Partnerships–The Sewing Machine Project and Allbrands

By Margaret Jankowski, Founder, The Sewing Machine Project

The Sewing Machine Project is a nonprofit organization that works with other groups across the country to donate sewing machines, sewing supplies, and sewing classes. Since 2005, The Sewing Machine Project has distributed over 3,000 sewing machines. Below is an article by founder Margaret Jankowski about their partnership with us over the years, as featured in the VDTA-SDTA News magazine’s January issue.

Our partnership with John Douthat and AllBrands in Baton Rouge, LA has stretched over many years. John found us and we’ve been collaborating for over a decade. And for every step we’ve been grateful.

Some photos from The Sewing Machine Project’s recent efforts in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and in Cuba for their Sew Cuba program.

We have shipped pallets of machines to different AllBrands locations, most often to the Metairie, LA store for our work in New Orleans. We ship the pallet or UPS set of machines shortly before we plan to work there and then fly in and pick them up on that end. The AllBrands staff members are amazing and so helpful.

AllBrands donated 100 Brother machines after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Partnering with a charitable group gathering supplies for a container in Mississippi, John shipped the machines to Mississippi and we shipped fabric and notions to the same site. The charitable group, hurrying to deliver supplies, gathered everything and sent it on to Haiti.

John arranged a partnership with LSU’s New Orleans campus and we shipped a pallet of machines to supply their theatre department as they recovered after Hurricane Katrina. We met John for a presentation of the machines in their newly renovated theatre.

It was John’s work that helped us partner with a company supplying small industrial machines for use on sailboats when we laughed our SeaHope project in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With SeaHope we gathered donated sails from sailors in Wisconsin and took them to Houma in Terrebonne Parish, LA, to make into messenger bags to sell as a fundraiser. John connected us with Sailrite out of Indiana and they donated 10 compact industrial machines for the project. Proceeds from the sale of messenger bags were donated to organizations working with those affected by the spill.

Sister Gisela, a volunteer for The Sewing Machine Project’s program in Cuba, holds up a new creation.

The Sewing Machine Project worked with AllBrands to ship machines and supplies to Cuba to begin sewing lessons there. AllBrands donated the machines and we asked our donors to offer fabric and supplies. Together we launched a sewing program in Cuba. Today AllBbrands collects donated sewing machines for our work in New Orleans. They are currently preparing a set of donated machines for a 4-H group helping kids learn the benefits of sewing and then will prepare a second set for a group of working teens creating a community center in the area. Partnership works. While the SMP clearly benefits from AllBrands’ generosity, AllBrands benefits as well being known as a leader in the community as well as putting their brand in front of new sewers who, when able to purchase their own machines in the future, will more likely then not, purchase through AllBrands. We are exponentially grateful for the kindness that AllBrands has shown us and continues to show the world.

Allbrands Donates Sewing Machine to Winner of 4-H Fashion Show

LSU’s 4-H chapter held its yearly fashion show virtually last week. The It’s Sew You! section of the fashion show saw its winner in Chloe Litteral from Calcasieu. She will be receiving a Brother RST531HD Sewing Machine, donated by Allbrands. Runner-up Kelcy Hammonds from Bossier purchased the fabric for her project from Allbrands after attending a summer workshop at the store.

View the top contestants of the It’s Sew You! portion of the contest and their submissions below:

4-H is an organization dedicated to providing programming to children and young adults. According to their website, kids and teens participate in “hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors.”

Below is the full 4-H Fashion Show. Congratulations to all the contestants!

Watch the full Virtual 4-H Fashion Show here!

Allbrands Helps Church Distribute Masks to Baton Rouge Locals

At Allbrands, we’re dedicated to our customer’s well-being. In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we are adjusting out business model to still provide you with the supplies you need while keeping you and our employees safe.

Two weeks ago, we assisted Lighthouse Christian Fellowship Church in their effort to distribute thousands of free face masks to members of the Baton Rouge community in collaboration with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy and local councilwoman Tara Wicker. Allbrands donated fabrics for this project and we’re so glad to see it go to great use! See the full story below from WBRZ:

Allbrands partners with Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge and Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to create quilting class

On February 26, John Douthat and Barbara Chatelain from Allbrands met with Todd Ulmer, social services director of the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge, and Renee Chatelain, president and CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to plan a therapy program for homeless men sheltered in the Salvation Army’s Baton Rouge location.

The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge helps to find work opportunities to those struggling to find work in the area. While Renee Chatelain was touring the bunkers where the Salvation Army hosts the homeless, she thought it would be great for the men living there to have their own quilts.

According to Chatelain, it’s important to recreate that good positive energy one associates with quilts. She was inspired by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit in Alabama that works to preserve the quilt artistry of a group known as the Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, with the oldest examples of these quilts dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. These carefully preserved quilts vary greatly in style, ranging from housetop and bricklayer quilts to more abstract designs.

Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, director of community engagement at the Arts Council of Baton Rouge, works regularly with incarcerated people. He hopes to talk with the members of this group, once it is created, and help them find images that are meaningful to the members to incorporate into their quilts.

According to Chatelain, everyone can remember their grandmother’s quilts. She hopes this will bring comfort and a welcome creative outlet. Todd Ulmer, program director for the Salvation Army of Baton Rouge, agrees that this will be a great source of therapy for the group and will also serve as a way for those living at the Salvation Army’s local shelter to exercise some of their creative skills.

Sewing Group Bands Together for Australia Wildfire Relief

Checklist of needed supplies for the Animal Rescue Collective Crafters’ Guild from January 4, 2020.

Sewing groups aren’t just a way to make friends, but can also be a way to make a difference in the local community. Now with the rise of social media, the world is more interconnected than ever. In the wake of tragedy small groups can make a difference not just locally, but all across the globe. 

Since September 2019, devastating wildfires have ravaged Australia, destroying homes and decimating ecosystems across the country. According to ecologist Chris Dickman, over a billion animals have died since these fires have started. If you’ve been active on any social media platform these last four months, you’ve likely seen many images of injured animals rescued from the devastation. Being so far away from such a large environmental disaster, it can feel like Americans can’t make a difference in a tangible way.

While the situation is dire, folks around the world are coming together not only raise money, but to create and donate resources. Rescue centers in Australia are in urgent need of bat wraps, joey pouches, and blankets to help those animals who were able to make it out of the fires. The Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild, located in Australia, is working with wildlife groups and crafters around the world to get these desperately needed supplies.

Australian rescues desperately need joey pouches for rescued animals. As the name suggests, these pouches can fit joeys, or baby kangaroos. They mimic kangaroo pouches where young joeys rest until they’re old enough to fend for themselves. According to the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild, will help not just those baby kangaroos, but also sugar gliders, possums, koalas, and wallabies. The patterns for the pouches were shared on various social media platforms and can be scaled up or down to create different sizes for different animals.

One member of a local sewing group, who met in our Baton Rouge location, creates joey pouches to be sent directly to Australia.

One such group came together this Thursday at our Baton Rouge location to help with relief efforts. This sewing group in particular met in our Baton Rouge location in 2013. Now, almost 7 years later, the group is still getting together and sewing regularly. A local wildlife organization has been reaching out to businesses in the Baton Rouge area to ask for any help in sending resources almost 10,000 miles away to Australia. One customer got wind of the need for help and assembled her sewing group to help. Thursday the group came together to make joey pouches of all shapes and sizes to send directly to local rescues in Australia. The ladies worked on several pouches on our Brother Dream Machines in our sew studio.

These ladies donated supplies and so can you! Patterns for these pouches are available here, so please pass the patterns on or make your own pouches! In a time of serious environmental disaster you can make a difference like these customers did.

Youth, Creativity, and 4-H

The winner of the Ready to Wear division, Lillie Christaw,  pictured with her prize and LSU 4-H youth development sponsor, Tanya Giroir.

From a very young age, creativity was something people in my environment embraced. My father, having previously been a professional musician and my mother being one of the craftiest people to walk the earth, I was consistently encouraged to express myself and think of creative solutions to problems I encountered. Now, at 22, I find myself able to embark into unknown territory with a level of confidence, knowing I can creatively navigate most situations and use my creative abilities every day here, at Allbrands. However, far too often in modern society, creativity is viewed as less of a valuable trait. Being able to follow the status quo and act within certain guidelines is typically viewed as being the “smart” way to act, and that makes sense. When a society functions as a hivemind with no creativity to push change, things run more smoothly; there are no desires for social change, no desire for progression. It just stagnates and everyone simply exists in a monotonous, flavorless, colorless society.

Creativity is the driving force behind change. Every single social movement, societal improvement, or trend has had a passionate and creative mind behind it. With no creativity, there would be no cars for us to drive, no lights to help us see in the dark, no paintings for us to look at with a mundane sense of wonder and simply ask ourselves “how?” As a company within a creative industry, we at Allbrands believe it is our responsibility in our community to encourage youth to embark on their own creative journey and keep that same hunger for creation alive into adulthood.

Allowing our children and youth to fully express their creativity is incredibly important. Not only are we nurturing our future leaders and innovators to have minds that solve problems creatively, but the immediate payoff is huge. Students who participate in arts and other creative programs during or after school tend to perform better academically, develop a stronger sense of self-worth, and have a more efficient work ethic.

Winner of the Ready To Wear division, Lillie Christaw in her award-winning garment

In an effort to encourage our youth we have been partnering with 4-H to provide a prize to one of the division winners of their Summer Fashion Revue. The mission of this specific 4-h Program is to grow confidence, encourage creative expression, develop confidence and poise, and allow students to familiarize themselves with the process of organizing and participating in a Fashion Revue. This year, we donated a Brother SB170 to the winner of the Ready to Wear division. In this division, participating high school aged students had to gauge market interest and sew a garment that could plausibly be successfully sold in a retail setting. From the design of the garment to the fabric selection and full outfit styling, the participating students embraced their creative talents and showed us what they were capable of. The winner of the division, a student from Caddo Parish named Lillie Christaw (pictured in her garment above, below with her prize), won judges over with a summary and playful one-piece romper. Despite her excellent styling and design, what ultimately separated her from the other contestants was her exceptional construction and execution of all techniques used to make the garment. Allbrands would love to send congratulations to Lillie, and all young creators like her who embrace their creative sewing talents.

See more looks and photos from the 4-H Fashion Revue • Learn about 4-H

12th Annual LSU Fashion Association Fashion Show

The LSU Fashion Association Fashion Show is an annual event which boasts styled outfits, original garments, and collections made by undergraduate students in LSU’s Apparel Design program. In the show’s 12-year history it has grown to be a staple in the Baton Rouge fashion community, highlighting young and talented designers and their works before they officially enter the workforce.


The night was kicked off by the styling competition. Students selected garments from Time Warp, a locally owned vintage boutique, to compose a complete head-to-toe look. Following the styling competition was the Junior garment show. This show highlighted the best garments completed by juniors in their apparel design lab at LSU. The winner of this section (and the winner of a Brother/Project Runway sewing machine courtesy of Allbrands.com), Natalie Welch, floored the crowd and judges with her lively and colorful garments. “To me,” stated Welch, “my garments stand for spreading peace and happiness to loved ones and strangers. I used [bright] colors that creates an eye catching, bold statement to continue the anti-war movement started in the 1970s.” With two trendy two piece sets and a flirty mini dress Welch has developed, her award is very well deserved and we at Allbrands look forward to seeing what this young talent has to offer!


The Senior collection show, which immediately followed the Junior garment show, highlighted collections developed by Senior level apparel design students in their garment lab. The students were challenged to develop a cohesive collection of at least 3 garments. Throughout all of the 12 included collections, there was a very strong theme of embracing femininity in both conventional and non-conventional ways. See selections from each of the students’ collections below!


Carley Pere

Pere’s collection was filled with delicate fabrics and sweet baby doll silhouettes. “I was inspired by the freeness and purity of the female body,” reflects Pere, “so I wanted to make something that was flattering towards that.”



Courtney Childs

 Childs’ 5 piece collection was complemented by small flower details and pastel colors, featuring both two piece sets and dresses. Speaking on the inspiration behind her collection, Childs states she was “inspired by the picturesque vacations after long months of hard work; a decent holiday for the women that deserve it most.”


Mary Virginia Ayres

Ayres’ collection featured garments that empower women through feminine shilouettes with touches of menswear such as bowties and sharp collars. “It praises women who have been, and will always be, unapologetically female.”



Gabrielle Nolan

Gabrielle Nolan pulled inspiration from the eclectic go-go girl style with her brightly colored and iridescent garments. Sheer, iridescent panels combined with the vintage inspired silhouettes make for a collection of garments that seamlessly combines elements of yesterday and tomorrow.



Tommy Do

Titled “Collection 001,” Do pulls its inspiration from the common fetishization of the Japanese schoolgirl. By incorporating elements such as wet lamination, garment destruction, and “the binary of covered and uncovered,” he creates a futuristic, avantgarde uniform for the liberated woman who “embraces her femininity, youthfulness, and sexuality as a means of strength.”


Amanda Zaben

Zaben’s collection stems from her proclaimed love of the color black and simplicity in design. The evening wear collection features sophisticated, reserved silhouettes with small pearled details. “I was inspired by sophisticated women in the fashion industry, who tend to go for more solemn looks,” she says.



Jarithza Carlson

Carlson’s models walked the runway in the designer’s collection of evening wear inspired by her travels around Europe. Focusing on women of the renaissance and medieval period, she embraced their femininity and grace through “flattering silhouettes” with full sleeves and skirts. Her collection also incorporated light colors, flowing fabrics, and delicate embroidery detailing.


Katie Frost

Frost designed a collection meant to “empower anyone who chooses to wear it.” Her garments featured a simple black & white color palette as well as varying textures to create a very comfortable and natural look.




Jennifer Huddleston

Huddleston features garments primarily designed for children. Inspired by 90’s hip hop fashion, the line is a combination of hip-hop street fashion and modern design – featuring modern silhouettes and color palettes. Huddleston also designed coordinating separates for women, to create a “mommy and me” look.



Emily Hamm

Titled “Das Bin Ich” (meaning ‘this is me’ in German), Hamm’s collection features color blocking and vibrantly colored crochet elements. Hamm describes herself as “bold, vibrant, unique, colorful, fun, wild, and free,” and she mirrored those qualities into her lively collection. “I chose [the title] because my late Grams was German, and the crochet blanket and doilies in my collection were once hers.”


Angelle Jurasin

Sporting the only swimwear collection of the evening, Jurasin used color blocking and calming hues of blue and turquoise commonly associated with the ocean. “I have always had an infatuation with the ocean,” she said, “so I wanted to incorporate that love in a line of swimwear.”



Jillian Kieffer

Kieffer, the winner of the senior collection competition, pulled inspiration from small town America. The collection showcased oversized garments such as overalls, and dresses made of heavier weight fabric, creating a boxy silhouette. The garments also featured chunky patchwork and small embroidery details for an overall handmade aesthetic.

Do-it-Yourself Pocket Tee

Click here to watch the full tutorial!

Summer t-shirt season is upon us! Here’s a super cute tutorial for a monogrammed pocket tee! Whether it’s for you or a gift for a friend, these cute and comfy shirts are a summer essential!

What You Need:

  • a plain t-shirt
  • a fat quarter of fabric
  • thread
  • heat transfer vinyl
  • the design of your choice, printed in black & white.
    • (we suggest keeping it to 3″ x 3″)
  • Iron
  • Brother Scan-n-Cut 2
  • USB capable embroidery machine


Step by Step Instructions:

Preparing your design

    1. Printed to scale, place your design in the scanning mat. Scan.
    2. Select desired outline setting
    3. In the initial edit screen, crop out excess white space around your design. Save.
    4. Locate your saved design.
    5. Select the button in the top left.
    6. Select the button with the 3 red squares on it.
    7. Select the right button on the pop up screen. Select OK.
    8. Select the bottom middle button to complete grouping. Select OK.
    9. Select the top left button.
    10. Select the button with the square and two arrows on it.
    11. Select the mirror button *DON’T FORGET TO MIRROR!*

Cutting your design

    1. Set your blade depth to 1.5
    2. Set your cut speed & pressure to 1
      1. Every machine is different, so the settings needed on your machine may slightly vary from the ones we used!
    3. Place vinyl on the cutting mat, shiny side down!
    4. Do a test cut using one of the simple shapes built into the machine.
      1. Colored vinyl should peel off, leaving the clear backing intact with the rest of the sheet! It shouldn’t cut through the whole sheet.
    5. Take vinyl, place shiny side down.
    6. With your desired design selected, load mat into the machine. Cut.
    7. Unload mat, cut loosely around the edge of the design


    1. Cut a 5”x5” square out of your desired cotton fabric
    2. On an iron safe surface, iron on fusible backing
    3. Fold over the top of your pocket. Press with iron.
    4. Hoop your t-shirt with stabilizer.
    5. Thread your machine.
    6. Locate your desired pocket applique file, begin
      1. The next few steps may vary depending on your file set up!
    7. After the preliminary stitch, place the pocket fabric using the stitch as a guide
    8. Continue the applique process.
    9. Trim excess as closely to the stitch as possible.
    10. Start the final step, trim any more excess upon completion
    11. Unhoop, and trim away any excess stabilizer

Vinyl application

    1. Peel off excess vinyl, leaving your full design on the clear layer.
    2. Place.
    3. Using a presser cloth (we just used our excess pocket fabric), press on using an iron – and i mean really press it!
    4. Peel off clear backing, and you’re done!

Allbrands Lake Charles proudly welcomes Sharon Smith and Cheryl Duhon

Please welcome our new Allbrands Lake Charles store manager  Sharon Smith

Allbrands Lake Charles also proudly welcomes Cheryl Duhon. Cheryl will be teaching classes at our store in the coming weeks. Please see our Lake Charles store calendar and weekly newsletter for class dates and details.

Cheryl Duhon

A little bit about Cheryl Duhon: Cheryl Grew up in a French Acadian family surrounded by wonderful men and women who created beautiful things out of fabric! She has a Bachelor’s Degree from McNeese State University and is happily Married for 18 years with 4 children ages 16-2.  Cheryl learned to sew in high school in home economics and never stopped learning or creating. She established her own business, Spool and Bobbin, LLC, to teach others to quilt and sew. Cheryl has an Etsy shop which showcases quilts and handmade clothing from classes that she teaches.

The Evelyn Quilt. 40" x 40" handmade star block quilt.

Here is one of her beautiful quilt samples. (The Evelyn Quilt. 40″ x 40″ handmade star block quilt).

You can visit her shop and see her creations at www.etsy.com/shop/spoolandbobbinllc

Please see our Lake Charles store calendar and weekly newsletter for class dates and details.

Allbrands.com Presents Fashion Association at LSU 11th Annual Fashion Show Junior Designer division Winner Tommy Do a Brother Sewing Machine

On Wednesday, May 10th Allbrands owner John M. Douthat, and AllBrands associate Courtney Douthat, attended the Fashion Association at LSU 11th Annual Fashion Show.

The event showcased the designs of the students of LSU Department of Textiles, Apparel & Merchandising.


AllBrands is a proud sponsor for the event, and also gave away a Brother SB170 sewing machine to the winner in the Junior Designer division, Tommy Do. He has just accepted an internship with Designer; Adam Selman, in New York this summer.