All Alone at the Sewing Machine? Use The Millionaire Option.

by Ramona on September 28, 2012

Carole Zimmerman’s delight in being a member of the American Sewing Guild is so obvious it brings tears of happiness and mirth to our eyes. This article was published in the ASG’s Bucks County PA chapter newsletter. We reprint it here with Carole and the chapter’s permission.


One of the perks of regular attendance of Neighborhood Groups in the American Sewing Guild is an option, I once realized, that is used many times.  It is called the Millionaire Option.  You’re familiar with it… know… (from the old Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Show), ‘Regis, I’d like to phone a friend.’  Here’s how it works.  You’re working on a project, or thinking of working on a project, and realize you don’t know how to do a technique, or knew it but forgot it, or think there must be a better and/or easier way to do it.  You call a friend from your Neighborhood Group and explain what you want to do and ask for help.

The results may vary.  Your friend may be able to answer your question and explain it to your satisfaction over the phone.  You may need visual aids and you’ll go to your friend’s house for instructions.  Or.. your friend may not be able to help you but she’ll tell you who can and give you her phone number.  If neither can help you, you take your problem to a monthly meeting of your group and bring your problem to the floor during Show & Tell, which we sometimes call Show & Ask.  There is ALWAYS someone there who can help you directly or tell you where you can go for help (fabric stores, books, YouTube, etc).

 This is the ASG form of social networking and here’s how it helped me.  My daughter doesn’t sew.  She can’t even sew on a button (why should she learn if Mom will do it?) She graciously volunteered my help sewing costumes for my granddaughter’s school play. They were doing Willie Wonka and needed thirteen purple vests.  No problem.  Vests are easy, aren’t they?  I decided they have to be lined because the single layer is too flimsy and they have to last through several performances.  I cut out double vests in every size.  The pattern tells you how to sew it all together with only one small side seam needing hand sewing.  I read the instructions twenty times and still don’t understand it.  I sew and rip three times.  I raise the white flag, surrender, and call Betty.  She has made many vests and tells me how to do it.  I hang up the phone, confident that I can now master the technique.  I sew and rip two more times.  I call Betty back and tell her I’m having problems.  She suggests I call Sandie who also has made many vests.  Sandie tells me that she never lines her vests, she just adds facings to them.  No good, I’ve already got everything cut out.  I call Dolly, a professional seamstress, who tells me to come over to her house and she will show me what to do.  I get Dolly so confused she makes me sit quietly while she works on it.  Finally she shows me what to do but it’s a bit more complicated than I thought it would be.  I go home and try it but I’m not successful.  Now I’m back on the phone with Betty, whining like a baby.  Boo hoo.  I’m never going to get these dreaded vests done in time.  Betty, who never gets ruffled, tells me to bring everything to the Community Service group meeting the following week.  I pack everything up and take it to the meeting. Betty shows me and the other members how to sew the vest, easy peasy, and by lunchtime they’re all done!  OMG!!  Can I love this group any more than I already do?

I pity the non ASG member, sitting all alone at her sewing machine with no friends to help her, encourage her, cheer her on and make her laugh.  Joining ASG opens up a whole new world to sewers.

 Carole Zimmerman

Readers, where do you go for sewing help? Please let us know in the comment section below.   Carole, thank you for reminding us about one of the most-loved perks of ASG membership!


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Lillie Stack September 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I am a recovering ASG member, 🙂 Meaning I had been ill for quite a few years, unable to sew, and recently have started sewing again. A few months ago I sent out an urgent request to my local “Hampton Roads ASG” members for help with sewing and cutting of Capes for a local children’s charity, see at the time I was the only seamstress for 150 capes. But had no response. I believe it depends on the area of the country in which you reside, and the challenge of the sewing project you present to your group.

Catherine Whitt September 29, 2012 at 1:00 am

I know this group well! This is no exaggeration…. I knew from the first mention of “Betty” that those vests were as good as done! They go above and beyond for all community service needs. Nice story, Carole!
Catherine Whitt

Samina September 29, 2012 at 3:17 am

Lillie, thank you for your comment. ASG’s Hampton Road Chapter, as all our chapters, is top notch in interacting with members, and providing sewing help and expertise for community service. They are active, lively and are highly valued for embodying the American Sewing Guild spirit!
We see that your post about wanting help was posted on the ASG Headquarter page back in April; sometimes with the onslaught of posts, things do get overlooked and get lost. The best way to get in touch with a local chapter is to contact them directly. We applaud you for making 150 capes!! Feel free to contact ASG Headquarters for any question we can answer.

Shelly Simonetti September 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Lillie, it was nice speaking with you yesterday. Again, I’m sorry that your request on the ASG HQ facebook page was missed. You now have the information to contact our chapter directly. The Hampton Roads chapter proudly donates thousands of handmade items to local charities yearly. We also have 13 Neighborhood Groups that meet monthly. We do hope you will visit one or more of them and consider joining ASG again. Visit our website at where you will find information on all that is happening with our chapter. Shelly Simonetti, Hampton Roads, VA chapter president

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