Treasures within Manufacturers’ Websites

by Ramona on October 23, 2015

We all have our favorite websites: favorite machine manufacturer, favorite software, favorite thread, and favorite fabrics among others. We have personal reasons they are our favorites—it could be how we are treated during class time or machine repairs. It could be because the product worked as stated in a product review. It could be ease of use, or functions or features that allow our creative energy to soar. No matter the reasons, we have our favorites.

Do you realize how much information these manufacturers provide to us? Do you frequent their websites? If not, you should—they are a treasure trove of information, project ideas, sometimes free designs, and of course, a great source of information on their products.

After conference I started looking to upgrading my 10 year old serger. By going to the machine manufacturers websites I was able to download .pdf documents of machine specs and comparison charts for various machines. What is my absolute favorite thing about the manufacturers’ websites? Ok, admittedly, I’m somewhat of a geek when it comes to user manuals. I read manuals from cover to cover and when I’m research-shopping. My favorite thing about a website is the ability to download the manuals of the machines I’m interested in and read them cover to cover to see how to use the machine, what features are available that are similar to what I currently have on my machine or what is different on the machine that I may like and didn’t know was new.

I do the same with software. I’m currently researching embroidery software to see if it may be time for me to upgrade (the last commercial upgrade was in 1998!) Over this past weekend I went to manufacturer’s websites to download the product sheets and, again, to download the software manuals. Because these manuals are quite lengthy, I actually start at the back in the index and generally view what will be available in the manual and look for features, an overview of the icons and their uses, and do it all in the comfort of my easy chair while sipping a cup of hot tea. How great is that? That is my way of shopping!

After I’ve narrowed things down to a few selections, I make a list, print out the pages from the manuals and head to the dealer. Price is of course a concern, but not my first concern. Because I’m in the profession of sewing to me it is an enhancement to my career and profession. Just like a carpenter’s tools are essential to their profession, machines, computers, and software are essential to mine. I still have a personal budget, but what is most important to me is the function of the product and I need to know I’ll get help if needed and that the dealership will be able to service the machine and the staff is friendly and helpful.

With holidays coming up, many of the manufacturers and dealers have events and specials. Some will offer special financing which makes acquiring a new machine or software an affordable option.

Here are some links to the major manufacturers’ websites. Please, check them out if you are shopping for a new machine and new software. Look at the tabs and see if there are special events coming to a dealer near you; some will even give advance notice of special pricing and financing. Don’t miss out—use the websites to your advantage when shopping…and don’t forget to use the link to find a dealer near you. Oh…and please let the dealer know ASG sent you!

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





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Jam-packed “Notions”!

by Ramona on October 9, 2015

fall notionsI don’t know about you, but I always anxiously await the next issue of “Notions”. I only subscribe to a couple of other magazines but I only seem to eagerly await “Notions”, continually checking the calendar date to see when it will be posted online. I wonder what will I find the chapters have been doing? What are the youth doing that is exciting? Who are the new advertisers I need to check out and what specials are available from favorite advertisers. Yup, our “Notions” is jammed packed with young“Notions” is available online at the website before the hard copy arrives in the mail box. I’m one that likes publications online—in fact, I’m in the process of switching over the other subscriptions that I have to “online only” because I’m frankly just out of storage space. I like my magazines. I like to keep them. I like to refer back to them and re-read them from time to time. Having them saved on my laptop allows me to always have them with me digitally! I know many don’t like that, but I happen to like being able to savor the content any time I like, anywhere I like. I’m finding more and more that after I read “Notions” or my other magazines online, when the hard copy comes I just shelve it and really never touch it again. I’m wondering why I’m keeping them all when I always have them available at my fingertips on my laptop.

“Notions” was posted online last night and I started looking at it then and then finished up over my first cup of coffee this morning. What a great way to start my day! I saw new advertisers (at least new to me that I may have missed in a previous issue) and the thing I like best is the ability to click on the page ad and I’m taken directly to the website!!! I cannot do that with my hard copy. No waiting, getting out the computer, typing in the URL, and waiting for the website to pop up. Nope, just click and voila! The advertiser’s website to view and explore!


What did I click on this morning? The first thing was Margo’s letter right inside the front cover. The stats from the survey are interesting. I’m so happy we’ve got so many viewing all the educational content for members only on the website.Margo

Then there was the page to the right with all the “Sponsor Spotlight”. I always click on their links to check out what may be new in their product lines (who doesn’t just love shopping for new machines, threads and fabrics?) I also checked out the other links—the little Clover iron particularly caught my eye.





clover iron

“Notions” publisher and advertising director Betty Watts has a wonderful article on fringe and there is an attachment about Jim Suzio’s fringe CD’s for machine embroidery.

Did you know that the Rit Dye company now has a product on the market to dye those previously undyeable fabrics? Yup! It is called “Rit DyeMore”. I’m on a dying kick with some personal projects right now so I have to definitely see where I can purchase the beautiful colors available.

rit dye

And check this out! You can make your own espadrilles! I used to wear espadrilles all the time when I lived in Tucson—they were the perfect shoe. Because of “Notions” I’ve learned Dritz has some shoe making products—I see them and I’m thinking they may make a good online class (especially if some embroidery is added!) I will definitely be looking at these.

espidrillesThe fall issue always includes a recap of the ASG summer conference. Be sure to read that article and look at all the pictures to re-live the good time had at conference if you were able to attend or look at it to see what you missed if you were not able to attend. The contests winners are shown along with the wonderful prizes and photos from the incredible fashion show.        fashion showconf 1

Next year’s conference is celebrating a milestone. Starting with this issue of “Notions” a bit of information is given to get you thinking about your entry into the fashion show.2016 fashion show

Please, don’t forget about the “Special Offers” available only to ASG members. There is a special listed in “Notions” on sprays that I often use. Do you take advantage of the list of special offers from advertisers (changed with every issue of “Notions”) before you place your order? If not, get in the habit of looking so you aren’t missing any discounts or free shipping that is being offered.spray

Yup, our “Notions” IS  jam packed! Take a look at the on-line edition while you are waiting for your hard copy to arrive in the mail. Read the articles, click on the advertiser links, and explore to your hearts content. What do you see in “Notions” that captures your interest? Please post your comments on our ASG Facebook page.


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


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Transfer of Knowledge

by Ramona on September 23, 2015

Have you ever sat in front of a computer screen and keyboard and feel like you don’t know a thing sometimes—especially when it involves new software?

Why is that? Why do we find we’re afraid? No doubt, it may be that somewhere when learning computers someone said to us, “DON’T TOUCH THAT! YOU’LL BREAK IT!” Translation? “Don’t touch that because it is going to do something that will cause the computer’s setting to be changed, and I’ll have to go back and change them to where they were and I want them!” Instilling that fear of “breaking something” has caused many of us to be afraid to touch anything at all on a computer. Honestly, these days, it is all but IMPOSSIBLE to break a computer….IT won’t let you! In the Windows programs it will ask, “are you sure you want to do that?” The “NO” button can always be clicked and no harm done. As long as we don’t try and “format” or “erase” the hard (C:) drive, it’s pretty much all ok.

Getting back to the feeling of “not knowing anything”, it usually pertains to learning a new software program whether a document program, PowerPoint, embroidery editing or digitizing programs, video or photo editing programs, and more. But have you ever sat and thought about it?

When driving a current model car you know the rules of the road, you know where the steering wheel, blinkers, wipers, and radio are. You know how to operate the seats and windows. When upgrading a car all those things will be in the newer car as will the basics just like the former vehicle—and mainly in the same place.  The rules of the road certainly don’t change just because of a new car. What changes are the buttons and dials may be in a more convenient location. The interior and exterior colors may be different such as upgraded leather seats instead of cloth. The speedometer will still be there as well as the gas gauge, but now the car may “talk” to you and let you know the tires are low on air—ah computers!

When you go to bake a cookie recipe you’ll usually have butter, eggs, sugar, flour and leavening agents. Then to make the cookies differ chocolate chips or butterscotch chips may be added. Maybe one recipe calls for walnuts and another may call for pecans. Perhaps the recipe calls for vanilla or maybe almond flavoring, or spices like ginger, cloves and cinnamon. The basics are still the same (butter, eggs, sugar, flour) but the things that give the cookie flavor and character are what change. Honestly, it is that simple with software programs.

This is what I call “Transfer of Knowledge”. When teaching software programs and computer basics, the students in my class and I talk about these things. What I am trying to do is get the sewing group to realize that they already know a lot about software programs and the basics such as how to save a file, opening, undo, redo, etc. will all be the same–and work the same– from program to program. It is the “goodies” that are new to them that need to be learned and it is like the different flavorings and different nuts…they give the program its character and allow them to do what they want to do.

Recently I upgraded to a new video editing program that allows a lot more options and in this one I can do closed captioning. I have never done closed captioning before. I have been limited on what I could do for the videos I produce for ASG. When I downloaded the new software program I took a deep breath and installed it—thinking about that “Transfer of Knowledge” with this new program. What would be the same as the old programs with which I am already familiar? What would I have to learn that was totally new?

After installing the program and opening it, gosh, there were the old familiar Windows icons and tabs. Just looking at the tabs I already knew what would pretty much be under each tab and the functions that would be available in the new software program.


In addition, the icons on the toolbar for a starting something new, opening a file and saving a file were all the same. In the old software I had to import media and produce the videos, same in this new software. I can record the screen directly from this software and I had a second program I worked with when using the old software. In looking at that function, I already know I’m going to have to set properties for recording functions. I’m guessing there will probably be some new ones, but then again there will be familiar settings; I’ll just have to learn what I don’t know.



This new program has “transitions” like the other program, and many of the same tools.  In this program there are more options like the zoom-n-pan which can be done in the software versus having to do it while filming—that is a huge bonus!


In an older software program I was using, it had a “time line” to add videos and photos and to edit them. Also in the older program there were editing functions such as cut, split, undo, and redo on the tool bar; it is the same with the new program. I can just look at the icon and pretty much know its function….that is “Transfer of Knowledge”. The “player” looks the same just like with things normally seen on websites or in video players.

5                 7

For me what is totally new is the ADA compliant Closed Captioning. In looking at the screen I see familiar options just like a word document program, but what I had to learn was how to add the captions to the timeline and sync them with the video and voice files.


Something I had to figure out was how to do all the closed captioning in YouTube. Uploading the video was no problem but YouTube does an “auto” closed captioning and the spellings are wrong on many sewing related terms (i.e. sow for sew—which I must admit made me giggle frequently) and the timing and the way the sentences are broken up. There is an option for doing edits, but I learned it takes much longer than exporting the CC file from the software and then figuring out how to upload it keeping my formatting for the video uploaded (of course I had to figure out how to export the CC file first). The first one took quite some time to upload and the second about half the time. By the time I get to the sixth one I figure I’ll have it learned….that is if YouTube keeps all the buttons and links in the current format and doesn’t decide to change things around! That to me is like going to Costco or the grocery store and I expect to quickly go in and come out with my purchase only to find the store has been re-arranged; we all know that feeling.

So, what is the moral of this blog? When trying to learn new software look first at what is familiar and learn where all those things are. Chances are the basics in the new software will be almost exactly where they are in other familiar software programs. From there take a look at all the wonderful things that are in the software that are waiting to be learned. To me the help menu is invaluable; I keep the help file open while learning new software because I’m always afraid I’m going to miss some really useful function or tool I didn’t initially realize was in the software.



I know many will be requesting a holiday gift of embroidery editing or digitizing software (or maybe you have some and haven’t used it). After the first of the year I’ll be doing recorded lessons for our ASG members showing how to use the tools in the software and explaining their functions. Know that many things will already be familiar like other software programs. Other things like stitch length and spacing between zig-zag stitches will also be familiar (same as the sewing machine!) We’ll have fun learning together and giving members an opportunity to actually learn and use their software. We’ll start by “Transferring the Knowledge” you already know in one program or at the machine to begin learning an embroidery software program. Once you learn, you’ll be able to create simple designs and watch your machine stitch out what you have created and programmed it to do…it is truly a powerful experience!

Don’t be afraid…just get in there and play and push buttons; remember it really cannot be broken.

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





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ASG Pinterest Boards

by Ramona on September 11, 2015

Have you been on Pinterest? It is an amazing social forum for absolutely everything! Whether DIY projects, woodworking, gardening, cooking, baking, or whatever interests one happens to have, there is probably a “board” for it.

This week the American Sewing Guild has set up a Pinterest account. I get the pleasure of managing this new social media account….and I’m excited to do so!!! My worry? I’ll get so lost in what I’m doing I’ll forget to keep check on the time. My friends who have had Pinterest accounts for a couple years now have warned me about the deep pleasure of ogling over beautiful pieces of embroidery, crochet, knitting, quilting, sewing and all types of fabric and fiber arts and how hours may pass without realizing it. I know I’ll have to set my stopwatch and give myself only a short time every week to seek out new things to “pin”.

ASG pinterest page

Three “boards” are set up on our Pinterest account: sewing, embroidery, and those who support ASG. Before writing this blog I went through our “Notions” magazine and captured the web pages of our advertisers…well, that is, up until Pinterest said it thought I was spamming and to “try again later”! LOL I now know that Pinterest has limitations on what can be “pinned” at one time. I had to chuckle to myself—a built-in time limit—yay!

Here are links to our three boards (just click on the picture to be taken directly there):

sewing projects


pinterest ad page

Please “follow” our Pinterest boards! It’s fun and it is so easy. If chapters have Pinterest accounts please email me with the links and I’ll start another board to follow our chapter’s Pinterest boards and also one for our youth groups. This is going to be so much fun; I can’t wait to see what you send me, what I find, and what our supporters and “Notions” advertisers give us to “pin”—more inspiration for our creating!

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


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Looking behind…looking forward

by Ramona on September 4, 2015

Here we are at the last “official” weekend of summer already. Honestly, where has this year gone? It often seems like there is never enough time to sew; even when one does it as their profession!

Labor Day Weekend is my weekend of reflection. I look back on the accomplishments of earlier in the year and look forward to what is to come. Prior to joining ASG as a staff member, I would reflect upon my life which consisted of commercial embroidery and custom dressmaking among other things. I’ve worked from home, my husband and I had a commercial/retail business and I also taught at a local college. Organization was the key to keeping everything on track so nothing slipped through the cracks. That was my greatest fear that a deadline wouldn’t be met or I wouldn’t be prepared for a class.

Now I reflect upon not only what has been accomplished since the beginning of this year but also upon my time being a staff member of ASG and while originally developing ASG Online. I’m so fortunate to be able to bring what I know to our members. This great organization allows all of us all to learn from each other, to socialize and make new friends through sewing, and to expand our creativity by trying new techniques, new products, learn through new books, and take new classes the experts in the industry provide.

My greatest joy is hearing from members either through email, postings on Facebook, or personal conversations at conference on how something I did in a class furthered their knowledge on a technique or subject. What I try and do is cut the learning curve and impart through the ASG Online classes the things I wish I would have been told to make something easier or just to have it make more sense. This applies to everything whether fabric, stitch length, a technique or a fix.

It is said that knowledge is power and I think it is especially true in sewing. Knowledge gives us the power to forge ahead. It gives us the power to set fear aside and try a new technique. Knowledge is given to us in many ways and ASG plays a big role for most of us in that way. Many are book-learners (I’m in that category) and others of us are hands-on learners (my husband and son fit that category). Through our chapters, ASG members get together in Neighborhood Groups and prepare programs to share. It can be a new technique with a project or it can be show and shares with explanations and fine examples of beautiful craftsmanship.

Soon there will more new things up in the “Members Only” section of the website that I’ve finished and are being prepared for the website by our webmaster (she is such a guru!) I’m working on some new things this fall that we think will be welcomed information to further your education. Please take advantage of these classes; they are free as part of your membership. Your survey answers are giving us food for thought for things into early next spring and though we can’t possibly entertain every request due to limitations of staff and budget, we do concentrate on what is most requested.

Upon reflecting, I want to personally, and sincerely, thank all our members for your contributions to your chapters and neighborhood groups. You make our organization a success. You are the ones who help each other learn and challenge skills. You are the ones who make ASG strong and present our organization in a positive and giving light to your communities. We read your chapter newsletters and keep up with your good works and your good deeds. Our members are indeed a reflection of our commitment to an industry and to the craft we so enjoy.

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


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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.

S4080004 S4080012

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

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. […]

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The Story Behind the Notions Story- Summer 2015

August 7, 2015

  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 […]

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Post Conference Reflections

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 […]

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It’s almost Conference Time!

July 10, 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 […]

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