About 2

From Barbie to Bernina

About the age I discovered fashion, I knew I loved it. After that, I wanted to know all I could about how to create it—colors, line, style, proportion, seams, padded lapels, hem facings, construction, fitting, and everything! I didn’t necessarily know what it was called! It all started with my Barbie!  I've found it's taken me from my fav prom to couture ball gowns to my comfy life I live today! And I get to show off my own style and look even if it changes from day to day!

Dressing Barbie

What is it about Barbie, that most of we, sewists, start with dressing her? I think it is the imagination running nuts thinking about all the things that Barbie can do that we aren’t old enough to do—go out by ourselves… go on a date… drive a car… be at a movie opening… getting an acclaimed award…whatever—and of course, she needs the clothes to make her whole life work. Enter the designer in all of us.


The Local C.R. Anthony in My Small Town

One day my babysitter, noticing my sewing acuity, took me to the local five-and-dime (a term in my day to describe the Walmarts of the past). She showed me the pattern book, which I immediately assumed was a book to give ideas to folks who didn’t have ideas about what to sew.

First Dresses for Me!


My First Prom Dress

In my small town, (this was back in the day when stores like J.C. Penny, C.R. Anthony carried fabric), I found this fabulous pink fabric, and a pink ribbon to go with it. I was a tiny thing back then, and so I didn’t have any fitting issues (although this skirt was just a little full!) I lined it and wore it and felt like a million bucks in the dress.

After College

After school, I started my best Mary Tyler Moore imitation in the big city and married. I sewed periodically now and then. I had a wonderful old completely metal Singer—back when Singers were great machines. But my technique was missing the finer finishing qualities that I was striving to know.

And Then the Plot Thickens…

I read in a local magazine/newspaper about some sewing classes being offered through a very nice sewing shop that I had patronized (and would secretly go visit dreaming of this or that garment but hardly ever buying anything as I had finally accepted that I couldn’t sew well enough for these fine fabrics). 


As you can tell, I was elated with my coat!

Working With My Mentor

I took my first class and immediately knew I had found my mentor.  We meet weekly for 10 years where I studied then apprenticed under her.  Today I don't see that I don't think about her and her knowledge she passed on to me.


Marjorie Claire Kennedy Kane – My Aunt!

Isn’t she beautiful?

I have her red hair and penchant for green anything! She purchased my first Bernina for me. I was aghast with her generosity, and it never seemed to be anything I could do to pay her back. Fortunately, her grandchildren were lovely people and I did their girls’ weddings! I felt her lovely spirit on my shoulder the entire time.


So that brings up another chapter in my life

—my relationship with the local Bernina store. From the very first, these people dealt in excellence, and they taught me the importance of not only excellence in service but in quality equipment. Today I still buy Berninas. They are the only machine I sew with. You would, of course, expect me to recommend them highly and I do, but I also tell my students to buy local and buy the dealer. Usually, Pfaff, Husqvarna Viking, and Bernina are the top machines—find a dealer who will stand by the machine, and you have your machine to buy. Of course, if you are lucky enough to be in a location where there are all three—then I would go with the Bernina, and if you are in my fair city, no doubt: Bernina (Bernina of Oklahoma City)!

Erma was a lovely lady. She was from a very simple background, but all her aunts saved up their money and sent her to the Parsons School of Design where she learned to sew, tailor, and design.

She was a very giving and generous person. She never ever put a boundary on what I could learn—she used to say: “The sky’s the limit—you can learn what you will let yourself learn.” She was right. I studied with her for 10 years, ending my classes by bringing in a picture of a project, and we would discuss how I was going to handle certain features, details, and aspects of the design. I would go off and make it up and then bring it to her for examination.

She was a blessing, pure and simple, to my life. She gave me back the gift of sewing that I had as a little tyke sewing my Barbie dresses. Only now I was sewing them for myself. My friends grew tired of asking me where I got my clothes. They would look at me with disgusted faces and shake their head knowing there was no way they could get what I wore. The local fabric store in my city carried very fine designer-type fabrics, so I delighted in getting the fabrics and then doing the design up with my own individual style—often more comfortable, more flattering, and certainly more individualized for me.

I was also lucky that during this time was an extremely inflating economy. It was nice for a while, but soon it became apparent that it was “too nice.” I know that sounds odd, but the energy belt, which is where I live, is fraught with economic highs and lows—it’s the nature of the business.

Funny, though through all the downtimes, I never worried about whether I would be able to sew or not—I knew I would. And as luck had it, my friends came to me to have their wedding and debutante gowns made—what fun was this! Once again returning to my dream of dressing Barbie only here were these darling girls with fabulous little figures, and their eyes full of all the light and promise of a new generation.

So I started my business in the early 80s, in the middle of the worst economy you can imagine. I was told it was NOT the time to start a business—yea, well, good thing I didn’t listen. But because of the economy, I absolutely had to be profitable from the very start.

I did this for 30 years and loved it. One day I was sitting in my studio, getting ready to design a garment for an event that weekend, and thinking—what will I wear—what I can I design to wear this weekend? Then the whole idea of being able to pick and choose what I really want to wear and design for me was so much of a luxury. Other women were going to the stores or online to look for something that might work, or that might be okay or that would be passable, while all I had to go look at my stash or the local fabric store and whip something up and off I go—how spoiled I had become.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that not only am I lucky but that I could pass this on. My teacher Erma had decided to teach and because of that, I was blessed with the knowledge of how to do this. I needed to start teaching.

I approached the local Bernina store where I have purchased my machines since I started sewing professionally, and started teaching there, which is where I teach today.

The most fun I have is seeing my students express their own ideas and seeing them expressed so beautifully technically.


Each one of these gals has her own imprint upon these jackets, and they look just like them.

I’m so proud of each of them and the beautiful looks they have created. More than anything, I’m thrilled I can be a part of them discovering that they no longer have to be frustrated or lost in the world of sewing as I was for so many years.

Truly this is what I love seeing my students learn most of all.

Contact Me

I really do love to hear from you… if you can’t/won’t post here, drop me a line. What I really hope to accomplish more than anything else with this blog is to take you from beginning sewing into not only something more artistic but also something more technical or (hold on to your seat) way more advanced than you would have thought possible. 

Being Inspired and Obsessed

Most often how I got to another level of expertise, was by being so inspired and probably more obsessed that I had to have that jacket or dress or skirt or whatever, and I could sew it. So email me here.