The other day I went to the Creative Stitches & Crafting Alive! trade show – a show I have gone to for a number of years (apart from last year, when they didn’t have one) and it was a bit of a ‘mixed bag’ kind of event – there were a lot of good things going on, but also a lot of things that could have been done better I think.
First off, I didn’t see ANY advertising for the show in advance. A few days before the show my mother heard about it just once on the radio – which is a little too short notice for someone to adjust any weekend plans. Luckily I have a bunch of time to use up at work, so I took the Friday off to go to the show (That was another strange thing, it was a Friday/Saturday show rather than Sat/Sun.) to still be able to keep my weekend plans intact.
I chatted with two people at the show as well, and they both had the same experience – one only heard about it ONCE on the radio, and the other never heard about it at all out in the community – she only knew about it from her friend who was an exhibitor. The show wasn’t here last year, so it seems like a strange thing not to have lots of advertising.
I often litter the calendar of workshops/classes with highlights and circles – there are usually so many things I want to see and do that I barely have enough time to shop as well. This time around there were very few “must-sees”. I started out with Texture with Textiles with the owner of Carola’s Quilt Shop, then attended Wool with one of the staff from The Quilt Patch (the list said it was Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks -but it was only one person, and I can’t remember her name!), and then I went to the main stage demonstration by Linda MacPhee from the MacPhee Workshop called Make it this Christmas.
I chatted with mum and she complained that the workshops she dropped into seem to be mostly ‘selling’ things rather than actually offering tips, ideas, inspiration or instruction. I agree, but I understand that this kind of scenario is an effective selling tool – but the best ones mix up the “… and you can find this at my booth….” comments with useful ideas and inspiration. Some do it better than others.
Texture with Textiles
This session was mostly a show-and-tell of projects that the instructor had (recently?) done in classes at her shop, starting off with a wall-hanging landscape quilt, then a number of other projects – mostly art/wall-hanging quilts. I don’t really think that techniques were anything I didn’t already know – but there may have been a few things that she applied in one way where I would have used another method – and hers was easier/more textural/etc.
I ended up taking a bunch of photos throughout the session, and rather than post them all here, I figured that I would make up a separate post to illustrate some of the techniques she showed (coming soon..). In order to remember things I liked, I ended up taking a number of photos.
Based on the description of this workshop I had expected something very different from this session than what it actually was.
“Have you often looked at wool, though you might like to incorporate it into a project, but are just not sure exactly how to use it? Join us to learn about felting wool, hand dyed wool, recycled wool and much more..”
I had not expected for the session to be entirely about wool applique for quilting projects for starters, and I was a bit bothered that the instructor kept referring to “felting” when I believe that she meant “fulling”. I also wasn’t sure that some of her information was accurate, or more likely, that her information was complete. I ended up leaving the session early because I felt that the information she was giving was less than what I already know about working with wool, and I’m not specifically looking to do wool applique anyways.
Make it this Christmas
This was the session that I was most interested in attending – it was listed as “quick and easy ideas” to make things as holiday gifts this year. Since I’ll be hosting a holiday crafting session, and am still looking for ideas – I thought that this would be a good source of inspiration. Unfortunately, although most of the suggestions would certainly be quick and easy – I didn’t think a lot of them were the kind of things I’d want to give away as gifts. She showed items (for which she was selling the patterns, fabric, and accessories for) like:
- tie-front tops (I can’t say I know anyone who wears a tie-front top right now)
- fringe-top fleece toque (I would have worn it at 15 years old, but I don’t know if 15 year-olds today would wear it)
- ruffle-trimmed rectangle of fleece (worn as a shawl/wrap)
- cut-fringe slinky ‘boa’ (which might be ok for a child’s dress-up)
- faux-fur shrug (even on the TINY woman modeling – this made her look like a wooly sheep…)
- faux-fur trimmed shrug (this was actually nice)
- cocoon coat (I liked this too – it was a square, folded in half. The sides were stitched up with a hole to create arm-holes, and the centre of the front was slashed to create the front opening. The center slash was trimmed in faux fur. It actually wasn’t a coat – more like a shrug, but making it longer and wider would work to make it more of a coat. It actually might look really nice with that cut-work purple knit I have…)
- two jean jackets made from old jeans (really dated)
- sherpa/fleece mitts and slippers (kind of cute, but super-simple)
- a length of faux fur cut to about 5″ wide with the full width of the fabric as the length called a scarf (ok as a costume, but cheap as a gift)
- two tubes of fabric called scarves (One of these was made of the ruffle fabric – the kind generally used for rumba panties. Linda used the full width of the fabric, cut about 18″ wide and sewed it into a tube, wore it double-looped. The other fabric was a very light-weight crinkle polyester, cut one meter wide and used the full width of the fabric to do the same – sewn into a tube and doubled looped. Like the scarf above, I might do something like this for myself, but I wouldn’t call it a gift.)
There were other things that she showed off as well, but I don’t remember them.
So, while I had been hoping to come up with some great inspiration for gifts or for this upcoming gift-making craft day… I’m afraid I didn’t.
So, with any trade show, the big point is to shop as much as anything else. I didn’t end up shopping as much as I have in the past – partially because I haven’t been sewing as much right now so I am not running low on a lot (in the past I stocked up on tracing paper which is hard to find – or at least the kind I like is hard to find – but I have lots right now and don’t need any more). I found a few things though – which I’ll document later…
I was glad to see some of the shops I like there again like the Sugar Pine Quilt Company (from Canmore) and A Great Notion (from Abbotsford), but I was disappointed that a few different shops weren’t there like Gala Fabrics (from Victoria, BC) or a shop that used to sell lots of Victorian-style brass stampings, lace, and other things (whose name I have forgotten).
While of course I was at the show for the sewing element – there were a LOT of scrapbooking vendors as well, and a good amount of space devoted to scrapbooking workshops and sessions. I find this kind of awkward, because even though I like scrapbooking, I have no idea how people are using this space. Is it a drop-in space? Do you bring your photos and materials from home and work with all of the tools? Do you buy a kit from one of the vendors and just do a layout (and then how do you know which of your photos will work with that layout? (I know that when I do a complicated layout, it is inspired by the photo, not the other way around…)
At the last few of these shows I have felt as though the scrapbooking is taking over the physical space, and this year was no different. It felt as though there were fewer vendors than before, and the balance between quilting, sewing general crafting and scrapbooking was weighing very heavily on scrapbooking – though there were fewer scrapbooking vendors this year too I thought. There was only one vendor (that I noticed) that was selling primarily fashion fabrics. The rest were all quilting shops (that were selling fabrics).
Overall I was happy to have gone to the show, though glad I only went for one day instead of two. I was mildly disappointed overall with the workshops, the variety of vendors, and the selection of things for sale (I hardly bought anything compared to previous years). Did you go to this year’s show? What did you think?