Sew Expo Insider

Are you ready for the best sewing party around?  I am looking forward to my trip to Puyallup for the Sewing & Stitchery Expo, and I hope to see you there!  This show is great with so much excitement, inspiration, energy and friendship.  I love the location at the Washington State Fairgrounds with Mt. Rainier always looking over us, even when not visible.  Expo is unique and special in so many ways.  I want you to get the most out of these four days, so here are a few tips:

Coordinate visits with friends in advance.  One of the best things about the Sewing & Stitchery Expo is sewing friends gathering from across North America.  Even if you are attending alone, no worries!  You are surrounded by sewing friends in waiting.  For many, this is the annual chance to meet up.  Have your friends’ cell numbers programmed into your fully charged phone.  When muting your phone during classes, remember to use the vibrate mode so you can receive text messages. Remember that the days can be long and you may be using your phone more than normal so you may want to bring a portable charger with you.

Check the schedules in the Showplex for classes, free stage events, drawings and more.

Enjoy the variety of foods at Sew Expo.  The food selection is just as extraordinary as the class schedule.  No show has more delicious food.  The variety and quality is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  I’m talking about the famous Fisher’s Scone or one of those fantastic French Crepes!!  Take advantage of the location, the food, and (hopefully) the weather.  Arrange to meet friends outside, eat at the picnic tables or take a simple break between classes.

Keep track of your possessions.  But, if you misplace a tote or phone, check the Visitors Information booths in the rear of the Showplex and Pavilion.  Each year lost and found items are turned in to these two locations.

Take advantage of the wonderful entertainment offered Friday and Saturday nights. These special events are perfect to enjoy with friends old and new. Share laughs, create memories, and learn while you’re at it! This year Joe Vecchiarelli heads up Friday Night Live full of comedic anecdotes and fashion straight from your favorite shows like Dancing with the Stars. Not to mention he’s bringing a special guest, winner of season 16 of Project Runway, Kentaro! The Stitchin’ Post’s Valori Wells will grace the stage Saturday for the annual Quilter’s Night Out with more than 60 of her favorite quilts from over the years and share with you some  stories from her vast experience in Textiles.

Attend style shows upstairs in the Pavilion and the Free Stage presentations in the Showplex.  With a little planning, these locations provide a nice opportunity to hook up with friends, sit for a bit and take a break from the action.  The bonus is — you might learn something new.

Take pictures.  Take lots of pics and post them on our Facebook page.  We know friends near and far that due to health or other commitments cannot attend, but they are watching on social media.  You don’t have to be a Kardashian to take lots of pics!  Bring your smiles and selfie sticks and take advantage of the fun Expo photo backdrop on the red carpet to the evening events!  Be sure to tag @sewexpo and use hashtags to share your photos with everyone: #sewexpo2018 #sewingandstitcheryexpo #sewandstitchpuyallup

Try something new! Expo is all about fine tuning our skills and expanding horizons! Maybe it’s time to test your garment sewing skills in a new realm such as cosplay! Or, after years of stitching quilts you want to pick up a pair of needles to being knitting…who knows? What’s for sure is that Expo is the place to test the water!

My last, and most important, tip…  WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES.   My shoes are to my happy day what my sewing machine needle is to my happy sewing.  No matter how wonderful your sewing machine is, if your needle is not right, it WILL NOT SEW properly.  Same thing with my shoes.  It doesn’t matter how much time or money I put into my Sew Expo experience — if my shoes aren’t right — my day will be uncomfortable.

This is not the time or place to wear new cute shoes.  I’ll be wearing boots and shoes …which, sadly, have seen better days.  But I can walk with a kick in my step around the fairgrounds regardless of the weather.  Rain or shine, and be prepared for snow too, I know comfortable shoes are a giant step to enjoying the best Sew Expo ever! Meet me there…

About the author: Rhonda Pierce is spokesperson for  She is giving the popular SCHMETZ classes each day at 9:30AM.  Rhonda also serves as a contributor to the Expo’s FB page during the show so you may see her around taking lots of photos to share.  She loves to see the outfits and projects you made.   Be sure to say hello, and have your pic taken by Rhonda!

Embroider a Fashionable You

Embroidery is everywhere! Jeans, blouses, bags, even shoes – embroidered embellishment is blooming on all elements of apparel and accessories. Traditionally, embroidery was limited to expensive items created expressly for special occasions.  Luckily, the introduction of home embroidery machines make it possible for home sewists to make their own beautiful creations suitable for any lifestyle. Creating fashion embroidery is a wonderful way to enjoy your embroidery machine.  Success at embroidering fashion lies in understanding design flow, contrast and color, and optimum stabilization.

True fashion embroidery is more than simply placing a design onto a garment or accessory.  Consideration should be given to the scale of the design in relation to the wearer and area to be embroidered. Ideally, the embroidery should have a natural look, as though it was grown on or woven into the garment, rather than simply placed at random.  Use printed templates or embroidery software to audition your designs and create a pleasing effect.

Color and contrast are equally important elements as design placement. Although subtle differences between thread colors are beautiful, they may not allow individual elements to show in the overall design.  Often a slightly bolder color choice with a bit more contrast will provide a more pleasing effect.  Similarly, the color of the fabric background, as well as its relative lightness or darkness, needs to be considered. Dark colors do not show well on a dark background, nor light colors on a light background. Be careful to use enough contrast to ensure your designs will show.

Finally, proper stabilization is needed to support your embroidery and keep it looking its best. Using too little stabilizer can result in puckering and other fabric distortion, as well as cause design outlines to stitch incorrectly.  Yet stabilizer should not interfere with the wearability of your garments.  Using two layers of lightweight cutaway stabilizer, for instance, gives excellent support and is softer and easier to trim attractively than one heavy layer.  Be sure to match the amount of stabilizer support with the density of the designs you are stitching.

Embroidery is not only fashionable, it is a wonderfully creative way to have sewing fun! There is an amazing wealth of designs available and an unlimited array of threads to choose from. With a little attention to preparation you can successfully stitch your own fabulous creations.  

–Katrina Walker –

About the author: Katrina Walker is a regular contributor to Creative Machine Embroidery and hosts two online embroidery classes for BurdaStyle Academy – Fashion Embroidery with Katrina Walker, and Embroidery Essentials: Fabric Focus. Join Katrina at Expo! Register for her classes now! 

Hack the System: Seeing Possibilities Instead of Patterns with Simplicity

We’ve all heard the term “hack” applied to pretty much everything at this point: life hack, cooking hack, storage hack, every kind of hack you can imagine, but what does it mean?  “Hack” these days is usually short for “a new and more efficient way of addressing a problem, or an alternative way to use a product other than as intended.” So what does it mean when you apply the word “hack” to a garment or sewing pattern? You could take it in a literal sense: “hack” a pair of pants by turning them into shorts, “hack” a t-shirt by fringing it or cutting the neckline into a new shape, but it’s when you really look at that second definition of hack that the possibilities for patterns really start to come into focus.

Most sewing patterns are a collection of silhouettes that share a common theme. Maybe they all have the same body with different sleeves, or several different lengths, or they’re a combination of multiple fabrics, or all of the above. In fact, I bet you’ve thought more than once before, “hmm, I wonder if I could put those sleeves on the other bodice instead” or “I would really love this dress if it were in two different colors, and maybe a little shorter.” Well, if you’ve had those thoughts and followed through—congratulations! You’ve already hacked a pattern!

It can be a little tough sometimes to look at a pattern and see something other than what is right there in the picture on the envelope, but patterns can be even more rewarding if you look beyond the view letters. After all, patterns can cover a wide range of styles, but we’re all complicated individuals: sometimes you want to mix it up, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t! Simplicity wants to encourage sewists everywhere to think outside the box—or the pattern envelope, as it were. That’s why we’ve created a brand new line of patterns to get you started down the path to a more unique wardrobe. We give you a basic wardrobe item and a few suggestions for how to hack it, and provide you with the means to do the rest on your own (including a blank sheet of pattern tissue with a printed grid, so you can draft your own additions). Changing lengths, adding and subtracting sleeves, using elastic or trim to change a look—the only limits are your imagination.

Getting started with putting your own spin on things can be super easy. Here are a few simple suggestions to get you hacking!

  • Swatch it up. If you like the look of a pattern but you still think there’s a certain something missing, why not try color blocking? You’ll have to figure out your own yardage, but a little contrast can make a simple top feel like something utterly special.
  • Mix and match. If you really want those sleeves with that bodice, why not give it a shot? As long as the armscye (the opening in the bodice for your arm) is the same shape on both bodices, you can swap the sleeves out with no problems! (Hint: if views A and B share the same back but have different fronts, that’s a pretty good clue that you can pop Sleeve A on Bodice B with no worries!)
  • Take a shortcut. Feel like showing off your legs, or have arms that just need to be free? Don’t let us tell you how long your garment needs to be. We give you the length of the finished garment on the back of your pattern envelope, but that’s just a place to start!
  • Pockets? Pockets. Every pattern should have pockets, in this sewist’s opinion. But just in case yours doesn’t—or doesn’t have the type of pocket you like—why not draft one of your own, or borrow one from another pattern? Patch pockets are easy as pie and twice as cute!

Good luck, and happy hacking!

About the author: Deborah Kreiling has been part of the Simplicity team for over 35 years. She is currently the Design Development Director at Simplicity where her daily work touches every part of the sewing pattern product – working on each design from concept to final pattern with envelope. Learn to sew with Deb on her YouTube channel and at