Sew Checklist: Navigating the Brochure and Prepping for Ticket Purchases

In anticipation of receiving your brochure of classes in the mail, here are a few tips to prepare you for online registration or, if you prefer, to mail in your class choices. Whether this is your very first Expo (welcome!) or your 34th, we hope you find the tips helpful.

Here are the types of learning experiences you can sign up for. Pre-registration is recommended for the hands-on classes.

One Needle – 45 minutes long and presented in a lecture/demo format.

Two Needle – 1.5 hour long classes offered. This year, we are offering a selection of hands-on project classes in addition to our traditional 90 minute lecture/demo classes. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

Three Needle – 2.5 hour long classes, hands on experiences with or without machines. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

Four Needle – 4 hour long classes only offered on Wednesday, February 28. You have your choice of taking a class using machines or a class that doesn’t require any equipment. And, thanks to our generous sewing machine dealers, machines are provided to use while in the classroom. Additional supplies may be needed and kit fees are paid directly to the teacher on the day of class.

As you browse your brochure and begin planning your Expo schedule, we recommend that you:

  • Highlight the classes that you are interested in and plan out your desired schedule. We highly recommend that you have a schedule planned before getting online to purchase tickets. You may want to have back-up selections as well in case you encounter a sold out class.
  • Check with friends to see what classes they are interested in.
  • Use the registration form on the back of the brochure to keep yourself organized.
  • List the class numbers with the alphabet. For example, 1803 is a class that is offered on A=Thursday, B=Friday, C=Saturday, and D=Sunday.
  • Leave time between classes to have a snack and/or have lunch. For safety reasons, food is not allowed in the classrooms.
  • Leave time to shop and visit!

Now that you are prepared and have your time at Expo planned, here are some helpful tips for purchasing your tickets online:

  • Opening of the ticket office will be announced soon. Stay tuned.
  • Have the class number, day, and time on hand.
  • CORRECTION: You will NOT need your username and password if you are a returning customer.
  • Utilize the search bar at the top of the ticketing page to navigate to the classes you want. This year you can search by class number, teacher name, and class title to find exactly what you need!
  • Click on the class picture to open the full class details.
  • Be sure to have your credit card ready (The Expo gladly accepts Visa and MasterCard only). Orders may time out if left unattended too long.
  • You can check out related classes at the bottom of the page for other great class suggestions!

Once tickets are purchased online, you will receive an email confirmation of your order, tickets will be processed, and you will receive another email confirming shipment of your order. This process may take up to 3 weeks.

We are looking forward to a wonderful 2018 Expo and want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

Please Note: Our office will be closed December 23 , 2017 through January 1, 2018.

Sheep to Yarn

Looking out at a fluffy flock of sheep in full fleece easily creates images of soft, cozy sweaters and scarves. But how does that happen? It seems almost magical that wool can transfer from the sheep’s back to our own. The process is actually quite simple and has changed very little in fundamentals since ancient times.

First, of course, comes shearing. When a sheep is shorn, the shearer starts at the sheep’s underleg and belly area, and eventually works their way up to the center back on each side. This causes the sheep’s fleece to come off in one big blanket. It’s truly amazing to see a relatively dainty sheep emerge from that enormous blanket! Shearing day is the happiest day of the year for the flock. While they may not entirely enjoy being sheared (much the same way toddlers don’t enjoy haircuts), as soon as the wool is removed they act like frisky lambs, and run to the nearest fence for a really good scratch.

Because of the shearing pattern, the least desirable sections of wool (legs, belly, neck, head, tail) are located roughly around the edges of the fleece. Removing these sections from the outer edges is called skirting. For large scale commercial yarns, which will be chemically processed to remove any vegetable matter or other debris, this basic skirting is sufficient. But to produce a high quality yarn from naturally processed wools, a second skirting is performed.

For second skirting, the fleece is opened up onto a skirting table. Skirting tables are covered with a surface that allows dirt and vegetation to fall through, while supporting the fleece. Some use wood slats, or even pallets. Once the fleece is opened, it is carefully picked through by hand, removing as much visible vegetation as possible and further sorting the fleece itself. Sometimes shearing results in small, undesirable bits of wool called short cuts. These occur due to the shears passing over the same area more than once. These need to be picked out, and the fleece is inspected to ensure that the crimp and staple length are consistent. All fleeces for Spoiled Sheep Yarn go through this second skirting process.

The thoroughly skirted fleeces then need to be washed. Washing the fleece must be done with care to remove the suint (sheep sweat, dirt, and grease) and excess lanolin from the fleece, without over agitating it which could possibly cause the fleece to felt. This usually takes more than one careful wash in mild soap to ensure cleanliness.

After washing, the fleece is “picked”. Whether done by hand or machine, the picking process pulls the clumps of wool apart to make it easier to be combed or carded. This process also helps to remove more of the tiny bits of vegetation hiding in the wool.

Now, the wool is ready to be carded. Carding is basically a process of brushing the wool to separate and align the fibers so that they are easy to spin. This is done with fine metal teeth resembling slightly bent hairs that are embedded into a cloth backing. The carding cloth is attached either to hand held wooden paddles or round revolving drums on a carding machine. Either way the process is the same. The carded fiber may be removed from the carding drums (or hand cards) as sheets known as “batts” (this is where quilt batting comes from), or formed into long rope-like sections called roving. Most spinners prefer to spin from roving, as it is easier and faster than spinning directly from batts.

Once carded, the fiber is ready to spin. For machine-spun yarn such as Spoiled Sheep Yarn, the roving will next go through a pin-drafting process. Pin drafting is an additional combing process that helps to further align the fibers and make it more uniform for the spinning machines. The resulting fiber is formed into a thinner, smoother “rope” of material called a sliver.

Spinning is the simplest part of the process, but requires the most skill. Whether spun by hand or machine, spinning is the act of twisting the wool fiber. The skill required is feeding the fiber in a uniform amount and controlling the amount of twist so that it is consistent. The initial yarn created is called a “single”, as it has not been plyed with another yarn. Usually at least two yarns are twisted, or plied together. Yarns are plied in the opposite direction that the individual yarns were spun. So if the initial yarn fibers were twisted in a clockwise direction, the plies will be twisted together in a counter-clockwise direction. This locks the yarns together and helps to distribute the tension evenly so that the yarn does not twist when knitted and cause the garment to distort.

Finally, the plied yarn is washed or steamed to “set” the twist. Once dry, the yarn is ready to be wound into skeins. It is ready to be welcomed into the hands of the knitter or crocheter to be worked into something special.
Next time you see a skein of yarn you will have a deeper appreciation of the journey each skein took from the back of a wooly sheep into something you can touch and enjoy. Each skein is a work of art in its own way. Many thanks to our sheep for providing us with something wonderful.

About the Author: Katrina Walker is head shepherdess at Spoiled Sheep Yarn. Spoiled Sheep offers farm-fresh natural colored yarns that are produced individually from each sheep. You can visit her beautiful wool at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo and coming soon to

The Sewing Guide for Holiday Dressing

The Dilemma
Awww, the Holidays. ‘Tis the season for your work party, his work party, a girl’s night out or two, holiday concerts, and all the family gatherings . . . . whew! What’s a sewist to wear without making a new outfit for every occasion? Enter the classic Little Black Dress. Simple and economical to make, it can easily be the most versatile go-to in your holiday wardrobe. All it takes is a little more sewing!

The Solution
The Little Black Dress on its own can be fabulous with just the addition of jewelry that sparkles or a drop-dead-gorgeous print sewn into a quick infinity scarf. For your holiday LBD, consider one of the patterns I found on the Simplicity web site. Each one carries its own impressive style, yet is simple enough to sew up in just a few evenings.

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From the Amazing Fit collection, Simplicity 8258 is available in petite, misses and plus sizing. Fitting tips and techniques are included for this impressive, yet simple design. The fit and flare styling, center front seaming and three sleeve options make this the perfect LBD for everyone. And, there are pockets!

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Designed by Sew Chic’s Laura Nash, vintage inspired Simplicity 8534 features a gorgeous, slimming waterfall drape. Easy pleating at the bust and waistline creates a wonderful fit and marvelous style. To make this your own, options include long or short sleeves, optional self-piping and a charming bow.

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Basic, easy, yet striking, New Look 6524 includes four different sleeve looks and lengths. It’s a wonderful dress for “The Year of the Sleeve”! Sew up a holiday style Little Black Dress now, then save this pattern for a fun warm weather dress, too.

The Additions
So, now that you’ve sewn the perfect LBD, just a little more sewing will make it a great fit for all your holiday events! The layering styles I found for you can change for each occasion depending on which fabrics you choose and the unique touches you add.

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Think about silk, velvet, rayon, sparkly trims, sequins and fancy machine stitches. For embellishing, consider Dana Marie Design’s exquisite Quick Fan Applique tutorial to add personalized style.

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Connie Crawford’s Butterick 6261 is a magnificent flare jacket with beautiful seam detailing. Marvelous for combining prints, it could also stylishly feature a yoke of sparkly, sequined fabric. A wonderful way to complete your outfit for holiday concerts or a dress-to-impress work party!

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For a more formal office party or girls’ night out, you’ll love the New Dimension Jacket designed by Louise Cutting. Beautiful princess seaming and full-length dolman sleeves create a slim, flattering fit that would be superb in velvet or a mid-weight silk. Two necklines and optional pockets offer alternatives for design that may mean you’ll want to make more than one!

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Karen Nye’s fabulous and ever-popular CNT Patterns A Little Somethin’ Jacket is quick, easy and a great fit for all body styles. You’ll find two sleeve lengths available and a wide size range. Stitch this one up for the family gathering in a gorgeous rayon. For a Holiday Concert or special night out, choose a dazzling lace for spectacular results.

The Joy
Get ready to look fabulous, darling. Choose your fabrics; choose your patterns – holiday dressing offers simply marvelous reasons to indulge in the joy of sew!

About the author: Annette Millard recently started her own blog, The Sewful Life, which utilizes her sewing and teaching experience to provide helpful tips and tricks, tutorials, and project ideas. Visit the blog at .

Sew Checklist: Mailing List and Hotels

As many are preparing for the holidays, we here at the Expo headquarters are ramping up for another exciting Sewing & Stitchery Expo! Amidst this busy season, we want to ensure you all are prepared for what’s to come.

Our team is busy preparing the brochure to be mailed out in December. To make sure you get your copy on time, please sign up for the mailing list by selecting here if you have not already done so. Classes reach capacity quickly so you will want to have your picks selected and on hand when tickets go on sale!

Additionally, as March approaches you should be thinking about where to stay. Hotels in the area fill up very quickly for this event so make sure you check on this early! For your convenience, select the link to see the list we have compiled of possible accommodations in the area.

We encourage you to follow and “like” us on our social media outlets. Stay up to date on all things Expo and share your projects and ideas with others! Scroll to the bottom of the website and select our social media links on the right.

We look forward to seeing you at the Expo!

Pattern Sizing Made Simple

We’ve all had trouble shopping for clothing before. Go to one store, and you’re one size; go to another store and you may be a size or two bigger or smaller. Even sticking with the same brands doesn’t always help: what fit you in the fall may not fit you in the spring, and that may not even be the fault of seasonal holiday foods! The truth is, manufactured clothing sizes are always changing, thanks to the trend known as vanity sizing. But shouldn’t you expect the same kind of sizing struggle from sewing patterns? The answer is: NO! Choosing a pattern size is much, much easier than trying to find things that fit in the stores. All you need is a little bit of math, a measuring tape, and the handy measurement chart on the back of your pattern envelope.

Why do we need to measure? Can’t we just choose the size we buy in stores? As we’ve already discussed, those sizes and measurements vary from company to company, and even season to season. Pattern sizing, on the other hand, is standardized. That means that a size 10 from Simplicity is always going to be a size 10, no matter which pattern you pick up—and it’s the same for the other major pattern brands, too! All you need to do is take four basic measurements.

Now, before you get measuring, make sure you’re wearing the undergarments you’ll be wearing under your finished garment, and make sure there’s nothing in your pockets!

First, measure your full bust, around the widest part of your chest and straight across your back. Next, measure your natural waist—right below the base of your rib cage, not down at your hipbones! Next, measure your full hip, around the widest part of your bottom. This is usually about 9” below your waist. The last measurement you need is your back waist length. This is usually easier with a friend’s help. Your back waist length is the distance from the top of the knob at the base of your neck where your back starts, to your natural waist at your center back.

Now it’s just a simple matter of comparing those numbers to the size chart on the back of the pattern envelope. But what if you fall between two or more sizes? Well, that’s not a problem! Thanks to Simplicity’s multi-size patterns, it’s a snap to combine pattern sizes! Just take a felt-tip pen and draw a smooth connecting line between cutting lines for the sizes that best fit you. And one more tip: Simplicity’s Misses’ and Women’s patterns are designed for someone 5’5”-5’6” tall, so if you’re taller or shorter you’ll need to adjust the length of your finished garment. Most patterns will include instructions on how and where to do this in the General Directions section of the guidesheet!

About the authors: Deborah Kreiling and Tiffany Pegram work with Simplicity. If you’re still not quite sure if you’re doing all this right, you can view our in-depth sizing guide at Or, for a more personal touch, just reach out to Simplicity directly! You can reach us by phone at 1-888-588-2700 or by e-mail at Or, stop by one of our many social media channels, we’ll be happy to chat!

What is a Serger and Do I Need One?

I want you to close your eyes and remember what it was like to sit or even see a serger for the very first time. My experience was in 1981 when I was touring colleges. I walked into a classroom and it was filled with many different machines, including a small machine with 4 threads on it.  Of course I was curious and walked over to it. The instructor said sit down and try it. And just like you, I said, “Oh no thank you. I have no idea what it does or how it works!”

I’m sure some of you felt the same way when you first laid eyes on your very first serger and now you wonder what you ever did without it. Right?!?

Initially, most home sewers used the serger primarily for edge finishes or to create sturdy, fast seams. A regular sewing machine can do the same but the serger trims and finishes the edges at the same time giving the item a professional finish in less time.

Sergers have come a long way since they hit the consumer market. Today, there are so many specialty feet to make your serging less tedious. Some of you may still wonder if the investment is necessary.

Let’s take a look at how serging can help you no matter what type of sewing you do.

Quilting: piece using either a chain stitch or a 4 thread over lock and because the feed system is longer your fabric will not shift or move, the 4 thread over lock stitch will also compress a bulky quilt as you go seam Crafters will Love the narrow rolled hem and differential feed when making ruffles of any kind.

Use a narrow cover stitch for fixed gathers and an over lock for adjustable gathers.

Heirloom sewing has never been easier and there’s no need to stitch in the ditch, trim with a scissors and zig zag when inserting entredeux or bridging. Simply attach a clear foot set your stitch for a narrow 3 thread and serge in place the 3 step process is completed all at one time. Not to mention the beautiful pintucks that can be made with a narrow cover stitch.

New to sewing? Sewing knits or active wear will make your sewing experience a real pleasure and the versatility you have in working with decorative thread will bring your projects to the next level.

Don’t shy away from your machine. If you already own a serger, do something different or try a new pattern with serger detail stitching. If you are thinking about buying a serger, take advantage of classes and special events hosted in your area to learn about what a serger can do to make your sewing time fun, fast and productive. You will find the machine you thought only finished seams can do so much more.

About the Author: Pamela Mashie is the Education Manager for Baby Lock. 

What Sewing Machine Needle Should I Use?

Does this question sound familiar?  With so many beautiful and luscious fabrics available in the marketplace, fabric selection has never been greater.  When sewing with wovens, knits, stretchy knits, sequin, oil cloth, tulle, batiks, velvets, you are bound to ask, “What needle do I use”?  With all of the needle types available for the home sewing machine, how does one choose which one to use?  Just as the name suggests, Universal is the most popular needle type because it works well with woven and knit fabrics.  BUT, stitch quality frequently improves with a more appropriate needle choice.  How do you know what needle to use?

The needle name is the first clue.  Quilting needles for piecing and quilting projects.  Denim needles for jeans and denim raggy quilts.  Jersey Ballpoint needles for jersey knit fabrics.  However, not all fabrics have a same name needle.  Rather than trying to remember what needle to use with what fabric, use technology to help you out! There are several mobile apps available that can assist you. Search your app store for needle selection, and find an app that can help you make these decisions.

Choosing the right needles is just the first step. Like so many other things, needles wear out, too! Yes, you really do have the change the needle, after all the needle is not a permanent machine part.  The needle is meant to be changed.  To tell when to change your needles, check out the “Change Your Needle” clues.  Use the needle too long, and you will see compromised stitches, shredded threads and damaged fabrics and hear the difference in clicks, pops and clunks!   Remember needles do not last forever!

By selecting the right needle and being sure to change it when needed, your projects are on their way to the sleek, smooth stitching you desire.

About the author: Rhonda Pierce is the spokesperson for SCHMETZneedles North America,

Welcome to the Sew Expo Blog!

We know how exciting it can be to start a new project. We know how satisfying to can be to make a current project even better. That’s why we’re partnering with some of sewing’s most influential personalities to bring you new ideas and updates.

Check back here for helpful pattern and equipment tips along with inspiring articles to ignite your creativity!

This is also the place to get the latest announcements regarding the Sewing & Stitchery Expo–including ticket sale dates, new classes, scheduled teachers, and much more. You won’t want to miss anything–so sign up for our newsletter and blog updates now!