MD Sewist Spotlight: Grayson Hackney

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Categories: Kids and Teen Sewing, Sewist Spotlight.

Every other week, we’ll be profiling one of our customers to find out a little bit about their sewing life. This week the MD Sewist Spotlight is on Grayson Hackney.

How long have you been sewing?
I have been sewing since I was around 5 years old. My mother taught me how to sew on her Babylock Machine and also how to sew by hand. I’ve taken classes at Modern Domestic on and off for the past two, this must be the third summer and I also sew in my spare time.
Tell us about a favorite recent sewing project.
One of my favorite projects is a tiered skirt with an invisible zipper that I made for my sister after I made one for myself in an MD class. I basically made it using my measurements from my first skirt but making things smaller here and there. It was my first project where I really sewed something without using an instruction booklet or manual and I think that learning classes from Shelly Figureoa who really isn’t super strict about following pattern rules helped me realize that I could make things on my own and that I should experiment more and go off the pattern.
What is your favorite sewing tip/tool?
My favorite sewing tip would have to be to always, always take out your pins in your fabric before sewing over them. My mother always taught me to sew right over them which became an immediate problem with Michelle and Shelly at MD and then turned into a running joke between us. But seriously, don’t run over your pins!
Where do you sew?
I sew the most in the Modern Domestic classes that I take and in the MD studio but I also have a sewing room in my basement where I sew sometimes, most often when I have just finished a camp at MD and I want to finish up projects or make replicas of things I made in classes.
What sewing project(s) do you plan to tackle next?
Next I plan to do a lot more finishing up of projects that I have started in the past and that I need to finish. One of them being a baby quilt that I also started without instructions or a manual (Very, very, bad idea. Always use a manual when making quilts, even if it is just for some guidelines!) and that I never got around to finishing but that is really very darling.

Winter Frolic this Friday!

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Categories: bernette, Neighborhood, Sewing Machines, Uncategorized.

Spend this Friday night shopping on your favorite street in Portland!

MD will be participating in Winter Frolic, an evening celebrating your favorite small businesses in the Alberta Arts District including Frock, Garnish, Collage, Tumbleweed, Salt & Straw, Close Knit, and pedX, plus others. Plan a whole evening–don’t miss the bars, coffee shops, and restaurants that help make this area a destination!

We’ll be here hosting our Friday Night Sew-cial from 6-9 pm, so stop by for refreshments and a special discount! 15% off tools, notions, thread, & books…and Bernettes! Pick up the tools to help you craft this holiday season or buy a new machine for the sewist in your life.



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Categories: Behind the Scenes, bernette, BERNINA, Machine Embroidery.

Discover what all those perfectly useful buttons do!

Getting a great value does not always mean getting the least expensive. But you already knew that. When we started the store, we had two lines of machines, BERNINA and Janome. We liked them both, but discovered that for a variety of reasons, we would go for a full dealership with BERNINA. One of the main reasons is the value of the machine made by BERNINA is the greatest in the world. BERNINA machines are made in Swiss factories, both in Switzerland and Thailand. They put so much perfection into the manufacturing process, care into the interface on the computerized machines, and they value the education that is provided by dealers to the consumers!

As a company, BERNINA supports their local dealers by not selling machines directly to consumers and not selling machines online and in chain stores. BERNINA continues to use this more unusual model so that customers come into the shops where people sew, meet them, see where the best place to learn is and develop a relationship with the people that will help them sew.

My first BERNINA was purchased in Eugene, at (now gone) 27th Street Fabrics. I give so much credit to Millie, Sylvia, and all the other people that I learned from through the years. They taught me how to sew certainly, but I also learned the value of support from a community of people that were there to care for my machine, answer questions, provide me with knowledge about tools and had loads of knowledge about my machine. When I bought my first BERNINA, 15 years ago, I took Machine Owner classes and Serger classes and learned what the functions of the machine were, how to care for and clean it, what the proper needles and thread were, and how to use it to its fullest! It made me such a better sewist. Imagine a life of sewing without intimidation or fear of buttonholes?

Bringing home a new machine can be intimidating, but not after a MyBERNINA class!

We teach the same classes here, and they are free when you buy your machine from us. You can take them over and over again through the years for no additional charge. Maybe you buy a machine because you think you want to quilt. And you do–for a few years. Then you find yourself drawn towards garment construction, and can’t remember how to use your overlock foot, or sew a buttonhole. You can take the class again. Free.

When you know how to use your machine, you are happy. Your work is better, and your tool works for you! We hope we see you in a MyBERNINA, MyBernette, or Serger Basic class this winter! You will learn how to wind a bobbin, thread your machine, and SO much more!

Behind the Scenes: Prepping for Mini Classes

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Categories: Behind the Scenes, Free Mini Classes, Parties.

A little behind the scenes slideshow of MD getting ready for last Friday’s free mini classes and party time–

Lupine decorating the tree-it's made out of tulle!

Erica getting festive with machine embroidered ornaments

thread and bobbins, ready for winding and threading

Meredith prepping machines

jars of vintage ornaments

Mini Class student stitching

students using sergers for the first time

Meredith and Erica (or Merica, as they're affectionately called) working with students

love the neon thread!

Thanks to everyone for being enthusiastic during our mini classes, for stopping by to show love and support during the party, and for making this the best place to come work, teach, sew, and play!

Take Back the Black! Friday goes Local.

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Categories: bernette, BERNINA, Neighborhood, Serger.

save 15% off all bernette machines

We hope you can swing by this weekend to get the machine of your dreams! We have a super sale going on starting Black Friday and you won’t want to miss these offers. We have added some even hotter discounts to the BERNINA Holiday event that is going on, and it means that all sewing machines and sergers are on sale!

Get the coveted BERNINA 580 for a smokin' price! 15% off this weekend.

There are some pretty great local incentive events going on as well. Supportland is offering triple points (and we just added a sewing machine service to one of our rewards by the way)! And we are one of the awesome 90 local businesses participating in Little Boxes, where you can get discounts and win prizes! Sweet! While shopping on Alberta Street, there will be loads of Tannenbaum Madness fun with carolers, trees sparkling in shop windows and later shopping hours.

Personalized Holiday Napkin Tutorial

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Categories: BERNINA, Free Mini Classes, Tools and Notions, Tutorials.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to our personalized holiday napkins!


  • 18″ x18″ linen square (could also be a linen-cotton blend), natural color
  • Burgundy thread. We used Mettler’s 100% polyester, Metrosene 0764.
  • Serger set for a roll hem and Maxi-Lock’s neon serger thread cones- in pink, orange, and green.
  • Our current classroom machine, the BERNINA Aurora 450.
  • 2 strips of OESD’s Fusible Tear-Away stabilizer, 2″ wide
We’re able to take advantage of BERNINA 450′s extra-wide stitch width (9mm!), making decorative stitches and the alphabet look more substantial. With the machine’s memory functions, we can string different letters together giving us the ability to personalize the napkin with the name of your dinner guests and family members, or choose words like “yum”, “eat”, or “bread”.
Start by marking your stitch lines across the top and bottom of your linen square, 2″ from your cut edge and with a non-permanent fabric marker or chalk pen.
Fuse the stabilizer centered over your marked line, but on the underside. When you sew the right side will be facing up with your marked line and the underside will be stabilized.
Go ahead and fold the napkin in your preferred manner and mark the starting point of the name or word you’ll be stitching. You can choose centered or off left or right.
Select a decorative stitch from the machine’s extensive options. Satin stitches tended to be too heavy, so a nice line-based design will provide better results. Nice choices from class were these cross stitch inspired ones like #56 or #58. #121 has a woven feel that looked beautiful when stitched out.
The center notch of the foot will be guided along your marked line as you sew. Allow the machine to bounce around while it stitches and simply continue to guide the fabric. If you try to force the fabric back, your stitches can distort.
Only stitch along one line. The other will be for your personalization.
Open up memory and begin by choosing the font you’d like to use. I liked the simple block font because I felt aesthetically it worked best with the idea that the line of stitching grew into the word and then back out again. Enter each letter into memory and watch your number of place holders drop. Keep memory open to stitch and don’t forget to select Pattern End when you begin stitching the last letter of your word.
The machine then knows the stop at the end of that letter or it would begin the word over again. Practice on a scrap of stabilized muslin, to ensure your word is spelled correctly and practice Pattern End. We did end up with a happy accident on someone’s napkin–yumyum. Still works!! Close memory and select a straight stitch but move your needle position to the far left. Otherwise your word will look like this…
Normally we work with the bulk of our fabric off to the left, but unless you mirror-imaged all your letters, doing so would have your word or name upside down. Oops! Be sure to place the bulk of your work for this step inside the throat or to the right.
Straight stitch with the needle to the left, foot notch following marked line, until you reach the mark you’ve made for starting the word or name. Open memory, stitch, and don’t forget about Pattern End! When done, simply close memory. You’ll see temporary altered stitch memory of the machine will have retained the needle positioned left. Continue stitching straight along your line to the cut edge. Remove the stabilizer by peeling away. (Those pesky tiny bits will dissolve with washing so not to worry.)
With your serger threaded for a 2 or 3 thread roll hem, work your way around all 4 sides–trimming, stitching, and finishing the raw edge. I love the high contrast of the neon thread; it’s a little unexpected and provides a modern touch with the traditional feel of the linen. A dap of Fray Check at each corner and a snip of the thread tails, and you’ve completed the napkin!
–Don’t worry about the personalization and simply do a top and bottom row of decorative stitching. Still very lovely! Make a set of napkins with the same decorative stitch but with different roll hem colors or choose a different decorative stitch for each napkin and unify them with the same roll hem color.
–Instead of a roll hem, finish raw edges with bias tape.
–Use applique or embroidery to embellish.

BERNINA Holiday Promotion Begins Today!

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Categories: bernette, BERNINA, Sewing Machines.

And of course we are happily participating! There is something for every sewist to take advantage of, from the sweet offer on the BERNINA 215 for only $699 to the top of the line 830LE that is available with a free jumbo hoop or bernette 46. Here is the full rundown of deals and discounts, we hope to see you soon to help you choose your dream machine, software, and or accessory. Click here for coupons and details.

MD Sewist Spotlight: Jen Van Arkel

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Categories: Sewist Spotlight.

Every other week, we’ll be profiling one of our customers to find out a little bit about their sewing life. This week the MD Sewist Spotlight is on Jen Van Arkel.

1. How long have you been sewing?
I guess I can’t count the sewing I did in my 4th grade Home Ec class, when we practiced making circles on a paper plate. Or the time about 10 years ago when I tried to teach myself on my aunt’s 1960′s Singer; that attempt was ridiculously frustrating and futile. So I’d say I started sewing “for real” in about May 2010, when I began taking classes at Modern Domestic. After the first few classes, I bought a Janome, and then traded it in for my current machine, a Bernina Aurora 430. I continue to take classes at MD, learning new skills and techniques. I also read sewing blogs and books, and practice as much as I can at home. Having a newer machine has really made sewing so much more enjoyable than my initial attempts, and I also really appreciate the knowledge, support, help and enthusiasm available in the local sewing community (and online, too).
2. Tell us about a favorite recent sewing project.
Most of what I make is apparel, and most of it is for my 6 year old daughter. Since she’s small and I’m still learning, the projects aren’t too overwhelming, but I still get to learn and practice new techniques and skills. I make a few things for myself, too — not to worry that she gets all the spoils!
I’ve recently been on a bit of a sewing spree, and I’m happy with several projects: a winter coat for my daughter, a tunic for myself, a scarf for myself, and a pair of silk pillowcases.
For my daughter’s coat, I wanted something that was a bit dressier than her daily Columbia jacket, but not so precious that it couldn’t be machine washed. I chose a faux shearling in her latest favorite color, baby blue. Because of the thickness and the stickiness of the “suede” side, I had some trouble with the buttonholes, but Meredith at MD helped me troubleshoot, and the buttonholes came out great (solution: tear-away stabilizer). I also love the buttons, which are vintage from the Button Emporium, and look like snowflakes. Most importantly, my daughter loves wearing it — success!
The tunic pattern came from a Japanese pattern book. I’d taken some classes about using Japanese patterns (at MD, of course), and had made some things for my daughter. The tunic was the first item for me. I made a muslin first, since I heard the sizing in this book can be generous. After fiddling with the muslin off and on over the summer, I finally made the final version last month. I love the overall fit and comfort, the little pleats at the neck, and the overall simplicity of it.
I’m also really happy with how this ruffled scarf turned out. I love Anthropologie, so when I saw a class at MD to make an Anthropologie-inspired scarf, I jumped at it! I enjoyed learning to work with lightweight fabric, and to use elastic thread. I’m happy with the dramatic end result!
The pillowcases were a recent weekend sewing project, and an opportunity to try working with silk. I found the free pattern online, and chose it for some of the finishing details: French seams and a mock cuff. Beyond learning and practicing these techniques, what I love about this project is that I got to make something luxurious for myself that I probably would never have bought.
3. What is your favorite sewing tip/tool?
I love all the special feet for my Bernina — they make sewing so easy and professional-looking. The feet I’ve been using a lot are the walking foot and the ruffler. The walking foot really makes working with tricky fabrics a breeze. The ruffler makes quick work of ruffles, and makes them look so even and not at all homemade.
4. Where do you sew?
Right now, I sew in a tiny but bright nook off of our dining room. My husband used to call this room the Yogurt Room, because it’s so small that the only thing we could use it for was eating yogurt in the morning. I think sewing in it is a much better use of the space! I use half of the dining room table as my work table, which is not at all ideal (clutter!). My plan is to convert half of my home office into my dedicated sewing space, complete with a new, height-adjustable work table that I got at Ikea.
5. What sewing project(s) do you plan to tackle next?
I’ve got several projects that I’m excited to tackle soon. I recently bought a few Colette patterns: I plan to make the Negroni shirt for my husband, and the Violet blouse and Chantilly dress for me. I also have snagged some lovely fabric at Bolt’s recent sale that I plan to use on another Japanese tunic.

Party Update: Full Classes and Friday Only Sale!

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Categories: BERNINA, Free Mini Classes, Parties, Sewing Machines, Tools and Notions.

10% off all pressing equipment Friday, including our saucy Oliso irons.

Yesterday morning was spent signing many of you lovelies up for the free mini class (which filled up in a couple hours, eep!), and yesterday afternoon and evening was spent telling more of you they were full. Boo. We hope those of you who were not able to get into the classes this time, keep a look out for the next round. Something tells me we will have to do this again in December! If you aren’t going to be here stitchin’ up some cute napkins, you can come by, have a champaign cocktail, and take advantage of some great Friday-only sales!

  • 15% off cutting equiptment. Scissors, rotary cutters and mats!
  • 10% off pressing equipment. Oliso irons, hams, and more!

And you can pre-shop the amazing BERNINA Holiday event that begins Saturday! Check out all these ways to save:

  • Free jumbo hoop or Bernette 46 with BERNINA 830LE purchase
  • $150 off any one new BERNINA product $999 or more
  • 25% Off any one BERNINA Accessory up to $200
  • Save 20% on Designer+, Embroidery+, CutWork, My Label Software
  • Enhanced BERNINA 350PE (FHS installed- limited time only)
  • BERNINA 215 for only $699
We can’t wait to see you tomorrow for all sorts of fun, tasty treats, and giveaways! Did I forget to mention that? We will have giveaways of course!

Free Mini-Class and Party this Friday!

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Categories: BERNINA, Free Mini Classes, Home Decor, Parties.


We’re so excited to ring in another holiday season of making at Modern Domestic! To kick things off the best way, let’s make our Thanksgiving tables extra special with a customized linen napkin. FREE mini-classes will be held this Friday November 18th to stitch up this awesome project. ALL SESSIONS ARE CURRENTLY FULL. Make the most of our current classroom machines, the BERNINA Aurora 450, by maximizing the extra wide stitch width (9mm!!) for decorative stitching. Plus, you’ll get to explore the memory function by stitching out the name of your family and friends. Give it some punch with neon thread in the serger for a roll hem that will stand out! As always, all supplies are included–linen, thread, stabilizer, and neon serger thread.

Multiple sessions are available but call NOW, these classes fill in a hot minute. Your choice of times include 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm, & 7:30 pm, with 8 spots available in each session. The one hour mini-class will get you going and you’ll be able to complete just one napkin. Kits that will include linen squares, use of thread, and open sew time to work will be available if you’re ready to whip up a whole table full!

And come back (or stay!) for the party in the evening. Food, drinks, and good cheer all around as we celebrate our expansion, our good friends, and happy sewing at MD! The party starts at 6:00 so be sure to come by and say Hi!

Holiday savings with BERNINA start Saturday November 19th. Been daydreaming? Check out the coupons and special offers we will have available for machines and accessories!