by Ramona on April 29, 2016

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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Spring 2015

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

ASG’s annual conference never fails to inspire me! Last summer, at our conference in San Diego, I dropped in on Cheri Dowd’s class on sewing reversible clothing. I was intrigued. Then in a conversation with Marsha McClintock at her Saf-T-Pockets booth in the exhibit hall, I discovered that she and Cheri had collaborated on a pattern – #2013 Cheri’s Reversible Jacket. It seemed a natural to ask the two of them to collaborate on a cover story for Notions. The result: “Sew Your Traveling,” with inspiration for planning and creating a travel wardrobe by two extraordinarily talented ladies.

A second personal experience prompted me to ask Kathleen Cheetham, owner of Petite Plus Patterns, to write an article about how to recognize if you are a petite figure. Several years ago, during a retail shopping trip, I discovered that the petite-sized jackets fit me in the length and shoulders far better than the standard Misses’ versions. Since I had never defined myself as a petite figure, it was a real eye-opener. Give Kathleen’s article, “Surprise! You May Be a Petite,” a read . . . you may just have a similar revelation.

With warmer days on the horizon, consider adding activewear to your summer sewing list. Cindy Cummins and Allyce King have established themselves as experts in this sewing category with their new venture, Haute Knits. They are eager to share their knowledge with you. Check out “You Can Sew Activewear.”

If you have comments about what appears in Notions, topics you would like to see covered, were inspired on your sewing journey by something you read in our magazine, or have an idea for an article you might like to write, I’d love to hear from you. E-mail me at Or if you are coming to ASG Conference 2016 (Indianapolis, July 7-11), seek me out and let me know what you think!



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Make a “Dauber”!

by Ramona on March 29, 2016

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Early last fall I was contacted by the ASG St. Louis chapter to be the key note luncheon speaker for their Spring Fling event which was two weeks ago. It is always such a thrill to do these things because I get to meet members and see many of the wonderful things the chapter is doing.




1917833_456940251177492_125037953959488827_nSoon after being asked I knew what I would speak on and over the past months was collecting my thoughts, putting thoughts into notes, putting together the PowerPoint presentation, and practicing the speech. I also like to do a little something special if I am able. For this event I looked in my stash and put together small “play bags” for attendees. They weren’t allowed to open them until the end of the speech.


One of the things was a small length of wool. I asked if anyone knew what it could be for and no one could answer. When I said it was for each of them to make themselves a “Dauber” for pressing, few knew what it was. A dauber puts a limited amount of moisture exactly where it is needed in a seam for pressing a seam nice and flat. Most of us were taught to spray with water or use a moistened press cloth; this can leave moisture in unwanted areas when all we really need is to have a little water directly over the seam itself.

So, here you go ASG St. Louis Chapter, as promised, the instructions and a video showing you how to make the piece of wool that was in that gift bag into your own dauber to aid you in pressing while you sew.



The  lightweight weight wool was cut about 3 ½”  wide and about 12” long.





The fabric is steam pressed to help alleviate any shrinkage.






Beginning at one short end, the wool is tightly rolled up.







Just continue rolling the wool evenly along the length all the way to the other end.








Be sure the center is tight and all the wrapping is tight. It should feel firm, not squishy.







Now take a needle and thread to secure the rolled wool.



07Tightly wrap the fabric about every half inch or so with a few strands of embroidery floss or a strong thread. A buttonhole stitch may be used or even a slip stitch or cross stitch over the raw edge.








Watch the ASG YouTube video which shows all the steps and also explains how to use the dauber for pressing.







The ASG St. Louis chapter’s Spring Fling was held at the beautiful Lindenwood University campus. The facility was wonderful and the main room we used overlooked the football field.





The luncheon and speech were in the Anheuser-Busch Leadership Room.







The tables had pretty centerpieces made by members.








There was a computer and drop down screen all ready for use when I spoke.






I think the attendees were surprised at all the little things in their bags to “play” with. I hope they’ll have fun making their dauber and playing with and using the other things.







I even made them each a little button sucker to enjoy when they need something a little sweet at some point during their sewing play.





Thank you again, St. Louis Chapter, for inviting me–I had a wonderful time!

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


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What does ASG “Sell”?

by Ramona on March 1, 2016

Recently, while at a fabric store, I was asked a question about sewing. The woman was looking for a specific fabric and she didn’t know what the fabric was so I helped her find the fabric and gave her a few tips for sewing with it. She said to me, “You certainly seem to know a lot about sewing.” I responded by telling her I have a vast background in all types of sewing and it is my passion and profession. She asked where I worked which gave me an opportunity to tell her about ASG.

She then asked me, “Well, what does ASG SELL?” That caught me off guard for a split second as I thought about my answer. I thought, well, we “sell” some thimbles and other ASG items at the website store, but do we really sell anything?

ASG Store

Then the answer instantly came to me; of course we do! But it is not the type of “selling” most non-sewers would think. It isn’t like going to a store and purchasing something—what ASG “sells” is much more substantial than that. “Selling” isn’t always about the money; instead it can be about sharing, giving, and service.

According to, one meaning for “sell” is: “to transfer (goods) or to render (services)”.  We ASG members transfer goods when we transfer fabric and notions to each other when one of us has something another sewer needs; many times it is a gift to another sewer–usually with no monetary exchange.  We have sewing retreats where this happens often, and we help each other when a sewing dilemma appears.  We render services with the vast knowledge we share with each other at our neighborhood group meetings whether sewing techniques, sewing tips, or just general sewing knowledge to get a new sewists going on a project or a returning sewist’s skills refreshed. Our chapter members render services to their communities in many ways whether to fill a need with special projects to make healing better or to make sure children have hand-crafted stockings at Christmas time.

Our wonderful “Notions” is the ASG quarterly magazine full of great articles and information. Of course, “Notions” sells advertising spots so that the merchants who support our organization are able to tell us about their goods or services. The national educators sell our chapters their time and they render their services in the form of their talent so we learn more about sewing and fitting techniques, show us new tools and products to make our sewing lives more enjoyable and our projects more professional. At chapter events, online or in local stores we are able to purchase the wonderful patterns, fabrics, and notions we learn about.

One huge benefit of ASG is our national conference held once each year. The ASG conference allows chapter members from across the country—and even overseas!–to gather to enjoy each other’s company, meet other chapter members, learn from the best instructors the sewing industry has to offer, help our chapter CAB members become better leaders, meet our national board members, and in general just to enjoy our love of sewing together.

So, what does ASG “sell”? ASG does sell membership so members may enjoy the countless benefits that far outweigh what costs less than a meal for two at a nice restaurant. The meal lasts only the evening, but membership in ASG lasts a whole year and the memories and friendships last a lifetime.

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


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From Grimy to Gleaming!

by Ramona on February 16, 2016

From Grimy to Gleaming!



Many times, for whatever reason, the most obvious things that need to be cleaned get put to the back of the “to-do” list until there comes a time where there is no-more putting it off. That happened with this poor curling iron. My other one finally burned out and it was the replacement for this old one. I kept this one—just in case—and don’t you know, “just in case” came one day about a month ago. I had to get this one out and use it as an emergency replacement and discovered how truly disgusting it was. How it got that way? Well, that’s a story for another day but it really is chalked up to hair products.


I contemplated how to clean it and happened to be in my sewing room, rummaging around looking for a sewing tool and came across the iron cleaner.  It was one of those “AH HA!” moments….curling “IRON” and “IRON” cleaner! Both had the word “iron”…hmmmm…..what did I have to lose?

I didn’t know if it would work but I thought—eh, why not try it. This is a back-up appliance, so no harm if it didn’t work.




Be sure to read the instructions on the product and protect the work surface with a couple of rags.





Picture5Be sure the rags are 100% cotton or this is what will happen and there will be more cleaning to do! This is one of those micro-fiber rags and I had a “duh” moment when the curling iron accidentally slid off the cotton rag onto this rag. Oh well, it made for a good example for this blog.



Since this curling iron was so dirty, I started by placing some cleaner on a folded paper towel and went to work. Be sure the curling iron is heated before beginning or the iron cleaner will not work. Just like an iron for clothing, curling irons get very hot, so work carefully so you don’t burn yourself….how do I know this?





Well, just look at this—it works!




Once a good portion of the gunk was cleaned off with paper towels, then I went to the brown cotton rag placing iron cleaner on it and rubbing it on the curling iron. The ridges on the cloth seemed to really help get the last of the gunk off.





I also was sure to clean under the hair holder.






With just a few minutes of elbow grease, an almost totally sparkling curling iron! A new use for something we sewists always seem to have on hand.




After cleaning, I let the curling iron cool and then ran another damp, clean rag over the barrel parts to make sure all of the iron cleaner had been removed.




What a difference…from grimy to gleaming!




Happy “Iron” cleaning and . . .

’til next time, Enjoy the Journey of Sewing!



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How I get the Whitest Whites

by Ramona on February 2, 2016

I was doing laundry a couple of weekends ago and as I was taking my husband’s long sleeve white shirts out of the dryer, I thought back to the many times he brought home compliments from staff members of the fire department on how “white” his white shirts were. The guys in the staff meeting were profoundly impressed that I could get white shirts, used during a fire scene no less, so white and spotless.

It dawned on me to ask the question on our ASG Facebook page whether others would be interested in knowing the products I use. I must admit I was actually quite surprised by the response. I think that not only does everyone know all this stuff, but in fact, they know much better methods than me. I had many respond with a resounding, “yes please!” when asked if anyone would be interested in learning what I do.

To that end, I took photos this weekend while doing a load of shirts and hopefully they will show up ok for you on this page. I honestly think it just happens to be the products I use. It took many trials and errors years ago to find something that would get white cotton pique firefighter shirts a very white “white”. When pressed, they look all but new every single time. Below are the simple steps I use and the products. We’ve always lived in areas with very hard water and I also don’t let soil sit in shirts—they are washed within a couple of days. It is a little bit of a process requiring two washings to get them this white because the products should not be mixed.

And a reminder: be sure to read and follow all the directions on the products—especially the “White Brite”. It says not to inhale the product and not to mix with other products. I used to be able to find “White Brite” in the laundry section of the grocery store or Wal-Mart, but around here it is no longer carried on the shelves so I order it through Wal-Mart for delivery to the store and pick it up there. I also searched on Amazon and there are sellers of the product through them as well.

First of all, these shirts are 100% cotton pique shirts. I also use this method for 100% cotton under shirts. I wash both types of shirts separately and never include socks or anything like that in the load. Our washer is one of those “sensing” low-water use machines, so though it is a little more work to do this, the results—for me at least—are worth him getting compliments he likes.

Here is how soiled the shirts get these days. You should have seen them in the days of being a Battalion Chief! They were awful. The cuffs, sleeves and neck area always get soiled.

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Here are the products I use. “Resolve” is the new name (and I think improved) for the old “Spray ‘n Wash” in the green bottle. I also use Tide (HE—for our septic system), Clorox brand bleach and “White Brite”.


The first step is to spray all the soiled areas lightly with the Resolve; it doesn’t take much. This bottle will usually last me two to three months. I let the product sit on the shirts for about five minutes. Spray any soiled areas including the insides of the cuffs and collar.

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Pour the recommended amount of Tide into the washing machine.


Place the sprayed shirts into the washer and then add the White Brite as recommended by the manufacturer.


Use the hottest water available (and that the manufacturer of the garment suggests) and set the machine on a long wash cycle.

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After the machine has gone through this cycle of washing, open up the lid and take out all the shirts shaking them and fluffing them open. Pour half the amount of recommended Tide in the bottom of the washer and place the shirts loosely back into the machine. Add the recommended amount of Clorox bleach for the load size.


This time wash on a normal wash cycle, again using the hottest water available and recommended by the garment manufacturer. After this wash cycle is done, remove the shirts and dry them in the dryer removing them while they are still slightly damp and hang them up. Press the shirts after they have dried (if necessary).

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This is the result; a bright, “white”-white….and lest you ask, no, the photo was not re-touched; it is just as photographed as were the others all on an automatic setting on the camera.  I must tell you, I have also tried washing with bleach first then the White Brite, but the shirts did not get as clean so now I always use the Brite White first and then the bleach.


I would NOT recommend any of this for shirts of synthetic fibers. I have not tested it and I know for sure bleach should not be used on those types of fabrics. I have not tested the White Brite on synthetics, either. I use these products only on 100% cotton shirts. As I stated earlier, I also use the same steps for white undershirts and it works just as well.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for brighter whites. I’m not “endorsing” these products, I’m just showing you what I use and because it is now required for “blogging”, the statement of “there was no paid endorsement of products” is issued.

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


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The Story Behind the NOTIONS Story

by Ramona on January 22, 2016


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



One of the many delights about being the editor of Notions is the wonderful surprises that land in my inbox. The emails that I receive show that there is no end to the talents of our members and their fearlessness in tackling any type of sewing project. Case in point is the article I received from Cathy Frey about sewing boat cushions. What I loved about it was not only the fact that it is a wonderfully unusual project but that creating the boat covers was a bonding sewing adventure for Cathy, her husband and her son. And this past weekend, as I struggled to put on the newest in a long line of ill-fitting air-conditioner covers (my solution involved lots of wire and duct tape!), I thought of Cathy. If she can make boat seat covers, why can’t I sew an air-conditioner cover that’s the proper size??? Read what Cathy did and see what it inspires you to accomplish!

Speaking of sewing accomplishments, check out this issue’s Sew for the Gold feature. Our members have earned sewing accolades for coats, corsets, hats, half-scale couture, and dolls. Their skills are extraordinary!

Note, too, that ASG is sponsoring a contest: “Anyone Can Win.” It is aptly named because all who enter have an equal chance of winning, regardless of sewing expertise or experience. To enter, make all or part of one of the 14 designated patterns, take a photo and then go to the Members Only section of Click on the Contest 2016 banner and follow the instructions to fill out the entry form and upload and label your photo. Winners will be chosen electronically at random. The first “over 18” member selected will receive a Janome Skyline 57 sewing machine. The first “under 18” winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Nancy’s Notions. Several of the patterns were selected to especially appeal to the “under 18” group. Please encourage your chapter’s Junior Members and their friends to enter. Those in the “18 and under” category do not need to be an ASG member but they do need an ASG sponsor. That doesn’t mean you had to work with them on their project; all you have to do is sponsor them so they have a connection to the ASG family. Deadline for entering is midnight, EDT, July 1, 2016.

And here’s hoping our cover story inspires you to have some fun with the buttonholes on your next project!

If you have knowledge you’d love to share with your fellow ASG members or comments about what appears in Notions, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

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Saying Hello to 2016

December 31, 2015

Here is a photo of my view early this morning. It’s snowing again (no complaints, mind you) and I turned on the little fire place, had a cup of coffee, and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the morning contemplating this past year and looking forward to 2016. I like getting up early and mentally […]

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Save Time on Holiday Sewing Projects

December 4, 2015

Here we are at the last month of 2015. I don’t know about you, but this year has just seemed to whiz by. Looking back, I’m honestly not sure where it went. It’s the time of year that I’m especially fond of—sewing gifts! I think we often feel like every gift has to be made […]

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Treasures within Manufacturers’ Websites

October 23, 2015

We all have our favorite websites: favorite machine manufacturer, favorite software, favorite thread, and favorite fabrics among others. We have personal reasons they are our favorites—it could be how we are treated during class time or machine repairs. It could be because the product worked as stated in a product review. It could be ease […]

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Jam-packed “Notions”!

October 9, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I always anxiously await the next issue of “Notions”. I only subscribe to a couple of other magazines but I only seem to eagerly await “Notions”, continually checking the calendar date to see when it will be posted online. I wonder what will I find the chapters have been doing? What […]

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