The next in our series as Jolene’s Sewing School looks back on the past fifteen years!

As a student of Jolene’s Sewing School, you’ve probably spent lots of time in the sewing room! Over the years, I’ve had hundreds of students come through these doors. As we’ve grown and changed together, so has this space! Come take a walk with me down memory lane…

When I opened Jolene’s Sewing School in 2009, I was living in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland. Kids Can Sew, the company that helped me get started, gave me a list of what I needed: tables, four sewing machines, four chairs, and supplies like fabric, thread, and notions. I turned a bedroom into our first sewing room, set up my trusty sewing machines on some folding tables, built a few IKEA cabinets, and hung up completed projects on the walls. Because the room was only 10×10, we had to cut out fabric on the floor in the center of the room, using a cardboard mat! 

But in 2012, we moved into a new home with our daughter Stephanie and her family in Happy Valley. The first thing we did in our new home was put together my sewing studio, where I held classes throughout the year as I continued to work on getting it where I’d like it to be. After moving a door, adding cabinets and new lighting, and painting, the room was ready to start looking like a sewing studio. I added an antique walnut table and chairs from my mother-in-law, and my sister came and helped me decorate with colorful fabrics on the walls. Everything came together to make this lovely space in which to sew and to teach sewing.


But time goes by quickly and before I knew it, the room hadn’t changed in over five years! Around the time I was celebrating my ten-year anniversary, my sister offered to come help me redecorate the sewing room. We framed antique patterns, sewed colorful banners, and made new sewing machine covers out of matching fabric. The result was a delightful refresh that made the sewing room look new again.

Since it was our only spare bedroom, my sister slept in the sewing room on a mattress while she was here. When she left, she left me a sticky note on the wall saying that she loved me – it’s still there over five years later! 

I love looking back on all the photos I have of the different sewing spaces, and all of the memories they hold. At the end of the day, I can decorate a room, but it is you, my students, who make it a Sewing School and a place where creativity, fun, and hands-on learning can shine.