A Common Thread: We Love Learning New Skills Together

By Kyle Spieker, Senior Industrial Designer

Over the years, our shared interest in sports, travel, fashion, and exploring national parks has left us curious about the development of the soft-goods products we were using. But as much as we searched, industrial sewing classes seemed to be non-existent amidst a sea of quilting workshops. While we all appreciate a cozy quilt in the thick of a Michigan winter, we were looking to gain insights around the soft-goods products we’ve grown to love and trust—like our go-to day packs or our broken-in motorcycle gloves.

We finally struck gold with an article about a new GRCC industrial sewing course and decided to reach out to Blue Marble Threads founder, Camille (the mastermind behind GRCC’s curriculum), to customize a two-day class for Tekna’s Innovation team. It wouldn’t be long before we set out for Grand Rapids to collectively broaden our understanding of soft-goods development and production.

We spent the first day following Camille’s signature “Crash Course with a Sewing Machine,” which covered the basics of working with a walking foot machine. On day two, we learned about seams/assembly methods, pattern development, and tech packs. We also gained experience with the production/prototyping process. The classes were both enlightening and a lot of fun. We left feeling comfortable working on industrial sewing machines, confident of our new skills, and excited to learn more. Thank you, Camille, for sharing your expertise with our team!

“My experience with the GRCC Workforce Training Industrial Sewing course was very rewarding. This course laid a great foundation of sewing knowledge that allowed me to start up a new department within my company. Just 18 months upon completion of the course we now have an 18 person sewing team. We are capable of sewing upwards of 400 units/day across 50 different garment types. A few examples of garments are, t-shirts, football jerseys, wrestling singlets, athletic shorts, hoodies, etc. I can confidently say that without this course we wouldn’t be where we are today!”

Nate K.
Product Engineer
Sports Addix


“I was looking for a teacher over this last summer and I happened to come across a local seamstress. I thought I would give it a shot. This was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences I have had in a long time. Through my time spent with Camille I advanced quickly from beginner sewer to advanced sewer. I was taught many great lessons with fabric manipulations and some pretty extreme underpinnings. All in all this was a wonderful experience and if I could do it again I would. I would highly recommend the classes offered here to anyone interested in simple sewing or any higher level sewing as well.”
Jacob Whitman,WMU Fashion Studies Student

Taking this class gave me a great start with my career. I didn’t know how good I could sew until I took this class! I gained the confidence and starter skills I needed in the workforce. I’ve excelled very quickly and learned a lot in a short time at my work place. Both my employers and customers are impressed with the work I do.

Samantha B., Ann’s Custom Canvas, Customized boat and auto upholstery

I had no history of sewing. I was taught from the most basic level how to operate the machinery and use correct terminology. I continued in upholstery until I learned of an opening in a model shop with furniture company Steelcase. The position was in upholstery pattern development and required a knowledge of sewing along with basic upholstery processes. The industrial sewing class completion certificate was an important proof I used to secure the position.

Cyril Mayne, Steelcase, Model Maker
Camille has been working with the Refugee Employment Services to train sewers for her own business, Blue Marble Threads. We’ve been so impressed with her capability and desire to work cross-culturally to train Bethany’s refugee clients. We absolutely think she is the woman for the job in terms of extended training.
Jessica Anderson, Bethany Employment Specialist