Janesville48°

Camaraderie threads through new sewing lab

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Shelly Birkelo
November 1, 2013

JANESVILLE—Linda Osborn took a shower curtain to the Thursday morning sewing lab at the Janesville Senior Center.

Her plan was to transform it into a bathroom curtain and valance to match the room she was painting.

Instructor Susan Elston helped her get started by pinning and measuring the pink floral fabric before Osborn, Janesville, made the first cut with a rotary cutter.

But the polyester was so slippery it wouldn't cut straight. Elston recommended Osborn press the wrinkles before making the next fabric cuts.

"It's easier to do this here than on the kitchen table at home," Osborn said.

Nearby, Nancy Hogue, Janesville, unloaded her sewing bag and set up her sewing machine to work on dresses for girls she will send to Africa with her friend, who is returning there on a missionary trip.

At another table, Kathy Nodolf, Janesville, was configuring pieces of fabric for a pillow she was going to make for her sister, who lives in a nursing home.

The three women have been among an average five students attending the new weekly sewing class that started Oct. 10 and meets 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday mornings. It is free to all senior center members, Elston said.

They said they joined the lab for the camaraderie and to get sewing project ideas.

"Sometimes you need that added boost to restart that project that's been lying around and to keep you going," said Osborn, who has some sewing experience.

What Osborn has found most helpful has been the brainstorming during the lab.

"One lady makes quilted table runners. It's a neat idea I hadn't thought of. As more people come, the more ideas we'll get," she said.

Hogue, a beginning sewer, praised Elston's instruction.

"She's a good teacher and knows what she's doing," she said.

Hogue said she's learned enough in the first two weeks that she's confident she'll know enough to meet her goal of sewing 12 dresses before Jan. 1.

Nodolf said she enjoys being around others who share the same sewing passion.

Future lab projects will include alterations, construction and clothing repair, making tote bags and other crafts.

"It's expensive to throw away something when you could learn to fix it yourself," Elston said.

That's why she's been helping a woman sew a new lining into a dressy coat found at a thrift store.

Elston, 61, Beloit, learned how to sew from her mother before she was 12. She has honed her sewing skills--quilting, alterations, smocking and machine embroidery--through classes and expos.

"Usually what I see and want to learn, I figure out how to do. And if I can't, I take a class,” she said.

"We just want others to come, have a good time and learn to sew while enjoying the camaraderie with the others."



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