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  • Writer's pictureLonda

American Sewing Guild Conference – Chicago 2008

What fun! As both a teacher (3 classes) and a vendor – 2 full booths – YEA! I had a great assistant in Darlene – and I was priveleged to meet so many customers – putting faces with names, AND to make new friends. I gave out many ‘info sheets’ to interested Guilds for possibly travelling to their locale to teach my Creative Sweatshirt Jacket craft – so I’m looking forward to even more travel this next year.

I think the best ‘event’ I got to attend was the luncheon on Friday. Patti Palmer of Palmer/Pletsch spoke on her ‘Dreams on Paper’ which was really a rundown of her very exciting and interesting career. Way back in the late 70’s, I had Patti to Champaign, IL to do one of her Pants for Any Body seminars. That was when I was teaching from home and selling fabrics for Leiter’s Designer Fabrics and House of Laird by sample from my home.

Anyway – the most exciting thing to hear was that her daughter, Melissa and Allyce, daughter of another sewing ‘key’ person, Cindy Cummins have started this wonderful new business, Talk about ‘where it is at’ in getting young people to sew – this is it! Twas so much fun to hear proud Mama Patti brag on her daughter! These 2 have patterns with McCall’s – and 2 are top sellers! Their ‘vodcasts’ are free on their site. I watched some this afternoon – what fun. How about panties from swim lycra, finished with just ‘cut’ edges? Now – THAT’S simple! I have to run out tomorrow to snatch up these patterns just to ‘have’ them and read the Guide Sheets – also written by these 2 lovely young women. Really – go check out their site – and if you have any youngsters you want to get into sewing – be sure to send them that link:

I have my ‘notes’ from Patti’s talk on the back of 4 business cards…so I want to share what I can decipher and remember. Patti’s career sgtarted in the 70’s – back when ‘bake-on’ fusibles from Armo were all the rage. She was an educator for Armo. THat job evaporated on her, and she became a sewing school instructor in a department store. Remember those? Her first book with cohort Susan Pletsch was “Pants for Any Body. She shared that that book was actually utilized to teach teachers of mentally retarded HOW to break things down simply for teaching. They have always done such clearly-written books! I feel that if it weren’t for Patti & Susan, sewing would NOT be where it is today. Her next book was in’75 …all about sewing with UltraSuede. Sheesh – remember when $15/yard for 36” wide fabric was an absolute fortune? I do! She told of placing a $1500 1/2 page ad in Vogue Pattern magazine and praying – to be showered with a BAG of orders almost immediately which paid for the Ad AND the printing of the book! That book sold 750 thousand copies! Macy’s even bought that book to sell. Next was the orange ‘Painless Sewing’. I love, love, love this one – and always made it the ‘text’ for my beginning sewing classes both when I taught at home AND in my shop. Still a ‘bible’ of sewing in my opinion. They were even on Regis Philbin’s show in LA – ‘back before he became famous’, as she says. She said she feels she fit every woman who sews in the infamous gingham shell pattern from Vogue – which became their largest selling pattern at 150 thousand in one year. That relationship ended for reasons unexplained – but all for the best, as then the association with McCall’s started in 1980 on the same day they were ‘fired’ from Vogue. When He closes a door – He opens a window – and Patti sure knew how to fly right through the window with gusto! This was right when John Molloy’s book, Dress for Success, was big – and women were entering the work force on higher levels and needed to dress the parft – hence the 8 hour Blazer fit right in. Family Circle Magazine even did an article on that pattern – and they had a 7 million circulation at the time – talk about editorial coverage! You can’t get any better advertising than that! Right place…right time. Certainly the ‘buzz’ in the industry at the time. She and her staff of 9 experts were traveling and doing seminars all over – 900 per year in those days. At 40, in ’86, she became a Mom to Melissa – and anchored the business to the Fabric Depot in the Portland area I believe, where people go to them to learn. She complimented McCall’s highly as the ‘company with a heart’ for giving her the time she needed to grieve and recup when her husband suddenly died in 2000. McCall’s kept her patterns going, and today, is a great website – offering a FREE newsletter chuck full of info for styling for different body types. She was VERY excited about her newest book – The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner – Easy meals for Dinner every Day of the Week. She feels (and I agree) that the way to take back the family is one meal at a time. It has beenproven that drug use decreases and so does obesity if a family will just make it a priority to eat together for dinner 5 times per week. This bookisn’t yet released – but soon. Dr. Laura Schlesinger and Debbi Fields both endorse this book! When it is available, I’ll be proud to offer it on my site – so I’ll let you know! Truly, truly a wonderful luncheon – and in many ways, a walk down a sewing memory lane for me. How blessed we all are to have women like Patti – and now her daughter, and Cindy’s daughter, blazing the way for a new generation of sewers!

Speaking of the new generation – there were several young sewers flaunting their stuff with great pride at the fashion show on Friday night. One even attended my jacket class.

I was able to slip in a class called ‘Cool Edges’ by Linda Lee and took many notes of inspiration on different and ‘unfinished’ edges. Watch for my interpretation in new jacket patterns!

It was specially fun to hear sewing friends say that they inspired by my jackets – and were planning to utilize some of my design ideas on their ‘regular’ jackets – not just sweatshirt bases. That made me excited!

Another new thing gaining in popularity are the sewing ‘lounges’ around the country. First one was in San Fransisco. Now there is one in Houston. Check it out at: If I had another life – and wanted another storefront (which I do NOT) this is the way I’d go – for sure.

Packing up a double booth takes 3 hours- then packing the van….suffice to say that at 8 pm we just went to eat – and then came just out of Chicago to a motel for some badly needed rest before coming the rest of the way to the Champaign area – home on Monday. I’ve been catching extra winks all week long 🙂 Midst filling orders like crazy for the new just-available Create-a-Bag Templates by Nancy Zieman for Clover Notions. More on those later…

ASG will be in Albuquerque, NM next year. Consider putting it on YOUR calendar too!

For Londa’s books, patterns, and supplies as described in her sewing escapades, please see Londa’s Creative Threads –

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