My Sewing Squares Story- From High Fashion to Quilt Lover

My name is Donna Robb, and I am the owner and founder of Sewing Squares. For years, my passion has been to help dressmakers and quilters of all experience levels learn in an uplifting community. Since Covid-19 currently prevents us from sewing in the same room, I’ve started Sewing Squares, an online space for beginning and self taught quilters to learn new skills through my courses while staying encouraged through our group discussions. Since I hope we’ll be spending a bit of time together, I wanted to share my personal sewing journey with you.


Beginning Sewing - A Family Love Affair

My earliest memories of sewing are sitting at the kitchen table with my mum and working on projects side by side. Mum taught me how to thread a needle, how to choose my fabric, how to understand a pattern, and most of all, how to stay patient when projects get frustrating. I will be forever thankful to my Mum for teaching me how to sew in the beginning. Thanks to her, I have built a fulfilling career in sewing and passed the craft on to my daughter as well! When my daughter turned 8, I sent her to sewing classes so she could learn this wonderful life skill and hobby; she is now 28 and still loves the Janome sewing machine I bought her years ago. Did you have a family member or mentor that taught you to sew? If not, I’d love to be your adopted Quilting Mum!


What does High Fashion have to do with Quilting?

At the age of 30, I found myself alone bringing up my beautiful little girl, and it was then that I decided to go back to university to study fashion design. I was determined to make a wonderful life for us by doing something I loved. Fashion school refined my skills of design and construction, and I even took the opportunity of studying couture pattern-making with an Italian designer named Antoinette. I later shared my expertise by lecturing in fashion design at The Melbourne School of Fashion for 12 years. Although many would never think that fashion design and quilting go hand in hand, I am convinced that my rigorous training in fashion makes me a more imaginative and capable quilter. Once you learn how to design dimensional pattern pieces and transform them into a beautiful, functional piece, you can master even the most challenging quilting patterns. 


My Adventure Continues - Bridal Shops, Interior Design and Movie Sets.

Although sewing has always been my main focus, I expanded my professional portfolio by owning and operating my own couture bridal shops, studying Visual Merchandising and Interior Design, and even working in the costume department of a Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg production. If you had told me as a beginning sewing student that I would have all these adventures, I certainly would have laughed! Yet, while I enjoyed my success and travels, my beautiful hometown on Australia’s Surfcoast was calling my name. 


From Tom Hanks to a hometown sewing circle.

When I moved back to Torquay, I joined a sewing circle that met every Wednesday at our local quilting shop. Every week, I enjoyed talking with this group of lovely and talented women as we completed projects, but there was one catch: all of the women were hand-sewing their intricate quilts. If we wanted to save time on our quilting projects by using a machine, we would have to sew alone at home. I resolved to create more opportunities for machine quilters and sewers, and soon I was holding classes at libraries, community centers, and quilt shops. As I instructed beginners and self taught quilters of all kinds, I was amazed by the common benefits that sewing brought to my diverse group of students. We could temporarily forget the worries of our day as we worked with our hands, seeing real progress materialize before our very eyes. We could swap stories with each other and laugh at our mistakes. And with each class and event, we built community and made new friends. Time and time again, I was proud to see others persevere through challenges, knowing that if they had been alone at home, they may have given up.



The Birth of Sewing Squares: Quilting During a Pandemic

That’s why, when Covid restrictions began to take effect across the globe and in my own community, I knew I had to figure out a way to reach the beginner quilters sitting alone at home. And that’s how this website, Sewing Squares, was born. We offer individualized guidance in our mini-courses, helpful tips and project ideas through our blog posts, and soon, a long-term learning community in our Virtual Quilters Guild! No matter how you choose to engage with Sewing Squares, we hope to provide you with encouragement, inspiration, and the knowledge that you never have to sew alone - even during a global pandemic. 


Tell me - what’s your sewing story? And what do you need the most help with, right now? .

- Donna

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