by Ramona on 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 steps, a knit neckline can be created just like is seen in RTW (ready-to-wear) in the stores. This neckline can be made wider and can also be done as two separate colors with one band being narrow like the sample shown, and one band wider behind the narrower one in a different color.

Note: the sample shown is only showing the front area of the top; the back neckline, of course, would be done as well.

I hope you’ll try making a v-neck t-shirt with a band like this. It is so easy to do and gives professional results.

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



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Fun Fabric using the Double Diamond Ruler™

by Ramona on October 17, 2014

This week’s blog came about because of something I posted on our ASG Facebook page. I did a presentation for the local quilt guild and included some photographs of how the fabric done using this ruler could be incorporated into a border on a quilt.

I posted the pictures and several folks commented they had the ruler and had never used it or hadn’t quite figured out how to use it. The ruler actually is extremely easy to use as you will see. The results will depend on the way the fabrics are layered.

Instructions, videos, and project ideas are available on the website for the Double Diamond Ruler™.





























For those of you with the ruler set, get it out and play with it; try and create unique combinations using the fabrics from your stash. If you don’t have the ruler, check with your local independent fabric store; they can probably order it for you.

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






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Guest Post: Doodle Shoes!

by Ramona on October 3, 2014

There is a wonderful, incredibly talented woman I’ve known for several years, Rebecca Kemp Brent. We met at a trade show and I felt instantly we were soul mates in all things fabric and needle arts. She is well known and well respected in the pinnacle of sewing circles. She has written books and has me as a personal friend on her Facebook page which is how this blog came about.

As always, Rebecca is testing and challenging her talents. A couple of weeks ago she posted something on her Facebook page she had created that totally inspired me. I asked her to share what she had done for this blog today, and thankfully, she obliged! This is something I want to add to my list to do. I find this art form truly intriguing.

Here is Rebecca’s post for us:

Doodle Shoes!


There’s an interesting movement taking place where art and craft meet meditation and careful thought. Founded by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, Zentangle®  is a method of creating complex art from repetitive lines and easily sketched forms, all while enjoying a relaxing state of thoughtfulness.

It’s a lot like the doodling we’ve all done while waiting on a phone call or listening to a less-than-engrossing lecture. The supplies are simple – just a pencil, pen, and paper – and the results can be anything you want them to be.

Like shoes.

Although Zentangle® itself is deliberately non-representational and doesn’t take on a specific form, it has inspired a number of other works of art. When I started drawing these intriguing black-and-white patterns, I wanted to take them out of my sketchbook so others might enjoy them.

In the back of my closet was a pair of inexpensive white canvas sneakers. I’d bought them with the intention of decorating them somehow, but never gotten around to it. It seemed the moment had arrived.

I used a black Pigma Micron pen, size 1.0, for drawing on my shoes. It’s a good all-purpose size that can draw fine lines or fill in larger spaces. It’s also permanent on fabric. Fabric pens or Sharpie markers are other possibilities. 

The hardest part of a project like this is starting, making that first mark on a pure white surface. My advice is to dive right in. Remind yourself that the shoes were inexpensive, and if you’re really not happy with the end result you can wear them in your garden. (Visiting rabbits won’t be critical.) But part of the magic of this drawing technique is that you can keep adding more detail – extra lines, darker shading – until wavering lines blend right in and stray marks become part of the pattern.



Mentally divide your shoes into sections. The shoes’ construction seams will provide some guidance. I especially like the semicircle on the heel of each shoe and the wavy seams around the shoelace holes. Draw a grid on a section, just a simple crosshatch of horizontal and vertical lines about 1/2″ apart. Now fill in the squares of the grid any way you like, creating your first area of pattern.





For variety, draw a pop-art flower on another part of the shoe. Make patterns of lines or circles on the flower petals, and fill in the background around the blossom with swirling lines or another grid-based design. Keep adding shapes and patterns, filling in areas between specific designs with more patterns. Strive for a balance of light and dark areas; placing a pattern with a lot of black next to an area of white space will make the division stand out, while two areas of balanced black-and-white shading will blend together.


It’s easy to find patterns for inspiration on the Internet or in books (be mindful of copyright laws). Architectural details, wrought iron fences, and flower in the garden also provide inspiration. As sewing enthusiasts, we have still more sources of doodle patterns to explore, like quilting motifs, patchwork patterns, and the decorative stitches on our sewing machines.

Now there’s an idea: taking doodle art to fabric and thread! Maybe my next project will be embellishing a solid-color fabric with doodle-inspired stitches. Wouldn’t that be fabulous as the flap on a handbag or as a jacket lapel?


Rebecca Kemp Brent, Ph.D., is the author of “Redwork from The WORKBASKET”, “Machine Embroidery Wild & Wacky”, and numerous other magazine articles and books. She can be seen in several episodes of It’s Sew Easy. You can visit her website at

Note: There are Zentangle®  books and pens available at local quilt stores and through AmazonZentangle® also offers classes by certified teachers.

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




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I’m so excited to share this with you. It is an update to the blog Member Request: How to Remove (move) a Bust Dart in a Tunic Pattern posted on 9/11/14. I asked Cynde’s permission to use our email conversation and her photos. With the help of the last blog posted, she was able to finish her top and it is exquisite! 

Our member, Cynde, had a top she wanted to mimic in fabric she already had. It was a beaded “galloon” style fabric. A galloon fabric is a fabric that has a mirrored (usually), sometimes offset, image along each selvage edge whether lace, beading, eyelet, or similar styling. Here are some examples (click on the picture to be taken to the page):

10" White Chantilly Galloon Lace

bridalwww-quality-exquisite-beaded-lace-bridal (1)


Cynde’s Email:

“I want to eliminate that dart completely. (And I’m very small busted).

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I have a top that is full of beads and I took a closer look at it and noticed there were no darts in this top so that’s how they got away with putting this heavily encrusted beading over it without having to overlay this like lace and beads etc. (like they do show you would do with a wedding dress). So I was wondering if I had to expand it anywhere or whatever because I know if I made the pattern wider that would just make the neckline bigger, don’t need that.

As you can see it’s an old pattern.  I use it for a formal top, it has side darts and I do not use the strings I cut it down to a shorter length like the bottom right picture.








The reason I’m asking about removing the dart is because I’d like to put an overlay on top of this that has a lot of beading and avoid the dart. so I didn’t know what to do. I have a top like this with no darts and heavily beaded overlay on it so that’s why was wondering what I would do if I eliminated the darts on this pattern. Thank you for any help. ~Cynde


After posting the last blog, I got this message back from Cynde with the following photos.

“Ramona, I took your advice I split the dart between the side and the top eliminated that, gathered it no darts, very happy! This is an identical copy of a top that was made!

attachment (4)What I did was I had double-sided fabric meaning both edges had the leaf pattern on it, cut it in half









so I could use it for the sleeves the whole back of the top is just beaded fabric with the leaf pattern hand sewn onto it.

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I put netting up at the top sewed on sequins with beads, put roll of pearls and sequins on it.


I think it turned out pretty nice! Having you do that blog was a godsend because I would’ve just eliminated the darts and lowered the front! (but like I said before and as my picture showed I really don’t need darts haha)!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

So, as you can see, with just a bit of additional knowledge, Cynde was able to get the top constructed just as she had envisioned.

Congratulations, Cynde, on such a wonderful job, and thank you for sharing your sewing journey with all of us!

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



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“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”.




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.













































































































































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!


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TIP: Making Repairs in Knit Fabric

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, […]

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How Do You Like To Sew?

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? Me? I’m a definite planner. This time of year I go to […]

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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Summer 2014

July 17, 2014

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

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Rewards from Challenging Your Comfort Zone

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 […]

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