15 March, 2002
Mahwah, NJ ñ When high school teacher Lynn Krejci submitted "Textile and Fabric Arts" to the list of elective classes at Lakeville High School in Lakeville, MN, she wasn't sure she'd have many takers. First of all, the class was competing against popular offerings such as "Interior Design and Housing Trends," "Fashion Design," and "Independent Living." Secondly, the high school had not had a sewing class in more than a decade. Krejci was pleasantly surprised when 17 students enrolled for the 18 week class. By the end of the semester, the sophomores, juniors, and seniors, most of whom has never sewn before, had completed complex quilts and garments.
Like many teens, the girls in the class expected quilting to be a dowdy activity for old ladies. They discovered that quilting has kept up with the times, that there are contemporary patterns which are appealing to teens, and that quilting is an exciting form of self-expression.
"They were taking their quilts to other classes to show them off," says Krejci.
While planning the class the year before, Krejci had enlisted the help of Debbie Bowles, a quilting instructor and creator of Maple Island Quilts. Based on her experience teaching quilting seminars across the country, Bowles was able to recommend fabric field trips, quilt patterns, and machines to replace the school's "antiques."
"Lakeville had not had a sewing class in more than ten years," says Krejci. "Our sewing machines were at least 25 years old. They were four different models. Some were missing parts. It was not the ideal situation for beginning sewers." Bowles introduced Krejci to Curt Kingsley, a Janome sewing machine dealer, and owner of Valley West Sewing Center in Bloomington, MN. "Having sold machines to many schools, Curt knew which machines were best for classroom settings," says Krejci. "He walked us through the entire Janome line and then sold us 8 machines at a very special price."
They ended up choosing the Janome DÈcor Excel 5018 which has 18 stitches, including an automatic one-step buttonhole. Though many of the girls in the class had never threaded a sewing machine before, they were soon sewing with confidence.
Bowles, who describes her quilt designs as "slightly non-traditional and very achievable," chose the "Confusion" pattern for the class. "I had them make the design a little smaller than a traditional quilt so they could finish while I was still there to help," she says. "They made them 40" x 40" or 40" x 60" in size. Though none of them had quilted before, I could tell they had a flair for color."
She had intended to help in the class daily for five weeks, but extended her involvement to nine weeks, as her travel schedule allowed. "It was one of the most rewarding projects I've ever worked on. The students came in with a very limited idea of what quilting is. And they ended up being very proud of their work. I could see these girls gain an extraordinary amount of self esteem."
Bowles also had high praise for the Janome machines: "I was impressed. They were user-friendly. They ran without jamming and within a few weeks the girls were very accomplished on them. The 5018 had just enough specialty stitches to keep them happy."
In her teaching, Bowles has seen the importance of a trouble-free machines, especially for beginners. Frustration-free operation of a machine soon gets people hooked on sewing.
The DÈcor Excel 5018 is one of three Janome machines made especially for home decorating projects.
Debbie Bowles's Maple Island Quilts designs can be seen at www.mapleislandquilts.com
Headquartered in Mahwah, NJ, Janome America, Inc. (formerly The New Home Sewing Machine Company) is an industry leader in innovation, having produced the first programmable computerized sewing machine, the first computerized sewing machine to offer Professional-Style embroidery, and now the groundbreaking Memory Craft 10000. Janome sewing machines are recognized throughout the industry for their ease-of-use and unsurpassed stitch quality.