Customer Service (844) 278-6944

Getting to Know Meissner Sewing: Angel Chesney

Emily Achondo
School of Sewing Angel Chesney is an instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center. Her classes, which mostly take place at the Sacramento and Folsom Store, include School of Sewing courses for beginner and intermediate sewers.

When I sat down to chat with Angel Chesney, I was completely shocked and slightly confused by one of the first statements about her early experiences with sewing that she made to me.

“I absolutely positively hated sewing,” she said.

This concept completely bewildered me because not only is Chesney one of the more popular instructors at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Center, but at the same time as she dared uttered this phrase, a Baby Lock sewing and embroidery machine was stitching away in the background, following directions given by Chesney herself.

Born in Concord, Calif., Chesney grew up mostly in Wyoming. She was thrust into the sewing industry after she graduated from the University of Wyoming, where she studied juvenile justice social work with specialization in addiction therapy. She had moved to Oregon following a virtually unattainable job and needed to “put food on the table,” she said.

Medallions "There is no greater thrill for me than seeing the light bulb come on for somebody," Angel Chesney, instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers said of her experiences in the classroom. "I live for my students' 'aha' moments."

This was about 15 years ago, and at that time, she pursued an ad in the newspaper, which claimed “no experience necessary, will train the right person, apply in person,” Chesney recalled.

The ad was for a position at a sewing and vacuum business in Oregon, and when she realized this upon showing up for her interview, she said that she had thought about turning around and leaving.

“I went ‘oh’ because it was a sew and vac,” she said. “I hated sewing. I hated vacuuming. And I hated sales people.”

She got the job and hasn’t looked back since.

“(My boss) had me teaching in under a year,” Chesney said. “And I fell madly in love with it. I’ve done almost every job in the industry now. I’ve done sales training. I’ve been a store manager. I’ve actually managed for Meissner’s for about a year. I ran the Folsom store. But education is my love.”

She wound up at Meissner’s three years ago when she stopped in to browse the Sacramento Store on a visit to her father and was ultimately presented “an offer (she) couldn’t refuse,” she said.

Chesney is currently an instructor for Meissner’s, teaching classes at both the Sacramento and Folsom locations. Many of her classes are designed for the beginner sewer because she is heavily influenced by her earlier (and poorer) experiences behind a sewing machine that couldn’t function properly.

Angel Jeans 2 "Embroidery really is pure fun," Angel Chesney, instructor at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum, said. "The whole point of it is fun. Embellishing is fun. The end goal is a more fun garment, a more fun quilt, it’s just the whole point of it is fun, and so that really hooked me."

Having disliked sewing until she was taught to sew by the sewing industry, as she claims, Chesney focuses on bringing an element of fun to her classes.

“I try to always have some sort of practical aspect to my classes while still being fun because I whole heartedly believe the point is fun,” she said. “If you’re not having fun, you have no business sewing. If it’s not fun, something is wrong.”

Chesney reflects back now and knows that in her initial attempts at sewing, the problem that she encountered was that she wasn’t using the right tools, she said. She even compared it to building a house with a broken hammer.

But ultimately, sewing changed her life, and she tries to bring this profound influence to her classes.

“So many people who become educators start sewing so young that they’ve forgotten the initial stage. How frustrating it can be when something doesn’t go right, and they have no frame of reference for that level of frustration,” she said. “I’ll never forget that. My life changed around that. It was hugely eye opening.”

When writing her classes, Chesney also thinks about the purpose behind the class.

“I try to come up with at least one trick I can show them because a shortcut that gets you lost isn’t an effective shortcut,” she said. “It’s a long cut and it’s pointless. So I don’t show them any shortcuts that cut corners. I just try to reinvent a better wheel.”

She also tries to share, especially in her kid’s camps, the escape and relief from the overwhelming parts of life that sewing can provide.

“This is the only place in my own world where I can solve ¾ of my own problems,” she said as goosebumps raised up on her arms. “It’s an industry statistic: ¾ of the problems any sewist encounters is needles, threads, and stabilizers. That means we have the power to solve ¾ of our problems by ourselves. I find that a phenomenally empowering statistic. And I get to be the one that helps give them that bag of tricks. I can’t think of a much more rewarding thing.”

Sewing since she was 22 years old, Chesney now uses her abilities as a way to "sew (her) life back together" in the midst of life's more stressful times, she said.

"It’s like ‘I have a grip on something," she said. "I can do this, I will get through this, so it’s my anchor. It’s what gets me through, and I get to be the one that teaches folks how to do that."

And all of this came from someone who started our conversation by saying she once hated sewing.

Leave a Reply