I spent Thursday through Saturday at the Original Sewing & Quilts Expo in suburban Schaumburg. I don't normally think of Schaumburg as a city of excitement, heros, inspiration, and knowledge (sorry, Schaumburg), but it was for me last week!
I had some trepidation approaching the conference. The logo, website, and language definitely comes across as dated. I spent a lot of time watching instructors on YouTube before choosing my classes and I certainly found people I wanted to learn from and people I wanted to avoid. I heard from other sewists that it has become more quilt-oriented over the years (not my interest). I'm happy to say that I had a great time and learned a lot. I'm not sure that I would attend again, at least not for all three days, but I think my money was well spent.
The way to approach this conference is to see it as a chance to get a surface understanding of what's out there in terms of instructors, patterns, and schools of thought on fitting and pattern alteration. All of the instructors have DVD programs and/or longer workshops to will give you depth (at a cost). I think I walked away with an idea of which program(s) I'd want to spend money on in the future to get that depth of knowledge.
It was also motivating to hang out with a bunch of sewists. I don't consider myself a young person (I'm 42) but I was almost always the youngest person in the room. So these ladies have been sewing and learning for decades. I realized how much I have to learn, and want to learn.
And they have fun prize drawings at the end of every day and sometimes at the end of a class. I won two $30 gift certificates for The Wool House, a Canadian fabric store specializing in wools and wool blends. They don't have a website or online shop, so I'm not sure how you would find them. But I purchased these lovely items with my gift certificates:
The top fabric is a wool/silk blend herringbone. It has beautiful drape and is very soft and light. I like the selvage edge and may save it for embellishing the hem of whatever I make. The bottom fabric is a wool/linen blend - I just love the texture of it! I've not decided yet what I'm going to make with it, but I'm leaning towards Silhouette Pattern's Sheath Dress using the solid color for Guffey seaming detail on the front and back princess seams.
Which brings me to my newfound heroines. My two favorite instructors were Peggy Sagers (of Silhouette Patterns) and Cynthia Guffey. They were very different in terms of teaching style and fitting philosophy, but I learned a lot from both of them. And they've both enjoyed careers similar to the one I hope to eventually carve out for myself: dressmaking, designing, and teaching. I'll go into more detail about both of them in later posts, but here are a couple of recommendations for my fellow sewists:
Peggy Sagers has a FREE online library of webcasts on a variety of topics. I highly recommend these. Peggy broadcasts live every other Monday night (the next webcast will be on sewing with silk) and you can find past webcasts here. She is also a regular guest on the Channel 20 Program It's Sew Easy. You can find videos of her on YouTube and in the It's Sew Easy archive.
Cynthia Guffey has a pattern line and a bunch of instructional sewing DVD's. Her website is a bit sparse, but you'll find her patterns and DVD's there. You'll find video clips of her on YouTube as well.
I did actually do a bit of sewing this week (finished off a couple of skirt orders that have been hanging around too long), but nothing all that show-worthy. This week I'll be working on the muslin for Linda's dress and drafting skirt patterns for Bryn and Domenica. And I hope to try a cowl neck adaption to my new Silhouettes t-shirt pattern!