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Teach Yourself to Sew

Sewing shows yield rare fabric finds

Mar 09, 2011
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Swiss cotton batiste satin--smooth, light-weight, silky, and ultra comfortable.

Every year sewing “shows” are held around the country for sewers and quilters to come together, take classes, and see and buy things they can’t always find in their hometown. I just returned from Puyallup, Washington’s annual Sewing and Stitchery Expo, where over 400 vendors gather to show their wares. I  found some exciting fabrics I can’t wait to use.

First, I found a lovely Swiss cotton batiste satin in Vaune Peirce’s booth. Swiss cotton batiste satin is not new, nor is it easy to find. It’s the kind of fabric you only think to look for if you’ve used it before. Used rarely in modern ready-to-wear, it’s found most often in heirloom garments such as christening gowns and the like, but try it for a modern, contemporary blouse, or better yet, the most exquisite nightgown you’ve ever worn.

Did you know that satin is a weave and not a fiber? There’s silk satin, polyester satin, or many other blends and synthetic satins, and even wool and cotton satin. Cotton satin is usually referred to as sateen—but for some reason, not in the case of my luxurious Swiss batiste satin.

I then discovered Luc Smiers’ Fine French Laces from the Netherlands. I couldn’t resist several insertion laces. They are called insertion because they are sewn between two pieces of fabric instead of being used to adorn an edge. I’m challenged to use them in a way that’s modern and edgy.

The new fabric I found at the Professional Sewing Supplies booth is actually an incredible fusible polyester interfacing from Japan. They don’t have a website, but you can email them at Profsewingsupplies@comcast.net. This is the lightest-weight interfacing I have ever seen and it’s sheer enough to use on chiffon. It’s pricy at $19 a yard and 36 inches wide, but it’s the interfacing you’ve always dreamed of for sheer fabrics.

If you didn’t get a chance to go to Puyallup, find out when a sewing event such as this is happening near you. Other shows include: the Original Sewing and Quilt Expos in: Atlanta, Chantilly, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Lakeland, Minneapolis, and New England; The American Sewing Guild Conference (this year in Los Angeles); and the American Sewing Expo in Novi Michigan. Go online for more information and try to attend one of these exciting events. 

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  1. Karen_Lawson March 15th

    You are preaching to the choir here! My sisters and I have made the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup our annual girls only (no kids, no husbands) weekend for almost 20 years now! Now, our group includes our adult daughters and the weekend has grown into almost a full week of fun! We enjoy the classes and fashion shows but shopping is the highlight of our trip! I stash money away all year to buy the highest quality of fabrics from wholesalers across the US and Canada!

    We make atleast one trip each and every day to the Vogue Fabrics booth, and sometimes do it twice a day, as they are constantly putting out new fabrics! Unbelievable prices and quality! My score this year: I found a named designer summer weight wool/silk blend-60" wide for only $4.99 a yard! I also bought gorgeous cotton prints-again 60" wide for $2.99 yard. 60" wide high quality linen (both shirt and pants weights) for $3.99 yard! Unbelievable selection of silks, wools, rayons, tencil, denims, satins, the mind boggles at the selection! Especially for those of us in this corner of the country where we have to make due with one national chain store for our fabric-fix the rest of the year!

    I always make a point of shopping at Vaune Pierce's booth. I stock up on my hand needles for smocking and embroidery, in addition to her fine fabrics! And just to visit! She's a wonderful lady, so eager to share her expertise! As are so many of the vendors who come to teach!

    I encourage those who haven't yet discovered the Northwest's treasured event to plan on attending next year!

  2. User avater ipodgrannie March 15th

    I go to the sewing and quilting expo every year and last year I won, one of their drawings. I was thrilled with a bag full of goodies. There are always lots of new things and its inspirational to say the least. I love it. I took about five classes this year too.

  3. SaraSabrina March 15th

    I appreciate being able to print an article, such as the Fabric Finds one above, without all the ads being included. Thanks for your continuing updates on what is new and fun in the sewing world. Though I do more quilting than clothing or home decorating these days, all are important to me. Anything done by Taunton Press is wonderful!

  4. User avater rakijaa March 10th

    Oh my gosh, I always stop at Luc's booth first! The most gorgeous laces. It's true, you can find the most wonderful and unusual things at a sewing show. Everyone should go at least once, just for the overwhelming visual and creative experience. So much fun!

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