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MEET OUR CLASSROOM INSTRUCTORS
HELEN ABERNATHY

Although I originally hail from the coast of NC, I consider myself a real Floridian after living here for the past 46 years.

I began sewing at four years old by making dolly clothes on my little hand cranked Singer. I made most of my clothes through high school and college and even sold a few. They looked quite professional I must say.

I’m a retired elementary school teacher and principal. I love retirement! I have so much more time for sewing and time with family/friends.

I made my first quilt in high school, and it was awful. It went to the trash or Goodwill a few years ago. I tried again in the early 2000’s and finally decided it was time to take a lesson or two at a friend’s suggestion.  I was hooked. I took all kinds of classes at different shops locally and a bit north of here. Now I have quite a stash and tons of rulers which I enjoy using,

I worked at local quilt shop for a couple of years and found my love - teaching classes and bright colors. I enjoy foundation paper piecing, piecing, applique, machine and hand embroidery, needle turn and English Paper Piecing.

Finally, I’m so fortunate to have a very patient husband who supports my obsession.

MARY HAYES

I relocated from upstate New York a couple of years ago with my husband.  I am a retired math teacher with over 30 years experience and taught classes at Amelia's Garden Sewing Boutique In Delmar, NY.  

I have been quilting since the late 90's.  I am a modern quilting enthusiast and enjoy making bags!!  I am a co-designer of The Perfect Wallet and the designer of The Mini Wallet. 

I enjoy teaching others and inspire them to build on and expand their quilting and sewing skills.

SUZI OWEN

At an early age I sat beside my mom as she taught me sewing, crochet and Swedish embroidery.  Her hands were always busy so I believe it's inherent to busy my hands.

I love texture, color and "chance encounters" with ideas of creativity. I'm constantly challenging myself with new and vintage embroidery skills.  Then the best part is sharing that knowledge.  There is such thrill for me when I see a student LIGHT up with satisfaction and delight when they've learned a new stitch or skill.

My start in hand sewing was learning to quilt the old fashioned way...hand piecing, so it seems totally natural for me!

ALISON O'GRADY

Alison O'Grady is the creative behind Sew Bee It Clothier. She specializes in custom freelance sewing as a sample maker for fabric companies and is a brand ambassador for Have;'sSewing. Her online shop offers custom sewing such as dressing robes, delivery gowns for new moms, tote bags and purses, as well as custom requests. Some of her many works have been promoting new fabric lines for designers by creating garments for events like Trunk Shows and Quilt Markets, not to mention to adorn their personal wardrobes.

Alison's sewing journey began with encouragement for her mom. She enrolled in the Master Seamstress Certificate Program at the University of Rhode Island. And while garment sewing is truly her favorite, sue also enjoys machine embroidery, silk ribbon embroidery as well as fabric collage. Alison loves exploring all of the wonderful genres which enable her to be as creative as she can be so she can share that with all of you!
CARRIE BURDEN

Carrie is a rare find in these parts -- a Sarasota native!

From a young age she began learning all things crafty starting with music (piano, flute, and piccolo),cooking (who doesn't love to eat?), then sewing at the age of 9 earning her the moniker "Carrie Can Do." You might find her project table covered with a quilt top, but there's a better chance of finding a bag, wallet, or something else with a zipper (or two...or three).

When it comes to the rules of sewing Carrie believes patterns are just suggestions from the designer, meaning there's no wrong way to get to a finished project!

CARLA WILLIAMS

My love of sewing has been my passion since I was a little girl. My mom and grandmother nurtured my desire to create and encouraged me to share my talent. I loved getting on the sewing machine and creating clothes for my dolls and later myself, especially school functions and dances. I taught myself how to use the sewing machine, piece fabrics together and read patterns.

I took my very first class in 1989 where I learned how to hand quilt. Through the years I have found happiness in creating things for my home; friends and family; and especially my two daughters. I love clothing, handbags, curtains, baby accessories and so much more. In 2011, I opened my Etsy shop, Endear Me, with one hair accessory. I have since added Greek Pillow Letters, Boot Stuffers and bags. I didn’t pick quilting back up until 2013 when I visited a quilt shop and the owner convinced me to take a basic quilting class.  I made my first t-shirt quilt a few months later. Since then I have added memory quilts to my Etsy shop and they are my biggest seller. I have found that I love working with people one-on-one to bring their memories together in a treasured quilt.
TESSA WALKER

You may know Tessa Walker as the certified BERNINA technician in the shop. But did you know that she comes to us with over 40 years of sewing experience? She has done just about everything from fine heirloom baby clothes and smocking to slipcovers, tailored suits, embroidery and bags.

After taking up quilting 8 years ago, she began her blog, The Sewing Chick, and has written many popular tutorials that are posted on her website, thesewingchick.com. While mostly self-taught, she pays great attention to detail and is always in search of the best way to achieve beautiful results. She enjoys teaching and sharing her understanding of textile arts in a way that is both fun and informative to class participants. Understanding that everyone works at their own pace and within their individual desires, her goal is to bring out the best in every student's abilities.

MICHELLE MCMILLAN

I first made a baby quilt for my cousins baby boy 22 years ago. I was just sewing squares together and tying off the quilt, flannel, and backing with a thick DMC-like floss. Fast forward to 2009 when I was gifted a Beginning Quilt Class by my M.I.L.  I have been involved with quilting the "proper" way ever since.

I love learning new techniques, and teaching samplers for that very reason. I never bore of a new block. I have trended towards Modern Quilting and techniques, because it looks so fresh. Brown gives me hives.

Coming from an art history background, I find the history of quilts intriguing - I love researching the whys. The Gees Bend quilts, underground railroad quilts, and the naming of blocks is something I will try and educate myself at every step of the way. I know nothing of garment sewing, but hope to learn more. I am not the best at bag making, but I try. I have an embroidery machine I've used twice. I will pull it out, eventually.
KARIS HESS

My earliest memory of crafting was making my first construction paper headdress at Thanksgiving when I was about 4-years old. I've been hooked on creating ever since. There isn't a time in my life where I've been lacking some creative project in process. As far as sewing goes, I relied on my mother to make Barbie clothes, staying busy in the gym working on my Olympic career as a gymnast. Alas, moving from Ohio to Florida dashed my young girl dreams and as luck would have it, I had time on my teenaged hands to learn how to sew in Junior High School. One peasant dress later, I hung up the foot pedal and concentrated on more important things, like boys.

Fast forward a good 15 years and few kids later when sewing became an affordable alternative to dressing my daughter. That was a fun couple of years until Chloe decided she didn't want handmade clothes, opting for the name brands sported by her friends. {heavy sigh} The good news? My now millennial-aged child earns the "least likely to cave from peer pressure" award these days. {big grin} 

The road to today has been filled with many creative adventures and some prosperous endeavors. Prior to opening The Modern Sewist, I have been a web developer (many, many moons ago when you only needed to know a handful of code); an associate professor at University of Boulder's continuing education program (teaching said web coding); a Realtor (isn't everyone, once in their life?); a bridal shop owner (don't get me started); and Private Chef (yes, I've seen Chopped and Below Deck). The latter career had been, by far, my absolute favorite before I opened the doors to my shop in November, 2016.

I started back in the sewing industry in 2014 with a line of sewing patterns for handbags and accessories as Clobird Designs. A handful of those patterns remain extremely popular today and are among some of the classes I teach. Teaching is very much my "love language". Being able to spark creativity through transferring knowledge and passion is among one of the highlights of my life-long career as an educator!