1/11/16 We have added a class on Tuesday Evenings. And, there is one space in the Thursday After School Class for kids/teens

Archive for the 'What’s New' Category

New website is being built

Saturday, 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

Saturday, 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

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Newsletter for site TopNewsletter for site 2

Newsletter for site 3 Newsletter for site 4


A Secret Sewing Space

Sunday, 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.

Friday, 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………

Wednesday, 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.

Pictures of Student’s Work

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

The following pics are from 2009.  These are just a portion of what students have accomplished here in their classes.

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Gumdrop Pillows!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Amy Lou's daughter, Addy, on the pillow that inspired us all.Amy Lou and the Gumdrop pillow I made for her as a baby shower giftCloseup of top of Amy Lou's pillow, check out the kaleidoscope effect made by fussy cutting the panelsBotton of Amy Lou's pillow, cutting the panels in the same place on the fabric creates a wonderful kaleidoscope effect.Katie pretending to sleep on the cushions.My niece, Katie, on her sister, Sanna's, PillowBottom of Katie's pillow, this is the smaller, 18Top of Katie's pillow

All the rage here at Laura’s Sewing School, we are having such fun and interest in making Amy Butler’s gumdrop pillows that I have scheduled a one day workshop for us to go wild and make them together.  I will order the stuffing and patterns and you will purchase the fabric of your choice.  You can see the details (dimensions, materials list) about the pattern on Amy Butler’s website.
These cushions are made of drapery weight fabric.  You can find that weight of fabric here in Arlington, at Fabric Corner, at Freddy Farkel’s in Watertown (also known as Fabric Showplace) and online.  Fabric Corner just ordered a large selection of Amy Butler home dec fabrics and they have received 12 of them! They will go fast, especially because they will be posting them for online sale, too. So, you may want to get there as soon as you can to pick up the fabric.  If the weight is fine, it can be any brand of fabric.  You just don’t want a fabric which is too loosely woven, or unravels easily.  Fabric.com has a nice selection of Amy Butler printed twills if you want to use her fabric designs.  There are 8 panels, all the same, which are sewn together like sections of an orange.  They are packed with a LOT of stuffing.  I found hand sewing the first one, Amy Lou actually did that work since it was her project, rather tedious.  So, when I made MY first one, I used an invisible zipper to close the pillow once it was stuff.  Much easier and quicker.

Kids absolutely love this pillow. They have found it as a great place to sit and bounce and roll on or off.  Adults do find it useful as a footrest.   You can make them with one fabric or two.  If you cut it from one fabric, you fussy cut it, making sure that it is cut in the very same place on the fabric, for all the pieces.  This makes interesting, kaleidoscopic patterns, especially if the fabric has symmetry.  You can see this on both of Amy’s pillows.  Even though I used 2 fabrics in the pillows for my nieces, I did cut all of the large-scale, patterned fabric in the same place.  There is an octagonal patch on the top of the cushion.  I fussy cut that, centering it on a flower or pattern.

I propose that the workshop be on Sunday, March 15th.  From 10am-4pm.  That should give us plenty of time to work and eat and stuff and finish one gumdrop cushion.  The next one, you will be able to do on your own and much faster.  I will provide the stuffing and the pattern. You provide the fabric, thread (good quality polyester like Gutermann or Mettler) and an invisible zipper in a matching color.  The only part of the zipper to show will be the tab.  Buy a 12-14″ zipper or longer.  It will work for either size pillow.  And, if you have to buy a longer zipper to get a color match, it is very easy to shorten.  Better too long than too short!  The Fabric Corner sells invisible zippers and the presser foot to apply it to your project.  I just talked to them about ordering enough for all of you.  The presser foot is adaptable to most sewing machines and can be used over and over again.  It is reasonably priced and worth buying.

I will have to price out the patterns and stuffing.  So, I will have to get back to you on the price for the class.  I think that we can have 5, possibly 6 students for the day.  Let me know if you want to take the class and I will let you know the price.  If the 22nd of March is better than the 15th, let me know.  I am flexible about the date.  If you are available during the day, M-F, I could possibly meet with you for a workshop on a Thursday.  I am excited about this project.

Pictures of projects from my old website

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Here are just a few photos I had posted on my Wirkkala Designs website.  I thought that I would copy them here.  The first is of the curtains and pillows I made for the Master Bedroom in my old house.  You may recognize them, since they now hang in the front windows on my Sewing School!

Second picture is of a lamp I found in the trash.  I cleaned it up, had it rewired and made a lampshade out of some Elephant print fabric I have, which you may recognize from a quilt I have pictured below and in another post.  I glued the trim on with white glue.  I prefer double sided tape nowadays.  Less messy, instant tack and no burning potential when using a hot glue gun.  This picture was taken at the base of the stairway, leading to the 1/2 bath on the first floor of my old place.  The painting on the wall is a watercolor I did.  I copied a picture of leaves scattered on the forest floor.

The third picture is of my daughter’s crib, from when she still slept in one.  Of course, she slept with the side on, but the picture looked much better without the railing.  I made the dust ruffle, bolster pillow, the bumper pads and the duvet cover for the crib-sized down comforter.  (The only place I was able to find that size of down comforter was at the Company Store in Wisconsin)  Amelia still uses the duvet and even though she is too long for it to cover her, she takes it with her on sleepovers and, at home, has me put it on top of all her other blankets.  Once I pieced the top, I backed it with cotton batiste, stitched those layers together in the ditch so that it would keep the patchwork seams from fraying in the wash.  It has worked well because this cover has been washed many times in the last 8.5 years.  Don’t you just love the walls behind the crib?  They were painted during the 4 days I was in the hospital when I had Amelia.  The painters did this beautiful paint effect.  Plus, they painted faint cloud images on the ceiling.  Dave Matuccio and his crew did the work.  Great guys.

Master Bedroom right after I finished it, note curtains, both red print and sheers, and pillow on bed.  Plus, chair I had made out of a gorgeous tapestry. Lampshade and painting I madeCrib with dust ruffle, bumpers, pillow and duvet cover I made

Elephant Walk Quilt, done with freezer paper piecing and hand applique, machine quilted Closeup of Elephant Walk Quilt Center