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Placerville Chapter of the American Sewing Guild

Jan 27, 2016 10:18AM ● By David Norby

Back Row, L to R: Jeannie McKinney, Jan Hopkins, Betsy Kerr, Arlette Peterson, Bobbi Bullard and Kim Venton Front: Nikki Spies

In 2002, Darlene Aniasco, co-founder of the newly formed Placerville Chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG), decided to place a strong focus on charity to experience the most growth—and she was right in doing so. The Placerville Chapter now has 11 neighborhood groups located from Folsom to Lake Tahoe, and in Jackson and Amador County. Each group meets once a month to share their passion, swap sewing tips and work on new projects; anyone with a passion for sewing and a willingness to learn is welcome to join.  All of the groups make charitable items on occasion, but two focus entirely on creating heartfelt, handmade items for people in need. Working with a variety of organizations, ASG members have donated thousands of jackets, hats, scarves, teddy bears, pillows and quilts.

Many of the group members are talented artists whose skills are not tested by the charitable items they create. “We’re very lucky because we have a large number of nationally known fiber artists who are members, so we can learn from them and also teach each other,” explains President Bobbi Bullard, herself a prominent embroidery author and educator. Fiber art refers to gallery-quality pieces or wearable art—anything that puts beauty over function. 

However, the community care items can be a great way for beginners to learn new skills. “In the knitting group they are asked to practice a new pattern by making an eight-inch square with acrylic yarn,” says Chapter President Betsy Kerr. “Someone sews those squares into baby blankets that we then take to Marshall Hospital.” 

Jan Hopkins, community service chairman, remembers how honored the clients and employees at Jackson Gardens felt after a neighborhood group donated tons of quilts to help decorate the rooms of the residential care home. The people at Jackson Gardens showed their appreciation by having the sewers over for tea. “One gentleman had been a farmer and we gave him a farmyard quilt,” says Hopkins. “We did different themed quilts that they could hang on the walls and ones for the beds, and also cuddle quilts for the wheelchairs.”

“It is really amazing how much we can get done,” says Hopkins. “The people who come to the meetings are really pretty dedicated to community service...committed to making life better for other people…” Guild members have gotten so enterprising in their charitable efforts that they even save the scraps—turning the bits of fabric into stuffing for pet beds that they donate to groups like Fat Kitty City and Tibetan Terrier Rescue.

Non-members are encouraged to attend the upcoming two-day event in April, featuring speaker Nancy Nix Rice, a wardrobe consultant coming in to talk style with the members (many of whom make their own clothes). A lecture and luncheon will take place in Jackson on April 15, a workshop on April 16.

by Dayana Stockdale // photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group