Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Red Barn School of Sewing

Announcing!  My new school of sewing is open and ready for students!  I haven't been posting for some time, due to a busy schedule of getting the school set up, as you can imagine.  There have been many, many hours of paperwork, thought, decisions and putting all of it into action - much more time-consuming than I ever thought!  I, and a very close sewing friend and my protege and co-teacher, discovered a few months ago that we have both had a long-time desire to have our own sewing school - so, we have made it a reality.  We have opened The Red Barn School of Sewing, LLP 

 Since my husband has said for a long time that he thinks Kentucky should be put on the map for sewing and Kentucky is known for its barns, we have chosen this barn drawing as our theme.  Since most barns are red, we decided to call it The Red Barn School of Sewing!  The bonus of this barn image is that it's almost identical to the barn that was on the farm where I grew up!  What memories it brings back every time I see it.

At this time, our school is offering what we're calling our "Signature Class," Sewing Machine Fundamentals.  In this group class, lasting three hours, students will learn the basic operation of their sewing machine and will learn how to stitch out many, if not all, of the built-in stitches that are available on their machine - even if it's a very basic level sewing machine.  When starting to develop this class, we learned so much about what our sewing machines could do.  It was just amazing!  I've had my machine for over 23 years and didn't know some of what it could do before working on this class.

In the class, the students will make a Stitch Encyclopedia, where they will stitch out the built-in stitches on a fabric sheet of muslin.  Students may choose to use the same color of thread for every stitch pattern, or may use a different color for each one.  Students will make one, two or more "pages" of stitches that they may turn into a book (encyclopedia) of stitches, so they may actually see what the stitches look like on fabric.  It's really hard to know what the stitches will look like just by the chart printed in the machine's instruction manual or on the front of their sewing machine. We've had students who have already taken this class say, "I really learned so much about my machine - it was amazing!"

We are also offering customized, private lessons that will be a one-on-one, two-hour class.  The private sewing lesson will be customized (tailored) to meet the needs of the student, from taking the sewing machine out of its box, to learning about a specific technique.  Our private sewing teacher will interview the student prior to their lesson in order to learn how the student's needs can be met.

We are holding in-store promotions on the first three Saturdays in April, 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Hobby Lobby store, 968 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville, KY 40207 so come on over to greet and meet us!  Check out our website at to see more of what our school offers, to see our teachers' biographies, our class policies, a photo gallery and testimonials of previous students.  We will be happy to teach you, if you live in the Louisville KY area, so sign up for one of our classes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Flyer for Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series

This flyer shows details of the Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing series that I teach at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek KY.  The Level 2 is starting October 3 for four sessions, so sign up by this Saturday, September 26th to reserve your spot!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Palmer/Pletsch Level 1 Beginning Series Completed!

 The Palmer/Pletsch Level 1 Beginning Class Series came to a close June 27, 2015.  My students were so happy with their apron project.  They were excellent students and all felt they learned so much.

One student had been a private sewing student of mine earlier in the year, so she knew the basics of using her sewing machine and how to complete some basic sewing techniques.  She had received her sewing machine only a few months prior to her private lesson with me and had no experience using it.  In her lesson, we went over machine basics and she made some technique samples, so she was fairly familiar with her machine.

Another one of the students had never sewn anything before and didn't even have a sewing machine until the third week!  She did an amazing job with her apron project!

Still another student had to miss the fourth week, due to a family situation.  She was a more experienced sewist, so she was able to finish her apron project on her own.

 I'm really looking forward to these Level 1 students returning for the Level 2 class series.  In Level 2, we'll be making a kimono-type wrap robe that has patch pockets and a contrasting band  This robe can be made in any length and out of most fabrics.  The class sample, at left, is made from quilting cotton and can be a transitional garment going into the cooler temperatures of fall or coming out of the colder temperatures of winter, going into spring.

Lighter weight fabrics for summer in a light-weight cotton such as broadcloth, silk, a cotton/polyester blend (a silky), even a light-weight knit would work well, I think.  Of course, a warmer fabrics for winter would be appropriate, such as flannel, velour or corduroy.

If you live near the Louisville, Kentucky area and have beyond basic beginner sewing machine skills and knowledge, please consider signing up for this Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Level 2 class series. (Pattern and fabrics are not included in the class fee.)  It starts on October 3 and runs for four weeks at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek (Call 502-239-2222 for details).  I'd love to have you in my class and to see how creative you can be with your fabric combinations.

"Be creative and learn to sew!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Week 1 of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Complete!

We've finished week 1!  The first of 4 weeks in the series I'm teaching of Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing classes at our local Babylock dealer is now complete.  I have 3 students who want to learn basic sewing techniques so they may sew & repair garments and shorten hems.  Oh, there's so much to learn in a beginning class and the students are hanging in there with me. 

The project is a chef's/artist's apron in which they will learn about reading a pattern, preparing the pattern tissue, cutting out fabric, marking, stay-stitching curves, sewing on facings, clean finishing edges, sewing machine stitched hems, top-stitching, sewing on patch pockets and many sewing tips that I've learned over the years. 

The curriculum includes Level 2 and Level 3, both of which the students may take later.  They'll make a wrap robe in Level 2 and a 2-pc PJ project in Level 3.  By the time they finish the 3-level series, they'll be very well-equipped to sew just about anything they want.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how far the students will go with their new sewing skills!  The photo shows one of the aprons that I'm using as my class sample.  I love the teapot fabric, since I am a teapot collector!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1

The long-awaited Palmer/Pletsch Beginning Sewing Series, Level 1 is starting tomorrow, June 6, at Austin's Sewing Center in Fern Creek.  This series has been planned for months, but with bad weather, health situations and other things, we finally have a "go" for the classes!  I am so excited about teaching this series!  In it, students will learn basics about their sewing machine, as well as basic sewing skills that they can use over and over throughout their sewing adventures.

As we get into the series, I will share with you here some tips and suggestions I also share with my students.  This will not be as valuable as actually being in the classroom with us, but it can be helpful to anyone who is thinking about learning to sew, or who wants to return to sewing after a long absence.  So many things have been improved over the years, and techniques have been made easier with new tools that are on the market today.  So, stay tuned for an exciting 4 weeks of basic sewing adventures with me!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sandy's Sanity-Saving Sewing Snippets: #3 Creating an Efficient Sewing Work Space

Well, I apologize for the long absence.  I have been somewhat "off the grid" since my husband had three surgeries in January.  Two were done on the 16th and two weeks later, he had a third one!  He's doing much better, now, and is back to most normal activities, which is a wonderful praise to God!  From all the prayer by our praying friends/partners and great doctor/nursing care, he's on the mend.

Today, I worked with a private beginning student and we got into a discussion about being organized and efficient in our sewing space.  One of the things I suggested to my student is to make sure her work table is at the proper height so she isn't bending over to lay out her fabric and pattern pieces.  A comfortable table height is one that should be at about the upper hip level when standing next to it.  I suggested she get some bed risers to place under the table legs to raise it up to a higher level, if necessary.  The higher table height will cut down on back strain from bending over, as well as fatigue that can occur from bending and reaching so much.

As you can see in the photo below of my studio, I have two chest of drawers of equal size and height backed up to each other.  They are sitting on bricks, which make them the perfect work height for me.  Sometimes we can make "do" with what we have available at the time, and since the bricks have worked so well, I just left them there!  They're sitting on felt mats that I cut from some leftover scrap felt so as not to scratch the floor.

The organizer hanging on the end is something I made from a length of denim fabric.  I sewed pockets from old jeans to hold scissors, rulers, and various other items, and the straps that are holding my rotary rulers and cutters are made from belt loops and strips of denim sewn into lengths that fit the size needed.  The length of fabric was long enough to place one end underneath my cutting mat and pressing board, which is covered in canvas cloth.  I had intended to paint the chests white when I acquired them from my Mother, but still haven't gotten that done.  I'm too busy with other things to take time for painting furniture!

Another thing I suggested to my student is to make her sewing work space in a "L" work space configuration.  By using a rolling office chair, she'll be able to roll in a smaller area to reach her machine and table surface easier.  I have found this to be a very workable solution to an efficient workspace.  I used this set-up when I was a high school principal's secretary in my school system career of 23 years.

I like to use what I call "arm's-reach space" where most of what I need is within arm's reach.  The less wasted movement I have to make, the more efficient I can be.

Please share your ideas on efficient sewing work space in the comment section, below.  I'd love to hear and/or see how yours is set up!  Thank you in advance.

"Be creative and learn to sew!"

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sew What Community Sewing Group September Project: Bias-Wrapped Jacket

Two days ago, our sewing group met for the September class to start a jacket project, "Bias-Wrapped Jacket," which is also called a "Fat Quarter Jacket."   With seven in attendance, and eventually three husbands stopping in to see what we do, we had a very good class!

This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is made in 100% cotton fabrics, with horse and horseshoe motifs and a plaid that color-coordinates with the prints.  I usually wear this jacket around Kentucky Derby time.  (I guess you know that since I live in Kentucky, we have a lot of Derby activities going on from Mid-April up to race day on the 1st Saturday of May!)

These jackets are so comfortable and easy to make, without much fitting necessary.  I have made several out of different types of fabrics, so they are truly versatile!

On this Derby jacket, bias binding was used for all of the edge finishes.  The plaid was used for the front/neck bindings and a wider bias band was used for the lower edge and cuffs.  I just realized the cuffs don't show up very well in this photo, but they are cut wide enough so they can be turned up on themselves.  Because they are cut on the bias, they turn nicely.

This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is made from rayon fabrics, which drapes so pretty.  I put a serger edge all around, using my Babylock self-threading serger.  It is a dream, by the way!

The stitch is called the Wave Stitch.  Two colors, black & white, were used on the front/neck edges and red/white were used on the lower and sleeve edges.  That makes the edges look like they have a separate trim sewn on.  The thread is a 40-weight rayon and seems to be holding up very well, even with all the wear I'm giving it.

This one is also very comfortable to wear and is easy-care.  I just wash it on gentle in cold water and hang to dry, which is how I wash most of our clothes.  I rarely use our dryer!  Maybe only two - three times a year.

This jacket is made from a suede-finished, hand-dyed, 100% cotton.  From a distance it looks like real suede cloth.  I put serger crochet on all the edges to finish it, using 12-weight cotton variegated thread.  The ruffle effect is quite nice, I think.  I do have to be a little cautious when wearing this jacket because of the loopy crochet edging, as it sometimes gets snagged.  But, when I take it off, the snags are easily pulled through with a tool called a "knit fixer," so I don't let that stop me from wearing it.

With all the muted colors, this jacket can be worn with many different outfits, so it's also very versatile.

This Bias-Wrapped Jacket is my favorite, but is the most delicate!  It's made of a lacy knit fabric that I just had to have when I first saw it, but had no idea what I'd do with it.  (Maybe you can relate to that?!)

Again, I put serger crochet on all the edges, but with this one the crochet edging is wider.  I believe it's eleven rows wide.  If you look closely at the bottom of the jacket, you'll see threads hanging down.  Well, that's where the ruffle snagged while wearing.  I really, really have to be careful when I wear this one!  But, it's good for dressy occasions and goes with almost everything in my color palette.

The flower is from Hope Yoder's Layered Flower In-The-Hoop design made from 100% cotton fabrics.  The center is an embroidered, covered button (flatback) from Hope's Borders and Frames design for her Button-Ups system.  I just glued it onto the fabric and then sewed a pinback onto the back side so I can switch it around to other garments.

I have also made two of these jackets for my mother out of upholstery fabric.  I don't have photos of them, but will take some and add them to a later post.  She loves wearing both of them and gets lots of compliments on both.  She says they really are warm.  We haven't tried to wash either of them, yet; but I'm going to try washing one of them, after washing some scraps and having success.  The other one has drapery trim on all the edges, so it will definitely have to be dry-cleaned.

All of these jackets were made on my serger, with some of the trims/bias bindings sewn on with a sewing machine.  There really is no reason this jacket cannot be made on a conventional sewing machine, so that's the way I taught it at our Sew What group this month.  When we have some more finished jackets, hopefully next month, I'll post photos of them.  This project is one of the more challenging projects we've worked on in our monthly group, so I'm hoping those who are making it are having success!