Happy 2018 from Sew Chicago

Sew Chicago closed out 2017 with our annual holiday brunch. We forgot to take a group picture, but we had a great time together.

We had our annual gift exchange.

Sew & Tell included Steph’s fabulous new coat with the perfectly-matched plaid lining,

Rhonda’s lovely and versatile detachable collar, Linda’s tank top – her first project made completely by serger – and Liz B.’s beautiful dress.

We continued our tradition of developing our list of programs for the coming year by finding out what everyone is most interested in learning. We will be kicking off 2018 with the most-requested program, a roundtable discussion of favorite patterns with emphasis on those from independent pattern companies.

Chief Creative Officer Stephanie announced our 2018 ASG Chicago Fashion Show Challenge, which is a skirt featuring one or more techniques learned in recent Sew Chicago programs.

We are all looking forward to a happy and productive 2018, the tenth year for Sew Chicago!

Sheer Perfection

In November, Chief Creative Officer Stephanie helped us take a penetrating look at sheer fabrics and how to work with them.

Starting with stunning inspiration pictures, Steph showed us how testing different colors of lining can pay off with beautiful results, some quite unexpected. She also walked us through samples showing different seam treatments that work well with sheers, including French seams. For hems, Steph showed us how to achieve a beautiful finish with a narrow machine hem as well as a rolled hem on the serger.

Sew & Tell was full of fascinating projects. Chapter President Valerie showed us the product of a workshop in which everyone was instructed to stitch together pieces of fabric as fast as they could and then cut up the results and stitch those pieces together in another order. The process was repeated multiple times.

Liz H has been very busy making cardigans from sweater knits using multiple views from a single pattern.

Mollie has been knitting more gorgeous sweaters, as well as sewing.

Sharleen completed a two-piece pants ensemble in comfy slinky knit.

And then we saw this show-stopping cape Steph just whipped up.

What a great way to close out our regular programming year!

Septembers Innovative Pockets

Sew Chicago welcomed fall with an innovative pocket program. What better way to get ready for fall sewing than thinking about incorporating pockets, lots of pockets! Pockets on jackets, dresses, coats, pants and even pajamas! Welt pockets, ribbon welt pockets, welt pockets with flaps, shaped welt pockets, cut on pockets, patch pockets, applied pockets and so much more!

Members of the neighborhood group were treated to several handouts which included directions for welt pockets with flaps, standing welt pockets and additional web resources for other types of welt pocket tutorials. In addition to that there was a full 3 page color printout of amazing pocket designs that everyone could use for inspiration.


Wendy reviewed everything from basic pockets to beautifully tailored welt pockets and invisible patch pockets.


Before the meeting wrapped up each participant was given a sample ‘patch pocket’ and sample ‘body’ fabric and we had a tutorial on how to hand sew a patch pocket to a jacket. What a great way to review our use of hand stitches.


Sew and Tell had quite a few people get up to show off their sewing makes and even to just show off some very cool and interesting pockets. It is always such a treat to see what all the Sew Chicago members are up to. Keep the projects coming!


Over the summer one of our Members, Liz Houlihan, researched and constructed a beautiful historically correct dress from the Czech-Slovak region. Her niece competed in the ​Miss Czech-Slovak USA competition over the summer. Liz shared with us pictures of the dress and the bow hat that was constructed. Thank you Liz for sharing!!


Looking forward to seeing everyone at this Friday’s, November 17th, Sheers program.

Don’t forget to bring your Sew and Tell!!

Sew Chicago shows off our ‘Show your Bias’ on the runway!

Saturday October 28th was the Annual ASG Chicago Chapter luncheon and fashion show. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves this year! We had a wonderful lunch, a very comprehensive selection of raffles prizes (More than I have seen in the past several years) Rhonda Buss from Rhonda’s Creative Life was the guest speaker.

Ticket Sales

Sew Chicago was in charge of the raffle sales! 

The Fashion Show had just under 50 entries with several of them being Neighborhood Group challenges.

This year the Sew Chicago group challenge was ‘Show Your Bias’. The rules of the challenge was that 50% of the garment you were sewing had to made on the bias and visible. In May of this year we had a presentation that started with Steph sharing a power point with inspiration garments and Wendy sharing some tips on working with bias garments and how to choose fabrics, patterns and techniques. It was a very good meeting that certainly inspired 4 of us to walk the runway!

Several member shared their bias garments at the May meeting for inspiration.


This is a great tidbit of information that Wendy shared during the meeting! Can’t say it any better than that!


And… here were the results of the ‘Show your Bias’ Sew Chicago Neighborhood Group challenge.

Bias Challenge

Steph K in a wool bias plaid skirt ensemble, Liz H in a cotton striped shirt with a bias back, Wendy G in a rayon Challis bias summer dress and Linda A in a Striped cotton bias cut blouse.

Now onto the rest of the show! Or at least a teaser… Our regular photographer just happened to volunteer as the emcee of the Fashion Show so we will have to wait for the professional photos to come back!

The parting shot is of Wendy, Steph and Liz in a selection of fashionable and fun outfits!


Don’t forget that Novembers meeting is being held on a special date, Friday November 17th. We will have a program on working with sheer fabrics and will have information for our December Holiday Luncheon.


Sew Chicago supports the Haute Couture Club of Chicago

This is a bit late in getting up on the blog! But… better late than never.

Several of the Sew Chicago members are also members of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago. There is definitely overlap  between the two organizations! Many of us just can’t resist another place to get together and talk sewing shop with other like minded individuals.

This past May was HCCC’s annual fashion show that was held at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. Not only do many of us support the HCCC by attending the luncheon and purchasing raffle ticktes, we also support by joining in on the fun and creating beautiful garments to walk down the runway!

4 members, Wendy Grossman, Liz Buckley-Geer, Maria Curciarello and Stephanie King, walked the runway to show off a total of 13 garments!! Pretty impressive showing by Sew Chicago Neighborhood Group.

Wendy Grossman had 2 lovely dresses. 1. Grey and white organic cotton dress with white cotton pique jacket. 2. Blue and green cotton sateen dress.


Liz Buckley-Geer had an impressive 5 garments! 1. Black wool knit skirt with lace trim, lace vest and rayon challis blouse. 2.Green, black, white rayon cotton tweed and lace skirtsuit. 3.Marbled silk dress 4.Rayon spandex print dress and 5. Green linen and vintage cotton print dress.


Maria Curciarello looked smart as ever in her beautifully tailored outfits! 1. Red check wool/lycra pants with red cotton twill motorcycle jacket. 2. Black and white double faced wool crepe dress. and 3.Red and white double wool crepe dress.


Stephanie King had 3 dresses to go down the runway. 1.Yellow novelty tweed cotton jacket and floral cotton skirt. 2. Black and white cotton/lycra and silk dress. 3. Pinstripe evening dress with organza and laser cut scuba godets and jacket from red organza, laser cut scuba and rayon jacquard.


A big thank you goes out to all the Sew Chicago members that participated in the HCCC runway show and for those that supported us at the luncheon.

New Homes for Fabric, Patterns and Books

We all have some pieces in our fabric collections that aren’t quite right for us. They might have seemed perfect at one time, but something changed. As for patterns, there are the duplicates we bought by mistake, the design lines that probably won’t be flattering on us after all and suddenly we have an accumulation of things we’ll never use that are just taking up space. So, once a year Sew Chicago joins forces with the Sew Saturday group and we have a fabric, pattern and book exchange. Members can sell or give away items that no longer appeal to them.


There were items in three rooms for this exchange. In the main room was an array of beautiful fabric that was cultivated from members fabric collections and on sale for a fraction of the original price! Always a treat to get to peruse so many lovely fabrics.


The back room was the ‘FREE to any good home’ room. For many of us we aren’t looking to sell our fabrics we just want to make sure that they get used for some purpose! This is quite a popular spot and it is great to be able to grab a nice piece of fabric to use for a test garment that is similar to your final fashion fabric.

The pattern room was quite a popular one this time around with what seemed like hundreds of patterns, quite a few books, videos and notions. Everyone was sure to find something to take home with them!

IMG_3152We all enjoy chatting with each other, catching up on what each NG has been up to, exchanging ideas and just getting to know each other a little better.

Thanks to Sew Saturday for hosting the exchange!


Serge Ahead!

The July meeting was a hands on one that was all about sergers and coverstitch machines. We had seven machines set up, 3 sergers, 2 coverstitch and 2 combination machines.

Many of us have these machines but are not always very comfortable on what can be done with them or how to make modifications when the stitch is not perfect. Having a place to practice with each other made the serger/coverstitch process much more attainable.


We started the evening with a resource handout, preview of samples of the different types of stitches then everyone received a sample packet to play with on the different machines.

It really was educational and fun to try out the different machines and different brands. Sometimes it just makes a big difference once you get some hands on time. One of our members, Carolyn A, was on hand to answer any very technical questions and before the evening was over several members were setting up private lessons with her.

During Sew and Tell this month Wendy showed off her lovely new self-drafted jacket. Isn’t that collar just wonderful!




At our December brunch, someone asked whether anyone had good ideas about what to do with scraps. That got us to thinking. Hats – the kind you sew, which once were called dressmaker’s hats – typically use about a half yard of fabric, plus even less for lining. And they can be downright adorable, so why not do a program on hats?

Our Chief Creative Officer, Stephanie King, took the idea and ran with it. She not only made samples to show and discuss, but she made up kits for everyone to take home and try themselves.here. As you can see, it makes an adorable hat worthy of Miss Fisher. The maroon wool fabric for the kits came from fabric that was donated to to the ASG Chicago chapter. Valerie Koppenhaver brought the fabric to the January Mary Ray workshop as a special treat for the attendees.


Steph showed samples of other hats she made, discussed the types of interfacing that work well (she put samples of those in the kits) and went over the simple construction process. She also demonstrated the proper method for measuring your head to choose the correct size and measured anyone who was interested on the spot.

Lee also brought in a sample of a hat she sewed for her daughter.

Steph’s Sew & Tell was her wonderful shirt with a dropped neckline and rolled collar following the instructions in Sarah Veblen’s article in Threads Magazine No. 182, December 2015/January 2016.

Liz Houlihan showed her fun top with the surprise in the back.This is from the new Marcy Tilton Vogue pattern #9207.

And both Liz and Steph showed us the Tremont Jackets they made in class with Linda Lee at Sewcial on February 11th. In the few days we’ve been back from that trip, Liz whipped up another version of the Tremont Jacket in a great striped silk dupioni she found at Fabrications in Richland, Michigan on the way home.

Sew & Tell also included Wendy’s first Appleton Dress and Lee’s latest purse with all sorts of organizer pockets.

We hope to see everyone at our March meeting- Incorporating Lace in Garments. You can see a full schedule of Sew Chicago meetings on the Calendar of Events page.


Sew Chicago’s 2017 Kickoff

Sew Chicago welcomed the new year in January with a lively roundtable discussion of favorite sewing tips. The business meeting was led by our new co-leader Stephanie King, who has  chosen the honorary title Chief Creative Officer.


Liz Buckley-Geer brought in a great technique for inserting invisible zippers with a clean finish from an article by Gail Grigg Hazen published in Threads Magazine No. 59, July 1995.


Linda explained what she’s learned about altering pants patterns to get the fit just right. She also explained how she made herself a cost-saving alternative to a seam stick that is long enough to press an entire pants seam without having to reposition the fabric.

Wendy shared the amazingly easy and always accurate technique for inset corners that Susan Khaljie teaches.

Steph showed us a sample of a great zippered pocket with the bag attached to the waistband so it stays put.

She also brought in samples of free lace inspired by one of the garments in Mary Ray’s trunk show and some fun noodly shapes she made from strips of knit fabric that were ready to be made into a necklace.

These and other tips sparked discussions of other helpful techniques.

Sew & Tell included Liz Buckley-Geer’s lovely sweater from The Fearless T-Shirt pattern by Cecelia Podolak.

Steph showed us another one of her fabulous knit dresses from Vogue 1336 that showcases her talent for combining fabrics as well as intricate construction.

img_0156Wendy showed her peplum blouse and Debbie W. got some advice from the group on pattern alterations. We can’t wait to see the finished product!





Mary Ray Workshop

This past weekend ASG Chicago offered a Friday evening trunk show and 2 half day workshops with designer, clothing maker and teacher Mary Ray.

Despite the bitterly cold temperatures there was a full house for this special event, including quite a few regulars from our Sew Chicago Neighborhood group. It was a special treat to spend a full day together learning, sewing and being inspired by Mary Ray.

This special event started with a trunk show on Friday evening at the College of Dupage in the Fashion department.


A sample of some of the beautiful garments that Mary Ray brought to show off during the trunk show and lecture.

Satyrdays workshops were held in the sewing room at College of Dupage Fashions department. This worked out great! No one had to lug their sewing machines around. Many of us worked on the industrial JUKI sewing machines. It sure was fun to try those out, most of us had to turn down the speed, we just aren’t used to sewing that fast on our home models.

The space in the Fashion department is quite lovely! Great big rooms with a wall of windows. SO much natural light and space to work in without being overcrowded.


The morning workshop was on Tucks, Pleats and Folds

Description from Mary Ray Designs website: Simple techniques often produce the most effective embellishment. In this class, you’ll explore numerous ways to create texture, emphasize style lines, add detail, or just jazz up a basic garment using easy-to-do tucks, pleats, and folds. You’ll learn the secrets of measuring, pressing, and stitching—and get lots of design ideas, too

Mary started the workshop off with a short lecture and demo and then we moved onto sewing techniques. She provided us with a very well put together kit. For each technique she first discussed its use and when applicable showed us either garments that incorporated this technique or showed us samples that she had made.


Wide pintucks with an insertion. On the left is the sample we created in class and on the right is a beautiful silk organza skirt created using this technique.


Inserted tucks. Left sample we created and on the right are 2 garments made using variations on this technique.


pictured clockwise from upper left: Waffle tucks in yellow, Easy pleated trim, Random fused folds and Slot seam.


The afternoon workshop was on Well-Crafted Edges, Plain & Fancy

Description from Mary Ray Designs website: The hems and outer edges of your garments deserve special attention. In this class you’ll learn many ways to a smooth, professional finish – including perfectly turned facings, beautiful bindings, decorative piping and applied trims, as well as how to leave edges raw and get away with it. You’ll pick up ideas for wonderful closures, too.

As in the morning workshop, Mary Ray started out with discussion about different techniques showing us both samples and the techniques applied to her own garments.


Example of a baby hem on a beautiful wrap belt on the left and the right shows my example of the baby hem. This was much easier to do then fighting with the rolled hem foot on my machine! It may take slightly longer to do but you are guaranteed a much better result.


Hong Kong seam finish in a quilted jacket, left and right is sample created in workshop.


I found this techniques to be very interesting. When creating an unlined garment and want to roll back a cuff to show off the other side of the fabric you can switch the side your seam is sewn on. Top is finished sample we created, a mini cuff. the 2 bottom photos show the seam allowances on each side of the seam.


We also created samples for various other techniques including Applique binding, miters, and tube trim.

If you missed this workshop you can always sign up for Mary Ray’s Craftsy class: The Fashionably Quilted Jacket. craftsy.com/quiltedjacket


Group photo of the afternoon workshop participants.

Thanks to ASG Chicago Board members  Valerie Koppenhaver, President and Elizabeth Houlihan, Education for putting this workshop together! And special thanks to Sharon Scalise and College of DuPage. Don’t miss out on future events, check in with your Neighborhood group leader or keep an eye on the Chicago chapter website special events page.





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