Spring has Sprung with a snowstorm! We are just starting a new session the first two weeks of April. There are a few spaces left, mainly in the kids classes. The next session will begin after May 19th. Sign up for our email newsletter to get notices.

Percy is doing great!

April 6th, 2016

To all of you who have donated money, or purchased fabric, or bought 3 of the 4 sewing machines I had for sale, Percy and I thank you very much.  And, we appreciate everyone’s concern for him.  His surgery went very well.  He was alert and ready to go home when I picked him up.  I can’t believe it’s already been 3 weeks since he had that cyst removed!

He did so well with not bothering the area around his eye, he didn’t even need to wear a cone.  The stitches were removed just over a week ago.  He could then run and play and get back to his regular dog life.

Again, we thank you all very much for your help and concern for Percy.  He’s doing great and we don’t have to worry about his left eye anymore.

Can you volunteer to help organize for my Stash Sale? Proceeds will go to surgery for Percy, the poodle.

March 3rd, 2016
















If you’ve ever taken classes at my sewing school, or even just visited, you’ve probably been greeted at the door by Percy.  He loves EVERYONE!

Recently, his groomer discovered a cyst under his left eye.  You can see it in the closeup picture above.  It needs to be removed sooner, rather than later, as it will get bigger and then effect his eye and the function of his eyelid.  I have the surgery scheduled for March 15th.  Because it will cost $600-800!, I am going to have another fabric stash sale to finance his surgery.

I’m asking for volunteers to help me organize for the stash sale, this coming Sunday, March 6, 2016.  I’ll be at my shop from 11am until 4pm or later.  If any of you can offer some of your time to help me go through my bins and measure and mark fabrics, Percy and I would truly appreciate it.

The sale will take place on the following Sunday, March 13, 2016.  I’ll post the time and more details next week, after we’ve put things together.

It will be good to clear some of the clutter, and take care of this cyst.  Percy is 10 years old now, and still very healthy and energetic.  I hope that if you cannot volunteer this week, that you can attend the sale on the 13th.  Not only will there be fabric for sale, but I’ll be offering 2 sewing machines, in excellent working condition for sale.  And, I have some gorgeous, leather, (new) handbags for sale, too.  All sales will be cash and carry.  No checks or credit cards please.

New website is being built

January 16th, 2016

Well, this site is at least 9 years old!  Our new site should be online within a month.  We will have better navigability, a new look and there will be much more that I’ll be able to do.  I’ll send out an email to the list when it’s live online.

Tutorial on making an iPad Cover

January 16th, 2016
Ipad Pro front of cover.  Notice how the pattern of the fabric on the flap closure, matches the fabric on the cover under it.

Ipad Pro front of cover. Notice how the pattern of the fabric on the flap closure, matches the fabric on the cover under it.

I’ve made a number of ipad covers and some for Nook and Kindle, too.  Mainly, I’m a Mac Girl, so lately, most of the covers I’ve made lately, have been for ipads.  Most recently, I made not only one, but two for my new iPad Pro.  The first, I was not happy with the new type of magnet I tried for the flap closure.  And, the elastic which held the iPad in the cover, were covering the corners of the screen.  Since it was nearly impossible to fix those problems without taking the cover completely apart, I made a new one.  Then, I made a mistake in cutting the outer part of the cover!  Yes, I do make mistakes.  Even after sewing for 45 years, I still have to get out my seam ripper.  In this case, I had to get out more of the fabric, and interfacing and Peltex…….Not wanting to let that beautiful fabric go to waste, I decided to make a cover for my friend’s iPad Air.  That is the one that you will see illustrated in the pictures in the following tutorial.

This all is based on a pattern by Nancy Zieman of the Sewing with Nancy TV show fame.  I mention what it’s called in particular as well as where you can buy it at the beginning of my tutorial.  I am not charging for this information as the original idea is Nancy’s.  I have some techniques that you might find helpful and I will admit, that I do do some things differently.  And, I share some ways to sew things to get a better result.


ONE ADDITIONAL NOTE ABOUT MAKING AN IPAD PRO COVER!  I made a note on my pattern but forgot to tell you in the instructions, that I added 1/2″ the the length of the flap.  This allowed me to put the magnetic closure further from the edge on the front cover.  And, that in turn, allows the ipad to have a broader stance when you stand it open.  Another good thing that came about later, is that I received my new keyboard, designed for the iPad Pro.  I can still use it with the Ipad in the cover, and, it will fit in the cover when it’s folded just the right way!  the extra room in the flap accommodates the keyboard.  I am very happy with this e-tablet.


Laura Wirkkala – iPad tutorial part 1 – optimized

Laura Wirkkala – iPad tutorial part 2 -optimized

iPad Pro cover standing open, side view

iPad Pro cover standing open, side view

Ipad Pro cover opened and standing with the magnetic clasp secured underneath

Ipad Pro cover opened and standing with the magnetic clasp secured underneath

Information about Sewing Class here at Laura’s Sewing School

January 3rd, 2016

Newsletter for site TopNewsletter for site 2

Newsletter for site 3 Newsletter for site 4


Basic Sewing Tools List

November 3rd, 2015

Scroll over the pictures for product labels.

Click on pictures to enlarge image.

Use your browser’s “back” button to return to this page.

In a few instances, I have pictures of items I do NOT recommend,  so that you can see them.  Please take note of the one(s) I DO suggest you buy.

Places to purchase most or all of the items are:

Please take note of the one(s) I DO suggest you buy.
Places to purchase most or all of the items are:
Fabric Corner, Mass Ave and Mill St, Arlington
Joann Fabrics and Crafts, Burlington, Saugus, Natick, etc.
Fabric Place Basement, Speen St., Natick in the Cloverleaf Mall across from the Natick Mall

Wawak Sewing Supplies has most items and they are very well priced. They are located in Upstate NY and the Ground Shipping is quite fast.  I have arranged for them to provide a pre-selected set of sewing tools for my students.  You can call them at 1-800-654-2235.  Ask them to repeat Invoice #40355225-00 from Laura’s Sewing School (Cust # 5125558)  They will fill your order, charge you and drop ship it directly to your address.  The cost ($47.51 as of July 2014) is very good and may be even lower if items are on sale.

I have been sewing for over 40 years. I have tried most sewing tools available. My goal is to steer you to the best brands and styles, to save you from buying notions which are not worth using. I do not receive any recompense for my suggested list. Most of the items are inexpensive. The highest priced one is a good pair of dressmaking shears. Don’t skimp on those, they are worth every penny. They are the “good” scissors your mother wouldn’t let you use.

Portable Sewing Machine w/ pedal and power cord

Sewing Machine Manual Please bring this, it can help answer questions.

Metal BobbinsPlastic BobbinsMetal Singer Bobbins

Bobbins to fit your machine. These are not the same size for all machines and may vary in the same brand of machine. If you are not sure what you need, check with a sewing machine dealer or the website for your model of sewing machine.

Machine needles

Schmetz Multiple=Schmetz Universal Sewing Machine NeedlesSchmetz Jeans needles I recommend Schmetz brand. Universal style, Sizes 10, 12, 14 are the most common sizes. If you plan to hem Denim, buy size 16 or 18 Jeans needles.

The Universal works on both knits and wovens. Other brands will specify Sharp or Ballpoint needles. You need a Sharp needle for woven fabric and a Ballpoint for knits. What I like about Schmetz is that they are tempered. Just like tempered glass, when they meet a certain resistance, they break rather than damaging your sewing machine. They are very well made all around. The only caveat is that because they break,

Safety glassesEyeglasses I like to suggest that you wear either safety glasses or regular glasses, when you sew, to protect the possibility of a piece of a sewing machine needle getting in your eye when one breaks. Not to scare you! Just good to be prepared. I have simple safety glasses available. Kids think it’s cool to wear them but, many Teens do not like them. One solution: you can buy some fake glasses with clear lenses and cool frames at places like “Claire’s.” Also, for those of you with more mature eyes, if you forget your magnifying glasses, I do have some in strengths ranging from -1.00 to -2.50.

Small Screwdriver

Zoom Spout Oiler3 in One oil, or some other oil meant for sewing machines. I like the Dritz zoom spout oiler. It has an extending tube which can snake into tight spaces inside a sewing machine. It can be used around the house, on hinges, creaking knees, squeaky wheels…..

I provide irons and ironing tools at our classes.  But, this information, below, is for your own use, in case you wish to purchase an iron for home use…….

Ironing board and iron, when was the last time you enjoyed ironing?High end Rowenta, here's looking at you!Ironing at its heightsIron and Ironing board or pad. It comes down to this, if you do not like to iron, take your clothes to the cleaners, wear them wrinkled, or only wear wrinkle-free clothing. But, if you want the best results when you sew, you must find a friendly space in your heart for ironing. Irons are in most households and are absolutely essential to sewing well. You will not need an iron or an ironing board for class as I have several. A good quality iron makes a huge difference in the quality of your results. I recommend Rowenta brand irons. For a good one, you will need to spend over $50. Bed & Bath, JoAnn’s and other stores carry them. Do not buy the cheapest one. You get what you pay for. You can get a good deal at www.smallappliance.com. Sometimes, I find a refurbished Rowenta iron at Home Goods or TJ Maxx. Black and Decker makes a decent iron which I found recommended on Pattern Review. It is the Digital Advantage iron. I bought one at Bed & Bath, by using the 20% off coupon I got in the mail, the price came down to $40. They carry Rowenta’s, too.

Sewing Box

ArtBin Storage Box, ClosedOpen Tackle BoxTraditional Sewing BasketIt can be a formal Sewing Basket or a Decorative tin or Plastic lidded container. Something that will hold all your small sewing tools and notions. A small tool or tackle box works really well. Home Depot and Lowes have some plastic ones for $5. Pearl Arts & Crafts at Central Square, Cambridge, has a very nice craft box you may want to check out. They are located in Central Square. Playtime, just down the street from my shop, has some ArtBin boxes that work well. Recently, one of my students found a good one at A.C. Moore arts and crafts store.

Pencil, pen and notebook (8 1/2 x 11 inches)

8 Inch Chrome Dressmaking ShearsDecorative Handle GinghersMark's Mundial Cushion Soft Shears8 inch Dressmaking Shears, Bent Handle, Brands: Gingher Dressmaking Shears (Chrome, not the plastic with the metal blade insets, they are not strong enough to cut through thicker fabric) Marks Mundial Cushion Soft Lightweight Shears. For Kids, I find that the 7 inch chrome dressmaking shear by Gingher works well for them. It is lighter and easier for them to maneuver.  Kai Scissors are very nice and are now available at Fabric Corner and Wawak.

Thread clippersCompact Gingher Thread clippersThread snips I usually useThread Clippers This tool is small and works by squeezing the sides to cut. This makes it very easy to pick up and use. You don’t risk cutting the fabric as easily as with the large shears mentioned above. My favorite clipper is made by Clover. You can buy them at Clotilde for $12.50. (Or, I usually buy another brand of clippers at a discount rate, so you can buy one from me for $3)

Paper cutting scissors, inexpensive scissors from an office supply store. You will use these to keep from dulling your “good” scissors by cutting paper or tape, etc.

John James Hand Sewing NeedlesJohn James Sharps Hand Sewing NeedlesHandsewing Needles, I prefer John James English Needles. They are easily available at quilting shops and Fabric Place. (The package is white paper and has Black and Yellow stripes.) There are many types of hand sewing needles. The best all-around needle is called a “Sharp.” But, you may find it handy to buy a variety pack that includes needles for darning, quilting, tapestry, embroidery, etc. You can buy a variety pack of 50 needles for as little as $3 from Clotilde Sewing Notions (they are also available at the Quilter’s Way in West Concord.)

Thimbles are useful if you are going to do a lot of handsewing.  We mainly do machine sewing in class, so a thimble is really an optional tool.

Colorful, flexible thimblesMetal ThimbleNimble Thimble, leather thimbleThimble, a very personal choice. There are many types on the market. Buy one after you have a chance to try a few. I prefer a leather thimble called a Nimble Thimble. It fits comfortably over the tip of your middle finger (not your index or ring finger) and has a space at the tip for your fingernail to stick out. I take an XL in glove size but find that the Medium thimble fits the best. I know that Fabric Corner in Arlington and Fabric Place in Woburn & Framingham carry these. Most likely, area quilt shops will, too.

White Glass Head PinsDritz Glass Head PinsPins, I prefer the long (1 3/8″), white glass-headed variety (you can also get them in red, white or multi-colored). They are sharp, easy to use and the iron does not melt the pin head. Usually, you want to buy slender pins referred to as “silk” pins because they will penetrate most types of fabrics easily. You can purchase IBC glass-headed pins from Clotilde. Also, available at most fabric stores. If you buy a “Grabbit,” mentioned below, it usually comes with a set of pins. But, they are of a much inferior quality to the glass-headed.

Grabbit Magnetic Pin CushionPin Cushion, Box or Magnetic Pin Pad, I prefer the magnetic pad, then the box and lastly the fabric pin cushion. For fast pin access, the fabric cushion is impossible to use because you have to pull the pins out and stick them back in, one at a time. A small box makes the pins easy to pick up and drop back in, but if it gets tipped onto the floor, there is a lot of wasted time picking up pins. (And you can buy a telescoping magnetic wand to help you pick them up when they spill on the floor.) If you would like to use a box, I find that the best one has a rounded vs. flat bottom inside. The Tomato is the one familiar to most of us. The Chinese doll one is so cute. I use mine to hold needles. Etsy has some fabulous ones made by various craft artists. From fabric to felt, they are worth looking at.

The best magnetic pin cushion is the “Grabbit.” Any other brand just does not hold the pins very well. It does come with it’s own set of pins, but they are not very good. So, do buy the glass head pins I mentioned above. Brass or stainless steel pins will not work with it. But, the pins I recommend, do work with the “Grabbit.” It comes in a variety of lovely colors.

I love using a Magnetic wand to pick up pins from the floor, or car keys that have slipped to unreachable places.  It is an optional tool for your kit.

Telescoping Magnetic Wands/pointersTelescoping Magnetic wand with pinsTelescoping Magnetic wand. Cost is $5 from HomeSew, the hardware store or an auto supply store. This is the size of a pen when collapsed. It even has a clasp at one end that can hook over the edge of a pocket or notebook. It is chrome colored and round and as thin as a pen. It has a very powerful silver-colored magnet at one end. It is approx. 2 ft long when extended. It works well to pick up dropped pins. I swish it around the floor to pick up pins I may not be able to see, especially before vacuuming. The magnet is strong enough that it can pick up a ring of keys from behind the sofa, or wherever you may have dropped them. I have seen this kind of wand at the hardware store. Do not mistake this for a plastic magnetic wand that is sold in fabric stores, which is not what I am suggesting you buy.

Sewing GaugeSewing Gauge, this is a 6″ ruler with a blue or red plastic slider in the middle that can slide up and down most of the length of the ruler. They only cost about $1.50 and can be found at any fabric store. One of the most essential sewing tools and one of the cheapest. Do not buy the blue plastic one with a piece of chalk on the end. I tried to find a picture of one to show you. I couldn’t find one, but they must be available for purchase somewhere because I have had students bring them in.

Clover Fine Seam RipperBlue Seam Ripper, less expensiveSeam Ripper, they are inexpensive and are available in 3″ or 6″ lengths. Get what feels most comfortable in your hand (the 3″ length becomes 6″ long when you put the cap on the end.) You will need this tool and it is less than $2. If you don’t mind spending $5, Clover makes a really nice seam ripper that is strong, fine and sharp. Do not purchase the two-tone pink seam ripper from JoAnn’s. They are very dull.

White ChacolinerRed ChacolinerWhite Chacoliner in style I like the bestChacoliner, this is a marking tool that comes in 4 different colors and can be refilled. It works very smoothly. There is a little wheel at the tip that distributes a fine line of chalk across your fabric, which is easy to remove by brushing it off. I suggest purchasing the white color and then others if you end up liking it. Do not buy the one (not pictured here) by Fons & Porter, it does not roll at all well.

Retractable Round tape measure6 ft retractable tape measure, an optional but very handy item that only costs about $3. Not to be confused with a metal tape measure from the hardware store. The one that I am referring to is a flexible, coated fabric, tape measure. The casing is usually plastic. If you purchase one, I recommend the Hoescht brand. If you plan to make clothing, you do need to have one of these.


Before coming to the first session, go through all your sewing items and mark them with your initials or name. This includes your sewing machine, cords, pedal, etc. You’d be surprised how easy it is to mix yours up with someone elses’. And if you leave it here, it will help me know whose it is.

Preparing for your first sewing class

November 4th, 2014

 If you have a portable sewing machine, we recommend that you bring it to class.  That way, we can help you troubleshoot any problems and you will feel confident sewing on your own at home.  If you do not have a machine or it is inconvenient for you to bring it, we do have machines available for in class use.  The cost of $30 for the whole six weeks will cover the cost of maintenance, replacement needles and bobbins.  This can also be handy if you are just trying your hand at sewing and want to wait to catch the sewing bug before you purchase a machine.  It will also allow you to be a better informed shopper when you do go to buy one.  We have our recommendations, and are happy to let you know what we think.  We do not get any kind of financial remuneration for our advice about sewing machines.

We have some information we would like to share with you.  First, please look at our “Basic Sewing Tools List” located on the Sewing Tool & Supplies page on our website:


I have recommendations for where you can purchase these items.  I have tried many different sewing notions, or tools, over the 40+ years I have been sewing.  I have recommended certain tools and brands because I have tried them all.

  •  Locally, Fabric Corner, on Mass Ave in Arlington, has nearly everything on this list.  (We are now in the same building)

Their web address is:


They have an email list which is helpful to join.  They do not share your information with anyone and they often, usually monthly, send out a 40% off coupon via email.  That is worth a lot, because they carry quality materials.  By the way, my students, which you can consider yourself to be one now, receive a 10% discount at Fabric Corner.  This is good on any regular priced items, sewing notions, fabric, thread, etc.  Just tell them that you are one of my students when they check out your purchases.


  • JoAnn’s may be inexpensive, but the quality of their materials varies greatly and it may be hard for you to distinguish good from bad when you first start sewing.  You can trust the quality of materials from Fabric Corner.  They may cost a little more, but why not buy better fabric when you will invest so much time making it yourself?  Plus, well-made goods are usually easier to work with, look better in the finished product and last longer.

JoAnn’s does have some great sales on notions and patterns and thread and other stuff that makes it worth being on their email, as well as “snail” mail, lists.  I receive flyers with coupons every 2-3 weeks and am happy to share them with my students. The link below should take you to their web page for their current sales flyer.  They will also have an email signup box in the upper left corner of the page.


I think, in order to sign up for their postal mailing list, you have to do that in the store.  They do have a store locator at:


  • A favorite shopping venue for me, from the time I moved here in 1989 was Fabric Place.  Sadly, they closed a few years ago.  Luckily, one of the sons of the founding family decided to open a new fabric store, selling a wide variety of fabric, notions, patterns, and yarns.  They are located in Natick and are called Fabric Place Basement.     Here’s what they say on their website:

PETER ISAACSON, proprietor of Fabric Place Basement, has a passion for fabric and the background to match. As a kid, he grew up working (and playing!) at Fabric Place, the family business started by his grandmother. As a manager, buyer and later fabric sales rep, he traveled the country to locate the best fabrics at the very best prices, making connections with designers and suppliers everywhere. Ever since his family decided to close Fabric Place, Peter has dreamed of opening a great store of his own where he could bring together the creative people and the fabric they dream of at affordable prices. Fabric Place Basement is a dream come true. Now come visit and share the fun!

Peter has generously offered my current students a discount of 15% off their total purchases.  All you need to do is have me fill out a certificate for you to show them when you check out at the register.  I can do that on the first day of class.  Check out their website, and sign up for their specials at:


  • If you would like to skip the trip to the store, Wawak Tailor Supply,   Wawak has a website which is not very good.  They have a great catalog and phone service, so I suggest you go through that rather than online.  They have an online copy of their catalog, that makes it easier to find items. It’s in the left hand column of their webpage.  Plus, even though they sell mainly to businesses, they will sell direct to consumers, too. Their prices are 30-50% off retail prices, every day.


  • Some of my students have found good deals on not only books, but dressmaking shears and some other items at Amazon.com.  Amazing but true.  It works well if you have Amazon Prime or buy more than $25 worth of products, because then you get free shipping.  You may want to shop locally if you’re buying less than $25, or are in a hurry.

If your interest is in making clothing, PLEASE,PLEASE PLEASE, Read the following page on my site!


I say that because there is very important information about sizing, fabric choices, prewashing, and thread and so many things that will help you make a good choice of pattern and fabric.  I have pictures of patterns with links to the pattern company websites you can activate by clicking on the photo.  I won’t say any more here, since you can read, and even print out the page, on my site.

We are looking forward to having you in our class.  If you should have any other questions, please feel free to call or email.



A Secret Sewing Space

October 13th, 2013

When I was first sewing at home, we had one table for eating, doing homework and for me, sewing.  I would often set up to sew and then break everything down for family dinner time, then set it all up again to continue working on my project du jour.  I didn’t mind, as that was what I had to do to sew.  As an adult, I finally was able to set up a complete room dedicated to sewing.  This has been a luxury in my life, now, it is really an essential component to my living space, for that past 23 years.

Many people cannot dedicate a whole room to a hobby.  Maybe, once the kids leave home, but rather than having to set up and break down your work space, there is another alternative.  Read more about it below in my most recent newsletter.  If you would like to receive my newsletters, you can join by filling in the box in the upper right hand corner of this page on my website.


Create your own special Space for Sewing/Crafts

Dear Laura,

I am known for my sewing skills and teaching the craft of sewing.  But, I have always been interested in many forms of handcrafts.  Whether it has to do with fabrics, yarns, threads, all of which are soft.  To refinishing furniture, to decoupaging or decorating pieces that need a facelift.  I love all genres of creativity.I want to suggest that you, too, can expand your realm of how your express your creative side.  I just moved to a new home and in doing so, I had to downsize and reconsider what I use for what purpose.  I had to sell quite a few pieces of furniture, and on moving day, I realized that 2 armoires that I have will no longer fit where I live, or be necessary.  So, I got thinking about ways to repurpose them………
Here’s one example of a Sewing Armoire 
What’s nice about this one, is that it has a table with supports that folds out of the upper part of the cabinet.  And behind where the table folds, are a series of shelves.
You can see below, that there is a serger on the shelf.  You can imagine that an armoire meant for an office, with space for a printer or desktop tower, could be repurposed for holding a machine or other needed sewing items.
Here’s another, and there is a website detailing how it was done……. 
I found this online, there are so many great ideas that people are sharing on the web.
The blog, written by Lindy, is located at:
http://lindycottagehill.blogspot.com/2011/01/magic-sewing-table.htmlOn this page, she talks about why she wanted to do this project and how she accomplished it.  Very well done.

What I love about repurposing furniture, is being able to play with color and pattern.  The armoire above, has not only been painted, but decoupaged with a fun and lively pattern on the door panels.  I have a dresser in my shop that I got from a yard sale.  Since it was already painted white, I decided to do a paint treatment and then decoupage the front, top and sides.  I used 6 sheets of wrapping paper that I purchased from Bob Slate Stationers in Harvard Square.  I cut around all of the images and then found a way to put them on the dresser that looked good.  Once they were glued down, I then coated the piece with 4 coats of waterbased varnish.  It took a total of 9 hours to do the whole decorating.  And, I’ve been enjoying it for quite a few years now.
I’ve also used fabric in decoupaging furniture.  I did an email a couple years ago about that.  I did a table top and a desk, both top and drawer fronts.  They are still being used.  The table is as a desk in my sewing school office.  The desk is being used at my home for my serger.
The inside is set up to hold tools within easy reach and the whole thing looks great, whether open or closed.
For those of you who want to sew, but the dining room or Kitchen table needs to be used again, and it’s just too much work to keep setting up and breaking down your sewing area.  This armoire, gives you a designated space, that looks good anywhere in your house.
Laura Wirkkala
Laura’s Sewing School
Potential Sewing Armoire for Sale!
Amelia in Finnish Costume Front View

Originally over $1000,   I am selling it for $500 or Best Offer.

Currently, it’s in the garage of my new place, wrapped in movers blankets, ready to go to a new home.  Will it be yours?
Well, you had to know that I was leading up to something.  I have two armoires that I cannot fit in my new home.  And, one of them, I think, would be fabulous as a sewing cabinet.  I would convert it myself, but I already have a custom sewing cabinet in my sewing room and don’t need another.
You can see the armoire behind my daughter in this picture.  It is from at least 5 years ago, when they had International Day at her school.  I stayed up until 3am making her this Finnish girl costume.  The point today, though, is the armoire behind her.  It’s still in gorgeous condition.  Solid wood and has an upper and lower section.  Shelves, drawers and such.  The doors fold back completely out of the way.  Originally designed for a media center, it is furniture quality, no particleboard here.
I think it could be easily converted into a Secret Sewing Space.  I would hate to paint it, as the wood is so pretty, but you could do what you want with the interior and no one would be the wiser.  The back is cut out for ventilation for CRT TV’s, but you could put in a panel of pegboard to organize sewing tools.  Follow the blog above and insert a fold down table.  Or, I saw a cool set of table extensions on Nancy’s Notions website.  Click here to see them.
This email was sent to [email protected] by [email protected] |
Laura’s Sewing School | 785 Massachusetts Avenue | Arlington | MA | 02476
Laura Wirkkala <[email protected]>
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The charm of old sewing machines, and why I love sewing with them.

October 4th, 2013
I love to work with OLD sewing machines.
Whenever I make a shirt for my boyfriend, of which he has received 5 this year, I always turn to an old Singer in a cabinet. The machine only does a straight stitch, but WHAT a straight stitch.  Also, the machine is so smooth and quiet and being set into a cabinet, there is support for my project all around the machine.  The only time I move away from the Singer is when I go to the serger or make the  buttonholes at the end.


You can see one of the shirts I made on an old Singer in my shop at the bottom of this article.  The fabric is a silk/linen, Ikat (pronounced ee’ kaht).  I matched the pattern down the front and around the pocket, too.  But, you can see how nice and even the stitching is on the pocket picture to the right.
Close up shot of Presser Foot and Throat Plate on Singer in my Shop, not the one I’m selling, but similar.
What I like about straight stitch machines, they have a narrow presser foot.  It gives maneuverability that I liken to the difference between roller skates and roller blades.  With roller skates, you have 4 wheels and you have to lift your foot to turn.  With a roller blade, you have all the wheels in a line, and all you do is lean to turn.  You can see in the picture to the right, how narrow the presser foot is.  Also, the hole in the throat plate, or where the needle enters the machine is very small, a circle rather than an oblong.


When you have a fine fabric, the small hole supports the fabric and keeps the needle from pushing it into the machine.  This can happen with the larger hole on zigzag machines or more modern machines.


So, the machine pictured at the top, is an old Singer Red Eye.  It’s called a Red Eye, because the decals on the machine, resemble eyes.  I got this machine awhile back.  It’s footprint when it is closed is quite small, yet, when you open it up, there is a nice support leaf to the left.  The front door opens, and there is storage there for bobbins and such.  It’s electric, and the power is controlled with your knee, rather than your foot.  It’s a nice machine, and you can find many more like this for very little money.


If you do want a machine like this, but miss out, many people are selling these machines on Craigslist, not knowing their true value.  Grandma died and left a machine in the house.  Mom downsized and doesn’t sew anymore.  Yard sales an second hand stores are also a source for some old beauties.  I got a lovely portable machine 10 years ago at an antiques coop.  It was sitting on the floor, being unobtrusive.  I paid $60 for it and it was in pristine condition.  Because it had a knee control for the power, I had my daughter use it as her first electric machine.  She was 4 or 5 years old then.  I still have that machine.  It only goes forward, no backstitch.



Silk Linen Men's Shirt Pocket detail

My sewing projects of Late………

August 8th, 2012

One of my students, Elena, commented that I’ve been very prolific this year, more than she has ever seen me to be.  I’m not sure why that is.  Maybe, because I am not being hindered by RA (rheumatoid arthritis) which is now under control.  Or, it could be that I love my new sewing school space and I am inspired to sew to decorate it, as well as make samples to inspire you, as students, or potential students who like to peek in the windows…..

Whatever the cause of my large sewing output, I have been excited to produce many a project this year.  It started with quilts.  One lead to another, like pieces of chocolate, or the oft mentioned Lays potato chips…….I made a quilt for my daughter, inspired by a fabric one of my students brought to class.  Then, since I wasn’t crippled by RA, I could then quilt it myself at Laurena’s Longarm studio in Burlington, MA.  I then made a quilt for each of my nieces, then another for my daughter.  Then, I thought I do one for myself.  I finally finished a quilt I started at least 8 years ago, and hung it in the new sewing school bathroom.  It matched the decor so well.  Then, another student, Sherry L, brought in some blocks she was working on that involved folding the fabric like you would paper for Origami.  I had her show me how to do it, and by the end of the day, I had 25 blocks folded.  I made a wall hanging quilt and had it done within a week.  I finally stalled out on my 8th quilt of the year, when I g0t stuck on finding the right fabric for the border…….It’s still on my design wall.  I thought I’d take a break from it.

More recently, I was dabbling in clothing, for myself, my daughter, and my sister.  One of the most recent items I sewed is the skirt made from sneaker themed fabric (made by Timeless Treasures, C5522 Brite.)  Again, the fabric caught my eye, when Avery, a teenage student, brought it in to make pajama bottoms.  I purchased what was left on the bolt, thinking I would do the same.  My daughter loves her high top Converse sneakers.  When I showed her the fabric, she said that she wanted a skirt that she could wear with her high tops.  Then, she told me exactly how it should look.  And, it should have randomly placed zippers on it.  So, having been given this task, I designed a skirt to those specifications.  I like to use a pattern that is close, has the right sizing and then alter it from there.  I often get donations of sewing fabric and materials.  So, I reached into a box of donated zippers and brought them out to see if any would work in this project.  I had eyelets, like what you find in sneakers or sometimes in belts.  They were years old and I wasn’t sure that I could find them.  But, miracles of miracles,  I did find them.  And, the pliers to set them into the fabric.

I decided to put in to parts in the back of the skirt that have shoe lacing.  I used white eyelets, since most of the sneakers on the fabric have white eyelets.  I used white shoelaces as well.  It was really fun to play around with these things.  So far, all the girls in my classes love this skirt.  My daughter does, too.  I had to bring the waist in, it was too big, but other than that, it’s well liked, and will be worn.

I’ve never been one to make bags much or purses or totes.  But, since I came across the Weekender Totes over a year ago, I have been hooked.  With the use of fusible fleece and peltex and other fabric stiffeners and stabilizers, we can make some pretty amazing bags out of quilting fabric.  And, Very Bradly being such the rage, these bags are really in!  I think the photos pretty much show off why it has been so fun for me to make these.  And, it’s a new kind of challenge, working in ways that I haven’t much in the past.  Plus, as I say in one of the photo captions, it’s an opportunity to play with mixing colors and prints on a smaller, quicker scale than making a quilt!

I hope you enjoy these photos.  If you want a closer look at a picture, just click on it and it will expand to fit your window.  To get back to this page, just hit the “back” button.