid you'd leave empty handed. However, snag a time machine and travel back anywhere between 1920 and 1996 and you'd be walking away with a paper wrapped parcel just in time for dinner.
"Guarrera's Quality Meats" at the corner of 8th and Catharine was a family-owned Philadelphia institution for almost 80 years. Founded by Anna Messina (1904-1992) and her husband Salvatore Guarrera (1897-1961), who came from Italy in 1913 as a teenager, the butcher shop was eventually passed down to their son, Vito Guarrera (1922-2011), who operated the shop until its closing. Interestingly, Serena Guarrera, Salvatore's daughter and Vito's sister, who lived in the apartment above the shop, was a clothing designer trained at Moore College.
Up until its closing, Guarrera's maintained a level of excellence that earned the loyalty of chefs from Philadelphia's finest dining establishments. With our name, we pay homage to the Guarrera family and to the legacy of lives earned through diligent commitment to a craft. We're proud that Guarrera's original tiled walls and punched tin ceilings now serve as a beautiful backdrop for a busy group of makers.
We opened our second studio at 1912 South Street in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia in 2016 in order to serve a growing group of students of all ages. When you take a class at a Butcher's studio, we dare you not to be inspired by our space, our talented and committed teachers and your fellow makers.
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From Left to Right: Vito, Serena, Salvatore and Anna Guarrera. Serena Guarrera was a clothing designer.
Above: Salvatore (Sam) Guarrera, the shop's founding butcher