Sew Expo coma

I was at Sew Expo all day Saturday and Sunday, and yes, I am a bit worn out. Lots of walking. Lots of navigating thru large crowds of very slow-moving people. Lots of vendors. Lots of classes. I have a mild love-hate relationship with Sew Expo. I love the fact that there is this huge gathering of sewing nerds practically in my own backyard—we Seattle-ites are so lucky! Being surrounded by thousands (yes, THOUSANDS!) of people who love sewing is totally awesome. The part that bites for me as a garment sewist is that probably 75% of the show is geared to quilters. Definitely a case of  the market dictating the offerings. 

This exhibition is billed as the largest sewing show in the U.S, so for the novice (and even the seasoned) attendee, it can be overwhelming. There are several types of classes offered—45 minute lecture/demos or 1 1/2 hour to 4 hour project-based technique classes. I signed up for the cheapie classes. On Saturday I took a Knit Finesse class from Katherine Tilton, Sassy, Savvy Scarves from Katrina Walker, Details from Sandra Betzina, East Meets West in Surface Design from June Colburn, and It’s All About Needle Felting and Embellishing from Barbara Crawford. I was mostly underwhelmed, tho I did pick up at least a nugget or two from most sessions, and definitely enjoyed June’s design perspective. Barbara was a riot, and her Needlefelting class was fun and interesting. My ASG chapter, Greater Seattle, always hosts an “after Expo” dinner on Saturday night, and as usual it was great fun. I like catching up with folks from my chapter that I don’t see often, as well as meeting new people from around the country. Last year we even had a group of women from Australia! Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns was our speaker this year, and she was AWESOME. It was wonderful to hear how she got started running her own design business.

Sunday I attended Contemporary Heirloom Techniques from Kathy McMakin, Turn Your Sewing into Money from Martha Pullen, and Learn to Sew with Your Feet by Debra Justice.  All of these speakers were well-prepared and delivered a great  presentation—especially Debra. She was entertaining AND packed the 45 minutes with loads of information about specialty feet for sewing machines. I use many of my feet, and I still learned plenty. Nice!

I don’t even know how many vendors are at the show. Boat loads. All the big sewing machine dealers are there too. I can’t believe I actually had a demo of the Bernina 830 Limited Edition. I swore for years I was not even remotely interested in an embroidery machine. Evidently I’m now beginning to thaw a little on this issue. Still not enough to lay out $10K for a this awesome machine, but I was pretty wowed. As for monetary damage, I was pretty darn restrained this year. I bought a Silhouette pattern, some accessories from Debra Justice (Labours of Love), some sueded cuddle for a coat for my DGD, a bit more fabric and lace for same DGD’s christening dress, and a “Quick Pleater” tool. I didn’t even require a sherpa to help me haul my booty out to the car this year – amazing! That’s it till next year for Sew Expo, fellow sewing nerds!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

2 Responses to Sew Expo coma

  1. What is it about the classes that just doesn’t work? I’m limiting myselt to the “one needle” 45 minute talks. Last year I took two of the longer, more expensive classes and I was disappointed. They also need to include a photo of what we’ll be making, or techniques we’ll be learning in the longer class descriptions so we can be really sure what we’re signing up for!

    I’m so sad I missed Peggy Sagers. I watched her fashion show and it was a lot of fun.


  2. While I don’t begrudge quilters their thing, it seems that no one acknowledges garment sewing anymore, anywhere. I love quilts, plan to make one myself, but really, how many quilts does one need?
    I believe that is one reason, many, such as myself, took a sabbatical from sewing. Every time I shopped for fabric, all I could find was quilting fabric. Not exactly what I wanted for the garments I was making. Of course, that was 10 years ago, and the internet has changed, we can at least find apparel fabrics now, but its just so hard to tell without touching it for me. I think we need to start a movement, demanding that fabric stores give us 50% in apparel fabrics as well. Sadly, there are very few fabric stores near me at all, the closest is JoAnns, and their apparel fabric selection is horrible. Sigh. I hope the presence of apparel sewing blogs might influence fabric stores to again stock nice, affordable apparel fabrics.
    That makes me sad that the show was mainly quilting. 🙁
    Have a show coming up in March near me, and hopefully that will not be the case here.

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