Stitching a second career together in Arla’s Sewing Room

By Jennifer Bissell

In addition to supplies, Arla is also a certified repair technician for sewing machines and offers classes in sewing basics.

Arla Wagner is turning her passion into the newest business on Main Street in Lansing. Wagner recently opened Arla’s Sewing Room, located at 253 Main Street.
In addition to supplies, Arla is also a certified repair technician for sewing machines and offers classes in sewing basics.

Her second career
Wagner grew up in Green County, Wis., south of Madison. She moved to Allamakee County in 1986 and married her husband Paul in 1988. Wagner spent 35 years teaching middle school in Lansing before her retirement in 2021. Wagner said she spent the first year of retirement thinking about what she wanted to do next.
What she kept coming back to was her passion for sewing. Her grandma Kundert taught Wagner how to sew when she was eight years old. Since then, sewing has been a part of her life. She said she loves to create Halloween costumes, paper-pieced projects and quilts. 
About three years ago, Wagner began taking correspondence courses to learn how to repair various sewing machines, including antique, standard/mechanical, computerized, sergers, embroidery machines and machine timings. 
“I started fixing sewing machines for people out of my home, and it wasn’t long before I needed a bigger space for my repair business. I asked my husband to build me a small shed where I could do my sewing machine repair but was told I would outgrow it in a week,” she said.
“Since I had a dream of someday opening a sewing center where I could sell and repair machines, sell fabric and teach others how to sew, we decided to buy a building on Main Street in Lansing.”

What you’ll find
Arla’s Sewing Room offers thread, fabric and some notions, in addition to her repair business. 
“I consider the store as ‘a work in progress.’ I add new items as often as I can and hope to have more inventory soon,” she said. “I’m still working on decorating the walls and getting some homemade items made to sell.”
Continuing with her teaching background, Wagner also offers beginner sewing classes. She said class sizes are small so she’s able to give individualized attention to each student. 
“Right now, I’m focusing on beginners and all my classes are full. I will offer some classes on paper-piecing and scrap quilting later on in the year. Anyone interested in attending a class should contact me so I can put them on a waiting list,” she said. 
One thing you won’t find is Wagner doing mending, patching or altering. She said those are things she doesn’t enjoy. 

Certified Elna dealer
While Wagner can repair a variety of machines, she exclusively sells Elna sewing machines. She is the only dealer in a 100-mile area. 
“My first Elna was a 1982 Elna Carina (made in Switzerland), which I still have and use today,” she said. “Although Elna machines are no longer made in Switzerland, their Swiss engineering and design make them top notch machines. Elna sewing machines are made to last for years.”

Staying busy
Since she opened June 1, Wagner said the community support has been amazing. Arla’s Sewing Room is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. She said patrons can always call the store at (563) 538-4990 to make sure she’s open. Updates and class openings can also be found on her Facebook page at Arla’s Sewing Room. 

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