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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.
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.
See these other upcycled pants and shorts!
Happy Sewing!

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.

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I hope the remainder of your summer was great!

Happy Sewing,



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.


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!



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.

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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.


  • 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!


I did the same trim on my hand towels.


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,


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



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


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



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



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


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


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,


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,


Five Year Anniversary

It has been five years since I started JoLene’s Sewing School, so we are celebrating with a party! First I’ll tell you about the celebration

You are all invited to my

5th Anniversary Party and Picnic.

Saturday June the 21st 2014

from 4-7pm at my Studio

 in Happy Valley,Oregon at 16661 SE Rock Creek Ct.

Picnic, Displays, Games, Door Prizes,Tours of New Studio.

5th Anniversary Prizes: Grand prizes one year of after school classes,

Other prizes include a summer camp, one month of classes for child and

one month of classes for an adult, plus a sewing basket.

Over $1000 of prizes! To enter go to

I can’t believe it has been five years since I started my sewing school. I remember wondering what I was going to do after my job of 14 years ended. Starting JoLene’s Sewing School has been a dream come true. I always had a vision of owning a business utilizing my sewing skills, but wasn’t sure it would happen.

That vision began to be realized on that June day five years ago when everything fell into place and JoLene’s Sewing began. I remembered licensing with Kids Can Sew and receiving the information packet that taught you how to set up and run a sewing business. I read every section over and over and tried all of her suggestions. One of the first things I did was rent a space at my local street fair.  From that I got my first  student, Elise, who took lessons for four years. Many more students followed, and the school has taught many kids the wonderful skill of sewing.

Every year, we have done the Multnomah County Fair, annual fashion show, service projects (making items to donate) and summer camps making a variety of items including clothing, toys and gifts.

The second year of JoLene’s Sewing School, just weeks before summer camps were to start, I fell down my stairs and broke my leg. I had surgery and was to be bedridden for six weeks. I had no idea what I was going to do. A dear friend came and helped me all summer with my camps. I moved my bed in my sewing room and I pinned while Elaine helped with the sewing machines. I love her so much. What a blessing she was to me, and the students!

Hundreds of kids and adults have passed through my sewing school over the last five years. What fun it has been. I have loved each and every day.

Two years ago in August I moved my studio out to Happy Valley, while also continuing teaching for another year in the Woodstock area. I love my new studio. It is double in size, with a large cutting table and plenty of storage. I have many new sewing friends to teach and many new adventures.

Thank you to all of my students young and old alike for coming to learn how to sew. Please share this blog with your friends and please come and see me and help me to celebrate this milestone! Without all of you this would not be possible. Whether you have taken lessons, or just read my blog or taken your children to sewing lessons, I thank you all! I look forward to seeing you all on June the 21st at 4 pm.

Happy sewing,



Creating a Custom Dragon Bag

I try to make all of my Christmas gifts. Just like buying gifts, it can be hard to find just the right gift to make. I try to create or choose a gift that is something special just for the recipient. Some years I have made the same thing for everyone, such as pajama pants with fabric picked to fit each person’s personality. Another year I made soft socks for everyone in their favorite color. This year I made each person something different, which is always harder.  But you will see that I tried to fit the gift to the person. Not everyone received a homemade gift, but here’s an example of one I made, a custom dragon bag.

Continue Reading…

nightgown pattern

Sweet Dreaming in a Handmade Nightgown

We all have our favorite things to wear to bed, and I personally love nightgowns year-round. Light cotton or knit is the best weight for me in the summer and I like warm snuggle flannel nightgowns in the winter.  My daughter Nicole gave me some fleece pajamas for Christmas, and I really love them when it is cold. Living in a daylight basement in our new home, I find that extra warm sleep clothes and fleece sheets are in order during the cold months.

Continue Reading…


Making My Own Jacket

Jacket Although I have sewn for as long as I can remember, I found that I stopped making my own clothes some time ago.

But ever since I started  my sewing school I have been making more of my own clothing. I had a light jacket that I just loved but finally it was beyond repair, so I decided to make a new one.

Rose City Textiles has some of the most wonderful outerwear fabric in Portland. I bought a green ultra fleece, the kind of fabric that Columbia uses for their fleece jackets. I used KwikSew pattern #3297, which was very easy. I stayed true to the pattern except I trimmed the facing on the inside of the neck as it was driving me crazy.

If I were to make it again, I would do so with 2 colors, which makes it look more like it’s off the rack.  I used a zipper that zips from the top as well as the bottom. It’s nice to be able unzip the bottom for sitting.

I am loving this jacket! If you have never tried to make a jacket you should give this one a try.

Happy Sewing,

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