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Some Sad News To Share…

My dear friends,

I am writing this post to let you know about the sad passing of my mother Joyce Louise Hurd Cote’. She was 87 when she died on September 19th, and had been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last few years.

11 days ago I rushed to her side because I knew her passing was near. We had four very good days together, and were able to celebrate her 87th birthday as a family. Her friends and family members gathered to wish her a happy birthday and to say their goodbyes. On Wednesday she was gone. All three of her daughters were with her as she passed to the other side.

Her funeral will be on Wednesday, September 26th at 2pm. It will be held at Reynolds Funeral Chapel on Addison Ave. in Twin Falls, Idaho. She is the last of her family; all six of her siblings and their spouses have all gone on before her (including my dad in 2005).

I won’t be holding sewing classes again until the first week of October. We will figure out make-up logistics after I come back.

Thank you for your understanding, love and friendship during this very difficult time.



Passion, Joy & Purpose: My Journey Of Becoming A Sewing Teacher

Believe it or not, I haven’t always been a sewing teacher. In fact, for most of my adult life I was doing something entirely different. But look at me now – it’s been almost 10 years and I’m still going strong!

10 whole years of teaching the art of sewing to children and adults… I still can’t believe it! If you would have asked me when I first started my sewing business if I would still be in business in 10 years, I would have said, “Probably not.” I hoped I would be – but I started this job during a recession, and a lot of people were out of work. I was hopeful, but I was also realistic.

I didn’t always aspire to be a sewing teacher, either…

In May 2009 I lost my job of almost 15 years. I had been working at a bookstore – one of the best  jobs I ever had. Part of the reason I loved it so much was I wasn’t an avid reader growing up… until my 5th grade teacher changed me forever. (She was also our nextdoor neighbor, which helped).

My teacher knew I didn’t like to read, so she told my mom she’d do what she could do to help me love reading. She hand-picked a book for me to start with – it was Where The Red Fern Grows. I remember starting to read it and instantly loving it. I loved it so much I hid behind the couch to keep everyone from bothering me until I finished it.

My 5th grade teacher changed me for sure –  and as I worked at the bookstore my love for reading (and my passion for helping others learn to love it too) grew. I thought of my 5th grade teacher often when I worked at the bookstore, and know she would be pleased with how much I’ve grown.

For all who are wondering: here’s a picture of me in 5th grade!

I believe there is a time and a season for everything – and after 15 years my season was over at the bookstore. What would come next? I wasn’t sure.

Times were hard. We were in the middle of a recession and jobs were hard to come by. After about a week of fruitless job searching, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

Alina, a dear friend and former coworker of mine, suggested I start teaching people how to sew. However, I was pretty sure that wouldn’t work either. I had attempted to start sewing businesses in the past, and they never worked out.

After more fruitless job searching, I finally thought to myself, “I might as well look online – maybe someone has a program about teaching sewing that I could buy.” Sure enough, I found Kids Can Sew. The startup costs were minimal, and it ended up being exactly what I had been hoping for.

Sewing has always been my passion. (Not that I’m the world’s best sewer, but I love it nonetheless). It was – and is – my joy and my therapy. Running this business has given me the purpose I’ve been looking for my whole life. I feel like I “have it all” doing my passion for a living – it brings me joy and purpose.

Sewing Tip: This is perhaps not a sewing tip as much as it is a life tip. Sometimes, seasons end and it’s time for us to engage in something new. If you have a passion for something, you really can turn a “hobby” into a career! It takes work and determination, but it CAN be done! (I’m living proof of that!).

It’s been 9 years now and I’m still in love with my job. As such, it’s got me thinking… next year I’ll have been in business for 10 WHOLE YEARS (in June 2019) – which is a HUGE accomplishment! I really want to “go all out” celebrating this milestone, and so I’ve decided to do something special.

For the next 9 months (including September) I will be writing sewing blogs that commemorate the last 10 years of owning JoLene’s Sewing School. I’ll also be sending out newsletters and doing Facebook updates – all with information on upcoming sewing events, giveaways, and service projects. You won’t want to miss this!

That’s not all… these next 9 months are leading up to something BIG. In June of 2019 I’ll be celebrating my 10th Anniversary Bash! This will be a very big event – and I want all of you to come!

Details and dates on the party, sewing events, giveaways and more will be coming. Keep your eyes peeled for updates, and make sure to check my website and follow me on Facebook for more information. This is going to be SO FUN!


Happy Sewing!


P.S: Keep your eyes peeled for next month’s blog: “From Then To Now: The Makings Of A Sewing Teacher.”

An Update On My 2018 Resolution: Finishing My UFOs (UnFinished Objects)

Something wonderful happened on my way to find all my “UFOs” (UnFinished Objects)!

On my last blog, I challenged myself to find all my unfinished projects and make a plan to finish them.

Well, as I started looking, I realized that it was best to look in all my fabric bins – never know what might be hiding in there!

As I did this, I thought to myself, “As long as I’m doing this, I should sort and reorganize all my fabric bins at the same time.” As you can imagine, this turned out to be a much bigger project than I thought!

I do try to go through most of my bins at least once a year in order to get ready for my upcoming camps. This helps me figure out what fabric I have, and what I need.

However, you know as well as I do that, when you take stuff out of plastic bins, it’s never neat putting them back in (unless you take the time to refold and straighten them –  and for me that never happens).

Instead, it seems that I am always in a hurry and just shove everything back in. And for good reason – I have a busy life besides teaching sewing classes 5-6 days a week. I also homeschool my 7-year-old granddaughter!

Anyway, needless to say it all got done – and I am pretty proud of myself!

Here are the results of my UFO-search-turned-cleaning-and-reorganizing project:

  • Went through 33 bins total.
  • Purged 3 bins’ worth of fabric to donate.
  • Consolidated and sorted ALL my bins (some, I might say, have not seen the light of day for some time).

Now I bet you’re wondering: how many UFOs did I find? And how many did I actually work on?

The answer to the second question is… I have not had time to work on any. Sorry to disappoint you!

In addition, answering the first question is harder than it seems. So I will give you the short version: I found 8 bins full of UFOs.

Keep in mind not all of my bins are the same size, and not all of them were full (while others were stuffed to the brim).

However, the good part is now my UFOs are all together with their friends. And now it will be much easier to organize them and begin working on them when I have the time!

Here are some before and after pictures of my fabric organizing process – I use this method on a regular basis. Hopefully for my next blog I’ll have them all my UFOs counted, sorted, and some even completed!

BEFORE (Upper Shelving):


AFTER (Upper Shelving and Lower Shelving):

I did notice on Facebook that lots of sewing sites were doing this same thing, confessing how many projects they needed to complete, and then working on them. Must be time for Spring Cleaning!

Sewing Tip: If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of UFOs and stray fabric laying around, and not enough time to complete everything. This can be quite intimidating! Instead, focus on little victories, and accomplish small steps throughout the week whenever you get a spare 10-15 minutes. You’ll get a lot more done, and the project won’t seem nearly as overwhelming. In fact, you may even find it fun!

Wishing all of you luck in sorting, organizing and completing all your UFOs! 

Happy Sewing!



2018 Resolutions: Completing My UFOs

If you’re on a mission to complete your UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and Sewing Projects, you’ll love this blog!

Welcome to 2018!

It’s overwhelming to think about how fast time flies; it seems like this year has flown by so fast. However, I know it’s good to keep busy, and life certainly keeps me busy!

Like most of you, I enjoy setting goals for the new year – and often find myself doing this several times a year just to stay on top of things.

For 2018, I decided to set a goal to work on my UFOs. Those of you that sew a lot probably know what that stands for – UnFinished Objects!

If you are a sewer or crafter of any kind, you probably have a few UFOs of your own hanging around.

I hate to admit it, but I have quite a few. In fact, I have three big bins marked “UFOs #1,” “UFOs #2,” and “UFOs #3.” However, what’s worse is I’m sure there are more than that!

Interestingly enough, most of these projects only needed a small amount of work to be completed.

So here are my goals for my UFOs:

  • Figure out how many UFOs I actually have.
  • Set a deadline to finish them.
  • Get to work on getting them done.

So here is my start…

In UFO bin #1, I found four different projects to complete. Luckily, they were easy to finish and fun to work on!

Project #1:  My sister sent me a pattern for what I call a “snap bag.” Many of my sewing students have made them over the years. I love them, and they are fast and easy to make.

One of my sewing students gave me this fabric. It was leftover from one of her previous projects, and I had enough to make two.

What makes them snap is metal measuring tape, cut into 8 inch pieces. One was already done, and the other one took me just 10 minutes to complete! Here is the finished product:



Project #2: This project entailed finishing a small and cute drawstring bag. Again, a student had given me this small piece of fabric, and I had wanted to use it to make a bag to put my shoes in so I could put it in my suitcase while traveling to and from my mom’s house in Idaho.

This project was almost done – it took me just 5 minutes to finish! I love the fabric, and I know my shoes will be happy when I travel.



Project #3: My daughter decided that the colors of her new kitchen would be green. So I made her an apron, and started a table runner in that color. And then she changed her color to turquoise.

As you can imagine, I never finished the table runner. However, I realized her dining room table is separate from her kitchen, and the colors in the room are fairly generic. So I decided to finish it.

The runner just needed to be machine-quilted and edge-finished. This project only took me about 30 minutes to complete. I gave the finished product to my daughter, and she loved it! Here it is:



Project #4: I made an advent calendar for my daughter years ago, and it just needed refreshing. Numbers had fallen off, and animals (and their eyes) had gone missing.

Thankfully, it’s much better now – it only took me about an hour to make it look like new again. Here’s the finished product:UFOs

There you have it! In a flash, I already have four of my UFOs finished.

So, my challenge to you (if you want to join me) is to start finding and finishing your own UFOs!

Sewing Tip: It can be so much easier to let UFOs intimidate me and to let them go unfinished. That’s because my brain often tricks me into thinking they’ll take WAY longer to complete than they actually do. But, as you can see, I finished all four projects in under two hours! My advice to anyone is simply to take courage and start the process of finishing your UFOs. You’ll likely be surprised at how fun they are to finish – and how little time it takes to do so!

Next month, I’ll let you know how well I did on completing my goals. Happy New Year, and good luck to those of you that choose to join me on my quest to conquer UFOs!

Happy Sewing!



hand sewn quilt

A Gift To My Mother: My Hand Sewn Quilt

I’m so excited to show you my new hand sewn quilt!

My mom is getting older, and has been ill for the last few years. Because of this, I wanted to make this upcoming sewing project extra special.

As her birthday approached in September, I wondered what I could make her for a present. Having my sister Donna being her full-time caregiver, and my other sister Tonya helping out too, most things are done around the house (so there aren’t many things she needs)

After a few weeks of racking my brain, I decided a quilt was in order. I went to my go-to place for ideas (Pinterest) and began looking. I wanted something that would show her that she has a ton of people that love and care for her.

After a little while of searching, I found the perfect idea: a family tree.

I figured out my next steps and, with fabric in hand, began this project of love for my  mother.

Step 1: I selected my background fabric (a white-on-white pattern looking somewhat like clouds), and the tree fabric (which looks like tree bark). I cut out the bark and placed it where I wanted it to go on the white fabric.

Then, I applied “Wonder Under” – an iron glue – to stick it firmly in place. It ended up looking exactly as I wanted it to.

hand sewn quilt

Step 2: I then sewed around the outline of the tree with a blanket stitch. This added subtle detailing and ensured the tree stayed in place.

hand sewn quilt

Step 3: I looked online and found the perfect phrase to add to my quilt, as well as a heart with my parents’ names in it. I machine-embroidered these on with my fancy sewing machine, and took a look at my handiwork. I loved it!

hand sewn quilt

hand sewn quilt

Step 4: Now I wanted to make sure the names of our whole family were on it. These included my mom’s three daughters, seven grandkids (and their spouses), and 12 great-grandkids.

I wanted her to be able to identify which children belonged to whom, so I grouped them each family together – each daughter with her kids and grandkids – and put these families in different colored leaves.

I machine embroidered each name onto a leaf, and applied them to the quilt the same way I did the tree. I also blanket-stitched each leaf (like I did the tree), but with black thread to make them stand out.

Step 5: I chose very soft minky for the back – this is a very soft fabric similar to fleece, but is softer and thicker. I also found a red border to go around it, since that’s Mom’s favorite color.

hand sewn quilt

I decided not to stitch the minky into the quilt, as I knew doing so would bunch and tear the delicate fabric.

Here’s how it looked when all was said and done:

hand sewn quilt

Note: I completed this project with the help of my baby lock embroidery machine – it has many fancy stitches! However, you don’t need to have a fancy machine to make a quilt or wall hanging like this.

Instead of a blanket stitch around the tree and leaves, you can do a satin stitch, or just a zigzag stitch. Whichever you choose, make sure to follow the directions in your machine’s book.

For the phrase at the bottom, you can use machine embroidery, or can sew it on by hand. You can also write the words using fabric pens. There are many ways to get the job done!

This project was very difficult for me mentally, knowing that my mom’s time here on earth is short. But, through it all, I was able to take comfort in knowing that this project had a very personal message: “I love you. WE love you. And we want you to know just how much.”

Sewing Tip: I have said this before, and I’ll say it again: homemade gifts from the heart are always the best. It may be tempting to purchase a present from the store, but in the end a homemade gift speaks volumes, and is so much more meaningful. Not to mention, the process of creating is fun enough to make it all worth it!

I’m not sure what my next sewing project will be yet – it will be a surprise!

Happy Sewing!


ironing board cover

I LOVE My New Handsewn Ironing Board Cover!

Did you know? I now have a brand new ironing board cover!

Redecorating my sewing studio has been sew fun! I began decorating the walls, then made brand new sewing machine covers, as well as a beautiful and functional new seawing apron. I thought I was set, until I realized – I could use a new ironing board cover!

Pictured below is one of my original ironing board covers. I’ve loved having it, and it’s gotten a ton of use over the last three years.ironing board cover

Three years ago, I covered all of my ironing boards with the same material. I then separated them by type: one for clothing, one for making quilts, and a third for everything else.

I chose the one for quilts specifically because it has two square ends (rather than rounded ends), making it much easier to iron large pieces of fabric. Sometimes, I need two quilting boards just for one sewing class!

Unfortunately, ironing board covers really don’t last long in my studio since my students and I are constantly ironing our projects every single day. As you can see, my original cover now has a very large burn due to all the heavy traffic!ironing board cover

Sewing An Ironing Board Cover: My Process

As such, I thought it was high time to sew a new ironing cover to replace my old, burned one. Luckily, ironing board covers are surprisingly easy to sew! Plus, the fun part is picking out fabric to really make it your own. You can even choose material that matches your decor.

For my new ironing board covers, I chose a pattern with red and black scissors on it. You can buy patterns at a fabric store, get them online, or just make them yourself.

To begin, I took my old ironing board cover off, laid it on top of my new fabric, and cut around the edges so that it would be the right size.

Then, I placed bias tape over the edges of the fabric. The brand I buy contains iron-on tape on both sides, so I just ironed the tape onto the fabric, and then sewed it on to keep it in place.

I then threaded string into the casing that was formed after sewing on the bias tape. I pulled the string tight, and then laid it onto the ironing board to tie it. Easy as that!   

ironing board coverironing board cover

I LOVE My New Handsewn Ironing Board Cover!

My ironing board covers turned out great! Here are some pictures of the final product:

ironing board coverironing board cover

Sewing Tip: The bias tape I used for this project has iron-on tape on both sides. This makes my projects go much faster, with very little stress! However, there are brands out there that don’t offer this feature – and I could have wasted a lot of extra time and hassle had I not known! When you’re selecting new sewing supplies, I suggest doing your research first, looking at reviews of the products (if you’re online, specifically on Amazon), and seeing if there’s a brand out there that works more efficiently than the others. Even if it’s a little more expensive, trust me – you’ll thank yourself later!

Slowly but surely, my studio is coming together. Stay tuned for details on my next sewing project: handsewn pincushions.

Happy Sewing!


Check Out My New Sewing Apron!

I’ve been teaching my sewing classes for over eight years now, but it took a while to realize I would need a sewing apron to make the job easier!

When I first began teaching, I was always running back and forth through the studio to grab supplies to help the students. This gave me quite the workout, but it was also frustrating not having everything on-hand whenever I needed it. Not to mention, this made it much easier to lose things in the process!

This process went on for a while, until I came up with an idea: I could make things much easier on myself by creating a customized sewing apron to fit my needs.

Check Out My New Sewing Apron!

This project came in stages, as I tried new things and figured out what worked best. The first version was a simple, 3-pocket apron sewn out of linen. This worked great for a few years, but as I got busier I came to the conclusion that I needed more pockets to hold everything.

I sat down and sewed a new sewing apron, which is the one I use today. First, I used some leftover fabric that I had made my sewing machine covers out of (along with some twill tape), so that my apron would match my new studio. (Haven’t seen my new sewing machine covers? Click here to see them!).

I then sewed two rows of pockets across the front, which would be ideal for organizing my supplies. The top row has small, narrow pockets – necessary for organizing my sewing gauge, fabric marking tools, writing pens, and other skinny, narrow objects.

I sewed larger pockets for the bottom row to hold things like my painters tape (to be a sewing guide on the sewing machine), receipt book, seam rippers, small screwdrivers, bobbins, cough drops, chapstick, etc.

I absolutely love my new sewing apron – it’s extremely useful! Now I have everything I need at all times, right at my fingertips.

Here’s a picture of the final product:

Sewing Tip:

One of my favorite things about my new sewing apron is that I can use it for a variety of activities. For example, it makes things like gardening, cooking, and cleaning much easier! Once you sew something you love, try to think up new, creative ways to use it. The more versatile your creation, the more you’ll appreciate it (and the less extra items you’ll have to sew unnecessarily).

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I’ll show you my new ironing board cover.

Happy Sewing!



sewing machine covers

My Latest Project: Sewing Machine Covers

Today I’ll be showcasing my latest project: new sewing machine covers!

One of my greatest delights comes from being able to sew something myself, rather than purchasing it from a store. I love taking ordinary materials, and transforming them into something functional and fun. As a result, almost everything in my sewing studio is hand-sewn by me!

My sewing students love walking through my studio, pointing to things and asking, “Did you make this? How about that?” This has inspired me to continue sewing new pieces to show my kids that, when you put your mind to it, you can create something that looks just as good (if not better) than what you can buy from a store.

One of my most recent projects has been sewing brand new sewing machine covers for my studio sewing machines. This has been such a fun project, since I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with different fabrics and piece together a creative and cohesive look for my studio.

First, I found some fun fabric in three different colors: red, white, and black. This was perfect for me, since it would match the new décor in my studio. I also gathered some fun looking buttons, as well as some twill tape with measuring tape printed on it. This would work as my trim.

Then, I went to work on my sewing covers. I must say, these came out even better than I expected them to! Plus, I was able to use my creativity to come up with a truly unique design that is a reflection of my unique style. The kids love them!

I made six of these covers – one for each of my students’ sewing machines, one for my machine, and one for my serger. . The project turned out to be a complete success! You can see the finished product in the pictures below:sewing machine covers

sewing machine covers

sewing machine covers

Sewing Tip:

If you are sewing something for yourself, make it your own! Get creative and choose fabrics and accessories that you love. Don’t be afraid to take a risk, or to try something new. Remember: you can always change something if you want to. However, these projects often turn out much better than you’d expect! By making something your own, you can be proud of the work you put in, and the piece will truly be a reflection of you.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog, where I’ll tell you all about my new sewing apron.

Happy Sewing!


Red Wool Coat Made Just Right

red wool coat 2

When sewing projects for myself these last few years, I have been drawn to making coats. I made a fleece jacket, and then a rain coat. (And an umbrella!) As my coats wear out, I just sew new ones. So I had a chuckle when I decided to make yet another coat. This time it was my nice coat that needed replacing. I had a black wool coat for at least 15 years and it was definitely time to get a new one.

It took me a while to find just the right pattern. After I chose the pattern, I waited for the wool to go on sale. Mill End Store is in the Sellwood/Milwaukie area and has been a family-owned business since 1918. They always have a great wool sale in the fall. I love the quality of their wools and they have fabulous colors.

For my new coat, I chose a beautiful red wool and a black paisley lining. I always say if you are going to make it yourself, make it your own! Make it something that you could not buy off the rack.

red wool coat 3

I did all the correct fitting of the pattern to my size, but after I cut it and had it partially sewn I tried it on again and it was a bit too big. So I took it apart, cut it down to a smaller size, and sewed it all together. I tried it on again, but it was still too big! (In the mean time I had lost some weight, so I am sure that that was part of the problem.)

Christmas was fast approaching and I was going to Idaho for the holiday. I needed the coat finished before I went. Although It was too big, I just finished it and sewed on the buttons during my plane ride. When I got home, I took the sides apart, took the pockets out, and cut it down another three inches on each side. I sewed it back together, and now it fits perfectly!

red wool coat 1

Moral of story: we all like our things to fit differently and the pattern is just a starting place. If it doesn’t fit perfectly you can always fix it. I just love my coat now and am very happy that I took the extra steps to help it fit me just so.

Happy sewing!


Pioneer Fashions

Last summer one of my granddaughters, Madison, who lives in Tacoma, had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a pioneer trek in Washington state. Over 160 years ago, my family’s ancestors came west across North America. Many of them came on foot, walking the whole way, pulling their belongings with handcarts. Madison was part of a five-day trek in June 2015 during which young people and their adult leaders pulled handcarts and recreated a small snippet of what that pioneer journey was like.
pioneer2 madison in yellow

Madison, then age 15, can be seen here in the yellow hat.

 Madison needed clothing for this learning-filled adventure. She would need a hat, two skirts, two shirts, two aprons, and two pantaloons. A skilled seamstress, Madison did all the work herself, except for needing a little help on the shirts. I was pleased by her commitment to participate in this trek, and her ability to be self-sufficient in the necessary sewing preparation.
IMG_4273[1] IMG_4272[1] IMG_4271[1]
Coming from pioneer stock, my family and I are proud of the strength and resolve it took for our ancestors to pioneer westward. One aspect of pioneer western life is the strong tradition of craft skill that is passed down through families.  Madison’s sewing projects, creating her own pioneer-style clothing needed to re-create a trek and honor her ancestors, is evidence of continuing that tradition in modern times.  One of my joys in teaching young people to sew is passing on the knowledge from my foremothers, helping them know the craft skills from yesteryear, so those skills will continue forward.
Happy Sewing!

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