Sewing & Stitchery Expo, Part 3 – Ticket Office and Main Stage Daily Free Style Shows

2015 Sewing & Stitchery Expo Ticket Office Volunteers.

2015 Sewing & Stitchery Expo Ticket Office Volunteers.

Ticket Office:

In early January, the Clothing & Textile Advisors (CTA’s) set up the Sew Expo Ticket Office to process orders (on-line and snail mail). No other consumer sewing show attempts to “ticket” each and every seminar. Everybody who works in the ticket office is a CTA. Teams of volunteers from Pierce and Snohomish counties help pull tickets and get the orders sent out. The team processes over 9,000 admission tickets, 1,500+ special event tickets and 40,000 seminar tickets each year.

Sew Expo attendees go on-line to register, their transaction is processed, their tickets are pulled, and they receive a snail mail envelope with printed tickets to each and every class or event enrolled.

Although many CTA’s volunteer their time to work in the ticket office, (Katy and Julie have been there from the start) the four mainstays are:

  • Katy Patjens: Chair of Customer Service: Takes the lead on helping people with orders and troubleshooting.
  • Julie Kennedy: Chair of Ticket Pulling: Each order’s tickets are pulled and prepared.
  • Barbara Bitetto: Chair of Registrations: Starts the process by printing registrations.
  • Jean Snedden: Chair of Checking Station: This team checks each order before they are mailed.

The week before Expo, the team physically moves the ticket office to the Fairgrounds so attendees can purchase tickets at the show.

Sandy Miller, Louise Cutting, Mary Collen.

Sandy Miller, Louise Cutting, Mary Collen.

Daily Free Style Shows on the Main Stage:

Clothing & Textile Advisor (CTA) Mary Collen has been the Style Show Manager since 1991. She began as a volunteer “dresser.” She asked to be behind the scenes because she was too shy to be a hostess.

CTA Pat Watson is the Co-chair, and this dynamic duo starts to work on the Style Shows in November, when four professional models are hired.

They coordinate the model measurements and information with designers. Some designers make garments to fit models; others send garments already in their sample line. McCalls, Vogue, and Butterick often send garments that were photographed in their pattern catalogue.

Set-up day they schedule each designer for one hour to fit the models and finalize their lineup. A dresser is assigned to each model to help them in and out of the garments quickly. Mary says, “We don’t see the garments until the model fittings on set up day. Often, things don’t go as planned.”

On this day, Shirley Riley spends at least eight (8) hours on a computer entering all of the garments on a spread sheet with who wears what, in what order and what accessories will be worn. These get posted at each model station and at the stage entrance.

Mary is the final checker before the model walks out on the stage. She makes sure they are up on time, in the right order and are wearing the correct outfit. She also keeps the show timed so all of the garments out on stage show without exceeding the allotted 45 minutes. She tries to keep in sight of the commentator to cue them if they need to speed up or slow down.

Remarkably, Sew Expo usually does six different shows every day for three days. With an average of 40 garments per show, that’s 240 different garments in a day. Each Style show is 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break between shows. Models only have a 4 minute turnaround all day long. It is a grueling schedule, but extreme organization makes it look effortless to the audience.


We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek behind the scenes of the the largest consumer sewing show in the United States. Everyone involved with Sewing & Stitchery Expo looks forward to seeing you March 1-4, 2018 in Puyallup, WA. For more information, please visit