Local machine expert stays plugged in to quilting
Today’s digitized embroidery machines are so sophisticated that once you’ve programmed a design into them, they’ll stitch on their own while the operator tends to mundane chores around the house — folding laundry, dusting furniture, cooking dinner.
So advanced is the technology that some sewing enthusiasts and quilters ask jokingly, “Can this sewing machine make my morning coffee, too?
Alas, the machine stops a tad short of that task, but who knows what it will be capable of doing in, say, five years?
If a sewing machine could brew coffee, one Grand Junction woman would be the best barista on the Western Slope.
Teresa Spurger is a digitized embroidery specialist with 30 years experience in the sewing business. Many in the region learned about this specialty and how to keep all types of high-tech machines running at top performance under Spurger’s tutelage while she worked at Quilter’s Corner in downtown Grand Junction in recent years.
The quilt shop closed in late 2013, but Spurger has not stopped teaching nor has she unplugged her fleet of sew- savvy machines.
Reinventing herself as owner of Thread Bear Embroidery and Sewing Studio and operating from her home, Spurger still offers “support to many who have been my clients for years,” and she welcomes new ones.
Classes are available in machine embroidery, embroidery digitizing, quilting, sergers, home décor and clothing. Group or individual lessons can be arranged.
A look at her schedule at threadbearembroidery.com shows a busy January.
You can enroll in beginning digitizing, bring your computer and hone your Digi Skills, use up scraps in a mug rug session, make a fabric candy dish, learn a photo stitch technique in a machine embroidery class, spend a day in open sewing class and learn piecing basics. And that’s all between now and the end of this month.
The highlight of the month, however, takes place Jan. 11 and features a guest appearance by Cheryl Phillips of Delta, a well-known quilter and teacher with Phillips Fiber Arts.
In addition to a trunk show, Phillips will autograph books she has written and teach a class on “Simple Curves Table Runner.” Phillips is famous for her “Quilts Without Corners” series, along with tools and patterns she has developed.
The trunk show begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive, and costs $15. The table runner class follows until 6 p.m. for $60 and includes lunch. If you enroll in the class, there is no additional fee for the trunk show.
“I’ve known Cheryl for years, and I really want to take advantage of this brilliant teacher” who lives in the area, said Spurger, who also describes Phillips’ free-motion quilting as “amazing.”
Phillips’ expertise is in demand throughout the nation, and she travels frequently. She’ll be an instructor at the Road to California Quilters Conference scheduled Jan. 23-26 in Ontario, Calif.
Spurger says she is lucky to have gotten Phillips on her local class schedule now, since Phillips has a full slate of teaching engagements for 2014.
Spurger’s own agenda is stacked tight as well, albeit closer to home. She personally works at her home studio, where she does custom embroidery for business clients with three Janome MB-4 machines. These are semi-commercial machines with a single head holding four needles with different threads. She keeps these plugged in and “running almost all the time.”
But her primary machines, for all types of sewing, are a Janome 11000 and a Pfaff 2042.
Spools of thread in every color imaginable cover her studio walls, because “I love thread; I believe you can never have enough thread,” Spurger says.
Because her studio does not include classroom space, she schedules events at different venues throughout the city, such as Hobby Lobby’s classroom, Two Rivers Convention Center, the Goodwill community room and the Clarion Inn conference rooms.
Another idea of Spurger’s, which sounds like a hit to me, is staging a sewing party for a little girl’s birthday. Nine and older are the best candidates, she says, recalling the fun party- goers had one year making their own headbands at a neighbor’s bash.
Pillowcase skirts are another favorite project for a birthday sewing party, Spurger says. Use the opening of a ready-made pillowcase for the hemline, cut off the other end and sew a casing around it, then insert elastic for the girl’s waist.
“The kids love it,” she says, and Spurger can help you organize such an event for the little birthday princess in your life.
Whatever your desires, when it comes to sewing and the machines we depend on in 2014 and beyond, you can be sure Spurger will show us how to plug in to the latest trends and technology.