Thursday, September 24, 2015

5th Saturday Event - Charity Sew-In


Mark your calendars! The October Fifth Saturday event will be held October 31, 2015 at Manassas Mall.  Mary Grace Ronan will lead this event, a Charity Sew-In, and we will make Sailors/Soldiers quilts.  Show your support of our active and retired military members while having a fun day sewing and socializing with your friends.  Additional details about this event will follow.  

Deb Tollin’s Skirt Fitting Workshop will be rescheduled.

Your Oct 5th Saturday Team

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Taste of Retreat!

Our annual Taste of Retreat was held August 14-16th at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA.  With almost 6000 square feet of retreat space, we had lots of room to spread out.  The 3-day weekend retreat was a fun and relaxing way to spend time with sewing friends and catch up on sewing projects.  The onsite dining was delicious too!

Book Review: The Battle of Versailles by Robin Givhan

The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History by Robin Givhan
Book Review by Joyce Jones

It’s 1973. Versailles is crumbling, and the French government doesn’t have the funds for restoration. What to do? Will a national treasure succumb to termites, mildew, mold, and decay?
Enter the Baroness de Rothschild and her plans for a Fashion Show fund raiser that will pit five established French designers from the world of Haute Couture against five American designers known for ready to wear casual and work place comfort, and even jersey fabric.
But how to attract the moneyed set and elevate the event from the norm to the unexpected?
Perhaps, Eleanor Lambert, American fashion publicist, who is itching to show what American fashion is all about, might be interested in a show down of sorts.
The French have the tradition of haute couture; the established elegance and prestige, and five weighty designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Emanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior’s Marc Bohan).
The Americans have clothing designed for the American middle class; sportswear, safari suits, and five designers who include one woman, Anne Klein, one black man, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta.
Staging by the French designers includes a full orchestra, Rudolfo Nureyev dancing to Swan Lake, and a two hour production of manicured models gliding down the runway at a leisurely and practiced pace.
Left with only 35 minutes of show time, the Americans send out Liza Minelli for an upbeat song and dance routine to invigorate the staid crowd. Taped Barry White and Al Green songs rush from the sound system as a cadre of unknown American models, 1/3 of whom are black, prance, strut, and move to the music in a parade of quick garment changes.
After all the petty squabbles, grand standing, politicking, and back biting, the Americans emerge victorious. Thunderous applause from the audience ushers in the realization that American fashion does not have to compete with the French. Americans have created clothing that reflects the tensions of race, feminism, and freedom of the 70’s as well as the comfort and practicality pulsating in the American culture at the time.
Well written and researched, The Battle of Versailles will appeal to those interested in fashion, history, and American culture. A read that won’t disappoint. 

Manipulating Body Darts

by Kathy Wright

While at the ASG Conference, I took an all-day class on Manipulating Body Darts withy Hisako Nakaya, owner of Professional Sewing Supplies in Seattle, Washington. I thought to myself, why is the class all day long? I will by sooo bored. I was not!
Here is a much simplified version.
We started out with a blouse pattern that we liked. Any pattern with darts will work. We then taped those darts together as if we were sewing them. Then we decided where we wanted to put new darts, such as the shoulders, under the arms, or around the neck. You can put them anywhere you want. I and the lady next to me chose shoulder darts. We cut the pattern twice, down to about 1 inch from the apex of the dart. We put the pattern on new pattern paper and taped it down. When you lay the old pattern on the new pattern paper the dart will separate where you cut it. You just have to make sure that the design lines are even when you tape the pieces on to the new paper. That is the hardest part.
We traced the pattern on the new pattern paper, checked that new pattern for fit, and cut out a muslin. We sewed the new darts in to see if we liked them and checked again for fit.
It was a time-consuming process, but we had fun and learned a lot. 

Sew Expo is Coming to Fredericksburg

By Kathleen Saladino
Sew Expo is Coming to Fredericksburg on October 1, 2, and 3rd. The Chapter needs volunteers. Kathleen Saladino is again coordinating our volunteer efforts, so please consider helping out with one of the following.

1. Sign up at Sew Expo website to be an Ambassador You can hear a class while you are an assistant in a classroom, admit people into the Expo, be a greeter, help at the information desk, or be a white glove sitter for the exhibit, any number of ways. For each half day of service you give (we need 24 half days), we get our ASG booth for free (a $1200 value!).
On the website for Sew Expo “Fredericksburg” you will see Ambassador in the purple column. Click it and fill out the form. Someone will call you and together you will decide what task you will perform. After that, please e-mail me at Kathleenand let me know what you are doing!! It’s the only way I have of tallying how many hours we have signed up for! (Last year I thought we only had 18 when in fact we had 28, so please let me know so I don’t get any more gray hairs with worry.) Your ambassador badge will get you in to the Expo if you do not register for classes on the day you serve.

2. Spend one or more hours in the ASG booth in the exhibit area to sing the praises of why you love ASG! In the booth we will have a display of the “made with Muslin” Challenge projects from NOVA, a map of where the neighborhood groups meet, and MD will have a video presentation. All this to interest new members to come to our neighborhood groups. Sylvia Gould has created the signup sheet; when you know when you are going to have some free time, please select a time slot or two to sit in this booth and visit with perspective members. See: You do not get free admission to Sew Expo with this job. 

Sew Expo Offers Even More This Year 

Did you see that Fredericksburg Sew Expo has a three day retreat before the official expo begins? Six classes over are on tap to kick off the event this year, with topics that include embroidery, tailoring, sewing-on- knits, serger school, and heirloom sewing. Then plan to attend Sew Expo Oct 1, 2 and 3rd ! Martha Pullen herself will make some guest appearances! Registration has been open for a while so if interested, act immediately to secure your spot.
During the Expo, classes this year are offered on dress forms, embroidery software, long arm quilting, and many others that are new. Previous instructors are back along with many new ones. With Maryland not having an Expo this year, it appears to me that Expo has even more classes than other years. So explore the class offerings and find some that interest you, and register.
Remember, it’s a reverse commute for those of you from Northern VA, so traffic shouldn’t be too bad. The convention center is immediately off I-95 with many restaurants and lodging facilities close by. So treat yourself to a special mini-vacation. And don’t forget to volunteer. See you at the Expo. 

NoVA ASG Annual Meeting is coming!

The Annual Meeting is October 17, 2015, from 11 am to 3 pm. at Lakeridge Baptist Church, Woodbridge. Woodbridge Loose Threads is in charge of the event. We will hold our annual election of CAB officers. We will have a fashion show of the sweatshirts and t-shirts that have been resewn and "blinged" up to wear, and a short presentation from Attic Treasures. Please bring your membership card with your number. See the ballot in the Fall newsletter.

Pattern Review Simplicity 1318

by Tina Chester

I love kimonos and soft flowy dressing, especially in the
summer. I thought this would be a great cover up for going to
dinner or a social event. My plan was to make it out of a silk fabric for the Springfield NG challenge but decided a prototype was needed to make sure I really liked it. I found
a bold summery print at Hancock Fabrics that had the right drape and was on sale. My only concern was it being polyester, which I rarely sew with these days. Hey, it is just a prototype, so why not. More on that decision later. The pattern is very easy. I made View C and barely squeaked it out of 2 yds (60 wide) by creative
placement of the bands. I decided to sew French Seams since that is what the silk version would need. The only issue I had doing with this type of seam was where the underarm seams all came together. I left a small opening and went back at the end and closed it up, after all the seams were sewn. I used a lightweight interfacing on the bands. I did not follow the directions on the band, however, since I wanted a cleaner finish. They want you to attach the band facing, turn under the seam allowance, and hand stitch it in place. Anyone who knows me knows I do not do hand stitching if at all possible, and to me it was a very ‘loving hands at home’ look. So instead I applied Steam a Seam to the facing seam allowance and pressed it under. Then I top stitched in place, making a cleaner and more commercial finish. I did the same thing with the sleeve bands and the hems.
My only issue making this pattern was with the fabric choice. The neck portion of the band and its facing really needed to be steamed and shaped around a ham to get the right shaping, and polyester is just not easy to work with in that way. After a LOT of steaming and pressing, I finally got it to look right, but it reinforced my opinion on not working with polyester unless I really have to. The final product is cute and easy to wear and I just bought a piece of silk cotton voile to make the ‘real’ one.
The pattern comes with 4 versions and two band styles. I made the long one but this would be so cute in the shorter version. If you are looking for an easy project with no fitting needed, I would definitely give this pattern a try. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taste of Retreat Coming August 2015!

Save the Date! Friday August 14 -  Sunday August 16 for our Annual Taste of Retreat.

We have a new venue this year!  Our retreat will be hosted at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA.  This facility used to be the corporate training headquarters for the Xerox corporation.  It is now one of the largest conference centers in the nation on a beautiful campus.

We have an enormous amount of space available to us so we can really be comfortable and can accommodate everyone that would like to attend.

The cost for the weekend is just $50 per attendee.  You can commute or book a room (available for $109 or $129 per night).  See flyer and registration form for more information.

Taste or Retreat 2015 Information

Taste of Retreat 2015 Registration

Karen Gilbert is taking the registrations now.  Registration is due August 7!

Looking forward to seeing you there!!

We "Stepped into Spring"

Spring Fling this year was held on March 21 – the first day of spring.  The room at the Springfield Hilton was brought to life with centerpieces of sparkling spring pumps and flowers on hot pink and lavender tablecloths.  The tables were graced with shoe shaped luggage tag favors that brought surprise and giggles to the attendees.  You won’t lose track of your suitcase with these! 
Before lunch we had time to visit and take photos, meet newer members, enjoy the speaker’s display of Victorian sewing-themed items, and look at the door prizes.  Then we enjoyed an elegant buffet with a selection of meats, cheeses, salads, breads, fruits, and dessert pastries for lunch.  Table conversation at lunch was fun and friendly.  We all had time to reconnect with friends from our own and other neighborhood groups.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spring Fling Program 2015

The Alexandria Seamsters invite you to attend Spring Fling on Saturday, March 21, 2015, and enjoy our exciting speaker program - along with lunch, social time with your sewing buddies, and our member’s show-and-tell. (Click here for the registration form.)

Caroline Cutrona Hottenstein is a self-employed artist, accomplished seamstress, and needlewoman. She has extensively collected antique textiles since 1976. Her textile programs provide a fascinating look at clothing and accessories that were stitched, worn, and used by women of another era.
“Stitches in Time – A Woman’s Handiwork,” is a program that relates a legacy of handiwork of past seamstresses. Caroline will present a selection of 19th century needlework tools and fine examples of linens, lace, and clothing from her antique collection that show needlework styles and techniques. She will also talk about the importance of the needle arts in women’s lives.

Oscar de la Renta Exhibit

Now through May 3
His Legendary World of Style
SCAD Museum of Art
Savannah, GA

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Trustee Andre Leon Talley has brought together some of Oscar de la Renta's iconic gowns in this, the first exhibition since de la Renta's death in October 2014. Featured are gowns worn by Laura Bush, Anna Wintour, Taylor Swift, and Sarah Jessica Parker as well as several bridal ensembles. Google "scad oscar de la renta" for more articles and photos.
This exhibit is a must-see if you are traveling south in the next couple of months.

Reporting from the road
Linda Wyman
Shenandoah Valley Girls NG

Turn Grosgrain Ribbon Into a Beautiful Pillow

By Lorine Mason
Sterling Sew n' Sews Neighborhood Group

Have some spare ribbon lying around your house? Here is a fun way to fold, twist and sew it into a pillow. I did this challenge piece for Offray Ribbon. Full tutorial along with step by step diagrams on my site.

Shenandoah Valley Girls Community Service – Doll Clothes

For the past couple of years members of the Shenandoah Valley Girls Neighborhood Group have been involved in making clothing for the 18” American Girl doll and/or dressing and donating a doll for the auction fundraiser held by the Henry & William Evans Home for Children of Winchester, VA.  All proceeds from the annual event go back to the Home, which provides an alternative environment for children who cannot live with their families and who would not thrive in a foster or adoptive family.

Members of Shenandoah Valley Girls, Sharing Threads and the Couture neighborhood groups contributed dolls and custom outfits to the recent auction held in December. These items raised $1,645 of the $10,000+ total and rated a mention of ASG in the local newspaper. The Evans Home Board sends a heartfelt thank you to all who made and donated the doll clothing.

Special mention goes to Anda Lind who provided a case containing an antique doll and wardrobe that sold for $110 and won 2nd place in her category; to Sheila Bohannon and Michelle Parker, who dressed a Hermione doll from Harry Potter that sold for $120 and won 2nd place in their category; and to Linda Wyman who made a trio of “Frozen” outfits that started a bidding war before selling for $275.

The 2015 auction will be held at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester and will be included in the museum’s fall calendar of everts. This should generate lots of additional publicity and attendees as well as a need for more items to auction.

Our annual doll clothing “sew in” will be held on Wednesday, June 24th at the Clarke County Memorial VFW in Berryville, VA. Please join us for a day of sewing and lunch. We’re collecting your donations for the auction until the first of November, but we would like to have them sooner than that if possible.

If you have any questions please contact Linda Wyman or Nancy Melkerson.

Well—Who Knew! Sewing Machine Maintenance

By Carolyn Harris

Robert Hines of Sun Sew Vac (7770 Richmond Hwy Suite E; presented the Alexandria Seamsters January program at Hancock Fabrics. He gave us “Tips for Sewing Machine Maintenance,” and I was really surprised by a couple of them. I’ve always felt like I do a good job of maintaining my machines, but I fail on these two items, but I won’t any longer!
  • Oil your machine after every 2 hours of sewing (1/4 drop at appropriate places).
  • Change your needle after every 2 hours of sewing (he finds regular needles work fine). 
The other tips were pretty familiar:
  • Use a mini-vacuum attachment set to clean outside of machine and in bobbin area. (DO NOT use compressed air or blow into the machine.)
  • Use a surge protector for each machine (don’t confuse with a power strip).
  • Use best quality thread you can afford.
  • Have professional maintenance every year, at least & maybe more often depending on the amount of sewing done.
Robert is busier now after he was mentioned in a July 2014 Washington Post article on “How to Repair a Vintage Sewing Machine.”

The Great British Sewing Bee

By Denise Marois-Wolf

Like so many of my sewing friends who were enchanted with the early years of Project Runway, I’ve grown weary of the series. Despite Tim Gunn’s insistence that each season’s designers are the most talented group ever, I haven’t been impressed with the designers in a while (really, Tim, don’t you remember Jay McCarroll, Daniel Vosovic, Laura Bennett, Uli Herzner, Christian Siriano, Mondo Guerra?) The product placement has become more prominent, the back-biting and drama takes center stage, and you only see brief periods of garments actually being sewn. ‘Nuff said.
Then I heard that the Brits had come up with a sewing show that follows the same format as The Great British Baking Show, which has become so popular on public television. Each season, they select a crop of “amateur,” or as Gunn would say with a sniff, “home sewers,” give them three challenges to complete over a weekend, and send one contestant home each week while naming one top sewer.

ASG NoVA Winter Retreat Reviews

My First Winter Retreat

By Adrianne Bennett

The ASG sewing retreat was held last weekend. It was a first time adventure for me. We stayed at the George Washington Hotel in downtown Winchester, VA. The posh setting of this hotel was more luxury than I expected. The rooms were lovely and clean and I had a good rest both nights. I loved the fact that the hotel room wasn't too hot during
the night. The hotel staff was most courteous and helpful. We enjoyed two buffet dinners and breakfasts and they were simply delicious.

What sewing did I get done? Well, I finished several small projects that had been left undone at home. One of them was a mending job and another was to make two pillows out of preprinted fabric squares that were from my mother's stash. I also used lace from her stash as well. I finished my quilted table topper. I got some great advice from Barb who is an experienced quilter. My other project was to sew embellished stitch combinations onto 17 5 inch squares. I did complete them, but it got a little tedious after a while.

Neighborhood Group Plans

Upcoming meeting plans for our Neighborhood Groups:

Sew and Go Falls Church Neighborhood Group

Meets on the 1st Thursday of the month from 7-9PM at G Street Fabrics 6250 Seven Corners Center in Falls Church.
March 5th, group leader Sherri Bertrand will talk about manipulating fabric. Further details will be available on the Yahoo Group site. April 2nd, Lynn Berry will explain bias making techniques.
May 7th, Robert Hines from Sun and Sew Vac will discuss basic sewing machine care and maintenance. Please let Sherri know if you would like to attend this meeting before April 30th
June 4th, Marianne Dunn will demonstrate making fabric and acetate book covers. This will be our second challenge. Sherri Bertrand
ASG Falls Church Sew and Go leader

How to Register for our NoVA Yahoo Group

By Kaye Gonterman
Neighborhood Group Coordinator

The ASG NOVA yahoo group is a great way to stay informed about what the various Neighborhood Groups are doing. Hopefully, this will take the mystery out of how to get approved for the ASG NOVA Yahoo Group site.


  1. If you don’t already have a Yahoo account, register for one at .  In the upper right hand corner, select “Sign In”, then “Sign Up”.
  2. Sign in to your Yahoo account (this is the only way you can get onto the Yahoo Group page).
  3. Search for NorthernVA_ASGChapter.
  4. On the main page of Northern VA ASG Chapter look for/click on +Join Group. A new window will pop up – fill out any blank information. In the Comment to Owner block include your name and ASG member number (this is very important to expedite your approval).
  5. Click on Send Request. The approval process may take a couple of days.
  6. After approval, sign into Yahoo.
  7. Look for/click on Groups in header. A list of your Groups will appear.
  8. Select Northern VA ASG Chapter. Click on Membership/Edit. This is where you can edit how often you get notifications and other changes.

Hope this clears up any questions you might have had about signing up for the Northern VA ASG Chapter yahoo group.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Annual Meeting Fabric Challenge

It’s time to put your creative thinking caps on and plan to take part in this year’s Annual Meeting Fabric Challenge. This year, you’re asked to do something with either a tee shirt or a sweatshirt. You can refurbish it, or deconstruct and repurpose it in any way. The limit is your imagination and creative energy.


Welcome to our updated website!  We hope you like the new format of our chapter's website and find it easy to navigate and find useful information.

All of the information from our prior format is still here.  Neighborhood Groups maps, Chapter calendar, Sewing Links.  Our front page will be a blog-format where you can easily read the latest information.  Much of the content and articles from our chapter's newsletter, Full Steam Ahead, will be posted here as well.

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