Late Fall Sewing Classes are now in session and are full. We will have a short 2-3 week session in December and start a 6 week session in early January 2015.

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:

http://www.laurassewingschool.com/category/sewing-tools-supplies/

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:

www.fabriccornerinc.com

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.

http://www.fabriccornerinc.com/lists.html

  • 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.

http://joann.shoplocal.com/joannsalesflyer/Default.aspx?action=entry&pretailerid=-99845&siteid=228&storeID=2412658

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:

http://www.joann.com/joann/common/content_noleftnav.jsp?catName=storeLocator&_requestid=504664

  • 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:

http://www.fabricplacebasement.com/

  • 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.

http://www.wawak.com/

  • 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!

http://www.laurassewingschool.com/category/beginner-patterns/

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.

 

 

Join Us at Arlington’s Town Day, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014

September 13th, 2014

LSS logo for CC

Town Day is September 13, 2014
  1. Visit Our Booth at Arlington Town Day!
  2. Volunteer your help and save on your next class!
  3. Try our FREE Make & Take Project.
Town Day booths

Arlington Celebrates Town Day this year on Saturday, September 13, 2013. (Rain date 9/14)  There are festivities beginning on Friday evening at the playing field at the Boys and Girls Club.  The Activities culminate with a fabulous Fireworks show.  They shoot them off over Spy Pond.  But, you can get a great view of them from Robbins Farm park, off Eastern Ave in Arlington.
On Saturday, Town Day takes place on Massachusetts Avenue, from 10am-3pm.  The town closes Mass Ave between Pleasant St (Arlington Ctr) and Mill St, which is the traffic light right next to our shop.
Many of the towns businesses and organizations will have booths.  There are some great food booths, from India food from Punjab (my favorite Indian restaurant,) to Mexican (Zocalo my old neighbor on Broadway) and many others.  Churches and schools and arts organizations will be there.  And, businesses that service Arlington and the surrounding area LIKE US!
We won’t know where our booth is until we check in on Town Day.  But our Canopy is RED, so we will be easy to find.*******************************************************************************************

We will be having a Make & Take (FREE) project at the booth.
 We’ll be passing out free tape measures (for as long as they last,) and
taking registrations for the remaining spaces in our current session.
********************************************

HELP AT OUR BOOTH AND SAVE MONEY ON YOUR NEXT CLASS!

We could use some help at our booth on Town Day.  It runs from 10-3, but we have to start set up before 8:15 when they close Mass Ave, and through 3:30-4pm when we break down the booth.  If you can donate any time, especially for an hour or more, I will give you a $10 off your next class for every hour you help me in the booth.
If you would like to display something you made at the booth, I would love to have it for the day.  That way, people visiting can see items sewn by my students, not just me. Last time I had a booth, I had two 10 year old students display their quilts.  People couldn’t believe that they were only ten years old, having made such nice quilts.  I can use small quilts, clothing, bags, etc.  If you could drop off the item by 6pm Friday, that would be best, as set up is early Saturday morning.  Please attach a card with your name (age if you wish) so I know whose it is and visitors can see who made it.

To either Volunteer your time or a display item, send me an email.

Umbrellas that I made recently.
Join us for our rescheduled Umbrella Workshop.
Sunday, October 5, 2014  10am-2pm
Cost: $115, includes frame and pattern
Number of students: 8
  • You can make umbrellas yourself.
  • The frames are available online, as well as the pattern.
  • You can use laminated fabrics which repel water
  • But, you can also use quilting fabrics and waterproof them.

The Fabric Corner has a stock of 30 laminated cottons that I find very inspiring.  You can make a raincoat or rain poncho.  Cosmetic pouches would be nice.  Then, I got the idea that it’d be great to make an umbrella out of those beauties.

What do you do when you are trying to realize an idea nowadays?……Go Online!  So, I did a simple search and found some umbrella frames from a business called umbrellajoan.com, located in that rainy Pacific Northwest state of Washington.  I spoke with Joan on the phone.  She is very nice, and had some good advice about working with her pattern.  She’s been teaching people how to make umbrellas for over 20 years.

I waited anxiously for my supplies to arrive and made the first umbrella out of the green floral cotton laminate.  Then, because Joan says you can use quilting cotton, I wanted to make one out of some Amy Butler fabric I had ordered in blue but put a rim of the white coloration around the umbrella.  Being that I like to challenge myself, I matched the pattern between the blue and white fabrics, which you can see in the picture below.

 

Can you see how the pattern matches between the white border and the blue canopy?
When the umbrella was finished, I waterproof it with Nanodyze.  One of my students found this product a few years ago and it’s great.  It’s advertised for water and stain proofing kids car seats as it’s non-toxic.  I’ve only been able to find it on Ebay.  But, now there are two sellers, so the price has gone down by a third.  Here is a link for that.

If you would like to make an umbrella, it isn’t really all that hard.  I can order the frames and patterns ahead of time.  If you want to use quilting fabric, order the Nanodyze, too.  (You can waterproof it at home after it’s made.) I see this as a great gift to make.

* LovetoSewtoLovetoSewtoLovetoSew *

(Click on map or highlighted address to go to the same map online.)
Parking on street
Arlington, MA 02476
Don’t forget to Bring a Friend!
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Fall Classes begin September 6-12, 2014

September 2nd, 2014
LSS logo for CC

There are still some spaces left in our

Fall Sewing Classes
beginning Saturday Sept 6-12, 2014
Adult classes meet weekly for 3 hours over 6 weeks time.
Kids/Teens after-school classes meet weekly
for 2 hours over 6 weeks time.

***************************************

 CLICK HERE to register now!

* LovetoSewtoLovetoSewtoLovetoSew *
 
6 week session of Fall Sewing Classes!
Space is limited.
Maddie made her skirt, finishing just in time for her concert. Reminds me of myself and the many outfits I finished in the eleventh hour preceding a performance!
Whether you’re a beginner or expert sewist, you can find something to learn here at Laura’s Sewing School.  From learning how to set up your machine and mastering the basics.  It could be learning speed techniques, while maintaining the quality of your work, or even improving it.  Or, the details that bring your work from OK, to WOW!

Adult classes meet for 3 hours per week and are available M-Sat. either morning or evening.


Kids/Teens
after school Sewing Classes meet for 2 hours per week and are available on Tues, Weds and Fridays.  Open to Ages 9+

You can see our schedule at the bottom of this block.

*********************************************************************************

We offer:

Semi-private lessons which allow you to create  

what you want, at your own pace!

 

What does this mean?

  • First off, the classes are small in size, 5-6 students, so that we can give instructions to students, one on one, during the class.
  • We customize our instruction to the student.  We see how you learn, and if one way doesn’t work, we find a way that does for you.
  • We don’t specify a project for you to work on, you choose what you create.
  • We will help you choose a project that is right for your level of experience, but it is your choice of project, pattern and materials.
  • Because we work with each student individually, you can be a beginner in any of our classes.  (unless noted otherwise.)
  • Since there is no deadline for when you finish your project, you can work at your own pace.  There’s no right or wrong speed when it comes to learning to sew in our classes.

Here are some helpful Documents:
Basic Sewing Tools and Supplies List
Helpful Things to prepare you for your first class.Arlington’s Town Day is happening Saturday September 13, 2014.  We will have a booth with a free make and take project for attendees.  Expect a newsletter in the next few days with details of the event and a volunteer sign up.

(Click on map or highlighted address to go to the same map online.)
Parking on street
Arlington, MA 02476
Don’t forget to Bring a Friend!
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This email was sent by laura@laurassewingschool.com |

 

 

Summer Sewing is in the air! Join us later this month for our new session of classes!

June 10th, 2014

LSS logo for CC

Registration is now open for our Youth and Adult Summer

Sewing Classes
beginning June 23-27, 2014
Adult classes meet weekly for 3 hours over 6 weeks time.
Youth (ages 9+) Summer Vacation Sewing Classes meet
M-F, 2-5pm. Sign up for one week or as many as you wish.

***************************************

 CLICK HERE to register now!
I finally finished the quilt that was on my design wall for over a year!  Here it is on Olivia’s bed.  Most of the fabrics are designed by Kaffe Fassett.  The border and a coordinating print are from Alexander Henry and inspired the other fabric choices.  The pattern came from a book by Kaffe Fassett.  I totally changed the colors.  Didn’t like the ones in the book but I liked the design of the blocks.

**************************************************************************

I finished two quilts in the past few weeks.  In 2012, I made 8-9 quilts.  2013, I spent my sewing time on other projects.

Here is the other quilt I finished.  I couldn’t get a good pic of the whole quilt, but this is most of it.  The bulk of the fabrics are designed by Amy Butler.  The border and binding are Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  I got a quilt kit from Cottonseed Glory Quilt Shop in Annapolis, MD, when I was visiting my sister, Peggy.  This was a couple years ago.

***************************************************************************

I quilted both of these quilts on the same day at Laurena’s Longarm Quilting Studio in Burlington, MA.  Usually, I do one quilt top at a time, as it takes me 3.5 hours to complete the stitching.  This day, I booked two machines.  One, I loaded the larger quilt on, and set it to stitch with a computer guiding the machine.  The smaller quilt I loaded and hand guided the machine.  I would stop to advance the other quilt when each row of quilting was finished.  It still took me most of the day, but what a reward to complete both.

You can learn how to use a longarm and rent time at Laurena’s studio.  Her web address is www.burlingtonlongarm.com

If you have no idea what a longarm machine is or how it works, check out this video of when I did my first quilt of 2012.

Longarm quilting at Laurena's in Burlington MA
Longarm quilting at Laurena’s in Burlington MA

* LovetoSewtoLovetoSewtoLovetoSew *
 
6 week session of Summer Sewing Classes!
Space is limited.
Summer Vacation Sewing Classes for Kids/Teens
ages 9+ begin June 23, 2014
Kirsten in a top she designed, drafted the pattern and made!
Whether you’re a beginner or expert sewist, you can find something to learn here at Laura’s Sewing School.  From learning how to set up your machine and mastering the basics.  It could be learning speed techniques, which maintain the quality of your work, or even improve it.  Or, the details that bring your work from OK, to WOW!
Back View of Kirsten’s Top
 
 
 
 
Adult classes

meet for 3 hours per
week and are available M-Sat
either morning or evening.
You can see our schedule below.

Maddie made her skirt, finishing just in time for her concert. Reminds me of myself and the many outfits I finished in the eleventh hour preceding a performance!
 
Vacation Sewing Classes are also available for Kids and Teens. 
These Afternoon classes meet from 2-5pm, M-F for 1 week at a time. That’s a 15 hour sewing intensive. Students will work on projects of their choosing, at their own pace.

Taught by Laura, with an assistant, the student/teacher ratio is 1:3.
and are open to kids ages 9+.
 
Lily in the Colonial Dress she made for her school’s Colonial Days celebration.

(Click on map or highlighted address to go to the same map online.)
Parking on street
Arlington, MA 02476

Don’t forget to Bring a Friend!

I take classes, too!

 

Below, you will see the ottoman that I reupholstered.  I may teach sewing, but sometimes I take classes, too.  I joined the Friday evening class at Upholstery on Broadway, here in Arlington.  They moved into the space I had at 205A Broadway, when I moved to Warren St.  Kevin and Pamela do a great job teaching their students the fine craft of Upholstery.

 

This is the ottoman that I redid in Kevin’s upholstery class. I used fabric left over from having this chair made.

I had purchased the ottoman almost 16 years ago, with the intent to recover it with the fabric left over from having this chair made.  Well, it never happened. By the time I decided to take Kevin’s class, the fabric on the old version was shredding and the stuffing was sticking out.  It had tufting, indentations with buttons in the bottom of each, that I didn’t want.  I wasn’t sure how to change that, so I thought it’d be best to get some help.  It took 3 classes to strip and finish this project.

I wish I would have thought to take a before picture of the ratty old ottoman.  This is one of it in process.  It had been stripped of all the fabric and layers of dacron padding, foam and edge cording.  Lots and lots of staples to remove!!!!!  We took it down to a

rectangular wood box with sinuous springs across the top.

All the materials were replaced with better quality goods.
The picture above is what it looked like at the end of the second class.   What remained was to cover  it with padding and then the actual fabric.  I had two bushings missing which the legs screwed into. (See them to the right, set into angled piece of wood.) Luckily, I found replacements at the local hardware store, thanks Shattucks!
Here, you can see the legs, as I tipped back the ottoman.  You may also spy a black shadow to the left and below the ottoman, as Indigo decided to check it out when I was taking the picture!
The second project I did at the class at 
Upholstery on Broadway, was a rocking chair.
Now, I have to admit that I’m a trash picker.  If I see something worthwhile, I will take it off the curb and make it into something nice.  I’ve done that with dressers, painting and decoupaging them.  I found a lovely oak pedestal table with a leaf on the curb, when a neighbor down the block was moving…..I did it with a chair that I had Kevin reupholster for me as a barter for the sign I made for his shop.  You can see it when you drive by their place.
Here is the rocker at Ken’s shop, waiting for the finish.  It’s mahogany, with maple runners and back supports.
This rocker I found at least 3-4 years ago on Summer St, here in Arlington.  I loved the lines of the chair and thought it’d be great to refinish and reupholster it.  Well, being busy and with the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis, the project was put on a back burner.
I realized that the best solution was to have someone else refinish it.  Plus, I wasn’t sure how to rebuild the chair from a frame.  Recovering is different than starting from scratch. So, I figured that upholstery class was just the place to do this.

I have used Pappas Furniture repair in the past. He doesn’t do refinishing, so he recommended Minuteman Refinishing in Somerville.  (He doesn’t have a website, but this link may work, as it’s a google page.)  Ken met with me at my house and took the chair after I accepted his estimate.  He was able to refinish and re-glue the piece and then deliver it to the Uphostery shop, all in time for me to start on it.  It took me 6 classes to finish.
I should have taken more shots of the process, but here, on the right, is the chair with the wood finished and I’m just getting the webbing woven on the back, which, unfortunately, you cannot see.  But, you can see the seat, which was done first. It has webbing, burlap, cotton batting, and foam.  It still need more cotton padding and the fabric.
Here is the finished chair.  I love the fabric, which I got from Fabric Corner, downstairs of my shop.  I wanted something fun and colorful.  It’s very comfortable, too.
It was a lot of work. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Kevin.  There is so much work that goes into Upholstering! You cannot imagine it until you do it.
I had to sew the back on by hand. The next photo is of that.  Since the chair frame is rigid, I had to use “T” pins to hold the fabric in place and a curved needle to do the sewing.  It went faster than I expected.
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Late Spring Classes begin the week of May 26th. This is a 4 week session which takes us to the end of the school year.

May 16th, 2014

LSS logo for CC

Registration is now open for the
4 wk Session of Late Spring
Sewing Classes
beginning May 26-31, 2014***************************************

 CLICK HERE to register now!
Umbrellas I made this past week!
  • You can make umbrellas yourself.
  • The frames are available online, as well as the pattern.
  • You can use laminated fabrics which repel water
  • But, you can also use quilting fabrics and waterproof them.

The Fabric Corner has a stock of 30 laminated cottons that I find very inspiring.  You can make a raincoat or rain poncho.  Cosmetic pouches would be nice.  Then, I got the idea that it’d be great to make an umbrella out of those beauties.

What do you do when you are trying to realize an idea nowadays?……Go Online!  So, I did a simple search and found some umbrella frames from a business called umbrellajoan.com, located in that rainy Pacific Northwest state of Washington.  I spoke with Joan on the phone.  She is very nice, and had some good advice about working with her pattern.  She’s been teaching people how to make umbrellas for over 20 years.

I waited anxiously for my supplies to arrive and made the first umbrella out of the green floral cotton laminate.  Then, because Joan says you can use quilting cotton, I wanted to make one out of some Amy Butler fabric I had ordered in blue but put a rim of the white coloration around the umbrella.  Being that I like to challenge myself, I matched the pattern between the blue and white fabrics, which you can see in the picture below.

 

Can you see how the pattern matches between the white border and the blue canopy?
When the umbrella was finished, I waterproof it with Nanodyze.  One of my students found this product a few years ago and it’s great.  It’s advertised for water and stain proofing kids car seats as it’s non-toxic.  I’ve only been able to find it on Ebay.  But, now there are two sellers, so the price has gone down by a third.  Here is a link for that.

If you would like to make an umbrella, it isn’t really all that hard.  What I’d suggest is that you order your frame and pattern online.  If you want to use quilting fabric, order the Nanodyze, too.  When you receive that stuff, bring it into class and we will get going on it.  I see this as a great gift to make.  I plan to make more shortly.  I’ll be posting pics on Facebook as I finish them.

* LovetoSewtoLovetoSewtoLovetoSew *
 
for our next 4 wk session of sewing classes!
Space is limited.  This will end when the school ends.  Then our summer session will begin.
 
Sarah in another dress made with fabric from Sawyer Brook!

Our next session of Sewing Classes will begin the week of
May 26-30, 2014

Whether you’re a beginner or expert sewist, you can find something to learn here at Laura’s Sewing School.  From learning how to set up your machine and mastering the basics.  It could be learning speed techniques, which maintain the quality of your work, or even improve it.  Or, the details that bring your work from OK, to WOW!

Renee’s puppy looks a lot like ours.  Remy is a 12 week old labradoodle (sp?)  She made this cute raincoat out of laminated cotton.  Hope it fits for a little while.  They grow so fast.
Adult classes meet
for 3 hours per
week and are available M-Sat
either morning or evening.
You can see our schedule below.
Classes are also available for kid and teens.  These After-School classes meet from 3:30-5:30
and are open to kids ages 9+.
Bottle cozy for her Dad

 

Michelle and her roller shade
Elena’s Feather quilt.  She did a beautiful job.
The only difference in this schedule is that there is no class on Monday mornings, or Tuesday evenings.  And, this session is for 4 weeks, so Adult (3hr)  classes are $190 and kids/teens (2hr) are $145.

(Click on map or highlighted address to go to the same map online.)
Parking on street
Arlington, MA 02476
Don’t forget to Bring a Friend!
Olivia and Indigo had an immediate bond.

New Addition to our School!

His name is Indigo and many of you have met him already.

Sharon and Indigo

He’s getting bigger every day.  I got him from a poodle breeder in Maine, up near Auburn.  He was born January 7th.  I brought him home in the middle of March.  He was just under 7 pounds then and now weighs in at almost 13 pounds.  My friend, Netta, has his brother, who they call Moose.  They’ve attended a month of puppy school together and now we have them working with Percy’s trainer every Sunday.  He is really sweet and gets a lot of attention.  Come say “hello” sometime to our new family member.

Jen caught Indigo climbing out of his enclosure.  He sat on her lap as she sewed.
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New Classes begin February 24-March 1, 2014

February 3rd, 2014
 
for our next 6 wk session of sewing classes!
Space is limited.
 
Sarah in her dress made with fabric from Sawyer Brook!

Our next session of Sewing Classes will begin the week of February 24-March 1, 2014

Whether you’re a beginner or expert sewist, you can find something to learn here at Laura’s Sewing School.  From learning how to set up your machine and mastering the basics.  It could be learning speed techniques, which maintain the quality of your work, or even improve it.  Or, the details that bring your work from OK, to WOW! 

Norma and the baby quilt she finished.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the great turtle print flannel and this is the back of the quilt! 
Adult classes meet
for 3 hours per
week and are available M-Sat
either morning or evening. 
You can see our schedule below.
Classes are also available for kid and teens.  These After-School classes meet from 3:30-5:30
and are open to kids ages 9+. 
Elena's Daughter in dress she made  
Laura showing how to sew a button

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.
Laura’s Sewing School | 785 Massachusetts Avenue | Arlington | MA | 02476
Laura Wirkkala <lwirkkala@gmail.com>
12:38 PM (4 hours ago)

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Sincerely,
Laura Wirkkala

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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

Town Day in Arlington

September 28th, 2013

 

Ana, Laura, Jacqueline, Galen and Connie. Elena is taking the picture.

(If you want to see bigger versions of the pictures,  just click on them.  Press the “back” button to return to this web page.)

We had a great time on Town Day.  The Town of Arlington celebrates everything Arlington each September.  The festivities begin on Friday evening with fun family activities at the Boys and Girls Club field, with the evening culminating in a spectacular display of fireworks over Spy Pond.

The next day, Saturday, Mass Ave is closed off between Pleasant St and Mill St, which is the corner our shop is located closest to.  We packed all of our stuff for our booth the night before and were able to catch the fireworks over the treetops.  We are not give our booth location assignments until the morning of Town Day.  I found out that we were the 4th booth from Mill St, and could have walked all our equipment over there.  We did walk it back at the end of the day.

Regardless, we had a wonderful time and met many new people.  We offered a make and take project for free.  It was elastic band bracelets, or many kids know them by the name Rainbow loom bracelets.  My friend Alixe’s daughter, Helen, showed me how to make fish tail bracelets without a loom.  They are so easy and look so cool.  We had kids and teens and adults, both male and female making them.  We went through 6,000 ELASTIC BANDS!  If we hadn’t run out, we could have gone through at least a thousand more!  There was a little boy who wanted to make a bracelet so bad, he was picking bands off the pavement.  It was nice to get the help cleaning up.

 

You can see how popular this project was.  By the time this picture was taken, I had run out of my supply of multi-colored bands, so I pull out my back up supply of red, orange, pink and yellow bands.  The color didn’t stop the boys from wanting to make more bracelets.  I had 6 chairs and had people standing around the table and others grabbing a handful of bands and standing at the display tables.  I even have a couple of bracelets that I wear from this project.

You can see the two I have.  There are 2 easy ways to make elastic band bracelets with your fingers.  This style is called a fishtail.  If any of you want to learn, just bring in some bands and I’d be happy to show you.  I had some great help last Saturday at my Town Day booth.  Two of my Wednesday after school Students, Galen and Jacqueline were great at teaching the project.  They were hugely enthusiastic.  Also, my adult students came to help, Elena and her daughter Ana, Connie, whose top was on display and now in the shop window, Colleen and Liz.  My daughter, Amelia, helped with set up and some of the teaching at the beginning.  Thanks to all who helped.  I couldn’t have done it without your help.

 

Common Troubles with Sewing Machines!

November 23rd, 2010
Sue Hausmann & America Sews

The Hausmann's
This past Saturday, November 20, 2010, Nashua Sew & Vac hosted a day with Sue Hausmann.  She has a show on PBS, called America Sews.  She was in town to share much of her expertise and inspire us in our creative endeavors.  It was a little heavy on machine embroidery hints, but there were a few gems she gave us, that I must pass on to you!  And, I couldn’t help but elaborate on related troubles and their solutions.

Bobbins, how to wind them without damaging them.
plastic bobbins
First, Jan Bickford, our serger/sewing teacher, has been educating us to wind plastic bobbins at a medium, rather than fast speed.  The friction on the thread, as it goes from spool, through the tension discs, to the bobbin, causes the thread to heat up.  Sue elaborated on this info by showing us that the heat can be high enough to actually warp and distort the bobbin!!!  She showed us one that was damaged in that manner.  I have wondered why some bobbins are like this when I go to wind them, and now I know!  Warping will cause the bobbin to feed thread unevenly and therefore your stitches will not be consistent.  (This doesn’t apply to metal bobbins.)  Another thing to be careful of, whether using metal or plastic bobbins, is that high speed winding can stretch the thread.  So, NO lead footing allowed!

Problems for which the Solutions involve the Take Up Lever
TakeUpLeverPhotoTakeUpLeverSketch

Many of you have had problems with your sewing machine, and whenever they happen, you’ll say, “What’s wrong with this @#%$&   thing!!!!  %#^@&$*%!”  Often, the machine gets shoved into the closet and collects dust.

Well, here are some hints for you.  First, whenever you wish to stop your line of stitching and pull the fabric away from the machine, you must put the Take Up Lever to its top position. (See the photo and drawing above.)   If your machine has a Needle Up/Down button, use that.  If it doesn’t , then turn the hand wheel, (on the right end of the machine,) top toward you, until the needle is at its highest position and just starting to move downward.  Or, until the Take Up Lever is at its highest point.  I say “top toward you” rather than clockwise or counter-clockwise, because if you are sitting to the right of the handwheel, it turns counterclockwise, and if you are seated to the left of the wheel, you would observe that direction as clockwise.  Since the machine is usually in front of you, I say “top toward you” to eliminate confusion.  Did that help?  Or, did I just muddle your thinking?

What having the Take Up Lever at the top will do for you, is eliminate 3-4 problems that commonly happen to beginners and even more seasoned sewists. (I have to tell you, that I don’t really like the term “sewist” but as I write “sewers” it looks more like “soo-ers” than “Soh-ers,” not an appealing thought!)

Please click on this link to the How Stuff Works website. It will take you to a page on how sewing machines form stitches.  There are 2 animated drawings showing first, how a chain stitch machine works, then, secondly, how our standard sewing machines work.  When you look at the second animation, note that the needle penetrates the fabric and a hook grabs the thread and brings it around the bobbin.  You can see that the needle exits the fabric before the needle thread completes its journey around the bobbin.  The needle thread is made long enough to wrap around the bobbin, by the Take Up Lever giving slack to the thread.  It “Takes Up” that slack, after the needle thread goes half way around the bobbin.  Most people look at the needle when they sew.  So, they think that as soon as the needle comes out of the fabric, that you can pull it away from the machine. Unfortunately, the stitch is not complete, until the Take Up lever does its job and returns to its highest position.

What are the problems that occur when you try to stop before the stitch is fully formed?

Problem 1 You cannot pull the fabric away from the machine
Why?  The hook holding the needle thread has not released it from its journey around the bobbin case.

Problem 2 When, with great effort, you do pull it away, you end up with 4 threads coming out rather than 2
Why?  Again with the needle thread being trapped below, you are pulling the bobbin thread, the needle thread and the 2 sides of the loop around the bobbin, up with your fabric.  You cut all 4 threads and then pull the end of one thread and it comes out of the machine’s throat plate (this is the metal plate that the needle passes through and where the feed dogs pop up.)

Problem 3 When you start sewing again, the thread comes out of the needle and you have to reinsert it into the eye of the needle!
Why?  You cut the thread and the Take Up Lever still has to travel up, before it goes down.  So, it pulls the needle thread out of the eye of the needle and you say, “$@%#^$%%!” and rethread it and continue.
TakeUpLeverPhoto
Problem 4.  ALL of these problems can be eliminated, if you do one thing!!!!
When you stop sewing, make sure that the take up lever is in its highest position.  (Circled in red in the photo above, most will stick out of the machine at the top)  If it is not at the top, ALWAYS, turn the hand wheel on the machine, top toward you.  Now, this is counter-intuitive for us.  We bicycle, and walk and crank things in a “top away from you” motion.  But, the motor on your machine turns the handwheel, “top toward you.”  It you turn it the other way, you can jam the machine.

Problem 5 When you start sewing, the machine makes an AWFUL racket and makes a mess of thread underneath, and gets stuck in place.

A.  One of the most common reasons, is that you have forgotten to put down the presser foot.  When you lower the presser foot, you also engage the tension discs, which grab the thread and let it go in a well-timed rhythm.  If the presser foot is raised, the thread flows freely (it isn’t grabbed at all) and when the take up lever rises, it takes the thread from the spool (the path of least resistance) rather than from below the fabric.  Meaning, that the loop that is being wrapped around the bobbin, doesn’t get pulled back up through the fabric.  This will cause a pile up of thread loops underneath.  It’s a domino effect.  Like those classic comedy sketches where a line of people are moving forward, the first person stops and everyone bumps into the person in front of them.  If this does happen to you, don’t just put the presser foot down and try to continue sewing, you’ve made your mess and you have to clean it up before you can sew again. You’ve plugged the drain and it must be unclogged.

Mickey Hudson likes to call this mess “bobbin vomit!”  Sometimes, it seems the most appropriate term for such a mess.
P.S. Another reason, that I overlooked for thread jams, is that whenever you start sewing, you must have the needle penetrate fabric.  The fabric holds the thread so that the loop comes back up from under the fabric.  If you have the needle go down before the fabric, the loop gets stuck underneath and the same bobbin vomit forms.  Yuck!  I do have an industrial machine that always leaves a small knot on the underside of the fabric, unless I hold both thread tales to the back, while stitching the first 2-3 stitches in the fabric.  If you are concerned about sewing all the way to the edge of the fabric, then start with a1/4″ of fabric behind the needle, go forward one stitch to establish the thread in the material, then backstitch/backtack/or reverse stitch to the edge and then go forward.  This secures the thread tales and keeps you from having a knotty mess underneath.

B. Another time that this happens, is if you are trying to sew past a thick seam in the fabric.  If the presser foot gets tipped high in the front, it cannot move forward.  The pressure on the foot is in the back, if the fabric changes from thin to thick, the foot gets stuck in place.  The way around this is to make the foot level.  You need to shim the back of the foot to be even with the front.  If you do that, there is no problem getting past a thick area of fabric.  You can buy tools designed for this called, “Hump Jumpers” or Jean-a-ma-jigs.  I own these tools, but can never find them when I need them.  So, I improvise.  I find a business or index card, folded to the same thickness as the fabric, works really well.  (for those of you who are more adventurous or lazy, who like danger, use a sewing machine needle case, but wear your safety glasses)

HumpJumper
Hump Jumper inserted behind needle to level foot over a thick seam.
JeanAMaJig
Jean a ma jig, inserted before seam, to level foot.

How to level or shim the presser foot:  as the presser foot encounters the increased height of the seam, stop the machine, put the needle down and insert shim behind the needle.  Lower the presser foot, continue sewing across the seam.  It will pop out from under the foot when no longer needed.

LevelingPresserFoot
Leveling Presser Foot, also does general sewing.

Some machines have a shimming mechanism built into the standard presser foot.  Do you have a presser foot that has a spring-loaded, black button on the side near the back, like the picture above?  Have you ever wondered what the heck that is for?  Well, when you sew and encounter a thicker area, let the foot start traveling over the seam, stop, put the needle into the fabric.  Level the foot and push the button in on the side so that it engages with an indentation in the back “ankle” area of the presser foot connection.  Hold the button in while you lower the presser foot onto the fabric.  Then, let the button go. It will stay pushed in.  The foot will remain level as you sew across your seam.  The button will pop out of place when you have passed the thick area.  It is quite amazing!

Now, for those of you, who have had a problem with the thread coming out of the Take Up Lever, this is for you!  I have been trying to figure this out for a long time.  I don’t have this happen to me, but it happens to a lot of my students when they use one of my sewing machines, in particular, the Kenmore model 16231.  Sue Hausmann talked to us about this and I was so happy to learn this, that it was worth attending the 6 hour seminar, if only for this explanation.

This usually happens for people who have a sewing machine which can stop the needle in either the UP or Down position automatically.  (Though, just today (11/23/10,) I had a student, whose machine doesn’t have this feature, have this problem, so all of you should read this!)

Many times, you may find that that AWFUL sound happens when you start sewing a seam.  When you stop, there are big loops of thread down below and you may or may not be able to pull the fabric away from the machine.  This is caused by using the handwheel, rather than the UP/DOWN button, to move the needle/takeup lever to their UP positions.  Sometimes, your machine’s UP position may vary a little bit from what you expect.  If you turn the wheel  by hand, you may not put it right where the machine would and it forms some slack in the thread, that allows it to come out of the take up lever.  Since I love the needle up down button (you can have it stop in the fabric whenever you take your foot off the pedal, so it acts like a third hand, holding your fabric in place on the machine while you adjust it to continue sewing.)  You can also have it stop in the UP position every time you stop.  If it is in the Down mode, make sure that at the end of stitching your seam, that you push the UP button rather than turning the hand wheel.  The designers of the machine want you to use the button rather than the wheel.

BuiltinNdleThrdr
Another task that is effected by not using the UP/DOWN button, is threading the machine using the automatic needle threader. Most new sewing machines come with a needle threader.  How it works, is that you push a lever down, as it is depressed, it rotates forward and puts a teeny, tiny hook, through the back of the eye of the needle.  You draw the thread around a guide and then up the front of the needle until it encounters the underside of that teeny, tiny hook (like a minuscule crochet hook.)  You let the thread in your right hand go, at the same time as you release the lever on the left.  Spring loading allows the hook to draw a thread loop through the eye of the needle.  You then pull that loop all the way through to finish threading the machine.  Most needle threaders look like the one above.  None of them work right, unless the machine is IN the pre-programmed UP position.  If you are not sure if the machine is in the right place, hit the needle UP/DOWN button, until it is.  If you do not do this, it will bend the hook so that this will not work in the future.  Many people do not know this.  Remember………If all else fails, read the instruction manual.   Or, come to a class and we will show you what to do!