Tara Kranz
(MaBelle Photography)

(MaBelle Photography)

(MaBelle Photography)

The hum of sewing machines is heard as fabric, scissors and patterns fly about the room. Rosemary Person and each of her students have been working hard for 5 weeks and today is the day that each of them will walk out of class with a beautiful, finished quilt -- a huge accomplishment for any sewer!

In the many classes they offer each month, J&R Sewing & Vacuum Center does their best to support sewers from all walks of life, beginner to proficient. I had the chance to talk to Cindy Barnhardt at J&R about the various opportunities available to aspiring crafters, quilters and sewers. "It is a terribly enjoyable hobby," says Barnhardt. "It's really a lot of fun if you have the basics down so you can explore a little beyond that."

Barnhardt, along with husband Jim, work hard to ensure that their customers will be satisfied with a new sewing machine. "We want you to be very comfortable with your machine and your software so that you can do the most with what you want to do, so you get the most out of it." They do this by offering New Owner's classes where the attendees can learn all about their new machine, focusing mostly on technique. New Owner's classes include those for sewing machines, embroidery machines and sergers. Each is offered about once a month.

"Getting the most out of your machine is going to make you the happiest and help you be the most creative," says Barnhardt.

New Owner's classes are the most popular after Christmas. "People get gifts for Christmas and they want to be able to use their gift, so they make appointments."

Barnhardt explained a decrease in attendance during the summer months. As people are more focused on spending time outside, sewing often takes a backseat. Customers tend to use the summer months to get their machines repaired. Despite the decrease in attendance, J&R still offers classes throughout the summer.

According to Barnhardt, "One of our most successful and asked for classes is our quilting class." This is a 5-week course where each quilter will go home with a finished quilt. Person will help the students in the class choose the fabrics, match the colors, and understand the theory of quilting.

J&R also hosts various events to give customers a chance to try a new machine without purchasing it. "The events allow you to come in and use the machines, get to know the types of things you can do with them and then decide if it's something that you really like or if it's something you're not really interested in," says Barnhardt. The events are very popular, with attendance sometimes reaching 100 people. J&R will be offering two events during the month of August. On August 19th, attendees will have a chance to try the Creative Sensation Pro II; on August 20th, attendees will have a chance to try the Husqvarna Viking Designer Epic.

A wide variety of other craft classes are also offered at J&R throughout the year. Another popular class is learning how to use the Scan and Cut machine. "The Scan and Cut is really cool because you can actually use it for crafting or sewing or embroidery," says Barnhardt. Other classes and activities have included fabric painting, a doll swap, and a block swap. Row by Row, a national quilting challenge, is also being offered this summer. J&R is the only shop in Bismarck that offers Row by Row.

Classes and event dates can be found by signing up for email alterts, checking J&R's Facebook and occasionally in listings in the Bismarck Tribune. There is also a class list that can be picked up at J&R at 3rd and Main in Bismarck.

Tara Kranz is an English teacher turned stay-at-home mom from Bismarck. She is an aspiring freelance writer who enjoys blogging, crafting, getting involved at church, movie nights with her husband and whatever will make her son smile.