Mix it Up with Sew Chicago

Our May program explored the art of mixing different textiles in a single garment. This subject is right up Steph’s alley, as she demonstrated with her delightful mini trunk show from her own closet.



But she didn’t stop there. Steph showed up in her personal tribute to the summer’s patriotic holidays with a red, white and blue ensemble that defies all convention.


She walked us through her design and construction process, beginning with fabric selection and moving through the pattern work she needed to achieve the effect she was going for in her jacket.


If you’d like to learn more about Steph’s jacket, you can visit the in-depth post on her blog, 10 Sewing Machines and a Serger.

Liz G. followed through on the fabric mixing theme in her Sew & Tell entry.


And Rita did the same.


Liz H’s Sew & Tell showcased her fascination with the versatility of stripes.


And Linda’s entry gave us an update on her continuing progress in working with knits. The pattern she used is Simplicity 1463, which has an interesting sleeve treatment.


The winner of the May Sew & Tell prize was Debbie, who gave us a mere tease peek into the super-secret project she’s working on.


Stay tuned!

Sweater Knits

April brought more snow and cold to Chicago than we want to think about, so our program about sewing with cuddly sweater knits felt just right.


Stephanie King whipped up a garment in a sweater knit, provided samples of others and walked us through the various techniques she tried for sewing seams and finishing edges. Steph reported on which techniques were most successful with each type of sweater knit. The key takeaway was that making samples is an absolute must.

We shared resources from the Internet, including helpful articles from Seamwork Magazine, Paprika Patterns, and the in-depth series by Kathryn Brenne at EmmaOneSock.com.

Sew & Tell included Liz Buckley-Geer’s art quilt show entry and the photos that inspired it, Rita’s wonderful preemie clothes that she and a fried are donating to a hospital and Debbie’s great graphic print tee.


Both Steph’s and Debbie’s Sew & tell incorporated different fabrics, which just happens to be the topic of our May meeting.

Rita won the participation prize, a Liberty of London tape measure.



Designing with Darts

The Sew Chicago March program was all about taking a well-fitting pattern and using dart manipulation to change up the design. The meeting focused on using the Slash Method.


Wendy and I started with a discussion of how we both use this technique. The best part about the slash method is that it is fairly easy, you do not need knowledge of pattern drafting or any advanced skills to play around. What you do need is to start off with a well fitting bodice pattern, a pair of scissors and a sense of adventure and a willingness to make a muslin or two!

I started out with showing a progression of blouses that I made using the same base or master pattern and going from a single dart to parallel darts to a shoulder princess line.

Wendy actually brought her progression in the form of her actual patterns and muslins which was very interesting to see.fun1

After our discussions we moved to the table and had some hands on fun. Each attendee was given a sheet of 4- 1/4 scale bodice patterns, colored tissue paper and plan paper to tape the finished project on. It was so much fun!

We walked through several specific exercises:

  1. Moving a dart from one seamline to another.
  2. Dividing a single dart into 2 or more darts.
  3. Converting a dart into a seamline.
  4. . Method to true up a dart

Each participant followed along with the 3 basic exercises and then had the liberty to play and come up with an exciting design for the 4th 1/4 scale bodice.


We also had some excellent discussion on converting darts to gathers and tucks and using yokes on a bodice. Everyone had a good time and came up with some excellent and interesting designs using the Slash method of moving darts.

We wrapped up our evening with Sew and Tell! This month’s drawing winner from Sew and Tell was Liz H! She selected a gift from the bag and was delighted with the Scissor snips.


Almost everyone had a Sew and Tell this month! Well done Sew Chicago !


Last but not least! We are delighted to welcome 2 new members to our group , we are very happy to have you both!

Ashley J 


Rita S

Reminder: next meeting is Friday April 13th and the program will be on Knits- Hemlines and Necklines with an emphasis on sweater knits.



Indy pattern round table

Sew Chicago kicked off the new year with a round table discussion of independent pattern companies. It was great fun! Each member was encouraged to come with their favorite and not so favorite patterns and share their experience.rt1rt2

It was a very positive experience and quite interesting to hear the opinions of other garnet sewers. We also provided a list of independent pattern companies for both regular patterns and a list of curve friendly pattern companies. The internet is such a wonderful place!

Extensive list of Independent Pattern Companies can be found on this list from the blog Diary of a Chain Stitcher HERE

Plus size pattern companies from the Curvy Sewing Collective can be found HERE.

Neither of these lists are all encompassing! During our round table we discovered that there were additional ones that were not included. We were all quite amazed at just how many different people were out there publishing these patterns. A hot topic of discussion was the taping together of PDF print at home patterns. The majority consensus was that we preferred to not have to do that and like the option of having large format printing available.

One of our favorite segments of the meetings is Sew and Tell! This year we are doing a giveaway drawing each month for participants in Sew and Tell to help celebrate Sew Chicago’s 10 year Anniversary.

February was canceled due to bad weather in Chicago… Too much snow for everyone to safely navigate.

March program is all about Dart Manipulation. Please check out Calendar page for upcoming programs.

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!


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