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Australian Sewing Guild
Sharing and furthering the art of sewing

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ORGANISATION history

The Australian Sewing Guild Ltd (ASG) is a national not-for-profit organisation for people who regard sewing as a creative and rewarding activity.  Sharing the benefits and joys of sewing is almost as much fun as sewing itself.  The ASG provides the latest sewing information and a friendly support network for all levels of sewists, from beginners to advanced.  Our motto is "Sharing and Furthering the Art of Sewing".

The Australian Sewing Guild began in 1996 as the Australian Sewing and Creative Textiles Guild (incorporated in New South Wales , October 1996) as the brainchild of Michelle Pullen, a well-recognised publisher and tutor, with a business based in cutwork embroidery.  Michelle had long been associated with the American Sewing Guild and realised that such an organisation would be of tremendous value to Australian sewists.  The need arose for the establishment of the Guild when State governments downgraded textile courses in the schools and TAFE colleges.  During a break in the Stitches & Craft Show in Melbourne, her idea was pitched to Susan Neall, Executive Director, and the Australian Sewing & Craft Industry Association (ASCIA) who met the idea with enthusiasm.

The American Sewing Guild assisted with the formation of the Guild by allowing the founders to draw on their years of experience, and their Procedure Schedule to form the basis for the ASG's first constitution.  Having this information made available helped to speed up the establishment process.  The Australian Sewing & Craft Industry Association (defunct since 1998) financially supported the formation of the Guild under the Presidency of J.A. (Tony) Castley and Executive Director Susan Neall.

Australian Stitches Magazine (published by Express Publications) were great supporters of the ASG and first published a personal invitation from Michelle Pullen in their magazine in 1996, for all tutors, seamstresses and businesses in the sewing industry to contact her with a view to meeting up for discussion.  These meetings took place as she travelled around the country appearing at craft shows.  From October 1996 through to February 1997 a series of editorials were published to launch the Guild to potential members.  This proved very successful in obtaining members, Group Coordinators and Regional Organisers.

Diana Oakley, Christine Floyd, Robin Nixon, Sue Neall, Phyllis Hoffmand and (seated) Founder, Michelle Pullen

The National Board of the Australian Sewing Guild Inc. was appointed in March 1997.  Michelle Pullen, Founder, was appointed President Diana Oakley, Treasurer; Christine Floyd, Member Secretary; Susan Neall, Industry Liaison Officer (resigning later that year); Robin Nixon, Director and Convention Organiser.  A few months later came Phyllis Hoffman, Newsletter Editor and Elizabeth Kennedy, Secretary.   The National Board was a very important stage of the Guild's development.  The Board members represented the sewist, the teacher and the industry.  By May 1998 Diana Oakley had become Vice President, acting for the President after the birth of her first child; becoming President in August 1998.  There were several changes of names and roles that year as the organisation grew.

Michelle Pullen had started a pilot Neighbourhood Group, in Bega, in July 1996 as the practicalities of running a group and operating a national organisation were worked out.  The first official Neighbourhood Group (now called Social Sewing Group) was formed in Carlingford (NSW), a Sydney suburb, in July 1997.  Other States followed later that year with groups forming in the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.  By May 1998 there were 55 Neighbourhood Groups around Australia.  Tasmania's first group commenced December 2006, giving the ASG groups in every Australian State and the Capital Territory.  We even have members in New Zealand, with the first joining in 2005.

First mention of a website (piggybacked onto another popular craft website) was in July 1998.  Five applications for membership were received in the first week!  The Guild as it stands today (2023) has about 1,400 members and 90 groups.

In 1998 the first ASG National Convention was held at the New England Girls' School in Armidale.  Attendees boarded at the school and attended workshops run by recognised sewing industry tutors during the day.  This event continues to this day, now held every second year, and is a very popular part of the sewing calendar, along with Sewing Retreats and workshops and online tutorials conducted with Zoom.

At the 2015 AGM the membership voted to move from being a NSW-based Incorporated Association to a nationally recognised Company Limited by Guarantee.  On 14 November 2016 the ASG was officiall registered with ASIC as the Australian Sewing Guild Ltd.

The Guild's website has also moved with the times and offers members and prospective members a huge array of information, skill building videos, Industry Partner offers, competitions, Sew-Alongs, news and ways of getting involved.  The ASG has also embraced social media and operates a Facebook page as well as an Instagram account.

Prohibitive costs meant the cessation of the popular printed newsletter in 2014, which was published quarterly.  Members now receive 6 digital newsletters (AUSSEW News) per year which provide up-to-date information, sewing tips, activites and news from groups around Australia.

Our membership is comprised of professional tutors, home sewists, authors, industry businesses, blogers, quilters, creative sewists, dressmakers, patchworkers, knitters, academics and, basically, anyone who loves to sew!

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