Lori Van Maanen – Girls in the Garden

Lori with Girls - and boys - in the Garden.

Lori with Girls – and boys – in the Garden.

(Originally posted September 6, 2015)


In the summer of 2006, Lori  Van Maanen stumbled upon a few sewing and decorating blogs, which led to many hours at the computer.   She was hooked on the format, and she thought blogging would be a great way to keep track of her sewing projects.  She could look back on her posts and use the information to improve her next garment.

Lori lives and works on her Missouri family farm, and is very involved in the family’s agricultural business.  She works full time at their livestock market — so time to sew can be an issue.  And she had to think long and hard about making the commitment to writing her own blog.

She knew her area of blogging would be mainly sewing, but didn’t want to limit herself by putting sewing in the title.  One day, while weeding her flower garden with her daughters, she looked at them and the name of her blog came to her:  Girls In the Garden.  As the mother to four girls, it was perfect — close to her heart.

Although Lori does all kinds of sewing  — her passion has always been fashion sewing.  With so many girls in the house, there is always an occasion or event requiring a new outfit.  Lori is inspired by fashion magazines, fashion blogs and Pinterest.  Once she gets an idea for a garment, she likes to search Pinterest for variations and details to make it her own.

aMood_Sewing_Network_LogoLori is fortunate to have a dedicated sewing space — but it’s in an unfinished basement, tucked under the plumbing pipes and behind the furnace.  She doesn’t really have a “stash” of fabric (maybe 10 yards on hand at any one time).  When she is inspired to make a garment,  she goes online to buy the fabric.  The Mood Fabrics website is her favorite place for fashion fabric — so it was a huge honor to be invited to become a part of the Mood Sewing Network in January, 2013.

When asked about her favorite sewing inspiration, Lori said,  “When the twins were babies, I took a smocking class.  My favorite magazine was Australian Smocking and Embroidery and each month I would find at least one dress to make.  One issue had these smocked black corduroy coats with leopard faux fur — and I was hooked on those coats.  It is a wonder I didn’t wear out my magazine just looking at them.  AS&E offered kits with everything but the pattern, so I checked the kit price and the exchange rate.  With four young girls, money was tight and it  took me a week of debating if I should buy not one but two kits.  In the end, I did order the coats and never regretted the purchase.  I made the coats a bit bigger and since the shape was flared, the girls were able to get three winters’ wear.

Leopard Trench Coat

Leopard Trench Coat

The most recent thing I was inspired to sew was my leopard trench coat.  I saw several leopard trench coats on Pinterest.  I found the perfect fabric at Mood and had the perfect Vogue pattern.  I have worn this coat many times, it just goes with everything and it is one of those ‘feel good’ garments.” 

Your best sewing advice?

Whenever I am having a problem, the first thing I do is rethread my sewing machine and change the needle.  That solves the problem 90% of the time.  And don’t forget to change the needles in your serger, too!  My go-to sewing book is Sandra Betzina’s  Fabric Savvy.  It is an excellent reference book and I often refer to it.  I only use SCHMETZ needles, and I ALWAYS have a good supply on hand.”

What does sewing bring to your life?   

I cannot draw or paint but I can take a piece of fabric and turn it into a garment.  Sewing is my creative outlet and it gives me such fulfillment and joy with each garment I make.  Sewing has also brought many friendships with women both near and far.”

Lori’s blog:  www.girlsinthegarden.blogspot.com/

Mood Sewing Network:  www.moodsewingnetwork.com

Needle & Fabric Recommendations

We know how tough it is to remember what needle to use with a particular fabric. If you’re fortunate, you have access to some reference books or the internet to help you figure it out. If you have a smartphone, you can download the SCHMETZ App (links below). If not, you’re stuck guessing. We’d like to help you out a little bit this week. Our “Cheat Sheet” below lists Fabric/Needle combinations. You can also find this guide in the SCHMETZ ABC Pocket Guide. This is by no means a complete list. Sandra Betzina has written two fantastic reference books that describe a myriad of fabrics and recommendations for what needle (or needles) to use along with other sewing tips germane to a particular fabric. We’re not ashamed to admit it . . . there are times when we are stumped and look to these two books for needle advice. Both books are referenced at the bottom of this post.

Needle & Fabric Recommendations

Artificial Leather – Microtex or Leather 70/10-100/16

Bamboo – Microtex 70/10-90/14
Batiste – Universal 60/8, 70/10
Bed-Linen, Jersey – Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Bed-Linen, Woven – Universal 70/10-100/16
Bouclé – Jersey 70/10-90/14
Brocade – Universal or Microtex 60/8-90/14

Cambric – Universal 60/8, 70/10
Canvas – Jeans 90/14-110/18
Chambray – Universal 80/12, 90/14
Chenille – Universal 90/14
Chiffon – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10
Coated Material – Microtex 70/10-110/18
Cork – Microtex 70/10-90/14
Corduroy – Universal 80/12-100/16
Cotton, Knit – Jersey 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Cotton, Woven – Universal 70/10-90/14
Crepe – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12
Crepe-de-Chine – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12
Crinkle – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12

Denim – Jeans 70/10-110/18
Double-Face Woven – Universal 70/10-110/18

Elastic – Stretch 65/9-90/14

Felt – Universal 80/12-100/16
Flannel – Universal 80/12-110/18
Fleece – Universal 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Foils – Microtex 60/8-110/18
Fun Fur – Universal 70/10-100/16 or Jersey 70/11-90/14

Gabardine – Universal 70/10-100/16
Gauze – Jersey 70/10, 80/12
Georgette – Universal or Microtex 60/8-80/12

Jeans – Jeans 70/10-110/18 or Jeans Twin 4.0/100
Jersey – Jersey 60/8-80/12
Jersey with Elastic – Stretch 65/9-90/14

Knits – Jersey 70/10-100/16
Knits with Elastic – Jersey 70/10-100/16 or Stretch 65/9, 75/11, 90/14

Lace – Select by Fabric Type 70/10-90/14
Lamé – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Leather, Thick & Artificial Leather – Leather 100/16-120/19
Leather, Thin – Leather or Universal 70/10-90/14
Lingerie – Stretch 65/9, 75/11, 90/14 or Jersey 70/10-90/14
Linen & Half-Linen – Universal 70/10-90/14
Lycra – Stretch 65/9-90/14 or Jersey 70/10-90/14

Microfiber – Microtex 60-8-90/14

Nylon – Universal or Microtex 60/8-90/14

Oil Cloth – Microtex 80/12-100/16
Organdy – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10
Organza – Universal or Microtex 60/8, 70/10

Polyester – Universal or Microtex 60/8-100/16
Poplin – Microtex or Universal 60/8-80/12

Quilt – Quilting 75/11, 90/14 or Jeans 70/10-110/18

Rayon – Universal 70/10, 80/12

Seersucker – Universal 70/10-90/14
Sequined Fabric – Microtex 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Silk – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Silk Jersey – Stretch 65/9, 75/11
Sweatshirt – Jersey 70/10-90/14

Taffeta – Microtex or Universal 60/8, 70/10
Terry Cloth – Universal 80/12, 90/14
Thermovelour Fleece – Universal 70/10-90/14 or Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Tulle – Universal or Jersey 70/10, 80/12
Twill – Jeans 70/10-110/18

Velour – Universal 70/10-100/16
Velour Jersey – Stretch 75/11, 90/14
Velvet – Stretch 75/11, 90/14 or Universal 70/10-90/14
Velvet Burn-Out – Stretch 65/9-90/14
Velvet Panne – Stretch 75/11 or Universal 70/10-80/12
Vinyl – Microtex 60/8-90/14
Voile – Universal 60/8-80/12

Waxed Cloth – Microtex 80/12-100/16
Wool & Wool Blends – Universal 70/10-100/16


More Fabric Savvy, Sandra Betzina, The Taunton Press, 2004.
All New Fabric Savvy, Sandra Betzina, The Taunton Press, 2017.

iOs (Apple)https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/schmetz/id643064376?ls=1&mt=8


Sewing & Stitchery Expo, Part 1 – How It All Began

Sewing & Stitchery LogoThe Sewing & Stitchery Expo: How It All Began

The largest consumer sewing show in the United States happens every year in a little town outside of Seattle, Washington called Puyallup. Nearly 30,000 sewing enthusiasts come from all over the world to attend the show. They come because the Sewing and Stitchery Expo (Sew Expo) has more than 450 booths of carefully curated sewing merchandise — including fabric, sewing machines, patterns, books and notions. They come because they will have up close and personal access to the biggest stars in the sewing industry. Over the years, the headliners have included Martha Pullen, Nancy Zieman, Sandra Betzina, Eleanor Burns, Alex Anderson, Pati Palmer, Sue Hausmann and Mark Lipinski — just to name a few!!

No matter what your area of interest is — Sew Expo will have a class for you. With over 500 lectures and workshops to choose from, you can learn garment construction, quilt making, home dec or quick gifts. For over 30 years, the Sewing and Stitchery Expo has been gathering the best and the brightest in the industry for FOUR DAYS ONLY.

March 1-4, 2018, Sew Expo will celebrate it’s 34rd year. So — what’s the story? How did Sew Expo become the biggest and most exciting consumer sewing show in America?

Joanne Ross had a dream . . .

Joanne Ross had a dream . . .

Like anything of value, Sew Expo started as one woman’s dream. In 1984, Joanne Ross was a home economist working at Pierce County Extension. She attended a consumer sewing show in Portland, Oregon and thought the concept might work in Tacoma. She discussed it with Pati Palmer, Chair of the Portland show.

(Top) — Marta Alto, Nancy Seifert, Pati Palmer (Bottom) —The Tilton Sisters - Katherine, Marcy

(Top) — Marta Alto, Nancy Seifert, Pati Palmer
(Bottom) —The Tilton Sisters – Katherine, Marcy

As part of her job with Pierce County Extension, Joanne had already developed a program called the Clothing and Textile Advisors (CTA). To become a CTA, a volunteer attended classes to learn about textiles and sewing, with the emphasis on garment construction. The goal of the program was to send volunteers out into the community to share and teach sewing as a life skill. During the 1980’s, the CTA membership had grown to hundreds of women, with chapters in and around the Pacific Northwest. The CTA’s began asking Joanne to bring in big name sewing teachers so they could learn about the latest techniques, sewing notions and patterns. Joanne knew the CTA’s could become an important element in a consumer show. But it would require a lot of planning.

Joanne Ross developed a business model and presented the plans to the Washington State University (WSU) Conference Office. At that time, the Extension Office, and therefore, the CTA program, fell under the umbrella of WSU, so having WSU handle the management of this new consumer sewing show would be a good fit.

(Top) — Washington State Fairgrounds. (Bottom) — Friday Night Live.

(Top) — Washington State Fairgrounds.
(Bottom) — Friday Night Live.

That first show in 1984 was a complete leap of faith. No other university in the country had attempted anything of this scope. Like Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams, Joanne Ross felt, “if we build it — they will come.”

The first Sewing and Stitchery Expo took place at the Tacoma Dome Convention Center. It was a two-day show with 56 exhibitors. Nobody knew what to expect — so they were blown away by 3,200 eager attendees. The second year attendance doubled. After only three years the show was too big for the Tacoma Dome. It was a hard decision to move the show to the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. Although the new location could accommodate hundreds of vendors and thousands more attendees, it would be a much larger financial risk.

Because of the growth of the show, it was expanded to three days, and by 1995, it was a four day show with over 30,000 attendees. The 2017 show (March 2-5) will have sewing and quilting enthusiasts from all over the world coming to celebrate Sew Expo’s 33rd year with 450 booths, over 500 classes and workshops, five daily free style shows, $50,000 worth of door prizes and two spectacular special evening events.

Joanne Ross says, “The Sewing and Stitchery Expo is the realization of a sewing dream — a place where the best experts in the industry come to share their expertise. Our attendees come to the show to meet the Sewing Stars they’ve seen on television, or to try the latest technology, attend lectures or hands-on workshops. For four days, they can shop to their heart’s content…and share their love of sewing and quilting with like-minded individuals.

Barbara Bitetto drawing lucky winners for daily door prizes.

Barbara Bitetto drawing lucky winners for daily door prizes.

The unexpected benefit of Sew Expo is that it has become THE PLACE to launch new product, try out new technology or introduce new techniques. Our vendors come to Sew Expo to sell their merchandise, of course, but they also set up meetings with the biggest players in the industry. The sewing machine companies sponsor our hands-on sewing studios, special events, and give away bags. They send their educators to Sew Expo, as well as their executives. They have meetings with new designers and the creative juices just seem to FLOW at Sew Expo. We’ll hear rumors of a new product or machine one year — and it will be a manufactured reality being launched at the next show. Many of our attendees also come to Sew Expo with a sewing related business idea. They come to the show because they want to network and find resource suppliers.”

Sewing and Stitchery Expo has been so successful because of its volunteers and staff. The Expo is managed by more than 150 volunteers and a staff of more than 25 persons. It is their dedication all year long that gives the Sewing and Stitchery Expo its national prominence within the sewing industry. It is their customer service ethic that provides a wonderful experience for all who attend.

Next week, Part 2:  Sewing & Stitchery Expo, Meet the Leadership and Clothing & Textile Advisors