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

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Finding time to sew in life's busyness

This past week has been incredibly busy and finding the time to sew has been next to impossible.

Because my time for sewing was so limited, I decided to work on something that would be easy and fairly quick to complete. Something that could be worked on in 15 to 20 minute increments. Something that I would quickly see the progress on.


I decided on Vogue 2934 - one of the new Vintage Vogue patterns - after falling in love with the fabric the jacket is made out of in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Sewing Today's Vogue Patterns.

The 1950 design is described as a "lined jacket, slightly below waist, with a straight front and flared back, funnel neckline and three-quarter dolman sleeves with deep cuffs." Before spending a fair amount of money on a one-of-kind fabric such as the one pictured above, I wanted to make sure the pattern would work for me. I had a piece of textured black wool coating in my stash that was 60" wide, but less than 2 yards in length - perfect for this jacket!

So all week, whenever I had a chance to grab 15 minutes to 1/2 hour in the sewing room I've been working on the jacket. There are few pattern pieces - front, back, front facing, back facing, cuffs and separate lining pieces.

So far, I've sewn the body of the jacket, added the sewn-in interfacing, the lining and hand sewn the hem of the jacket. I've got the lining laid out on my cutting table with plans on cutting it out tonight, sewing the lining together tomorrow, sewing the lining in the jacket the next, and adding the frog closures the day after that.

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