What Connie has to say about Cuddle

Connie Palmer is a legend in the Martha Pullen world and we have the pleasure of having her teach for us this year, and she’ll be teaching a Cuddle Blanket Workshop that features a pre-cut kit from one of our amazing sponsors, Shannon Fabrics!

What does Connie have to say about working with those tricky plush fabric? Here’s some great pointers:

  •  Use a large needle – 100 / 110 if needed, and be sure to use good thread, preferably polyester, not cotton.
  • Use Press N’Seal® on one side so that the nap stays more flat
  • Try to be sure to not cut the furry part, but cut the reverse side so that, as Connie says it, “you don’t have to think as much!”
  • Fun trick: You can put batting in between the plush materials to make it more padded!

Connie says she loves this specific project because it challenges you which allows you to be more creative. This is not everyday work – it’s FUN!

Here’s a picture of what you can expect to make in the Cuddle Blanket Workshop:


More from Connie at the Expo:
Working With Non-Average Fabrics
Notions You Can’t Sew Without
Trims and Embellishments for Garments, Gifts and Home

More from Shannon Fabrics:
Check out their website at http://www.shannonfabrics.com!

Hey Atlanta, we’ll see you this week!

A Q&A with Evy Hawkins

Marlene Ingraham, Founder of Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, is continuing her series of interviews with various faculty members and sewing personalities for The Maker’s Experience (Did you catch part one featuring Linda Lee?). Today, we learn a little more about Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch.


From Marlene: I had such a great time talking with Evy about her sewing life and her business and how she keeps so many balls in the air (and is always smiling, even in on the phone, I can tell).  And while we were talking we discovered we could do something really extraordinary in her workshops – take a look to the photos at the bottom of this post to see just how great these workshops really are!  Meanwhile, you’ll get way more than you thought!  We can not only send everyone home with a complete embroidery design file with project directions (did you even know these projects are all in-the-hoop projects?), but also give ALL the kits from a class to EVERYONE!  Evy is using Riley Blake fabrics, so you know they’ll be great ….. and so for instance, the Boot for Loot class has three kit choices and you’ll get to choose one to complete in class and take home the other two!  Complete!  Same with the Happy Day Banner (3 choices) and Foliage Frolic (2 choices).

Rileyblake kitting

Fabric cuts from Riley Blake kits

I guess the more we talk, the better things get … and so without further ado, here’s my first interview with Evy –

From Marlene: Where do you find your inspiration?

From Evy: Everywhere! I love to see the beauty in our world, even in unexpected places and unexpected things, don’t you? There’s a spider web on my porch right now that keeps telling me “Sashiko stitching on gray – quilt, quilt quilt!” And then there was the pot of burnt corn last week (well, I was SEWING, not pot minding!) and I noticed how pretty that yellow looked against the black charred pot. Now I need to make a yellow and black something, it’s was a stunning color combo.

MI: What are your top three sources for creativity?

EH: My eyes, my hands and my crazy brain. Well, as for eyes I’m guessing that like most folks what I see is my greatest inspiration. That’s why we love magazines and books and quilt shows! (And shopping, ha!) And have you ever been in a fabric store that you were told not to touch anything? They know us. We need to fondle the fabric! It speaks inspiration to us through our fingertips, right? Sometimes just picking up a skein of yarn makes my brain go CLICK, and there it is, all laid out for me in my minds eye – a new project! Then there’s my brain which some nights just won’t go to sleep along with the rest of me and keeps me wide awake thinking of “wonder what this would look like” “wonder if I can make that stitch look like this thing on that fabric?”

MI: What’s your favorite part of creating?

EH: When all the materials are gathered, the plan is hatched and the first step is waiting. Ahhhhh…. It’s like the first bite of really good chocolate. Just perfect.

MI: And your least favorite?

EH: Cleaning up the mess afterwards. I have to put on really funky music and talk myself into it. Usually I bribe myself. “If you clean up this table you can go have a cup of tea and a cookie!”

MI: Your favorite color?

EH: When you asked me this one a couple of colors popped in my mind and then they kept popping. Well, huh. I thought I had a favorite color, but you know what, I think I just love them all! I do tend to gravitate to a certain color family for a few weeks and then find myself moving on to a new one. Right now I’ve been fixed on aqua blues. Right before that it was pink. Next I have a feeling it is going to be yellow, charred around the edges!

MI: Favorite food?

EH: Something that someone else has cooked for me. Well, I don’t think I can live without Earl Gray tea and dark chocolate, but other than that if I don’t have to cook it, it’s my favorite! (Tell me again what this boxy thing with knobs is in the room with the refrigerator?)

MI: What do you think would surprise most people about yourself?

EH: For the last few years I’ve been Baby lock’s Sashiko spokesperson and that’s been awesome. I mean, have you SEEN what that machine can do with that one sweet little stitch? And then there’s also Baby lock’s Embellisher – a needle felting machine – which in my humble opinion is right next to the Sashiko in being brilliantly creative. My work and teaching events have revolved around them so much because I am totally in love with what I can create on these two unique machines. Many people are surprised to learn that my main business is actually machine embroidery design. Figuring out what I can teach my embroidery machine to do next is one of life’s greatest pleasures for me. Plus the fact that I can take the art that is running wild around in my head and put it in stitches that someone else can stitch out too – bonus fun! I am tickled pink six ways of Sunday that I’m getting to teach three embroidery classes for the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo! Can’t wait!

Evy’s workshops taught in Fredericskburg, VA:

First picture: Foliage Frolic
Second picture:  A Boot for Loot
Third picture: Happy Day Banner

Foliage Frolic


A Boot for Loot

Happy Day Banner

A Q&A with Linda Lee

Marlene Ingraham, Founder of Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, is embarking on a series of interviews with various faculty members and sewing personalities for The Maker’s Experience.   She loves to learn about people, and finds everything adds to her enjoyment of their art.  We hope you feel the same way!  Today, we learn a little more about Linda Lee.

From Linda:  Hi, I’m Linda Lee, the owner of the Sewing Workshop Pattern Collection. I have been producing patterns since 1991 out of a need to make clothes to wear that are flattering to a my maturing figure while still high-style and fashion forward with an avant garde edge. Plus, I live in a town with limited clothing stores, and I don’t fit in most clothes on the racks in the stores anyway.

MI:  Oh my, does ANYONE? Here’s what interests me today, and I quote from your website:  “She (Linda) loves to investigate the engineering of garment sewing — thus the geometry of the patterns. And she likes to watch the transformation of her students’ views of themselves as she works with them to create wearable wardrobes that complement how they want to express themselves.”

I’d like to explore these two thoughts with you today….

Let’s start with your background and how that influences your pattern designs and how you dress yourself.  How much of your architecture/interior design background shows up in your patterns and clothing?

LL:  I owned an interior design business for almost 40 years, and I find that I still bring some of the strategies and concepts as a designer to my style in patterns. I love interesting architectural shapes in garments. I’ve sewn enough “two fronts, a back and two sleeve” garments in my lifetime. Now I am interested in sewing pieces that are more like a puzzle – angles, asymmetry, surprise details. Follow the directions and magic happens. And that magic transforms how I feel about myself and am portrayed in this world.

lindaI like for people to ask if I have made my outfit. I assume they are asking because whatever I have on is unique, made in an interesting fabric and fits me well.

MI:  That’s a very safe assumption – I’ve always been impressed by the expert finishing and small details – artful and precise, without being stuck up about it.  I don’t know how to say it, but the clothes have an approachable attitude even in their sophistication.

LL:  Maybe it’s because, just like the process I used as an interior designer of coordinating wallpapers, fabrics and floor coverings, I am comfortable with and like to mix textures, patterns and motifs. In order to bring that to my garment style, I am constantly perusing home decorating magazines and online interior sources plus fashion resources as well. I want my pattern collection to be fresh and on trend.

jacketpieced jacket

MI:  We are not all born with or have taken the time to develop a strong personal design sense, and it’s hard to see ourselves as other see us, too.  Do you see your retreat students’ self-image change during the time you spend together?

LL:  I love teaching workshops such as the Knits Workshop as part of the School of Art Fashion with Original and Sewing Expos because I get to see the pure delight of my students when they discover they can actually sew well using good techniques and equipment, plus they leave with completed ensembles that fit and flatter. I have actually had students tell me that a workshop has “changed their lives” and definitely given them the confidence to step out of their normal sewing box and sew on great fabric using patterns that are for real people.


Unknown-1MI:  What are your favorite features of the knit garment patterns you chose for the retreat?  I know you chose them for a reason ….. and not just that they’re pretty quick to make  — they are that too, I know.  But what else?

LL:  I chose the garments for this season’s knit ensemble for several reasons. First, I want my students to experience sewing on different weights and types of knit, from tissue weight to sweater knits. I insist on using the very best quality designer knits in order to get really good results. Then I want to ingrain the idea that knits don’t have to be intimidating. We wear knits almost every day. It’s time to hone our skills and sew what we really want to wear.

MI:  Oh, gosh, I love that idea!  We so often only sew ‘special’ things, and that’s just not satisfying enough after awhile…..

LL:  The eTee is the best-fitting and most flattering t-shirt I have ever had in the pattern collection.  The eShrug, made as a vest, is currently being shown in many forms in every catalog, fashion magazine, and style ad in the universe.  It is easy and fast to make, and super flattering on everyone from ages 25 to 75+. The variations are endless. And the pants, well, no doubt they are the most versatile and wearable pants with today’s tops and tunics, and everyone who has made them is in love with them and has made more than one pair.


MI: I’ve been backstage dressing models during your fashion show at the Expo, and am always amazed by how very lovely – that’s the word I want to use, lovely – your garments are.  Not fussy, but distinctive.  Made simply and perfectly, made using high-end fabrics.  And they look so great on all the models, who are not all “model size and shape.’’  Please explain….

LL:  I sew to replicate the great clothes that I can’t afford in the best stores, and I sew for the love of the process and the challenge of the engineering. Every woman of any size or figure type deserves to look amazing. Every year I have to re-evaluate what looks good on me and my customers. I am of the age that if something feels good and looks good on me, then most likely it will work on a lot of people. While I don’t have to have the very latest design craze, there are definitely silhouettes of the time that I want to have represented in the pattern line.

So….. I hope to see everyone who sews in a workshop or lecture somewhere along the way.  To me it’s about sharing our love of the art of sewing and feeling good about ourselves.

MI:  Amen!  And thank you for your time today, Linda.  I think I need to be in your Knits Ensemble retreat myself….. see you in Fredericksburg!



Sew Drapey for Spring!

Meet Rae Cumbie of Fit For Art Patterns.

cumbieHi, I am Rae Cumbie of Fit for Art Patterns. Today I am gazing out the window at a steady snow fall, dreaming of Florida. This is Fit for Art’s first visit to the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland, and we will also be in Atlanta and Cleveland.  Carrie and I are looking forward to the warm weather (in Florida!) and the opportunity to meet you!

To freshen up the Fit for Art Patterns both for Spring, I am stitching up a Swing Variation of the Tabula Rasa Jacket in these fabrics. Carrie and I visited our favorite fabric haunts in New York City last week and found yards of beautiful new drapey and sheer fabrics we are anxious to share with you. They will become unique bundles of three coordinating soft fabrics that include just the right amount of fabric for you to stitch up a Tabula Rasa Jacket or Swing Variation of your own.


Above are Rae’s fabric choices.

Above is Carrie’s fabric choices.

Register for Sew Drapey, offered in each city, to learn more about sewing stylish, soft garments that go from daytime to dinner out and pack perfectly for travel.

To see more from us:

  • Visit us at the Fit for Art booth to see all our patterns and fabrics.
  • Enjoy a complimentary jacket sizing with the pattern’s purchase.
  • Sign up for a 30 minute pants fitting with Sarah Veblen or me to get you started sewing great fitting pants with the Eureka! Pants that Fit Pattern.
  • Visit our website to be inspired by our Photo Gallery of garment samples and our Sew! Let’s Get Dressed blog posts.

See you soon, RAE

Creating Celebration Quilts

Do you have boxes of clothing or linens that you are saving for some future project? Perhaps you have a few treasured belongings from a loved one that has passed, tucked carefully away in a drawer or on a closet shelf?

Cynd iSouder Headshot

I’m Cyndi Souder. I’m a teacher, lecturer, writer, and quilter. Most of the quilts I make are Celebration Quilts. I’ve made these quilts for myself, for friends and family, and for clients. So, what makes a quilt a Celebration Quilt?

Celebration Quilts are designed to honor or celebrate an event, a memory, or a life. Have you made a baby quilt? Then you’ve made a Celebration Quilt. Wedding quilt? Graduation quilt? Retirement quilt? Yup, these are all Celebration Quilts. I’ve made quilts to celebrate births, weddings, and anniversaries. When the tragedy of September 11th happened, I made a quilt to try to make sense of it. When I lost my sister to ovarian cancer, I made a series of quilts and I’m sure I have more of those in my head. The one pictured here is from a Judy Niemeyer pattern and earned thousands of dollars at a fundraising auction for cancer research.

20 Teal Beauty

Clients most often ask me to create Celebration Quilts to help them honor a lost loved one. They bring me clothing, pictures, jewelry, cards, books, glasses, and so much more. I try to make the quilt solely from the artifacts they have brought me so that the quilt is more personal and more meaningful. We talk about the person they wish to celebrate and I get to know the quilt’s subject. I ask a lot of questions and I design the quilt to reflect the personality of the person we’re honoring.

I know that sounds hard, but it’s something that everyone can do. In my book, Creating Celebration Quilts, I have a worksheet that will walk you through the design and decision-making process. The questions help you decide on the colors, materials, size, and design of the quilt.

Souder C Too Much Soul

I love to teach this workshop, because we go beyond the book. I learn about your ideas, how you want to proceed, and I help you overcome the potential speed bumps. Working with tee shirts? I have tips. Have lots of neckties? I can help with that. Are your keepsakes and artifacts three-dimensional? I have ways to overcome that. Do you have an idea but no specific artifacts? I can help you decide what to use that will create a meaningful Celebration Quilt. Join me in class in Lakeland, FL or Cleveland, OH and I’ll help you Design Your Own Celebration Quilt.

See more from Cyndi Souder in Lakeland,  Cleveland and Worcester (not quite available online) with classes including:

  • Tsukineko® Inks (Lakeland only)
  • Quilting with the Feed Dogs Down
  • Quilting with the Feed Dogs Up
  • Quilt Writing: Add Words with Free Motion Stitches

Indygo Junction + Amy Barickman at the Expo!

My name is Amy Barickman, you may know my pattern company Indygo Junction. I’m thrilled to be joining the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo this year! This has been an exciting time for me as I recently released my newest title, The Magic Pattern Book. I would like to tell you a little bit about how Magic Pattern came about and how you can see it at the Sewing & Quilt Expo!


My motto is Vintage Made Modern, and I collect vintage hand sewn pieces, sewing and dressmaking magazines, patterns, books and more. The search for timeless and endearing vintage content led me to discover Mary Brooks Picken and the school she founded, The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I was compelled to share Mary’s story once I started collecting the school’s sewing courses and it’s newsletters, Inspiration and Fashion Service. The material from these publications had a timeless quality that I felt would appeal to the modern DIY audience. This led to the creation of my book Vintage Notions an Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion & Fun.

Vintage Notions

Vintage Notions featured 12 original Magic Patterns – those ingenious sewing ideas found on The Magic Page of Inspiration as well as in another Woman’s Institute publication, Fashion Service. The original Magic Patterns didn’t have any actual pattern pieces. Instead, the patterns included a cutting diagram as well as detailed instructions for the construction of the garment.

I was inspired to bring the spirit of Mary’s Magic Patterns into the 21st century. Working with my friend and Indygo Junction designer Mary Ann Donze, we created 6 master patterns for the book: a tank, skirt, dress, cardigan, jacket and accessory. Then we collaborated on how to transform those base patterns into 6 new garments. The Magic Pattern Book contains 36 fashion forward garment and accessory patterns transformed from those original base patterns. Read more about the story behind Magic Pattern here.


I was so excited about the projects in The Magic Pattern Book and looking for a way to share these designs with sewers nationwide, when I started talking to the folks at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, and The Magic Fashion Show was born!

The Magic Fashion Show will feature new samples (not shown in the book) of projects from Magic Pattern created in up-to-the-minute fabrics. The show will travel to each Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, but what I’m really excited about, is being able to attend some of the shows and emcee – I look forward to telling you in person about the inspiration behind each of the garments, construction tips and techniques, ideas for creating the projects with recycled fabric and more!


The Delia jacket made in Crossroads Denim Cactus Pink. The necklace is Indygo Junction’s Zipper Jewels pattern.

I will be attending the Fredericksburg, Overland Park, Minneapolis, Lakeland and Cleveland shows. Not only will I be emceeing the fashion show, but I will also be teaching two classes; Vintage Notions: From Inspiration to Income, and Crafting a Creative Business. In the Vintage Notions class we will explore how a single dedicated source, in this case Vintage Notions, can inspire the joy of sewing and domestic arts as an avenue for the entrepreneurial spirit. In Crafting a Creative Business, I will share my 20 year journey in the sewing and fabric arts trade with an eye toward inspiring and educating those who dream of starting their own business.

Indygo Junction patterns and products can be found in the Early Times Workshop booth at all the shows, except the Overland Park show, where we will have our own booth. I hope you will come see me at the shows – if you can’t make it, The Magic Fashion Show will be attending all the Original Sewing & Quilt Expos through June 2015, so be sure to stop by and add some magic into your sewing!

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. www.pauldingfinearts.org

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!

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!

Let’s Have Some Stitching Conversations…


We’re excited about Nancy Shriber being the featured guest blogger today! Check out more from her at the Baltmore Hunt Valley Expo next month! Here’s an in-depth look at her Stitching Conversations event that’s happening during the Expo. You won’t want to miss it.





How do you start your day?  Perhaps the better question is how do you end your day?  Like many of us, some of my days offer an opportunity to “start” at such a frantic pace that I know I would be playing catch up until the point of exhaustion.  I know that this type of a day will not offer an opportunity for me to feel creative, to be productive, or feel that I am in charge of my life by any stretch or effort on my part.

So, how do I find a way to prevent that from happening?  Join me on Thursday evening, March 6 and let’s just relax, sip a little tea, talk, and sew.  I find the physical act of picking up a piece of cloth, threading a needle, and taking a stitch, or two helps me settle, breathe deeply and relax.  We have been provided with a very unique opportunity this year, at this venue, to come together and experience something wonderful – a discussion with fellow sewing enthusiasts, an opportunity to share, do a little stitching and bring closure to our active day of learning, shopping and visiting.  Don’t miss this opportunity to stop, breathe deeply and stitch.


Who’s excited? What a great way to un-wind! Thanks, Nancy.

See what else Nancy is teaching. Sign up for these classes today!
Sashiko: The Original Slow Stitch
Sashiko: Creating an Artful Garment 

For more classes and information, visit www.sewingexpo.com!

Delightful + Fun: Felted Zipper Art Pin!


Expo teacher and staff member, Tammie Cambell is sharing the makings of her fun, new hands-on workshop for 2014, Felted Zipper Art Pin! The office is simply delighted with these amusing zipper shapes. Sign up for Tammie’s Expo class today!




If you’re like me, you like to try many different ways to use ordinary things.


Come join this fun class where you use simple craft items and your imagination to create a one of a kind piece of art to wear anytime.

You’ll be doing some hand sewing, felting, gluing and cutting.

Let the zipper guide you and the colors are yours to pick. Embellish with beads as you like and at the end of class you will have a wonderful piece of art.

You can manipulate your zipper into whatever shape you’d like!

Delightful, don’t you think? The kit is provided in the class, and you’ll leave with a finished product to share with your friends!

See Tammie and her other classes at all of the Expo locations!

Paintstiks®, Stamps and WOW!

Laura Murray is an award winning quilter, with a keen interest in surface design techniques such as dyeing, foiling, screen printing stenciling and stamping. She teaches a variety of methods on ways to use Shiva Paintstiks to create original designs on fabric, for use in garments and quilts. These techniques are easy to learn and require no artistic talent. Laura has developed her own line of stamps and stencils, and created several breakthrough techniques using her stamps, fusible web and paintstiks to create amazing, layering designs without the need for piecing. She teaches and vends at large quilt and sewing shows across the country, and is known for her paintstik expertise, along with the hand dyed silk fabrics and handcrafted buttons found in her booth.


For those who want a hands-on experience on the basic Paintstik® techniques of rubbing, shading, stenciling and drawing directly, the Wonderful World of Paintstiks provides students with the ability to transform a plain fabric into exactly what they need for a project. Using stamps and paintstiks provided as class supplies, learn how to make a kaleisdecope design in Laura’s StarBuilder Sensations class — no sewing required. The technique can be used on garments or for quilts.

Laura’s newest class, Tantalizing Tileworks (pictured below), combines square and curved stamp designs to produce the effect of Mexican Painted Tiles. Blocks completed in class measure approx 5 1/4”.

Feeling inspired? Catch more from Laura Murray at the Expo this Spring! Take these classes in Atlanta, Lakeland and Cleveland! She’ll even host her own Stage Presentation!

See you at the Expo – coming to a location near you! See the full calendar here.

Mitering Like Magic!

Want to see some magic from Expo faculty “wizard” Debby Kratovil?

Special thanks to the special guest blog from Debby this week!
Magical Mitering – Attic Windows with Savannah Fabrics

Lovely garden themed fabrics: Savannah Collection by Benartex

One of my most requested techniques is that which I refer to as “Magical Mitering.” The Savannah Collection is perfect for this in that I will treat groups of 4 small panels as a “window” unit. For example:

 Two sections of 4 small panels
Two groups of panels with “attic window” strips

Each set of 4 panels measures 9-1/2″. I commend Benartex on making sure that the black sections between each panel measures 1/2″ so that I didn’t have to destroy one panel to cut out another. I was able to get the required 1/4″ around the outside.

I cut the two contrasting strips (yellow and black prints) at 2-1/2″ x wof. Because I am mitering, the strips have to be longer that the 9-1/2″ sides by at least 2-1/2″ twice. So, I cut them at 9-1/2″ + 2-1/2″ + 2-1/2″ , which equals 14-1/2″. You can throw in an extra inch for safety. So, what does this look like?

The first strips extend at least 2-1/2″ beyond the two sides as shown

Center the first two strips (yellow) and sew with 1/4″ seam to panel center. Note that my stitching goes BEYOND the end. We do NOT begin and end 1/4″ away as in traditional mitering. This is important, as you will see in the next photos. I used black thread for demonstration only, so you can see the seam.

Press seams TOWARD the center, so you can see the inside edge of the strips
You now see the extended stitching AND the inside edge of the strips
This stitching will be your visual guide when placing the next set of strips.

Now it’s time to add the next set of strips. Using the extended stitching as your guide to place your sewing machine needle EXACTLY, begin sewing at the stitching and end at the stitching on the other side.

Begin stitching as shown; it’s ok to backstitch to lock in place

How do we press the seams of this second set of strips? AWAY from the center. Then we fold the black strips at a 90 degree angle as shown, which amazingly resembles a miter.

This magically forms the miter without having to wrestle an alligator
Remember I told you that pressing the first set of strips TOWARD the center was important? Here’s why: You use the raw edge of that strip as your guide for aligning the second set of strips (in this case, the black floral). That’s how you get a true 90 degree miter:
Notice how the fold begins right at where you dropped your machine needle
This works on ALL corners
All corners can be folded in the same way
Fold back, pin and get ready to stitch.
Yes, this is stitched with a tiny zig zag and monofilament thread.
Wait? Can I see the back?
Look closely; you can see the stitching. Trim away the excess folded under fabrics.
And now for the reveal of the entire block using my Magical Mitering technique:
Magically mitered strips. You can call this Attic Windows, also
Remember: First two strips get pressed TOWARD the center. The last two strips are pressed AWAY from the center.
I made 4 of these panels. Two of the blocks have yellow on the side and two have yellow on the top and bottom. This way the same colors don’t touch. Well, what does it look like?
13″ blocks and YES! I mitered the borders, too!
 For some reason I get carried away when I start sewing. I almost never make something small. Don’t these Savannah panels look like window panes viewing a lovely English garden?
Want to see more from Debby Kratovil? Come see her at Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Baltimore, Atlanta, Lakeland and Schaumburg! Debby will teach Vortex Quilt (BYOF) and other piecing and quilting classes.

Tuesday Tip featuring Expo Faculty Jean Ann Wright

A quilter’s fabric stash is a palette of color for making a quilt…be it traditional or modern. For years my stash was piled haphazardly in teetering stacks that threatened to collapse in a chaotic pile when I tried to search through a stack for a particular color or print I knew was there…somewhere! I thrive in the chaos, I am most creative when I have everything everywhere, but I don’t want to waste hours and hours of time on the hunt for the fabric I need to make a quilt. When I get a new idea for a quilt I want to start sewing right now! I don’t want to waste time looking everywhere for the fabric I need. I want to be at the sewing machine.

Then I attended a presentation by Anita Hallock on organizing and storing fabrics. Her system was so simple I couldn’t believe it. Simply take a length of yardage folded over as it comes off the bolt, wrap it around your 8″ x 24″ Creative Grids® ruler, slip the ruler out, fold the fabric in half from folded side to selvedge side and wella! You have neatly folded fabric. As you wrap more and more of your yardage into individual “folds” you will love the way they all come out the same size and stack ever so neatly on any bookshelf.

I spent one summer folding my huge fabric stash. Every evening I would sit on the sofa and fold fabric as I watched TV. Surprisingly this was a very soothing activity that settled me down at the end of a busy day and put me in a calm frame of mind before going to bed. Folding is a repetitive activity that brings peace of mind and what could be better than stroking all that lovely fabric!



Here is what my newly organized stash looks like. You can see that I chose to store my fabric by color family in the bookcase with fewer storage shelves. I can now find any piece of fabric I need at a moment’s notice saving hours of time when I am ready to start a new quilt.

In the taller bookshelf I stored specific fabric collections from the fabric companies that I have designed quilts for using those collections. The empty space is for new fabrics I may buy in the future. The long folds in the three shelves adjacent and below are at least five yard cuts that I buy on sale for quilt backings. By the number of backings I have stashed it looks like I have lots of quilts to make in my future.



Check out more from Jean Ann Wright:




And, of course, come see her at the Expo at any of the first 3 locations teaching a variety of classes including:

See the entire list of classes and workshops online at sewingexpo.com!

Will you ‘Almost Whole Cloth’?

Join Expo teacher, Nelly Vileikis, in one of her great new classes, Almost Whole Cloth.


This astounding teacher is taking her students to the next level. With an advanced background in mathematics, Nelly has a tremendous passion for quilting and teaching. She has won numerous awards in local as well as national quilt competitions. For over ten years she has taught in several quilt shops, at many Quilt Guilds throughout North Eastern Ohio, Quilting Get-A-Ways and private classes.



This class is available for quilters at all levels, with all of the project materials provided for you! Join Nelly for this class in Minneapolis, Tinley Park, and Overland Park!









Click the link below to view more details from Nelly’s YouTube video:

Almost Whole Cloth – Nelly Vileikis


You’ve Got To Try THESE At The Expo!

Have you heard of the exciting new Features and Events the Expo has added this year? If not – it’s not too late to join in on the fun!

Join us Friday evening from 6-7 for a fun, social, informal gathering showing off what you’ve made, want to make, or come if you just need some general sewing inspiration! It’s been a hit this year – attendees have so enjoyed the creative environment (not to mention there are great prizes and tasty snacks!)























Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a style makeover experience? Get a one-on-one experience with a fashion expert! This showcase features some of our fashion teachers that work with participants to create a whole new look and instill fresh confidence! Some fashion personalities featured include Barb Callahan of Barb Originals, Cynthia Guffey, Carol Steinbrecher of Style Solutions LLC, and Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop!













Come see young, enthusiastic sewers show off their projects at our Sewing’s Next Generation runway event. Each Saturday afternoon at the Expo, youth ages 9-18 have the opportunity to present their handmade goods, whether it be fashion or quilting related. Know of a young sewist who might be interested in participating? Visit our website to get all the details!













OSQE has three locations left on the calendar for 2013. Join the Expo in Minneapolis, Tinley Park, or Overland Park – or go ahead and join in on all three!

See you at the Expo!


Get to Know Zentangle® Art

Meet Kim, certified Zentangle® instructor and Original Sewing & Quilt Expo staff member!

Kim is a gifted teacher who travels to each Expo, bringing with her the knowledge and expertise of the Zentangle® technique and craft!

Being a stay-at-home mom of four, Kim loves her job because of the relationships that have grown among the staff, vendors and students. (We love you too, Kim!)  Kim wanted to bring a high-quality class to a company that’s committed to a high-quality standard. She says that each city is an opportunity to reconnect with former students, catch up with them and see what projects that have finished or are working on from previous classes.

What is Zentangle®? The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.




Here are some example tiles of Kim’s “Intro to Zentangle®-ing” class. In this class, students will learn basic language of Zentangle®. They will learn how to draw several basic tangles, basic shading and color and combine them with high quality paper tiles.






















Inspired, but not an artist? It is assured that you do not have to possess ANY artistic ability, in fact, it is even better if you can’t draw at all! Anyone can do it. It’s a mediative, relaxing process.

Kim went off to Providence, RI for 5 days to learn from the founders of Zentangle®, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Kim quotes, “It was a magical experience…”.

Kims class, “More Zentangle®-ing”, is all about putting the different designs onto fabric and learning about the circular design form called Zendalas. These patterns are twisted and turned to create undulating patterns. Adding color, shading and other features, here are some examples:














Zengangle®-ing is perfect for any of your household/home-dec creations! You can use patterns on t-shirts, quilts and other fabric projects! Get wild and get inspired in your tangles!

Join Kim in her Zentangle® endeavors at one of the Expo’s coming up in the fall! Visit www.sewingexpo.com for a full list of Expo locations, classes and workshops and all of Kim’s class details! “Zentangle” is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.


Have you taken a class with Kim in the past? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought!

Classes, Classes, Classes in Raleigh!

Well – I’m officially a part-time “empty nester,” and it’s time I start sewing again.  There is no longer a bed or evidence of a teenage boy living in my sewing room!  I have organized all my “had-to-have” patterns and fabrics and I’m ready to roll for Spring and Summer sewing.  But first I think I need some refresher classes that sound great at Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Raleigh this June 20-22.  I checked to make sure the following classes still had plenty of room in them (often the hands-on classes sell out early), so here is what I plan to indulge in:


What Does This Fabric Want to Be?  – how great will this be for my HUGE stash of had-to-haves…9:00 – 10:00

Laminated Beauty Bag:  Let’s Make Up  -  this sounds really fun!   12:30-3:30

Downtown Bags  -  you can never have too many fun bags, right?   4:00-5:00

Hipster Chick  -  sew many techniques in this class – I’m excited to have a travel e-reader sleeve and learn how to do a monogram!  6:00-9:00 PM –will sleep well tonite!


Mix it Up  -  Another class with ideas for using different fabrics (different teacher, also)  9:00-10:00

Soup to Nuts Bracelet

Bead Soup to Nuts Bracelet  -  I saw a sample of this….so awesome!!  12:30-3:30

3:30-6:00   -  SHOPPIN TIME!

Color Me Confident  -  I’ve always wanted to know if the colors and fabrics I love are good choices for me.  I’m bringing lots of swatches!  6:00-9:00 PM


Seven Core Sewing Skills  -  Fabulous sounding class from an impeccable seamstress  10:30-11:30

Seams Make the Difference  -  I’d REALLY like to know more than serged finishes!   12:30-3:30

Sew,  I am bound and determined to push myself with a pretty strenuous schedule, because I KNOW I will come home with completed projects, samples and knowledge to get myself back on the sewing track.  Next time I go to an Expo,  I think I might dabble in some beginner quilting classes!!!!   RALEIGH,  here I come!

[Re]Introducing: Linda Lee!

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is welcoming back Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop to the shows this year!

Linda will be in Atlanta and Chicago this spring, and will be featuring some of her new ideas and product that she has been working on.

One of the main products being her new SewConfident! Program!


Wait. Sewing classes on a flash drive? What?

Yep, downloadable tutorials on a handy flash drive, ready to use on your computer, iPad, Kindle or other portable device.

SewConfident! is Linda’s new way of teaching people at any skill level to sew and look at patterns in a different way. These are timeless techniques that she has honed to perfection and is presenting them in a  fun way that people can access the information at their own leisure.

These monthly classes are emailed to you and include things like:

  • How-To Tutorials
  • Step-by-step format
  • Fitting Tips
  • Pattern variation suggestions (The Trio Tee turns into The Swing Tee)
  • Sewing Fun Tank Tops!
  • Inserting Invisible Zippers (eeek!)
  • Sewing with Linen on the Nine Lives Vest
  • Sewing with Silks on the Stella Top
  •  Even sewing with fabrics like crinkles, gauzes and lace!
Linda will be teaching a variety of classes in Atlanta and Chicago, including Tanks Again, Downtown Bags, Sewing with Silks, and Building A Core Wardrobe. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced seamstress, Linda’s years of skill speak to foundational principals at any level! And, she will of course have a booth featuring her esteemed pattern collection, fabrics, kits, and of course, SewConfident!



Jean Ann Wright: Courthouse Steps Quilt

On a recent visit to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, CO, I was intrigued by an antique quilt made entirely of velvet. The quilt inspired me to make a quilt using Courthouse Steps blocks stitched in the new, modern style. I used the antique quilt as a guide, substituting white for red and adding other colors in approximately the same positions as the antique.

Inspiration Quilt from Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

Using my Log Cabin Trim Tool to make the blocks so that each block would be perfect when finished. I slipped in slivers of color in some white blocks and bits of white in the colored blocks, taking the traditional Courthouse Steps blocks into the realm of modern quilts. I inserted the color slivers in various rounds of strips sewn around the center square. After squaring up a round of strips I simply sliced off one edge at a random angle with my rotary cutter and ruler, then stitched the chosen color strip in place. Then I squared up the round of strips again using the trim tool before starting the next round of strips or finishing the block. All of the slivers of color were added at a whim. There was no plan, just what was pleasing to the idea at the moment.

To continue the marriage of traditional and modern quilting I made the quilt to hang over my antique Victorian fainting couch. Here is a vignette of the quilt that completes the seating area of a small library-media room in my 100 year old house in Marietta, Georgia.

Learn more about Jean Ann Wright at her blog.

Take classes with Jean Ann at Expos in Lakeland, Florida.  She is even teaching a class about log cabin quilts!