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!


S2450082 S2450084 S2450085 S2450234 S2460008 S2460094 S2460109 P1100637 P1100644 P1100647 P1100651 P1100657 P1100672 P1100732 P1100783 P1100839 P1110038 P1110014 P1100979 P1110095P1110135







S1050016 S1050095 S1760066 S1760087 S2450004 S2450054 S2450249 S2460113 S2460133 S2460283 S2460402


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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!

by Ramona on 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. So, how are you doing? Me? Yet again, not so well. I don’t know whether to laugh it off or scold myself for not doing as I intended.

As always, life gets in the way. I start off the year full of promise and good intentions. I have to work. I’m doing some extra projects to earn some extra money—those take priority. I decide the house really does need to be cleaned every now and again. As the weather turned nice there was the weeding to be done, the garden to be planted, the dog and cat need tending, laundry to be done….and gee, my husband does like to eat every now and again! I’m laughing as I write this because he cooks half the meals when I’m spending days, nights, and weekends working (I’m not complaining–my work to me is almost like getting to play all the time!)

S3830002I was talking with a friend last month and she reminded me she did order the comic boards for folding the fabric after I wrote the post at the beginning of the year. I needed to order a couple of other things from Amazon, so I ordered the boards a couple of weeks ago and I took just an hour last weekend to get started re-organizing some things. When working on projects I’ll often order a yard of fabric not knowing exactly how much I’ll need and then I’ve got extra to put in my stash.

S3830003I used that hour to start working clearing the fabrics off  the ironing board and cutting board. I had them neatly folded, but I re-folded them and wrapped them on the comic board.


S3830007Wow! I was surprised how much I got done in just that hour….and it was FUN! I felt like I was putting together my own little miniature fabric store!
As you can see, now I can readily identify what I have on hand. It is easy to search for a color or pattern.






S3830009Using a clear tub I can sort them as I wish by solids and prints. I can see I need more tubs. I like the smaller sizes and I think I’ll be able to sort seasonal fabrics in separate tubs to be further organized.




Right now, I’m working on a series that is taking every extra minute I have (I MUST have it done by the end of the month) so this has been put to the side until the weekends after conference. I’m anxious to get back to it and perhaps the second half of this “new year” will allow extra time for re-organization of my work space…..I can dream, can’t I?

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


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Check the Tools!

by Ramona on 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.

Picture4When 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 are manufactured there can be variations in their accuracy one to the other.

Long ago, while working in my custom dressmaking business, I came across the issue of measurement variations with tools while doing some work for a client. I had taken her measurements using the cloth tape measure. When I altered the pattern she had given me I used a fiberglass tape measure, the cutting board, and the ruler side of the French curve. I don’t remember exactly how it occurred, but while double checking measurements before cutting the fabric (you know—the good old rule of measure twice, cut once) I found I was a good ½” off (really 1” because the fabric was folded in half) and thought I had paid great attention to detail in measuring for accuracy. I remember re-measuring, then checking and checking yet again coming up with different measurements.

I recalled having measured with a cloth tape measure but working the pattern with the French curve ruler and fiberglass tape measure. I had come up with different measurements between the three tools. I laid all three, one atop the other so all the measurement increments were visible, and discovered to my astonishment that all three tools had different increment marks! It was astonishing to me this had never been mentioned in all the schooling I’d had (or maybe it was and I happened to be absent those days).

Take a look at the differences in the current tools I use.

Picture1Here is a photo of the cutting board with the fiberglass tape measure on top. I removed the metal tab at the beginning of the tape measure so I could lay the edge of the tape measure right at the beginning mark on the cutting board. At the 1” mark on the cutting board, the tape measure is slightly less. But at 18” take a look. The tape measure is almost 3/8” longer than the same mark on the cutting board! Needless to say, I never use a printed cutting board for measurements but only use the grids for aligning fabric.


Picture2Now compare the wooden yardstick to the cutting board. The same type of thing except the yardstick is only about 1/8” longer; not as much as the tape measure but still enough to make a difference.



Picture3And here is the tape measure compared to the yardstick. In the beginning the measurements are accurate but then at about the 3” mark it starts to vary. At the 19” mark it is off about 1/8” or so.

The moral of this story? Check the tools being used for pattern alteration one against the other for accuracy—all those 1/8”s add up either positively or negatively! You don’t want a surprise during fitting of having an inch less fabric (or more) than you planned on for ease. Usually, but not always, the more expensive the tool the more accurate the tools will be. Do check every single one, though, and be consistent in using the same tape measure that is used in taking body measurements for the pattern alterations.

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


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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 less labor-intensive methods that can be done on the sewing machine, all without sacrificing the delicacy of the final project. You can be an heirloom purist, creating an entire garment exclusively with heirloom techniques, or dabble in the techniques, using them to apply a bit of trim or to add textural interest to your general sewing. I love trying out new sewing techniques . . . I hope my enthusiasm is contagious!

ASG’s TAG (Teach Another Generation) and Junior Member initiatives keep getting better and better. It is wonderful to see how many chapters are reaching out to teach young people to sew. This issue’s Sew Young section includes reports on the activities of two chapters. One, the Sarasota/Gulf Coast, Fla. Chapter, is a veteran at teaching kids to sew. In addition to the 4-H Sewing Camp which they have been running for the past six years, they also participate annually in their County Fair, introducing children and adults to the art and life skill of sewing. The second, the Kokomo, Ind. Chapter, developed their first TAG event last summer—a two-day program (repeated twice) aimed at second through fourth graders. It was such a success that they plan to do it again this year. Previous Notions’ stories inspired Kokomo. Perhaps their success will inspire your chapter.

Are there impediments that keep you from sewing as often as you would like? Is clutter a culprit? “Taming Your Creative Clutter” by ASG member Deborah Sumner is full of ideas for getting sewing room chaos under control. Are your challenges cognitive ones brought on by the natural progression of age? ASG member Beth Calvo, a retired certified rehabilitation counselor, offers a wealth of advice in “How to Keep Sewing at Any Age.”

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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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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Thoughts on Books for Pattern Alteration and Fitting

April 17, 2015

I definitely hit a chord with readers of this blog last week and our ASG Facebook page this week. It seems pattern alteration is a skill continually and eagerly sought yet it can be all but blood curdling. Which end of the spectrum are you on? As I continue to work on this Understanding Pattern […]

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Personal thoughts on Pattern Fitting

April 10, 2015

I’m working on a new series for ASG: Understanding Pattern Alteration. There is such a huge body of knowledge that goes into this subject. I posted thoughts earlier this week on our ASG Facebook page: “My mind has been active thinking about different pattern alteration concepts–why are there so many, do they all have very […]

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Sewing and making a Kransekake

April 2, 2015

Earlier this week I posted on the ASG Facebook page about what I had accomplished last weekend: ”…and the rings baked for the Kransekake. This has prompted thoughts for this week’s blog. I know you must be wondering how making a Kransekake relates to sewing–but trust me, it does!” It turns out making a Kransekake is […]

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