Accolades to a good machine Dealership!

by Ramona on March 27, 2015

What is it about the anticipation of a “new toy”? You know what I mean: new machine on order!

I was gifted some money specifically to purchase an electronic cutting machine. What JOY! A new machine!!! Just like shopping for a sewing machine, I look at what features are on the machine and I look for support at a dealership. Am I going to be able to send an email or pick up the phone and call when I’m stuck or something I’m working on isn’t coming out like it should? Will I have a friendly voice on the other end patient enough to walk me through the process I need to have success with my project?

There is just something to love about independent dealers. They put up their own hard-earned money to supply us with opportunities! Opportunities to purchase a new machine, opportunities to take fun classes, opportunities to pick their brain for troubleshooting, and probably best of all–opportunities to make new friends who share the same passions as we do.

Some dealerships will have expanded services and offer fabrics, patterns, specialty notions and bring in “sewing stars” for special events. Others perhaps are just getting started and will supply what is needed to sell machines and associated accessories and grow from there. In case you haven’t ever thought about it, having a dealership is a HUGE COMMITMENT in personal time, an immense amount of money, and many a loss night’s sleep. The dealer is responsible for inventory, labor costs, paying taxes, and the overhead of a brick and mortar store and all its associated costs…every month!

Not only that, but the staff must be trained. There are training events (machines, software, products, business classes, etc.) at different locales (usually off site which include the costs of the class, meals, transportation to and from, hotel rooms, etc. for several days), yearly conventions (dealer picks up some or all of the cost for several members of these days-long events), the techs also require training (updates on older machines and of course the new models), and on and on.

I frequent many dealers who have great products and friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable staff members. They can tell me about a product without looking at the manual. The solution to my problem is at the tip of their tongue. They keep me abreast of new classes through their website and newsletter. They know what I want before I even know I want it because they know my preferences and skill level. My gosh, aren’t we all lucky!

So,please shop and frequent your local dealers and the next time you walk through the door of your local dealer you may wish to say a sincere “thank you” to them that they supply you with a place to learn and play and carry an inventory with which to do it.

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!


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New! ASG Online Classes

by Ramona on March 13, 2015

ASG is pleased to announce that the next section of the embroidery series is posted on the website for members (not a member? Join here!). We’ve gotten such a wonderful response on the beginning series we thought we’d continue on. Members are telling us that they’ve learned things they were not taught when purchasing their machine (in the defense of dealers, they cannot possibly tell you absolutely everything!) and though the information was a bit technical it has made their embroidery so much better—which is music to this educator’s ears!

Here is a sneak peak about what is in the next section.









Instead of getting more technical in this section, the information needed is imparted to do each project.





The compact mirror tells where to get this great item for embroidery and how to create a monogram to sew on Kiwi paper—a specialty paper made just for embroidery.







The fleece section shows how to create the underlay needed to keep text on top of this lofty fabric and which stabilizers to use for successful results.








Have you seen embroidery on leather and wished you knew what the secret was? Really, it is not hard and by beginning with a small project, this will be the first step to embroidery success for a larger project.





Last year our “Notions” featured a great item made of neoprene foam: luggage handle wraps. These are easy to embroider when you know how. Order these and embroidery them for travel this year to conference!





Mylar is used for helium balloons but Mylar for embroidery is a specialty product in lots of yummy colors! Learn which designs to use it in for a beautiful addition to your embroidery and also learn where to get an acrylic plate to showcase your embroidery–and where to purchase both.




Pat Williams, the digitizer for our series, created the cutest little scissor case—what a great gift idea for sewing friends! Everything, if you can believe it, is done ITH (in-the-hoop). Learn how ITH projects are done totally in the embroidery hoop.





Embroidery on card stock? Yup! With the proper design and stabilizer it is easily done and will wow your family and friends.




Speaking of “wow”ing people, wait until they see that embroidery on wood can be done! Just a couple of little secrets will have you embroidering designs on wood for all kinds of projects.





For the little ones (and older ones, too!) in your life, learn about embroiderable stuffed animals with a secret that makes them easy to do. There is a specialty stabilizer that makes embroidery on these guys so fun and so easy!


Take a look at this new ASG Online class series. After finishing, I actually thought of three more things I’ll eventually be adding to the series….as in all things sewing, one thing begets another.

Sew ‘til next time, enjoy the journey of sewing!


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Make 2015 the Year!

by Ramona on February 27, 2015

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE ASG?!!!

1The American Sewing Guild has so much to offer members and it all begins with the national website: If you are not a member, please check us out! On the HQ website are links to all the info you need—just look on the left side of the page for the link that will take you to the page for information.





2Whether in a remote location or a big city, there is probably a chapter near you. On the “Chapter Locations” link, choose your state or put in your zip code to find a chapter near you.  No chapter close to you? Join and be a “member-at-large” to take advantage of all member benefits. Each and every member of ASG is not only a chapter member, but a member of the organization as a whole. That means members may attend any chapter events/groups throughout the country—perfect for those who travel.


3Join right online!  Are you already a member? It’s simple to renew your membership online.







Our “Sewing Hall of Fame” consists of “sewing stars” who have contributed not only to our organization but to the sewing industry with their innovation and achievements.






ASG Contests” are always a hit. Check out this page to see what’s happening.





6On the national website, for “Members Only” there are special vendor/advertiser offers, classes









7and of course the archive of our quarterly “Notions” magazine going back to 2008.







8I love the special offers just for members! I take advantage of them and many times in just one order the money I save is more than the cost of my yearly membership, virtually making my membership free each year!!!

UntitledCheck out the “Membership Benefits” page. What isn’t mentioned on this page is the fellowship among like-minded sewers at chapter events and neighborhood group meetings. Many of our members who have joined have made life-long friends—more like family. Whether an absolute beginner or very experienced sewist, all are welcome!





We are a special bunch. We contribute to our communities, help one another learn, share our time and talents with our chapters, and just have a good time doing what we love to do…SEW!

Check us out…as a prospective member you may attend two neighborhood group meetings. After the first meeting we’re asked over and over again, “where do I sign up!” Don’t miss out on sewing opportunities at your local chapter like chapter retreats, visiting “sewing stars”, demo day, neighborhood group classes, community sewing, and more!

Make 2015 the year YOU join or renew your membership with ASG!

Sew ‘til next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!


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by Ramona on February 6, 2015

We left off with choosing what to do with our Ph-Ds (Project Half–DONE!). As you already know, there are many options. When we first were inspired we had every intention of completing every single project. However, as discussed previously, life and other things get in the way. So now as we go through our projects to complete we can make some decisions on whether or not to actually keep them and complete them, or to do something else with them. Here are some choices:

1. Actually sew them. Why?


Because we still like the project, we still like the fabric, and our skills are such that we can successfully read and follow the pattern instructions. Perhaps we have someone in mind for the project or it is for a special gift. Therefore, keep it and actually get it done. Put everything for the project together in a bag, seal it up, and paper clip a note to the outside for any notions or supplies needed to complete the project. Don’t forget to add those things to your on-going shopping list.




San Diego is our host conference chapter this year. I was reading their first letter of the New Year. The current chapter president, Jackie C., had a wonderful idea in her President’s Message as part of organizing the sewing area the first of this year: “After you have cleaned and organized your room, look through your fabric collection for a couple of special pieces. Plan a new outfit that you can make for the ASG National Convention in San Diego!!!!”

Absolutely, Jackie! I can’t wait to see what you’ve found in your stash that you will make and wear. I posted this on our ASG Facebook page yesterday and the “Notions” editor, Anne Marie Soto made a wonderful suggestion to choose an ASG Simplicity pattern and make a garment. Brilliant!



2. Gift it. Why? We no longer have an interest in the project; and honestly, it is ok. Our sewing skills and tastes change so why not gift it? Perhaps it is meant for someone who sews. If the project has not been started, wrap up the project pattern and fabric, add a pretty card with a thoughtful sentiment, and gift it to the friend who will enjoy working on the project. Be sure to add all the notions needed so the project can be completed easily.

Several years ago I had a friend gift me a beautifully wrapped package. The paper was lovingly wrapped with a perfectly appointed bow, and hand written card with apologies that she hadn’t gotten the project done in time for my birthday. When I opened the package I was taken aback by the exquisite silk jacket fabric she had purchased just for me. She had even thoughtfully chosen buttons she thought would match perfectly and I would like. When she saw how thrilled I was with her gift, I told her she needn’t have apologized for not sewing the jacket for me; I thought of her with every stitch I made as I sewed that jacket. Her thoughtfulness touched me to the point of tears. It truly was one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.



3. Change the project. Perhaps the intended fabric for a project is wrong, or maybe you still like the fabric but the pattern is now wrong. Simply change what is wrong and bag up the project to get it finished. Sometimes just a simple change gives new life to the project and garners new enthusiasm to get it completed.






4. Donate it. Does your ASG chapter have a fundraiser that accepts donations? Would there be an ASG charity sewing event that could use the fabric? There will probably be someone who will like the project and be eager to complete it. It is out of your stash and the project sale has added funds to the chapter.




5. Give it away. Give it to someone who is starting to sew or give it to a local charity that has a brick and mortar store selling things (a Community Closet, Goodwill, etc.)—there are many in all communities so ask around or check the telephone book. Perhaps you would be able to take a tax deduction for the donation (ask your tax preparer) and the charity gets to add to their sales.

6. Throw it away. I know, this gets under my skin probably as much as yours. But, if it is a project that perhaps is missing too many pieces, fabrics are old or faded with no hopes of recovery, then maybe just throwing it away is the best option. For me, this would be an absolute last resort; I’d rather gift or donate if possible. I honestly have a hard time even throwing scraps away. If it is un-useable fabrics, sometimes the local humane society accepts scraps of fabrics for those who make pet beds. Give them a call and ask….that would be the best option under this choice.

When I clean out my sewing room and organize, I tend to place things in the categories above. Do you have other options not listed? We’d all like to hear about them on our ASG Facebook page.



In further organizing my sewing workroom, this morning I ordered some comic boards to wrap what small amounts of fabric I do have from previous projects that are amounts large enough to save for quilting or doll projects, or to eventually donate or gift. I can’t wait to get further organized and hopefully get things a little more consolidated.


As you can see from the few pieces above and some things below, I really don’t have too many Ph-Ds in my stash. Other than what is shown here, I have a t-shirt quilt top done that needs to be quilted, and one bin of our son’s youth t-shirts I need to go through to make him a quilt. I think the order will be: the wolf quilt, then the garments for conference, the Halloween quilt, Dick and Jane, and while I’m working on those I’ll think about what to do with the grape fabric.

In the meantime, please post on our ASG Facebook page how you are coming along cleaning out and organizing your Ph-Ds and any tips you have to share with the rest of us.

Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!


S3400029Wolf panels and fabric. This is for a couple we know. Their anniversary is in May, so my goal is to have it completed by then.






S3400020This quilt is now going on year three. It absolutely needs to be done by Halloween this year.







S3400025Dick and Jane panels and printed photos of my siblings and me in the early years. Just needs to be sewn together. No deadline and that is why it sits in the stash.






S3400017A quilt top from 30’s reproduction fabrics a friend gave me. I took it apart and left it in the squares. I’m going to embroidery white fabric, cut it to size to equal the original size of the squares and there will be enough to dress the two twin beds in our guest room.





S3400026Our current property has a small vineyard on it that was established by the previous owners. I purchased this fabric while on conference tour last year. I haven’t quite decided what to do with it yet, but I think it’s going to be for kitchen items. If there’s any left, perhaps some things for the laundry room downstairs.

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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Winter 2015

by Ramona on January 26, 2015

Guest post by Anne Marie Soto, editor of Notions, the ASG publication available with membership in the American Sewing Guild.

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As a special benefit to members, ASG has produced a wonderful series of online videos on a wide variety of sewing topics. The talent behind these videos is ASG’s Education Director Ramona Baird. The 12-segment series on Prom and Special Occasion Dresses was originally developed with our Junior Members in mind but it contains a wealth of information for sewers of any age who are creating some party finery. I hope that as the Winter ’15 cover story gives you some additional sewing and fashion inspiration, you will also check out the videos. They are a wonderful benefit of your membership in ASG.

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When researching this story and looking for inspiration for the cover art, I stumbled across this photo of actress Amanda Seyfried in a stunning lace creation from the Valentino Resort 2015 collection. Our Notions’ art shows a two-piece version. . . a perfect project for the adventurous machine embroiderer.




Our 2015 Anyone Can Win contest, built around the ASG Simplicity Pattern collection, is underway. Details can be found on page 31 of this issue and also online. Go into the Members Only section of and click on the Anyone Can Win box at the bottom of the right column. Check to make sure your Simplicity pattern choice(s) are part of this year’s eligible list. Enter as many ASG Simplicity Pattern garments as you want (one garment/one photo per entry). Since winners are selected electronically at random, any ASG member who enters, regardless of sewing expertise or experience, has an equal chance to win. The deadline to upload your entry is midnight, EDT, July 1, 2015.

I’d like to thank all the contributors who help keep Notions full of useful information—this includes Joy Landeira, who writes the featured book review for each issue; Rosemary Fajgier, who reviews DVDs for us, Claire Shaeffer and Kathy Knapp, who contributed articles for this issue, and all the faithful chapter members who see to it that Chapter News is always full to the brim with information.

If you have comments about what appears in Notions, topics you would like to see covered, or even an article you might like to write, I’d love to hear from you. You can either leave a comment on the ASG Facebook page or e-mail me at



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Working toward a Ph-D: get organized

by Ramona on January 16, 2015

It’s time for week two of working on our Ph-Ds. Don’t you just love the sound of that!

Hopefully after reading the blog last week you’ve felt compelled to rid yourself of the guilt of unfinished projects. Sometimes it is the guilt alone that freezes us from entering the creative mode to actually want to complete projects.

In reading some of the chapter newsletters at the onset of this New Year, many presidents’ messages have included starting anew and completing projects. I enjoyed reading Fresno Sews. Tara, the chapter president, lamented about over-thinking, over-planning and procrastinating. She stated in her first message of the year something I found quite simple yet quite profound: “My motto for this year is Just Sew It! “ Yes! Something I can relate to…don’t feel guilty, don’t ponder why it’s not done, don’t beat myself up because it has taken so long…JUST SEW IT!

I think part of ridding ourselves of the guilt is getting organized. Organizing is a very personal thing. My organization methods, whether the desktop computer screen or the bathroom closet, I know drives my husband nuts.. I like things neat and tidy and everything put behind doors or tucked away in drawers. To him it makes absolutely no sense; he wants things within reach and to me that makes everything seem cluttered and claustrophobic.  His computer desktop icons are organized by their date or size which makes no sense to me; I organize mine in groups by the type of icons in relation to my work whether ASG, quilting, embroidery, office, etc. Our children—especially our son—used to get a big kick out of “re-organizing” my desktop icons. He knew it drove me absolutely CRAZY! However you do it, organization is one key to completing Ph-Ds (Projects Half—DONE!)

My workroom isn’t fancy; it’s a WORK room. I have minimal storage and I know it could be better organized if I invested in some real furniture but for now, that’s not in the budget. I dream of someday having a sewing room as seen on TV. You know, the kind where all the furniture matches, all the notions are tucked away behind cupboard doors with beautifully appointed handles, and the wall color always seems to compliment the fabrics being worked on. To me, all that adds to the “creativity factor” and the joy and anticipation of going to the sewing room and working on projects.

In thinking about this blog, I decided to investigate what others have done in organizing their sewing rooms. Click on the photo to be taken to the page with information. Some are posts by quilters and scrapbook artisans, but the ideas certainly could be adapted for our sewing rooms.

1This first one reminds me of my calendar. I keep a “school” type calendar to remind me what I need to do each day. I plan in advance so I pick up the supplies on sale, and have everything when I’m ready to start on a project. For some, this may be the perfect solution to getting organized.




bagFor years I have used large clear plastic bags for organizing. All the notions, pattern, and fabrics fit nicely. If I’m missing a notion or thread, I keep an index card on my desk and notate the item needed, along with a swatch of fabric, so I have everything at hand for a trip to the fabric store.





I keep all the bagged projects organized in plastic bins. It keeps everything clean and ready for completion. I have several bins; one for quilting, one for projects that are complete with all the notions needed, and one where I still need to purchase notions. I find separating them keeps me from picking up a bag and wanting to do something only to find I don’t have everything on hand. Plus, when I do get the needed supplies I only search that bin and then can add the supplies to the appropriate bag and then file that bag in the bin for completion.





I like this next idea; it makes the plastic storage bag idea colorful and fun. The bags could be made in any size to fit a mired of projects. If I had fabrics already cut for a project, I’d use the scraps to frame the zipper at the top of the bag; this would easily identify what is in the bag awaiting completion. If you have a TAG group, this would make a great project.






I don’t have a closet in my sewing room, but if I did, I’d probably be tempted to organize the bags made above in this manner. Everything is view-able at eye level and all the parts and pieces of the project are together ready to be sewn.










I guess if I hung a rod from the ceiling this idea would work. I like that everything can be seen at a glance. I’m not sure if this would work for me because of all the weight in the large lengths of fabric I use in projects. For quilting, though, or other types of crafting, I think this would be great.








I really like this idea. If I had a lot of file cabinets not in use and fat quarter-sized fabrics  I’d probably do this. Wouldn’t it be great to open up a file cabinet drawer to all this color? Talk about inspiration!








This last one really caught my attention. The furniture is all cast-offs that were re-purposed with black paint to give a cohesive look. The contrasting floors and light walls make the space inviting. This entices me to venture out to yard sales this spring and see what I might possibly find and repurpose for my sewing space to make it more functional and just plain prettier. I think I’d have to take two weeks’ vacation to totally clean out, paint, tile and re-organize everything—but wouldn’t it be worth it!



No matter your space, no matter your budget, search the internet for ideas. Shop your local fabric stores for ideas and storage items to get organized. Perhaps plan some time this next week to begin organizing your space for maximum function and working on Ph-Ds.

Next week we’ll talk about how to decide the order in which to complete projects. I’d like to hear your thoughts—remember to post them on our Facebook page. In the meantime, read the excerpt below. It is taken from the President’s Letter in the Madison Chapter’s newsletter this month. I was going to write on this, but she expressed it better than I could. We should all be doing this. It will remind us that we do accomplish a lot of sewing throughout the year, and perhaps will help us feel less guilty about those projects that get set aside because life gets in the way.

Stitchin’ Times

“On a personal note, I’m not one to make resolutions for the New Year, but I am a firm believer in setting goals. As I spent the New Year’s Day reviewing a number of sewing blogs, I became aware of a deficiency in my sewing; possibly it’s one you share with me. Many of the bloggers (and I used to be one) did an annual review of all of the items they sewed in the past year, and shared photos of each project. That’s where my goal lies. Not only do I not log in every item I sew, I also don’t photograph the items and worst of all I don’t keep many notes on what to do differently the next time. In fact, sometimes my daughter references items I’ve sewn for my GDs and I don’t even recall the items. Now that I think of it, I shouldn’t even be announcing this to my sewing colleagues, but you must admit that it’s great fodder for a 2015 sewing goal. For the coming year I will begin a log and will photograph each item I sew. Maybe a year from now I will feel great about my 2015 accomplishments. How about you? If you have a similar need, can you join me in setting this goal?”


President, Madison, WI Chapter


Sew ‘til next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!


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January 9, 2015

I made a post to our Facebook page a couple weeks ago asking whether or not it would be of interest to have me finish some of my unfinished sewing projects to spur others on to do the same.  I suggested I would discuss why the project was started, why it was set aside, and […]

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Troubleshooting embroidery thread woes…

January 2, 2015

Note: Click on a picture for a larger view. Last week I posted on the ASG Facebook page the trouble I was having stitching with polyester iridescent thread; it kept shredding and breaking after only a few stitches.           It took me a good bit of troubleshooting to figure out what […]

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Last minute tip….

December 19, 2014

                This will be the last blog for 2014…my gosh, where has the year gone? This will be a short blog containing a tip for you. We all hustle and bustle this time of year to get things finished up. I have friend who just started an embroidery […]

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December 5, 2014

I just got back from teaching at a 3-day event for the Tucson chapter–the winners of the membership drive! I presented one day each on Machine Embroidery, Fitting, and Knits. One of the questions I was asked, was to show how to do a banded neckline for a knit top. In just a few simple […]

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