“Justifying” Our Sewing “Wants”

by Ramona on September 19, 2014

My friend, Pat , prompted this post today. Last weekend we were talking about how those who sew are careful about their expenditures and of course try and get the most for their money. Pat is an embroidery digitizer and her livelihood depends upon folks buying her designs. Like all artists whether pattern makers, makers of hand-crafted items they sell, those who dye fabrics, or those who instruct, if no one buys the artisan has no income. Artists have to be savvy with their income because there are months that have really great sales and other months where sales barely meet the bills.

Pat was discussing with me how it may take her a couple of weeks to do one design if it is something like a free-standing lace building or a new technique she is trying out. Some days she may pop out a half-dozen designs like redwork. Now remember, the designs also have to be test sewn and if anything is found that needs edits, then those have to be done and the designs tested again until they sew out correctly.

Pattern makers have to design, sketch, and then draft patterns. The patterns are sewn up to test fabrics and construction methods. After the patterns are finalized, then they may have a group of sewers of different skill levels test the patterns for size, instructions and how the pieces go together. After any corrections are done, then the patterns have to be graded for size if they are clothing, printed, packaged, and then advertised for sale. All this has associated costs plus time– and time is money.

How does this relate to our conversation? I was explaining to Pat that when I first started sewing, we were on an extremely limited income. I was trying to be a stay at home mom (we figured it out, and it would have actually “cost” us money to have me go find a job outside the home) and figure out if I could make a living with my sewing skills while raising our children. With a limited income, other than my sewing machine, there was no money for all the “toys” for sewing. Today, of course, I don’t consider them “toys” but instead tools necessary to get the job done more easily, efficiently, and with professional results.

I started a small home-based sewing business doing alterations. As the little business grew, I found I could eek out a little bit of money each month for a special book, tool, or other sewing notion I really wanted. As a young mother and growing business owner, I felt I had to “justify” any purchase; sometimes I think that feeling never leaves we who sew.

I told Pat what I used to do to “justify” the cost of something I really wanted for my slowly growing sewing collection. She told me I should put it in this week’s blog because it would probably help other new and young sewers “justify” sewing “wants”.  She said, “We are all on a limited sewing budget in one way or another and this is a great idea!”

As a young family, we loved giving gifts but again, we were limited by income. Being a resourceful sewer, I like to lovingly handcraft gifts to give. I tried to be creative and I like to learn new techniques and challenge my sewing skills. I couldn’t “justify” all that I wanted until I decided to do this: purchase something I really wanted and use that purchase to handcraft gifts for others! I would create a “theme” that would suit everyone and everyone would get a gift based on the theme. I purchased the books and supplies needed to complete the gifts. By doing this, the money I spent all together was actually much less than if I had purchased individual gifts in stores.

For instance, I wanted to start quilting. I “justified” the purchase of a year’s subscription to Fons and Porters “Love of Quilting” magazine. Through the issues, I was learning new skills, there were free patterns included and I always had scraps of fabrics from sewing for others to use in projects. I learned and quilted and created table runners, small baby quilts, mug mats, all kinds of things I could give as gifts. For the price of the subscription, I basically was able to give a year’s worth of gifts by being resourceful in using my stash and using what I was learning through the the magazine.

Its a wrap book

 

If there was a book I wanted, I’d “justify” the purchase by using the book to create all the gifts I needed for birthdays or holidays and everyone got a version of the projects created especially for them. An example is the book “It’s a Wrap. The “theme” was fabric covered rope baskets and how could I create a gift for a male or female, youngster or older family member or friend, based on this “theme”? The technique intrigued me and I really wanted the book, so I purchased the book and “justified” the cost by making several gifts using the techniques in the book. I learned a new skill and my family got wonderful new baskets created in fabrics themed to a holiday, their hobby or sports team.

 

Later on when I got my first embroidery machine, I would see wonderful design collections I wanted, but I was just not able to “justify” the cost even though I knew they were worth more than the price because of what goes into creating beautiful collections. So I would study the designs to see if I could use the designs for my up-coming gift giving. I got to purchase collections such as a collection of Vintage Sewing Machines I personally wanted and I was able to enjoy stitching them out as gifts for recipients whom I knew would appreciate and truly enjoy them.

For new hobby sewers, it is sometimes hard to justify the cost of things we want. Those who don’t understand our hobby may think that purchasing notions and books is wasteful or unnecessary; however, we know it makes our hobby more enjoyable for us just like any hobby they may have.

Maybe these tips will help you purchase more sewing supplies when you realize that they not only add to the enjoyment of your craft but are useful in hand crafting gifts throughout the year. Think about all the time and knowledge that goes into creating our sewing resources. Honestly, the price on the shelf is a bargain for what goes into creating what we get to enjoy in our craft. The purchase of new notions, along with time spent sewing, will result in beautiful gifts for others, a gain in knowledge, new tools and supplies, and our purchases keep our favorite suppliers in business and creating new items for us.

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This blog comes at the request of one of our members, Cynde. She emailed me asking a question about removing a dart from a pattern and I thought it would make for a good blog post this week.

Cynde has an older (out of print) pattern, McCall’s 2091She wants to use a heavily beaded fabric and doesn’t want (and she said doesn’t really need) the bust dart in the pattern. 

Before going into how to adjust the pattern for what she wants, we first need to know why darts exist in patterns. Darts in patterns allow shaping of a flat object (fabric) into a 3-D structure (the garment). Think of a cone shape. When taking a flat piece of paper, wrapping it into a cone shape, you’ve take a flat object (paper) and shaped it into a 3-D structure (cone). Darts basically do the same thing to shape a flat fabric over the bust line, in this case.

Darts have “parts”. There is the “point”, the “legs”, and the “take up”.

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Darts must point to the fullest part of the bust and end within the “bust circle”. Have you ever seen a dart on a garment that ends further into the bust circle than it should? Check out Gertie’s blog where she discusses her little problem; she discusses the fitting in a light-hearted manner.

 

Also, remember darts can be something other than a dart. They can be made into easing, tucks, gathers, split into double darts, repositioned, redesigned within seams, and more! Darts really are magical in pattern making and garment design!

Ok, so all that said, our member wants to know how to get rid of the dart in her pattern. Without seeing her figure and the fabric I’d first give a word of caution: are you sure you want to remove the entire dart? Even with small bust lines, a dart serves the purpose of shaping the fabric over the bust area. Perhaps the dart “intake” needs to be less than how it is drafted in the pattern. Remember, most patterns are drafted with a “B” cup sizing. Anything other than the standard B cup for regular Misses sizing on patterns, requires some sort of alteration.

If we were together, I’d ask Cynde, “Are you sure you don’t want to alter the pattern for a smaller bust then turn the dart into side seam easing to allow the fabric to still have the shaping it needs while not having to sew a dart in heavily beaded fabric?” After altering the pattern, the intake of the remaining dart could be just eased at the front side seams, not sewing the actual dart.

If you draft your own sloper and then draft your patterns from that, use a book like Connie Crawford’s “Patternmaking Made Easy“. I use this as my “go-to” book on pattern drafting. There is a section in this book on doing exactly what our member wants (page 111, “Dartless  Blouse Block/Sloper Draft”). In pattern drafting, though, all drafting is done without seam allowances and from the fitted, balanced and trued sloper pattern. If you had a fitted sloper pattern, then there will be additional steps for extending the shoulder, dropping the underarm, adjusting the armhole, and so on. The instructions in Connie’s book are step-by-step and easy enough even for a beginning pattern drafter to follow (ASG Members: Go to the website under “Special Offers”; Connie offers a discount with on-line orders)!

Patternmaking Made Easy, Third Edition

With commercial patterns the additional steps have already been done as part of the process to finalize the pattern before production.

So, now on to what Cynde wanted. I’m going to show some different things with a quarter scale pattern draft and then cut the altered pattern out of a slightly stiff muslin to mimic Cynde’s heavily beaded fabric. You will see why Cynde may or may not want to move the dart; doing so makes the fabric hang differently. In the end, I’ll show you how I would do it if I were sewing this tunic for Cynde. Let’s get started.

Click on a picture to open it up to a larger view, then hit the back button on the browser to return to this page.

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No matter which way Cynde chooses to move her darts, there is still some finalizing of the pattern to be done. For one thing, the shape of the side seams must match. Lay the back and front pattern pieces together as if they were to be sewn and be sure the shape of the seams is the same or the fabric will not sew together correctly and the seam will twist. The length on the back will probably also need to be adjust depending on which method Cynde chooses.

Cynde, please let us know which method you choose and if you would, please send me a photo of you wearing your tunic so I can update this post.

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

~Ramona

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TIP: Making Repairs in Knit Fabric

by Ramona on August 14, 2014

As with all things sewing, there are different ways to do things. I had to do repairs in knit fabric this past weekend, and I thought sharing three different ways I do it would be beneficial not only to ASG members, but others who sew as well. I’ll show you how normally mending is taught, and then a second way that I sometimes use, and the third way which I mainly use and I’ve never seen anyone else do.

First the usual way. Normally when we are taught to mend fabrics, whether jeans, a tear in a  shirt or a knit fabric, we learn to place apiece of mending fabric behind the rip or hole, and then sew over the area with a zig zag stitch, filling the area with thread.

Here is a hole in a knit fabric. This happens to be a knit fitted bed sheet. It could just as well be a knit top; the repairs would be the same. Use a piece of knit interfacing to create a patch. Cut a circle with pinking shears. The pinked edges  allow the interfacing edges to blend into the fabric instead of showing on the right side of the fabric. Press the patch onto the back of the fabric.

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Use a 3-step zig-zag stitch and matching thread to sew back and forth over the patched hole filling the area with thread and reinforcing the fabric.     

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Press well. As you can see, the stitching will be visible no matter how well the thread matches. While this technique is ok, perhaps there are other ways to patch holes with better results.

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The next way is with a “stab stitch“. A stab stitch is created by placing the needle up and down through the fabric, front to back, then back to front, creating little pricked stitches in the cloth around and through the area of the hole.

Place a patch on the back of the fabric like before, but this time, gently and carefully pull the fabric edges together while pressing the patch on with the iron.

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Instead of tying the thread and creating a bulky knot in the back, weave the tail end of the thread through the fibers of the interfacing on the back side of the fabric. After the thread is secure, bring the tip of the needle to the front side of the fabric near–but not in–the hole.

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Bring the needle and thread all the way through the top of the fabric, then place the tip of the needle just a thread or two away from where it was brought up, straight back down again. Pull the needle through the back side of the fabric gently pulling the thread to the fabric. This type of stitching pattern is called a stab stitch.

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Bring the needle up from the back to the front and back down again front the front to the back and continue to repeat the process of creating stab stitches around and a few through the area of the hole until the hole is reinforced.

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Secure the thread at the back by weaving through the interfacing fibers again; clip the thread end and press the patched area.

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The hole is patched.

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There is yet a third way which is the method I use most of the time. It uses no interfacing, but instead a ladder stitch is used to carefully pull the edges together. The ladder stitches are made in such a way as to form a fish-eye dart shape around the hole to be alleviated. Here are the steps. Note: Red thread is being used so the stitching will be visible. When using this method, of course, use matching thread.

 

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Begin by gently pressing the area and assessing how the stitching will be done.

 

 

 

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Thread the needle and secure the tail end of the thread by weaving it through the back side of the fabric through single fibers.

 

 

 

S2520015Push the needle point through to the front.

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The ladder stitching will now be done from the front.

 

 

 

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Think of the shape of a fish-eye (double ended) dart while doing the ladder stitch. Pick up a thread at the first point end outside of the hole area.

 

 

 

 

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Pick up another stitch with one fiber of the cloth just below the stitch. Then proceed with the ladder stitch.

 

 

 

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Continue working the ladder stitch

 

 

 

S2520025until the hole is covered with ladder stitches and the stitching goes to a point at the other end.

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Gently pull on the thread; the stitching will come together closing the hole.

 

 

 

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If the thread matched, these stitches would not be visible.

 

 

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Push the needle through to the back side of the fabric

 

 

 

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and weave the needle through the pulled up fabric.

 

 

 

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Pull the thread through and clip the thread. Don’t worry, the thread end is secure.

 

 

 

S2520038Press from the right side by hoovering the iron over the area and finger pressing the area using steam.

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The repaired area is barely visible.

 

 

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Here is a photo of the same type of repair done on a knit work shirt. The arrow points to the repaired area. It’s practically invisible!

 

 

I hope you’ll try one of these methods the next time you have a knit fabric to repair and let me know how the technique worked for you.

Sew until next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!

Ramona

 

 

 

 

 

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How Do You Like To Sew?

by Ramona on August 8, 2014

How do you like to sew? I know–it’s a silly question. What I mean is do you sit and plan your projects timing them out to meet a deadline? Or do you find something you want to do and just jump right in?

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Me? I’m a definite planner. This time of year I go to the office supply section of the store and grab a “school” planning calendar (next to sewing tools, I LUV school supplies the best!) I find school planning calendars work well for the way I like to plan; to me it is as necessary as a good sewing machine and my fabric cutting shears.

 

 

 

S2490013 - CopyThe pages are laid out side by side, encompassing a week…with time slots. I block off my sewing plans in the time sections. Each Friday afternoon, toward the end of the work day, I’ll plan my work days for the next week, adding in anything that was not completed during the current week. This way I can enjoy my weekend knowing what lies ahead of me, what I may need to purchase, and if I may need to work over the weekend to meet an early-week deadline.

 

 

S2490006 - CopyAfter conference, having learned and seen so many new things, I decide what I need to accomplish from now through the end of the year. The monthly portion of the calendar lists what I have planned to get done for the month. The main portion of the calendar is for work related time; evenings and weekends are for personal planning time—yup, laundry still needs to be done,  the zucchini still needs picking,  I have a little Halloween quilt to finish, and holiday gift-sewing to plan. Of course projects need supplies. Planning the way I do allows me to make a supply list and then watch for sales to make my purchases.

 

special offers - CopySince we live an hour from “the big city” as we like to call it, we only make trips in once every two or three months if even that. Usually I just check the ASG website in the “Special Offers” area and order online. For me, the shipping charges are less than the gasoline to get to the “big city” and the time we’d spend driving can be used as sewing time instead. Not to mention, the savings from the member vendors are wonderful and I more than save enough to pay for my annual ASG membership!

Nancy - CopyI’m also one of those that cannot begin new projects unless the sewing workroom is tidied up and organized. I clean up my sewing workroom on Saturday morning while half-watching and mainly listening to sewing shows that were auto-recorded during the work week. Organizing the area (have I ever told you that if I didn’t sew for a living I’d probably own a cleaning business—I LUV to clean!) for the upcoming work week and gives me more sewing time, and the sewing shows always inspire me!

asg fb - CopyLast week I played catch up from conference posting the final pictures on the ASG Facebook page, wrote some thank-you notes, converted the videos into formats for DVDs (very time consuming) for our webmaster to post in the leadership section of the website and got everything shipped off. After that, I was ready to start planning and eager to get sewing.

 

S2490012 - CopyThis week was a lot of research and planning for what I need to do for this fall into winter. What will it include? Well, you’ll have to wait and see….but I think you’ll be thrilled with some of the new video classes that are planned. I was given most of the ideas from conference attendees this year. During breaks between classes and in the vendor hall, I’d just walk up, introduce myself, and ask what things these attendees were interested in learning. There was also a garment worn by an attendee I thought would make a great class.

You can bet my calendar is already becoming full with ideas that are planned. If you have an idea, though, please email me; I do keep an on-going list.

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

Ramona

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Guest post by Anne Marie Soto, editor of Notions, the ASG publication available with membership in the American Sewing Guild:
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The Internet is populated with online sewing courses—many of which are somewhat pricey. One of the advantages of being an ASG member is included-with-your-membership access to the ASG Online library of videos on a range of topics. The newest addition is a 12-part Beginning Machine Embroidery series. This wonderful series inspired us to ask Ramona Baird, ASG Education Director and creator of the series, to share some of her excellent information in our cover story, “Machine Embroidery Fun-damentals.” It’s full of hints and inspiration for everyone, even if your machine is a basic one with limited decorative stitches.

But, just in case you’re inspired to trade up to a machine with more embroidery features or to add an embroidery-only machine to your sewing area, check out our “Embroidery Machine Overview,” which begins on page 18. It gives you the low down on 52 machines from eight manufacturers . . . truly something for everyone.

ASG has many talented members. I’d like to give a shout-out to three whose talents grace the pages of this issue:

  •  Central Illinois Chapter member Deon Maas, creator of the Anti-Ouch Pouch, first shared it with ASG members in 2007. She developed the Anti-Ouch Pouch as comfort aid as a result of her personal encounter with breast cancer. Since its first appearance in Notions, sewers all over the world have made and shared the Anti-Ouch Pouch with thousands of cancer patients. In “Anti-Ouch Pouch Update” (page 26), you can learn more about its back story and get some tips from Deon for creating even better Anti-Ouch Pouches.
  •  Member-at-large Linda Przybszewski is the author of  “The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish.” This book has garnered attention from many sources, including The New York Times Sunday Book Review. We are proud to be in such august company with Joy Landeira’s review on page 39.
  •  San Diego, Calif. Chapter member Nancy Bensimon wrote “Learn to Sew with Crazy Nancy” as a guide for anyone teaching children to sew. For more about it, check out Product Previews on page 42.

 

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 this blog or e-mail me at editorial@asg.org. Or if you are coming to ASG Conference 2014 (St. Louis, July 24-28), seek me out and let me know what you think!

 

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Rewards from Challenging Your Comfort Zone

by Ramona on July 13, 2014

I thought I would do an update to an earlier blog post before this week before conference gets away from me.

I did a post May 30 titled “Challenge Your Comfort Zone”. It was about me challenging my “comfort zone” in gardening. I have never been a gardener and after over 42 years of living in the Sonoran Desert, we now have a little plot of land and with the help of my husband doing the heavy manual labor, I get to see if I can turn my brown thumb to green (my wonderful husband was very skeptical, and rightfully so).

When we challenge our comfort zones, we’ll have what some call “failures“, but I call them learning experiences. Nothing is ever a failure if we learn something from it. It just means we’ve not yet learned what we need to learn to overcome the challenge. So it is with me and gardening. I’m posting some photos of how far this little garden has come since being planted on Memorial Day.

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Garden planted Memorial Day.

 

 

 

We’ve had more rain than sunshine to this point, I’m learning as I go, but my small successes make me want to learn more and do more with the garden next year.

Here are some photos taken within the last week. Most things (much to my surprise!) are growing. Some things are doing better than others.

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The garden 8 weeks later.

 

 

 

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I have decided the pumpkins are going to take over the entire garden. I planted them according to the packaging.

What I learned: they clearly need more room than stated on the packaging.

 

 

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My very first pumpkin is growing!!!

What I learned: there is pride in something so simply accomplished.

 

 

 

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The zucchini are doing pretty well.

What I learned: I think they need more late afternoon sun.

 

 

 

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The very first zucchini.

What I learned: it sure is fun to watch flowers turn into food.

 

 

 

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The corn was “knee high by the 4th of July” and as of this morning it is past my shoulders.

What I learned: I like growing corn! Also, it needs to be at least 250′ away from the neighbors feed corn to prevent cross pollination.

 

 

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8 Asparagus roots were planted and all of them grew!

What I learned: Wow! I can grow asparagus! What else have I learned? Patience. It’s two years before any will be able to be harvested for eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhubarb. I planted 4 roots; 2 have taken, 2 have not (but maybe there is hope they may spring up next year?) Of the two that came up, this is the biggest with the other being barely out of the ground.

What I learned: Perhaps I planted the other roots too deep or maybe an animal got to them. This is another “patience” plant!

 

 

 

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The property came with some grapes. This is “Elmer Swenson”. He was the first grape plant placed on land in SW WI for testing as a replacement cash crop for tobacco. He leafs out well but doesn’t really produce any fruit.

What have I learned? There are others always willing to help and share their knowledge if we just ask. Also, some things just need to be kept because of their heritage and sentimental value.

 

 

S1670002 Red pepper. 

What I  learned: they need more sun and having them in a pot makes them easier to move if they aren’t in the correct spot.

 

 

 

 

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One of two tomato plants in pots on the back porch. I planted the pepper plants and tomatoes in pots first to see how they would do in large pots, and second because I ran out of garden space without digging up more land.

What have I learned? I learned that plants in pots need a lot more water and that the tomato gets a funny little bruise if it doesn’t get enough water while developing.

 

 

Blackberry plant

Blackberries. At first I thought these were raspberries until they started turning a deep, dark purple! Silly me!

What I learned: Blackberry thorns are more like rose thorns and also, birds like to grab these as soon as they ripen; not so much with the raspberries.

 

 

 

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Raspberries.

What I  learned: Pick them every day, sometimes twice a day. Sometimes simple things like picking raspberries can remind us of loved ones. My Dad and I used to go wild-berry picking.

 

 

 

 

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Raspberries and Blackberries picked early this morning.

What I learned: I can pick several times and freeze them so when I have enough I can make some raspberry jam for holiday gift giving.

 

 

Through this gardening journey, I’ve learned other things, too:

  • I learned that getting out for 2-3 hours each day after work makes for a good routine when the weather permits.
  • A weed whacker is my best gardening friend.
  • Organic spray with lemon oil and vanilla keeps those nasty gnats away but bees may check you out when you’ve sprayed it on.
  • Rain sure makes pulling weeds easier.
  • It helps to get into a gardening “routine”.
  • With a little bit done every day, weeds actually can stay in check…well, if the weather permits.
  • A good pair of gardening gloves with Kevlar fingertips is essential.
  • Though flowers are very pretty perhaps the land the previous owners dug for all the flower beds could be put to better use by growing food to share with the local food bank.
  • Sometimes things happen, just do the best you can.
  • And the best one of all? It sure is wonderful when there is a loving husband to till the garden in the spring, sharpen the gardening tools and who will smile when I grab his hand and drag him out into the garden to see what is happening with my little successes!!! 

Now, would I have such joy at such simple things if my friend “C”‘s husband hadn’t said to me, “Just get it in the ground!”

So it should be with sewing. Try a new technique. Do samples. Don’t worry about if it doesn’t turn out the first time, it just means there is something yet to be learned to master the technique. Ask another ASG member for help. Look at the ASG video library; perhaps the steps for the technique are there. And of course, you can always email me and ask me; I’m happy to help!

So now I’m off to work on some clothes for conference. If you are there, please come up and say hello…I’d love to meet you! For those unable to attend, please check the Facebook page often because that is where all the updates will be.

Sew ‘til next time…Enjoy the Journey of Sewing!

~Ramona

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A Week of Discovery

July 11, 2014

As I update the American Sewing Guild-Headquarters Facebook  page each day, on occasion I’ll look at who has “shared” previous posts. I am happy when folks think what I post is worthy of sharing with others. This week I took just a little time and looked at the Facebook pages of some of those shares. [...]

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Nature’s Perfect Pallet

July 1, 2014

Have you ever had a moment of pure silliness that developed into an awesome journey? That is what happened to me tonight. You know sometimes how you have a silly moment (aka: senior moment) and forget how to spell something? Now, I’m a pretty good speller and don’t have too many of these little lapses [...]

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Fast-Thread a Machine Needle (AKA: “ASG Needle Knot”!)

June 24, 2014

Sometimes a tip is just what we need to make our sewing life just a little bit easier. Years ago, quite by accident while threading a multi-needle embroidery machine, I created a knot that is fine enough to easily slide through even a size 11 sewing machine needle. So for years I’ve just been using [...]

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“Pinned” Cushions

June 20, 2014

I’ve set up a Pinterest account, but I have not done anything with it. To me it looks like a lovely black-hole to steal time. I’m afraid if I start looking and pinning, I’ll loose hours and hours and hours of time without realizing it. When I set up the Pinterest account, I was invited [...]

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