About Us

About Us

 

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo was started in 1995. With long hours, a little sweat and much laughter, our first event (then Original Sewing and Craft Expo) opened on Friday, October 13th, 1995 in Reston, Virginia.


From the very beginning, Original Sewing & Quilt Expo has been committed to producing high quality events where participants feel welcomed and comfortable, and find inspiration and motivation to enhance the personal fulfillment and self-satisfaction pursuing their sewing interests yields. In response to quilters who wanted more, the name and composition of the show evolved to Original Sewing & Quilt Expo.

In the Expo's classrooms, classes and workshops are crafted to provide an atmosphere of exploration and creativity in all areas of sewing, quiltmaking, machine embroidery, embellishment and related arts. The Exhibit Hall is carefully constructed to offer special exhibits, stage shows and the widest range of supplies, equipment and tools possible, which are sold through retail vendors from the US, Canada and around the world.

 

The company's staff has evolved over the years, but still remains a small, closely knit and hard-working team. The makeup of its members mirrors a significant percentage of those who attend Original Sewing & Quilt Expo – in her sewing, quiltmaking, embellishment and/or machine embroidery interests, age, lifestyle and personality. We share your passions, your attitudes, your dreams and your frustrations, and build events that help with your ability to reach maximum satisfaction and creative harmony with your sewing.


Our Team

 

Kari Eckel  |  Senior Registration Specialist
Kari is a Registration Specialist for Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, and has been sewing for many years. She graduated with a B.S. Degree in Fashion Merchandising and worked for several years in retail department stores. Kari sews dolls, stuffed animals, and clothes, and also enjoys weaving, cross-stitch, embroidery, scrapbooking, painting and drawing. She is involved with the local historical society and has been a girl scout leader for three years. Her other hobbies include riding horses, helping her daughter show her dog and rabbit, gardening, and playing games and cooking with her two children.


Liz Fredrick  |  Sales Manager
Liz grew up surrounded by excellent seamstresses. Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother shared their love of all the needle arts with her, as well as a very talented 4-H teacher/leader. In first grade Liz began with a stamped cross-stitch sampler and developed into a seamstress specializing in bridal attire.

Liz came to us from Jo-Ann’s Fabric where she was an Education Coordinator and wrote sewing curriculum for national distribution. Prior to those opportunities she managed a Viking Sewing Gallery.

She is married to an architect with a high tolerance for fabric and who doesn’t mind sharing the dinner table with the sewing machine. Jim and Liz have one son who’s a musician working in Columbus, Ohio and another son, also a musician, who is married to a lovely Army Captain living in Anchorage, Alaska.

 

Debi Gurko  |  Registration Specialist

Mark J. Ingraham  |  Director
Mark Ingraham's career in the sewing and quilt industry began as a 6 year-old star attraction at his father's Singer store in Madison, WI. In this period Mark completed the world's longest buttonhole and later repaired sewing machines. Post high school Mark participated in various live events called Art Without Walls. After graduating from University of Pittsburgh, Mark worked with producers and directors to build audiences for Film Screenings, Off-Broadway and Broadway shows in New York City. On a break from his busy life in the city, Mark attended the newly established Expos in Reston, VA and Minneapolis, MN. Immediately, Mark recognized a place to share his talent, so he packed his suitcase and moved to Westlake, OH.

Mark soon added his unique and progressive vision to the Expo. For more than fifteen years Mark has assisted hundreds of businesses and thousands of enthusiasts reach new plateaus in their sewing lives. Mark has a refined aesthetic judgement and a contagious sense of enthusiasm. His organizational and management strengths continually move the Expos in new directions. Mark and his wife Tina are the proud parents of two enterprising daughters – Angelina and Amy. He enjoys all styles of music, working with his hands, playing golf, bowling and coaching youth soccer.

 

Wendi Owens  |  Education Coordinator


Carla Reale  |  Director of Online Classes

After a traumatic wrap skirt experience at the hands of a vindictive Home Economics teacher in junior high school, Carla hung up her sewing shears, choosing to pursue a graduate degree in Rehabilitation Counseling which led to working with children with disabilities and their families. She left that job to become a stay-at-home mom, but soon realized that she needed a hobby. Her fascination with embroidery machines, coupled with her inability to leave anything left unexplained, led to her teaching digitizing software by writing workbooks and teaching classes at the local machine retailer. Her innate selling skills and overt bossiness enabled her to manage that store for 13 years. Her next step moved her out of state to St. Louis, Missouri where she worked as a National Training Specialist for Baby Lock for four years. Carla moved back to Ohio in 2018, and landed happily on the doorstep at OSQE in 2020, living in Streetsboro with her family and friends close by.

 

 

Monica Vay  |  Director of Operations
Monica maintains the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo website, designs much of the Expo's collateral materials and coordinates many of the projects you see at the Expo. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, she received a B.S. degree in Visual Communication Technology and Marketing.

Chris Wagner  |  Director of Education
Chris grew up with a love of sewing. Initially learning from her mother, she created much of her own wardrobe and ultimately went on to receive a B.S in Fashion Design from the University of Cincinnati. In 1997, after a career in retail management, she responded to an ad about becoming an Educator with the Husqvarna Viking Sewing Machine Co., in Westlake, Ohio. She soon became an important part of their team, and spent several years traveling the country, sharing the love of sewing. As a member of the Education Department, she participated in dealer training and educational events for the public. She later moved into the growing software arena, testing, writing projects and training dealers in this new technology.

As she started her family, she kept her connection to the sewing world intact and soon began working with Original Sewing & Quilt Expo. Her part-time status quickly changed to full-time, which in turn led to her current position as Director of Education. Today she works with all the wonderful Expo teachers and her co-workers to create exciting new workshops and seminars, bringing a robust and up-to-date schedule of classes to all annual Original Sewing & Quilt Expo events. 

 

Chris lives in Cleveland with her husband of more than 25 years (Brad) and son Caleb, now a junior in high school, and three cats. Chris is also an avid and experienced knitter, whose other great pleasure these days is cheering at Caleb’s ball games.

 

Jim Beckstrom  |  On-site Event Coordinator

 

Angela Jones  |  Director of Retail

Kathy McMakin  |  Classic Sewing Magazine editor-in-chief

Kathy is one of America’s foremost authorities in the field of heirloom sewing by machine and by serger. She teaches beginning and advanced sewers from every corner of the world, and inspires a new level of confidence in her students. Kathy directs sewing and serging events for Martha Pullen Company held across the United States, and is the director of Martha Pullen’s Teacher Licensing Program, both the live retreats and online formats. She is the leader of a team of outstanding faculty for all the Martha Pullen Licensings – Retreats, Express and Online. Kathy can also be found teaching at Original Sewing & Quilt Expo as well as the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion Boutique.


Kathy has been a celebrated guest instructor at events for every major sewing machine manufacturer in the world. She has authored several sewing and serging books, and has produced and appeared in numerous sewing and serging videos. Kathy lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband. She has two grown children and three absolutely precious grandchildren


Susan Mathes  |  On-site Registration Manager
Susan was a volunteer for the first Expo in Reston, VA in 1994, and now works as the On-site Registration Manager. She began sewing in 6th grade, and has enjoyed taking classes and becoming a certified instructor from well-known educators. She has made many garments for her three children who have given her eight grandchildren to sew for. Her sewing interests run the gamut from garments, quilts, and heirloom to collecting fabrics and machines. Her greatest achievement has been a beautiful Martha Pullen christening gown with lots of lace and machine embroidery. In addition to traveling with her husband to places like England, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, France and Hawaii, Susan works and teaches part time at her local Husqvarna Viking dealer, Tomorrow’s Treasures, in Crofton, MD.

 

Liz Pierson   |  On-site Registration Specialist

 

Kaye Koler  |  On-site Registration Specialist

Kaye comes by her love of textiles, sewing and needlework honestly. Both grandmothers sewed from necessity and passed the love of the needle arts to her sister Joy, who taught Kaye to sew on the family’s old Singer machine. Starting with making clothes for her baby dolls and Barbies, that quickly progressed to sewing for herself because she didn’t want to look like everyone else. After starting her family, she operated her own alterations business from home for several years until she discovered quilting. The story only begins there…alongside quilts, she designed original, one-of-a-kind teddy bears & patterns, teaching for the Expo in the late 90s. Quilt design and teaching eventually became her passion and the rest is history…..winning ribbons for her miniature work in Houston, Paducah, National Quilt Association (NQA) Indiana Heritage and awarded best in show in Galway, Ireland.
Thank you to these fine companies who provide continued support.