Saturday, January 30, 2010

Upcycle-Rama and Sweater Coats

If you've ever seen Mary Mulari and me do our "Midwest Ya Ya Sister" act -- you know how much we love recycled sweaters!! We have made everything under the sun -- dog jackets, tea cozys, shawls -- we are BIG FANS of recycled sweaters. At last year's show, the Threadbangers had a whole truckload of Goodwill sweaters for you to make restyled accessories. and THIS year -- we're doing a similar event with Janome and the SewUpSeattle bloggers!

Imagine my delight when I found this talented Etsy seller and her beautiful sweater coats!

I LOVE MY JOB. I got to interview Jill (who lives in bitter cold Wisconsin) -- and, of course -- I ordered my custom sweater coat BEFORE all the publicity hits and she's too busy to make it for me!! It will be PERFECT for Puyallup -- and Jill told me I'd have it in time for the show!

This picture is a sample of one of Jill's coats. Here's a link for Jill's etsy store -- you can go there now, because I ALREADY ORDERED MY COAT...

Because a big part of my pleasure comes from SHOPPING IN THRIFT STORES -- I decided to send Jill a box of my own TREASURES to make my sweatercoat out of...and she often does this. Here's what I sent her -- remember the zebra-striped sweater? (featured in an earlier post on this blog). Well -- here's part of what she got from me...

You'll have to COME TO SEE MARY AND ME AT OUR FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE EVENT to see me wearing my Jill Sweatercoat. (I told her to put some business cards in the pocket!!)

AND -- YOU'LL also get to see the mini-version I made for baby Lillian!! Oh My Goodness!! it is soooooo cute! Of course, I had to add a little zebra-stripe...I think it's going to be her signature detail.

Tickets for Friday Night LIVE are only $20 each.

Send an email to: Tell them what you want -- and be sure to include your phone number so they can call you back. (do NOT put your credit card number in the email)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Donna Babylon Video

At the International Quilt Market -- I tried to interview some of the speakers and vendors who will ALSO be coming to Puyallup. Here's a little talk I had with Donna Babylon -- from More Splash Than Cash...

Donna will be teaching at the show -- and on Tuesday -- I'm going to post HOW YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR SEMINARS AT THE LAST MINUTE. Did you know we have a "WILL CALL" PROCEDURE??

SO -- it's still possible for you to sign up for classes. AND many speakers who SOLD OUT EARLY -- HAVE AGREED TO PRESENT AN EXTRA SEMINAR. I'll be posting that list in a few days...


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Etsy Seller loves Baby Lock!

Pacific Fabrics didn't have to look far to find a busy ETSY seller -- who also happens to be a big fan of the Sewing & Stitchery EXPO. Elise Hooper started her Etsy store with her customized baby blankets.

She has two adorable little girls and her Etsy store allows her to stay home with them -- and, obviously, she started to also sell customized children's clothing...

Here's Elise, working on her Baby Lock. Hey -- my sister just bought this machine -- and can't say enough about the automatic-needle-threader...

To see what Elise has for sale -- visit her etsy store:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Upcycle EVENT

If you ever attended a Ya Ya show -- you know what a big fan I am of recycled sweaters. Especially wool sweaters. I love to felt them, cut 'em up -- and recreate something completely different. Well -- as often happens -- my SHOPPING has far exceeded my SEWING. This is a PILE OF SWEATERS I bought at various Goodwill stores...

Of course -- there would also be a ZEBRA stripe sweater in the pile...

A fun accessory to make out of sweaters is a warm collar/ shown on my beautiful niece, Amy...

You can also pull it over your head -- to keep your ears shown by my other beautiful niece, Kelcy...

I'm telling you -- these girls could have been models, eh??

At the show this year -- the SewUpSeattle group, along with Janome sewing machines -- will be running a hands-on "Upcycle Event". You pay $5, go in, pick your raw material from a mountain of sweaters, old blue jeans, etc. To get your creative juices flowing -- there will be lots of finished samples displayed around the room, as well as project directions..

So -- BE THINKING of when you can schedule your "time to upcycle" on your daily schedule. Actually -- you might have to COME TO THE SHOW FOR AN ADDITIONAL DAY.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recycled DENIM DAY??


Let's say, for example, we made FRIDAY our "Wear Recycled Denim Day" (good idea, Bonne -- using the casual FRIDAY example).

Here's a great recycled denim SKIRT I was admiring in Chautauqua last September...

Here's Bonne from the BLOG challenge last fall...

This is a picture of Lumberjack Jan in her recycled jeans jacket:

This is a picture of Rita (me) in my recycled three-pair-of-jeans-makes-one:

HEY. I LOVE 'EM... and YOU WANT to see them at the show, right??!!

And I'm sure you WANT TO WEAR YOUR get busy, people. Our friends in the Schmetz booth and Junk Jeans are working up some kind of REWARD FOR YOU...and there's a great possibility that they'll be giving out REAL PRIZES...

I'll keep you posted as they develop their plans.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ticket Office Tango

Ann Sagawa sent me some pictures of the staff in the ticket office -- opening your registrations, pulling your tickets, calling you to let you know some classes may be sold out, etc. Here's another picture of them, hard at work...

They are making GREAT progress -- and thank you for your patience. The registrations are being handled in the order in which they were received -- and they will give the same care and attention to your order they gave to the person who came right before you.

If you's like to download just the registration form

You can fax in your order (there is a $2 charge)

FAX number to the Ticket Office:

Your FAX registration will be processed with the incoming snail mail of the day.

Janome Contest?

Dear Rita,

Hello from Janome America! As a large sewing machine company we are extremely interested in who’s doing what in the sewing and craft world. For this reason, we have been following your blog and are excited to see your enthusiasm for the craft. We at Janome are thrilled to see sewists sharing this art with others.

Currently, Janome is running a contest we thought would interest you. The contest theme is “Pass it On”, and encourages those who love to sew to share their skill with someone new to the craft. In the primary contest, you are given the chance to win one of three PAIRS of prizes. If chosen, both you and your 'student' win! There are three fantastic prize sets in all: two pairs of sergers and one pair of thread collections!

The rules are simple. On our website, we provide you with four easy and unique projects. Choose the one you like best and partner up with a beginner sewist to create this project. Submit a photo of the two of you as well as a few short words, telling us how the project went.

Winners will be chosen on March 31, 2010 - so get sewing! The goal of this contest is to encourage people like you to share their love of sewing with others, and to spread the joy of this craft.

You can find the link to the contest here. Please enter it yourself and share it with your readers as well!

We also have another “Pass it On” contest running that can be viewed here. You may be interested in participating in this as well, for more chances to win.

We appreciate your participation and are excited to see the projects and photos you and your readers create!

Feel free to email me for more information about the contest or Janome’s machines.

Thanks and Good Luck!

Eynat Eshel
Marketing Intern
Janome America, Inc.
201.825.3200 ext. 114

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Two Needle Classes

As you know -- we are always trying to IMPROVE the show, and that means adding new things. Our 45-minute, $5 classes are the heartbeat of Expo. However, our attendance for those classes has gone way down. The numbers have gone from a high of 57,000 seminar tickets...gradually down to a low of 31,000. The numbers started to improve when we encouraged speakers to submit two different topics -- so we have INCREASED THE NUMBER OF ACTUAL 45-minute seminars by more than 30% in the last couple of years.

When we listen to YOU -- the message is always the same. You want a deeper learning experience. Because of you, we started to offer "hands-on" classes and they have been a great success. As I write this, I believe most of them are sold out already. But, of course -- each class can only accommodate 30-50 students.

So -- for 2010 -- the BIG NEWS is our new Two-Needle Classes. Our mission IS to deliver that deeper learning experience you keep asking for. So we are taking ONE ROOM this year -- to develop a whole new class concept.

Yes, these classes COST MORE. But they're WORTH IT!! Our speakers have really stepped up to the plate. They understood what we were trying to do from the first moment -- and this is a way we can deliver a class to you that teaches a complete technique or project, step-by-step -- and the handout that you'll get will ensure that when you get home, you can DO IT YOURSELF..!


Here is the criteria that was sent out to all speakers back in August, as we were explaining the new format:

Dear Expo Speaker,

This format is BRAND NEW and it has been created to provide a deeper learning experience for the students. These new classes will be presented in a lecture-demo format with a room capacity of 200. If your class is selected, it will be offered one time only. Although we are embracing technology, these classes cannot be a boring Powerpoint presentation – remember, the attendees are paying $20 for this class. Here’s what makes this class worth the money:
• Teachers will have one hour and 45 minutes to teach a complete “project” or a specific “technique”.
• Make your class a “television show” experience. This special classroom will be equipped with a camera and monitor to help you teach using step-outs (in progress samples) to demonstrate your specific project or technique. The camera person can provide close-ups if you want to demonstrate on a machine (the speaker will provide their own sewing machine and/or serger).
• This room will also be equipped with a laptop computer and LCD projector. You bring your videos or photos on a CD or a thumb drive.
• This room will be staffed at all times by a camera/computer tech.
• Detailed, educational handouts are a big part of this class. You must provide handouts for each student so they may take what they learned home and replicate the project or technique.

Click on this link -- it'll take you TO THE WEBSITE for a complete listing: Two Needle Classes

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It Takes A Village

The best sewing speakers from all over the world come to Puyallup -- and they do not get paid -- they never have. Which is why the 45- minute one-needle classes cost only $5.

The Sewing & Stitchery Expo is a completely self-supporting show. It always has been. That means, there is no money coming from anywhere to "underwrite" the show. You might be surprised to learn that the show pays WSU for their excellent, competent management services.

And the show pays many OTHER VERY BIG BILLS -- things you may not even think about. Renting the fairgrounds costs six figures...publishing the registration brochure and mailing it costs six figures...the AV company -- the biggest outfit in Seattle -- sends us every piece of equipment they have, slide projectors, microphones, sound systems and cute engineers to staff the rooms -- way into six figures, people.

AND -- the pictures in this post are about our biggest bill. The Show Dresser. The first picture is what the inside of the Showplex building looks like BEFORE the show dresser comes in. Make no mistake -- we pay for every banner and sign that is hung -- we pay for every single table they bring in, every folding chair, every foot of pipe & drape to create the booths for our vendors, the stages for our Style Shows...

Some banners going up:

An overhead shot of the same area -- moments after we opened the doors:

Yes -- IT TAKES A VILLAGE, people!! And this show would never happen if it wasn't for the support we get from you -- the 30,000 sewing enthusiasts WHO ATTEND THE SHOW. You come, you pay a gate fee, you pay class fees, and because of that -- we are able to attract the best speakers in the sewing industry -- they come, they rent a booth, they pay to ship in their merchandise -- and they always bring you their A GAME.

Because of you -- and our speakers -- we are able to pay our rent, our printing costs, advertising bills, the show dresser, the AV boys, all the overhead expenses.

You also SHOP. Yes, you melt down your credit cards buying the newest and latest patterns and books from our vendors and speakers. THAT'S WHY THEY COME. We have the best speakers in the world -- and we both appreciate YOU -- OUR AMAZING AUDIENCE.

So -- Make no mistake -- WE NEED YOU!! Ramp it up, girls & boys -- GRAB YOUR FRIENDS -- MAKE YOUR PLANS -- THE SEWING AND STITCHERY EXPO IS COMING AT WARP SPEED...February 25, 26, 27 & 28 it'll be here before you know it!!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Here's the Midwest Ya Ya Sisters -- presenting our show in Chautauqua, New York last fall. We got to wear our "GO RED" outfits several times last year -- in Florida, and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Even though we made the outfits for the Go RED event at 2009 Expo -- we never really got a good picture of the two of us there. I also made a PRETTY SNAZZY wrap that you didn't see, either. So, we just might have to start Friday Night LIVE by sharing a story with you -- and the impact of these outfits...

This is a picture of Mary during her December visit to Iowa. We put the FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE Midwest Ya Ya show together -- with lots of thrift store/antique shopping! AND we enjoyed a Christmas bouquet that a friend sent me. WHAT A GREAT IDEA. Honestly. I had no idea how much I would enjoy a flower centerpiece on my table during the holidays. When the original flowers started to die -- I freshened it up with some grocery store stems. I kept it on the table right through New Year's Day!! AWESOME. Thanks again...

The focus of our 2010 Friday Night LIVE presentation is quick gifts for boyfriends, babies and best friends. Our inspiration for the program is that Mary has a boyfriend (Doug -- and yes, he has been a fun development). I have my first grand-baby -- (Lillian -- who I write about all the time) and how much we both value the important women friendships in our lives.

To PUMP IT UP -- we decided it would be fun to have our own "challenge". So, at our brand-new Friday Night LIVE show -- you will see the results of our CHALLENGE. What was the challenge? Well... I got to work with THIS bridesmaid dress...

While Mary got to work with THIS TRIO of lovlies...

It'll be fun to see what we came up with, eh?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coats & Clark Pink & Red Fashion Show

Here's something that is ALWAYS exciting for me...when I'm writing a blog post -- I get to use PICTURES YOU HAVE NOT SEEN. Last year, London (Mary Collen's daughter) took some great shots of the Go RED Fashion's a close-up of one of our favorite Expo guys -- Paul Laponte from Quality Sewing...

And this is a picture of Kayla Kennington and Katrina Walker -- in an outfit that can only be called a "showpiece". You look MAR-VE-LOUS- ladies...

Remember -- this year -- WE WANT YOU!! Be thinking of your own pink & red outfit -- because we want YOU TO BE A STAR IN OUR SHOW!! The criteria is posted on the right sidebar of this blog -- AND we'll have it on our website ( AND Coats & Clark will also have it posted on THEIR website.

Of course, we will ALSO have outfits from our Expo Sewing Stars!! Remember -- your $10 can go to either the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society.



Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yahoo Groups

Laura Lee Mendoza sent me a message:

Re: Sew Expo Yahoo groups

"Below is the address for the Sew Expo Yahoo Groups. This is a great
networking site for Sew Expo enthusiasts. Last year, many Expo attendees used
it to find places to stay, compare seminars, meet up for meals, etc. Many,
including myself, made new friends (some very long distance). Several members
post all year to keep in touch. Photos of members projects are also on the
site. We have a moderator to make sure no ads or inappropriate content appear
on the site. Come join us!


Friday, January 8, 2010


The first step -- Pat processes the registration forms, in order of the postmarks...

Pulling tickets for one-needle classes:

Moving down the line -- Katy & Jean pulling tickets for Special Events:

See Katy's headset? That's so she can CALL YOU if a class is sold out -- to let you know we have a good alternate class, or an additional offering might have opened up.

GREAT JOB, GIRLS....keep up the good work!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When a Class is Full..

Yesterday, Carol posted a comment saying that Katie already phoned her to let her know one of her class selections was SOLD OUT. WOW. EVEN I WAS SURPRISED, PEOPLE...
But that was music to my years..."sold out"....yippee kayee...

As you know -- many of our classes are quick to sell out. Here's a picture of a very full classroom last year....

The thing I wanted to let you know is that we deliberately leave space in the schedule, the "To Be Announced" classes -- are left as TBA's so that we can offer the most popular classes in a second, third or even fourth session...

SEE? So do not lose heart....If classes are already "sold out" -- our Ticket Office is already on the phone, contacting that lucky speaker to see if we can offer their popular class AGAIN.

Yes, it is a very time-consuming way to do things. But it is the very best customer service we know how to do...


Ticket Office


As you know -- we worked really hard this year to get the Registration Brochure out to you EARLY -- and WE DID IT! That's the GOOD NEWS...

The bad news (and it's really just more good news..) is that when the ticket office officially "opened" on January 5th -- they were COMPLETELY SNOWED UNDER with Registration Forms...!! Which prompted Joanne Ross, the Chair of the show -- to send me this email:

Hi Rita,
We need you to tell our customers that, initially, our ticket processing will get off to a slow start and please ask them to be patient. Our mail is coming like hotcakes......a good thing........but because there are so many more class offerings, it is taking longer to double-check each order to make sure there are no mistakes.

Tell them we appreciate their patience and not to call the ticket office. If they have not received their tickets in 4 weeks, then call. They may also fax orders in by using 253-473-2680. (there's a $2 extra charge for fax orders)


REMEMBER, EXPO FANS -- your registration form is handled by a "real person" -- and you will be sent an envelope of "real tickets" -- hand-picked by that real person, per your request. If one of the classes you signed up for is sold out -- that real person will call you on the phone to offer a substitute. We are the only show in the country that delivers this kind of personal service -- and, yes, it takes some time.

So -- if you've already sent in your registration form -- sit back and relax. For one month. If you do not have your tickets four weeks after you sent them in -- then you can call.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mystery Helpers

This is a very interesting "TEST" of the blog...

Bonne Swett and Jan Potter are the dynamic duo who presented their "25 Sewing Expo Challenges" last year. Remember? Well -- the good news is that THEY ARE COMING BACK in 2010.

If you've received your Registration Brochure (available to download at -- you will see they are once again our special presenters at a FREE presentation on Thursday, at 12:30, on the Expo Runway (when, ALLEGEDLY, the professional models will be EATING LUNCH)...

The only little bit of bad news is that they didn't get the contact information for the two volunteers who were such fabulous help last year...and they'd love to FIND THESE TWO WOMEN.

The good news is that they did get THIS ONE SINGLE PICTURE...and I'm now posting it on my blog. So, if you recognize either one of the helpers -- or if you ARE one of the helpers -- and you're willing to help again this year -- please let me know. (

There isn't a reward or anything...just the satisfaction of knowing you have brought people together...