Meet a Member​​

Meet Angela Slama,
Neighborhood Group Leader

I learned to sew from my mom, initially, and then self-taught myself alteration, couture, upholstery, quilting.

When I was little, I sewed clothes for my dolls and my sisters' Barbies by hand. But when I was 12, my mom made a gorgeous red and blue on white plaid double knit single breasted suit that blew me away! I was in love and asked her to teach me.

To take a step back, though, tells a little more about this story. My mom is German. She trained in Germany to become a milliner - a hat maker. The foundation training for millinery, though, was in sewing and design. She had been taught in the couture methods. Unfortunately, when she came to America, she did not continue this career path. But she DID sew for our family.

My sisters and I enjoyed coordinating outfits for every holiday, season and event. I might have a jumper instead of suspendered skirt, my sisters might have short sleeves and I long sleeves. And sometimes she made us outfits that matched her outfit. So, when I asked her to teach me to sew, I was learning from someone with awesome skills.

I made all my formals in high school, except for my senior prom. I made my boyfriend (now my husband) a brushed denim jacket. That’s when all the other boys were wearing crazy colored double knit.

In college I made spending money sewing Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. And, my niche market was fraternities! I did however make one outfit that sticks out in my memory. Remember crinkle cotton? I had purchased YARDS of the stuff in a wonderful shade of orange. I made the skirt and a lined vest. I was working on the lapeled jacket. I tried 5 times to get that lapel to look right. After the fifth unsuccessful try I wadded the thing up and threw it away. I figured if I DID manage to get it right on the sixth try, every time I wore it I would be reminded of the pain it had been to make. I wore the vest and skirt for many years though!

When my daughter was born, Prince William had just been born. I fell in love with his Christening gown. In the mid-1980s, all the baptismal gowns were short, cotton eyelet garments. But again, I had stars in my eyes. I made a three feet plus long Champagne lace over satin with floating bodice gown that all four of my children were baptized in. And a few years later there was a company that specialized in coordinating mother-daughter outfits (they expanded to the entire family and the family pet!). I saw a deep green velvet and white lace trimmed dress set in their Christmas catalog that I 'fell in love with'! The mom's dress was $500 and the little girl's matching dress was $300. Not in my budget at the time. I made both for $100. And they looked every bit as beautiful.

In the early 1990's I learned to quilt. When we moved to Bloomington, and after my days of carting my boys' to hockey practices and games came to an end, I joined the Hands All Around Quilt guild in Bloomington/Normal, eventually becoming Quilt Show Chair and President of the Guild. A wonderful group of ladies who are overflowing with talent.

Which brings me to ASG. I wanted to get back into fashion sewing. A few years ago I self-studied couture sewing. It is my passion now. I am a technical nut when it comes to sewing. I'm not the most creative mind, but I love the technical challenge of putting a garment together (or matching seams perfectly in anything!). Two years ago, I redesigned my wedding dress for my daughter. It was a wonderful experience.

I once mentioned in a job interview that I sewed, much to my husband's horror. But, I explained to the interviewer that sewing gave me the instant gratification I couldn't find in my job in the insurance industry. I worked in an agency where you could spend months quoting and re-quoting and adjusting a quote some more, waiting and waiting for the customer to decide if I could write their business. Sewing gives me the ability to work on something with passion, to create a plan and carry it out, to be creative, and to know that at the end of an hour, the end of a day or the end of a weekend that I had a beautiful garment to wear, a pretty quilt to gift someone, or a humorous table runner to decorate my home with. Sewing is my sanity check.