Thursday, December 11, 2008

Next Sewing Lounge is December 21st! Hide from the Holidays for an Afternoon!

Sunday, the 21st, from 1-4 PM, take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle to hang out, eat cookies, drink cocoa and make crafts. Bring your own projects or start a new one, sewing or not! Give some as gifts or keep them for yourself.

We'll see you there!

154 Lafayette Avenue, Unit E
Laurel, MD 20723

Holiday Sale!!!

From now until New Year's, all items in the Etsy shop are 15-20% off!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just In Time for the Holidays! -- The Online Shop is Open!

Hello, all! I hope this little check-in finds you happy and excited for the upcoming holidays! I'm getting excited myself, although sometimes it feels more anxious than joyous. Luckily, I have a solution for those who find themselves overwhelmed by holiday shopping -- my Etsy shop is now open!

Sure, online shopping is becoming all the rage these days, but I can offer you something those other big-box websites can't: I'm a person. I hand-make all of my items and I stand by them. I am reachable by phone, email and in person if you encounter a problem and I won't make you press '0' to speak to a customer service representative.

I am just beyond thrilled to be announcing the opening of my new Etsy shop, and I hope you'll take a moment to peruse through the retail items I've been working so hard on in between costuming shows. Below are some sample photos of the items for sale, and please take a moment to visit

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Holiday Calendar

Hello, again! Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner?! Wasn't it just Easter? Anyway, I wanted to share with everyone the important dates coming up at the studio, as well as performances where you can catch a bit of my work and enjoy some holiday cheer in the process. I'll try to keep this as organized and readable as possible! Also, don't you just love this "thread tree" from All Sorts'? What a great idea!

Sunday, 11/16 - Sewing Lounge! A fun, drop-in chance to use professional machines, work on random crafts (no sewing required!) and get expert advice for personal projects. 1-4 PM, $10/hour, wine and hors d'ouevres.

Thursday, 11/20 - A FREE Performance of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's Salon Show At the Howard County Arts Center in Ellicott City, MD. Visit for more details.

November 14-16, 20-22 - MAD Theater's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" MAD is the Music and Drama Club at the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, MD. Visit for more information.

Thursday, December 4th - New York City Fabric Tour Once a month I lead a small group around NYC's Fashion District to tour the shops and teach them the ins and outs of the industry from a professional's perspective. December's trip will undoubtedly be very festive, so join us! Call 301-604-4139 to reserve your spot!

Tuesday, December 9th -- On Purpose Network's Holiday Sale On Purpose Network for Women is holding their annual Christmas bazaar at the Hawthorne Community Center from5:30-9:00 PM. I'll be there selling my own designs and taking orders for custom work.

Saturday, December 20th -- Marriotts Ridge HS Madrigals Perfom at the National Gallery of Art I made the costumes for these amazing singers and am thrilled that they're going to perform at the National Gallery. I recommend getting your holiday shopping done early so you can avoid the mall and head down to... well, the Mall! The National Mall, of course! Performance is at 1 PM.

Sunday, December 21st -- Sewing Lounge! Take a break from holiday madness (trust me, my studio is a great place to hide!) and relax with other women. My daughter is making her famous (infamous?) mulled wine cider and there will be lots of fun holiday goodies, both to make and eat. Again, knowing how to sew is not a requirement. 1-4 PM, $10/hour, wine and hors d'ouevres.

Well, I hope that was decipherable and I hope to see you at one of these events! And, as always, you can visit or call me at 301-604-4139 for more information.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dates to Remember -- Sewing Lounge 10/19, NYC Trip 12/4

Hello, again!

Just a quick reminder, the next Sewing Lounge is Sunday, October 19th from 1-4 PM. Drop on in to work on your favorite pet projects or start a new one with materials from the studio. Knowing how to sew is NOT a requirement! We offer all sorts of crafts, using materials from fabric to food, and we'd love for you to stop by.

Rates are $10/hour, which includes access to professional machines, materials, refreshments, and a chance to pick my brain -- I love it!

Also, the next NYC Fabric Tour is December 4th. For details, please visit my website.

I hope you're all enjoying this gorgeous fall weather and the stunning colors emerging outside. I always feel inspired around this time of year and wish the same for you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

URGENT -- BWN Fundraiser Postponed

Things are being postponed all over the place!

First the McCain campaign, then the debate, and now the Business Women's Network scholarship fundraiser that was -- until recently -- this Saturday at Lime Kiln Middle School. Due to unforseen circumstances, we have had to reschedule the fundraiser for the spring, with definite dates to be determined.

Many thanks to everyone who helped in planning and coordinating -- we will be re-creating all of the same details in just a few short months, so keep your eyes open for word on the new date!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Join Us for a "Fashion-Forward" Fundraiser to Benefit Women's Education!

Hello, everyone! I wanted to pass along some information on my latest upcoming event -- I'm planning a fundraiser as part of the Business Women's Network of Howard County. They are raising money for their annual scholarship fund, so it's been a lot of fun and a great challenge to plan this worthwhile event! I've copied and pasted the press release below -- if you're interested in learning about fashion, make-up, color, wardrobe AND helping women progress in education, please consider coming!

We'll see you there!


Business Women’s Network of Howard County Holds Fashion-Foward Fundraiser For Annual Scholarship Fund

Non-Profit To Raise Money To Benefit Women In, Or Returning To, The Workforce

Laurel, MD (August, 2008) -- Raising money for a scholarship fund can actually be stylish!

The Business Women’s Network of Howard County invites women from the Baltimore/DC area to participate in a fundraiser to benefit its annual scholarship give-away, on Saturday, September 27th, from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM at Lime Kiln Middle School in Fulton. The morning will include a complimentary breakfast, fashion show, rotating workshops on color, wardrobe, clothing fit, lingerie fit and makeup, followed by a complimentary buffet lunch.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet past recipients and network with other local businesswomen, as well as learn from local experts how to look their best for their own career.

Each year, 3 life-long learning scholarships of $1,000 are awarded to women entering, returning to, or in need of help to progress in the workforce. Recipients are given the money to attend colleges, trade schools or certificate programs in order to advance their careers. Any woman who lives, works or attends school in Howard County is eligible.

The September 27th fundraiser will use ticket sales to award these scholarships for the 2009-2010 school year. Tickets are $55 for Business Women’s Network members and $60 for non-members. BWN looks forward to treating you to a fashion-forward morning and benefiting local women in need.

BWN began in 1979 as "The Women's Network" with the goal of providing an informal networking setting for women. In 1992, the group refocused to provide a more formal networking organization and incorporated in November of that year.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sewing Lounge Returns!

Remember those old sewing cricles from yesterday? They're back!

The Sewing Lounge at the Studio will start up again in September! It's a really nice treat for me to spend a relaxing afternoon with old and new friends just working on our pet projects. Bring your sewing, crocheting, knitting, embroidery -- whatever you're working on! And feel free to make use of the Studio's equipment if need be. These are some of my favorite events at the Studio, and I hope you'll join us.

The next Sewing Lounge will be September 21st, from 1-4 PM. Sewing Lounges will continue after that on the third Sunday of each month -- just in time to work on a special gift for the holidays (maybe for yourself!). Treat yourself to an afternoon off, just being creative in a nuturing -- and well-stocked -- space. We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Theatre Troupes Everywhere Can Take a Lesson from Chesapeake Shakespeare Company...

Tonight I have a meeting with the directors of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company to make some corsets for their next production, The Country Wife, and I just have to state for the record that working with this company has been a breath of fresh air. Too often in community- and regional-based theatre, the level of organization leaves much to be desired (and the level of drama leaves much less to be desired), but CSC is really breaking the mold. I had a script right away, no one changed their mind late in the game, and I felt like a respected member and friend of the company, not a slave girl to stage divas.

I really look forward to continuing a great working relationship with CSC, and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we hope you'll plan on seeing The Country Wife! Check the CSC website (linked above) for details.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Design to Dollars Expo Tonight!

Hello, again!

Well, with a small business the networking never stops! Tonight I'll be showcasing my business and the studio at the Business After Business Design to Dollars Expo at the Howard County Center for the Arts. My favorite son-in-law, Patrick (also my only son-in-law) had the great idea of bringing in a sewing machine as part of the display, just to draw attention to the main focus of the business.

Speaking of sewing machines, I have a new sewing student, Kemani. For a beginner, he's picking things up very quickly -- his goal is to begin designing menswear. I think that's a great idea and it's exciting to help, since for the most part there is a shortage of stylish local male designers making clothes and accesories specifically for men.

Have a stylish day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sourcing@MAGIC Show Is Coming Up!

It seems no matter what I do or how hard I try, I cannot escape Las Vegas.

I know most people love the city, but to me it just seems more like an overgrown Chuck E. Cheese for adults -- just as loud and just as tacky. However, there's one thing I do like about Vegas and that is the amount of networking opportunities. I've been for a few conventions so far and was impressed at how professional and helpful they were.

Hopefully, the Sourcing@MAGIC show will be no exception. The fabulously-talented Anca will be accompanying me and together we're hoping to garner some national business. The show is August 25-27, and we couldn't be more excited!

Wish us luck!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Just a Reminder -- My Contact Info Has Changed!

Thanks to more than a little help from my fabulous web designer Jay Williams, I'm now operating under a new URL and email address.

Please be sure to update your records and keep in touch!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Newest Student (sort of...)

I'm so pleased and excited to announce the birth of my first grandchild, Samantha Isabel Sharp! She was born April 29th at 6:38 PM, to my daughter Jessica and her wonderful husband Patrick.

Both of these pictures were taken in the hospital a few hours after she was born. Since then she has visited my studio a number of times and, at 5 weeks old, even "helped" sew a pair of pants (by sitting on my lap and making sure I did it right.) I can't wait until she's old enough to start teaching her how to sew, knit, crotchet and whatever else her little heart desires! And I'd like to thank my daughter for reminding me that I may be a grandma, but at least I'm a damn cool grandma.

A Good Review from the Baltimore Sun!

So, Mary Carole McCauley of the Baltimore Sun may have picked an awful day to take in the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's fantastic (in my opinion) production of "The Comedy of Errors", what with the 100+ degree heat and searing sun, but luckily costumes don't usually wilt in the summertime. She writes in her June 11th column:

"...Well, at least Marilyn Johnson's costumes are worth looking at. She adorns her characters in a fruit-flavored palette of banana, kiwi and tangerine; the fuchsia and lime wigs worn by the two leading ladies are particularly fetching. Johnson also makes clever use of hoop skirts, in particular, to indicate that a slender actress is supposed to be round."

To their credit, the actors were laboring in said 100+ heat, so it's no wonder they were a little flat. However, I'm very glad my costumes made such a good, stand-out impression on Ms. McCauley. Thank you, Baltimore Sun!

The Comedy of Errors
Performances: June 15, 21, 22, 27, 28, and July 6, 10 and 12 at Patapsco Female Institute, 3691 Sarahs Lane, Ellicott City. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays. Doubleheader on Saturday, June 28: The Comedy of Errors at 5 p.m., The Tempest at 8 p.m.

Parking: Free in the Howard County Courthouse lot on Court House Drive.

Tickets: 866-811-4111 or www.chesapeake

Information: 410-313-8874.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Budding Designers

I have a couple of young students in my Saturday afternoon class and I must tell you, I am impressed with their dedication and talent.
Each week they bring their sketch books with the latest sketches and we sit for a while and review them together. So far, they have sketched everything from shorts and tanks to evening gowns and accessories. We've talked about the fabrics for each design, sewing techniques to use, sizing, pricing, custom vs. RTW, including back views and more.
A good part of each lesson focuses on sewing techniques so we work on lots of stitching samples, machine issues, edge finishes and pressing techniques. Each of them has produced something usable at this point. (they've only been coming for a few weeks) J has made a tote bag and is finishing her first dress and matching purse while K, who only joined 3 weeks ago, was so anxious to "make something" that she turned one of her stitching samples into a little clutch bag. She can't wait for her next lesson so she can add rhinestones to it.
In the course of creating these things the girls have learned to use sergers, embellish fabric, fuse interfacing, edge finish seam allowances and create or adapt a pattern.
And to think they are 11 and 13 years old! Watch out, Vogue, these girls are coming!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Working on the Trunk Show

Anca and I met today to finalize some things for the Trunk Show next Sunday
(April 13th from 2 to 8 pm) and Sandra Bearden from Jahari's Spiritual Jewelry was also in today to drop off the jewelry she made for the Show to complement the garments that Anca and I have made. It promises to be a great show with clothing styles that are just not available in the stores. I hope all of you will be able to come! Trunk Shows are fun because you get to be the models and the designers are right there so you can ask questions and get advice.
I've got a number of skirts, some jackets (several have hand painted linings!) and a very unique dress I made for a design's actually 4 dresses and a skirt in one! You have to see it to believe it. There are the 2 capes I made that won prizes at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and I've decided to include some of the decorator pillows and home dec stuff. I hope to make some more things this coming week.
Anca showed me photos of some of the things she has made and I loved them and you're gonna love them, too! Lots of beautiful fabrics, prints and solids, formal to casual...I don't want to give away too much, so plan to come!
As working designers, Anca and I know that every body is unique so fit is always an issue. We have agreed that if you like something, but the fit or color doesn't suit you, most garments can be ordered as a custom garment. That lets you in on the design process!
I'm getting more excited just telling you about it. And guess what!!!! Our Trunk Show will be mentioned in the Washingtonian Magazine in the Roundup column! Thanks, Hannah!
And don't forget, your ticket price is refunded with your first purchase at the show, a real win-win for everyone!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Latest Costume Project

I'm working this Spring with the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and I'm really excited! This is not only a talented group of people to work with, they pride themselves on also being professional and considerate and respectful to each and every person involved in the production from interns to "stars." Actually, at last night's meeting, no one acted "starry," even when I was measuring for their costumes.
CSC is entering their 6th season and performs at the Patapsco Female Institute. I've never had an opportunity (okay, I did have many, but always had to work to meet a deadline) to see one of their productions, but the word in the Green Room is "great!" This year they will be doing 2 shows in repertory (when 2 or more shows rotate appearing during the season) I'm doing costumes for Comedy of Errors and I met Kristina Lambdin last night who will be doing the same for The Tempest.
I'll keep you posted on the costume progess, show dates and ticket info as we move along on the production. And by the way, I highly recommend the Tiber River House, a restaurant in Ellicott City!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One Show - Two Designers Trunk Show and Sale

Hey, Everyone! I'm getting excited and nervous as I plan with Anca of AncaDesigns for our first ever Trunk Show. The way we have it planned, you'll be able to come to the Trunk Show and try on our Designer Samples, purchase them on the spot or custom order from the samples.
We'll have Evening Gowns and Cocktail Dresses (shades of Austin Scarlett for you PR junkies) as well as Casual and Beach Wear, Accessories, Purses, Totes, Hats and much more! My friend Sandra Bearden of Jahari's Spiritual Jewelry is making some pieces just for this show and the garments in it! We are planning to have something for everyone and we will be right here to discuss each garment with you. Many of them have stories, so don't forget to ask!
The Summer Breeze Trunk Show and Sale will be on Sunday, April 13th beginning at 2 PM. Advance Tickets are $5 and At The Door Tickets are $10....but don't worry, your ticket price will be refunded with your first Trunk Show purchase.
If you'd like to reserve a ticket, please give me a call or leave a comment on this post. It promises to be a great show!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19, 2008

My colleague Eva and I went to Marjorie Merriweather Post's estate and museum Hillwood today. We went to attend an interesting lecture about Callot Soeurs, a design house started by four sisters in Paris in 1895.
The lecture and tour was given by Mr. Kurtz who curates and maintains all of the clothing and textile collections at the estate/museum. The man is a walking textbook and very patient and eager to answer questions.
According to Mr. Kurtz, the sisters mother was a seamstress and their father dealt in antique fabrics and laces so they had a fabulous grounding for the venture. At the time they started their workroom Charles Worth was at the end of his career and due to their fantastic designs and the quality of their work, they were able to take his place as the premier design house.
The oldest sister, Marie did all of the design work, Margaret ran the workroom, Regina handled all of the finances and business details and Josephine handled the appointments and clients. By 1920, Regina and Josephine had left the business and Marie became the sole proprietor of the business with Margaret remaining to run the workroom.
At the time the sisters started Callot Soeurs, many of the design houses were beginning to bring in sewing machines to the workrooms. Callet Soeurs sewed every stitch of every garment by hand until 1933 when Marie passed away and her sons took over the house. By 1914, they employed 600 people in the workroom to bead, embroider and stitch and at their peak, they had 800 employees.
After the lecture we were led to Marjorie's dressing rooms (yes, plural!) where we were able to get up close and personal with the three extant gowns created for her by Callet Soeurs. The quality and workmanship was incredible and left me almost breathless thinking of the time and skill required to achieve those exquisite results.
If any of you ever have an opportunity to visit Hillwood Estate and Museum, do it! The grounds are fabulous, full of gardening ideas, the house is a treasure trove of Russian artwork, the house is a maze of rooms each more fantastic than the last and of course, there are the clothes, jewels, accessories, portraits and collections of everything under the sun.
I left feeling inspired by the designs and workmanship. I also felt a sense of responsibility to carry on the traditions of quality design and workmanship to share with all of you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Hello everyone =]

I'm Stephanie and I am currently an intern with Mrs. Johnson at The Marilyn Johnson Sewing and Creative Fabric Studio. I am also interning with another student, Rachel, but we both have different purposes of being here. I'm mainly focused on the marketing aspect of this business, while Rachel is here actually learning how to sew first hand with Mrs. Johnson.

Now...I'm excited to introduce the innovative and creative designer/mother/wife/mentor...Mrs. Johnson!

She's a really great mentor and has extensive knowledge in so many different fields of interest. So far I've been able to meet a lot of interesting clients that Mrs. Johnson has, such as Poe the mascot from the Baltimore Ravens. Never thought I would ever meet him in person. I've seen Mrs. Johnson work on so many different projects since I've been here. Her most recent was designing and then creating costumes for the White House Historical Association, which Rachel and I both got to be a part of. She's a very active member of the community and is a member of several different organizations. Mrs. Johnson just recently received an award for Maryland's Top 100 MBE's for the year 2007. If she isn't making costumes for an upcoming production, receiving acknowledgements for her accomplishments, or designing clothes for clients, she's being a mom.
Her son Kevin, just joined the Marine Corp this past summer and her daughter, Jessica just recently got married this past November. But now that her children are all grown up and on their own her main focus has been running her studio and keeping up with the lastest episodes of Project Runway, her alltime favorite tv show. Her theatrical closet consists of over 1000 costumes, so if you're ever looking to put on a show or maybe go out for a theme day, she can satisfy your needs. And if she doesn't have what you're looking for, she's always willing to custom design and create it for you.

This blog was my idea and so I started out this blog for Mrs. Johnson, but from here on out, she will be taking over the blog. She will be checking and updating it regularly so please feel free to stop by and take a look at her latest entries. Also, if you have any questions or comments, she wants to hear your feedback and answer any questions you may have.

Thank you =)