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Comments and discoveries from attendees at the nation's largest sewing show, the Sewing & Stitchery Expo at Puyallup, Washington from 2010.   Click Here to read more . . .

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2011 Sewing & Stitchery Expo Reports - coming soon !

2010 Sewing & Stitchery Expo Reports

Reports below submitted by Marlys Powell and Penny Kimmel

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Great Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2010 - from Penny Kimmel

Expo was a blast.  And a huge part of why it was sew good was running in to Stitching Girls!!.  Plus I was staying at Muriel and Ed Sprague’s house.  Muriel and I did Expo together on Friday.  We went to two of the fashion shows.   Sandra Betzina and Marcy Tilton presented inspired closets with wonderful garments.   Muriel and I were both inspired.  We got back in line for the Independent Pattern Companies fashion show and our friend, Lorraine Torrance, stole the show with her pattern line.  Lorraine’s art background is beautifully highlighted in her wearable art jackets.  Her other pattern company, Grainline, which features other designers, was a hit also.

That evening Muriel and I attended the Ya Ya sisters, Mary Mulari and Rita Farro show.  I wish you all could have been there.  Muriel and I laughed.  There were so many funny garments but the one that really got me was Mary’s tulip skirt made from sleeves of sweatshirts!  Also you should have seen the collar of the top she was wearing.  It was the waistband ribbing of a sweatshirt!  Rita was a stitch too.  The topics they covered were babies, boyfriends and girlfriends.  If you get a chance next year, grab a friend and go.  It was a welcome evening of comedy!

I took two classes on Thursday.  The first was on Social Media with Glorianne Cabbage of Bernina Northwest.  She did not have a booth so she wasn’t selling anything.   She is very personable and very funny.  She’s into blogging and gave us all kinds of information about the online sewing community.  It was well worth the hour.

The second class I took was not worth mentioning as they had a lot of technical difficulties and Mother Superior always said, “If you can say something nice…..”

Are you ready to be shocked?  I took a class called “How to Lose 5 Pounds in a Week”?  It was a quilting class that featured cutting templates from Marti Michell.  At least now, if I ever start quilting, I know that there are rulers to make my life easier.  I’m such a fussy cutter from my training at the Apparel Design Program at Seattle Central that it is nice to know there is an easier way to be perfect!  Kristina knows what I mean. 

From Marti’s class I discovered her daughter’s booth where I made my big purchase.  ShadesTextile by Stacy  Michell. I call it quilting by cheating.  She has Hawaii blocks already cut out with fusible backing and you just fuse it and appliqué it on!  Hope I find time to do it, maybe at the mini!  I’m going to turn it into a table runner.  The blocks remind me of mom as she took classes in Hawaii and made a couple of large Hawaii quilts.

I, like Marlys, took the class on “Has Your Wardrobe Kept Up?.  It wasn’t so much of keeping up with current trends as it was with your age and color changes.  It was interesting and gave me ideas.

I also took a Serger tension class and I don’t remember anything about it but I have a great color handout that will make my tension adjustments so much easier.

The absolute best class I took was Connie Crawford’s Blouse, Dress, and Jacket Fitting.  Sandy Hancock and I shared the experience and both thought it was a good class.  Connie is from Hansville WA  and is a designer for Simplicity.  She designs for larger ladies.  She showed how to make changes in your paper pattern to get a good fit in the shoulder, arm, armhole, and bust areas.  She started by showing the basic principles behind draping and the purpose for your middle finger which is your grainline.  The new tip I came away with was to fuse your paper pattern to a fusible paper or stabilizer before you start making your pattern changes.  This protects your pattern, is more accurate and quicker than tracing, and is easier to lay on your fabric especially slippery ones, and your changes can be transfer to new patterns easier. Of course she was selling the fusible but I am going to try the lightweight fusible interfacing that Muriel and I bought a roll of when we went on our Fabric Run to Portland.  At one of the September retreats there were 3 yards in your goody bag, give it a try if you are sew inclined.   I love pattern making and haven’t done it for a while, so it was a great refresher course for me.


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Hi All!  from Marlys

Since we can’t all possibly go to ALL the classes at Sewing Expo (though, some of you I know would try), I thought I’d share what I learned, and hope some of you do the same.

I took a couple sewing for kids classes that were more inspirational than anything else.  They talked about how kids like the accessories to go with the clothes (I do, too).  One lady embellished really cute little crocs and flip-flop sandals to go with the outfits she made – most of her outfits started with a store-bought t-shirt that she embellished somehow to go with the fabric she made little skirts out of.  She cut sweatshirts up the middle and made cute little jackets to go with the outfits, too.  The other lady talked about the different independent pattern companies out there and what they did well – and not so well – in their patterns, directions, envelopes, etc….  There’s a lot of controversy over how people write pattern directions these days, it seems. For me who’s used to just looking at pictures, I don’t usually even read the directions, but I guess there are a lot of new methods out there that people are dreaming up, so the directions are becoming increasingly important.

Another class I took was Susan Wells’ “Simplify Your Space.”  I thought it was going to be about sewing spaces, but it was more like a home decorating class, which was fun to listen to, actually.  The lady was a huge proponent of getting rid of the “dead people’s stuff” in your houses – I get that message loud and clear as I sit here next to my parent’s country style coffee table in my classic style family room.  She also said that upholstered headboards and long drapes (pinch pleats even!) were very in style right now – and to look at the design elements of the rooms on paint sample cards for inspiration.  She spoke of the “discipline of decorating” – taking out the stuff that should go out… get rid of the “Nowhere else to put its.”  That said, she tempered what she said by saying something at the end about how she never would have been where she is today if a little old lady in her past had waited until her house was done “just right” to invite her over for a cup of tea and to make sure we always feel like our home is inviting enough to be able to invite people in.  Lovely words!

Cecelia Podolak taught “Sewing the Classic Shirt.”  She was having all sorts of physical issues and the class was a little disjointed, but at the end she started talking about a few things of importance.  I make a lot of men’s shirts, so even a few little tips were well appreciated.  She spoke of sewing the deeply curved tails first, then sewing the side seams.  That made sense, though ready-to-wear doesn’t do it that way.  She pointed out to press up the bottom of the pocket first, then the side seams.  And for stand collars, she sewed the front half of the stand onto the shirt first, then the collar onto that, then the other half of the stand – with the lower half already pressed up, sewn close to the edge and trimmed close to the stitching before it was sewn to the other half.  Then she said it was easy to topstitch it down over the first half that was sewn to the shirt neck.  I’ll have to try that, but personally, I cheat and hand-sew that part down before I topstitch it – just to make sure my topstitching looks good on both sides.

Sandra Miller taught “Has Your Wardrobe Kept Up?”  It was about lunchtime when I sat in this classroom and the sun was warming the tent to where it was hard to stay awake.  Sandra works for Louise Cutting (a pattern designer) and has recently had to change her wardrobe to match her new job of being on the road all over the country with Louise.  She talked about the capsule concept, of course, and how what you have in your closet should reflect how much of your day you spend in what kinds of activities.  That said, I probably have too many dancing clothes in my closet, given how little time I actually spend dancing these days.  She made a good point when she said fewer garments that make more outfits (each piece should go with at least THREE others) in the closet would make it easier to figure out what to wear each day.  Also, she said black pants were a staple and to spend a reasonable amount on them, since they’d be getting a lot of wear.

I also went to Marcy Tilton’s “Inventive Details from Paris.”  Having just returned from Paris myself, I appreciated how many of her photos that she showed were of clothes in windows on Avenue Montaigne over there, since that’s exactly what I did – took lots of photos of the clothes in the windows.  She said the French fit was mostly through the bust and that white was a big color there – that it came out more in the summer (less black and other neutrals), and less in the winter (more black and other neutrals).  Tone on tone was prevalent, too.  An interesting safety pin flower on Chanel was noteworthy, too.  Snaps are common over there.  She saw gray as a trend – and red, too – as in red hosiery under a white dress.  In November when she was there she attended a Madeleine Vionette collection at the Louve.  Vionette, as you might remember, invented the bias cut design.  She was ahead of her time in that she provided childcare for her employees, trademarked her name and created a trend in the art of using flowers on her creations.  She also showed some photos of a show about the “Queen of the May,” Italy’s last queen’s trousseau and how it was put together.  Her quote, “Aim for consistency, rather than perfection,” was particularly noteworthy.  For $4,695 d/o + airfare, you, too, can go to Paris for eight days with her next November.  Personally, I think my trip last September with the surprise lingerie fashion show event with my husband (for about the same money) was far superior….  Ha!

Now you all know I’m a self-professed non-quilter, so what I was doing in Kaye Wood’s “What’s New in Quilting” was beyond me – SO beyond me, but she did a lot of cutting strips of fabrics up with special rulers that were supposed to make stars, then she put lace around the edges to turn them under and stitched in the ditch between the lace and the star onto a quilt block – inventive.  I at least saw a lot of potential for strip-quilting.  Someday….

My shoe-covering class on Wednesday with Tammy O’Connell was probably my favorite class I took this year.  In four hours we’d taken a pair of old, worn out shoes and made them into something really spectacular!  Of course, this was cause for me to go out and buy SIX pair of shoes this week – and then I ended up using an old pair of my little sister’s shoes for the class (she’s NOT getting them back now…).  In my excitement to try this on another pair of old shoes, this girl who already owns about 60 pair last night had to go to Value Village with my girlfriend who wanted to buy a cut-work dress to cut up and use the trim on for something else (she does that all the time – she’s very creative).  As I was looking for a pair or two of shoes to cover, what I found were two absolutely darling pair that I wouldn’t dare cover – because they’re already so awesome.  One was that “Beauti-feel” brand – like a $160 (or more!) shoe – and in MY size, no less!  I’d never seen that style before – or I would have really bought it new!  I paid like $10 for those – and $7 for the velvet pair with the rhinestone buckle and silver strap – they’ll be good for dancing, especially since I have some stretch velvet clothes that I never know what shoes to wear with them.  It’s all about the heel height with me – I only like about a 1” or 1 ½” heel and there aren’t a lot of those out there.  I digress….

As for Sewing Expo, it seemed to have a more upbeat feel to it this year.  Last year’s 25th (wasn’t it?) was laden with changes and fewer vendors, it seemed.  I don’t know if there were fewer vendors or not this year, but Thursday had as much buzz as any I’d been to in the last 20 years.  I love the Vogue Fabrics booth – though I only bought a bag of 50 zippers for $7 and a bunch of bridal hair picks for $1 a package.  I sold the three I bought last year in a heartbeat since then – each time the person was thrilled to get it.  One of the children’s sewing ladies talked of shirred dresses a lot, so I bought a spool of elastic sewing thread from her – having no idea how to use it, but we’ll see.  A couple pair of funky reading glasses (you can NEVER have too many pair of those!) from the young guy who lives in Oregon City – that’s the booth with those puffy shirts that look tiny off and amazing on.  I overheard his mother saying they probably cost like $1 each in China – he was selling them for $19.99.  Had I not already had about five of them in my wardrobe, I would have seriously considered another.  I bought a couple necklace/earring combos from the Saf-T-Pocket booth for a pittance – really artsy stuff!  Now, to actually wear them….  Oh – and a couple lace appliqués to embellish something with down the line for $2 a piece – also in the Vogue booth.  I bought another shoe covering tool, too, because I’m afraid my first one is going to break sometime down the line.

There were a couple interesting new things at Sewing Expo that I saw, like this lighted plastic “wire” stuff that you zig-zag over – then there’s a battery pack to turn it off and on.  It was really cool!  Another booth I stopped at for a bit was a lady who had a ruler that she cut into a strip every few inches staggered on each side of a center line, then turned the corners down to make prairie points – or rick-rack from fabric – it was pretty cool.  Ooh – and Pacific Fabrics has the most amazing FEATHERS on pins that you can put on hats or wear as a pin – very cool!  Nancy’s Fabrics up in Seattle used to be my source for feathers, but their source (a 90-some year-old man) died.  ‘Nice to have a new place to get them, other than the fishing tackle shop.  The last really interesting thing I saw was this lady from down in Nehalem, Oregon who designed Barbie clothes that she makes totally on the machine embroidery 5” X 7” hoop, then you cut out around the lines, use iron-on sta-tape on the parts that are hard to turn and stitch, and stitch the seams together.  They were amazing!  I asked about Ginny Doll patterns, but she said she didn’t have a Ginny doll to work from.  As if that was a real excuse to stop her….

Well now, I imagine you’re as exhausted as I am after reading all this – but at least I’m the only one with sore feet from it.  (smile)

Do tell how your visit to Sewing Expo went, too!
Happy day!
Love,  Marlys

Ooh – there was just SO much to mention – I forgot to tell you about how Susan Wells had this stroke of genius in the filing cabinet department!  She used an OTTOMAN (one of those kind that opened up) and stashed her hanging files inside one of those!  I’m SO going ottoman shopping the first chance I get!  Anybody got any ideas of where to start looking?

She showed a pretty cool photo of how you could take three smaller framed pictures, put one in front of the other two on a shelf that’s hanging on the wall and make kind of a vignette of the three, making the whole thing look like a much bigger picture.  Does that make sense to you?  She’ll have a website with the neat-o photos she showed in her class up in a few weeks at:  www.thedecoratingcoach.com

Her idea of the biggest decorating mistakes:
Too much stuff that should be removed
OLD plants (real or fake)
Practical, but not pretty
No “Wow” factor that pops out

Well, that all explains why I’d rather go stay in a hotel on any given weekend….

O.K.  Back to your happy day!  Marlys

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