Judi Caldwell of Sawyer Sewing Centres in Saanich shows the state-of-the art Janome 15,000, left, a computerized machine easily programmed to spend three hours embroidering hands-free. Meanwhile, the operator can work simultaneously on a second machine, possibly an antique such as the cast iron workhorse Janome on the right.

Technology at the heart of Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive expo

Digital advances mean sewing isn’t just grandma’s domain

Embroidering, or the ability to execute complex designs at home, might be the greatest change in modern sewing, according to Judi Caldwell, a 31-year veteran at Sawyer Sewing Centre in Saanich.

Caldwell will be demonstrating her own tricks of the trade on Pfaff sewing machines (her favourite but only one of her specialties) at the Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive show in the fieldhouse of George Pearkes Recreation Centre, March 13 and 14.

“The more sewing changes, the more some things stay the same, but it’s the technology of the (computerized) sewing machines that has really changed the industry,” Caldwell said.

Sawyer Centre has had booths at Creative Stitches – the region’s biggest expo for crafting – since it started 20 years ago. The show is back again this year after a one-year hiatus.

Pearkes will have 80 booths showcasing sewing machines, fabric, kits, darn, scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, craft booking and more.

Creative Stitches will host 70 classes with a particular focus on technology to reflect the evolving industry, said show organizer Nori Richens.

“The idea is it’s your ultimate creative destination, an all inclusive one-stop-shop for creativity under one roof,” Richens said. “People love to be inspired.”

Sewing machines such as the Janome 15000, a Japanese-made leader in the field, is well worth its $8,000 price tag, Caldwell said.

“I paid $300 for my first machine in 1968. I was making $1.35 a week at Woodwards, so you can see it was no small purchase,” she added. “It lasted 30 years and you can expect similar results from a machine for about $500 now, whether it is purely mechanical or uses a basic computer and display.”

New sewing enthusiasts can enter the market with a new machine for as low as $200, but don’t expect it to be a workhorse, Caldwell cautioned.

Modern digital machines boast eight-inch display screens and can be programmed to embroider for up to three hours hands-free. They also synch with smartphone and tablet apps to easily upload designs.

It’s not a big learning curve, and it allows the operator to work simultaneously on a second machine, which is common, Caldwell says.

“Technology is taking the perception of your grandmother’s craft, if you will, or something only your grandparents or parents did, and updating it,” Richens said. “You don’t spend days learning, it’s pre-programmed, and it can also allow people from the older generation to continue sewing later into life.”

New to the show this year is a Learn to Sew class for kids ages eight to 13, and among the free shows on the Fashion Stage is an All Kids Fashion show, displaying clothes made by kids. There are thousands of dollars worth of door prizes.

The show runs Friday, March 13 (the busier day), from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, March 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission ($2 for kids) and there are additional charges for some classes.

See creativestitchesshow.com or call 1-855-723-1156 for more information.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

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