The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo Day one

On Wednesday I was in a seamstresses heaven. If I recall the last time I spent the entire day on the sewing machine was about 5-6 years ago and that was only because I was behind the 8 ball on a customers wedding dress. On Wednesday it was purely pleasure.


The Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is being held at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA from September 29th through October 1st. Its held every year in Atlanta, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Schaumburg, Il, Kansas City, Lakeland, FL and Worcester, MA. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend this Expo in almost 5 years when I lived in Chicago. Therefore these next few days are really a treat for me.

What I tend to look forward to the most are the  “More The Day Before” classes. These classes are held the day before the full conference begins. These classes are typically a full day from 9-4:30pm where students have an opportunity to spend the entire day working on a project and walk away with a completed work of art.

The class I chose to spend the day working on was The Dream Coat. This class was taught by Barb Callahan. The class was described as: “It’s green, it’s fun and it’s oh so great to wear!” When I read this I though wow I can make a coat in one day? Amazing. Much to my surprise when I arrived I found Barb wearing one of these fantastic coats. It was jacket/sweater that I have been trying to work on for the past year if not more. In fact I wrote a blog post about this coat I tried on at the Sugarloaf Craft festival that cost $180. There was no way I could spend that much on something that clearly I could make. Well Wednesday was my opportunity to learn.

Barb Callahan started off by showing us some examples of other coats and jackets she prepared as samples. I was wowed and excited about the possibilities of using this technique which only required the use of a 4 thread serger. Especially since I just purchased a new serger for $54 off eBay. Yes only $54. Amazing! I will talk about that later in a separate blog post.





For this class we used the BabyLock Evolution Serger. Never have I experienced such ease with threading a server. In fact I would be willing to say it was easier than threading a regular sewing machine. I was cringing at the thought of what one of these might cost. I figured somewhere in the range of $5k.


Midway through just as you would expect the representatives from BabyLock came in to offer us a special “show” price. I held my breath. I said to myself if it is under $2k I would consider it especially if there is layaway. No credit or financing for me. The regular price was $3,200. Really?? The show price is $2,500 and they were taking an additional $200 off. Well they didn’t quite make my threshold. Oh well. It was nice to dream.


Next Barb asked us to choose our base sweater to begin the coat. Each sweater had a number which corresponded to a bag of pre-selected gourds and bands to construct the coat. I was torn between an extra-large light pink sweater and an off white knitted sweater that fit perfectly. Well leave it to me I’m always looking for a challenge so I went for the knitted sweater. No one else used this type of sweater except me.


Because I’m kind of an over achiever I was one of the last students to leave the class at 4:30. I didn’t break for lunch either. Besides being focused they didn’t have any veggie lunches on hand :-(.

This woman left at 2pm to beat the traffic back to DC. Smart woman. Fast too. She threw her coat together in no time. As you can see here she is just about done and this is just after lunch. She only needs to apply her collar. Good work.

The first step was to decide what the front closure would look like. I chose light pastel colors with bright splashes.

I first looked through the scraps and found a pink beaded sweater. Took a strip of it using the rotary cutter and attached it to the front right side of the sweater. Then I found a green silk blouse in the scrap pile and cut the front part off and used that for the buttonhole closure.



We used these really cute and powerful Rowenta travel irons. I was surprised at the amount of steam and heat they produced. This one is heading to my wish list.


I attached the pink sweater and the green raw silk to the front. Didn't look to bad.

Then I began to look at the back of the coat. I really wanted to make it more interesting. So I decided to cut it down the middle and insert the green silk and a cotton

I knew the best way to go about this would be to just dive right in and not spend anymore time thinking about it. So I just cut the sweater down the middle and attached the newly formed piece.



The bodice is a little long. Next step will be to cut it off and attach a band in the mid-section

Below is another student who got really creative and inserted a portion of a tee shirt in the rear. Now this is interesting.



This student decided to get even more adventurous with skulls, crossbones and chains. Oh my.


She put together a good group of colors and coordinated them well.

After I completed the top of the coat I proceeded to work on my sleeves, gourds and collar


attaching pieces for my collar


Bottom part of the coat


Front lower part of the coat. Just about to connect the two


Connected the sleeve


Just about complete. Just need closures


rear of my coat


Barb said I looked like an ice cream cone. LOL!! I guess I kinda did. Thanks Barb

Me and Barb Callahan the instructor for this class

Me and Anita Brim from the Babylock training class. She helped me out after I broke two needles

Other students completed projects

As you can see the women got very creative with their coats. One even found a way to get in her favorite rock group, The Rolling Stones. Very cool!






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