Summer Classes for Kids/Teens begin June 22. Adult Classes will meet for 5 weeks beginning July 7.

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Late Spring and Summer Sewing Classes 2015

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

LSS logo for CC

Registration is now open for both 
Late Spring May 25-June 23, 2015
Adult classes meet weekly for 3 hours.
Kids/Teens after-school classes meet weekly for 2 hours.
Summer July 6-August 8, 2015
Summer Sewing Classes
Adult classes are M & W evenings, T, Th, Fr, Sat am  
3hrs per week for 5weeks.
Kids/Teens Summer Vacation classes meet 2-5pm M-F
Sign up for 1 or more of the 5 sessions scheduled.
More weeks may be added in Late June (22) and through August (29)


CLICK HERE to register now!

We are now taking registrations for our next session of sewing classes.  Register now to secure your spot.
Space is limited.

My Speedy sewing student, Sophia, made this vest out of blue fleece and bias trim.  Looks great, fits great and she did a wonderful job.  Doesn’t the zipper match perfectly?
This Late Spring Session begins the week of May 25 and most of the classes are for 4 weeks, with an exception of 3 or 5 weeks. The class dates are listed on the registration form, which is linked above where it says REGISTER NOW!
The details about summer classes are in the green block below.

Ginny’s Linen Coat
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!

Close up of Ginny’s Coat.  She found this remnant at Zimman’s of Lynn, MA.  The pattern is a simple cut pattern from Vogue, (I know, is there any really simple pattern from Vogue?)  It’s a perfect pairing of fabric and garment style.  Excellent job!

Back view of Ginny’s Coat.
Adult classes meet for 3 hours per week and are available M-Sat. 
either morning or evening.

 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.
ONE NOTE: We will fill the T, W & F after school classes before we open registration for the Thursday Kids/Teens class.

Here are some helpful Documents:

The pictures above are of a Tea Cozy, made by Melissa L.  I just love the fabric!  It’s bee themed and the outside is the picture on the left, the interior picture is on the right.  I’d have a hard time deciding which side to use.  She did finish it well enough that you could use either side.  It’s being donated to an auction for the Waldorf School in Lexington.

Summer is coming quickly upon us.  We will be offering Adult Sewing Classes which will meet once a week, for 3 hours, over 5 weeks time, beginning July 6, 2015.
Adult classes times are in the mornings or evenings.
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturdays 9:30am-12:30pm
Monday and Wednesday Evenings 7-10pm
Kids/Teens Summer Vacation Sewing Classes 
will work differently than the adult classes.  

  • Sign up for 1 week at a time, choosing any of the weekly sessions offered. From June 22- August 29
  • Each session meets M-F, 2-5pm
  • For ages 9-18 yrs old. (younger must be accompanied by adult or approved by Laura) 
  • Beginner through advanced skills.
  • Classes limited to 6 students
  • Teacher/Student ratio of 1:3
  • Bring your own machine, or use one of ours for a small fee. ($30/wk)
  • Student gets to work on projects of their choosing. They pick/purchase their own materials.  We will assist students in this so that they pick something that will give them the best skills and success.
  • Students get a discount at the fabric store downstairs 
  • Students work at their own pace.
  • Teachers work individually with each student, customizing our instruction to the student’s needs
  • Students can sign up for one, two, three… many weeks as they wish to attend.
  • No makeups are given for these vacation week classes.
  • Cost $260 per week.  Machine and materials extra.
The summer classes are listed below the Late Spring classes on the registration form.  Click the blue link above to go there.

I have some wonderful helpers this year. Stephanie Griffin (in red shirt in picture to the right) has worked with me several summers and the kids love her.  Amy Lane is just finishing her second year in the Fashion program at Mass Art.  She will be bringing some great skills and ideas to the program.

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

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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: 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 <>
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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. 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

Various projects of mine over 2008

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Following up from the Quilt project posting, here are pictures of various projects I completed in 2008. It’s not all of them, but the ones that are loaded into my shop computer. As you scroll onto the picture, each has a label of what it is.  Just like on the other pages, if you click on the photo, it will enlarge. To return to this page, click on the Back Button. (When I made so many items from a duvet cover: shower curtain, sink skirt, a top and a dress and then had some fabric left over, I couldn’t help but think of Carol Burnett’s “Went with the Wind.” Their take on “Gone with the Wind.” Check it out on YouTube, especially part 2 and the dress she makes…… Part 1 and Part 2)
My daughter, Amelia, in the knit shirt I made in 2 hours, including copying, altering style and sewing.Made from one twin duvet, a shower curtain, sink skirt and hidden in front, my daughter wearing the top I made her.Amelia and her friend, Olivia in the top and dress I made them from the twin duvet cover. (Pottery Barn issue.)Baby Quilt made by Laura and Gina, for Deb who cuts our hair.

Andrea's cushion before I made a new coverClose up of the front of Andea's cushion, I matched the pattern between the top, bottom and boxing stripSide view of cushion I made for Andrea

Placemats and napkins I made and gave to my friend, TimWrist warmers, I made the patterns for all of them and sewed the red print ones.Detail of Sheer Curtain valance, ribbon and decorative stitching

Window without sheers.  Looks rather bare.Sheers from IKEA before I altered themMy bedroom curtains.  The linen sheers were from IKEA.  I changed them.  Put red ribbons and decorative stitching and a flop over valance on them.

My little niece, Katie, in a night gown I made for her when visiting my sister.My niece, Sanna, and daughter, Amelia in nightwear I made them on our visit to Maryland.Front view of Amelia in her Ottobre pattern dress.Amelia in dress I made her from pattern in Ottobre Magazine

Shirt/vest I made from fabric purchased from Vogue Fabrics at the Sewing Expo.  It was only aged a few months before I made it!Blue Linen Shirt I made from a Burda pattern.  I found the large mother of pearl button in a collection of buttons from my Grandmother.Sleeveless tunic shirt made with Amy Butler fabricSkirt, first pattern I made from Ottobre Women's magazine.  I ended up adding a yoke and button placket.  Changed a couple other features, too.

Latest Quilt Project of Mine

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Biblical Blocks Quilt
Well, I haven’t been very prolific when it comes to posting new things. I do sew as much as I can, but haven’t been keeping up with posting pictures of my work. And, I have made more things than I have the photos to prove.  So, I thought I would quickly post my latest quilt project. I make quilts, not for money, but for friends and family. There is so much time and work involved, it would not be a financially viable way to make a living. I do it for the love of the process and the recipient. Piecing a quilt top requires precision, and since I have a streak of perfectionism in me, it is a good outlet for that. (To see an image closeup, click on it. To return to this page, press the Back button.)

Star and Cross BlockRoad to Paradise Block

Wither Thou Goest BlockCenter Block :  Tree of Life

Dove in the WindowWedding Ring Block

A Walk in the Garden BlockPillow Amelia designed and made herself to go with the quilt.

The pictures of the individual blocks are in order from left to right, top to bottom. If you look closely, you can see that I put the border print in every block. I had to “fussy cut” them but the effort was worth it.

The Last picture is of the pillow my daughter, Amelia, made for Joan. She took scraps from when I was making the center block, and without help from me, cut and sewed the pinwheel. Then, she asked me to rotary cut some strips. She did all the sewing and stuffed the pillow and hand-sewed it closed.

This quilt was started in the fall. It was a gift for my daughter’s great aunt, who was suffering from cancer. I had bought a set of 1800′s reproduction fabrics from Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire. My friend, Sara, and I went on a day trip there a few years ago. We wanted to see their store and take a day off together. She makes wonderful quilts. Sara always has a quilt in process and is very organized. She brings a file folder of fabric swatches with her so that she can fill out the colors needed for the quilt. I tend to enter a store and buy what appeals to me. I didn’t plan on buying anything that day. But, of course, I could not resist…… 19th century style fabrics are not what I usually work with. I tend to like batiks, bright colors, and more contemporary styled prints, including some modern. I bought a variety which would go together well. Trying something new, or should I say “old?” I thought I would make a feathered star quilt. But, as I let my fabric age, I never started it. When I thought of doing so, I couldn’t find them in my stash and then, when I could find them, I had misfiled the pattern.

Last Fall, I decided to make a quilt for Joan. I thought she would like the more traditional fabrics. She was a fine needleworker. Amelia received several gorgeously made smocked garments. And, Amelia was christened in a gown Joan had made for her children, grandchildren and other family members. Amelia was the 11th to wear it 9 years ago. She was a photographer, and writer, too. I decided to use Biblically inspired blocks for the quilt, since Joan and her husband are devoted Christians. I used 2 books by Rosemary Makhan for the patterns, “Biblical Blocks” and “More Biblical Blocks.”

The 6 squares above and below the center block, are 12 inches square and placed on point. They are divided in thirds, fifths, sixths and sevenths. That means that some of my cutting was to the 1/16th of an inch, yikes! For the triangular piecing, I used a paper piecing technique using freezer paper patterns. I used freezer paper templates, ironed to the fabric for the odd shaped pieces in the Tree of life block. The rest were cut to size and pieced together. The borders were cut to show the pattern at its best. It was hard to match them at the corners since the pattern in the red section was not symmetrical. I was in a hurry to put on the outside border, so I just crossed my fingers and left it up to serendipity that they would look good. It turned out better than if I had tried to second guess it. As you have probably figured out, I did all of the cutting and sewing for the quilt top.

Since I needed a fast turnaround on the quilting, I decided to have a professional machine quilter do the work, if I could find someone who was available. Georgette Gagne of Black Wolf Quilting Services was able to help me. I gave her the top on a Sunday afternoon. She lives in Webster, NH. We met the following Wednesday at 5pm in Nashua. I drove right back to my shop and started putting on the binding. I finished it after my evening class, around Midnight. I printed a label on my inkjet printer. I set the ink with a dry iron. The printing was done by ironing a sheet of 8.5 x 11″ sheet of freezer paper to the back of the fabric. I trimmed the sides evenly and ran it through my HP. I used the same fabric as the quilt backing. So, to have it stand out, I bordered it with a rust colored print, which coordinated with the binding fabric.

Detail of quilt stitching on back of quilt.Picture of quilt label

I used the freezer paper piecing method on my Elephant Walk quilt, pictured below.  It hangs in my shop near the cutting table. It is easy and precise. All of the triangles in the compass and the borders are done this way. It was especially helpful when I did all of the green triangles in the Tree of Life Block. This technique was the brain child of Judy Mathieson. I took a workshop with her a few years back in which I did the center compass of the Elephant quilt. She is an extremely talented quilter whose best known for her Mariner Compass quilts.  Since I was intent on using the Elephant print fabric somewhere, she suggested that I have Elephant’s walking across the quilt.  Thank you, Judy!  I machine pieced all of the geometrics.  I hand appliqued the various Elephants who are walking outside the lines.  Needle turning under the 1/8″ inch wide tail of the smallest elephant is not something I would like to do again.  Then, I machine quilted in the ditch around all of the triangles and compass points and borders.  Then I free-motion quilted around all of the elephants and plants and flowers and the cream colored background of the center block.  Trimmed bound and labeled it.  The label is also done on the inkjet printer, like the Biblical quilt above.  It’s been in 3 shows.

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