Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tips for a Successful Visit to a Sewing Expo

Thinking about attending a sewing expo for the first time? Or maybe you fondly recall the first sewing expo you attended. Well, if you're addicted to sewing/patterns/fabrics/gadgets like I am, you probably thought you were in heaven when you arrived at the expo.

I remember vividly the first one I attended. The year was 1997. I stumbled onto an advertisement for a Sewing Expo and was intrigued. I had no sewing buddies to share sewing adventures with me. Nor was there an online sewing community to share ideas with. It didn't take too long to convince myself that I had to go!

Well, I wore myself out and came home overloaded with information and stuff. I mistakenly thought I needed to pack my three days at the expo with non-stop activities. Not only that, but I took every handout available only to toss it out months (or years) later when I could no longer remember why I needed it.

Since then, I've had the opportunity to attend quite a few sewing expos, not only as a customer, but as a booth helper. I've learned a bit how to get the most out of a sewing expo from both sides.

Here's a few pointers I've learned along the way.

  • Register early for a class you must attend. Don't wait until the week before or the of day the expo begins. While not all classes sell out, many do. If you wait you may be disappointed.
  • Plan your day before you arrive. And don't register for so many classes that you don't allow yourself time to shop.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This isn't the day to show off that killer pair of black leather spike heel boots that you know make you look soooo good. Believe me, your feet and back will thank you for choosing comfort over high fashion. You will be doing a lot of walking and standing.
  • Be prepared to be touched and stroked. This is the only place I know of where people feel free to touch whatever fantastic textile creation you are wearing. They will want to feel the texture, and will question what fabric you used, where you bought it and what pattern you used. It sound odd but it is really fun! Join in! People are not shy about sharing their creations.
  • Wear something you made. Why not? That way you will be stroked and touched like everone else! Everyone there will admire it and even if they don't say something directly to you, they will know the amount of time and effort that went into it. They understand and appreciate your talent! And what a great way to meet new friends!!!
  • Bring a large canvas bag or backpack. This is to stash all of your treasures in during the day. That way you don't have to carry lots of small bags and risk leaving one sitting in a booth while you look at merchandise.
  • Bring a notebook and pen or pencil. Especially if you are attending classes. You will be very glad you had paper to write down additional notes from the class. This also allows you to jot down anything that inspires you during your time there.
  • Write down fabric yardage. Most of the expos have at least one or two vendors with fabric and some have many vendors with fabric to choose from. Save yourself money by bringing a list of yardage requirements with you. That way when you fall in love with a piece of fabric that cost $20 + per yard you won't need to overbuy.
  • Bring self-stick return address labels. Sometimes vendors run out of merchandise before the show ends. They often will ship it to you without charging you shipping costs if you pay upfront. The self stick return address labels will save you time writing your address on order forms.
  • Bring small bills (cash). Most vendors now accept credit cards, but for the smaller purchases it is greatly appreciated if you pay with exact change or small bills ($5 and $10s are great and if possible don't pay for small purchases with a bill greater than a $20)
  • Bring snacks and bottled water with you. While you can't bring it into the expo area, you can keep it in your vehicle. It will save you a tremendous amount of money if you don't purchase the food that is sold there.
  • Don't take photographs of vendors booths without their permission. Some don't care if you take photographs and others do. Respect their creativity and copyrights and ask first.
  • Take advantage of the free fashions shows and lectures. I personally enjoy watching a fashion show. And sometimes people in the audience get asked to come onstage and model a garment! Fun, fun, fun!
  • Only take the handouts you know you want. It is tempting to take everything that is offered to you, but be realistic. Otherwise you'll end up tossing it all when you get home.
  • Shop when everyone else is attending classes. If you planned your time wisely, you will be in the vendor hall while many other attendees are in class. This is a great time for shopping and getting your questions answered.
  • Don't assume that items will be marked down the last day of the expo. While some vendors do mark down items on the last day, many don't. Almost all of them do offer show specials throughout the expo. The specials are worth taking advantage of.
  • Stop and visit with the vendors if they have some down time. They love meeting with their customers! I have found most of them to be very friendly and generous with their knowledge. They are there because they want to help you succeed in your sewing and quilting endeavors.
I will be attending this year's Original Quilt and Sewing Expo in a few days. While I am primarily a booth helper, I do have some time scheduled for learning and shopping.

I hope my list of tips helps you the next time you attend a sewing expo. Can you think of any tips that I missed that you have found helpful? Pin It

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sharon,

    I've been thinking of attending an expo, most probably the Toronto one.. I had no clue what to expect or what to take.. Your list is very helpful to me.




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