A Stitched Community
ASG Cape Fear brings sewing artists together
There is one organization in the Wilmington region that has been keeping the art of sewing alive while also giving back to the community.
The Cape Fear Chapter of The American Sewing Guild was formed in 2013 with the goal of preserving and promoting the sewing arts through education and activities, says BARBARA FULLERTON, president of ASG Cape Fear.
The first year the organization started it had 31 members and has grown to 50 members as of this year.
“It hopes to encourage all levels of sewers, from beginners to professionals, to join and to help promote the joy of sewing,” Fullerton says.
Members of ASG Cape Fear are able to attend neighborhood meetings, events and, “sew-ins.”
While meetings are on pause due to COVID-19, regularly the group has two neighborhoods meeting a month, as well as meeting for the “Fashionistas Group” and the “Day Group”
“Our meetings are a chance to share our projects, to learn new skills, and to improve one’s current skills,” she says. “You may even discover a passion for a new style of sewing such as bag making or paper piece quilting. We have sewers at all ability levels and with more varied interests then one could name!”
Members are also able to share ideas and techniques and pose challenges and questions to the group.
“Overall, meetings are a wonderful way to regularly meet friends and to make new friends who share your passion,” Fullerton says.
The organization also gives back to the community, most recently, members sewed and donated more than 2,000 masks for nursing homes, pharmacists, and caretakers to help provide protection during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fullerton talks about the organization activities, its community giving-back initiatives, and how the organization brings members “together” during the pandemic.
WILMA: What motivated you to join ASG Cape Fear?
Fullerton: “I moved to Wilmington as a retiree in October of 2013 and was having a tough time missing my friends from New Jersey and figured I better get out there and make some new ones. Machine sewing had always been a functional thing to do for me… kids Halloween costumes, curtains, pillows, etc. and not something done for fun. I heard about classes at Fran’s Sewing Circle that looked intriguing so that’s where I headed. While I was looking at classes to take hoping to get some sewing skills and meet new friends, I met JEAN WERLING, the VP of ASG Cape Fear at that time who worked at Fran’s; she told me about the guild. I went to a “Night Stitchers” meeting the next month and met people that have since become some of my closest friends here. I joined that night and now here I am six years later as president of the guild.”
WILMA: What kind of activities/events does it host?
Fullerton: “During the year we schedule sewing workshops, community sew days, two sewing retreats, and a holiday party/business meeting.
We will be hosting PAMELA LEGGET, a national sewing instructor, in August for slacks and t-shirt workshop where each member attending will learn how to make custom-fitted garments.
Last year, we had a workshop with CRISTY STUHLDREHER of @loveyousew_ Instagram fame where we learned bag-making skills including sewing with cork, waxed canvas, and leathers and how to use various rivets for structure and decoration.
Our retreats take us to Atlantic Beach twice a year for a five-day sewing and learning fun-filled trip! We stay at a beachside hotel and take over their ballroom with our machines, ironing boards and cutting tables. There is even a great little eating and chatting area. All of the attendees leave (reluctantly) with new friends, new skills, and usually a lot of finished projects!
Each event and workshop are something all members look forward to. One of our goals is not only to better our sewing skills but also to develop our friendships.”
WILMA: Can you talk about the community service projects it has worked on, including making masks during COVID-19?
Fullerton: “Whether we sew together or in our own homes, community service sewing is a key part of our mission.
The Cape Fear Chapter works with several community groups year-round making everything from bibs for the special needs kids in our schools and aprons for their teachers to teddy bears and small blankets for the police officers to keep in their cars for kids in crisis to port pillows and back pillows for chemo patients and crayon/notepad kits for hospitalized children.
We have made a collective 2000+ masks for our nursing homes, pharmacists, and care-takers in our neighborhoods and have recently joined in with the FaceBook Group OSMS-Cape Fear that is making masks, scrub caps, and face shields for local and national organizations in need during the Covid-19 outbreak.”
WILMA: How has the organization been doing during COVID-19?
Fullerton: “Our meetings have been suspended through June as we await direction from the state and the stores that graciously host our events. We all miss each other and seeing what our fellow members are up to. The recent creation of our ASG Cape Fear Members Facebook page has helped many of us stay in touch. We are posting some of our quarantine projects there as well as sharing some silly memes; sewing to keep smiles on our faces.
And like many others, we have turned our focus to making masks and other items needed by our health care professionals.”
WILMA: How does the organization bring people who enjoy sewing together?
Fullerton: “Reaching out to attract new members and to get our current members to engage more fully is a goal we have set for 2020. The stay at home orders may have slowed us down but we will continue to reach out and discover ways to promote ASG Cape Fear and our passion for sewing with others. So far this year we have begun to improve our social media presence and we are in the process of revising our web page with a new and more dynamic interface that will prove to be a valuable resource for our membership as well as to attract and educate new members on what we do and who we are. At this point, we are using our Facebook presence and the web site should be up and running in the next few months.
To find out more about The American Sewing Guild, visit ASG.org.
Contact ASG Cape Fear at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read the May WILMA digital issue.