National Sewing Month at Area Libraries

Some enterprising ASG Chicago Neighborhood Groups organized displays at their community libraries to celebrate National Sewing Month. We have pictures of displays at the Oak Forest, Illinois Library, prepared by the “Bobbin Along” group and a northwest Indiana library prepared by the “Thread Heads” of Valparaiso. Don’t they look great?

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Sew for the Skill of It

Internaional Sewing Month

September is National Sewing Month and this year’s theme is Sew for the Skill of It. We’re always thinking about ways to sharpen our sewing skills and it’s always exciting when we find new ways to celebrate the gift that those skills are.

Recently, word has been spreading about a fabulous reality TV show called the Great British Sewing Bee that has home sewists competing based solely on their sewing skills. The show sprinkles in some interesting historical information and gives glimpses of the contestants’ backgrounds, but the focus is the craft of sewing and how well the contestants execute the challenges, which include following a pattern, making made-to-measure clothes for real people and upcycling a purchased article of clothing. The sewing room is stocked with exquisite fabrics and trims referred to as the haberdashery. The judges are an expert sewing teacher and a Saville Row tailor and the drama comes, not from personality conflicts, but from hoping the contestants will be able to finish the challenges in time. It’s all very civilized and no bleeping is required. Contestants talk about “unpicking” their mistakes (so much gentler-sounding than ripping) and one remarked that a fabric had a mind of its own so she had to “speak to it very firmly.”¬† Wouldn’t it be great if we had something similar here in the US? A contest like this would be a great addition to ASG’s National Conference, for instance.

Season Two of the Great British Sewing Bee is in the works and the full episodes from Season One can be viewed on YouTube.¬† Watching is fun, but doing is what we sewing fanatics love best. Let’s all celebrate National Sewing Month by tackling a project that tests our skills, learning or brushing up on a technique that’s gotten the better of us in the past. Do it for the skill of it.

Details Take Center Stage

ASG Chicago’s talented fashion show coordinator Jeanette Bussard’s “Larger Than Life” raincoat is featured in the Reader’s Closet section of Threads Magazine this month. She chose the name because of the bold details that give this coat the power to overcome the dreariness of a rainy day.

Jeanette lengthened the Simplicity 2645 jacket pattern to three-quarter length, added patch pockets and constructed the exterior from pale lavender vinyl with a hint of sparkle. The scene-stealing exterior details include white vinyl piping, oversized covered buttons, corded buttonholes and hand-painted white grommets embellishing the pockets.

 

As if that weren’t enough, Jeanette created a one-of-a-kind floral hand painted silk lining using a glue-resist method.

Jeanette also added a cotton flannel underlining to support the structure and add a bit of defense against the nip in the air that accompanies spring rain showers. Well done, Jeanette!

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 Winner…umm, Winners!

Random Number GeneratorWe ran our first giveaway a couple of weeks ago. We asked our readers:

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

The Random Number Generator selected entry #1 for “Pressing Matters”! With only two entries, I ran the Random Number Generator in a best of 5, just to be fair. Congratulations, Marie!

Pressing Matters

Trying to buy an iron has become an adventure over the last several months! Who knew there was so many systems to select from. And the price range started at $100 and went up to the cost of a used car! I really don’t need to drive my pressing system on the road!!

Giveaway prizeMarie wins the Sew U and Making Handbags & Purses books, zippers, buttons and fold-over elastic.

Giveaway Prize 2Since we only had two entries, I just couldn’t let our other fabulous entry go without merit. So, for the hilarious memoir titled “I Came, I Sewed, I Conked Out”, CKSewist will also win a prize. CKSewist will win a yard of blue-green ombre mohair and two altered couture magazines to continue her sewing (and conking out).

I Came, I Sewed, I Conked Out

A woman of a certain age goes to her local ASG chapter’s retreat where she eats too much pasta, drinks too much wine, stays up all night finishing UFOs, and passes out on a cutting table as all around her are women packing their machines into attractive wheeled carrying cases for the trip home.

Email me at tinawong[at]asgchicago[dot]org to claim your prize! Send me your mailing address and I will ship it to, so you can continue your sewing journeys!

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!

As Seen At The American Sewing Guild National Conference

Photos contributed by President Connie G.

American Sewing Guild National Conference logoThe American Sewing Guild National Conference was held in Los Angeles this year. Eleven of our Chicago chapter members attended and filled their days with learning new techniques and meeting old and new friends. Below are some pictures and tidbits that our President, Connie G. sent back.

Running In Stitches Neighborhood Group leader Celeste wrote about her ASG Conference experience on her blog. Be sure to take a peek at her jeans-to-skirt reconstruction with the pretty machine embroidery.

Sights and Thoughts From Connie

Gel-bleached jacket

Gel-bleached jacket

Linda MacPhee Transforms Fabrics
In Linda MacPhee‘s class, a denim jacket was transformed with dishwasher gel bleach. Use a squeeze bottle to control your lines. Save your squeeze ketchup bottles and use that or buy the squeeze bottles at your local craft store.

Linda is also know for her “beggar fabric.” But, beggar fabric is not easy to find. So, Linda made her own by cutting holes ¬†in a top fabric and laundering. Then the fabric is backed with a dotted sheer fabric. Beggar fabric doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s a great way to use up scraps and remnants.

Embellishments
Think that twin-needle is just for heirloom sewing? Try this: thread up some colorful thread in that twin-needle and wander your fabric. You’ll create a fun stipple that is perfect for quilting or embellishing a plain fabric.

Double-needle stipple Denim jacket

Use fleece as inserts to mimic bias to add texture to your piece. Since fleece doesn’t fray, you don’t need to worry about turning under tiny edges…just cut and sew. With fleece, you can also bend it any which way you desire without worrying too much about grains. Although, keep in mind that some fleece have a nap.

Fleece inserts

Fleece inserts

Button embellishments

Button embellishments

Add dimension to your machine embroidery with buttons! Don’t have an embroidery machine? Use your decorative stitches in rows with¬†variegated¬†thread. Or maybe even try hand embroidery.

Upcycle

Upcycled sweaterDo you have a bunch of sweaters that need a new life? You’re either tired of them or they might not fit as well as they used to? Gather them all up and upcycle them into a new sweater. Don’t worry about matching; the idea is to create a patchwork. Use your serger for quick construction…and leave the serged edges to the outside of the garment for additional texture and interest. Go ahead and raid your husband’s and children’s closets…because you’re fabric shopping!

Tip: Try to use similar fiber content within one garment. If you mix an all-wool piece with swatches from a cotton/acrylic sweater, you may end up with a shrunken, felted panel at the next wash.

Learn From the Experts

Sandra Betzina

Sandra Betzina

One of the many advantages of the American Sewing Guild National Conference is having access to many wonderful teachers who are known thoughout the sewing industry. Some classes are hands-on, while others are lecture. Sandra Betzina and Linda MacPhee were just a two of the instructors that were at this year’s ASG National Conference.

Did you go to the ASG National Conference this year in Los Angeles? Tell us your experience, we’d love to hear from you!

Dress A Joplin Child For The First Day of School

Joplin, MODear ASG members and readers, we’ve received a special request from the American Sewing Guild Region 3 to sew¬†new, hand-made first-day-of- school outfits for children whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating Joplin tornado.

Heirloom sewing expert Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart

Heirloom sewing expert, Susan Stewart, has started a project to help the school children of Joplin, Missouri¬†to make the start of school a happy and hopeful new beginning for them with Project First Day. The goal is to make a school outfit for a child’s first day of school.¬†Susan lives a very short distance from Joplin and would be able to receive the clothing and make sure it’s distributed in time for the beginning of Joplin’s new school year starting August 17, 2011.

Think Cool

School is scheduled to start on August 17. Around Joplin, that’s still summer, and the weather is usually quite warm. Sleeveless and short-sleeved garments made from cotton are probably best.

For girls, think of simple, pretty dresses, capri-and-top sets, or cute skirts.¬†Peasant-type tops and tunic tops are good for girls who are a little older, and will fit a wide range of sizes .For boys, camp shirts are easy to sew. While the goal is to keep everything primarily hand-made to showcase the ASG sewing skills, you could use a purchased T-shirt and add an appliqu√© or machine embroidery design to coordinate with a skirt or capris you’ve made. ¬†Reminder:¬†pre-shrink the fabric and trims so that the garment doesn’t shrink or pucker after laundering.

Patterns

Lezette Thomason of¬†Children’s Corner Patterns¬†has graciously offered to send a free pattern to anyone interested in using it to make a garment for this effort. She has also written up an instructional sheet on how to modify patterns to better fit plus-sized children. If you are interested, email her at¬†lezette@nashville.net.

Children's Corner Patterns

If you don’t already have children’s patterns or you can’t wait for Lezette’s pattern, here are some patterns that are available free on the Internet. Most of the patterns that are easily found are for younger girls.

Not sure what size to make for children’s clothing? Here are Simplicity’s measuring charts for Girls/Girls Plus and Boys/Teen Boys.

Where To Send

Please send your finished the garments directly to Susan Stewart at the address below by August 1, 2011.

Susan Stewart
PO Box 1371
Pittsburg, KS 66762

[edited] Please include a simple, personalized note to the child who will receive your garment to the child recipient. It can be a simple wish for a good school year with your name or your ASG Chicago neighborhood group name. Please write the note onto cardstock or something more sturdy than printer paper and safety-pin the note to the garment. Please also indicate the size of the garment on the back of the card.

Please consider if you can help. If you do, we’d love to see pictures! Feel free to email or add them to our Flickr album!

Sew-lebrity Spotlight: Ina R. – Love Means Not Counting The Days…Or Months

My apologies, dear readers, for the lapse in posting. I’ve been so caught up in visiting museums, neighborhood groups and tweeting, that I’ve started many blog posts, but haven’t finished any. But no worries, I’m back on it and have many things to share with you.

This month’s Sew-lebrity Spotlight is Ina R. from the Material Girls Neighborhood Group, where she showed her recently-finished quilt that took her 18 months to make. Yes, you read that right…18 months! Not that anyone’s counting. ūüôā

Ina and her quilt that took 18 months to make

You might wonder how someone can spend more than a year on a project. But when the¬†recipient is a special girl for her bat mitzvah, it’s easy to understand that every stitch is knowing that it will bring a smile.

The quilt is a combination of appliqué and machine embroidery in the corner squares.

I don’t know if Ina realizes it, but this quilt is a bridge of the traditional and modern quilting. The¬†appliqu√©d¬†blocks are pretty traditional, but the colors and the design simplicity of the pink block crosses over into “modern” quilting. You haven’t heard of modern quilting or modern sewing? I’ll have a post on that in the coming weeks.

Brava to Ina for this amazing work of love!


Do you have a project that you’ve been working on for quite a while? Email me your story and a picture; we’d love to showcase you with it!

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