Extension hosts nation’s largest stitchery show

Sewing is an ancient art that has evolved through the years. The Sewing and Stitchery Expo helps people keep up-to-date on the latest innovations.

“The sewing world has changed more than any of us imagined it could,” said Joanne Ross, founder of the Sewing and Stitchery Expo.

The annual expo, which will be held March 1-4 in Puyallup, was created in 1984 in an effort by WSU Extension to bring national sewing industry experts to Pierce County, Ross said.

While working as an extension faculty member, Ross created a volunteer group called the Clothing and Textile Adviser program. She began the expo as a way to provide advisers with classes taught by experts. The public was invited to help defray the costs; since then, the expo has continued to grow, Ross said.
“We never dreamed in the beginning that the expo would end up being the largest sewing show in the USA,” Ross said.

Although it started out with 3,000 attendees, now more than 30,000 from around the country — and world — attend the event.

The expo offers more than 400 vendor booths and more than 100 daily seminars on various trends and techniques, said Janet York, conference manager for the WSU Center for Distance and Professional Education in Puyallup. For many participants, the greatest draw is the chance to meet some of the nationally and internationally known speakers, she said.

Fashion designers from around the country attend the event, including Dana Bontrager and Coni Crawford from the Pacific Northwest, said Ann Sagawa, an extension program assistant for Pierce County. This year, Crawford will present a lecture on garment draping and fitting.

Although the expo offers many different workshops, seminars and products, Ross said she believes one thing in particular makes the event unique.

“What sets us apart from other shows, other than size, is the fact that we are university sponsored and we use volunteers to run the show,” she said. “The university connection makes us unique.”

Volunteers from WSU Extension Pierce County and the Clothing and Textile Adviser program help with management, promotion, ticket sales and seminars, Ross said.

For more information, visit www.sewexpo.com.

WSU at Large is an occasional series about WSU programs outside of Pullman. If you have a suggestion of a program to be featured, please contact intern Jessica Fitts at today2@wsu.edu.

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