Sewing Essentials Fun Club

Sewing Essentials Fun Club Sewing Essentials Fun Club is a series of classes, demonstrations, and seminars to inspire sewing enthusiasts in the Northern Virginia area.

The classes, demos, and seminars will be for all levels of seamstresses, sewers and quilters.


Berger's sewing and vacuum in Manassas is having a moving sale this Saturday, 10 to 4. New and used machines, great time to get that machine you want!


February 23, 2017 Embroidery Club (free)
10 - noon Berger's Sewing and Vacuum in Manassas, VA

“Trapunto” Quilting in the hoop
Trapunto, from the Italian for "to quilt," is a method of quilting that is also called "stuffed technique." A puffy, decorative feature, Trapunto utilizes at least two layers of batting. Traditional Trapunto would have you slit the backing of the quilt to stuff another layer of batting into the quilt, but with today’s technology and embroidery machines, we can create Trapunto quilting as easy as changing the thread and pushing the ‘go’ button on our machines. Come and see how to sew out Trapunto quilt designs, create your own designs, and modify existing applique embroidery designs to be Trapunto designs. The possibilities are almost endless!


For the free Embroidery Club this month I will be showing how to make a zipper pouch entirely in the hoop. Zipper, lining, everything except the last few hand stitches to close the hole in the lining. It will be on January 26th, 10 to noon at Berger's Sewing 9026 Mathis Ave, Manassas. No machine or experience necessary, just come and learn new techniques.


November/December Embroidery Club and Holiday Party
December 2, 2016 10 to Noon, Berger's Sewing Center Manassass

Here is the blurb about the upcoming Embroidery Club. You do not have to own an embroidery machine to come, it is free for all. The Angelina fibers can be fused and used to do applique with a regular machine using a satin stitch or any fancy stitch you may have on your machine.

I love using Mylar with specially digitized embroidery designs that allow the opalescent and sparkle of the Mylar to peek and twinkle through the threads. This creates a wonderful effect from scales on a fish to frost on a snowman. Angelina Fibers are extremely fun to use, you can create your own ‘fabric’ to use in applique designs, or use them the same as you would the Mylar. In this session of Embroidery Club, you will learn how to fuse the Angelina Fibers into your own custom fabric, and then how to use both the Angelina and Mylar in your embroidery designs.
Since this session of Embroidery Club will be in the middle of the Holiday season, we have decided to have a little party to celebrate. We will have food, and you are welcome to bring your own fun finger food to share. As always, if you would like to join in the sewing, you are welcome to bring your own machine or borrow one from the store to make a sample during club.


October 27, 2016 Embroidery Club at Berger's Sewing
9026 Mathis Ave, Manassas, VA

I know this is for an embroidery club, but the tricks and techniques for dealing with metallic thread and fabric are the same whether you are embroidering with an embroidery machine, or just sewing with metallic thread using one of your fun stitches, so if you would like to get more information on dealing with metallics, come on down (it is free).

SPARKLE! We all love the sparkle and twinkle of metallics, but sewing and embroidering with them may not be something we all love. At the October Embroidery Club we will explore tricks, techniques and notions that will make sewing and embroidering with metallic thread and fabric as enjoyable as the sparkle they bring. There are a few samples at the store, come in and check them out. If you would like to participate by making your own project, the supply list will be available at the store; you are always welcome to bring your own machine, or borrow one from the store. Just a reminder that machines (any brand) are always welcome, but not required to participate in Embroidery Club. See you in a few weeks!


As everyone has probably figured out, I am not the best at updating my Facebook account! Between Church activities and my own, there are just not enough Saturdays in October, and we all know that November and December are just packed, so I will revisit continuing sewing classes in 2017. As many of you know, I am now working for Berger’s Sewing Machine and Vacuum Center in Manassas. If you need to have a machine or serger serviced, I would highly recommend them, Mr. Berger did a wonder job on my serger, sews better now than it did right from the factory!

Just a reminder to all of you about the Sewing and Quilt Expo this week (Thursday through Saturday) down in Fredericksburg. Lots of classes and vendors, I am trying to get down there on Thursday.

Also, this Saturday from 9:30 to 5, Berger’s Sewing is having an open house. Baby lock has come out with some new amazing sewing machines, there will also be a Destiny ll (their top of the line machine) Facebook streaming launch at 2:30. If you would like to see the latest in embroidery machine, sewing machine and serger technology, you are thinking about a new machine, or just want your machine serviced, this is a great time to check out the store. Great ideas, new threads, food and information. I also have an embroidery club from 10-noon the 4th Thursday of the month, everyone is welcome, you don’t need to own an embroidery machine to attend.

Hints on ‘How I might be damaging my Sewing Machine and not even knowing it”.
At a recent sewing service project I noticed 2 bad habits that many of the sewers were doing that are ruining their machines. Here is what they are and why:
1) Most sewing machines’ hand wheels/fly wheels turn down in the front and then up in the back (turn up and over toward you). Sew with your machine and see which way yours turns. Even if you are sewing in reverse, the hand wheel turns in the same direction (treadles excluded). I notice that when someone stops sewing and the needle is not in the correct position (up or down), there is a tendency to turn the hand wheel BACKWARD to get the needle into the correct position, it is not meant to go in that direction and this jams up the machine! If you have an electronic machine that has a needle up/down button, use that and not your hand wheel.

2) Machines are made to pull the fabric through on their own with their feed dogs. When the needle is up, the feed dogs pull the fabric in the correct direction; when the feed dogs drop, the fabric is not moving and the needle goes down into the fabric, slips by the bobbin where the hook grabs the thread creating the stitch, then the process continues. If you are manually pulling the fabric out the back, when the feed dogs drop the needle will go into the fabric WHILE IT IS MOVING. This will cause the needle to be deflected and can cause it to hit the bobbin case creating nicks which snag the threads, hit the bobbin case and knock the machine out of time, or move the needle to the point that the bobbin hook does not grab the thread and you get a skipped stitch. If your machine is not feeding the fabric correctly, check to see if it is in reverse, you have the presser foot lowered, you are using the correct presser foot for your fabric and stitch, or that your stitch length is correct.

Happy sewing, have a wonderful fall! If you need help with something over the next few months, don’t hesitate to send me an email, will be more than happy to help.

Gail ([email protected])


A vote was taken on changing the Tuesday August 16th class to 9-11, the earlier time won, so it is now official. Both classes will be from 9-11 AM. Hope to see you all there. Any questions? Email me at [email protected]


It has been suggested that we have the August 16th class from 9-11 instead of 10-noon, let me know what would be best for you, majority will rule..

[email protected]


August Classes (sorry about no July class, it just got away from me)
August 16th (Tuesday) 10 to noon
August 20th (Saturday) 9AM-11AM

Sewing Essentials-Trims, Darts, Pleats, Ruffles, Piping, Bias Tape, Lacework, etc.

In this installment of our Sewing Essentials Fun Club classes you will learn how to make your own bias tape and piping, and how to sew it into your project. You will also learn how to properly sew a dart, make pleats, my quick and easy gathering technique for making ruffles, lace and ribbon work, and whatever else I can fit into 2 hours! And as always, I will demonstrate various feet and notions to make our sewing easier and more accurate, my favorite piping foot and ruler to make the best piping ever, as well as bias tape making tools to make perfect bias tape for all our projects.

Supply List:
Machine and all accessories and feet
Extra Sewing machine needles (just in case)
Fabric- for ruffles, pipping, bias tape, darts, sewing onto…so bring a variety and some larger pieces
Lace to practice (edging lace and/or insertion lace)
Ribbon (1/4 inch if you want to use a double needle) and/or rick rack
Piping cording-I use the thin cotton cording found in the home decor area of Jo-Ann’s or Hobby Lobby

For those that are willing to bring your irons, that would be great for making our bias tape!

store bought piping
store bought bias tape
double needle
Large welting/cording for pillows
If you own bias tape making tools, bring them
Cutting mat and rotary cutter-if you own them

Need more information? Feel free to email me at [email protected]


June Classes- Closing the Gap
June 21st 10-noon
June 25th 9-11 AM
South Riding (Tall Cedars) building, as usual

Sewing Essentials Class-Closing the Gap
Zippers, buttonholes; for some these words instill fear, but they shouldn’t.

From invisible to rhinestone, lace to separating, I love using interesting zippers that make a fashion statement. As for their installation, it does not have to be hard or complicated.

Buttons, I just love buttons, and they can be more than just functional. Consider what the right buttons can do for a plain dress, from blah to spectacular with a few well-placed discs. And don’t get me started on the huge assortment of children’s buttons!

In this class we will be going over how to install an invisible zipper (this will include techniques on what to do if your garment has a facing or lining), and exposed zippers (you see them all over these days, and this will include separating zippers). We will also spend some time learning how to sew buttonholes (and which is the best type to use if your machine can do various types). Since each machine will be a bit different, don’t forget your manual. Also, bring a few non-shank buttons with you if you want to learn how to sew them on using your machine.

Supply list:
Machine in good working order
All accessories and feet that came with your machine (especially the zipper foot and buttonhole foot)
Invisible zipper foot if you have one-can get a generic one at local fabric stores
Sewing machine manual
Invisible zipper (7 inch is fine)
Regular inexpensive zipper, or separating if you want
Thread and bobbins
Extra machine needles
Scissors (small and sharp)
Seam ripper
Seam gauge or small ruler
Marking tool-since this is practice, a regular pen or pencil is fine
Scrap WOVEN fabric to sew zippers and buttonholes onto
Buttons-optional, but good to bring so you know how to measure
Scrap interfacing (for the buttonholes)
Buttonhole cutting tool-optional
Any other sewing notion you love to use

As usual, if you have questions, email me at [email protected]


May Classes: Seams Right and Hemming and Awing
May 24, 10-noon and again on May 28 9-11 AM
We will try to get through both the seaming and hemming classes in one session, know you are all eager to get started on your summer projects.

Seams Right
Most of us know how to sew a seam, right? Fabric right sides together, line up for a 5/8th or ¼ inch seam, and go. But is this the best seam for every project/fabric? Probably not, so in this class we will be exploring various types of seams, from our basic, to French, serged, welt, and Flat-felled seams. We will also discuss different seam finishes such as overcast, pinked and bound (Hong Kong). The seam/seam finish you choose is determined by the fabric type and weight, as well as the final finished look you desire.
Supply list:
Machine with all the accessories and feet
Serger if you have one***
Pinking shears if you have some***
Sharp scissors, medium size, or sharp shears for trimming seams
Rotary cutter, ruler, and mat ***
New machine needle(s)
Scrap fabric of various types to make your samples–lightweight such as a chiffon, medium weight (cotton), denim/twill bottom weight, knit (if you would like to practice sewing knits).
Lightweight lining fabric, enough to make bias cuts for bound seams, or seams great (purchased product) or premade bias tape
Iron if you could, we will probably need more than my small travel iron***
Small ironing mat or travel ironing board***


Hemming and Awing
The finishing touch for any garment: the hem. The type of hem or hem finish is determined by the fabric type and weight as well as the type of garment. The types of finishes we will explore are Pinked, turned under, overcast/serged, and bound. The type of hem techniques we will be practicing are the hemming stitch/slipstitch (hand), catchstitch/tailor’s hem (hand or machine), the topstitched, rolled hem, bound edge (similar to how you bind a quilt), lettuce (only for knits, use a serger or tight zig zag on a conventional machine), and fake band hems.
Supply list:
Machine with all the accessories and feet
Serger if you have one***
Pinking shears if you have some***
Sharp scissors, medium size, or sharp shears for trimming seams
Rotary cutter, ruler, and mat ***
New machine needle(s)
Scrap fabric of various types to make your samples–lightweight such as a georgette, medium weight (cotton, rayon), denim/twill bottom weight, knit (if you would like to practice sewing knits).
Lightweight lining fabric, enough to make bias cuts for bound hems, or seams great (purchased product) or premade bias tape
Iron if you could, we will probably need more than my small travel iron***
Small ironing mat or travel ironing board***



Next Up: Deciphering Patterns

April 26, 10-noon and April 30, 9-11AM

Found a pattern that you love.
Found the perfect fabric.

Now begins the real questions:

What size do I buy/make?
How do I even take my measurements?
My measurements don’t correspond to any on the pattern, what do I do?
Is the fabric the right type for the pattern?
How much fabric do I need to purchase (especially if I am making changes to the pattern)?
What are ‘notions’?
I don’t even know what some of the listed notions are, how do I find them?
What does it mean to straighten the fabric (woven)? Is it even necessary?
Do I need to wash the fabric before I make my garment?
How do I know what pattern pieces to use?
I don’t understand how to lay out the pattern on the fabric, the pictures are confusing!
What is the best way to cut out my fabric?
What are the meanings of all those markings on the pattern pieces? Are they really important?
What is ‘stay stitching’ ? Is it necessary?
And for quilting: What is a fat quarter? What is a layer cake or jelly roll? Do I need to stop by the bakery on the way to class??

And the list goes on. You might also have questions on particular steps in the instructions; sometimes to the point that you question if you are looking at the correct language. Yes, we have all been there. Whether it is a pattern from one of the larger companies, or from a book or a download from online, questions arise.

In this Sewing Essentials class we will go over all the above questions as well as any others you may have (please bring your questions to class so we can decipher them). You will learn how to measure yourself, choose a pattern, prepare your fabric and pattern properly (yes, skipping steps is not always a good idea), laying out the pattern on your fabric, and cutting it out. We will also go over all the markings on the pattern pieces, explain (and show if necessary) the sewing glossary terms, and go over how I read (and modify) the instructions. For the quilters in the group, I will go over terms and cutting for basic quilting.

Supply list:
Paper and pencil/pen
Sewing tape measure

Optional supplies:
Fabric (woven, washed and pressed)
Shears/rotary cutter
I will bring my cutting mats to use

SCHMETZ - Needles since 1851 | SCHMETZ – one of the leading global provider of needle systems...

In the Machine Maintenance class I talked about the importance of using the correct needle in your machine. For the PDF on needle types and which would be the best needle to use for your project, go to this site and download the GB (Great Britain, i.e. English) version:

SCHMETZ has established in the most important sewing and textile manufacturing centres worldwide as a guarantor for best possible sewing results.



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