Sewing Machine Shopping Advice

Cindy, staff member of the Expo, shares with us her (not-so-secret) secrets of shopping for a sewing machine at the Expo!

1.       Sign up for Workshops before the Expo.  There’s nothing like actually sewing a project on a new sewing machine to see if the machine meets or exceeds your expectations.  Not to mention that you’ll learn some fun, new techniques along the way.

2.       Make a wish list… what do you have trouble with on your current machine?  What do you wish it could do?

3.       In the Expo Exhibit Hall, ask for demonstrations to compare features.   Use the Expo Program you’ll receive when you arrive at the Expo to locate sewing machine dealers quickly.  Bring a notebook and pen to take notes.  The Expo is your chance to compare all major brands with the convenience of everyone being under one roof.

4.       If you sew on specialty fabrics at home, bring some scraps of fabric with you to check out how a new machine would do the job.  Leave your project at home, though; focus on the machine at the Expo.

5.       Ask if there is an Expo special price or special financing offer.  Be prepared to take advantage of special opportunities offered only at the Expo.  Have a budget in mind, but be flexible.  Bring along any family members you might need to help with the decision.

6.       Be open minded.  Perhaps there are new features you weren’t even aware existed that would make your sewing easier or more fun.  Test drive the “heated seats and heated steering wheel”.  Someone once asked me, “Why should I buy a new sewing machine when my 30-year-old machine works perfectly well?”  I asked if she had bought a new car in the last 30 years.  “Of course,” she said.  When I asked, “Why?”, she said, “Because new cars have new features” (the CD player, heated seats, etc.).  It’s the same thing with the sewing machine industry.  She loved to remind me of this story as I would continue to see her over the years to come.  She bought a top-of-the line sewing machine, and never looked back.  In fact, she traded up to the next top-of-the-line when it came out.  Her enthusiasm for sewing definitely turned a corner that day.   J

7.       Ask about a trade-up policy.  What happens if you don’t buy “X” model today, but decide you want it tomorrow?

8.       Ask about operation classes and warranty service.  Are classes offered at a time that will fit your schedule?  Will you be able to repeat classes if you want?  Is there a local service person if needed?  Are other classes available for a fee if you want to learn more?

9.       Establish a connection with your local dealer that will go beyond the Expo.  Remember — you are not only paying for a sewing machine… you are also paying for your dealer’s knowledge and experience.  Only an independent sewing machine dealer will spend time to make sure you are comfortable with your new sewing machine and answer all of your questions.  This value for you is priceless.

A special thank you to our sponsors and dealers that provide machines for us in the classrooms! Our sewing machine sponsors include:

Husqvarna Viking
Baby Lock

Visit for more information!

A Loving Quilt of Valor

Liz, staff member of Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, has quite an inspiring story to share today, sharing the real vision and heart behind one of the Expo’s most beloved exhibitors, Quilts of Valor.

“My daughter-in-law Captain Nicole Zorn Fredrick returned home safe and sound from Afghanistan to Anchorage, Alaska.  She was greeted by my son, her mother and a beautiful Quilt of Valor. This quilt was created by quilters at Trinity Lutheran Church on Washington Island where the Zorn family has had a home for many years.  Nicole spent many happy summers there with her grandmothers.”

Nicole with her Quilt of Valor quilt.

Liz’s quilt group is working on a log cabin quilt top for Quilts of Valor.

Do you have a touching Quilt of Valor story you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.


We want to give a special thanks to those that serve our country. See Quilts of Valor at the Expo this spring to catch more of the vision.

Giveaway! Free Value Package A for the Worcester Expo!

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is excited to see you in Worcester, MA at the DCU Center April 10, 11 & 12, 2014.

You can take Classes & Workshops, explore quilts in the Display Gallery, and check out other Features and Events at the Expo!

Value Package A includes 6 class sessions, 2 days of general admission and an Expo shopping bag! Yay!

Leave a comment at the bottom of the blog thread for a chance to win! Comments will close on Wednesday, March 5th at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Brightening Lives at the Baltimore Expo

What could be better than spending a little time with your sewing friends creating a cheerful pillowcase for a sick child?  ConKerr Cancer is coming to Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Baltimore (Hunt Valley), Maryland!  Together we can stitch fun pillowcases to bring smiles to sick children.

ConKerr Cancer is a non-profit organization with a mission to brighten the lives of children battling cancer and life threatening illnesses by giving them colorful, cheerful handmade pillowcases.

Even if you’ve no time to sit down at a beautiful Bernina sewing machine while you are at the Expo, you can make a monetary contribution or join a local chapter.  Check out their website at

Cindy Kerr, the founder, is an avid quilter who started ConKerr Cancer after her son Ryan passed away from cancer. She made him a cheerful pillowcase each time he was hospitalized. Then Cindy made them for the other children in the oncology department.  It is truly an inspirational story which she has taken her love of sewing and has created an international mission for children.  More information may be found at


The Artistic Eye of Helene Weber

Join Helene Weber as the featured guest blogger today. She takes us on an adventure of looking at the world through an artist’s eyes.

Here’s a glimpse of some of her class projects:







My passion is Art, I live in a world surrounded by Art.  Every morning when I rise the first thing I see is the colors of a wonderful new day, if the sun is shining I see the colors that are portrayed across the sky, the play of sunlight through the leaves creating creating intense color, and the change in color values as the sun climbs above the horizon.  If its a cloudy or winter day I see the monotone of color that creates a starkness to the objects existing in that realm.   I explore each day finding something new that I didn’t know yesterday.


In our daily fast paced life we can form tunnel vision – too often our sight becomes so narrow its as if we are traveling through a perpetual tunnel and miss all the beauty that surrounds us.  The old adage “stop and smell the roses” is more so true now then ever.  We walk around with our sights glued to cell phone screens, tablets, computers, bill board advertisements, and other electronic gadgets so much that we literally miss the beauty in all the small details that make up our world.


As an Artist I love to record what I see through my eyes – sometimes it might just be a line drawing or a simple sketch or even some quick color blotches conveying what I felt at the moment I saw it.  Other times I file the vision in my mind for reference to use when needed at a later date.  I am constantly studying my surroundings – like taking snapshots with my mind.


Quite often I hear students state that they can’t draw or have no artistic talent – maybe when they were younger someone told them that they had no artistic ability and so they quit drawing or coloring.  But Art is not a talent given only to a few, it is a learned experience, Art like any activity in our life takes practice and commitment, just like in sports, some are better than others but it doesn’t mean we can’t all play.


The first step to practice is to see what we are looking at (similar to hearing someone talking but not actually listening to what they say).  In our lives we may look at flowers but its not until we stop and study them do we really see the flower.  When looking at a subject, it also helps to break it down into simpler forms, this way we can easily see each component and not be overwhelmed by the whole.


Look at a tree do you see the patterns formed by the bark or how the limbs grow from the main trunk.  Did you ever notice that a deciduous tree looks like an upside down rootball?  Its because what you see on top is the same as what the roots look like in the ground.


Here is a simple exercise on drawing a tree -


Take a piece of paper, draw a horizontal line across the paper 1/3 down from the top- this is the ground line

Now draw the main stem of the root (we are only drawing whats below the ground line) and then begin to branch off from the stem – picture the fibrous roots from a plant you just pulled out of the ground.

Continue to add more roots – When you have added all the roots -



Rotate your picture so that the horizontal ground line is at bottom of page – you will see you have just drawn a tree – you can keep the branches bare as winter or add leaves

This is a simple picture but it can help us understand that composing a picture isn’t so hard, sometimes we just have to view our subject in a different form or spacial configuration.


When it comes to Art, I can’t remember not ever having some form of art medium or tool in my hand, I have painted, drawn, or sculpted in some form or other all of my life.  When I moved into Fiber Art, it just seemed so natural to pick up fabric and literally paint with it – I love the texture, the colors, the ability to manipulate it into various forms and to further enhance it with thread, dyes and paints.  Painting with fabric is as natural to me as painting with pastels or acrylic paints.


I also love teaching about Fiber Art , I enjoy creating new designs and techniques to share with my students.  Some of these techniques include working with fabric and embellishments to get form and texture, creating depth and dimension with threads and paints, and alternating patterns to make a design uniquely our own.  It is my hope that students will leave my classes with lots of inspirational ideas to be able to continue to create their own Fiber Arts.


Inspired by Helene Weber’s thoughts?

See Helene in Baltimore, Atlanta, Lakeland, Schaumburg and Cleveland this Spring!


Some of her classes include:
Bluebird in Spring
Yellow Daylilly
Free Motion Quilting for Art Quilts 


Register today!

A One-Woman Quilt Show

Expo instructor, Jean Ann Wright, is being honored all during the month of February with a one-woman quilt show sponsored by the Paulding Fine Arts Association in Dallas, Georgia (yes, Georgia). The PFAA is housed in an historic 19th century courthouse in downtown Dallas. The show is in the restored courtroom.

Jean Ann is known for her innovative strip piecing techniques and for the Creative Grids® trim tool rulers she has designed to make sewing strip pieced blocks faster, easier, and more accurate than traditional methods. Her no-math, no-measuring techniques are simple enough for beginners and variations in making the blocks are appealing to experienced quilters.

Wings, the quilt on the left shows the versatility of combing two trim tools to make one quilt. Waterfall, the quilt on the right uses the original Log Cabin Trim Tool. Both quilts incorporate Jean Ann’s innovative color “wedgies” to insert slivers of color to break up the straight lines of the log cabin blocks.

Jean Ann’s adventures into strip piecing began with three miniature quilts in traditional designs. They are Courthouse Steps, Log Cabin and Chinese Coins.

An overview of the courtroom shows a larger view of the quilts in the exhibit.

Jean Ann will be giving a program for the PFAA meeting on Tuesday night February 25th at 7 PM. The meeting is open and guests are welcome to any quilters in the area who would like to come.

What a great honor, Jean. Congratulations! See more from Jean Ann at the Expo this spring, including Baltimore, Atlanta, and Schaumburg!

Featuring Barnes Sewing Center

Carla Reale from Barnes Sewing Center in Cleveland, Ohio is excited to share her passion for sewing and embroidery! She’ll be teaching a class at the Cleveland Expo called Embroidery Business Beginnings

I have the best job in the world! I love selling sewing machines. A friend once asked me what my favorite part of my job was and after thinking about it, I realized that I really enjoy getting people started with their embroidery businesses best of all. Sending them out the door with all of the equipment, tools and support that they need for their new adventure is very satisfying for me.

At Barnes Sewing Center, we provide thorough machine training, tech support, software support and even provide them with the business information they need to get started. They can buy with the confidence that if they have questions about any of those things, we will be there as a safety net for them. Barnes Sewing Center has been in business for 34 years. We value the good reputation that Bob Barnes has built through the years and take seriously our responsibility to our customers. The sale is the beginning of the relationship, not the end.


See Carla and Barnes Sewing Center in Cleveland on April 3, 4 & 5!

Tuesday Tip: Keeping Warm

Today’s Tuesday Tip features one of the Expo’s sponsors, The Warm® Company!

Insul-Bright®,from The Warm® Company is a great insulating material for use in home sewing and crafts.

The polyester fibers are needle punched through a non-woven material and through a reflective metallized film.  The fiber resists conduction and the metallized film resists radiant energy. Energy, either hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.

When using Insul-Bright®, add a layer or two of cotton batting, like Warm & Natural or Warm and White, to absorb condensation.

Insul-Bright® will be used in the Flying Geese potholders you can make with Jean Nolte, Editor of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting Magazine in the Cleveland Expo Make It Center.  The batting is all cut and ready to sew!

Insul-Bright® will also be used to make a handy kitchen Table Trivet in the Expo Class Embroidery 101 at the Expo in Baltimore, Atlanta, Lakeland and Worcester.

Giveaway! Free Value Package A for the Cleveland Expo!

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is excited to see you in Cleveland, OH at the I-X Center April 3, 4 & 5, 2014.

You can take Classes & Workshops, explore quilts in the Display Gallery, and check out other Features and Events at the Expo!

Value Package A includes 6 class sessions, 2 days of general admission and an Expo shopping bag! Yay!

Leave a comment at the bottom of the blog thread for a chance to win! Comments will close on Wednesday, February 26th at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Featuring Fit & Fashion

Oticca Beamer, creator of FIt & Fashion, is going to share some of her stellar sewing expertise with you! With over 40 years of fashion garment sewing experience, let her share her passions with yours! Come visit her in Schaumburg this March to catch all of the industry tricks!

FIT & FASHION….you CAN have both!

“Wow, I can’t believe how easy this is!”….which is the typical reaction I receive from the many students who have taken my Fit & Fashion pattern classes.  I love showing how easy it is to design patterns to fit your measurements.  Most everyone who loves fashion sewing struggles with fitting issues.  Commercial sewing pattern alterations can be very tedious and time consuming, not to mention knowing the correct way to actually make the alterations!  We developed the Fit & Fashion system to address and resolve these fitting issues.  By combining the knowledge of slopers and pattern grading, the Fit & Fashion templates (Dress, Pant and Shirt) were born.  All of the garments for your wardrobe can be designed with these three templates.  There is also a Children’s Template for those who love to sew for the children in their life.





Bodice Front Template





Shirt Front Template

Sewing enthusiasts are interested in being able to cultivate a beautiful, unique look on their own.  And looking good makes you feel good. That’s why we’ve created a variety of pattern design templates to help you give your fashions a unique touch while ensuring that your garments fit your personal measurements.  Designing your own patterns is the ideal way to create your individual style and achieve a fabulous fit – every time!

The key to the Fit & Fashion system is our exclusive Sizing Template.  This fabulous tool is used to mark your personal measurements on a master pattern template.  Then, all you do is connect the dots to get your own personalized foundation pattern.




Your foundation pattern is used to design all of the patterns for your wardrobe.  Your creations will fit because they are designed from the foundation pattern made specifically for your shape and size!  The instruction booklets contain step-by-step illustrations for all of the styling techniques.  We are currently working on instructional DVDs to partner with our template instruction books.  We are very excited about this endeavor.  The first DVD will cover our Dress Template!  DVDs for the Pant Template and Shirt Template will follow soon after.  We expect to release all three DVDs before the end of the year.

In addition, Fit & Fashion Design Sheets provide illustrated, step-by-step instructions for achieving the same look of many fashions found in commercial pattern books.  Beginning with your personalized foundation pattern, you will be able to design each look with a perfect fit just for you!  Here are just a few examples of the Design Sheets currently available:













See more from Oticca in Schaumburg! Register for her classes today, including:
Magic in Minutes: 5 Sleeve Variations
Design Your Own Dresses and More
See you in Chicago!