The happiness and bane of a new computer

by Ramona on August 18, 2017

This is the first post on this page from my new laptop. Due to some (three to be exact) sales people giving me mis-information about what I needed and what I wanted to do with it, this computer almost went back. However, I found an accessory that will make it work like I want so I’m a happy camper once again. It is so frustrating when sales people don’t know their own product line. I had educated myself the best I could before purchasing, but there were a couple of things that I didn’t know so I counted on the sales person to guide me. Turns out all three didn’t know. It took almost two months of bantering back and forth, returning an accessory, being shipped another, only to find out it, too, was wrong and wouldn’t work! After doing more research myself, I was finally able to figure out what this laptop was actually capable of and what would and would not work with it. I’m not a real “techie” type person (but consider myself an experienced user) and I expected the sales people to be but they were not—after all this I got the feeling all they wanted to do was sell me something.
After all is said and done, after all my own research, I’m now mostly very happy with the purchase. I have also discovered through the research that what I really want isn’t in the market–at least not yet. Perhaps I could have had what I wanted built, but I’m pretty sure it would have been out of the range of my budget. Maybe by the time I’m ready for another computer in five or seven years, there will be one on the market.
Also, one more thing I discovered, is techie’s maybe shouldn’t write user manuals–maybe seasoned users should. There is something I’ve been searching and searching and searching to do and couldn’t find it in the help menu (I’m a manual reader! LOL) nor on any of the websites for the laptop, user sites, etc. Upon playing around last night, I discovered one simple left click gets me to exactly where I want to be…ugh. It is so frustrating sometimes when these companies make things “user friendly” only to find our favorite things in one operating system are now a function done in a different way or gone all together in the new operating system. One simple left click….goodness me; so easy, yet, not in the manual.
Oh well. So, this weekend will be the beginning of reloading programs and transferring files–I’m considering a software program to do all this, but all of them have mixed reviews so I’m not sure about that yet. If it works perfectly then it would be money well spent. If it flubs and I have to undo and redo, then it is time wasted. I’ll do a little more researching before I decide. There are so many ways to transfer them from backup drives, DvDs, USB drives, cloud, software, network, bluetooth, and on and on. There are pros and cons to all of them.
Wish me luck–but I hope I won’t need it.
Until next time…enjoy the journey of sewing (and computing!)….

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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

by Ramona on 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 fabric is worn in more areas than the knee, though—Mom! You need some new jeans!!!! Like many of us, Mom has had some medical issues and had a hard time finding a pair of jeans that had a looser elastic waist and simple, no fuss fit that she can just wear around her home.


I looked for a brand tag, there wasn’t one; however, there was a tag with an RN number! If you don’t know what an RN number is, it is a registration number filed with the government by a manufacturer of clothing and textiles—this is not required by the government, but is certainly nice when done by the manufacturer for a whole host of reasons. The one we’ll explore here is finding mom her jeans. Now, in doing this, one never knows what they’ll find. As we all know, manufacturers do sometimes keep clothing pieces from season to season, but many times things are made only for a season or two and then changed in some manner or are out of a line altogether. No matter, I wanted to see if I could find Mom the jeans she enjoys.





I went to the Federal Trade Commission website (, entered the RN number from the tag, and clicked the search button.






Voila! I now have a manufacturer, and upon clicking the blue link of the name






this page comes up. Now I at least have the manufacturer/importer and a bit of information about the company and its location.






Using the Google search engine, I can find out more information about this company. I ask Google where this manufacturer sells jeans. I click the first link which is the corporate page.





Here is the website for the manufacturer and at the bottom of the home page I can see the brands made. I click on several links on the website, but cannot find exactly what I’m looking for. Ok, this gets me closer, but still not what I need.



So, I do another Google search with the company name and include the number at the bottom of the tag—which I surmise is the garment style or inventory or some other number used by the company to identify the style as being an elastic waist, pull on jean…

…and on the right of the search page is a link to the style number by the manufacturer!



I click on the link and see where this jean my mom likes is sold. Now that I see that, I recall my dad went to Blain’s to buy something and I vaguely recall her telling me at the time she found the jeans there when they lived in IL years ago.


I click on that link and am taken to the store’s website and now I can order mom two new pair of jeans!

I could have asked her where she got them, but then I wouldn’t have an educational blog to share with you and most of all, these new jeans wouldn’t be a surprise for Mom! Shhhhhh—please don’t tell her! I know she’ll be thrilled when they arrive in her mailbox next week.

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


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The Story Behind the Notions Story-Winter 2017

by Ramona on February 10, 2017

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

ASG Conference is always full of inspiration! Last summer I had the opportunity to take a Sustainable Sewing class with Mary Ray. Her inspiring collection of ideas included the rust dyeing technique. This intriguing concept was the impetus for this issue’s “Fabric to Dye For” cover story. Thanks goes to Mary Ray, Dianne Giancola, Director of Education for The Rit Studio, and Lorel Maple and her fellow Madison, Wisc. Chapter members for sharing a dye-pot full of interesting techniques.

Notions strives to provide sewing inspiration to ASG members . . . so it is particularly gratifying to receive contributions like Inspired by Notions: Is It a Seam, a Trim, or a Binding by Joi Bostic who is an Atlanta, Ga. Chapter member and serves on the ASG National Board of Directors. Joi’s journey to create a reversible coat is a wonderful follow-up to the Spring 2016 cover story, Sew . . . You’re Traveling, which included information on creating reversible garments.

If your collection of sewing “stuff” is taking over your space, leaving little room for acquiring new treasures, check out Selling on eBay by North Jersey Chapter member Virginia Wentworth. Her article is full of excellent advice, covering everything from choosing and describing the items to pricing, shipping, and communicating with buyers.

Our Chapter News sections is full of activities from chapters all around the country. A special shout-out goes to the Corpus Christi, Texas Chapter. This is the third year they have partnered with the local Ronald McDonald House to create a special quilt that is auctioned off to raise money to assist the families of sick children. This year’s quilt, which was autographed by Tony Parker (#9 of the San Antonio Spurs), was sold for a record-breaking $25,000!!!

And we used this issue as an opportunity to wish our sewing sisters from Down Under a happy 20th anniversary. The Australian Sewing Guild, which was inspired by our own American Sewing Guild, has thrived and grown over the past 20 years. We are happy to share their history and join in the congratulations. When it comes to a love of sewing, we are truly one world! 

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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Harry Belafonte

Last Saturday evening was an interesting night. Totally not what I expected would give me inspiration for writing this sewing blog. Keep reading and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

Saturday evening, during his work lunch break, my husband posted David Draiman’s (DISTURBED) version of Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “The Sound of Silence” on his Facebook page. Having grown up in the 70’s listening to that song, having it as part of our band concerts in high school, it is very familiar. S&G made some of my favorite songs.

I grew up with music in my life. My parent’s liked and played 33 LPs of those of their era like Glenn Miller, Dean Martin, and my father’s favorite, Harry Belafonte—especially the “Banana Boat Song”  . My dad could not carry a tune in a bucket, but every time that one came on he would sing along loudly and enjoy himself immensely.

Roy Hamilton

My favorite song from their era is Roy Hamilton’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  Every time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. In fact, I’d probably have to say it is my all-time favorite song.

David Draiman-DISTURBED

Our children’s childhood included groups like Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch. I would listen—with my ears closed. I didn’t like the music. For me, “Chicago” was about as close to “metal” as I liked. They also grew up listening to Michael Jackson (we all loved the “Thriller” album) and Disney music—variety at its best! So, because I didn’t like what the kids played, I had a pre-conceived notion about the groups. However, Mr. Draiman surprised me with his S&G rendition—I must have listened to it three or four times. It is so powerful and so stirring. I could hardly believe this was the same person I had closed my ears to.

While listening, I looked at the side bar of YouTube videos and noticed he did an interview about his experience producing the song. I learned he is a classically trained artist—that was not something I expected him to say. The interview was very interesting and I learned a bit about him, and how his singing the song came about and that it was very much out of his comfort zone. I also learned it has helped him reach a new audience with his music (i.e. those in my age group) who may not otherwise pay any attention to his talents.

So, how does all of this relate to sewing? Many times we stick to our comfort zones whether music or sewing. We don’t explore. We don’t reach out to those who are different than us and learn about how they view the window of their world through their art. In fact, it may be we are so “traditional” that we dismiss them without even looking. Maybe we don’t reach out because our discomfort may be we think we have nothing in common with them or we won’t know how to converse with them, when in fact, our common denominator is the basics of a sewing machine, a stitch, and notions. When we reach out and learn, we find truly unexpected treasures. By sewers going out of their comfort zone of designing and exploring we, like Mr. Draiman, may find new audiences for our sewing and for our groups such as ASG.

I would say I’m a “classically trained”, very technical sewer. I learned by the old-school rules of one way to do it, do it right or rip it out. In some ways I think this has stymied my creativity. Though I have desired for many years to be more of a “designer”, what my background and schooling taught me were things so that I can very accurately analyze garments or project and duplicate them. In turn, it taught me to gain inspiration and my own twist. It taught me that fabric can give me inspiration and experience has taught me what types of garments would work well in what fabrics and which techniques need to be used to execute a design. I admire the new sewers of today who throw rules out the window and just create for the sheer joy of the process–just like my Dad’s immense pleasure at singing at the top of his lungs just because he enjoyed a song. He didn’t care if he was off key! He knew the words, enjoyed the melody, and the lyrics tickled him. I think it is akin to the same joy new sewists find when they sew by their own rules.

Urban Threads Embroidery Designs

My background in machine embroidery is what I would consider, again, classically trained. And even though I like traditional and heirloom embroidery, I’ve really come to love some of the edgy stuff like “Urban Threads” sells. Their colors, execution of designs, and artistic expression intrigue me and I have an appreciation of their art. I have purchased a number of their designs so I can study how they sew.

Tula Pink’s Herringbone Quilt

Quilting is the same. Though I consider myself only slightly better than what one would call a novice quilter, I gravitate toward very traditional quilting. By watching quilting shows I’ve come to appreciate the “Modern Quilt Movement” and some of the new designers who express themselves in non-traditional ways. Tula Pink comes to mind. I’d love to make our daughter a quilt but she certainly isn’t the “traditional quilt” kind of gal; however, Tula Pink’s “Herringbone” quilt might fit the bill. Our daughter, who loves Disturbed, also loves black and white, she likes things simple and uncluttered, and she likes clean lines. I like herringbone patterns so I think I would like the experience of making the quilt and our daughter would like the finished product. It is not something I would probably make otherwise but Tula’s version of over-sized herringbone and her slick way of making it are pure magic.

Maybe some Saturday evening you’ll find yourself exploring something new. You may find a new technique you’ll learn from a young sewer or quilter who doesn’t do things like we’d do them traditionally, but who may actually have developed something better. Maybe while you are doing that, take a listen to Disturbed. Secretly, I’m hoping Mr. Draiman will do a rendition of “Hallelujah” in the same style as he did the “Sound of Silence”—are you listening Mr. Draiman?

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






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The Journey of Embroidering a Hard-to-Hoop Bag

by Ramona on 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 a new embroiderer, don’t over estimate your skill level or equipment’s capability. It is better to forego a job rather than have to replace an item because something goes wrong–don’t worry, they will come back to you for other things and will appreciate your honesty. When you become an experienced embroiderer, you’ll be able to embroider all kinds of things with confidence.


This past weekend my husband’s co-worker requested names be put on four look-alike small travel bags for her children; the bags are to be used for traveling back and forth to Grandma’s house. In my mind, I’m thinking perhaps duffle bags or backpacks. Before accepting the responsibility, I requested to look at one of the bags to see if it even had a spot that was suitable for embroidery. As it turned out, the “travel bags” turned out to be a small suitcase. At first I wasn’t sure it was going to be doable because my main thought was how to fit an area for embroidery under the needle and in the hoop.





The bag was inspected carefully to see what area might be able to be used for embroidery—there were lots of zippered areas but only one area was suitable at the top of the bag. A little time was also spent at the machine, with the empty hoop on the machine, to figure out how to get the area under the needle of the machine. Once that was figured that out, I was able to accept the job. Normally it is good to do testing prior to stitching on the final project. In this case, there was no extra bag to test, so all that could be done was test stitch the names and have confidence in my skills and equipment that everything would come out as expected.



In doing custom orders, a mock-up of the embroidery should be done for customer approval. In this case it was just a name, but the name had to fit within the area determined would be able to be embroider at the top of the bag near the handle. There were also specific thread colors the children had requested for their name. Names were printed in two sizes at actual size. I requested the customer approve the spelling of each name, choose the size,


and approve the thread colors chosen from my stash  that came closest to their request of blue, neon green, hot pink, and turquoise. Now, turquoise can be interesting because some think turquoise has a blue undertone and others think of it as more green. I had two choices for hot pink—one more neon and the other more raspberry. All the thread, along with the printed names, was put in a large zippered plastic bag and my husband took it to work to get the approvals.

The name spellings were correct, the blue and neon green colors were approved, as was the neon pink. Good thing there were two choices for the turquoise because she chose color that looked more like a jade green to me, instead of the blueish turquoise I thought she would like. When you work with customers long enough, you learn how people see colors differently.

All bags in hand my husband came home and Sunday afternoon it was time to embroider the bags. Because the name setups had already been done, all I had to do was make each name the same size and save the file in the format needed for stitching. The Mom had put a little tag on each bag for each child with instruction to each child to completely clean out the bag—well, we know how kids are! All their toiletries and clothing had been removed, but a couple of the kids had left snap-in accessory pouches in the bags. I didn’t want to mix them up, so each bag was disassembled and embroidered  individually, and then re-assembled it immediately after the stitching was done.



Luckily on these bags, the entire front zipped open allowing easy access to the top of the bag for embroidery. To prepare the bag,





the top of the bag was folded  in half and a mark made at the center with tailor’s chalk which will steam out after stitching.





A ruler was used to determined how far down the center alignment point should be. Now it was time to stitch; the first name was loaded on the machine, so the next thing was to prepare the hoop.






It was pre-determined a large machine hoop was needed so the top of the bag would lay flat in the hoop. A layer of tearaway stabilizer was hooped and then to aid in alignment at the machine, the hoop was aligned to the grid on the cutting mat. Three dotted lines were made following the grid to help aid in aligning the bag top in the hoop. When putting the bag under the needle I didn’t know which line would be the final alignment line. To prevent shifting, the stabilizer was sprayed with temporary embroidery spray adhesive. Now that everything was ready the stitching could begin.



The hoop was placed on the machine and the top of the bag was aligned to one of the dotted lines on the stabilizer.





After double checking, the top of the bag was pressed firmly to the stabilizer. Next was to align the machine needle to the alignment point marked on the bag top.



The bag was heavy for the machine, so it was extremely important to keep the weight of the bag off the machine by holding it up at an angle to the machine. It was also extremely important to be sure the arm of the embroidery module was able to move freely without any obstruction from the bag. I also had to make sure the handle of the bag stayed out of the stitching field. Once I was confident everything was ok, I double checked everything, slowed the machine way down, and hit the start button.



After the stitching was underway and I was confident everything was working ok, I was able to speed up the machine.






After the first bag was stitched, it was very carefully removed from the machine and reassembled. The next bag was prepared and stitched, and then the final two.





When working on customer items whether garments or bags like these, extra care is taken and concentration in each and every step is a must. I block off time in my day to make sure there won’t be any interruptions—many times items are irreplaceable.



I’m happy this was another successful order where Mom and children are pleased. Because this is a simple request for a co-worker, I don’t charge. I hope these instructions will help you if you need to embroider a hard-to-hoop item.

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


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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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2017: the year to FOCUS!

January 4, 2017

Happy New Year! I have the sense of a wonderfully renewed spirit in my sewing room! Even though it is a new year this won’t be a blog about “resolutions”. I don’t know about you, but I can never manage to keep them anyway—seems life is always throwing curve balls into my plans. It won’t be […]

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We Love Men Who Sew!

December 12, 2016

I have been neglecting the blog and I didn’t mean to. I felt I had nothing noteworthy to post. My sewing has been routine (at least in my world) and I had to play “catch-up” on some things due to a family member’s bit of an emergency. All is well now, so my mind has […]

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