Category Archives: Sewing classes

Plenty More Than an Apron and a Tote

I see it over and over again. When kids learn to sew, they much more than how to thread a machine and put stitches to fabric. They learn how to “figure things out”. They make something real with their own hands, and sometimes too, design something using their own creative energy.

Last week a couple of little gals finished up the projects they had been working on for a few sessions; an apron and a tote bag. The apron was a joint design collaboration between S. and I, and the tote bag was a darling design by Ren Murphy for SewMcCool. Both are cute, teach some important skills, and are fun and achievable for beginning sewists.

Sewing students at Sew Maris

Con-cen-trayyyy-tion! ūüôā

Sewing students at Sew Maris

Not looking!

Sewing students at Sew Maris

These two have know each other almost forever, and there is plenty of giggling and visiting that happens too.

Sewing students at Sew Maris

Posers! An apron ready to tackle a batch of cookies and a tote bag ready to haul some books and snacks!

Sewing students at Sew Maris

Did you see the three colors I picked for my tote bag?

Sewing students at Sew Maris


Sewing students at Sew Maris

Love this shot! Thanks S and N, and see you next week!!

Happy sewing!


CRAFTSY Flash Sale Alert!

Just a quick post to let you know about the Craftsy Flash sale this weekend only (just until midnight 7/20!!). You can save up to 50% on more than 70  different classes Craftsy offers. Darn good deal, right?

Just click on the banner below and see what strikes your fancy. Oh, and yes, this is an affiliate link so I will get a few bucks from Craftsy if you decide to purchase from my site. So thanks for considering!!



Happy sewing!


Take a sewing class for 30% off

Sewing is not a cheap hobby. Anyone who thinks they will save money sewing, ummm, hasn’t actually started sewing yet.

That’s why I am thrilled to offer you a brand-spankin’-new Craftsy sewing class, Garment Basics, for nearly 1/3 off! I will be taking this online video class too, and posting my review later this month. I am always on the lookout for interesting things to share with my sewing students, and I am hoping to pick up¬†some new ways to describe a technique or present information that can be confusing to new sewists. Or maybe I will find out I have been forgetting to tell them all kinds of important stuff about sewing! ūüėČ Anyway – enough about my interest in this class – the important point is the class is for YOU. Watch it, tell your friends about it, and be sure to let me know what you think. And full disclosure, in case you hadn’t heard, I do some blogging over at now too. (Because I don’t have enough to do!)

Nominate me for Craftsy's blogger awards!

Oh, one more thing. Craftsy is also sponsoring their first ever blogger awards! I am such a joiner I totally want in! So, dear readers, if you would consider nominating my blog for “Best Tutorials” over at I would REALLY, REALLY appreciate it. Thanks much!

Happy sewing!


Sewing Summit: 36 reasons you should attend


  1. You will meet the most awesome new friends at the Sewing Summit.
  2. You will get to sew cool stuff.
  3. You will be excused from the dishes for the whole weekend.
  4. There are fabric shopping opportunities!
  5. It is sunny ALL THE TIME in Salt Lake City (this may only be important to people from the Northwest).
  6. You get to hang out with a whole tribe of people who share your love of “all things sewing”.
  7. There is no laundry room in your hotel room.
  8. You can stay up as late you like, and most likely there will be someone to share the fun with you.
  9. You might just become a networking-ninja.
  10. You will come home with neat gifts from generous sponsors.
  11. You will learn new things about sewing.
  12. You can eat waffles with crème fraiche and Belgium chocolate sauce BEFORE dinner.
  13. The Sewing Summit will teach you new things about how to build a creative business.
  14. You can watch whatever you want on TV in your hotel room.
  15. You can help other people with their sewing projects.
  16. You can get help with your sewing project.
  17. You can eat as many donuts as you like for breakfast and no one will tattle.
  18. You will be awe-struck by the creative energy surging through the Sewing Summit classrooms.
  19. You can win fat quarter bundles, fabric store certificates, and other prizes!
  20. You will laugh. Lots!
  21. You can make something amazing for your Secret Swap Pal.
  22. You can receive something amazing from your Secret Swap Pal.
  23. You will get to hear really cool stories about starting and running a creative business.
  24. You can learn about why your blog pictures suck, and how you can make them better.
  25. You can sew something you are really proud of.
  26. You will become inspired.
  27. You can learn how to make your garments fit better.
  28. You get to sew on Bernina sewing machines!
  29. You can be served grape juice (really???) at lunch.
  30. You can find out what it takes to get a creative book published.
  31. You will build your skillz.
  32. You always have someone to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks with.
  33. Your family will miss you, and maybe even appreciate you a little more when you get back home. For at least a day. ūüėČ
  34. You can learn tons of tips about how to make your blog more effective.
  35. You might get your picture taken with some fancy-pants sewing peeps.
  36. Your creative vision for your business, your sewing, and maybe even your life, just might get expanded. Maybe even A LOT.


Love that Erin gal!!

Sewing Summit Dinner

Dinner Thursday night at the Blue Iguana

Sewing Summit Ellen March

Ellen March sharing her insights about getting published in a magazine

Sewing Summit Amy Alice

Amy and Alice from talk about blogging partnerships with Bernina


The Craftsy bloggers meet-up at the Sewing Summit!


Look at the cute shirts they made!!
Happy sewing!

Did you shop like Ivana Trump at Sew Expo?

Another Sew Expo has come and gone, and it once again included plenty of shopping and learning opportunities. This year I did most of my fabric-shopping damage at Billie’s Designer Fabrics, and¬†for once I¬†managed NOT to buy any predominantly black or grey fabric! I came home with a lovely royal blue rayon knit, a royal blue + white + grey + black ITY knit print, and some nice bottomweight navy ponte for slim pants. All I can say is¬†it is probably a good thing this gem of a fabric store is located more than¬†two hours from my house. ūüėČ

I took a fair number of mobile pix-¬† none of which are that great – but I was tweeting like crazy woman during the show. If you want to see the whole kit and caboodle, check out my Flickr Sew Expo 2013 set. DOL’s can see a couple of not very good shots of Loretta in the ASG Fashion Show and a great shot of Marcy and Katherine in their booth. ūüėČ

My classes were mostly good. Here is the report card I would hand out:

  1. B-     Industry Insider Techniques for Garment Sewing (Louise Cutting) Needs to update herpresentation. Not much that was new to me, but I did like her method for easing in a sleeve. Also she should use a video cam or some projection system so all attendees can actually SEE what is being demoed.
  2. C-     Stabilizers РThe Backbone Behind Stitching. This was heavily slanted for quilters/crafters. Teacher knew her stuff, but garment sewists can feel free to bypass this one.
  3. A      No Pins, No Basting, No Kidding (Islander Sewing System). Good presentation using a video cam so it was easily seen by all participants. And great techniques!
  4. A++ Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob. He was funny, organized, and so dang knowledgable. Learned a ton and laughed a lot!
  5. A      Make Your Fabric Work for You (Katrina Walker). I love textile geeks. You always learn something from Katrina! Rule #1. The stiffer the fabric the closer it needs to be to your body. (Unless, of course, you want to look like a tent.)
  6. A       The Ultimate in Under Things (Jan Bones). Those Canadians are a hoot. Debra Justice, Ce Podolak, Jan Рthey are all excellent teachers. Not to mention funny as hell! Take any class they offer.
  7. A      Cover Hem Workshop. Very good hands-on class and Gail Yellen was a great teacher. My goal for this year is to push the envelope a little more on my serger, and I got a good start in this class.
  8. C-¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Designer Serger Techniques. This hands-on workshop turned out to be techniques only for knits, and very little of it qualifed as “designer” IMHO. No way was this worth $70. Narrow hemming with decorative thread = “designer” ? More like “basic utility stitch”!!

The “After Expo Banquet” on Saturday night was festive(as usual), and the opportunity to be surrounded by my “tribe” of fellow sewing nerds for a few days is always inspiring and exhilirating. What am I looking forward to at next year’s Expo?

  1. I am thinking maybe I should enter the IPCA Sewing Contest. You know Рchallenge myself a little. What do you think?
  2. The hands-on workshop can definitely be worthwhile. I think I will try more next year.
  3. Shams – you should definitely join the party. (You will love it!!)
  4. Marcy – I know you are a drapey kind of gal and I am a structured kind of gal, but think about tossing in some heavier ponte-type knits for slim pants. For those of us who¬†want to skim over our lumps and bumps instead of draping right onto them! ūüėČ

What did you think of Expo? What do you want to see more/less of next year?

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen




No Smoothie Panties for me in 2013

I won’t be learning how to make “Smoothie Panties” this year at Sew Expo. Damn. Maybe I will get lucky next year. ūüėČ

Have you ever attempted to grock the SewExpo website (or printed brochure) and plan a day+ of workshops at what is billed as the biggest sewing exposition in America? If so, I bow to you. Processing that grid of classes and descriptions requires an advanced degree in computational and mathematical engineering.

After agonizing for 3+ hours mapping out classes, fashion shows, and potty breaks over the 4-day schedule, I ended up being able to register for:

1.  The Ultimate in Under-Things
2.  Industry Insider Techniques Garment SEWING
3.  Stabilizers РThe Backbone Behind the Stitching
4.  No Pins, No Basting, No Kidding!
5.  Perfecting The Pull-On Pant
6.  Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob
7.  Bag A Jacket Lining By Machine
8.  Make Your Fabric Work for You
9.  Cover Hem Workshop

Sadly, I will not be able to learn how to create Designer Finishes with your Serger, Designer Serger Techniques, and Smoothies Panties. But I do plan to have the most ultimate under-things on my block.

How about you-are you attending Sew Expo? Are you planning on taking any classes? Do share!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen



Meet your Online Sewing Coach

Some of you know that in a former life I was a techie geek before I became a full time sewing geek. So unlike some of my sewing pals, I am totally comfortable using a computer and software. Last week I used a technology I have been using for a long while in a new way. I taught a sewing lesson to a student in Santa Barbara using Skype! How cool is that? I use Skype all the time to chat with my DD and DGD in NYC, but had never tried it for teaching. Both student Molly and I thought our online lesson was a grand success! She was a little stuck on completing her husband’s pajama pants, and I was able to help her get “unstuck” enough so she could complete the project. The bonus was I got to see her pretty, smiling face again.

Since our test Skype session was a definite win-win, I would like to announce a new Sew Maris service (drum roll please!!). From the comfort of your own home, you can have a mini-sewing lesson. Collect all your questions and conundrums, and schedule a 30 minute coaching session with me for a measly $25.¬† You will need a laptop computer with a web camera and a Skype account to use this service, and you will also need to contact me prior to arrange a mutually convenient lesson time. Pajamas are optional, but definitely encouraged for coaching sessions. I am excited‚ÄĒI love finding new uses for technology!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Final Day of Kids Sew Camp

I can’t believe it is over. Four days of nonstop energy, questions, pride in accomplishments, worry over doing it “right”, learning new sewing skills, helping each other, creating an actual garment‚ÄĒthe first ever Sew Maris Kids Sew Camp is over. Boo. I think I learned as much as the kids did. About how to pace a class for a group of kids. Learning styles for children. What to focus on and what not to focus on.

Thursday the girls made sundresses modeled after the pillowcase style from¬† the Dress a Girl Around the World project. The main thing the girls struggled with was the elastic. I envisioned that they might pull the elastic all the way thru the casing, but what I did not envision was how hard it was for some of them to just move the elastic thru the casing at all. It must be a weird motion, or a manual dexterity issue that I have long since forgotten. Never mind, we got ’em all done. In all the last-day-last-minute craziness I did not get a picture of every girl in her completed dress. Many apologies to those I missed!



SunDresses plus 2


Girls‚ÄĒyou were right on. I miss you already TODAY, never mind next week. Truly, I can’t wait to do it again. Many, many thanks to Kris Royer-Collins‚ÄĒI could not have done it without you, darling.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Kids Sew Camp, Day 3

Today was the day to get those American Girl dolls dressed!  The girls made simple elastic waist skirts, and in the process learned how to sew a casing and hem a garment. Seaming? Old news, they have that part down. I finally remembered to take a pix of the finished goods, and I think they look adorable. The girls were happy with the outcome too, which of course is the main objective.

AG Doll skirts

After that quick project, Kris and I helped the girls start assembling their American Girl doll blankets. I had originally thought they could manage a pieced quilt top, but I recovered from that moment of temporary insanity and we opted for a simpler blanket instead. Top, bottom, and a piece of flannel in place of batting. The layering of the fabric I think was the hardest part for them.

Prepping Doll Quilts 2

Prepping DOll Quilts for sewing

Once the fabric rectangles were lined up and pinned the stitching was pretty straightforward. I drew a picture of the stitching sequence, and they all got busy. It was really gratifying today to see how much progress these girls have made in just 3 days. So many fewer machine malfunctions and stitching issues, as well as much more accurate stitching. These girls have definitely acquired some skills!

Sewing Doll Quilts1

Sewing Doll Quilts 2

The blankets were all assembled by the end of today, but still need a bit of tying to hold all the layers in place. That final task will be tackled tomorrow. Wow. This week has really flown by, and next week is going to seem so dull and ordinary when I am back to just a single student at a time. BOR-ing!¬† ūüėČ

I leave you with some girl silliness. Love!

Goofy Skirts pix

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen



Kids Sew Camp, Day 2

Tuesday at Kids Sew Camp was pillow+sleeping bag for an American Girl (or other 18 inch) doll. These girls are all pretty obsessed with their dolls, and the doll-focused projects are a big hit. We started the day with a little review of how to start stitching, how to stitch straight, how to turn corners, etc. I seriously could not believe how much the girls remembered from the day before. They were into it!

This shows a little warmup practice before diving into the “real” projects. It is a good idea to make friends with your sewing machine every time you sit down to work on it.

Tuesday warmup

See those large dark rectangles of fabric in the shot above? They are the outside fabric for the sleeping bags, and the lines are chalk lines I drew for the girls to quilt the batting layer to the fabric layer. Yep, these beginning sewists actually QUILTED THEIR OWN FABRIC.

After they finished the quilting step, I trued up their quilted piece and the flannel for the inside layer, while they made matching flannel pillows. Wouldn’t want their dolls to lay their heads on the hard campground, after all! They started by stitching the two rectangles together, leaving an opening for the stuffing, and then hand-stitched the pillows closed. There were four corners to pivot – not easy!

Tuesday Doll pillow

Tuesday doll pillow pivoting

Tuesday concentration

I know it is totally lame that I keep forgetting to get shots of their actual finished projects – but Kris and I are actually EXTREMELY busy with eight eager, questioning, assistance-needing little girls. It is kind of amazing I am getting any shots at all! Here is my sample of what Tuesday’s project – all rolled up.


Wednesday’s projects are again for their dolls – a blanket and gathered skirt. So there will be a little more hand-stitching, plus learning how to make a casing for elastic and machine stitching a hem. Must remember to get FINISHED PROJECT pictures today. Must!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen