City of Chicago April & May Fashion Events

The City of Chicago is hosting some exciting fashion related events starting Monday, April 28 and, the best part, these are free!

  • April 28 from 5 pm to 9 pm screening of the film of Men of the Cloth and a panel discussion with the director and members of the bespoke tailor community, and a networking reception. Free admission and the event Claudia Cassidy Theater, 77 E. Randolph St.
  • May 3-4, 2014 Saturday, 10am-6pm. Sunday, 11am-5pm. FashionChicago® (Spring 2014):  Shopping Event in the Tent. Join StyleChicago.com in the tent at Millennium Park on Saturday (10am-6pm) & Sunday (11am-5pm), May 3-4, 2014 for FashionChicago®, an amazing designer shopping event featuring more than 30 of Chicago’s finest fashion designers – all under 1 tent – in the heart of downtown Chicago. Free admission for this event in Millennium Park – Chase Promenade North, 201 E. Randolph St.
  • July 22-23, 2014 Fashion Focus Chicago Sidewalk Sale. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presents the eighth annual Chicago Sidewalk Sale on July 22 and 23 at Daley Plaza from 9am to 3pm daily. The two-day shopping event will offer fashion enthusiasts and bargain shoppers an assortment of affordable apparel and accessories from Chicago designers and independent boutiques. Free admission for this event in Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.

Fabric Challenge 2013

Every year, we give 1 yard of fabric to members who are up to the challenge of incorporating it in a project that falls into one of five categories: children’s wear, toys, quilts, adult wear, accessories or home decor. This year’s fabric was a multi-colored stripe, some on a white background and the rest on a black background. It was donated by ASG Chicago supporting retailer Linda Z’s.

The projects are displayed at our annual meeting/luncheon/fashion show and attendees vote on their favorite in each category. This year, the fabric inspired lots of great entries. See for yourself:

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The voting is anonymous, and it was tough to choose a favorite. They all look like winners, don’t they?

Are you ready for the Sew Spring Fling 2013?

Welcome Friends Sewing Room (2)

It’s that time of year again. Time for Spring Fling 2013! This year’s fling takes place April 27th at St. Isaac Jogues Church, 8149 Golf Road, Niles, IL 60714, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Admission is free. Feel free to bring guests. Members can buy, sell or donate fabric, patterns and sewing books. Whistle Stop Demos are a wonderful opportunity to learn new sewing techniques. Everyone is welcome and we look forward to seeing you there.

Members interested in selling fabric please click here for information and to obtain fabric inventory forms.

Call for Fibre Artists!!!

woman sewing

The Third Annual Driftless Area Fibre Arts Faire, sponsored by Arlene Byrne/de la Pear, will be held June1-2, 2013 at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  This year’s event will coincide with the June 1st Artist Parade during the day followed by Gallery Night in the evening.

This festival is held outside at Shake Rag Alley. A large tent that will be constructed to hold several artists. There is limited spaces for individual tents. With this in mind priority will be given to returning artists.

Registration deadline is March 30th. Notifications will be sent out April 15th.

Artist interested in participating contact Jennifer Golubiewski, for registration guide lines and an application, at 608.287.6872 and via email at driftlessfibrearts@gmail.com.

Workshop Alert: Don’t Miss Piecing with Silks, Satins & Other Fun Fabrics

Hope Quilt Designed by Judy Zoeler

Hope Quilt by Judy Zoeler

Workshop alert!!! Are you a quilter who feels your repertoire is limited to only cotton? Then we have just the workshop for you. Join us for Piecing with Silks, Satins & Other Fabrics with world-renowned quilter Judy Zoeler. For one day only Judy will conduct a hands-on workshop, Saturday, March 16th at the Holiday Inn Express in Palatine, Illinois.

Judy will introduce 20 students to the joys of quilting with silks, satins and other fun fabrics. Using her patters and fabric kit, Judy will help students create a fan-themed quilt square and learn special techniques for working with these beautiful yet delicate fabrics.

Space is limited and early bird registration is still available; $60 for American Sewing Guild members and $75 for non-members. Early bird pricing ends this Friday, February 15th. The workshop pattern, kit and lunch are included in the registration fee. To register and for more information click here.

You don’t want to miss this all day workshop. Sewing friends, quilting and good food – what more can you ask for? Hope to see you there!

Float quilt by Judy Zoeler

Float Quilt by Judy Zoeler

Jennifer Stern Workshop Weekend

Jennifer showing students how to raise the rise of their jeans. To see more photos click on the pics.

The ASG Chicago Chapter hosted Jean & Tee Fit Workshops with instructor Jennifer Stern. 35 attendees gathered for the all-day hands-on workshops held this past Saturday and Sunday. During Sunday’s workshop with Jennifer’s patterns and expertise attendees demystified the dilemma of denim to alter patterns and construct their own custom fit muslins for jean construction. On Saturday attendees created custom tees.

Alice Smith traces her jean pattern

Alice Smith traces her jean pattern

Wendy at J Sterns Jean Wkshp

Chicago Chapter President, Wendy Grossman, shows off her new tee

Join us for our next educational event, Piecing with Silks, Satins & Other Fun Stuff with Judy Zoelzer Levine on Saturday, March 16th at 10 AM at the Holiday Inn Express in Palatine. Early bird pricing is still available. For more information and to register click here.

Mac Berg Directs the Drama of Serging

You have a serger and aren’t sure what to do next. Do you remain afraid to plug it in or do you fearlessly embrace all it can do?

What we recommend for any serger owner (fearful or fearless) is a day or two with Mac Berg, sewing instructor and serger guru who has years of experience with these mechanical beasts. And that’s just what we did. On July 14, a group of ASG Chicago members crowed (literally) in a meeting room at the Holiday Inn Express in Riverwoods. (Writer’s note: Yep, the room was too cozy, but the facility was great. We definitely would recommend it as well as Tasty Catering for lunch!)

Mac Berg, in white t-shirt sitting at serger, spends time with ASG Chicago members.

Mac, who can be contacted for classes at macbergsews@gmail.com, explained that a serger is like a drama set in an apartment building where the tenants don’t speak the same language; however, when they find ways to actually communicate then something wonderful happens. It can be dramatic, but there are ways to avoid or benefit from that drama. The key to using any serger, as Mac explained, is understanding the basics and building from there. For example, in her apartment complex drama:

  • Lucy, the left most needle, has a controlling personality. She controls the seam.
  • Rosie, the right needle, is very calm, and she adds stability to the building and to the stitch.
  • Bambi, the upper looper, wants to be the center of attention and she dates Rual.
  • Rual, the lover…opps…lower looper, workouts a lot and is very strong, though he instantly reacts to stress and tension.

Once you know that neighbors, it’s a matter of helping them get along in a balanced stitch kind of way. A couple other players every serger owner should know are Knife and Tension, the maintenance team of the complex.

  • Tension can be tense. You can follow what the manual states, or you can use the additional tension tools that just about everyone owns, which are the thumb and index finger. Tension disks, Mac explains, are just squeezing the thread so if you want to alter a stitch, try squeezing the thread with just your fingers. Try it. Go ahead. Then when we adjust our tension dials, we can create decorative stitches. For example, if Bambie has had too many tasty beverages at a party, she is a bit loose and she visits the lower side of the fabric where Rual lives. This makes Rual then tightens up and he runs away from her into the arms of Rosie or Lucy. Oh, the drama!
  • Knife can be a little more complicated. Everyone feels differently about disengaging the knife when serging or changing the set-up. Mac suggests trying avoid disengaging the knife because if you forget to re-engage the knife the damage to the machine can be costly. Rather than disengaging the knife, owners can practice and gain confidence to serge against the knife; just because it’s engaged doesn’t mean it has to cut the fabric. If you do disengage your knife, Mac strongly recommends putting notes, signs, or any reminder to re-engage it. Also, remember that the knife is nothing more than a pair of scissors attached to the machine and you control where it cuts.

Using the serger, like any machine, is about building confidence and that is best done by using it and taking notes. Take a piece of paper and note what is indicated in the  manual and then as you play with it:

  • Name of stitch
  • Left Needle tension
  • Right Needle tension
  • Upper Looper tension
  • Lower Looper tension
  • Stitch Length
  • Cutting width
  • Differential Feed setting
  • How the stitch should be used
  • Attached (stable or tape) a sample of that stitch to the paper

Having this sample library will help when you want to remember what a change in the tension did to a stitch or how it gathered the fabric. Consider saving these papers in a binder with your manual for easy access.

As the day went on, Mac gave more nuggets of information to the class, such as:

  • 3-thread wide is good to finish raw edges and to attach elastic. It’s the stretchiest stitch and most decorative.
  • The closer the knife is to the needle, the more fabric it cuts; you can move it away from the needle, but try to avoid disengaging it.
  • 4-thread is the perfect construction seam for knits.
  • 5-thread seams are better for woven construction.
  • Never put serger thread in your sewing machine, but sewing machine thread can be used in the serger.
  • You can but more than one thread through a looper; think of it as a creative license to be decorative.
  • The thicker the thread, the more the tension will need to be adjusted.
  • Fingers are external tension devices.

Eventually, the apartment complex quieted down as Lucy, Rosie, Bambi, and Rual said goodnight to the ASG Chicago members who attended the class. Keep any eye on the ASG Chicago website for future classes with Mac or contact her directly (macbergsews@gmail.com).

Fit: The Final Frontier

Sometimes, it feels as if fit is the Final Frontier; just beyond our reach; an ever-elusive goal; the missing link. You get the idea. No matter how many techniques we master, no matter how meticulous our sewing, for those of us who persist in making garments for ourselves, none of this does us any good if the fit isn’t right. Or if the garment doesn’t flatter our bodies. (The ones we have now, not the ones that persist in our heads!) Lots of books, workshops and instructors promise to give us the perfect fit, but I’ve never felt that any of them got me where I needed to be. Then I took some online classes from Sarah Veblen and found that what she wrote in her class materials made sense to me. Many emails, phone calls and hours of planning later, Sarah came to Chicago and gave a combination lecture/workshop that represents a turning point for all of us who participated.

Sarah’s approach to fit is set out in her first book, The Complete Photo Guide to to Perfect Fitting, which stands out from all the other fitting books on the market. It’s not just that it’s comprehensive.  It’s not just that it’s written in Sarah’s clear, thorough and understandable style. It’s not just that it has so many photographs that show you exactly what she is talking about. It’s that it introduces you to the concept of the fitting matrix, formed by the center front or center back and a horizontal balance line. From there, the muslin (and the body inside the muslin) can be divided visually into quadrants to achieve balance and proportion. For example, a skirt hem can be brought parallel to the floor if a horizontal balance line drawn below the widest part of the body is brought parallel to the floor by adjusting the waist. 

Sarah is a truly gifted teacher. In her workshop, she taught us to “take charge of the pattern” to make it do what we need it to do. She taught us how to use a Fashion Ruler properly to get a smooth transition from altered seamlines to original seamlines. She gave us lessons in the basics of patternmaking that are needed to understand how to translate the contours of our bodies to a flat pattern. And, unlike many instructors, she taught us exactly how to transfer the pinned alterations on the muslin back to the paper pattern and walk the adjoining seamlines to make sure the revised pattern will go together as it should. The work was intense. For me, it took a lot of concentration and was frustrating at times. But it was well worth it.

Like most of my fellow participants, I thought the muslin I prepared before the workshop fit pretty well. It did fit better than just about everything I’ve made in the past couple of years, but that’s not saying much. What I ended up with made me feel better in clothes than I’ve felt in years.

Some participants have already finished their first garments from their new and improved patterns.

Others are still works in progress (but let’s not name names). As I work on my two-piece princess seam dress, the optimism is still there. That’s a feeling I haven’t had after any other fit workshop. Thank you, Sarah.

Ready for Expo

The ASG Chicago booth is ready for Expo 2012. This year we have three fabulous prize baskets for our new member drawing, one for each day of Expo. Tina chose gift collections for the Modern Quilter, the Modern Sewist and the Felter. That pretty much covers everyone.

We have some sample projects on Susan’s garment rack, and room for many more that we’re hoping members will drop off before dashing to class. That’s Sharleen’s stripe challenge jacket in the front. This year we’re labeling the samples so you can see who made them and get some information about how they were made.

Wanda loaned us one of her fabulous evening gowns. This one has a free lace insert down the back. Wait until you see it in person. It looks great on Susan’s dress form.

We also have information about all our upcoming events and new Neighborhood Groups. And, we’re taking suggestions for where to start even more Neighborhood Groups and when to hold the meetings.

It’s going to be tons of fun. We can’t wait to welcome you. Please be sure to stop by Booth 818.

Celebrate National Sewing Month!

National Sewing Month logoSeptember is here! On the one hand it means a melancholy feeling because summer is coming to an end and we’re heading to cooler temps. But on the other hand, September is a CELEBRATION OF SEWING! September is celebrated as National Sewing Month and is co-sponsored by the Sewing & Craft Alliance and the American Sewing Guild.

A Brief History of National Sewing Month

President Ronald Reagan signatureIn September 1982, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation #4976, declaring that September as National Sewing Month. The proclamation recognized the tens of millions of Americans home sewists and  “the skill and the self-reliance which are so characteristic of this Nation.” This was followed with successive annual proclamations by President Reagan during his terms. But in 2005, the request for a proclamation was not accommodated. However, even without a Presidential proclamation, September continued to be supported and promoted as National Sewing Month by various organizations.

In  2008, the American Sewing Guild joined forces with the Sewing & Craft Alliance to continue the promotion of National Sewing Month and provide a central location for the distribution of National Sewing Month information and materials to organizations, educators, sewing enthusiasts and anyone else interested in promoting and/or participating in activities for National Sewing Month.

Celebrate With Sewing: Sew For The Love Of It Contest

 Sew For the Love of It logoNational Sewing Month is celebrated with a contest to showcase and encourage sewing creativity and imagination. This year’s theme is “Sew For the LOVE of it!” 

The contest runs through September 30, 2011. Official rules and entry can be found on the National Sewing Month website. Here’s what you should be thinking:

“Show us what YOU love to sew! You choose the project, whether it’s an article of clothing, a toy, something for your home, an accessory, a quilt, or even an item for your car or boat. Whatever you decide to create, show your love with a within the project. It can be heart fabric, a pillow shaped like a heart, heart embroidery, heart-shaped pockets – it’s completely up to you. The item you enter must be hand-crafted and utilize fabric, thread and sewing machine and there MUST be a visible heart somewhere on the project itself. Whatever you choose to sew, just make sure we see the expression of your love of sewing!”

Think about using National Sewing Month in your neighborhood group challenge this month. If you have pictures, be sure to post them to the Members’ Projects album or email me to post them.

Follow National Sewing Month on Twitter

Twitter logo

The National Sewing Month is on Twitter, @sewingmonth. Watch their tweets for daily giveaways and tutorials posted to the National Sewing Month website.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, @sewchicago. Watch for our special National Sewing Month tweets with the hashtag “#NatSewMo”. We and other sewists around the Twitter-sphere are using the hashtag to share our enthusiasm for sewing!

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