Sunday, May 19, 2024

Me-Made May, Museums, and Homemade Inspiration

 Well, we're halfway through #MeMadeMay! How are you doing? We'd love to see your photos and read your comments!

It's also time to make summer plans. When the weather is awful or uncertain, museums are a great antidote for heat, humidity, and rain. If you're in the DC area, we have a lot of exhibits related to sewing, so take advantage of these opportunities! Even if you don't live near Washington, DC, many of the exhibits offer virtual tours and even lectures. 

The DMV:

Beyond DC:

Passport Needed (or just membership):

Neighborhood Group Inspiration:

Check out Shenandoah Valley Girls in Berryville on Wednesday, May 22, as they offer a 1/2 day workshop on the All Dunn Designs Strip & Serge Top! This workshop was taught at
 the last two ASG Conferences and ASG members get a 15% discount on the pattern. 

The Springfield Sharing Threads and Kingstowne Clothiers have focused their sewing plans on fitting. If you're interested in learning more about fit and desire a supportive and encouraging community of sewists at all levels, join us at our monthly meetings! 

Our newest group, the Woodbridge Sewcial Club, alternates its offerings at the maker space in their local public library. Every other month, they will hold a sit-and-sew (or sew-in) where sewists can bring their machines and projects and get expert assistance. The alternate meetings will feature a presentation on some sewing related topic. 

Bothered by distractions? Need to get away to sew? Check out our upcoming "Taste of Retreat" scheduled for August 24-25 at the Hyatt House, Dulles, Sterling, VA. This mini retreat is modeled after our popular Winter Retreat every January in Winchester, VA. The cost is only $100 for this two-day retreat and you can stay overnight with hotel rooms that begin at $99. Overnight parking is $10, but there are no parking fees for daily attendance. Attendees are responsible for their own meals and drinks.  

Contact information for Neighborhood Groups.
Current meeting locations and agendas for Neighborhood Group Meetings may be found here (email contact information above if no group is listed). ASG members have access to GroupWorks where additional details may be found.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Interesting People Wear Hats

January 15 marks National Hat Day so pull out your books, patterns, and supplies! 

Or, just pop on a baseball cap, the overwhelming choice of hat wearers in the US. Baseball caps have evolved to become a staple in fashion and pop culture. They are often considered an off-duty essential and can be paired with anything from a knitted sweater to a blazer or even a bomber jacket. Baseball caps are also popular because of their customizability and convenience. Baseball caps are widely available and come in a variety of styles, colors, and teams. For ideas on how to incorporate baseball caps with your look, just search the internet----there are tons of photos of people wearing baseball caps with anything you can imagine! 

 You can make hats out of anything, but fabric is one of the easiest to sew. Making hats of felt or straw requires specialty supplies, training, and more expertise. 

 I have a hat that was purchased from Hecht, a department store chain that operated along the East Coast. The hatbox features the Washington DC skyline, and the hat is stamped inside with "Glenover Henry Pollak." I learned, however, that Henry Pollak is not a hat designer!
The word "millinery" comes from Milan, Italy, where importers and sellers known as "mileners" or "milaners" sold trimmings and other accessories, including bonnets, hats, and caps. In 1897, the original Henry Pollak left Italy with his brother to seek their fortune and opportunity in Japan—which had been closed to outsiders for centuries. They became successful exporting straw braid to the headwear community in Europe and in America. In 1917, Henry and his wife, Eva, moved to New York and started importing hat bodies and braids from around the world. Henry Pollak's company was incorporated in New York in 1917. 

Domestic manufacturers of hat bodies required country of origin stamps inside of the crown of the hat bodies in the middle of the 20th century and hat bodies came from all over the world. That is why so many wool and fur felt hats are marked with the “Henry Pollak” stamp. Henry Pollak Inc sold the raw hat bodies to the milliners—but the company was never a designer or producer of the finished hats. Many hat designers (Halston, Adolfo, Frank Olive, Lily Dache, etc.) used these hat bodies. It is ironic that the name that survived in the hats is the name “Henry Pollak,” who did not design hats at all!

Sewists may be most familiar with Patricia Underwood, who partnered with Vogue Patterns for a series of hat patterns. Patricia Underwood got her start as a hat designer when she took a night course in hat making at the Fashion Institute of Technology

In an interview on why she became a hat designer, she said, “I was thinking, ‘What is the most important thing about a woman? It’s her brain. And what is the most important piece of apparel closest to the brain but a hat?’” For Underwood, hats are much more than adornments; they uplift and dignify women in all their complexity. 

Wearing a hat requires confidence. "Because people will look at you when you are wearing a hat--not necessarily in an overt way, but they will notice--and you have to have the confidence for that."

So, on National Hat Day, be bold!

If you want advice on how to wear a hat, watch this YouTube video where the National Arts Club interviews Patricia Underwood. 

If you'd like more information on sewing hats or would like to share your experiences on hats, leave a comment below!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Contest Ideas for Neighborhood Groups

A collage in pastel shades of sewing notions surrounding a sewing machine

Content credentials
Generated with AI ∙ November 9, 2023 at 12:18 PM

One of the ways to engage sewing groups is to create a challenge! Sewing challenges spur risk-taking because it's a low-risk exercise with the potential for a fantastic payoff! After all, these are learning opportunities. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Use the same pattern selected by the challenger to create a project. Marvel at the different variations sewists can create! An alternative to this is to use the same fabric. 
  • Everyone writes down a project (aka UFO) that is lingering in their time-out bin or stash. A deadline is agreed upon and everyone reports the status at the end of the challenge period. This written commitment provides accountability that can move a project forward.
  • Issue a "zero-waste" challenge and review the final projects
  • Upcycle or alter a garment you never wear but don't want to discard. Make it better, however you define "better."
  • Quilters must use a garment technique and garment sewists must use a quilting technique in a challenge.
  • Propose a technique challenge. Sewing books that demonstrate couture techniques, sashiko, quilting, and embroidery lend themselves well to this challenge. Sewists may also find inspiration from YouTube videos, Instagram, and blog posts. 
  • Identify the oldest pattern, notion, or fabric in your stash and make something with it.
  • White Elephant Challenge: Everyone brings a predetermined amount of fabric in a bag and bags are exchanged. (No peeking!) This could extend to trims, buttons, notions---the possibilities are endless!
  • Identify a "Christmas in August" recipient (could be an individual or a facility). Everyone is challenged to create a sewing donation for the recipient. This could be hats, adult bibs, walker/wheelchair totes, scarves, etc.
What ideas have you used for sewing challenges? What was your favorite challenge?

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Just a Reminder! Annual Meeting this Saturday!

Our annual chapter meeting is this Saturday, October 14, from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Sully Government Center, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly, VA 20151.

This year will be a potluck luncheon so everyone can share their favorite fall food! Yum!

We will be electing our three Chapter Advisory Board (CAB) positions of President, Treasurer, and Secretary at the meeting. Voting is now open so you can vote electronically. The final count will be announced at the annual meeting after all electronic and paper ballots are counted.

Activities and Events:

  • View the lovely rope bowl creations! 
  • Listen to the president discuss the recent ASG Conference in New York City and ASG State of the Union
  • Learn who the Neighborhood Group Leaders are, Neighborhood Group accomplishments, and plans for the upcoming year!
  • Get a head start on your sewing calendar with plans for Fifth Saturdays, Workshops, and other Fun Events for 2024! 
See you there!

Saturday, October 7, 2023

It's Just Fabric; We Can Out-Think It


A rippled piece of lacy fabric with light shining through it, creating a shadow of lace on a surface
It's just fabric; we can out-think it.

It seems that you are quoting a phrase from a sewing discussion topic on The phrase was used by a user named BriarRose, who was commenting on a thread about Carol Burnett's outfit on a TV special. The user was expressing their admiration for the fabric design and their confidence in their sewing skills.

The phrase could also be interpreted as a metaphor for creativity and problem-solving. It implies that fabric is not a fixed or rigid material, but rather something that can be manipulated and transformed by human ingenuity. It also suggests that there are no limits to what one can achieve with fabric, as long as one has the right mindset and attitude.

There are other contexts where the phrase could be relevant, such as physics, fashion, or philosophy. For example, some physicists have argued that spacetime is not really a fabric, but rather an illusion or an emergent phenomenon. Some fashion experts have criticized the sustainability of fast fashion and the use of synthetic fabrics. Some philosophers have explored the nature of reality and the role of human perception in shaping it.

In any case, the phrase is an interesting and provocative one, and it could inspire many different kinds of creative works. For example, one could write a poem, a story, a song, or a code using the phrase as a theme or a prompt. Here is an example of a poem that I wrote using the phrase:

It's Just Fabric; We Can Out-Think It

It's just fabric; we can out-think it 
We can cut it, sew it, dye it, knit it 
We can make it into anything we want 
A dress, a coat, a hat, a flaunt

It's just fabric; we can out-think it 
We can stretch it, bend it, fold it, twist it 
We can shape it into any form we need 
A tent, a sail, a flag, a creed

It's just fabric; we can out-think it 
We can weave it, quilt it, patch it, stitch it 
We can mend it into something new and strong 
A bond, a bridge, a story, a song

It's just fabric; we can out-think it 
We can dream it, design it, create it, invent it 
We can make it into something that reflects our soul 
A vision, a passion, a purpose, a goal

This entire article and accompanying graphic image were generated by an AI prompt on the phrase "It's just fabric; we can out-think it."

Saturday, August 26, 2023

A Quilt Can Wrap Someone in Love - Quilt Donations for Maui

Thoughts and prayers can hold someone up spiritually, but a quilt can wrap them in love.

Wrap the World with Quilts, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to sending quilts and sewing machines where they're most needed.

Their mission statement says it all:

Through the gift of a handmade quilt, we provide comfort and love, warmth and human connection to those suffering around the world.

Wrap the World with Quilts has been sending quilts to Ukraine but have recently added Maui as an option. Use the drop-down location option, "Wherever Needed Most," to route your donation to Maui. The "Aloha Quilts Donation Drive" began with Marilyn at the Maui Quilt Shop. If you'd like to register quilts as a group, just include a note in the box with a name and email and specify they should go to Maui.

Marilyn says, "Your donated quilts will be distributed wisely to those affected by this horrible fire. These quilts will give them comfort and help them heal as they try to overcome this tragedy. Thank you for caring about Maui! With Love and Aloha."

For shipping, Wrap the World with Quilts has partnered with GiveBackBox and UPS for an inexpensive shipping option that will go directly to the receiving organization. Donations may also be sent directly to the Maui Quilt Shop at 18 Central Ave, Wailuku, HI 96793

Go to THIS LINK to add the label to your cart. The address will be preprinted and, after you pay the $20 flate rate fee, the label will be emailed to you. Simply print it out to place on your package. The label will cover the costs for any size box up to 50 lbs.

Just drop it off at any UPS store.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Woodbridge Sewcial Club July Meeting: "THRIFTING 101"


If you are new to upcycling or if you've never thrifted before, this meeting is for you! 

The Woodbridge Sewcial Club (WSB) will first meet at the Goodwill Thrift Store located at 9769 Liberia Ave, Manassas, VA 20110 at 10:30am on Saturday, July 8th. 

We will tour the store as I explain:

  • The various sections of the store;
  • The method I use for thrifting and what to look for; and
  • Tips and tricks for finding the perfect thrifted item

Ideally, my hope is that everyone will find (and purchase!) that one perfect item on this trip!

We will stay at the thrift store for as long as we like, purchase any items we just cannot leave behind 😍, then head over to the Central Library at 8601 Mathis Ave, Manassas, VA, afterward to show off our thrifted finds and the next steps in turning this item into a new upcycled creation!


The Thrifting 101 series will continue over the next several meetings, and will include education and presentations on:

  • How to clean or pre-wash your item (and any future thrifted items once you're hooked on upcycling---which I think you will be!) 💞
  • How to envision what your item will become in its new life, considering its fabric content, any directional prints or nap, etc., and how to pick a pattern that suits your vision;
  • How to deconstruct your item;
  • How to lay out your pattern to maximize the "yardage" and/or deconstructed pieces you have to work with; and
  • Maybe some open sew sessions for us to upcycle together!

If you haven't RSVP'd for the meeting, please message me asap at I'm only asking for rsvp's so that I know:

1. Who is coming and delay the start of the tour, if needed, if anyone is running late, and

2. Have enough handouts for everyone

I think this field trip will make for a really fun meeting and I hope you can make it!

My hope is that this crash course in upcycling will set us up for a more in-depth upcycle challenge in 2024 AND . . . if completed before the Quilt and Sewing Expo in Fredericksburg, VA, in September, you can walk the ASG Fashion Show in your upcycled garment!