Note: Today is March 19, 2018. I began writing this story on August 31, 2016-the day I ‘retired’ from my very comfortable, secure job with our local electric utility. If it seems out of time sequence in places, it probably is. I decided to finally publish this as this month marks the 10 year anniversary of my sewing lounge. Hope it amuses you. xo, Helen
The short version Today I leave my day job to pursue a career in sewing education. The End.
The medium version Ummm, this didn’t happen overnight. It took over ten years of planning and juggling both jobs until I would make it work well enough to even take the jump. You can check back and see how it’s going or even better click here to sign up for my email list and have my stories sent directly to you.
The long version 2005: Realize after 10 years at my job that I have no interest, much less passion, in the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity. This sucked, since I worked for the electric company. I did jobs that had elements of things I liked to do, but it became pretty obvious after a while that I wasn’t going to shine as brightly as or climb as far as I wanted to in this career path.
2006: Reach out to a life coach—Rachelle Disbennett-Lee. Spend 2 months literally crying during our weekly telephone appointments because – how could I follow a passion if I didn’t know what it was? I seriously can’t believe she didn’t refuse to work with me. Pathetic! I knew in my heart of hearts that I loved sewing more than anything, but I really didn’t like sewing for other people and oh how I loathe alterations.
Rachelle had me do a lot of exercises that helped me see my true values and how to direct my actions toward them. It was eye-opening. One item on my ‘100 things I want to do’ list (just a great big list of anything that I even remotely thought I might want to do) was play in a band…So, like any responsible adult, I got a guitar, learned to play and write songs and started a band. We called it Dye Hippie Dye and this, my friends, is another story for another day. As much fun as it was, it was never going to help pay my bills, though one night I made $67 for a solo gig, my highest earnings in music to date. I’d have to keep working at a job that just didn’t make me dazzle.
Then it happened. I saw a tiny article in Sew News Magazine about sewing lounges—places to go hang out and sew, or learn to sew, or use equipment you might not have or have the space for in your home. This was IT. I could do this. I could do this part time in my home. It was a real, tangible idea, but that didn’t make it quick or easy.
I drove to San Francisco and visited Stitch Lounge and took a couple of classes. I called Maggie Schneider of Sewing Lounge in St. Paul and picked her brain. I started buying and repairing used sewing machines from CraigsList. I read books about teaching sewing or running a sewing business. One such book is called The Business Of Teaching Sewing by Pati Palmer and Marcy Miller. What a great book! Tells you everything you need to do. Period. A google search told me that Pati Palmer lived right across the river in Portland and that Palmer/Pletsch held sewing workshops in Portland, too. Crazy! The first workshop I attended was Fit for Real People, taught by Pati and Marta Alto. It was awesome. I took the teacher training for that course and became a Certified Sewing Instructor (CSI). Now I had cred! Helen Bartley, CSI. Love.