GroupWorks Member Spotlight: American Sewing Guild

Ramona Baird has loved sewing since she was a seventh-grade home-ec student. Over the years, the course of study morphed into a stay-at-home-mother’s hobby, and then into a bustling sideline career of dressmaking, uniform alterations and more. Twelve years ago, Baird joined her local Tucson chapter of the American Sewing Guild, and sewing became a community, too.

“I wanted to meet people who sewed, who shared my passion, and spoke the same language,” Baird says.

Since its inception in 1978, the American Sewing Guild has been serving those who are fluent, or aspiring to be, in swatches and lockstitching. From two chapters, one in Indianapolis and one in Denver, the guild has grown today to roughly 130 chapters nationwide, representing approximately 15,000 members. Its annual conference in Las Vegas attracts more than 1,000 visitors, and features a vibrant mix of workshops, seminars, lectures and vendors.

With success has come a challenge.

“The challenge is communication,” says Margo Martin, executive director of the American Sewing Guild. “Communication is connection.”

In the early days of the guild, members communicated amongst themselves, and between chapters, the way most everyone else did: via postal mail and telephone landlines. Then came the 1990s, and email. And while email remains a vital tool, Martin says, social-media and social-engagement platforms have given members dynamic options, allowing for real-time updates, if not real-time conversations and connections.

In 2016, GroupWorks became part of the sewing kit, as it were, for the guild’s chapter leadership. Today, in addition to that group, some 80 American Sewing Guild chapters are engaging, organizing and communicating via GroupWorks.

The platform’s private, members-only world has been a draw. “People today are very conscious where they’re sharing their information,” Martin says. “GroupWorks offers an easy avenue for members of ASG chapters to pull people together for joint events, and to get creative ideas and inspiration.”

The platform also allows local guild members to tap into the larger crafting and quilting community — something that’s especially of use when chapters undertake community-service projects.

“Many times our chapters work with local organizations like veterans’ hospitals and women’s organizations: The project might be making quilts, or teddy bears to give to people in times of crisis,” Martin says. “Other people in the community, outside of the chapters, may want to join in.”

Baird, whose passion for sewing eventually led her all the way to her current role as education director for the American Sewing Guild, hosts the sewing channel on GroupWorks.

“I post two to three times a week,” Baird says. “I like to keep a personal check on what people are responding to so I can find more of those posts. They comment, and I can comment back to them. It really allows for questions and answers — and a lot of connection.”