Social sewing: Me-Made-May 2019, Sew Expo 2019 and how to host a sewing trivia quiz!

I’m in San Francisco for spring break, which is very cool indeed, but I was slightly frustrated that I didn’t get my Deer and Doe Sirocco jumpsuit finished in time to bring it on the trip. I’m going to New York next week to meet my sister (I know – look at jetsetter old moi – ha), so it will definitely be perfect for that, but it turned out to be such a quick sew that I thought I would have it done. And it nearly is! So next week I’ll post about that, but instead for now, a post I started ages ago with some social sewing updates.


How to hold a sewing quiz

First: ever wanted to host a sewing trivia quiz? Ever heard of a sewing trivia quiz? No, of course not. But myself and lovely fellow sewist MaLora from our Seattlesews Garment group decided it was high time someone put one together, so I thought I’d tell you what we did, in case it tickles your fancy. It was a lot of fun and easy to do!

Sewing quiz banner

First, we hired a local room in a bar/hotel complex to hold it in. I’m lucky that residents of my town get to hire the room for free, but any private space should do, and lots of bars and restaurants will do that for you if you’re ordering food, which most people were. I also hired a little speaker and microphone for the day, but some bars/venues will also have those which you can borrow, or a PA system you can plug into. I just didn’t know anyone who had that equipment.


Feel the Fabric round

We worked out that 8 teams of 4 was about the max we could take and it was a good number, although your mileage may vary, of course. We actually asked people to sign up through Eventbrite (free for them and us) just to give that extra incentive to turn up. Of course, life happens and people cancel, which is fine, but we just wanted to make sure there were enough people to make it worthwhile, since this event was a little different. A quiz is no fun without teams! It seemed to work, so I would recommend this approach.


Now the most important thing: questions! MaLora took care of the traditional trivia-style questions and did a fantastic job coming up with a variety of brainteasers for every level of sewist. There were rounds on Sewing History, ‘Fashion and Patterns’ and ‘Sewing and Fabric’. She cleverly had a mix of regular questions, multiple choice, true/false and take-your-best-guess puzzlers. We had 10 questions in each round.


I also really love the non-traditional rounds in a pub quiz (of which I’ve been to many), so organized a swatch round (feel the fabric) where you had to guess the fabric type, a picture round (designers and indie patterns) and a music round (all the tracks had a sewing-related word in the title).


Our worthy winners!

The evening started at 7pm and we organized everyone into teams. We then started the quiz at 7.30pm sharp and started each round approx. every 25-30 mins. We handed out prizes around 9.45pm, at which point everyone had a good chat and headed home. It was really great fun to organize and I can highly recommend it for your local sewing group. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or message me. Many thanks to Closet Case Patterns, Straight Stitch Designs, True Bias, Pacific Fabrics, Paradiso Designs and Patternreview for so kindly donating prizes – it was such a fantastic bonus! 🙂

Sew Expo 2019 – Puyallup


I  also wanted to document a little about Sew Expo this year in Puyallup, WA. It’s the third year I’ve been, but usually I just nip along for a half day for a little browse. This year, I was considering taking a few of the myriad classes that are offered, and sign-up time happened to coincide with my trip to the UK at Christmas. A transatlantic flight and subsequent dealing with a feisty three-year old resulted in my signing up for five classes, plus two nights in an Airbnb in Puyallup. “I need a couple of nights away” I told my very understanding husband.


Vogue Fabrics

I never knew, before this year, that this event is the largest garment-sewing event in the US. At least that’s what they told us. Which seems very crazy indeed to me, because although there was a great showing of garment vendors and classes (more than the last two years), it still seems to be about two-thirds quilt-sewing related to me. I would have thought there would have been something bigger on the east coast somewhere maybe, but there you are. That makes me even more grateful it’s on my home turf.


Pacific Fabrics

Anyway, the exhibition is housed in the state fair grounds in typical large hangar-like spaces, but filled with nobody but passionate sewists. What a nice feeling to be amongst so many like-minded people!


Gorgeous piping from L’Etoffe Fabrics

As I mentioned, there were a lot of vendors there, with tons of interesting wares. I didn’t manage to take pics of everything, but fabric-wise there were some of our local heroes: Drygoods Design, Stylemaker Fabrics, Pacific Fabrics, Esther’s Fabrics and also vendors from further afield: L’Etoffe Fabrics, Bra BuildersBra Builders, Vogue Fabrics and Billie’s Designer Fabrics, to name but a few.


Drygoods Design


Beautiful detail from Paradiso Designs’ kimono pattern

Naturally, there were a plethora of other related stalls as well: a couple of fantastic button stalls, many, many notions stands with all sorts of tools and gadgets and then stalls like this really cute Japanese bag kit store, which had the loveliest designs. I bought quite a few bits and pieces, but, believe me, I could have bought so much more!


I feel like I did pretty well with the haul below, heh heh. My fabric came from Marcia Derse, Drygoods Design, L’Etoffe Fabrics and Style Maker Fabrics. I also picked up some long-coveted DP Studio patterns, some patterns and accessories from By Annie, who produces all sorts of practical items, such as the Backseat Babysitter you can see on the bottom left. I didn’t pay them much attention the first couple of years, but now I realise how useful they could be and their stall is always absolutely packed out! I also got a couple of patterns from Sew Chic Patterns and some yarn from Yarn and Ewe.


Now about the classes. I wasn’t too sure what to expect since they’re pretty short, relatively speaking, and I wondered how much you could really get out of such an abbreviated class. Well, I loved them – all of them. They were all completely different, but all enjoyable in different ways.


First up was a Pendleton tote bag class. I’m not really a Pendleton wool coat person (although give it a few years – who knows, frankly), but I do love some of their designs, so a tote bag class seemed the perfect compromise to me. The design was simple, but that was perfect to showcase this stunning wool. It was a dream to work with and I got to use some very fancy machines, which was brilliant. Wow – what a difference. I love my little Brother, but this was so much easier!


Next, I took a sleeves class with Lorraine Henry, who is a well-known sewist when it comes to fitting garments. She discussed numerous aspects of fitting sleeves, and I could have listened to her for days. Very concise and clear – and it all made sense when she explained it. Practically speaking, we set in a test sleeve and – joy of joys – she showed exactly how to ease it in using a close-up camera. This is exactly what I was hoping to see in this class and she didn’t disappoint.


We set in the sleeve without gathering stitches – only pins!

We also started doing some sleeve alterations, including wide bicep adjustments and a bell sleeve alteration, but sadly ran out of time. I would definitely love to take another class with this lady – she had so many great tips and tricks to impart.


These were my “in-depth classes”. The following day I attended a lingerie wardrobe talk from Bravo Bella. Tons of great ideas and inspiring items were on show and we got to feel the items as they were passed around, which really helped me, as there are so many lingerie-specific fabrics, it’s hard to know what’s meant by “strong power mesh” or whatever sometimes!


No pic of this class, so enjoy the colouful fabrics of Marcia Derse instead

Finally I went to a capsule wardrobe presentation from Nancy Nix-Rice. It took me way back to the eighties when it was such a big thing “to get your colours” done. I was just a young teenager then, but thought it was quite funny at the time. I guess it never really went away and has evolved somewhat, but Nancy was a hilarious presenter and it was a really entertaining watch. I’m not sure how far down that route I will go, but there were definitely a few useful tips thrown in there!

Overall, I really got a lot out of Sew Expo this year. I think every year I enjoy it more and I will definitely be taking more classes next year. Well done to all the organisers.

Me-Made-May 2019

Finally, I wanted to detail my Me-Made-May pledge for 2019. This is my fourth year, as I’ve taken part every year since I began sewing, even though the first time I really didn’t have many completed projects under my belt.


It’s easily the most valuable challenge I take on every year as I, without fail, discover new outfit combos, get a chance to road-test projects I just haven’t pulled out of my wardrobe much, and gain further insight into what is, or, isn’t working for me.

This year I have plenty of projects sewn up and I wear me-made most days anyway, so my previous pledges aren’t too taxing. Instead, I want to get more specific and my pledge ran thus:

I, Claire (@belle_citadel) sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear a complete me-made outfit every day that has been intentionally put together. I would like to work on making my me-made wardrobe cohesive and will try to plug gaps with TNTs I’ve been meaning to make for ages, as well as streamline makes that don’t work for me.

If you’re not sure what Me-Made-May is all about, I encourage you to check out Zoe’s website and read up about it. It’s an entirely personal challenge with no competitive component and is well worthwhile!