A Sewing & Quilting Extravaganza!
Written: Apr 17, 2004 (Updated Apr 18, 2004)
I have always wanted to attend The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo. This year I decided to take the plunge ... and boy am I glad I did.
What is the Sewing & Quilting Expo?
The Sewing & Quilting Expo is a three-day event for sewers and quilters. It offers lectures, workshops, demos, fashion shows, a quilt show, prize drawings, vendors and the excitement of meeting sewing celebrities and other creative people. This Expo is for those interested in sewing, quilting, machine embroidery, wearable art, embellishment and home decor.
Registering for the Event
There are three ways to register for the Sewing & Quilting Expo. 1) Receive a brochure in the mail and mail the registration form, 2) telephone the organization, 3) register for the event online. I received a brochure in the mail, and then registered for the event online. Receiving the brochure in the mail allowed me the luxury of reading about the events and then making a final decision. Registering online is fast and easy. The hardest part was deciding what lectures and workshops I wanted to choose.
The first step is to determine where you wish to attend the Expo. As of this writing, the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo visits these cities: Clearwater, Florida -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Rosemont, Illinois -- Kansas City, Kansas -- Worcester, Massachusetts -- Minneapolis, Minnesota -- Cleveland, Ohio -- Chantilly, Virginia. I decided to attend the Expo in Massachusetts.
Navigating the Site
The Home page of www.sewingexpo.com is well designed and easy to navigate. The dates of upcoming events are listed down the center of the page. Dont forget to look at the mini slide show running in the bottom right corner. On the right side of the page are navigation links (and some of these links are also listed at the bottom of the page):
* Join the Mailing List -- Fill in a form to receive future mailings.
* Brochures Online -- View a brochure for the location of your choice. Choose between viewing the brochure as a text file or as a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
* Register Online -- Fill out the online registration form.
* Sew Sweet -- Information about the Jo-Ann Fabrics fashion and project show for students aged 9 - 18.
* Free Classes -- Bring a friend to a class and both of you will receive a free ticket to another class of your choice.
* Shopping -- Explains about shopping and prize opportunities with links to participating vendor websites.
* On Stage -- Fashion show information with photographs.
* Project Photos -- Photographs of the projects featured in workshop sessions.
* Video Tour -- View glimpses of the Sewing & Quilting Expo.
* Slide Show -- Photos of the Expo.
* Embroidery Challenge -- Rules and Entry form for the Embroidery Challenge.
* Contact Info -- Contact Information for the Sewing & Quilting Expo.
A Sampling of Class Sessions & Events
MF is an abbreviation for Materials Fee These selections are randomly listed.
* Color Trends in Decorating, Pleats for Windows (MF $24), Crochet by Machine (MF $25), A Passion for Color
* More Sophisticated Fleece, Award-winning Fitting, Darting the Dartless Pattern, Sashiko Quilted Clutch (MF $15)
* Fabric Embellishment, All-over Beadwork (MF $6), Printing Custom Fabric, Totes That Work, Beaded Buttons (MF $10)
* Artful Lettering (monograms), Exploding Embroideries for Fun and Fancy, Speed Digitizing, Software Solutions
* Sew a Vintage Handbag (MF $25), Serge a Rolled-edge Kimono (MF $28), Cher-Ware, Add Light and Depth with Metal and Crystal (MF $8)
* Setting Solutions for Quilts, Adapting Quilt Patterns, Secrets of Quilt Binding, Vintage Linens for Home Decor
* Paper-piecing Workshop (MF $18), Color and Curves for Quilters (MF $26), Pleats for Your Windows (MF $24)
* Crazy Patch Quilting (MF $28), Watercolor Wallhanging (MF $26), Building a Landscape from Scratch (MF $28)
* Sewing for Rookies (the basics): sewing, quilting, machine embroidery, hand applique, serging
* Gallery Events: Sulky Challenge, Hoffman Challenge, Colorful Quilts for Kids
* On Stage Fashion Shows: New Designers, Shirley Adams Creations, Jo-Ann Sew Sweet
* Day Before Classes: Your Personal Best (enhancing body features), Working with Linens, Roman Shades
These are only a few of the offerings there really is something of interest for everyone. Note that the classes listed above are for the 2004 Massachusetts Expo event and that classes can vary from year to year.
Registering for the Expo Online
First, I highly recommend browsing through the brochure to get an idea of the classes and offerings available. If you havent received one in the mail, you can view the brochure by clicking on the Brochures Online link. Inside the brochure is information about the classes, events, instructor profiles/photos and cost information. You can also print the brochures for reference.
There are so many classes available that I found it easiest to browse the brochure and circled the class sessions that interested me. Once I made my final decisions, I wrote the Class Codes on paper (the class code number is needed for the Registration Form). Some classes require a Materials Fee, such as if fabric and thread are provided to make a wall hanging. Also make note of any extra Material Fees as this information will be entered into the Registration Form.
Once you have examined the lecture and workshop offerings, click on the Register Online link. A new page opens with the Expos currently accepting registrations and also lists registration deadlines. There is a toll-free phone number to speak with a customer representative should you have questions. Use the Tab key on your keyboard to move through the form fields.
Entering Information in the Form & Costs
First type in the city where you wish to attend the Expo. Then type in your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. If you received a brochure in the mail, enter the Customer ID number. There is an optional area to check off your interests. Next comes the fun part of selecting the classes you wish to attend.
Enter the Class Codes and any extra Material Fees into the online Registration Form. The form is very easy to navigate. If youve printed the brochure, you can refer to it for any code numbers or extra fees that might apply. (My one complaint is that the online registration form does not automatically calculate totals and final cost. You have to do all the math.)
Once the classes are selected, you have the option of choosing Value Package A or B. These packages offer savings for those interested in taking more than five classes. Value Package A costs $75.00 and includes five class sessions of your choice and free General Admission for all three days; additional classes cost $14.00 each. Value Package B costs $125.00 and includes nine class sessions of your choice and free General Admission for all three days; additional classes cost $12.00 each.
Here are the costs if a Value Package is not selected: Daily General Admission $10.00 each, Class Sessions (if attending one through four classes) $17.00 each, General Admission with any class $5.00. There is also the option of taking a special class the day before the Expo officially begins (with paying for the optional lunch & sewing machine rental) -- the classes average a $100, prices vary depending upon the class chosen. Also offered is a special subscription rate to Threads Magazine for $16.00.
A Special Edition Expo Package is an optional $10 purchase if bought before the event. Included in the package is a nylon multi-pocket wallet that has a cord for hanging around the neck. There is a clear pocket to display your name badge and a zippered front pocket and a second front pocket that is velcro closed; on the back are two pen/pencil holders and another smaller pocket. Two colors were offered when I picked mine up at the event: all black and blue/black. Included in this Special Edition Expo Package is a decorative metal pin made especially for the event, a nice pen and a small notepad. I found this wallet handy to store my tickets for each class, and the pen and notepad were convenient.
When registering online, The Sewing & Quilting Expo only accepts Visa and MasterCard credit cards. Fill in all pertinent credit card information including the three digit card ID on the back of the credit card (an added security measure). The credit card will not be billed until the order is 100% correct and confirmed. Select whether they should contact you at home, work or via e-mail should there be a question with your order. There is also an area to type in any questions you might have. Click the Submit button to process the order.
If you mail the registration form, you can pay using a check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.
After submitting the online registration form you will see a Thank You screen to verify that your online registration has been sent. Once the form is processed by the Sewing & Quilting Expo staff, you will receive via mail a confirmation of your selections, tickets to classes, additional information and a receipt in the mail.
My Online Experiences
I found the website easy to navigate and enjoyed all the extra information available online. I strongly recommend printing the PDF brochure (or having one mailed to you). There are so many offerings that it took me several days to decide which classes I wanted to take. Ultimately, I chose Value Package B ($125.00), which included 9 class sessions with Free General Admission to all three days of the Expo. One of the classes was a workshop and counted as taking two sessions. Everything I needed to take the workshop was provided, including a sewing machine, iron, cutting board, scissors/rotary cutter, thread. There was an additional materials fee of $28.00 for the workshop.
Since this was my first time at one of these events, I also invested $10.00 in the Special Edition Expo Package, which includes the multi-pocketed wallet/name tag holder on a cord to hang around the neck. Since no name tags are issued if you purchase tickets at the door, it was nice having a name tag provided with the wallet.
So for $163.00 I received 9 classes/workshops, access to all the exhibits, quilt show, fashion shows, demos, vendors as well as received a nice name-tag wallet with pockets to hold my tickets to the events (and lets not forget the pin, pen and notepad!). I also received six tickets to register for a door prize, met sewing celebrities, and made new acquaintances. This is an exceptional value.
Within a week of placing my order online, I received a large white envelope in the mail. It contained a confirmation of my order with a receipt stapled to it (the confirmation also acted as an itinerary of the day-by-day events selected). Also included were all the tickets I needed for admission to class sessions, exhibits, etc. Six tickets were included for me to fill in my name to enter the door prize drawings (which could include winning a sewing machine!). A few special offers were added such as a card to redeem for a free machine embroidery magazine.
A helpful brochure came in the envelope. The brochure answered several of my questions, too. Sewing machines are provided free of charge in workshops during the three days of the Expo. No cameras or audio recorders are allowed. Wheeled totes must be checked as they are not allowed on the Exhibit Hall floor. Food and beverages are sold all three days. It is recommended to dress in layers in case of temperature fluxuations within the building. Also wear comfortable shoes.
My Experiences at The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo
I attended the Expo all three days, but did not participate in any of the Day Before classes. I spoke with three people who had taken the Day Before classes and they were enthusiastic about the sessions.
All the presenters were competent and offered useful information and handouts. Project samples were often passed around the room. Some presenters were more personable than others ... but thats human nature. All of them went out of their way to answer questions and make themselves available after their classes.
Some examples of the lectures I attended:
* Tote Bags Demonstrated what worked and didnt work for totebags & provided a free pocket pattern she designed.
* Embroidery Software for Rookies The instructor customized the class to what students wanted to know.
* Knockout Effects Presented by a Sulky thread/product representative. Three handouts. Too many ideas to absorb!
* Print Custom Fabrics Demonstrated how to print fabric using an inkjet printer. Two handouts.
At one point, I decided that I didnt want to take a lecture that I had pre-registered for. No problem. The staff at the Expo gladly let me trade in my ticket for another class choice. No extra fees or hassle.
I signed up for the workshop titled Its Just an Illusion. A Sulky thread/product representative gave the workshop. Sewing machines and everything needed to complete the project were provided as part of the class materials fee. I also received one yard of batik fabric and a large batik fabric panel (my choice of design), cotton batting, interfacing, fabric adhesive, and a spool of holographic thread for machine quilting. During the three-hour class, I learned several new sewing/quilting techniques and came away with a completed panel that could be used as part of a garment, a wall hanging or part of a larger quilt. The workshop had the highest energy level and enthusiasm of any event I attended at the conference. I will definitely take more workshops in the future.
The Exhibit Hall
Even if you dont want to take any classes or workshops, paying admission for the Exhibit Hall offers access to demos, fashion shows, a quilt show, and vendors selling everything from thread and fabric to notions, sewing machines and software. Many of the vendors offer special pricing on items. I purchased $30 worth of Sulky rayon thread for $12. There is also an eating area in the Hall with food vendors (egg sandwich $4, chicken sandwich $3.75, hotdog $3, garden salad $5, bottled water $2.75, soda $3, juice $3.25, gourmet coffee $2, ice cream $3).
Many of the vendors host demonstrations of their products or fun crafts. Some of the events are free, and some cost between $1 - $5 to cover material expenses. A local quilt store offered a free make-and-take project a fabric bowl, which took about an hour to sew. I enjoyed using a brand of sewing machine I had not tried before, and the bowl was a fun project to make.
Other vendors handed out free gifts such as a greeting card to quilt and free patterns. There were not many of these freebies, so it was always a treat to be offered something fun. A few vendors had raffle prizes at their tables; some entries were free and some required payment.
There were plenty of tables and chairs in the food court. I brought my own lunch, not wanting to rely on possibly long lines. Some of the lines were long, too. I heard a few people complaining. The food was varied and looked good. The tables were located near the Fashion Show stage, so those sitting at the tables closest to the stage could eat lunch and enjoy the show.
One of the events I most anticipated was the class with Shirley Adams, host of the television show The Sewing Connection. The class was titled Embellishing the Truth and featured about three dozen jackets and vests that Shirley had sewn and embellished (she brought them in on a clothing rack). She had a fascinating story for each garment and shared a wealth of information. I could have listened to her for another hour!
The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo website is a good place to visit and explore the many aspects of this sewing extravaganza. The people at the toll-free customer service number are very helpful, too. The online forms are easy to fill out, and I liked signing up via the internet as opposed to sending my information through the mail. An added bonus is that registering online is faster and improves your chances of getting the classes you want to attend. This was a terrific experience, though the next time I will attend more workshops and fewer lectures. Overall I found the workshop more stimulating than the lectures and just plain fun. And I probably wont attend all three days next time ... all that creativity is exhausting!
I hope you have found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo
(produced by MS. Productions, Inc.)
26612 Center Ridge Road
Westlake, Ohio 44145
Toll-Free Phone: 800-699-6309
Please read my other reviews
Quilters Dream Sewing Table
Horn of America Sewing Chair
Rubbermaid Chair Mat
Janome Jem Sewing Machine
Fiskars Pinking Shears & Tutorial
Grabobbin Magnetic Bobbin Holder
Bernina Accessory Box
Mighty Bright Light
Quilt Pro Software
Keepsake Quilting Online Store
Joann .com Fabric & Craft Store
Copyright 2004 Dawn L. Stewart