Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Demise of the American Sewing Expo (ASE)   - March 22, 2017

Last September I spent three days at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  In the past I took as many classes as possible and also spent a lot of time shopping at the sewing vendors.  Then I experienced an overload of classes, so I only went there to shop.  Of course I made sure I was there at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, the last day of the show, so I was eligible to win one of the many prizes given away at that time.  Each year the number of vendors and visitors dwindled.

In 2016 I signed up for a Wednesday preshow class taught by Gail Patrice Yellen.  This was a hands-on class taught by a nationally recognized instructor.  I am so glad I made the decision to invest my time and money to take the class.  

I returned to the expo Saturday and Sunday for two more classes.  I was really a little disappointed when I walked into the hall where the vendor displays were.  There were even less than last year!    I knew then ASE was in trouble!  I knew if the vendors did not come, the attendees would not come and there would not be a show! 

About a week ago I received an email from ASE confirming my worst fears for the show were a reality.  Swatches, the newsletter of the ASE, announced the expo is being replaced by Sewcial Retreats!  I felt really sad when I read this news.  The sewists in this area have been really fortunate to have a sewing show like this for so many years.  It has been an excellent venue to take sewing and serger classes from high caliber teachers as well as a place to shop for hard to find sewing related products. 

Yesterday I called Janet Pray to talk to her about the expo.  Although I am sad about the demise of the ASE, I understand why Janet decided to discontinue it.  It could not continue as a viable business if the vendors and attendees were decreasing in large numbers each year.  The internet affected the ASE just as it has affected the business of almost all brick and mortar stores.  Vendors aren’t interested in transporting their goods great distances and set up booths to sell those goods when they can easily sell them on line without the travel expense and booth expense.  The same is true for those of us who take classes.  Many prefer to sign up for on line classes with the ability to take the class at their convenience and in the comfort of their homes.  Classes like Craftsy and others give you the benefit of being able to repeat the class as many times as you wish.  When you take a lot of classes in 3 or 4 days, it is possible to experience information overload.  It is difficult to retain what you learn, if you take in too much information in a short period of time.

The world is changing.  Sewing is changing and the business of sewing is also changing.   We may not like all the changes, but all of us have contributed to the changes in some way. 

Janet Pray has done the Sewcial Retreats for a few years now and has received many good comments from those who attended.  If you are on the list for the ASE newsletter, you will receive information about the Sewcial Retreats.  If you are not on the list and would like to receive information, the website is 

Good luck on your sewing projects.  I hope you continue to find ways to improve your sewing skills and your creativity!


Friday, March 17, 2017

My Favorite Places to Shop In and Near Shipshewana, Indiana – March 17, 2017

I haven’t sewn much lately.  I have been busy recuperating from the “crude” (also known as a really bad cold) and traveling with my husband to the Topeka Horse Sale in Indiana.  Things should be back to normal soon and I can get busy with more sewing for spring.  I did finish the navy blue pants I mentioned in my post of Feb. 17.    I did not find any fabric for the floral print skirt I wanted to make.  I may have to settle for a solid color one instead. 

While we were in Indiana, we stayed at the Blue Gate Garden Inn in Shipshewana.  During the day while my husband was at the horse sale, I entertained myself by visiting the shops in and near Shipshewana.  I thought I would share some of my favorite shops with you.  Not all of the shops sold fabric, but most of them did.  If you have favorites in the area that I missed, please let me know about them.  I would hate to miss an opportunity to shop!

Anytime I am in Indiana, I like to visit Zinck’s Fabric Outlet in Ligonier if possible.  Ligonier is 15.2 miles south of Shipshewana on State Road 5.  The address for Zinck’s is 1444 S. Lincolnway (SR5).  It is an easy drive and is well worth the few minutes it takes to get there.  Zinck’s is a large store that carries cotton fabric, fashion fabric, decorator fabric, wool, denim, knits, various other fabrics, and notions.  The merchandise is constantly changing.  I might go there one day and not find anything I want, but a couple of weeks later I may find lots of items.  The store does have a nice selection of 100% cottons for quilting and 108 inch wide fabric for backing.   Last year when I was making fabric gift bags, I found ribbon and fabric for the bags at very reasonable prices.  Most of the fabric I purchased for the bags was $2.00 or $3.00 a yard, which I found in the clearance section; however, I bought a 10-yard piece for $4.50.   That made the cost just $0.45 a yard.  It may not have been the very best quality, but it worked fined for fabric gift bags.   The employees at Zinck’s are friendly and helpful.  This time when I visited Zinck’s I purchased more ribbon.

On the way back to Shipshewana I decided to make a stop in Topeka.  Topeka is 7.6 miles from  Ligonier.  You turn right off State Road 5 onto 700 S and that takes you into Topeka.  There is a new store called the General Store.  The address is 102 N. Main.  It is in a new red building.  This store carries a wide variety of products.  It has many household items from towels to dishes, cleaning products, books, and gifts.  However, there was no fabric!

If you are in Topeka, you may want to visit Sarah’s Attic.  It is located upstairs in the Topeka Pharmacy at 101 N. Main, which is directly across the street from the General Store.  Sarah’s Attic is a small shop that carries sewing supplies and fabrics.  They have 100% cotton fabric and a small supply of knitting yarn.  Downstairs, the Topeka Pharmacy has jewelry and other gift items.  The pharmacy also fills prescriptions and carries over-the-counter medicine and cosmetics.  If you catch a cold while in the area, this is the place to purchase a cold medicine and maybe get a recommendation for one from the pharmacist on duty.  They also have an old fashioned soda fountain in the back of the store.

After leaving Topeka, I returned to State Road 5 and headed north towards Shipshewana, but I wanted to make one more stop not far from Topeka.  I turned east onto W. 300 S. and went to Emmatown Fabrics and Gifts.  It is the first place after you make the turn.  The address is 7785 W 300 S.   The store sells 100% cotton fabrics, 108 inch wide backing fabrics, and flannels.  She also has many gift items including drones and musical movement clocks.   The owner has a quilting frame set up in her store where she can quilt when she is not busy with customers.    My husband purchased a jigsaw puzzle and I bought some flannel for a baby crib sheet.  If there is fabric in a store, it is hard for me to leave without some!

There is a new store in Shipshewana called Country Road.  It is in a big new gray building on State Road 5 just before Ben’s Pretzels if you are coming from the Farmstead Inn.  It looks interesting from the outside, but it has nothing for tourists, especially those who enjoy sewing.  Most of the items for sale are clothing and shoes for the Amish.  However, do not get discouraged.  There are still plenty of other places in Shipshewana that carry fabric and other items that interest people who love to sew!

My most favorite place to shop is Yoder Department Store.   It is at 300 S. Van Buren Street (SR5) next to the Farmstead Inn.  What I like about the store is not only the products, but the fantastic customer service.  If they are out of your size, they will order it for you and telephone you when it is available.  They have ordered shoes, jeans, and even socks for my husband and me.  Last fall I discovered a great brand of men’s socks at Yoder.  The brand name is Darn Tough and they are made in Vermont and are “guaranteed for life”.  They come in different styles like boot socks, hiking socks, and crew socks.  I purchased several for gifts and everyone loved them.  This week I noticed that Yoder now stocks Darn Tough Socks in the Women’s Section and they come in beautiful colors.  I haven’t tried them yet, but I plan to purchase some on my next trip there.  They also have a huge collection of fabrics including 100% cottons and fashion fabrics.  They carry patterns and all kinds of sewing notions.

Across the hall from the department store is Yoder Hardware.  I love to browse there.  They have all kinds of gift items, kitchen utensils, cookbooks, and the items you expect to find in a hardware store.   I purchased an interesting cookbook called Ramen Noodle Genius.  It includes recipes for soups, salads, meatballs, stir-fry and more.

Directly across the street from Yoder Department Store is Spector’s Store.  They carry items for the Amish but they also have a nice selection of 100% cotton fabrics in the back of the store.  I purchased 10 yards of cotton fabric and my before tax cost was $34.50.  Then they deducted 10% for a promotion they were having, so my pretax cost for 10 yards of 100% cotton fabric was $31.05.  By the way that included 3 yards of Batik fabric.

Any trip to Shipshewana requires a stop at Lolly’s.  Lolly’s is located on the main floor of the Davis Mercantile Building at 255 Main Street.  This shop has a huge array of 100% cotton fabrics.  They also have a large selection of sewing and quilting books.  Until recently Lolly had a bargain shop on the lower level of the building where they sold sale fabric.  That has been closed and is now incorporated into the shop on the main floor.  The March special at Lolly’s was bundles of 10 inch squares reduced from about $40 to $20.  They also had bundles of 5 inch squares reduced from $10 to $5.  I believe both sizes had approximately 42 squares in a bundle. 

I can’t go into the Davis Mercantile Building without stopping at Jo Jo’s Pretzels.  I usually have a pretzel for lunch at least one day when I am there.  They do sell other food items that are probably more appropriate for lunch!

I rarely ever purchase anything from Sarah Davis Ltd on the main floor of the Davis Mercantile Building because their products are usually very expensive.  They do carry some reasonably priced jewelry items.   I did see a very small purse there I liked.  It was a Vera Bradley with a price of $168.00.  I wanted to buy it for a gift for my granddaughter but I thought the price was prohibitive!  I did find a small “wallet on a string” that was reduced from $59.99 to $10.00.  That was more in line with my budget, so I bought that for myself to use when I go to the Quilt Show in Grand Rapids.  I can take that instead of one of my large, heavy purses.  I would take it to the American Sewing Expo in Novi in September, but I just learned this week that show has been discontinued.  Janet Prey is doing Sewcial Retreats instead.   Anyway back to my topic of shopping in Shipshewana.

Options is located on the 2nd floor of the Davis Mercantile Building.  They have ladies’ clothing and accessories.  They have a great selection of jewelry, watches, and purses.  I purchased a small cross-over purse for my granddaughter for her birthday.  It was well within my budget at a price of $22.

The Craft Barn is in the center of downtown Shipshewana directly across from the Blue Gate Restaurant.  They have lots of jewelry, purses, gifts, and other accessories.    I frequently buy gifts from there for friends, family and myself!

I never leave Shipshewana without a stop at E & S Sales.  E & S Sales is a grocery store that also carries bulk foods, meats, cheese, baking ingredients, and candy.  There is a deli, bakery and ice cream shop in the store. 

Just across the parking lot from E & S Sales is Eash Sales.  This shop has everything for the home including kitchenware, canning supplies, cookware, outdoor furniture, and gift items.  There is no fabric here, but it is a unique shop worth taking the time to browse through.  I noticed they even carry the same iron I am currently using, the Euro Steam Next Generation 1000W, and they sell it for the same price I paid at the American Sewing Expo in Novi.

During my travels this time I discovered a shop I had not noticed.   It is called “I Sell Fabric” and is located at 5520 N State Road 5.  Of course, I had to stop to investigate.  The owner told me he has been at this location for two years now.  He carries 100% cotton fabric that is all made in the USA.  He also has a selection of 108 inch backing for quilts.  He is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  The building is back from the road a little bit so it is difficult to see when you are driving on State Road 5.  Just look for the purple flag that is placed close to the road.  His fabric is reasonably priced and he does have some that is on sale.  He and his wife also have a fabric shop in one of the buildings at spaces 584 – 586 in the Flea Market.

These are some of places I typically shop when I visit the Shipshewana area.  I picked up a booklet this time titled “Shipshewana LaGrange County 2017 Visitors Guide”.   It has a listing of most of the shops in the area along with other information such as hours of operation and whether or not they accept credit cards.  I got mine from the Blue Gate Garden Inn, but I believe the other hotels in the area will also have copies.

Our ASG Chapter, the Lansing Clippers, will hold a sewing retreat in Shipshewana at the Farmstead Inn in August this year.   I hope all of you will have a chance to visit the shops in the area while you are there.  Be sure to use the 10% off coupon given us by owners of the I Sell Fabric Store.   You will be given information about the coupon at the Lansing Clippers’ meeting Monday, March  20, 2017.

I hope all of you are having fun sewing and planning projects for spring and summer!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Response to ASG Survey - March 2, 2017

I received an email today with a survey for the American Sewing Guild (ASG).  It was only two questions, so I took the time to answer it.  The first question was “Why did you join the ASG”? That was easy!  When I was in Oregon years ago attending a Margaret Islander class, I discovered the other eleven women in the class were all ASG members.  I knew nothing about ASG, but I knew if these 11 women from all over the United States who loved to sew were members and I was not, then I must be missing something!  As soon as I returned home, I looked for the Lansing Chapter ASG.  I attended a meeting and joined right away.  Indeed I was missing something.  I was missing opportunities to learn more about sewing, to make new friends, and to share my love of sewing!
The second question was more difficult to answer.  It was “What would make your membership more meaningful?”  I enjoy my ASG membership and I wondered just what would make it more meaningful.  I suggested maybe ASG sponsor some regional classes.  The classes might even cause people to join in order to take the classes.   I also mentioned when our ASG chapter sponsors classes it is usually the same group of members that attend.  I believe others may be interested in the classes but either don’t have the discretionary funds available to spend for classes or simply don’t believe sewing classes are worth the monetary investment required.  After I hit the “send” button, I immediately had regrets.  I don’t think that answer was entirely fair to ASG.  After all, their website is loaded with all kinds of free information, videos, and resources for our members.  I know that some people learn easier in a classroom setting instead of searching for information on a computer.  In fact, some of our members don’t even own a computer or know how to use one.  However, I have a computer and know how to use it, but I have not taken advantage of all the information provided on the ASG website.  I decided today I am going to try to make a change for myself.  I am going to make a habit of going to the ASG website at least once a week and take advantage of the opportunities available there.   Maybe I can share some of the information on this blog or at least encourage ASG members to take full advantage of their membership by exploring this website.

Are you an ASG member?  If not, maybe this is the time for you to explore all the benefits of an ASG membership.  You can do that by visiting  If you live in the Lansing, MI area, you are invited to attend one of the Lansing Clippers meetings.  Our meetings are held the third Monday of the month from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the St. David’s Episcopal Church at 1519 Elmwood, Lansing, Michigan.   If you want more information about the Lansing chapter, please visit the website

I hope all of you are busy sewing something to add to your spring and summer wardrobes!