Sewing & Craft Museum to Close; Will Auction Off Antique Machines

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

November 17, 2023

Harry and Judy Schenk stand amongst some of the 90 antique sewing machines that are being sold via online auction from ‘Judy’s Sewing & Craft Museum’ in Morro Bay. Photo by Neil Farrell

A sewing and crafts museum is sewing up its tenure in Morro Bay and planning to close in December, and Estero Bay News readers have a chance to purchase many of the exhibits in an online auction and help send the couple on a well-earned retirement adventure.

Harry and Judy Schenk, proprietors of Judy’s Sewing & Craft Museum, 350 Quintana Rd., will be closing the doors for good Dec. 1 and retire, again.

Harry and Judy say the plan is to sell most of their hundreds of exhibit items and move just a few choice things back into their “museum room” at their home in town. 

The rest, including dozens of antique sewing machines of varying styles, sizes and manufacturers — each in perfect working order thanks to sewing machine technician Harry — will be sold via the local online auction company, SLO Cal Estate Auctions (see: 

“With over 90 machines in the museum,” reads the auction site’s description for the sale, “this is a great opportunity to get a small piece of sewing history. Come enjoy antique, vintage. and toy sewing machines, and many sewing crafts from the Victorian and Pioneer Eras to the present.”

The website notes that the museum is open to the public and those interested can drop by during business hours, Thursdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to check out the many items for themselves, or see the museum’s website at: for more information.

But come Dec. 1, they will shutter the doors for good and close the books on an 8-year crusade to keep alive the arts of sewing, crafting, weaving, crocheting and more that Judy loves so much and nostalgically refers to as “Home-Ec.”

“They used to make everybody take Home-Ec in school,” Judy says with a laugh.

They opened a sewing museum 8-years ago at another location Downtown, and moved into the Quintana Road space in April 2019. Somehow they survived through the Coronavirus Pandemic and now they’re ready to let it go and relax. But there’s a museum’s worth of things to deal with and each one is like a work of art.

“We have so many big things,” Harrys says, “we don’t have the space at home for it all.”

Judy adds that they intend to continue living in Morro Bay but want to travel, as in go RVing across America visiting relatives and friends, something they’ve done before and really enjoy.

Harry says they’ve been to all 50 states and several foreign countries, too (he worked for the Navy).

Everything in the museum will either be sold, taken back home for display or put into storage and they have until the end of the year to vacate the space. The 90 machines all work perfectly, even the pedal (human) powered ones, thanks to Harry’s self-taught prowess as a technician. “My husband is a scientist,” Judy explains, “and he’s become a really good repairman.” 

These machines date from the 1850s to the 1950s, Harry says. Their collection includes dozens of “toy” sewing machines, child-sized working models plus numerous other gizmos, doo-hickeys and doodads used for making things like quilts, clothing, curtains and even spinning wheels to spin thread and looms to weave it into cloth.

“Some of the old ones,” Judy says of her sewing machines, “are very valuable.” But, “We want to retire and all we need is one machine for at home.” She and Harry both stress that the auction isn’t about making a lot of money, the museum was always free and accepted many donations, but to preserve history and foster a fondness for a way of life that has passed into history; a day when mom made your new school clothes and darned your socks instead of just buying new ones. 

Each piece is, well, literally of museum quality, having been collected and curated over many years by Judy, who is a master crafter; with Mr. Fix-it, Harry making sure they are all good as new (maybe better for some models).

Judy hopes that in the few remaining days for the museum, moms will bring their children by and maybe take home a special gift from Judy, a lady who relishes homemade things for their thoughtfulness, creative beauty, function and history; and her handy husband Harry who could probably fix most anything good as new.

To check out the online auction for Judy’s Sewing & Craft Museum, go to:

As for the space, it’s several sizable rooms and a small high-ceilinged warehouse with a roll up door. It’s a space that has been the home of a variety of businesses over the years, including a glass shop, a window company, an art studio and soon a former museum. 

It’ll be one of several above-average sized retail spaces in town coming open now, including an antique store on North Main Street at LaJolla (a sign out front says they are moving to Atascadero); another former antique store on Main next to Morro Creek (the Quonset hut with an art deco false façade); and another large historic Quonset Hut on Main near Beach that are now vacant or soon will be vacant and available for new business opportunities.

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