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Expo Reviews > Original Sewing and Quilt Expo

Georgia, United States
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Posted by: MissParayim

About MissParayim star
Member since: 3/22/12
Reviews: 13 (expos: 1)
Skill level:Advanced Beginner
Favored by: 2 people
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Posted on: 3/18/14 1:01 PM
Rating: starstar
Review Rating: Helpful by 3 people   Very Helpful by 11 people   
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I attended the first 2 days of the expo this year. I was feeling slightly under the weather, so I think that probably clouded my perception of things- I enjoyed the classes very much, but the dealer hall was a mess, and not as enjoyable for me as last year.

First the positives:
I took 4 classes: A 3 hour class on English Paper Piecing, a 3 Hour class with Lorraine Henry on pattern adjustments (Fitting for the 4 B's), a 1 hour classs with Lorraine Henry on making a sloper, a 1 hour class with Lorraine Henry on measuring your body, and a 1 hour class with Cynthia Guffey on preparing the pattern for alteration.
I found Lorraine's 3 hour adjustment class to be incredibly helpful. We worked with half scale patterns to practice cutting, hinging, and adjusting pattern for the one seam method of adjustment. She did not go into specifics about how to figure out the amount to adjust, but practicing with the half scale patterns really made these adjustments less intimidating, and I feel more ready to practice these techniques in my muslins. I also feel a little bit more clued in on how to use that big red $100 pattern adjustment book that's been gathering dust in my sewing room as she explained the very basics on how to use it and how to interpret all the diagrams. She also explained the general order of doing the adjustments, which is so helpful to know when you have more than 1 type of "figure variation" you need to deal with. The class was scheduled for 3 hours at the end of day 1, and she was so nice and stayed a little bit longer to cover the material and answer questions.
Lorraine's measuring class was also very good. She demonstrated the measuring system she sells in her booth on a class volunteer, and explained the order of doing measurements. I picked up a lot of good tips that I feel ready to put in practice when I measure myself at home. Her system does seem very adaptable to someone that sews alone and doesn't have a fitting/measuring buddy available. I feel like I could measure myself fairly accurately for all areas except parts of the back.
Lorraine's sloper class was good, but my least favorite of the 3 I took from her. There's just too much material to cover on that topic for an hour, and the measuring and adjustments you do to get to a finished sloper are really the "meat" of that process, and that stuff was covered more in depth in the other 2 classes.
Cynthia Guffey's adjustment technique seems slightly different from Lorraine Henry's, and it didn't really appeal to me as much. Perhaps I will feel differently later on in my sewing "career". She put a lot of emphasis on princess seams, and I definitely understand why those are easier to adjust, but it's not a style I love to the point of excluding all others. I've rarely sewn it because I prefer the look of a darted bodice. I thought her teaching method felt a bit frantic and brusk. I know it's just an hour long class, which is really not enough time for most topics, but I left her class feeling stressed out and overwhelmed with all the information and technique to consider. For whatever reason, I just didn't connect with her style in the same way as Lorraine, whose classes left me feeling inspired and empowered to try a new skill.
I don't have much to say about the English Paper Piecing class. We got a kit with paper templates of hexagons in a few different sizes, some fabric pieces, and a handout explaining how to do it. We practiced making the hexies and attaching them together. I've never done this before, and it's the only type of quilting I have much interest in. I feel like I got enough information and practice to get started, and it'll be a nice project to work on when I can't be in my sewing room even though I estimate it'll take over 2 years to finish the quilt top!

And the negatives:
The dealer room was just not my cup of tea. Very focused on quilting, embroidery, and crafty sewing. There just wasn't much there that interested me as a garment sewer, and it was extremely crowded and loud. I was clearly not in the target demographic for most of these dealers, and I felt pretty annoyed and out of place walking through the rows of quilting cotton, batiks, and embroidery file dealers. Most of the garment patterns I saw were either for kids or for a more mature figure. Vogue Fabrics had a pretty good booth, but by the time I got down there I was so put off by the crowds and the noise and the rows upon rows of stuff I wasn't interested in that I couldn't get excited enough to purchase anything there. Maybe I was just in a bad mood and feeling some seasonal allergies. I took some Advil for the headache that came on after an hour of browsing the dealer room. Once I felt better, I tried to browse again, but the experience was not much better. I left the dealer hall with a few pieces of quilting cotton for my hexie quilt, Lorriane Henry's measuring kit, and a lot of resentment over the lack of dealers that appealed to me.
Maybe in smaller cities the dealers they have with the show are more beneficial, but the Atlanta area has a pretty good variety of shops selling these same quilting cottons, and Gail K and Fine Fabrics have many more choices than Vogue Fabrics could fit into a booth. It's kind of neat to have all these things in one place, and would have been more convenient than driving around town if there was much I wanted to buy, but I didn't feel the urge to buy stuff just for being at expo when I know I can drive to a local store any time to have the same or better options.
To give a positive note to the dealer room, it was really nice to see machines from most of the major brands had a presence this year. There were booths for Bernina, Janome, Pfaff, Viking, Babylock, and Juki all with machines on the floor to try out. I think there were more brands there this year than last year, and if I were on the market for a new machine, I would have LOVED being able to browse and test drive all these brands practically side by side- a lot of them with special pricing and/or finance deals for expo. Unfortunately for me, I just purchased a major machine upgrade 6 months ago, so I wouldn't even let myself look.

Overall, I'm glad I did expo this year. The classes were wonderful, and I wouldn't hesitate to sign up for expo classes next year. The dealer hall was disappointing and aggravating, but it's something to do as long as you're there, and there seemed to be plenty of people enjoying it even if I couldn't make myself get excited about it.
I do wish the "Sewing and Quilting Expo" didn't feel so much like the "~*~*QUILTING!!!!!*~*~ (and sewing) Expo" and there was more there for garment sewers and younger adult fashion aesthetics, but I wouldn't let that stop me from going next year as long as they offer classes that I want to sign up for.

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Klutzy said... (2/10/15 2:29 PM) Reply
I feel your pain! I signed up for the Worcester expo. Only about 1/3 of the classes are for fashion sewing, and I could not believe they scheduled the two I most wanted to take, and the two I think would be most helpful to any beginner or intermediate, at the same time!!!! One was Lois Henry's 4 B's class. I almost canceled the whole thing but I really need as much help as I can get. I'm so mad!!!
pmbrcb said... (3/22/14 8:09 AM) Reply
I'm glad I wasn't alone in this opinion this year. I didn't take any classes, as there just weren't any that really grabbed my attention. I went on Saturday just to check out the vendors, but there was definitely a very heavy emphasis on quilting. I was disappointed, and doubt I'll even bother next year.
Adaire said... (3/19/14 5:09 PM) Reply
MissParayim, thank you so much for responding to my comment. That was a big help. I have never been to the Lakeland Convention Center but everything in Florida is usually geared to making the elderly comfortable for obvious reasons. I am not in a wheelchair or on a scooter and I do have a handicapped parking permit so perhaps I'll have a go at it after your helpful comments. Again, many thanks. I've wanted to go for the last 2 years but couldn't make it as I was dealing with an ill husband.
MissParayim said... (3/19/14 11:15 AM) Reply
Adaire- I think if there are classes you want to take, its a worthwhile trip. I have no idea how other expos are set up, or what you consider a long walk, but the Atlanta expo was pretty easy to navigate. The classes were on 2 different floors of the building and there was an elevator and escalator. The longest walks I made were from the parking lot to inside, and then around the dealer hall. There were chairs all over the place in the dealer hall at various vendors and workshop areas, and a concession area with tables and chairs at the back of the dealer hall. The expo expects an older audience and seemed fairly wheelchair/scooter friendly. The parking lot had roped off a section of extra handicapped parking, and the aisles were definitely wide enough to navigate in a chair. Getting into and around some of the vendor booths might be an issue, as would navigating around crowds of people, but those are things everyone at expo is dealing with. There were also seating areas outside the dealer room and in some of halls and walkways between classes. Once I got inside from the parking lot, I don't think I was ever much more than 50 steps from a place to sit.
Adaire said... (3/19/14 9:22 AM) Reply
I was planning on going to the Lakeland expo tomorrow but am now rethinking it as I don't quilt, am primarily interested in garment sewing and have a lung condition which makes it difficult to walk long distances without wheezing.
SandiMacD said... (3/19/14 8:08 AM) Reply
Same problem in Lakeland Expo. Our ASG chapter used to charter a bus but this year we didn't. Not enough of interest to garments (dealers and fabrics) and too much noise, crowds and long walks. Thanks for a very helpful review of the classes.
Huntwoman said... (3/19/14 7:17 AM) Reply
Thorough review. Too bad you don't live closer to Michigan. The Novi show does focus more on garment sewing, which I also prefer, and has a great contest for fashion sewists that seems to draw a young adult crowd. If you have ever considered seeing Michigan, I think you'd love the Novi sewing expo.
MissParayim said... (3/18/14 2:44 PM) Reply
Unfortunately, my time, money, and energy is limited, so I have to prioritize which projects to focus on. I find garment sewing to be incredibly satisfying and rewarding, even when it's frustrating and difficult. I can't imagine putting it aside just because quilters get more attention and merch geared toward their type of sewing. It's very nice that quilters have so much support in the crafting market, and I think it would be awesome if garment sewing had a little more of that. I think there is value in both and room for both. It gets tiring and frustrating when the type of sewing I love to do is treated almost like an afterthought by events I have given money to and vendors I'd like to give money to.
Mufffet said... (3/18/14 1:43 PM) Reply
Well, the truth is that for some time now, quilting *IS* the main branch of sewing in popularity, so that is what the vendors are concentrating on. What I did was join the crowd! ;) I encourage you to do so too - there are so many people - and young ones too - doing some fantastic projects in quilts and things-which-are-quilted as well as fabric arts and thread painting! Opening up to all possibilities is a really fun thing to do! :) Thanks for a fascinating review of what seems like a lot of fun!
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