The Importance of Belonging


In this busy, busy world, finding time to pursue our precious sewing and stitchery arts can be tough. And often the thought of joining a group or guild feels like just another distraction. But joining a group can actually be the most life-sustaining thing we do to support and pursue our creative interests. Belonging is amazingly important and foundational to inspiration!

Community Benefits


Groups and guilds are devoted to encouraging their members and offering help with questions, techniques and specific projects. Yearly dues are nominal, meetings are generally held monthly and include opportunities for demos of new tools and tricks as well as lively conversation with other members. Optional yearly or bi-yearly retreats and special events are a valuable bonus benefit of membership. What could be better than several long days and nights dedicated to sewing with those who understand your passion?

Over the years, I have belonged to many different groups. My membership and attendance at meetings has been incredibly vital to my creative life. I rush home from meetings, head straight to my sewing spa and immerse myself in plans and projects inspired by fellow members. And I’m not alone! Chatting online with members of the Seattle Chapter of the American Sewing Guild reinforced the joyous benefits of group membership.

  • “I love being with my tribe! No shortage of fabulous sewing sisters in my life, thanks to ASG!!” – Maris
  • “It’s a tribal thing, complete with fitting buddies who have my back–literally.” – Carolyn
  • “I love the excitement that comes from meeting up with people that are so willing to share and learn from one another. I also love seeing what others are making and getting inspiration from them. Oh, and seeing the tricks and tools they use!” – Molly

Finding Your Tribe

Across the US, Canada, Australia and other countries, specialized groups and guilds are available near almost every town. An online search for sewing, quilting, needlework, stitchery, knitting or crochet guild will bring up contact information and possibly web sites that you can explore. But if there’s nothing in your nearby area, why not start your own group? Those of us who quilt or sew usually know at least one or two others who share our “stitchy” obsessions and that’s a great start right there!

Quilting guilds have long been instrumental in nurturing our desire for “no idle hands.” Although most of us do not sew or quilt out of necessity, the art of quilting holds a unique appeal in our technological society. Quilting guild members gather for quilting bees, retreats, special speakers, joint charitable projects and small group opportunities. Members are enthusiastic about their groups and the benefits they receive from belonging as I learned from more online chatting.

  • “I have been a member of a large guild and a couple of smaller groups. I love it for the inspiration, a place to show quilts, a place to give charity quilts and retreats. The smaller groups especially foster deep friendships. “ – Carol
  • “I quilt once a week at a local church with a GREAT ecumenical group of women making charity quilts which are distributed worldwide! Every few months we lay the quilts on the church pews for Sunday Service before they are taken to a distribution center!” – Linda
  • “We have a very active group of around 80 to 100 ladies. We have a quilt show every two years. Many of the ladies meet in their houses for quilting bees. Our ladies share their talents, help new ones get started, and are fun to be with.” – Gail

The Sewing and Stitchery Expo is the perfect place to find a group or guild to join! Fabric, notions, and pattern vendors often know about groups from their local area or may have a guild meeting right in their store. Sewing machine dealers often have groups that meet in their stores, too! These groups are often focused on particular techniques or your chosen machine. At this year’s show, you’ll find booths manned by the American Sewing Guild, the Embroiderers Guild of America, charitable Sew Powerful and more. Stop by their booths, ask questions and see what fits you and your interests. You may go home with lots of friends, a new membership and a powerful sense of belonging!

Grouping Up Online

Online groups abound and are a good supplement or substitute for in-person meetings. Facebook is full of creative group pages that charge no fee and offer inspiration, support and fun challenges. The best place to start is the Sewing & Stitchery Expo’s page. Here, you can connect with attendees from all over the world to share advice, projects, and ask questions. This online community serves as a wonderful resource for not only finding but creating new connections! New Expo fabric vendor, Sew So English also offers a wonderful Facebook group full of inspiring pictures of smiling sewists wearing SSE fabrics and offering sewing tips. Check your favorite fabric company or store and you may find that tribe meeting online, too!

While many groups and guilds include a charitable component in their yearly activities, there are also online groups centered around helping their communities. For instance, Quilts of Valor and Quilts of Honor groups offer support to the US military. Project Linus benefits traumatized children and most local Children’s Hospitals have sewing or knitting guilds creating blankets and hats. Again, an online search will yield many choices and ways for you to find your charity-oriented tribe!

Passion, Friendship and Inspiration Unlimited

Do you belong to a group or guild? If you’re a regular attendee of the Sewing and Stitchery Expo, then you can loudly answer YES. There’s a delicious connection that takes place at this show. Everyone is smiling, everyone is your friend, resources are gathered and tips and techniques are shared. It’s the most exciting and largest “Gathering of the Tribe” in the whole USA. If you just stumbled on this post and haven’t yet attended Expo – do it and do it this year!

I’ve outlined many of the common reasons for joining a group and how to find one that meets your interests and needs. The force of “The Importance of Belonging” is strong, but maybe you’re still not convinced? Reading about groups, how they’re organized and what their missions are is interesting, but it’s the marvelous communal energy that makes joining a must. So, I’ll close with more words from gratefully dedicated group and guild members who wouldn’t trade their experiences – even for fabric. And, I think that will probably tip you over the edge of the bolt or skein and into a group or guild!

  • “Makes my heart sing when I hang out with these folks!” – Michelle
  • “I love being with people that speak the same language. People who understand the peace that comes from the hum of a sewing machine.” – Shelley
  • “I love it all: the peeps, the fabric exchanges, fitting help, technique tips, education events, the inspiration from all of the super creative people…..and the retreats!!!” – Debby

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  and be sure to say “hi” at Expo in one of her classes! View the class catalog to learn about the classes Annette will be teaching in 2019. 



Common Sense Fitting

If you don’t sew for yourself because nothing ever fits, you’re missing out on the joys of a handmade wardrobe! It doesn’t have to be hard and a few quick tips will make a world of difference. Grab a tape measure and your common sense. You can do this!

Give Yourself the Keys

A few basic measurements are the beginning to a better fit. While this may not take you to couture level, you can quickly adjust any pattern to fit your body. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s the patterns! They don’t fit any of us and they’re not sized like the ready to wear items you buy in the store. Remember, we’re not talking about a precise fit here, but you can make it better! To begin, start with these four key measurements: full bust, high bust, waist, full hip, and arm circumference. Write them down and make sure you find a safe place to keep them. Be honest! This is just for you and no one else will know. Others just get to enjoy the beautiful clothes you’ll be making!


You’re in Charge

There are so many beautiful designs available in today’s patterns! But often we think we can’t wear a particular pattern because it looks too tight, too loose, or we don’t like the sleeves or another element of the design. Remember: You’re in charge of that pattern and how it’s going to look when you’re done. Be fearless! Using your measurements, you can change the cut of a sleeve, the fit of the body, or the way the neckline sits. The most important thing about a design is that you love the garment after it’s sewn. Spend a little time and do what it takes to enjoy sewing for yourself. That’s the real common sense secret to creating a handmade wardrobe you love and can wear proudly!

About the Author: Annette Millard loves to encourage others to make sewing easy, stress-free and fabulous! She has sewn her own clothing, taught sewing, and worked in the sewing industry for most of her life and loves what she does. Her blog, The Sewfull Life, provides helpful tips, tutorials, and project reviews. Visit Annette on her blog at and be sure to say hello at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in one of her three classes!

7 Easy Tips For a Better Fit

Tip #1: Don’t go by another sewist’s experience fitting a pattern! Because we are all wonderfully unique, it’s doubtful that you are the same exact size and like the same exact fit!

Tip #2: Use your pattern to find the body measurements and finished measurements before you cut! Consider how much extra room (ease) you like in your garments and keep that in mind when you choose your size(s).

Tip #3: You don’t have to use just one size of the pattern! Find the right size for your measurements and go with that. I often use two to three sizes when I’m sewing.

Tip #4: Assemble your tools and don’t be afraid of the pattern. You’ll need a dressmaker’s curve, a sturdy tape measure, a straight ruler, and a variety of marking tools.

Tip #5: Banish too tight sleeves! Compare your arm circumference to the pattern sleeve and make the proper adjustments if needed. You’ll want more ease for a woven fabric than a knit, so keep that in mind.

Tip #6: Don’t just hope it’s the right length! Measure, measure, measure. Before you do any cutting, determine the length you want, compare it to the pattern, and make your adjustments.

Tip #7: Sign up for my Common Sense Fitting class at the 2019 Sewing & Stitchery Expo. You’ll learn more valuable tips and take home a measurement chart and handout and see how easy it is to make adjustments to your patterns. I can hardly wait to hear about your success! Visit to learn more about purchasing class tickets.

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!

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.

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!