Monday, November 19, 2012

Sewing & Quilt Expo: Hands on Classes with Cynthia Guffey, June Colburn and Nelly Vileikis.

This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday the Sewing and Quilt Expo was held in Tinley Park, IL. This was a new location for the expo and now means that twice a year Chicago area gets the expo!

I really enjoy learning new techniques, seeing what is new, and working on furthering my knowledge. I find that I always learn something new when I take classes. I found that, while this expo was not as large as the one in Schaumburg, IL in the Spring, there seems to be a trend in increasing the number of hands on classes. Hands on is the best way for me to learn! And a 3 hour class is a perfect amount of time to be introduced to something new, work on a specific technique or see if something new is good for you. And the low cost of a 3 hour class lets you try it without a huge investment.

For example, I took a Hand Beading Embellishment class on Friday morning. This class was taught by June Colburn a very good teacher and a very interesting person. She provided everything we needed in the class fee, gave excellent precise directions with time to practice different hand beading techniques. She showed us examples, gave us resources if this was an art/skill that we wanted to continue exploring. We had plenty of time to ask many questions and she asked us questions as well. Like why we were interested in taking her class. For me it was dual fold. I have always been interested in beaded embellishment but, more immediately, I have some bead work that needs to be done for my DD wedding.

We left class with a project to continue on with as well as with a handout of techniques we practiced.

More information on June can be found on her website:

The project we worked on in class. A butterfly floral design printed on a home dec weight silk.

June Colburn discussing design aesthetics and ideas with the group.

An example of beadwork techniques done on an embossed velvet.

An example of bead embellishment done on a top made from a vintage kimono. This was worn by June to a Japanese wedding when she lived in Japan.

I took two other hands on classes during this expo. One was on fitting with Cynthia Guffey and one on perfecting metered corners in quilting along with set in triangles.

Cynthia Guffey is one of the sewing educators/professionals that I really aspire to emulate. She has amazing couture techniques and believes in doing things correctly. Like paying attention to grain line and always sewing with the grain to eliminate distortion issues. Cynthia has a line of beautiful patterns that are timeless styling as well as a great line of technique DVD's and workbooks on fitting, styling, techniques, etc...

If you ever have the chance to see examples of her work you should do so. The work is impeccable and beautiful! And best of all she is very no-nonsense. She does also do 4-day workshops where you can work on a project of your choice and she takes you step by step through the entire process of fitting and sewing techniques. Unfortunately, I have been unable to attend one of these.... Always scheduling conflicts!

Anyway, this hands on class was on Fitting the Boxy Jacket. The class included one of Cynthia's patterns. She probably has 4-5 different patterns that could be classified as 'boxy' jackets. In the class she had multiple examples sewn up for us to try on and then critique was done on the fitting. She also taught us the most important fitting issues for a boxy jacket. (BTW: a boxy jacket still needs more than just 2 side seams!!) How to adjust for length issues in front due to the boobs and the back length issues due to curve of the upper back. And went into detail on shoulder slope. A excellent class!

Me with one of Cynthia's samples on for test fitting.

Cynthia doing an in-depth discussion of shoulder slope. How to find it on a pattern, how to find it on a person and then how to correct for a difference.

You can find more info on Cynthia at

The last hand on class that I took was a quilting one with Nelly Vileikis, it was specifically for mitered corners and set in triangles. The discussion for the set in triangles was based around the biased edges and how to keep them from being on the edge of the quilt. Why, because it will cause the edges to be ripply. Also on when sewing with set in triangle to keep the bias edge of the triangle to the feed dogs to keep things from stretching.

The second, and in my opinion, the more exciting part was perfecting the mitered corners. This was an area that I lacked in because I just had no plan of action to get them done consistently and looking good! Well.... Happy to report that I do now!

This was another class that we left with a project in progress that took us through multiple steps in getting the miters done correctly. She also sent us with a very nice step by step written guide. This was the first class I have taken with Nelly and she is an excellent teacher! I will keep a lookout for her at future expos.

You can find out more info on Nelly at:

This is the blocks that we worked on in class, along with the picture of the finished kit.

My perfectly mitered corner!!!

In class, trying out layout of the blocks and strips.

I was very happy with the 3 classes that I took!

- Posted by Steph from my iPad

Location:Tinley Park, IL

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