Thursday, March 20, 2014

Original Sewing & Quilting Expo

Hello everyone!

Today I will be sharing about my experience at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo in Atlanta.

This expo comes every year, and I usually hear about people going, BUT this was my first year to check it out.  It was here Thursday, March 13-15th.  I headed there on Friday, March 14th, and attended two classes.  The overall atmosphere was pleasant.  There were ladies that greeted you as you came in, and pointed you to a board where you could look up the room number of the class you were registered for. Then, they assisted you to the location of the class if you needed help.
Giveaways on Display

My class started at 9 AM so it was pretty quiet when I got there.  Things started to pick up when I got out of class at 1000.  I started to see more and more ladies arriving for the expo, and lining up to go in the room where all the booths were set up.  I had another class at 1030 so I decided I would go to the booths after the class was over.

Here is my take on the classes I took:

Sewing Great Garments by Lorraine Henry

This class was my favorite!! Ms. Henry was awesome.  The class had about 30 people in it, and most of were ladies except for 1 man.  I came in right before class started, so I ended up 3/4 of the way toward the back of the class.  Ms. Henry used a dry eraser board to draw illustrations for what she talked about, as well as some demonstrative aids.  She has a pattern line called the Cutting Line Designs, which is filled with timeless classic clothing for the "older" woman.  Here are some great tips she gave in the class:
  • Always use finished garment measurements to achieve the best possible fit
  • If you find your skirt is boxy (the same length measurement at the hipline and the hem) reduce the hem length by 1/2" total.
  • Need help matching stripes?  Draw the stripes on your tissue paper to aid in you being able to match them up properly.
  • Staystitching is important, do not skip this step.  It will help the fabric fold correctly.
  • If you need to fix a really large sleeve, try multiple pin tucks aligned at the end of the sleeve.  It will make the sleeve fit more snug.
What comes First in Fit? by Lorraine Henry

This class was only ok, in my opinion.  The instructor was great, and there were not as many people in the class (maybe 15-20). She was very knowledgeable, and she went over different adjustments for different figure types.  My only issue with this class is that there was not enough information in it to walk away with any kind of fitting expertise.  For example, if you were struggling to fit a top, this class would not equip you to do so, bought the $100 book that Ms. Henry referenced many times called Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach by Liechty, Rasband, and Pottburg.

What I did like about the class:
  • Ms. Henry gave extensive information about taking your own measurements and comparing them to the pattern envelope measurements
  • She spoke about the importance of getting the side seam length correct.  In the Big 4 patterns, the standard side seam length is 8", which makes a big difference if your measurement is much longer or shorter
  • Her order of fit was as follows: 1)side seams 2)full bodice 3)center back 4)shoulder slope. This is vastly different to what I've seen or read.  What I have read focuses more on getting the fit right in the shoulders FIRST, even if you choose a smaller size and adjust up.  
  • She also spoke about the Seam Method of adjusting patterns so that there is no distortion at the center front/back. (see here)
Overall, taking this class made me realize I am on the right track by creating a sloper.  Whatever method of alteration you use for creating garments, Ms. Henry strongly recommended that each individual make one.
Inside the event

I entered the event to find table upon table of sewing/quilting related paraphenalia.  I took a moment to walk the floor, and quickly found the Vogue Fabrics section.  They had an area with multiple rolls of 2 yd. cuts of fabric rolled up and ready for purchase.  I browsed, but I DID NOT BUY!  I found some cute rayon challis, SO cute, but I DID NOT BUY!!  I know, crazy right?

As I was glancing through the fabrics, I look over, and who do I see?

Yep!  Victoria from 10,000 Hours of Sewing.  I ended up going up to her table and saying hello.  I have read her blog for over 2 years now, and love what a great seamstress she is.  She is super nice in person, and down to earth.  She was with Mr. Jim, a tailor who she is doing an apprenticeship with.  It was definitely a highlight for me to meet them both!

The Runway Show

I must say, when I heard there would be a runway show at the expo (via an email I received), I was elated. I imagined it would be Simplicity or Vogue designs, since the advertising said fashion runway show.  Well, there was no Simplicity, and there was no Vogue.  Instead there was Cynthia Guffey, an independent pattern designer for the mature woman.  I was a little disappointed, but, let me tell you...Cynthia Guffey was a gem!! Her show was called Visual Magic: Clothes Re-make the Woman, and it focused on using clothing to balance and fit your figure, while taking into consideration proportion!

Cynthia Guffey on right
Ms. Guffey was very "tell it like it is," and her biggest complaint was creating oversized clothing to hide figure flaws.  Instead, she prescribed to adding fullness where necessary in order to balance your figure and make you appear slender.  Smart!!

In order to demonstrate this "visual magic"  her runway show consisted of women wearing both properly or ill-fitting clothing.  She then went through each individual one by one, explaining why what she wore either worked, or did not worked.  I found this information invaluable!

Giving advice on correct jacket lengths/features for your frame

According to Ms. Guffey: seams, princess seams, and darts are all "fitting opportunities."  The more elements of these included in the pattern, the more opportunities for you to get the fit right.

I definitely walked away from the show satisfied with my experience.

Overall, I enjoyed myself, and my visit to the expo.  Would I go again next year?  Maybe.  I enjoyed my classes more than anything, yet I did long to see more people in my age range.  After all, who will be sewing for the next generation?  I don't believe sewing is a lost art as some people say, yet there has to be something that bridges the gap between the old, young, and in-between.

Stay sew-filled!


  1. I went to the Sewing Expo in my area a few years ago and had almost the exact same experience. I attended a fit class and the instructor went so fast that when the class was over I thought, "What just happened?" Just like you, I was hoping to see more people in my demographic but they didn't materialize. Maybe they went on a different day?!

  2. It was really fun to read your recap. I too have attended classes by Lorraine Henry and even have that book she recommends (which velosewer calls "the big red book"). It's kind of hard for me to understand that book!! I take it off the shelf every year or so and and then put it back.

    When I go to the ASE I am there for 2 or 3 days and I take a lot of classes and what I've found is one person will say that their method is the best method, then I go to another class where a different instructor says that other method is terrible, and that this other method is the way to go. It makes me laugh but it also makes me realize that, like many things in life, there is no "best" method for everyone, just the best method for you. Try the different methods and see which one works for you the best.

    The sloper really sounds like the way to go!

    I too wish there were more people in our peer group at sewing conferences. Gertie wrote a post about that before the ASE in 2012 asking why more people in our age range don't attend and I think it boiled down to time, funds, and kids.

  3. Thank you both for your comments!

    Evolution of a Sewing Goddess-LOL! I'm glad I am not the only one who felt a little out of place. The online sewing community definitely does not match the demographic that showed up! That isn't a bad thing, but a puzzling one.

    On the fitting class: I would probably not take another one offered by them unless it was longer and hands on.

    Kyle: You are so right!! Sewing instructors seem to prefer their own method, and deem it superior to others. As long as the end result is amazing, I too think there are more ways to get there!!

    I love that you have the book Ms. Henry recommended! I thought about getting it myself, but I have so many books on fitting right now that I knew I would never get to it--especially since she said it was based on a college class.

    You shared some interesting details about Gertie's post. She is right on the money, but I wonder if interest also plays a part. I know MiMi G has a wonderful convention that sells out each year that I would love to go to. Maybe the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo is a little old-fashioned and out of touch with it's core audience? Hmmm...

  4. I am so jealous! We don't get much sewing encouragement like the Expo in Sacramento. You are making me want to travel to go to one.

    I'm glad we making slopers (as frustrating as mine is), we will have a head start on fitting.

  5. Yes Annette!! I am working on my sloper right now, and I am glad I we both doing one. Hopefully you will not have to make a lot of adjustments.

    Sewing encouragement is always wonderful! I hope that more events start popping up around the country!

  6. Hey Vanessa, I had a WONDERFUL time meeting you as well. It was a real treat! Can't believe how quickly the Expo came and went but it was cool to get alot of good info out of it. I made sure I added your blog to my blog list so I could keep up with all of your great sewing! Happy Sewing!!!!

  7. You are lucky duck! It sounds like there was wonderful opportunities and since I am a nerd, I would hit up as many classes as I could. Thanks for sharing.

  8. So much fun!!! I went to my first Sew Expo this year in February at had such a fun time that I want to go every year now. It looks like your Expo was fantastic and how awesome to meet other online friends there.


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