Well, that was fun!
Last year, thanks to Vogue Patterns, I got a little taste of Sew Expo at Puyallup.
That motivated me to get myself there this year. I attended Sew Expo 2015 for 3 of the 4 days.
I know that a Sewing Expo isn't everyone's cup of tea. The vendor areas can be very crowded—and overwhelming—and prices are often perceived as "not a deal." The classes can be disappointing, and sometimes veer into thinly veiled advertisements. Garment sewers often feel that vendors who cater to garment sewists are eclipsed by vendors who cater to quilters and other craft sewers.
In fact, after committing to the 5-day trip (2 days were spent traveling), I became nervous. I worried that I would get bored after 3 days at Expo. I had visions of returning early to the hotel room, whiling away the time by knitting, or reading, or surfing the net. I wondered if I would regret being in Washington for so long, far from my idle sewing machine.
But that did not happen.
I had a blast.
After returning home, I spent some time thinking about this. Why did I enjoy it so much?
I can be a notoriously impatient person. In fact, I walked out of several classes I had signed up for and I blew off others entirely. Not because they were bad—I had selected carefully—but because I had ants-in-my-pants and I didn't want to be sitting in a class room, not even for 45 minutes.
So it wasn't the classes.
The reason I had such a great time at Sew Expo is because of the people.
The shopping didn't hurt either.
I'm peppering this post with a few anecdotes that highlight some of my memorable moments of the show. For example:
I was standing in line to see Louise Cutting's fashion show with a reader-of-my-blog that I had met at the snack bar, Elaine S. Elaine was wearing a very interesting print-blocked top that she had purchased in Florida, if I recall. It had a particularly cool collar. At least 10 other sewers, also standing in line, turned to admire her top and study how the collar was constructed. (You may see this collar show up on one of my garments in the future.)
I do this sort of thing all of the time—study a garment someone is wearing—but I usually have to bite my tongue and steal surreptitious glances. To be able to openly enjoy this activity with other sewers is a real high. This is my tribe.
My home base at Expo is Marcy Tilton's booth. Just walking up to the Tilton booth fills me with joy, seeing Marcy's and Katherine's smiling faces. We can just look at each other and start giggling. A daily visit to the Tilton booth to study everyone's garments is positively mandatory. I am always particularly thrilled to see Gwen Spencer, who assists Marcy in the booth and also helps with testing pattern designs for Vogue. Gwen was my roomie three years ago at DOL and I don't see her smiling face, or bask in her creative glow, often enough.
(Wearing one of the most spectacular garments of Puyallup, I might add)
And, <ahem>, some very lovely fabrics followed me right out of that booth.
For me, the highlights of the show included:
- The wonderful vendors, including the Tilton sisters, Diane Ericson, Louise Cutting, Linda Lee, the folks at McCalls Patterns.
- The Tilton and Louise Cutting fashion shows.
- Diane Ericson's classes: one on creativity, and one on designing your creative space. These classes were superb. My advice to you is this: if you can take a class, any class, from Diane Ericson, do it. Even if she's teaching something that you don't think interests you. Diane could make the History of Dirt compelling.
- Lorraine Henry's class on pattern alteration. She uses a technique that is new to me and definitely worth further exploration. Her book was sold out at the show, but I ordered a copy.
- Meeting up with fellow bloggers - both past friends (Carolyn, Amy, Gayle) and new friends (Myrna, Marris, Neufy, Terri, Gaylen).
- Meeting up with many, many gracious and enthusiastic readers of my blog.
- Some great shopping. Besides the aforementioned vendors, I enjoyed spending money at Kai Scissors, Vogue Fabrics, Billie's Fabrics, Indonesia Batiks, Professional Sewing Supplies, Pendleton Mills, Martelli's Notions, Clover Notions, Superior Threads, and the "Japanese" fabric store based in Hawaii. I'm probably missing some.
Myrna suggested that the two of us meet for coffee on Saturday afternoon so we could have some time to talk. We were joined by my two roomies, Sue and Sarah, and Carolyn Norman. At one point Diane Ericson walked by and we called her over. Our discussion included sewing rooms (Diane had given a class on sewing rooms and had featured Myrna's space), Myrna's experience in working with Diane as a creative coach (what an interesting idea), and fabric shopping. In fact, I can't even remember everything we talked about, but that chat was another highlight of Expo. Our conversation spurred this contemplative post by Carolyn. Check it out!
Myrna and Carolyn
I very much enjoyed seeing the folks from McCalls/Vogue/Butterick again. Frank Rizzo was happy to speak to visitors to the booth on Saturday. He asked me what I thought about Kwik Sew patterns. (If you have thoughts about Kwik Sew patterns, I suggest that you let them know directly.) We also talked about the importance of cover art (photos versus illustrations) and technical drawings. I always enjoy talking to Frank and to all the folks at Vogue.If you haven't already seen these, check out Marcy Tilton's and Gayle Ortiz's posts on Puyallup:
Frank Rizzo, president of McCalls/Vogue/Butterick
Kathy Marrone, editor-in-chief of Vogue Patterns
And don't forget to check out my Instagram photos. There are too many to re-post here.
So, yes, it was a good trip. I came home with new goodies. (I admit it, I got to what Sherry calls "The Earring Stage". That's where you only have room in your luggage for new earrings. Thank goodness Sue brought her luggage scale so we could re-jigger things to keep them under 50 lbs each.) I bought six pair of Kai Scissors. You heard me, SIX pair. They were a good deal, though, and I appreciated it when my roomies didn't even bat an eye—each evening we returned to the room, dumped our purchases on the bed, and had a little impromptu show and tell. I also bought titanium sewing machine needles, a new Martelli rotary cutter, thread from Superior Threads, and Japanese fat quarters for making jewelry.
She also made this jacket using Diane Ericson's Ventana pattern and stenciled the polka dots
But I won't bore you with a shopping post.
Am I going back to Puyallup next year?
I don't know. I do have a room reservation, so it's possible. If you'd like to attend Puyallup, but don't want to do it on your own, you might consider going with Marsha McClintock of Saf-T-Pockets. One of my friends has been on her Puyallup Sew Expo tour many times. You can fly into Portland, do some shopping and sightseeing there, then take Marsha's bus tour to Puyallup. It seems like a great way to go and a good opportunity to make friends!