Archive | General

RSS feed for this section

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!

JoLene

 

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!

JoLene

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!

JoLene

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!
JoLene

Upcycle Levis Into New Creations

In a Super Saturday event at my local church, I taught a workshop on how to recycle / upcycle Levis. My daughter Stephanie brought me four pairs of her kids’ Levis that they could still wear but that had holes or other problems with them. See what can be done to seemingly worn-out clothing that just needs a little sprucing to bring them a new life!
Natalie, age 5, doesn’t like to wear Levis because they feel rough on her tender skin. I solved this problem by making her a pleated skirt lined with soft cotton. I cut off the pants at the top of inseam and cut each pant leg in half to give me four pieces. I sewed them all together in one long strip, lined up the inseams and made pleats all around. After giving it a soft cotton lining, I put a ruffle on the bottom and looped a tie through the belt loops.
IMG_1075
Aiden, age 7, loves Star Wars. His pants were ripped at the knees; I cut them off at the rips and put a Star Wars fabric cuff at the bottom of each leg. I used Wonder Under fabric to cut out Star Wars figures and glued to the front of the pants and sewed around each one for stability.
IMG_1066
See these other upcycled pants and shorts!
IMG_1068IMG_1069IMG_1071IMG_1076IMG_1073
Happy Sewing!
JoLene

Summer Fun!

As usual, this summer has been a whirlwind! My summer camps have been a blast, and have been filling up so fast.

Below is a list of the camps I offered this summer. As I make plans for future camps, it helps a lot to hear from you about what camps were most enjoyable or which ones sound most interesting for students to take in the future if they missed this round.  Please email me your feedback about what camps you’d like to see again, or ideas for new ones to create!

Summer Outfit Camp

Who’s Hooting

Hearts Hearts Everywhere

Fun at the Beach

Kitty Cat Quilt

Circle Skirt and Cotton Tee

Skirt a Day Camp

Everything Fox Camp

Giving to Others Camp

Sock Monkey Camp

Hoodie Camp

Cats Galore

Freshen Up Your Bedroom

Harry Potter Camp

Camping Fun with Your 18 Inch Doll

Renaissance Cape Camp

Toothless the Dragon Camp

Back to School Camp

Make Clothes for Your 18 Inch Doll

We had a ton of fun, as you can see in the gallery. Please let me know what camp(s) you’d like to see repeated or created in the future!

In June, JoLene’s Sewing School held its picnic and fashion show, as a way to cap the schoolyear of classes and give my students a chance to socialize and show off their handiwork.

IMG_1043 IMG_1044

 

I hope the remainder of your summer was great!

Happy Sewing,

JoLene

 

Giving Camp Success & Chance to Keep Giving

As well as teaching an almost lost art through my sewing school, I also believe in promoting service and community-building in young people. It is important to teach the value of giving back to others. Those who have been with my school for awhile know that at least annually we hold service-oriented projects and camps. In the past I’ve worked with a Girl Scout Troop, made items for the Dougy Center, and even got locked up for a good cause!

This year I decided to hold another Giving to Others camp, sewing for the Stockings for Soldiers project. This project is in its twelfth year, and provides Christmas stockings stuffed with goodies for military personnel who are halfway around the world in harm’s way.

IMG_1102

Giving to soldiers who are away from home at the holidays is especially important to me. My dad served in the military, and I have a son-in-law and brother-in-law who have been away from family at Christmas. This may seem like a little thing, a stuffed stocking at the Christmas holiday, but can make a big difference to a solder away from home.

My campers and I have made the stockings, and now we can focus on items to fill them! Here is a list of items requested for the Stockings for Soldiers project. The project can also use cash donations, for those who wish to contribute financially.

Like last year, this Giving to Others Camp was a huge success! We had nine participants in the morning session and nine in the afternoon! It feels so good to practice our skills and offer our talents for the benefit of others. The camp is free of charge, and the participants committed to all three days and provide an adult volunteer. My goal was to create 100 stockings for the project, and we exceeded that by 40%! Between the morning and afternoon camps, we created 140 stockings to send!

On tbe last day of camp, we made teddy bears that the campers got to take home.

 

IMG_1093 IMG_1096Thanks to everyone who participated, from the woman who donated the fabric from her late mother’s stash, to the campers, to the adult volunteers, and to YOU if you choose to contribute to the stuffing of the stockings. More information here!

Happy Sewing!

JoLene

 

Bathroom Remodel and Handmade Decor

I remodeled my bathroom this summer, which was a lot of work but well worth it. I was so happy to get it finished so I could decorate it! Handmade decor can add so much to a home project. Here are the pics before and after but before decorating.

367 010

The first thing I focused on was the shower curtain. I bought one, but did so before I chose paint and it was too bright. So I bought a second one but the color clashed. Oh dear, I guess that means that I am going to have to make one!

I bought a new bedspread but it had microfiber sheets and I just don’t like them. They ball up too quickly and they don’t stay on the bed, but as a shower curtain they were perfect! I love the softness and the shiny sheen on the fabric.

016

  • Measured the flat sheet and cut to size.
  • Hemmed 3 sides and used the big hem on the sheet for the rod casing.
  • Used an old shower curtain to measure for the holes for the shower hooks.
  • Added button holes where I marked for the shower hooks.
  • Cut the fitted sheet into strips and sewed them together, zig zagging one edge.
  • Used my rufflier foot and ruffled the other edge of the strip.
  • Laid out the finished curtain piece and drew on my lines for putting on the ruffles.
  • Sewed on the ruffles; there you go – all finished! Some of the curves are not as perfect as I would like but they are not so far off that it matters, so I just left them.

Having this beautiful shower curtain makes such a difference in my bathroom. I love it!

I wanted to make some kind of towels for my sewing students to dry their hands on. I thought of making a roll of reusable towels, I even saw some on a hook. But did not think I had enough room for either. So I took a basket, made a lining, and took the same fabric and trimmed little finger towels obtained from a garage sale. After rolling them up and putting them in the basket, I now have many drying towels available for students!

457

I did the same trim on my hand towels.

458

There are other things I would like to make for my bathroom, but this is a good start for now! May this inspire your own handmade decorating.

Happy sewing,

JoLene

Christmas Gift Round-Up

Hello to all my sewing friends! Once again I made all my Christmas gifts this year. Here’s a summary!

Christmas Tree Napkins

165

166

One of my sewing moms received this napkin a few years ago. She had me help her girls make these for gifts. I just love them and they are so easy and fast to make; I finished forty of them! I found the Christmas fabric on a Black Friday sale at JoAnn’s, and the metallic thread really adds a nice visual, which we used in both silver and gold. I found it easier to sew with metallic in my bobbin if I used either red or green for the top thread.

 

Apron for Stephanie

158

My daughter Stephanie didn’t get napkins because her daughter made her twenty so I didn’t need to duplicate efforts!  I took the pattern of an apron she liked that her aunt gave me for Christmas a few years ago. There are many things I love about this pattern, including how all the seams are hidden inside the folds.  I used my ruffler foot for the pleated edge, which makes it so easy! The ruffler presser foot is great to use when you  have a lot of gathering or pleats in a pattern.

 

Bag and Panels for PVC Tent

143

 

My daughter gave her 6-year-old son a PVC tent kit. She took 8 foot lengths of 1⁄2 inch PVC pipe, cut them in half, and bought a bunch of connectors. I made a bag for the pipe and we used a bag he had gotten for Christmas last year from his sister. Then I made panels with little castle flags on them. I need to make a top for the tent because blankets are too heavy. The idea was to give him the choice to put is on top of his bed if he wanted but for now he just wants it in the living room.

 

Elsa and Anna Nightgown

144

153

Christmas would not have been complete with out something from the movie Frozen. My 4-year-old granddaughter just loves that movie and knows all the songs. So I made matching nightgowns her and her doll. She just loves them!

 

American Girl Doll Tent and Sleeping Bag

155

I found it on Pinterest. Here is the link if you want to see how to make one for an American Doll enthusiast in your own life! My 10-year-old granddaughter wanted this for Christmas. It was fun and fast to make. I want to add flaps in the front; it’s great because it ties on the bottom side so you can make it flat for easy storage.

 

Bathroom Bag

157

My almost-12-year-old granddaughter needed a bag go hold all of her bathroom stuff. She loves black and white so I made it out of five different black and white fabrics. It has pockets on the inside and outside and big space in the middle for a towel or clothes for the beach or camping

 

Well that’s it for Christmas 2014. Hope your holidays were wonderful and you were happy with your homemade gifts from the heart! I’d love to see your homemade gifts; feel free to send me a pic! Have a great sewing year.

Happy sewing,

JoLene

A Many-Pocketed Big Bag with Personality

In the summer heat, Christmas might feel far away, but it’s never too early to start scheming what handmade gifts you want to make for friends and loved ones.

Last Christmas, I made this bag for Heather, a dear friend.  She likes big bags to carry all her treasures, and has a variety of bags for different purposes. Though I’m not sure what she uses this one for; I thought of her when I saw this pattern.

JoLene Heather Bag

One of the things I like is that this bag has many pockets, but is not your traditional bag. It has personality! It seemed like the perfect fit. For the fabric, I chose two colors from the same color palette. One has big bright flowers and the other stripes in the same colors. I love the outside pocket on each side and pockets on the inside. The magnetic closure is the perfect touch. It was so fun to make! One of the fun parts is overcoming a challenge, and the handle gave me a bit of trouble. I took it apart  a couple of times to get it to lay just right. The satisfaction of getting it just so is tremendous!

The final result is just delightful! This would make a great beach bag or farmers market bag. The pattern I used (Butterick B5658) has several different styles. Make one for you and a friend or one of each for all of your bag needs.

Jolene Bag Pattern

Happy sewing,

JoLene

Weekday classes are now open for registration! See our Weekly Classes page under Child/Teen Classes. Dismiss