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Calling all 14-22 year olds: Did you ever dream of being a prom dress designer? Sketching a dress and then have your dress design really created in a factory?

Attitude Couture, along with the American Sewing Guild, is in the final weeks of a contest to find the next young prom dress designer! In the past few months webinars were held for ASG by Robin Spindt, owner of Attitude Couture.

Robin Spindt


Robin walked viewers through the process of what is needed to create a beautiful yet marketable dress. The webinars were recorded and are available for everyone to view on the ASG YouTube channel.

In webinar ONE, Robin talked about the history of Proms and gave some examples of prom dresses throughout the years.

Webinar One


Webinar TWO showed how an idea goes from sketch to the actual dress.

Webinar TWO


In webinar THREE  fashion and style trends along with market research was discussed.

Webinar THREE


Webinar FOUR  was a discussion on “Design Parameters” and what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate design elements for saleable dresses and to meet school regulations.

Webinar FOUR


In the current 3-part video series, Robin shows how to use a croquis to sketch dress ideas.

Webinar 5-1


Webinar 5-2


Webinar 5-3


In the next webinar (April 10, 2014) Robin will show how to submit dress entries for judging. This webinar will be recorded and also put on the ASG YouTube channel.

The submission deadline of 11:59 p.m. central time April 25, 2014 is fast approaching. Find the rules for the contest at “Design Your Dream Prom Dress” under the banner link.

Start sketching your ideas from the croquis link on the banner and enter your one best sketch in the contest. Who knows, maybe YOURS will be the winner! The lucky winner will see their dress sketch come to life when it is manufactured in their size in Robin’s factory; the winner will also accompany Robin to New York market (expenses paid) this fall.

Please tell everyone you know about this contest! It’s the chance of a lifetime to have the design talents of our youth showcased.

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




“Therapy” for a Winter Day

by Ramona on March 13, 2014

In last week’s blog I told you about a quilting class I was going to as an extra set of hands to help a new sewer. What fun! I highly recommend days like that every now and again.

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The class was held at a new winery in the area called Branches . It was the first time I had been there. What a lovely venue! It was a perfect day for quilting. There is still snow on the ground and the temp was just above freezing.


The owner of Branches and instructor for the class was Therese Weiter Bergholz. She explained they have nine-thousand vines that need pruning. She talked about the high school students that help around the property not only with pruning, but making pizza in wood burning oven located the gazebo and local teachers serve  wine during the tasting season.


Therese has developed a new pattern called “Salmagundi – A Modern Mosaic Quilt”™

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and technique to make a scrappy quilt fast and easy. One of the attendees actually got thirteen 12”- blocks completed in about four hours of sewing time; impressive! Because of the scrappy nature of the quilt, there were neon colors, muted natural tones, and one lady won a packet of yellows and grays she was using. Everyone’s blocks looked different and everyone was so pleased with the technique and ease in putting together the blocks….not to mention, most were using fabrics from their stash making room for more shopping.

There are two huge rooms at the winery, a tasting room with cozy tables where a scrumptious lunch (wish I could share one of the brownies with you here!!!) catered by Borgens Cafe was served,

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and the event room where the quilt class was held. It was great fun to walk around the room and see what everyone was working on. One attendee printed pictures of her son’s dog on printer fabric sheets and included them in her quilt which will be for her son.

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I have to tell you a profound thing that happened during this class. I was handing out papers and supplies and I came upon an attendee who looked very familiar. Something sparked me to ask, “You look so familiar. Do I know you?” She said her name, which immediately didn’t ring a bell. But, it was her hair. Pulled in a bun at the top of her head. My mind flashed back to a beautiful woman with auburn hair, pulled up in a bun with a pencil in it. I asked, “Did you by any chance teach locally?” She said, “Well, yes. I taught art in the school district.” I asked her what years, and she told me. Well wouldn’t you know it, she had been my elementary school art teacher! I told her of something I had distinctly remembered from that class. In one class she had us draw a heart shape, then draw concentric heart shapes around it until they could no longer fit on the paper. Then she had us draw a star and go through the same exercise. She was astounded I had remembered that. I told her, “See, you were my first quilting teacher. You taught me to echo quilt!” Such a huge smile came to her. We went on to discuss the other students in the class and reminisce about some fond memories.


About an hour before the end of the class, everyone was invited to sample wines from the vineyard and show the blocks that had been created during the class.

Any time you have a chance to gather with sewers, take advantage. Not only does sewing get accomplished, but the fellowship and making new friends of kindred spirit is heartwarming and always good “therapy”.


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



What will your tomorrow hold?

by Ramona on March 7, 2014

Do you remember when you started sewing?

Did the terminology sound like a foreign language? Did all the gadgets and dials on the machine seem daunting?

Why do I ask these questions? Tomorrow I’m going to help a lady new to sewing. She’s taking a quilting class and needs help with everything.

I like that she’s jumping right in with no fear. This class is probably more for an intermediate level sewer rather than a beginner, but that’s ok. I haven’t seen the finished quilt for the class yet, but I think she and I will do well together. Why? We already have something in common besides fabric, thread, and ¼” seam allowances. She’s a veterinarian! We can talk about our animals. For my dear husband and I our animals are almost like our children; in fact, we call them our “kidz”.


I’m so excited to help a new friend fall in love with sewing. We who are passionate about the craft are always eager to engage in conversation, teaching others what we know.

This whole encounter came about quite by chance. My husband and I were at a grape growers meeting (yup, we’re grape growers….well, really, we came about it because they came with the property and we’re going to make an attempt at grape growing.)

The vineyard right now during the snowy season is dormant:



and ’round about July it should look about like this:



One Saturday in January and met the nicest folks at the grape growers meeting. One couple owns a new winery about 15 miles from our home. I was asked if I quilted and well, I had a new best acquaintance. Not only does Therese quilt, but my-oh-my she bottles some mighty nice wine! I was introduced to one of them after the meeting. There was a wine tasting and area growers from three states brought bottles for all to share and taste. Now that’s a way to end a meeting! I discovered Branches “Celebration Berry” cranberry wine. I’m no connoisseur by any means but goodness this wine is tasty. It will be on our Thanksgiving table this year I can assure you.



While we were sampling, Therese told me about a quilt class she was holding at the winery She discussed how she’s trying to not only hold wine tastings, but quilting and sewing classes as events at the winery. I told her if she needed any help that day I’d be more than happy to help out. I got an email from her asking if my offer to help was still open because there was a new quilter attending the class. Luckily I hadn’t planned anything else for tomorrow, so that’s where I’ll be.

I’m anxious to meet some new sewing folks in the area, talk about ASG, and help the newbie sewist. Of course, Therese said the day is ending with what else but wine and cheese!

I don’t know what your tomorrow holds, but I already know my day is going to be a good one. For you I hope it includes some good friends, some sewing time, some great food and perhaps even a good wine.

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




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Do you remember your math?

by Ramona on February 28, 2014


The other evening I was working on a project and had an absolute brain freeze! Some call it a “senior moment”, I call it a brain freeze. I think of it sort of like a computer that is searching for information it cannot find. It looks and looks. While it searches all its little bytes, it just sits there and looks like it is doing nothing. That was my brain that evening.

Why the brain freeze? MATH! Now mind you, it’s not that I don’t like math, I do. I did ok in school but was no rocket scientist by any means. I got through all the math classes I needed to get through for high school and college, but it was certainly not something I sought to accomplish on a grand manner. However, I did enjoy the college accounting classes so much that at one time I thought about that as a profession instead of designing and sewing. I’m glad it was only a fleeting thought because I just cannot imagine not being creative with fabrics, threads, and a sewing machine each and every day.

When stopping to think about it, it truly is amazing how much math is in sewing. In thinking back to elementary math classes, perhaps if the teachers had sewing as their hobby, then maybe the concepts of fractions would have been easier. Fractions are absolutely everywhere in dressmaking and quilting. Because I work with them day in and day out, fractions are a breeze.

I’ll never forget Mr. Smith, the junior high school geometry teacher. He would come into the classroom each and every day with a smile on his face and such eagerness to teach us all he knew about geometry. I think one reason I so enjoyed that class and captured the concepts so easily, is he taught us in such a creative manner by using colored pencils. We’d use all kinds of color for different lines. He taught us to shade cones and I remember one specific spring day we had to go out into the school yard and draw a tree, then use the shadow of the tree to measure its height. We all drew and colored our trees with our colored pencils, drew a line then used the darker pencils to shade the shadow of the tree, and a bright red line to figure the line/angle for the height. Such fun!

I must confess, Mr. Smith, my brain is failing me these days from what I learned in your class. I know I was taught how to figure the circumference of a circle, the parameter of a rectangle or square, and how to figure the diagonal of a rectangle. These are things I have used so infrequently over the years that the formulas have sadly not stayed with me.

The other evening I was drafting a simple pattern for a fabric bucket. I wanted the bucket to have a circular bottom, a side that went straight up from the circle, and then I wanted to add a handle. I searched and searched my brain to try and remember how to figure the circumference of a circle. Absolutely nothing came to mind! Ugh. How I longed for the days of Mr. Smith’s class where those formulas were second nature.

Thank goodness for the internet. I logged on, did a quick search on google, and within mere milliseconds, had the answer ( Good grief, once I saw it, of course I remembered!

That got me to thinking, if you know of a student who struggles with math, create or even find a simple sewing project on the internet to teach the concept. Math is everywhere in sewing. The machines now use millimeters for stitch lengths. Sew out lines of the different stitch lengths, measure the length of each stitch and determine how many millimeter stitches it takes to make a centimeter, so the visual fits the concept. Take the student to the fabric store and have them purchase a meter of fabric (can’t you just imagine the look on the cutters face as they now try and remember how to translate inches into centimeters! That in itself would probably be priceless.) Use simple quilt squares to figure and measure using fractions. After working with the math, sew the project together and the concepts become even clearer and the use of math makes more sense to the student (don’t forget to add the seam allowance using fractions).

I now wonder if the circumference formula would have stayed in my brain if I had been taught the concept with a sewing project when I was 12 and how that geometry class may have gone if Mr. Smith would have had sewing as a hobby.

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



Flawless Invisible Zipper

by Ramona on February 13, 2014

I’ve been working on a project for our ASG udsgnit-ucr8it series. The project is in conjunction with our Design Your Dream Prom Dress Contest.

A step in the project is inserting an invisible zipper. When first learning to insert an invisible zipper, of course I read through the instructions that come in the zipper package. I also, of course, learned to sew zippers in my high school and college classes. But like many things sewing, experience is the best teacher. After doing countless alterations on bridal, prom and other special occasion formal wear, I’ve taken some tricks from the ready-to-wear industry and adapted them to fit my own sewing.

All this week I’ve been posting “teaser” pictures of the project I’ve been working on. Two of the photos were the top of the invisible zipper insertion and the waistline seams. They match well using the little tricks.

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It sparked some wonderful comments and folks wanted to know my little tricks; hence, this blog post. Let me show you the tricks and tips I learned by doing those alterations. Perhaps these tips will help you on your next invisible zipper insertion. All the steps are reserved for our ASG members in the Members Only section of the ASG website, but these few tips should help you out. (For our ASG Members: I’ll get the video done as soon as I can for our webmater to get it on the website. I’ll do a post on the ASG  Facebook page after she gets it posted.)

Buy a zipper longer than needed and in a color to as closely match the fabric as possible. Determine where the top of the zipper needs to be, allowing for the turn of the cloth and thickness of the fabric.



Pin then baste the left side of the zipper tape in place. Don’t skip this step. This step prevents the zipper from shifting while sewing next to the coils.



Do any matching at seamlines that need to be done on the other side of the zipper.



Pin then baste those points before basting in the remaining zipper tape. This will make sure these areas do not shift when basting and sewing the zipper in place. Pin then baste the remaining zipper tape to the seam allowance.



Press the zipper coils as flat as possible.



Determine how close to the stitching needs to be to the coil so the zipper closes yet no fabric gets caught when the zipper closes.



Stitch in the zipper.



Finish the bottom of the seam line by creating a “pocket” . This is done by beginning the stitching 1/4″ up and in just a few threads from where the zipper insertion stitching ended. Stitch from this point down a few inches, blending into the seamline. (The zipper foot was taken off so the placement of the needle would be visible.)



Stitch the remaining seam closed, blending into the previous stiching. Press the seam open. The seamline should not show any of the zipper teeth and the blend should be seamless.



Stitch across the coils leaving about 2″ of extra zipper. Cut off  the zipper below this stitching and apply a patch at the bottom of the zipper using a light weight fabric.



The finished zipper should look like a plain seam.



At the top, apply the waistband, lining or facing. Apply a hook and eye at the top of the closure.



When zipped, the insertion should look virtually flawless.

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I hope your next invisible zipper insertion is flawless with the help of these tips.

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



by Ramona on February 7, 2014


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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Winter 2014

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

When I’m lucky, a cover story just drops into my lap! At ASG Conference 2012 in Houston (yes, almost two years ago—that’s how far ahead I sometimes have to be thinking), I was sitting at breakfast with Penny Muncaster-Jewell, a cheerleader for creative sewing if I ever met one. Peggy started to tell me about a project her Houston Chapter’s Neighborhood Group was just beginning. The Adventures in Wearables NG set a goal to create a collaborative wearable art ensemble. And they hoped to give it some runway exposure in a wearable art competition. Since Penny’s enthusiasm is irresistible, I asked her to keep me up to date on their progress. Over the next 12 months, I’d get occasional and very excited emails from Penny. We talked about how she could document their progress for Notions . . . and I couldn’t wait to see the results. If you attended ASG Conference 2013 in the Washington, D.C. area, you saw their multi-part ensemble live and in-person as part of our member/instructor/exhibitor fashion show. It was a big hit! To see it on the runway at ASG Conference 2013, go and click on Videos. Look for the one with the runway in the picture that is 10:26 minutes long. Their segment begins at the 3:02 mark.

But the layered art pieces were only the first part of this group’s sewing journey. After conference, the six participants went home and created “real world” garments that were inspired by their individual contributions to the art ensemble. In late September, Houston ASG chapter members got to see the results at the chapter’s annual fashion show. In October, attendees at the Stitch in Time Brunch and Fashion Show at the 2013 International Quilt Festival in Houston saw it, too. And now, in the Winter 2014 issue of Notions, ASG members across the country can follow the journey, too.

Our 2014 edition of the Anyone Can Win contest, built around the ASG Simplicity Pattern collection, is off and running. Details can be found on page 33 of this issue and by going into the Members Only section of and clicking on the Anyone Can Win box at the bottom of the right column. 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, 2014.

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



A Curved Needle and a Ladder Stitch

Thumbnail image for A Curved Needle and a Ladder Stitch January 31, 2014

I asked folks on our American Sewing Guild Facebook page this week, what their favorite hand stitch is and which hand needle they like to use. I wrote that I would share mine in this blog.   Years ago a very dear lady, Pat Carless, taught me how to make teddy bears. We’d go to [...]

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Celebrate! You’re in good company!

January 24, 2014

Wouldn’t you know it. Dog-gone it! Even those of us who consider ourselves “seasoned” sewers have an occasional thing that just does not work out. Sometimes it is we’re in a rush and don’t pay attention, and sometimes the equipment fails us. That was my case last night. I was working on a personal project; [...]

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January 17, 2014

Weddings. What is it we sewers just love about weddings! Is it all the pretty fabric? Is it the memories perhaps conjured up of the excitement we experienced when we were betrothed? Is it the anticipation of new lives starting out as one? Ah…weddings! I just love weddings! Why are weddings subject of this week’s [...]

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…”but I have no desire to do machine embroidery…”

January 10, 2014

I’ve started working on an extensive series on machine embroidery for our ASG online video series. I recently posted a question on Facebook asking what folks would like to know, that they don’t know, about machine embroidery. One comment from a non-machine embroiderer was wonderful in that it reminded me that not everyone wants to do [...]

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