ASG Chicago Welcomes Jay Watts as new Membership Chair!

Jay Watts, ASG Chicago Chapter Membership Chair

ASG Chicago welcomes Jay Watts as the new Membership Chair to the Chapter Advisory Board (CAB). Chicago is the 7th largest ASG chapter with more than 400 members, making Membership Chair a very busy position.

What does a Membership Chair do? This position is responsible for maintaining a record of members for the chapter, including new, returning, lapsed, transfered, and dropped members.  She also welcomes new members via email and supports the chapter in recruiting new members and provides information to Neighborhood Group Leaders.

Jay has an extensive background volunteering with¬†the Cradle Adoption Agency and Hope House of Chicago. She explained that she¬†belives strongly in giving back to the organizations and communities she supports,¬†“Since joining ASG, I have continually benefited from ASG‚Äôs newsletters, chapter meetings, outings and educational workshops. I look forward to giving back through ASG.”

Welcome, Jay!

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Happy 25th Anniversay ASG Chicago

The Chicago Chapter of the American Sewing Guild is celebrating 25 years of sewing together! That’s a lot of laughter, learning, support, encouragement, friendship, fabric and thread.

How big was your hair in 1987? Can you say shoulder pads? How many of us had a serger then? We’re going to have a lot of fun looking back at our history and celebrating our time together. Along with the nostalgia fest, we’re busy working on new events, expanded educational programming and sew much more. Get ready for even more fun with your favorite sewing fanatics.

ASG Chicago Reaches Out to Sewing Sisters in Joplin

Five sewing machines, a generous assortment of notions, patterns and sewing magazines are on their way to ASG members in Joplin, Missouri, thanks to the great work of the Palos Heights Neighborhood Group, Flying Needles. These thoughtful ladies collected donations at the ASG Chicago Fashion Show in October and supplemented with their own efforts to help restore the sewing rooms of ASG members who lost so much in last summer’s devastating tornado. Thanks go to Terri and Anna for organizing the project and to Terri’s husband for making it possible to ship all 332 pounds of supplies. To our sewing sisters in Joplin, enjoy getting back to the pastime you love.

Sewing Circles Around Chicagoland

Here’s a quiz for you. If you were to tell your friends how frustrated you are with a sewing challenge, such as keeping your bias bindings from rippling, would they:

a.¬† Ask what you’re talking about?

b.  Roll their eyes and ask why you spend your time on such things when you can buy ready-made?

c.  Give you a great suggestion, draw a diagram to explain it, offer to email you a link to a blog that gives a step-by-step tutorial and tell you to call them if you have any questions?

If you answered c, you’re probably an active member of ASG. If you answered a or b, see what you’re missing!

When I finish a project (a pretty rare occurrence for someone suffering from Paralyzing Perfectionism), there is nothing like the feeling of showing it to my sewing friends, who appreciate all the work that went into it. When I’m stuck on something I just can’t get right (see the reference to Paralyzing Perfectionism above!), I know I can count on my sewing friends to come up with helpful suggestions, offer encouragement and, yes, even suggest ways to turn mistakes into design details. Where did I get all those great sewing friends? Do you have to ask?

Walking into a an ASG Neighborhood Group meeting or Chicago Chapter event is always a treat. We come together as a community. We inspire one another. We learn together. We share our knowledge freely. We encourage one another. We enable our mutual obsession. We reassure one another that there are worse fabriholics out there, or someone else has more UFOs (white lies are absolutely acceptable). We speak a common language. And many of us become lifelong friends.

In almost any given week, at least three ASG Chicago Neighborhood Group meetings are held in and around Chicago. Each of these groups has its own unique personality. Each is a sewing circle that welcomes newcomers and long-time members; those who quilt; those who sew home dec and crafts; those who sew garments; and those who think about sewing more than they actually sew. If you are already a member of ASG, you are not limited to any one Neighborhood Group. If you are thinking about joining, you are welcome to attend two Neighborhood Group meetings as a guest before joining.

For the most part, sewing is a solitary pursuit. For those of us who participate in ASG, that solitude is balanced with a strong communal experience and unbreakable ties to others who share the same passion. I look forward to strengthening those ties in the coming year (and, yes, to overcoming the Paralyzing Perfectionism long enough to complete a few sewing projects).

Giveaway! What’s Your Sewing Journey Memoirs Title

Extreme sewing: Sewing machine in the ocean

Image source: U-handbag extreme sewing on Flickr

Hello, dear readers! We’ve reached a milestone…well, actually, we reached it a while ago. We have been on Twitter and have 265 followers and have sent more than 2,000 tweets of tips, news and tutorials. That’s a lot of stuff to share. Now in standard Twitter-quette, I should have had a giveaway when we hit our first hundred followers as a thank you (THANK YOU!), but that slipped by me, then 200 slipped by me. Then my 1,000th tweet slipped by me. Then National Sewing Month slipped by. But, I still wanted to take the opportunity to thank our followers on Twitter and of this blog, so WE’RE GONNA HAVE A GIVEAWAY!

You don’t have to do anything crazy, like sewing in the ocean (but that does look like fun, doesn’t it?)

I’m inspired by America’s Test Kitchen blog post Silly Question of the Day: Faux Food Memoirs. America’s Test Kitchen asks readers what the title to their food-centric memoirs. I thought it was so much fun, so why not ask you, dear readers, to give a thought to your sewing adventures or your sewing journey and share your self-titled tome. Or maybe it’s a novella!

Would it resemble any of these?

  • A Tale of Two Stitches
  • Mary Poplins
  • Prairie Points Home Companion
  • War and Piece
  • Project Runway Called, But They Didn’t Leave a Message

Tell Us Your Story Title To Win

If you were to write a memoir about you and your sewing, what would be your snappy, marketable title and tagline?

Feel free to expound on the general theme, plot, and (juicy) narrative.

Leave yoRandom Number Generatorur silly answer in the comments section below! Let’s see what everyone’s story is for the next two weeks. Entries have to be in the comments section by midnight Central Time on Saturday, October 15…the day of the American Sewing Guild Chicago chapter’s annual Fashion Show! Have you sent in your reservation, yet? Don’t forget we’ll have raffle prizes and our fabric sale and the great bargains of the Pattern and Book Sale!

After having a giggle, we’ll use the Random Number Generator to pick the winner.

The Giveaway Prize

Giveaway prize

Of course we have to have a prize! For this giveaway, we’re focusing on garment and handbag sewing. No worries, future giveaways will have something related to quilting, heirloom and other types of sewing.

  • Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics by Wendy Mullin
  • Making Handbags & Purses: 50 Patterns & Designs from Casual to Corporate by Carol Parks
  • A 22″ handbag zipper that opens from the center out with two zipper pulls
  • A 16″ Riri zipper“It’s Not a Zipper…It’s an Embellishment!” This metal zipper has a full stop part way up the zipper, then the leftover zipper tape is used as piping; and
  • 4 yards of fold-over elastic in shades of blue. Use this to edge knits (perfect for your new book)
  • A card of vintage buttons in shades of green.

So leave us a title, a plot and have fun telling us your sewing journey! Good luck!

Edit: Due to postage, the giveaway is limited to U.S. mailing addresses. But, if you’re not in the U.S., we’d still love to read your sewing memoir title.

Lights! Camera! Conference! ASG visits L.A. for 2011

The American Sewing Guild (ASG) held its 2011 annual conference in Los Angeles, CA, from Aug. 18-22. Among the several hundred attendees were a group from the ASG Chicago Chapter. We send a big thanks to National and the L.A. chapter for making this a fantastic conference.

For anyone who has never attended conference, imagine a few hundred ASG members in one location with classrooms, an exhibit/vendor hall, and access to fabric shopping. It’s wonderful! Even if you attended alone, there are no strangers at conference because we all have a common interest: sewing. Mary Ann R., one of the Chicago members, explained, “The conference is a way of bonding with your peers and this happened to me the moment I entered the shuttle at the airport with other ASG members. Everywhere you went, there was another ASG member with a big smile and ‘Hi!'” This statement is so true. In fact, I had a mini-reunion with some of the ASG members I meet on the April 2010 Sew Many Options tour to New York with Marsha McClintock and Marla Kazell

Conference mostly focuses on workshops and classes and this year there was a wide variety from which to choose and those were primarily offered in two- to three-hour slots. “The classes brought out your creativity and made you think outside the box.¬† With each one, you walked away having learned something new,” said Mary Ann R.

Here are some highlights from some of the Chicago members who attended.

My Purses by Design handbag. Love it!

Purse Basics with Pamela L. Day and Roseanne Lauters of Purses by Design held a special half-day class on Aug. 18 that I attended and walked out with a fantastic handbag. Pamela and Roseanne prepped the class by having all the fabric pre-cut and interfaced. All we had to do was insert the magnetic snap and sew. It was a blast. They use a special interfacing for the lining that helps keep the bag stable but flexible. This was one of four classes the PbyD ladies offered.

Marie Yolande teaching "On the Edge." Wendy G. said Marie turned a hotel meeting room into a couture atelier.

On the Edge with Marie Yolande taught ASG members Wendy G. and Elizabeth H. the beauty of edge finishes and how they can “separate the amateurs from the professionals.” Marie, who has an extensive background in french needlework, showed the class how to use custom piping, shirred and ruched trims, and many other edge techniques. Wendy G. said it was just like being in an couture atelier.

Liz H. showing off her sample of fringed wool in the the "On the Edge" class

Sharleen from ASG Chicago attended Vest-S-Cape with Marsha McClintock of Saf-T-Pockets and walked out with a finished cape/wrap. [We’re waiting for a stunning photo of Sharleen in her cape; check back later to see it!]

It’s almost impossible to list all of the workshops we attended. If you’d like to see who taught, the 2011 conference brochure is still posted on the ASG national website.¬† Some of the others that quickly come to mind are: Christine Haynes‘ Creating Runway Looks at Home, Katrina Walker‘s Sensational Seams, Diane Ricks‘ Washaway Stabilizers, Anne St. Clair‘s Bra Fit. To read more about the workshops, visit Connie’s post As seen at the ASG National Conference or Celeste’s site “Sew Much Fun” for ASG Conference Reviewed.

Rami Kim's cathedral window coat.

One last class I’d like to mention is Hand Smocking with Rami Kim. She had the class work on two samples and something that seemed so difficult actually was incredibly easy. North American Hand Smocking is a lot of connecting the dots to create the design of your choice. These puckers and pulls of fabric create stunning designs for blouses, jackets, purses, or any item. Rami taught a few other classes on fabric folding, or Chopkey, as she refers to it in her native Korean language. She also displayed a beautiful gold coat done in Cathedral Window pattern.

For English Smocking, visit Vaune, one of the vendors at the conference. She had a beautiful selection of fabric and sold pleaters.

A conference wouldn’t be complete without shopping and tours.¬† The conference had a exhibit hall for shopping and we made that most of that! But the best is L.A.’s downtown fabric district. It’s maze that could take you weeks to go through. Thankfully a group of the ASG L.A. chapter members put together a handy guide to point out a few spots to visit if you were running short on time. It’s a crazy mix of elegant and inexpensive textiles and trims. From home dec to silk to basic cottons, there was no shortage. If you are visiting on your own, some places you might want to hit in that 8th and 9th street area are: L.A. Fred’s for home dec; Eco Fabric for home dec and Tex Carmel for silks and linens; Trim 2000 for (you guessed it) trims; Michael Levine and Michael Levine’s Annex from just about everything; and off the beaten path were B. Black and Sons for a “step back in time to what a fabric store would be like in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Connie (L) and Wendy (R) with Judy Fitzgerald of Sawyer Brook Fabrics at breakfast. Wendy was thrilled she meet the lady who cuts her fabric and processes her internet orders.

A few of us stayed through Monday to take advantage of some of the fabric shopping tours to Santa Barbara Lace and Textile and another to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and more fabric shopping. The FIDM group was definitely the most packed with three busloads of ASG members. Sharleen and I made it to the bus that started the tour at Mood in L.A. And even thought I don’t have a photo of this to prove it, I do have witness . . . we meet Burt from Project Runway at Mood! He was so nice and posed for pictures with anyone who asked. You guessed it, I didn’t ask to have my photo taken, but I did wish him luck.

I could go on and on about the L.A. trip. It was a blast. The 2012 annual conference will be in Houston, TX from Aug. 16-20 and 2013 will be in Arlington, VA. Hope we see you at both!

Community Service Project: American Cancer Society Breast Inserts and Bags

American Cancer Society Breast Cancer logoIn April, our Community Services Chair was contacted by the¬†American Cancer Society’s North Shore Regional Office¬†to help provide some basic needs for breast cancer patients. American Sewing Guild members can help by sewing breast forms, “ditty” bags to hold the fabric breast inserts, pillows and Anti-Ouch pouches.

American Cancer Society sewn breast insertThe breast inserts, pillow and bags are used in the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program, in which a recently-diagnosed breast cancer patient is matched with a trained volunteer who has been through the same situation. After meeting with the American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery volunteer, the patient is¬†provided a kit with literature, a breast form (if needed) and a small pillow.

The small pillow is used the help alleviate the arm/shoulder area after the patient has had his/her surgery.

American Cancer Society Anti-Ouch PouchThe Anti-Ouch Pouch¬†is a pillow that hangs from the shoulder, fitting snugly under the arm to cushion the area after breast surgery or during radiation treatment.The wedge shape gently holds the arm away from the body when the user is standing. The strap holds the pillow in place without having to use sore arm muscles to ‚Äúclutch‚ÄĚ it.¬†The Anti-Ouch Pouch was also a previous national American Sewing Guild community service.

Links to patterns for all requested items are available online and free to download. When making the breast forms, please use soft, cotton fabrics in neutral shades. The forms and pillows are filled with Polyfill stuffing.

There’s no correlation between the numbers of ditty bags and inserts; they are not “sets”. They are all given as separate items to whomever needs them. So, feel free to make just one type of item if it suits your fabric stash or comfort level.¬†To coordinate delivery of completed items, please contact Marge D.,¬†Community Services Chair, via¬†email. Additional information can be found on the¬†ASG Chicago main website.

Join Us For A Community Service Sew-In: July 16

Join the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Group on July 16 for a day of community service sewing. They will be sewing Adult Bibs, Pillowcases, American Cancer Society Ditty Bags and Pillows.¬†All fabric will be supplied. You supply the fun! Location and contact information can be found on our ASG Chicago main website’s Upcoming Events page. We hope to see you there!

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