A Treasured Gift

by Ramona on August 21, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I think that those who sew and create are most appreciative when others hand craft a gift just for them. Mr. and Mrs. “M” came to visit us a couple of weeks ago. To my surprise, Mrs. “M” had crafted the most beautiful box I’ve ever seen. Just look at the beautiful ribbon and the thoughtfully planned and placed fabric.

S4080004My first thought was of how much time it must have taken her to meticulously cut each piece of fabric and form each corner perfectly. I just knew she was thinking about me the whole time she worked on this magnificent sewing box—and by this act I know how much our friendship means to her, as it does to me. We’ve been the best of friends from the time we first met in 2005 while working at a sewing machine dealership.

Mrs. “M” has fallen in love with the process of “cartonage”.  The art of “decorative box making” is virtually limitless as is crafting with fabric. Cartonage can use recycled items or new. It can incorporate fabric or paper and as many types of trims as one can imagine.  Mrs. “M” and another friend, Mrs. “R”, have taken classes and now get together monthly to work on their cartonage crafting together.

For my box, Mrs. “M” said she saw the fabric and she just knew it she had to fashion it into a cartonage sewing box just for me. Boards were covered with plain fabric and inserted into the bottom of the sewing box to create a “shelf” upon which the insert rests.



She fussy cut and placed images from the fabric into the box insert.


All sides of the box are covered in fabric and coordinated so well to create a treasured gift as a reminder of our special friendship.

S4080006Thank you, again, Mrs. “M”, for thinking of me and creating such a special and thoughtful gift! I hope you know I think of you each time I see this beautifully crafted box made by your loving hands.

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Have you created or received a special gift from a sewing friend? Please leave your comments on our ASG Facebook page.


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



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Clever Uses for Old Sewing Machine Parts

by Ramona on August 11, 2015

This past week I took a couple of vacation days while friends were in town visiting. Mr. “M” likes to check out corn (the former farmer in his veins cannot resist!) and shop at flee markets.


While at a local flee market, Mrs. “M” spotted a sewing machine on top of one of the cabinets. It looked much like this:



That is what has prompted this week’s blog: how clever folks are in re-purposing things that most would throw away to which they never give a second thought. I did a quick Google search typing in “what to make from old sewing machines”—here are some things I found interesting. In doing a search, you’ll find pretty much everything…including the bathroom sink!

Click on the photo to be taken to the website (the links are embedded in the photos for proper credit). Do your own search and see what you find of interest. Maybe some things will inspire some new creativity and trips to the flee market.

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










Note: some images were found on Pinterest and the credited web pages are no longer available, so the Pinterest page was captured and credit is given on the images on the Pinterest page.

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

The cover story for the Summer ’15 issue of Notions is designed to get you thinking about the value of repetition in the creative process of sewing. Sound like a contradiction of terms? Not when you read what Rae Cumbie, creative director at Fit for Art Patterns, has to say. She believes that creativity is the happy result of focused practice. The article is illustrated with photos of her personal projects . . . proof that she practices what she preaches. I hope that all of you find this article as inspiring as I did!

ASG’s mission is “advancing sewing as an art and a life skill.” Our membership is densely populated with the over-40 crowd. And many of our members are actively engaged in teaching youth and teens to sew. But what about reaching out to the time-challenged, career-building, family-raising 20- 40 year olds? The Plano, Texas Chapter embarked on a very successful program to reach this group, a demographic that is enthusiastically embracing the DIY movement. In this issue, Plano member Sheryl Belson shares information about her chapter’s Boot Camp—how they organize it, promote it, and measure its success. The six week program (one session per week) is hosted periodically for five or six students. This initiative has resulted in 20 new members for the Plano Chapter.  It’s a program worth emulating!

ASG member Margaret Jankowski is the founder and executive director of The Sewing Machine Project, a grassroots not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping women become self-sustaining through sewing. Through The Sewing Machine Project and its wonderful volunteers, both new and refurbished sewing machines have been shipped to hundreds of locations to over 100 destinations both here in the U.S. and around the world, to be used to change women’s lives. In “Empowering Lives and Livelihoods,” Margaret talks about some of the wonderful work her organization has done and her hopes that she can share her vision and her mission with ASG members and their chapters. Take a  minute to read “Empowering  Lives and Livelihoods” and visit www.thesewingmachineproject.org.

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 editorial@asg.org.



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Post Conference Reflections

by Ramona on July 23, 2015

The American Sewing Guild Conference 2015 in beautiful San Diego has come to an end. It is bitter-sweet. I think all who attend wish the conference would last a whole month. There are always more classes offered than one’s schedule permits. Getting to meet and talk with industry “sewing stars” who are so knowledgeable and willing to share is one of the highlights of conference.

If you didn’t get to go to conference, or if you did go and attended all-day classes so you missed some of the other goings-on, check out the ASG Facebook page. Pictures are posted along with some videos that will let you know what happened. Be sure to check out all the smiling faces! An ASG conference brings lots of smiles while learning.

Always anticipated at the conference luncheon is the key note speaker. This year Andrea Schewe was our speaker and she shared her journey from music and theater to designer and patternmaker for Simplicity. Her speech included slides of all the behind the scenes things that need to happen to bring a pattern from concept and sketch to the market and consumer. I don’t think most of us realized all the hands each pattern passes through before we get to bring it to our home. Please bookmark and check out Andrea’s blog.

Each year I attend I get to meet more members and learn about their sewing skills as well as answer questions and am informed about what they’d like to learn. One of the highlights of this conference for me was talking with a member of the Louisville, KY chapter and learning how they are using the ASG Online embroidery series to enhance their skills with their monthly “Embroidery Party”! This is exactly how we hoped our online education would be used. I asked if there was anything she thought was missing from the series. Her response? “Embroidery software education!” We at ASG try to have some forethought and she was excited to learn that was already in the schedule to begin after the first of the New Year.

As conference ends, the staff begins talking about all there is to do the last two quarters of the year….and it seems to be gone as just as fast as we talk about it. It’s hard to believe half of 2015 is over and planning for the 2016 in Indianapolis and the 2017 Orlando conferences is already in full swing. If you have never been to an ASG conference, please plan on attending. If you are not an ASG member, consider joining a chapter near you. The chapters have events and neighborhood groups—and from experience, some of those incredible neighborhood groups and chapter retreats are like little mini-conferences in themselves with the skill, talent, and knowledge shared among members. All skill levels of sewing and interests are welcome. The thing we share is the love of fabric, needle and thread in all its forms.

Sew until next time…enjoy the journey of sewing.


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It’s almost Conference Time!

by Ramona on July 10, 2015

ASG Conference 2015

Wow! The American Sewing Guild’s Annual Conference is already upon us…it’s next week! It is a bit earlier this year and all staff employees are feeling this extra crunch. But no worries, all is under control. I think we all secretly like the extra anxiety of this crunch because it means that the time is almost upon us to meet and greet the leadership of our chapters, greet our educators, shop the vendor hall, and catch up with all the wonderful members, their spouses and guests. It’s an exciting time to learn new things, see the latest trends in the market for sewing and other fiber arts, get to know our host chapter members, and this year explore beautiful San Diego.

We are often asked, “How does ASG choose a site for conference?” Please take time to read our conference Guru Maria’s article that was published in “Notions”. She explains everything well. You’ll see this is not an easy task and the national board and executive director (along with Maria) work tirelessly to find the perfect accommodations each year. Personally, for the years I have been attending, they make it look so easy and seamless; trust me, conference never disappoints!

Did you know that conference tasks begin two or more years out? First is site selection, then vetting the applications from all those incredible educators and vendors, planning leadership day, meal considerations, speakers, awards, classes, updating the website, and then getting everything ready for registration. After registration is finalized, packets are prepared, tickets printed, volunteers assigned, and on and on. Jennifer, our Admin Assistant, is a critical part of the team in getting everything prepared and where it needs to be on time.

Then of course there is shipping everything needed to the conference site, staff assignments, set-up, take-down, and in between keeping an eye to those attending to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible and attendees are having a good time. Sometimes I think Maria has cloned herself at conference and we just don’t know it. She is always available, seems to always be everywhere at the same time, and always with an air of patience and understanding of immediate needs and “fixing” whatever needs attention. She truly is an amazing one-woman show of confidence in all that she does. I remember our executive director, Margo, stating at the luncheon speech last year that if Maria ever decided to retire she would have to retire, too! We all laughed. We know the great value each provides not only to the conference but also the entire organization.



Please take a peek at the photos below. They respresent just some of the behind-the-scenes goings-on from conference last year in St. Louis.




Be sure to keep up with conference this year. I’ll be posting all the goings-on to the ASG Facebook page every day. I hope to make it seems like you are there sharing the experience with us if you are unable to attend this year.

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


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Darts are “Control Freaks”!

by Ramona on June 26, 2015

As I finish up the next series for ASG, it comes to mind all that I have learned over the years regarding sewing. I’ll never, ever, forget the day the light bulb went off in my brain. In that instant it seemed everything came together all at once. It was in a college class on pattern drafting and darts.

When working with patterns, do you think about the darts? Sometimes we think a pattern is “missing” darts when in reality they are there but just in a different form. Where could they be hiding? Well, that is an open ended question.



Of course all who sew know what darts look like: two legs of equal length that come together and get sewn from the wide part to a point.


Bodice front 2

What is the purpose of those darts? Why they are “control freaks”! They control fabric in one area of a garment to transition the fabric into another, larger area of a garment. For instance, the bust is larger than the waist, and the waist smaller than the hip (well, in theory until age and gravity take over!) Darts are used to control the fabric in the smaller waist area while transitioning the fabric to the larger area; hence, the dart “intake” is taking up the larger portion of fabric at the waist and transitioning it by sewing from the wide part of the dart to the point where it will point to the area where the larger amount of fabric needs to be released over the bust or over the tummy or toward the widest part of the hip back.





Darts control fabric. It’s that simple! So how do they aid us in designing? Darts, to me, are the greatest asset to the designer. Darts can be rotated to any area as long as they point to the fullest part of the figure; darts point to the fullest part of the bust no matter what position they are in.




Misses' Vintage 1950's Blouses


A bust dart can be rotated to the shoulder, to the armscye, to the center front of the bodice, really anywhere 360° around the bodice. That said, just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should; it depends on the overall image the designer has in their head and the fabric being used for the design.





Misses' Top with Neckline Variations



Darts can control fabric in many ways. In addition to being a common or standard dart, it can be moved into a seam such as a princess seam or a yoke. It can be moved to the shoulder for gathers or various forms of tucks.








Darts can also be “released” so the fabric just falls like in an over-sized shirt.





The next time you press the new pattern you’ve purchased, really take a look at the design lines of the pattern and notice where the darts are. Are they traditional darts or have they been moved to another area for design purposes? Remember, darts are used for fitting, so they should “control” the fabric in the place needed and point to the fullest part of the bust in the bodice. If you feel they’d be better elsewhere in the design, just move them!

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


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I’m T-R-Y-I-N-G!

June 18, 2015

As the first half of this “new year” is coming to a close, I was going back through some of the blogs for this year. At the beginning of the year, I vowed (like many of you I’m sure), to get organized, stay organized, and finish up some of those unfinished projects sitting in bins. […]

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Check the Tools!

June 9, 2015

As I work on the next series for the ASG website, it reminded me of something I wanted to pass along to you. When working with patterns, whether drafting from measurements or altering a commercial pattern, many measurement tools are used: French curve, tape measure, 36” ruler, L square, cutting board, etc. Because these tools […]

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The Story Behind the Notions Story- Spring 2015

May 1, 2015

  Guest post by Anne Marie Soto, editor of Notions, the ASG publication available with membership in the American Sewing Guild: Here’s hoping that our cover story, “Modern-day Heirlooms,” will inspire you to take a new look at a traditional sewing technique. Originally, heirloom sewing was done entirely by hand. But clever sewing enthusiasts developed […]

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Upcycle Denim

April 24, 2015

  Good Morning! I’ve been pondering all week what I should write for this week’s blog. Then a friend emailed me wondering what to do with her old jeans; she doesn’t want to give them away because she doesn’t feel they are good enough, but she said she’d rather re-purpose them and get in some […]

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