- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Sue Ann Obremski makes it look so easy. The seamstress is modeling her latest creation —a gray shawl with fringe. She starts her sewing class by convincing her students that they, too, will have a shawl just like hers before the day is over.

Four students — each with varying degrees of sewing experience — have gathered at Attic Treasures and Sew Easy Sewing School in Occoquan, Va., for Mrs. Obremski’s lesson. They are tucked away in the corner of the shop, which is an authorized Singer sewing machine dealer.

Mrs. Obremski passes out a kit, which includes already cut and pinned gray fabric, a pattern and step-by-step directions. Each of the students is sitting in front of a six-month-old Singer sewing machine, which cost about $3,000 each. The machines are computerized with touch-screen icons to make the work easier.

The group is making the “Montauk shawl” — a name Mrs. Obremski created after seeing a similar shawl draped on a mannequin at a shop in Montauk, N.Y.

“I fell in love with it,” says Mrs. Obremski, 56. “It’s quick and easy to make.”

She took out her tape measure and jotted down the garment’s dimensions so she could duplicate it back home.

And she did. And now she’s helping four more persons make their own.

The school, which offers classes for about $25, is new. Attic Treasures and Sew Easy Sewing School is owned by Judie Breunig. She started the company in June and the classes began in September.

Mrs. Obremski, who has been teaching people to sew for 25 years, met Mrs. Breunig at a sewing seminar in the spring and they hit it off.

The first task for the shawl is to embroider an initial on the corner. The computerized sewing machine makes it simple.

Mrs. Obremski walks the class through the steps and with a touch of a few buttons the oversized letter is ready to be sewn into the fabric.

But as with any computer, there are a couple of glitches and the sewing machines have to be reset.

“Sometimes they have a mind of their own,” Mrs. Obremski says, laughing.

Once the sewing machines are back on track, the students set up the fabric and hit “OK” — within minutes a newly embroidered capital letter in script appears on one corner of the cloth.

Mrs. Obremski takes the time to help each student who needs assistance. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun.

Mrs. Obremski loves her work — it’s evident by the way she brightens when talking about special stitches and fancy seams. Her excitement is contagious.

“The object is to have fun,” she says, as her students work diligently to make a straight seam.

Mrs. Obremski shows them how to make a decorative seam, cut an opening for the head, close up the hem and make fringe on the ends. In just over three hours, the class has duplicated the Montauk shawl.

“We want everyone to have a finished project,” Mrs. Obremski says. “We don’t leave here until it’s done.”

Mrs. Obremski has been sewing since she was 8 years old, when she started making doll clothes.

“My mother did a lot of the teaching,” she says.

Mrs. Obremski, who also works full time for IBM from her home office in Manassas, gets up at 4:30 a.m. and sews for about two hours before she starts work.

She owns five sewing machines and three sergers. A serger sews a seam, finishes off the seam’s edges and cuts away the extra fabric in one step. With all of her equipment, she can work on several different clothing items at the same time.

“I find it very relaxing,” she says.

Mrs. Obremski made about 85 percent of the clothes in her closet. It would be more, but she spends a lot of her time now making clothes for her grandnieces and grandnephew and making clothes for others as gifts.

She says her most intricate creation was her niece’s wedding dress. She spent more than 100 hours creating the A-line dress, which had a lace bodice and detailed embroidery on the train and around the bottom.

“It’s the fun of being able to think of something you want to do and go into another room and make it happen,” Mrs. Obremski says.

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