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Meet the American Sewing Guild - Sacramento Chapter Advisory Board

Kathy Tow   Renee Traud   Beth Chambers   Gina Harrold  Camillus Kerwin   Christine Bernard   Donna Jensen    Phyllis Lee    Brenda Fotos   Debbie Jean Hopkins   Marianna Freas   Roberta Hopkins

Sacramento ASG Board

Kathy Tow

Kathy Tow - President

I started sewing as a high school freshman. An unencouraging teacher almost turned me away from sewing. I persisted and have done many needlecrafts over the years, but sewing is my first love.
I joined ASG in 2001 after Julie Morton invited me to attend the Fair Oaks Day NG. I had found my people! I really felt I belonged with this group of wonderful, creative and supportive folks. Shortly thereafter, I was the Membership Chair when the guild was changing to a more electronic format for their reports. It was quite the learning experience for me—I basically knew how to email and order stuff online before that.
I am married to Doug (48 years) and we have 2 sons, one daughter-in-law and one grandson (now 14 and 6 feet tall!). I am also a retired Labor and Delivery nurse, a career I loved and planned on since I was 5 years old.
After I retired, I decided to try to teach teens to sew. I taught from ages 8 to 16, loving the enthusiasm and fearlessness of the kids. They didn’t know they should be afraid of putting in a zipper, so they just did it! I also worked with the Husqvarna Viking line of machines, teaching classes to adults using those machines and also the software from the Viking/Pfaff companies.
I have had the honor of being president of our chapter for the last two years. It has been exciting, educational and at times challenging as we were well into the “Covid Years” when I started in the position. We have tried to maintain contact electronically rather than personally during this time and I think we all are very happy to have in person meetings again
Beth Chambers

Beth Chambers - 1st Vice President of Neighborhood Groups

I grew up in Napa California which is where I met my husband Jeff. We have been married for 47 years this summer. We have three grown children: two daughters and a son, spouses for each and 4 grandchildren -three boys and 1 girl between them all.  We live in Woodland with our 6- year old Airedale Miley Jane and my three sewing machines.

I learned how to sew through the 4-H Club when I was eleven. Being the oldest of 5 children, my mom never had time to teach me and goodness knows I tried to get her help! I continued with clothing construction classes in Jr and Sr High School. I didn’t have a chance to take a college level sewing course until my 40’s and WOW – pattern alterations and drafting were eye openers – my sewing hasn’t been the same since! My instructor, Marie Mashmayer at Sac City College introduced me to ASG. She invited the entire class to what I think was the Spring luncheon, complete with speaker with a trunk show – I was mesmerized! I wasn’t able to join until I found a neighborhood group that met at night.  I have been a member of Sacramento ASG since 9/2010. I started attending the Sacramento Chapter with the Couture Neighborhood Group while I was still working – it was the only group that met in the evening that was within driving distance of my office. Since acquiring a Serger, I also attend the Serger NG, Fitting Divas, and Pattern Making and Design NGs. I still remember my first neighborhood group meeting; I felt like I had finally come “home.” Over the years I have met some truly wonderful people and treasure the friendships that I have made within this group.

I made quilts for a few years when I was having difficulties with alterations for myself, but decided clothing construction was my passion and so I stopped making quilts except for the occasional baby quilt gift or one of the unfinished objects that are still lingering in my sewing room gathering dust. I have been back to making primarily clothes for more than 15 years and at one point in my life I actually made all my clothes, especially in 9th – 12th grades. Those years are labeled “BC, BW and BM” = before children, before working full-time and before marriage – not necessarily in that order!

I have made lots of clothes primarily for myself, my daughters and other relatives including prom dresses, wedding dresses, school clothes, and Halloween costumes. I have also made a life-time of curtains for the various homes I have lived in as well as craft and holiday items.

After 24 years of working for the State of California, I retired from the Energy Commission as a Supervisor/Sr. Scientist on June 30, 2014, the same day as my husband, who also worked for the State.  I enjoy traveling, gardening, reading and cooking when I’m not sewing.

I have served as the President for four years, two years as the Secretary and one year as Co-Coordinator of Special Events. I was also a member of the Fabric Sale Committee. 

Renee Traud

Renee Traud - 2nd Vice President, Membership Chairperson

I have served as the chapter’s 2nd Vice President/Membership Chairperson for 3 years and have been a member of the Sacramento Chapter for 5 years. I retired from a 30-year career with the City of Sacramento, working largely as a computer-system network administrator. I’ve loved sewing since I was a kid and until recently had my only formal training in Jr. High school.  Early on I enjoyed making creative, every-day clothes for myself and friends and even sewed a few prom gowns- always attempting to put an original spin on my work.  My best friend in high school and college introduced me to the term ‘couture’ and the concept of ‘beautiful fabrics’ and ‘adding designer details’.  I remember awe as I watched her take her work beyond the description on the pattern envelope.   As a young mom, I focused for many years on quilting and quilted wearable-art garments but in recent years have turned my focus back to garment sewing.  In 2022 I assumed the role of Leader of the chapter’s Fitting Divas Neighborhood Group.   Along with the other members, I have been working to build the knowledge and skills needed for garment fitting.  I’m very appreciative of ASG for the friendships I’ve built and the opportunity to learn from so many who share my love of sewing.  In August, I began my first class, Pattern Making and Design, in the American River College Fashion Design program. I don’t know how many classes I’ll take, but I’m really looking forward to working with a room full of people on their creative journeys.

I have been married to my husband Mike for 38 years.  We have have two married sons who live locally, and 3 young grandchildren.  When not immersed in sewing or another craft project, I might be found hiking or gardening- or trying to keep up with a small grandchild.

Gina Harrold

Gina Harrold - Treasurer

I started sewing about five years ago when my frugal nature convinced me that I could sew new cushion covers for my patio furniture. I watched some YouTube videos; bought fabric and I was on my way to a new hobby. Although the cushion covers I made have faded a little, they have lasted longer than the originals. I added bags and purses to my repertoire and am now learning to make garments. When Brenda Fotos, my co-worker at SMUD, found out I liked to sew, she told me about ASG and the benefits of being a member. I have been a member for about three years and really enjoy being around so many supportive and creative people. I am so impressed with everyone’s creations and the opportunities to learn from each other.
I retired from SMUD five years ago where I was a Treasury and Finance Manager. Prior to that, I worked in Accounting Management for radio and TV stations. I am currently serving as Treasurer of the Sacramento Chapter.
My other hobbies include traveling, hiking, and playing the ukulele. My husband of 20 years and I plan to combine our love of travel and hiking by hiking 500 miles across Spain next year.
Camillus Kerwin

Camillus Kerwin - Secretary

Camillus has been a member of ASG for about 6 years. After retirement as a Branch Supervisor from the Sacramento Public Library she took many sewing classes at both Sac City and American River Colleges. She likes sewing garments with a bit of machine embroidery on the side and would like to learn how to draft patterns. She has two daughters and two grandchildren who all live in Texas. In addition to sewing she likes reading, walking and cooking and is in multiple cooking groups.

Appointed ASG Board Positions

Roberta Hopkins - Community Liaison

Roberta Hopkins, currently the Community Relations Liaison CAB member, has been a guild member for 12 years. In her role on the CAB she coordinates the scholarship program and leads the sewing program at Wellspring Women’s Center in Oak Park. She is the leader of the Fitting Divas Neighborhood Group as well. Roberta is a retired advanced practice psychiatric nurse who worked at UC Davis and the VA for much of her career. Her favorite vacations are sewing camps and destination fabric shopping so she can replenish her stash to sew garments. When Roberta isn’t sewing or spending time with her daughter, or fussing over her pug Trouble, she volunteers as a Sacramento County UCCE Master Gardener.

Christine Bernard - Librarian

This appointed position maintains and inventories all Chapter library materials including DVDs, videos, and books.
Christine has been an ASG member since 2011 and has been a member of the CAB since 2014 in various positions. She is retiring from her Sacramento County social worker job by the end of 2020, which will allow more time for homeschooling her grandsons, and for sewing, of course!
Christine began sewing in the seventh grade and is a lifelong learner. She loves drafting patterns and sewing garments with sneaky couture techniques inserted into them whenever possible. Christine also likes spending time hand embroidering, crocheting, and reading nonfiction.
She and her hubby, Terry, share their home in Carmichael, with Christine’s adult daughter and two grandsons.

Donna Jensen - Special Events Coordinator

From the time I started making clothes for my dolls as a child, I have been in love with sewing. Each stage of my life brings new sewing interests – making prom dresses, my wedding dress, clothes for my children and now my grandchildren. And I am fortunate to have a family that is very tolerant of my fabric/sewing obsession since it virtually dominates my house! My desk is a sewing cabinet I inherited from an aunt and my nightstand is an small Singer cabinet with the now unused machine still inside!
While working at KVIE Public Television, I met a group of ASG members from the newly formed Sacramento chapter who volunteered to answer phones for us during a pledge drive. After just a few minutes talking with those kindred spirits, I knew this was the group for me and I joined attending the Roseville Neighborhood Group ever since.
I would like to share this quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson with all my sewing friends. It speaks to an emotional attachment I've always felt for the creative process in words that inspire me every time I read it:
Every experience deeply felt in life needs to be passed along  whether it be through words and music, chiseled in stone, painted with a brush, or sewn with a needle, it is a way of reaching for immortality. ~Thomas Jefferson

Phyllis Lee - Education

Phyllis thinks she may have started sewing around 9-years old. She still has the Barbie clothes she hand-stitched with godets and bell bottoms. Unknowingly couture! She is self taught sewist and owns 7 sewing machines including an industrial Brother. Her first new sewing machine is now a 38-years old and still used at sewing workshops.

A long time ago, she was an Electro-Mechanical Drafter and then went back school to get a Computer Engineering Degree and wrote firmware for a while. Before retiring from SMUD as a Principal EMS Engineer, she managed the Critical Infrastructure Protection of their Energy Management System.

These days Phyllis and her husband Chris like to go on riverboat cruises. You many find them on the pickleball courts or at baseball game. The hardest thing she found since retiring is to keep her sewing and craft room clutter free for 24 hours.

Phyllis joined ASG in February 2022. She admits to being intimidated by everyone’s expertise. Everyone has a great sense of humor and she appreciates the new friends she is making. In her new role as Education Coordinator, she hopes to bring fun workshops and webinars in 2024. Stay tuned and check our website for upcoming events.

Brenda Fotos - Newsletter Editor

Brenda has been a member of ASG for about 6 years. After retirement from SMUD as manager of the State legislative program she took on the role of ASG's newsletter editor. She loves to sew handbags, garments for her daughter Sophia, and enjoys machine embroidery. She loves the challenge of fitting garments, the geometry, the solitude of her new sewing room, listening to music, and podcasts. When not sewing, Brenda and her husband enjoy having parties, traveling, and hiking in Northern California. Brenda lives in Sacramento with her husband Cary.

Debbie Jean Hopkins - Website Administrator

My computer-oriented life began at age 15. Took specialized computer programming classes at a trade school during high school years. Now a retired network administrator. Sewing oriented life began in 7th grade home economics class. Loved sewing from day one. Hated ripping out - also from day one. Sewed all of my daughter's clothes (it was cheaper back then). Sewed my clothes because I don't have an "off the rack" body. Have an overabundance of energy which is channeled into various community service / "sewing sister" projects. Currently have six sewing machines set up in my sewing studio to accommodate assembly line and/or specialty sewing. Frequently attend "sit & sews" and/or sewing retreats to collaborate, learn, and socialize with other sewists. When not sewing, I'm tending my roses, or riding my recumbent trike.

Marianna Freas - Chapter Hospitality

I don’t remember doing much sewing until I got into high school and took 4 years of Home Economics. I sewed off and on for family until we retired from the Air Force and settled here in Sacramento.
I started sewing more while working in a fabric store and added machine embroidery when that came along. I sew mostly for myself and make gifts for family and friends. Several years ago I added beading (jewelry making) to the list of things I like to do. I joined ASG in November 1994 and have enjoyed meeting with likeminded ladies.
I am currently group leader of Sewing Tips & Techniques. My job as Hospitality is to send out cards to cheer up members or express our condolences when they loose a loved one.

Janice Francesconi - Chapter Service Project Coordinator

I learned to sew at school and the YWCA when I was 14 years old. Unfortunately, when I went to college, I stopped sewing and did not pick it up again until my daughter was born about my mid thirties. I enjoy sewing home decor, apparel and the tote bags.
I am married and have an adult daughter.