Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sewing groups

Do you belong to one?  I always shunned these before.  I figured they were full of women talking about kids and quilts.  Neither of which interested me.  Now I'm the president of the local chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  Clearly I've changed my opinion about sewing groups.  What did it?  Well, maturity for one.  I'm in my 30's now and find myself much more open to trying new things without making assumptions first.

Probably the most significant event that changed my mind...I signed up for a week-long sewing class.  Some of you may remember my Nashville Chanel and wrecked car, that is the very week I am referring to.  The class consisted of 10 women, all but one of them older than me.  We had very different backgrounds...pilot, court reporter, nurse, small business owner, fashion design instructor, etc.  We all had very different skill levels and goals for the class...make a bias skirt that doesn't have wonky seams, design a complex dress from scratch, make a date-night dress for evenings with the hubby, and for me, just learn something new.  I didn't even have a project of my own to do.  I asked a friend if I could make one of her Victorian dresses for her because I wanted a complex project that would allow me to learn the most.  If you've read this blog in the past, you know that dress never materialized but I did start a classic French jacket that makes me feel like a talented seamstress and smart, successful woman.  Not too shabby for not having a clear goal upfront. 

I was nervous about signing up for this class.  I have solid basic skills but hadn't sewn much over the last 10 years.  I figured a $1,000-class would bring in experienced seamstresses with expensive machines.  I own 2 basic Singer machines: $150 mechanical one purchased at Target and my $400 commercial machine with a jet engine. No Bernina, Janome, Viking or Pfaff for me.  When I showed up, I realized I did have the cheapest, least jazzy machine there.  I also had the loudest machine.  I was self-conscious at first but quickly realized no one cared.  They even came by to look at my machine and learn about its features.  Surely something that loud was interesting as well.

Over the course of the week I discovered I didn't feel nervous or out of place at all.  I belonged right where I was at that moment.  These ladies were fun, interesting and supportive.  We each had very different styles but somehow found each other's project beautiful and wanted to learn more.  Maybe we bonded over the fact that we each spent a buttload of money to be there.  I think we bonded more so because we shared a common interest:  wanting to improve our sewing skills and learn from others.

I've missed that group of women since the class ended.  I also realized that I can prep, cut and sew much faster than I ever have.  I'd like to believe the comaraderie got the creative juices flowing to the point that I didn't stop to doubt myself or think too much about the next step.  Just do it.

The point of this long-winded rambling is I decided before moving from Memphis to Chattanooga that I wanted to join a sewing group. I was going to put aside the idea that all sewing groups are a bunch of older ladies making quilts and talking about kids.  Problem was that Chattanooga didn't have a formal sewing group that I could find; no BurdaStyle Club, no American Sewing Guild (ASG) chapter, nothing.  (I have since learned, now that I live here, that there are a few sewing groups around but they aren't that easy to find.)  By contacting the ASG chapters surrounding Chattanooga, I found a few locals that were also interested in forming a chapter.  So now I'm the president of the Chattanooga chapter of the ASG, go figure.  And most of the ladies I've met are old enough to be my mother, and they talk about their kids, and they all quilt.  And I love spending time with them.  I even want to learn to quilt.  They want to learn to make clothes.  We inspire one another.  Isn't that what sewing groups are really all about? 

As the president of the local ASG chapter I extend an invitation to all those that sew.  Young or old, beginner or advanced, those with fancy tools and those that bought their gadgets in the same store they bought toilet paper and apple juice.  No matter if you only sew clothes, quilts, or slipcovers.  All are invited because your companionship warms my heart.  I want to know what you know.  I want to see what you've made.  You inspire me.  I hope that I can inspire you as well.

The Chattanooga chapter of the American Sewing Guild will be meeting the 3rd Tuesday of every month (except in June) at 6:30 pm at St. John United Methodist Church (3921 Murray Hills Drive).  

Our upcoming meetings are:
  • May 17--Meet & Greet, Show & Tell (bring your current projects, UFOs, favorite fabric/book/notion, anything to share)
  • June 14 (2nd Tuesday)--Paper Piecing demonstration
Contact me for more details: julstech at gmail dot com


  1. I haven't posted for a while, but just had to say good on you for starting a new ASG Chapter and becoming President. I belong to 2 Australian Sewing Guild Groups, the treasurer of 1 and an attendee at the other. I just love the sharing of information and motivation when with ladies who sew.

  2. Thanks to Sharon (commenter above) I've joined the Australian Sewing Guild. I love sewing guild meetings and have increased my skills through the workshops they hold.

  3. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I would love to see the list of the couture patterns your own, I could not find it though. Can you help me with the url.



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