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Classes for August for Kids/Teens

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


Laura's Sewing School
Dear Laura,

We have just started our first session of Vacation Sewing Classes!  I can’t believe it’s already Summer.  If you haven’t signed up for weekly adult classes or our Vacation Sewing Classes for Kids/Teens, there are still openings in our schedule.  I will be teaching the six weeks from now until the end of July.  My daughter, Amelia, is helping me with the Kids/Teens Vacation Sewing Classes this week.  As of next week, Stephanie Griffin, will be my teacher’s assistant. She started taking classes from me some years ago.  She’s now in college and this is her second year as my student teacher.  The kids love her.
Amanda Mujica
We are adding classes for the month of August.  I will be away at that time. Luckily, I’ve arranged for a wonderful costumer/teacher to take over classes for the month of August.  Her name is Amanda Mujica and you can see pictures of her work above and below this block, as well as clicking on her name earlier in this sentence.  She’s very talented and she knows how to teach.  She loves to share her vast knowledge with others.  I am sure that you will enjoy working with her later this summer.
I am happy to answer any questions.  My email is at the bottom of this newsletter.  I am looking forward to seeing you this summer!
Laura Wirkkala


A new face at 
Laura’s Sewing School
You can see Amanda’s picture in the section above.  And, you can see pictures of her work all throughout this newsletter.  I am so impressed with her skill and versatility!  It was very hard to pick which photos to post here, as her work is vast. CLICK HERE to visit her website.
Often, people of great talent cannot step back and remember how it was to be a beginner.  Amanda is not one of them.  She has been teaching kids and adults and loves to pass on her knowledge and passion for fabrics and clothing and design.
What I like about her is her approachability.  I think you will learn a lot and have a good time in her classes.  This is a fantastic opportunity for those interested in costume of all types as well as those who would like help working with difficult fabrics.  If you want to work on basic skills and projects, Amanda can help you with that, too.
We are going to offer morning classes for Kids/Teens.  This is how they will work:
Monday-Friday, 9am-noon
Ages 9+
Cost: $250 week
Student limit: 5 per class
4 – one week sessions over the month of August , join one or join them all!
For Adults:
During the school year, we offer 6 week sessions of classes which meet once a week for 3 hrs.  For the month of August, here’s what we are offering:
Tuesday and/or Thursday Evenings, 6:30-9:30pm
Cost: $50 per evening, sign up for 5 or more classes when you register and receive a $5 rebate per class!
Student limit: 5 per class
You can sign up for any of the 8 T/Th’s in August.  Come once, come 4 times, come 6 or 8 times.  You make the schedule you want. Many of you take vacation time in August.  This way, you can get a chance to work with Amanda while you are in town, but not worry about having to miss a class or arrange a makeup.
Register by CLICKING HERE!
As you choose when you attend the August classes offered, we do not allow makeups for missed adult classes or days of class missed during vacation sewing weeks.

Semi-Private Lessons which allow you
to create what you want, at your own pace!

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.

Friday, 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, 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

Monday, 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

Town Day in Arlington

Saturday, 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.


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