The Plight of Intersections

by Ramona on December 22, 2017

On the ASG Facebook page, I’ve been “teasing” our members and followers with something. I’ll at least let the cat out of the bag now as to what it is.

Do you read pattern sewing instructions and ever wonder why someone hasn’t come up with a better system of sewing some areas of garments? I often do that. Specifically right now I’m talking about the intersection of the collar stand and cuff on a sleeve.

These are examples of what I’m talking about.

Here the front of the shirt front is folded back twice and stitched down. The collar stand is attached, with the collar, and at the center front it is anything but pretty and as near perfect as we can get it. I see this in not only home sewn garments but also in ready-to-wear like this shirt. When fabrics are thin, it is easier to get a somewhat smooth transition from the front band into the collar stand, but on heavier fabrics like denim it is much harder because of the bulk of the fabric and all the layers that come together at that point.

The same with a cuff with a placket. Again, with a lighter weight fabric like a shirting, the layers that come together aren’t as bulky as a heavier fabric, yet—there is still an anything but smooth transition.

In better ready-to-wear greater care is taken in these two areas making them smoother but still, it is not as perfect as I’d like.

After considerable thought–and A LOT of experimentation–I believe I’ve come up with what I think is a good way to transition these areas. Will it change the world of sewing? I’d like to think so but who knows! LOL Honestly, all it takes is a little re-designing of the pattern and different steps in construction but truly it is no harder than matching seamlines at a center back waist.

I’m finishing up a garment now that will have these two new techniques in it. They will be in the video sew-along series and posted on the ASG website in the members only area. The video will show step by step how each is accomplished.

Watch for the last blog of the year next week and I’ll show you the final garment areas and you can judge for yourself.

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


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Permission to Fit!

by Ramona on December 18, 2017

It’s lunch break time and I’m doing some reading on garment fitting. Home sewers and most educators approach fitting so differently it is no wonder it is so confusing. I like a combo of flat pattern alteration with the tweaking done in draping on the body. There is so much that plays into fitting from body structure, weight distribution, physical attributions and limitations, fabric type, the fabric weave, the fabric’s weight, and it’s stretch or lack of, and just how the wearer just personally likes a garment to “fit” them. And then of course, there is the pattern–how much is fit, how much is “design ease” or the silhouette of the garment (think mermaid skirt to a full-flowing ball gown skirt). Unfortunately, fitting is not a one-solution method, but what I will tell you is that most of us “over-think” it and make it much harder than it is.

Another HUGE factor in garment fit is garment structure and undergarments. Remember the corsets and girdles of the last two centuries and more? Body parts were held firmly in place and supported. Fleshy portions of the waist and hip were smoothed out. Undergarments need to support areas of the body and most of us today want comfort over support. Wear a sports bra under a business jacket and guess what? The bust darts won’t shape as they should, there most likely will be wrinkles in the garment under the bust down to the waistline–the fabric will puddle like a drapery on the floor. Bust darts won’t point to the bust apex, and the garment generally just won’t fit right. Want a great fitting garment? Start with proper foundation garments.

In teaching classes on fit I ALWAYS get push-back on “padding” out areas–like using shoulder pads!!!! A dress or blouse “hangs” from the shoulders. If the shoulders aren’t supported, the garment isn’t supported. Padding also “evens out” uneven areas–and our goal is to make the garments we make look “balanced” (pad out a lower shoulder to equal the other). I think most envision “Linda Evans” ’80’s shoulder pads. That is a style. What I’m talking about are at least 1/4-3/8″ shoulder pads that help support the garment from the shoulders and giving a smooth look. Take shoulder pads out of the equation on a garment requiring one, guess what? You’ll have drag wrinkles, a wimpy upper chest on the garment, sleeves that may twist at the cap, and just an ill-fitting garment.

In teaching fit I’ve discovered people basically know what they like in fit, but they are not “confident” they are “right”. Home sewers are so concerned about doing things the “right” way. Well, I’m here to tell you, that the “right” way often boxes us into a corner and the project then becomes a UFO. Feel free to give yourself permission to do what YOU think is right—because guess what, it probably is! Body measurements to the flat pattern translate into a 3-D fabric garment. Add length and width where it is needed, not just at the seams. There might be more width in the bust area from the apex to the side seam, but not from the apex to the center front, or vice versa. Add more fabric where needed, and take it out where it is not needed, being mindful of the fabric grainline.

That’s how I’ve developed some of the things I do that are out of the norm or not considered the “right” way to do things. Those are my “AH HA!” moments. For a long while I’ve been contemplating something about pattern alteration and fitting and hopefully sometime soon I’ll start experimenting. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a whole new way to think about flat pattern alteration and fitting.

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



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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Fall 2017

by Ramona on November 18, 2017

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


With the holiday season fast approaching, gift-sewing is on many minds. Our cover story, “Stockpiling for Santa,” includes directions for five gifts to make that are suitable for male and female, and appeal to a variety of ages. These are grab-and-go gifts that can be made with a particular recipient in mind or stashed away for a last-minute gift-giving occasion. And if this year’s festive season is already getting away from you, revisit this article once the holidays are over to get a jump start on next year! 

ASG members are unfailingly generous in donating their time and talents to sewing for charitable organizations. In “National Notes,” ASG Executive Director Margo Martin talks about these many endeavors and urges chapters to spread the word about the good deeds they do. Don’t be shy! The goal is to tell our stories about the youth, the seniors, the servicemen, the countless organizations and individuals who have been touched by ASG members who put their skills and passion to good use. In this issue, you can read about the Salt Lake City, Utah Chapter, who made medical dolls, gowns, and pajamas for their local children’s hospital, Primary Children’s Medical Center, and the Richmond/Central Virginia Chapter, whose Fashion Focus Neighborhood Group made backpacks for the Children’s Home Society of Virginia. Also showcased is Mary Ann Sheppard, the winner of the 2017 ASG Spirit Award. Mary Ann was the guiding force behind the 85,000 pillowcases (yes, you read that number correctly!) the Titusville/Space Coast Florida Chapter has made and donated to Give the Kids the World Village over the past 11 years. Give the Kids the World Village is a non-profit resort that provides cost-free, week-long vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Watch for some changes in Notions in the coming issues. In a recent survey of ASG members, 96% of respondents said they thought the magazine was either “good” or “excellent.” We are very proud of that but that doesn’t mean we plan to sit on our laurels! A few changes in this issue: a special section that focuses on community service outreach by our chapters; “Fashion as Art,” which highlights relevant exhibits in museums around the world; and “The Lighter Side of Sewing,” which is a humorous look at our sewing adventures. 

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


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Create a Smooth Binding Join

by Ramona on October 3, 2017

I consider myself a very novice quilter. Others have said I’m more intermediate to beginner-advanced. I think they say that because I’ve been sewing for years and years, I can read a pattern, sew an accurate seam allowance, and love using software and a long-arm to do my quilting. I KNOW I’m not a good free-motion quilter. I have never taken the time I’d need to become what I would even begin to consider proficient.

Over the years my goal in quilting has been to “perfect” (at least perfect for my little quilting world) a quilt binding “join”. I have tried many different techniques, a few which are featured in videos in the members only area of ASG’s website. To that end, over the last few years, every time I do a binding on a project whether a lap quilt, a table runner, or a pot holder, I have experimented with a few different methods.

After all that experimenting, I’ve landed on something that pretty much comes out correctly time and again! Years ago I was watching Marianne Fons (of Fons & Porter fame) demonstrate her method of binding. But one thing I didn’t like about her method was the “trial and error”. It is her method I’ve learned to add to– and subtract from– to do the method I use. It is her method up to a certain point, and then with a couple more steps I’ve worked out, this method works for me every single time. That said, I tend to use a low-loft cotton batting in most of my projects; if I were to use a different batting, a little more experimentation would be needed to figure out the measurement of the gap to leave to be sure the join is smooth.

Let me show you what I do.

1. Start by applying the binding as you normally would, mitering the corners.

2. Sew the binding to the quilt sandwich leaving about a 12″ area un-sewn. Find the center of the un-sewn area and place a pin.

3. Turn the piece so the un-sewn binding is now at the top facing you. Bring the right side binding to the center pin and create a fold in the binding at the pin as shown.

4. Bring the left side binding to within 3/16″ of the right side binding and fold in place. After trial and error, I figured out this measurement works for the low-loft cotton batting I use for most of my projects. If I were using a higher loft batting like a wool, I would test and discover what that measurement would be for that particular batting.

5. Now cut off a section from the end of the binding—about a 2”-3” piece will do. This little piece is going to be used as a measuring tool.

6. Lay the folded edge of the piece just cut, on top of the right binding, at the fold line. Make sure the folds align exactly.

7. Cut the loose part of the right binding even with the cut edge of the measuring piece.

8. Remove the excess right binding and the measuring piece; they are no longer needed.

9. Next, take the end of the right binding

10. and flip it to the left over the left binding.

11. Trim the excess left binding loose-piece even with the cut edge that was just flipped from the right.

12. Remove the excess left binding.  Next will be to sew the join.

13. Position the right binding out of the way. We’ll work with the left binding section first.

14. Open up the left binding piece. Flip the left binding piece over so the right side of the fabric is facing up.

15. Open up the right binding piece.

16. Meet the right binding piece over the left, right sides should be together, and cut edges should match as shown; pin the binding sections together.

17.  The seam will be sewn from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

18. Using a 2mm stitch length, sew from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Be sure the cut edges remain aligned.

19. This is what the sewn seam looks like. Before trimming the binding,

20.  Fold the binding down as it will be once finished. The join should be smooth and the binding should match the quilt sandwich 1:1 with no extra ease nor should the binding and join be too short to cause the quilt sandwich to bunch up.

21. If everything is satisfactory, then open up the binding again and trim away the excess fabric leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.

22. Fold the binding back into position and stitch the remaining section to the quilt sandwich. Begin a few stitches from where the stitching ended,

23. and continue to sew the seam, sewing a few stitches over the beginning stitches. Complete the the binding by sewing it to the project as you normally would either by hand or by machine.

I hope the few additional steps of actually measuring the gap left and using the binding itself to measure and cut, will result in a smoothly joined binding for you as it does for me.

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



P.S. If you’d like to learn more sewing, machine embroidery, and quilting tips and tricks, join an ASG Chapter! There are free classes on the website and the chapters have events, classes; neighborhood group have members eager to share and help with your sewing.





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The Mystery of the Embroidery Stabilizer

by Ramona on September 28, 2017


As most of you know, I do A LOT of machine embroidery on weekends—and I even try and get a little stitching done during the evenings after work.

Last weekend as I was stitching up some Redwork quilt blocks I noticed something……

When I work with cotton fabrics I always starch them well before hooping. The starch makes the fabric crisp and the embroidery clean. After stitching, I then press again—without starch. Well, after pressing a couple of the quilt blocks I noticed some wrinkles along the stitching lines that I hadn’t noticed before. I pressed the second block and the same thing. So, I starched the fabric for the next block even better, stitched it, pressed and the same thing—only not quite as bad. This was perplexing and unacceptable in the finished project so I began to do some investigating.

Long story short—I finally discovered what it was! The poly mesh stabilizer I was using was SHRINKING when it was being pressed! Now mind you, it wasn’t a lot—about ¼” all around but that was enough to distort the embroidery and make me very unhappy about the embroidery.

I decided this little lesson would be a good topic for a blog so you could see what I mean so I took a series of photos.

Here I cut the piece of poly mesh stabilizer, placed it on a cutting board and placed pins at the corners so you can see the original size.

I then took the piece of stabilizer to the ironing board and pressed it well (I used lots of steam, too) leaving the pins in the board so I could check the size after pressing.

The piece was flipped and pressed again. Now I must admit, I press with a hotter iron than most folks to do because I work very quickly and I work with a professional iron—but, I also tested with a household iron and basically got the same results. I pressed well in all directions and all over the stabilizer.

After the pressing, I let the stabilizer cool off and then I placed it back on the cutting surface, aligning the top and right sides to the original lines.

You can see how much this piece of stabilizer shrunk up—it is enough to make a difference in the finished piece of embroidery.

So, if you find your pieces have wrinkles around the outer (and even sometimes inner) edges of your embroidered work, check your stabilizer by pre-shrinking it. I have never had this problem before and I’ve been using this stabilizer for years. So, it makes me think perhaps the method of production of the stabilizer has changed in some way—either the brand changed manufacturers or perhaps changed the fiber content in some manner (maybe less expensive fibers to make more profit to cut production costs?) I’ll never know unless I write to the manufacturer and chances are they will not tell me anything.

So, now every time I get a new bolt of stabilizer—any kind of stabilizer (except water soluble, of course) you can bet I’ll be heat testing it to be sure it can hold up to washing and drying and pressing.

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



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Radial Grading

by Ramona on June 14, 2017

This blog is in the Top 100 Sewing Blogs on the web! (#72 this week!)

Radial Grading, also known as Radial Projection, fascinates me. I learned about it years ago in college but I’ve not used this method in years. I began to wonder……could even remember how to do it? Sometimes I wonder why pattern companies don’t do this for commercial patterns—they used to years and years ago. It certainly would save a lot of paper and printing; but, it does require a little more effort on the part of the user. During the first part of the last century and before, magazines were printed with fashion illustrations and included were tiny little pattern templates of the pattern pieces needed for the garment all on a page or two. The fashion illustrated on the page was sewn from the pattern drafted from those tiny templates–clever, isn’t it! Honestly, once learned, the method can be used for any pattern and for any size as long as the pattern template is accurately drafted and printed.

This method is not new. The “Lady’s Godey” magazines used illustrated fashion “plates” and often included the patterns to make the garments. The University of Vermont has an extensive collection of Lady’s Godey books; they have scanned excerpts of patterns and illustrations.

Some full editions may be found online in the Hathi Trust Collection.

Costume makers use this method. It just requires using the template (small scale pattern) of a pattern piece and a ratio method to draft a pattern to full scale, as seen in this video.



There are many costuming books available with pattern templates, for example, by Dover Publications.

Not only can patterns be graded up, but they can be graded down using this method, as demonstrated by Don McCunn.


Using this method is all about “ratios”. I know math can make some of us crazy, because it feels like this Ma and Pa Kettle method of math.


But truly, it is not that hard or complicated. Just use the ratio of the pattern to the person as illustrated in the videos, and go to it!

How would this come in handy? Well, if you create a sloper for yourself, you can radial grade it down to a quarter or half scale pattern. Because it is a “personal” sloper, you already know it fits. It is sometimes easier to design in quarter or half scale either by flat pattern or draping on a half or quarter scale form. Once a newly design pattern in quarter or half scale is finalized, then all you’d have to do is radial grade the final pattern up and you’d have an actual full-size pattern in your size–how wonderful is that! Now, it won’t be “perfect”.  There will still be some alterations depending upon the accuracy of your drafting, radial grading, and also the fabric used for the garment—there is always tweaking and editing as we know. You’ll be able to determine alterations while making a mock-up of the garment.

There are companies that have taken this method of pattern making and made companies. For instance: The Sunburst Pattern System,The Dot Pattern System, and Lutterloh—hot here in the U.S. in the 1980’s–they called it the”Golden Rule” system of pattern making.

Can you begin to see how beneficial this type of pattern making would be? Mr. Mc Cunn has a downloadable and printable PDF of  “scale” rulers used in his video at the bottom of the page—print them and try this method.

I think this might be a fun Neighborhood Group project for an ASG chapter, don’t you?

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


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RN Numbers

June 1, 2017

Mom needs a new pair of jeans. She gave me a pair of her jeans that has a hole worn in the knee and asked that I just put a patch on them because they are good enough to wear around her apartment. As a dutiful daughter, I brought them home to repair them. The […]

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The Journey of Embroidering a Hard-to-Hoop Bag

January 19, 2017

   When people find out you own an embroidery machine you will get all kinds of requests to embroider things. Folks love to give gifts that are personalized—and they know you can do it! Before accepting anything from a customer or friend for personalizing, be sure you are comfortable with the task. If you are […]

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Learn to Trust your “Sewing Instincts”

January 12, 2017

How often do you check your patterns? By that I mean do you check all the pieces, one against the other as if they were being sewn together? Recently I downloaded a PDF digital pattern. Maybe it is experience, maybe it was intuition, but something in my gut told me to “check this pattern!” Downloading […]

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I Have A Confession.

January 6, 2017

I have a confession. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem. Lean in closer to your screen and I’ll let you know what it is. Are you ready? Ok, I’ll confess. It’s fabric. I have a fabric problem. I have an insatiable thirst for FABRIC. And almost anything to do with FABRIC!!! […]

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