I recently attended the SEWEXPO in Puyallup, Washington……my annual excursion where I take a close look at what’s new, what’s hot, what’s not hot anymore, etc at the largest consumer Sewing Show in North America.  I attend this show as a consumer but I am actually watching very carefully and “taking mental notes”  for you – we are all part of the sewing world  ………..  Here’s some of what I discovered this year:

  • Quite a few vendors from previous years were not there this year…..not sure why but I missed them. Hoping some of them will be back next year.
  • One new vendor I noticed was FASHION SUPPLIES INC  from LA with probably their main item being top quality French European dress forms. They also were selling a range of sewing notions & supplies. Joe Vecchiarelli  taught a quick class on fitting a dress form where I gained valuable information about how to make a purchased dress form be a really good fit with the body.
Deluxe dress forms from Fashion Supplies Inc
Deluxe dress forms from Fashion Supplies Inc
  • A friend and I made dress forms together last year – where you strip down to bra & panties , wrap yourself in a black garbage bag, tape that super tight around you & then your friend wraps strips of gummed paper tape around you. (So it pretty much needs to be a very good friend!)  The paper dries hard and then you get cut out of your body “cast” which gets taped together to fit your body measurements as close as possible.
  • Jan Bones of Winnipeg has offered this as a class some years at the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference. She also tells me that she offered this class at SEWEXPO this year. Jan usually has a booth at Sew Expo so I popped in there & had a brief chat with her.  I told her my friend & I had made  dress forms but that I was somewhat horrified at what my shape looked like! I felt it was a fat version of me which was a teeny bit upsetting: My dress form has pretty much stood in the corner of my sewing room for months where I glare at it periodically and remind myself that I really should not eat so much chocolate! I am sure you can imagine how relieved I was when Jan explained that Yes, the dress forms my friend & I made would always be larger than what we really are – it has to be  as the paper strips were wrapped on top of my body. Why didn’t I think of that? Anyway, Jan explained that that larger size is the EASE for fitting when you make a garment. She says you make the garment to fit the form and that becomes the garment or pattern ease. Made a lot of sense so I think I am persuaded to now use my dress form without glaring guiltily at it! Thank you, Jan.
One of the dress forms that Jan Bones and her classes of brave ladies make in a very similar way to the way my friend & I made ours.
One of the dress forms that Jan Bones and her classes of brave ladies make in a very similar way to the way my friend & I made ours.

OK so what else besides dress forms did I notice?

  • Big news at SEWEXPO was the launch of Nancy Zieman’s book: “Seams Unlikely” . I went to a short seminar where she talked about why she wrote an autobiography and shared with us a little of the story  behind her amazing success to where she now is a sewing star & icon of the sewing industry (my words…not hers). One thing that really struck me was that she did not want anyone to think she was full of her own importance and so wrote a book. Nooooooo, she wrote it because she was somewhat shocked when she googled herself and saw that all the top hits were about her face and what was medically wrong with her.…..nothing about sewing. Bit of a surprize. She decided it was time to set the record straight – so to speak. What followed was a little of her story of triumph over adversity and serious health issues dating back to when she was a baby. I am not going to spoil it by telling you the story……… Go get yourself a copy of her new book and read it. I am sure you will be inspired and touched by her life story. We gave her a standing ovation at the end of her presentation……and she is so humble that she was somewhat horrified when we did that and quickly asked us to please take to our seats. She is one pretty amazing woman who could never ever be described as a primadonna.  Read her book……you will love it.


  • Maybe because I am having such ongoing issues with my neck & shoulders, I sure noticed the various booths promoting sewing chairs & furniture. Seems like there are more of them? There also seemed to be quite a few classes focussing on planning & re-vamping your sewing room. Maybe because this is probably considered good business seeing as the stats tell us that 85% of sewers & quilters now have a dedicated sewing room. Gone are the days of sewing at the kitchen table, or a corner of a bedroom. We have “arrived” and are considered “serious enough” to have our own sewing room. WOOHOO! Anyway, must mention Lois Hallock who gave a class on “Creating your Perfect Quilting Space”. I attended this short seminar and then eventually found her booth. I chatted with her about my issues and she was very kind: she actually measured me sitting in her fabulous sewing chair and told me what my “magic” number should be for getting my ergonomics sorted out for desk/computer/sewing/cutting tables. I am on a mission ………to improve all my working conditions so that I can become pain free in 2014.  Also am waiting for my new office glasses ……trying to get the correct focal length thing sorted out so that I am not straining my neck & shoulders by sticking my head out like a crazy chicken to see my computer properly.  No use continuing to pay out for massage and physio if I don’t try to correct the cause of the problems! Why am I telling you this? Maybe you can take  a look at your sewing/computer ergonomics so that your body can stay healthy and pain free?


  • I also researched more about garment fitting and garment construction so looked closely at the Palmer Pletsch booth ending up buying quite a few different packages of interfacing to improve my planned garment construction fun this year……but I run ahead of myself: 2013 was (as I shared before on this blog) the year of the Bra for me. I had wanted to make my own bras literally for decades and finally got around to doing that last year. Lesson to self: don’t put off things you really want to do for so long as you may pleasantly surprize yourself…. and be sorry you did not do it sooner!
  • 2014 is the Year of the pant for me. I am concentrating on re-learning and brushing up on skills so that I can make well fitting dress pants. I may get to denim jeans eventually but am starting with smart pants. I want to move beyond my laziness of falling back on always just making elastic-at- the waist pull-on pants. Yes, they are very comfy, but I think it is time to make something else too. So Marta Alto on “Bias Pants”; Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop on “DIY Pants fitting” were of great interest to me. (FYI: just heard yesterday that Linda Lee will be doing a Sewing Seminar at Granville Island in Vancouver  on 11-13 April.  If you live in or around Vancouver & are interested, she has more info on the Events Calendar tab on The Sewing Workshop Link)


  • SO, I have plenty suitable fabric in my stash for dress pants, have several suitable pants patterns……now I need to start fitting, cutting out & sewing up…….2014 is going to be a fun year………………

What will you be sewing in 2014?


About lizafrica

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada (including Artistic Creative products) and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for almost 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to read, knit , travel and spend time with my family and friends.
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