Friday, April 26, 2013

Patchwork Jacket Overload and other thoughts

I spent the day at the Creativ Festival, a bi-annual crafts and sewing expo.
I decided to go on a whim after Kay from Gently Down the Seam sent out an email about it. Although the location was really out of the way, the appeal of the open sewing workshops was greater than my extreme anxiety about the 40 KM drive to get there. (I was recently in a car accident, you see, but that's a whole other story.)
The lovely Kay
Well, I'm mostly glad I went! Today has been a marathon of sewing "ah ha" moments. To the point where I'm not sure if my brain is up for another entire day of ultra-condensed, 45-minute sessions on such themes as Blue Jeans ForeverBra Talk or Sewing the Perfect Pants tomorrow. But another day it shall be!
Session on Perfect Pants by Kathy Ruddy -- see what I mean by different demographics?
As much as I've enjoyed the technical sewing workshops, I must admit that throughout the day I kept thinking: "Where is everyone? Where are the online sewists? Where is Sewaholic patterns? Where is Victory Patterns?" The event seems to cater to a completely different demographics. I found myself feeling disoriented in that sea of elasticated-waist and pastel colours. You'll point out that today was Friday... But still.

Of course, who could not appreciate the lifetime of sewing knowledge mature sewists have. Think of Anne, our hero from the Great British Sewing Bee. But I would be lying if I said that I don't have more difficulties relating to an aesthetic that sees patchwork jackets as not only beautiful but de rigueur. This aesthetic has actually turned me off of Threads magazine for a long time. It wasn't until I was able to see passed this aesthetics that I was able to appreciate the content of the magazine. But even today, whenever I read the magazine it's like **cringe, cringe, cringe**, especially when I come across another one of those infamous applique articles.

Judging from the crowd today, one could conclude that sewing is a dying art. But we KNOW that's not true! Heck, let's ask the participants of last week's Epic Sewing Summit in London if sewing is a dying art!?!
Here's what I'm wondering: What other event, if not the Creativ Festival, appeals to the modern seamstress? Do they go to The One of a Kind Show? Or do they prefer Fashion industry trade shows?

Or: are these mass events simply not that important for the modern sewist? Maybe we already get everything we need from the internet -- a sense of community, a chance to share knowledge, to form friendships with people who share our passion, to purchase sewing gadgets and supplies, and even to follow classes with experts?

What are your thoughts on this?


  1. I had this experience when I went to the American Sewing Expo with my mom. Everyone was my mom's age and it was the aesthetic you describe. I had an interesting time, and my mom enjoyed it, but I definitely felt out of my element. I'm in my 40's so I feel like an in between age. I've only been sewing a few years so I identify with young sewing bloggers, but I feel a bit older than most of them. I would still be interested in a mass event sometime if it could achieve a mix of ages, that would be cool. Also, I don't blog so I don't feel like I really get a full community from the internet. I love reading blogs, but it seems like the friendships just form between the bloggers themselves, and I don't want to have my own blog for a bunch of reasons so I feel like I miss out on some of that social stuff. It would be nice if there were more in-person things! Anyway, I guess this was a bunch of disparate thoughts, but hope it made sense. And thanks for your blog, by the way!

  2. I think you need to send your comments to the Creativ organizers, who may be unaware that they are missing a whole market. I remember the same thing a decade ago when I was last in the area.

  3. Ann could have taken the words right out of my mouth. We're the same demographic and I'm also blog-less and feel the same about missing the social aspect of sewing. I would love to see sewing events since I live in a small town and don't have any friends or family that sew.

  4. Well, as a 50 something I fit into the demographic of the sewing show age wise but I certainly don't feel I fit attitude wise. Great comments! I wonder how we get those out to the show?

  5. I'd love to hear from someone who has been to the fall session of the Creativ festival as to whether the demographic is different. I myself had no way to get out to the place where this session was held, but the one in October is at the MTCC downtown and is three days long (I assume much larger).

    That being said, I had never heard of this festival until I took the GB class and I have spent years at Ryerson, and sewing in my own time. Where are they advertising??

  6. This is a great discussion - I usually go to the fall Creativ Fest, since I can get to it on transit. I go with a friend (a non-blogger), and I've never taken a workshop. I look forward to it for the books and the tools, but it would be great to see some of our indie patterns represented! It may be a case of cost, though, I know trade shows can be very expensive for vendors.

    1. Good point -- I wonder how much it costs to have a booth.

  7. I know what you're saying! When I see photos from sewing workshops and ALL the students are from the elastic-pants crowd, I cringe, I feel like it's adding to the perception that sewing is just for grandmas. But at the same time, I don't live in a city big enough to have an in-person event, and I do feel really lucky to be able to connect with people of similar age and sewing interest to myself all over the world.
    I think this sewing-blogging world is pretty well hidden from anyone who isn't connected with it or looking for it. I kind of hate reading posts where other bloggers mention that they never talk about sewing or their blogs to their "real life" friends. If sewing is going to spread to more people of all ages, I think we are all going to need to be a little more "out in the open" about it, and maybe that includes reaching out to event organizers.

  8. I wouldn't have gone if Kay hadn't put out the word because I didn't know about it and even if I saw an ad, I would have expected it was going to be all quilting and scrap booking etc.

    It seemed to have two camps:
    1. Lorraine's sessions that focused on fit and alteration
    2. Let's all use elastic to not bother fitting when we eat too many cookies.

    I mean, I'm all for #2 as my weight has increased, but it seemed weird to be such a focus. In theory, your audience already paid the cost to get in and walked into the room for the session, they probably know how to sew. Most of those "solutions" (like the elastic trangles to extend the waist of pants or the circle in a square skirt - and always "on sale at the booth!") seemed like they were suppose to convince a non-sewer that sewing is easy. Quantity vs quality maybe?

  9. I was VERY excited about the Creativ festival when I first heard about it - I was a fairly new sewer, who'd been reading other sewing bloggers talk about sewing expos and workshops they'd done (either as participants or presenters). But when I read the list of workshops, and saw the lack of the newer generation of big name sewers, I began to suspect it wasn't what I wanted. And I was pretty disappointed when I went to the fall Creativ market. Surely there's a way to appeal to less traditional sewers too?

  10. I think the one in October attracts a more diverse crowed. There is obviously still this demographic because a) they like to sew and b) they like to go to trade shows or fairs like this, but the one on October also houses a fashion show and competition amongst all the different fashion design schools in Toronto and the GTA, so there are all kinds of different demographics and fashions depicted at this show. There are also classes that you sign up and pay for and it is a longer show, so I think folks might go to this one if they are only going to go to one of the 2 shows.


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are moderated on posts older than 20 days, so they won't appear immediately. :-)

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