What do you geek out about? Comic books? Mountain biking? Indie music? Pacman? Sewing?
Imagine spending 3 days with folks that are passionate about the same things as you. Three days to talk and learn about all that cool stuff, no eye-rolling involved.
That’s what I just got to experience at the 2012 Sewing Summit. The perfect marriage of two of my interests: sewing and blogging.
The overall message of the conference was inspiring: Believe In Your Creative Journey. As one of those lucky enough to attend the Sewing Summit, I am still in awe of how the Sewing Summit team made this event just about perfect. The event organizers limited attendance to about 250, keeping it a semi-intimate conference.
I arrived not knowing a single soul, but left having many new friends. It was so fun to see people you’ve talked to online and meet them in person.
I brought my husband with me, making it a sort of retreat for him. He’s a software guy, so he worked remote from the hotel. We traveled via Southwest Air. We took a round-about way to SLC from Boise (via Oakland…don’t ask) and so we deserved a beer before noon. We enjoyed every single ounce of the $10 airport beer, thankyouverymuch. I also did a little hand sewing on the plane to put a little Idaho touch on one of my projects.
The Shop Hop
The first day a bunch of us hopped on a huge bus and visited a few fabric shops in Salt Lake City. The three fabric shops all knew we were coming, and treated us like royalty. This group parade is called a Shop Hop, a first for me. The shop owners gave us swag bags and generous discounts to shop in their stores. With the beautiful fabrics, notions, and patterns they offered, most of us were only too happy to oblige to take advantage of the discount.
I met a ton of people on the shop hop, but my best bud on the bus was Amy Wascom. We met on Instagram, bonding over our mutual interests of sewing, beer, and guns. Yes, guns.
Craftsy generously sponsored the opening night mixer. They gave us the makings of a DIY pincushion as well as one free Craftsy class of our choice. Thanks Craftsy! I enjoyed visiting with Sunni Standing of A Fashionable Stitch, Lisa Anne Logan of Craftsy, and Tracey Wirth of Swell Sewing.
The meals were all buffet-style and were extraordinary. If you don’t believe me, check out the #sewingsummit food images on Instagram. The tables & decor were just so pretty. And swag at every single meal!
Joel Dewberry spoke during one of our lunches. What a creative and humble man. He introduced his Eclectic Modern line. Beautiful!
Wow, the classes. Since I have a background in business and I like to sew a little bit of everything, I really appreciated the curriculum mix of garment, quilting, and business. Here are the classes I chose and my key takeways or favorite quotes:
Handmade Wardrobe with Mena Trott of The Sew Weekly
- I’m giving myself a chance to be creative.
- I’m able to get into “the zone” when I sew.
- Hold yourself accountable online.
- Vintage patterns are a great starting point for wardrobe sewing – the 40’s daydress. Simple pattern pieces with low yardage requirement – during war rationing, there was a limit of 2 yards! Also, a bolero jacket is a great choice.
- For inspiration, visit Modcloth.
- Mena had a life-changing estate sale find! To find one in your area, go to Craigslist and search for “estate sale fabric”, “estate sale material”, or “estate sale sewing”.
- One who makes no mistakes never makes anything.
- I knew right away that listening to Mena was one of my top priorities. I knew she would be inspiring from reading her website, along with knowing her history (Six Apart co-founder, and speaker at TED, SXSW and Blogher).
Fabric Selection with Jeni Baker of In Color Order
- Bossy fabric – can be hard to get along with others.
- Pulling fabrics from a single fabric – use it as binding or backing, or not at all.
- Pulling fabrics from a photograph
- Jeni gave everyone a Michael Miller Cotton Couture color card!
English Paper Piecing with Katy Jones of i’m a ginger monkey
- No notes for this class – it was all hands-on! I really enjoyed learning this technique and can definitely see how it could be addicting.
- This was a very popular class, since Katy is a Brit internet sewing rockstar 🙂 She was fun to listen to, accent and all.
Geared for Guys with Emily Herrick of Crazy Old Ladies
- Forget the prints of cars, fishing, hunting.
- To find the guy prints, look between the bolts. Collections have them hiding in there.
- Minimalistic designs are best.
- For inspiration, look at his favorite t-shirt or his ties.
Special Occasion Sewing with Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns
- We are literally creating memories with our own two hands.
- I LOVE her Specialty Fabrics Guide that she gave to each of us – so helpful! It outlines what you need to know for cutting, needles, seams, and hems for specialty fabrics like chiffon, satin, organza, taffeta, etc.
- She even passed around examples of each of the fabrics, seam finish examples, and hem finishes. I really appreciate how Sarai is so organized and professional, not leaving any detail out.
- Some of her sources/tips: Denver Fabrics, Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer, ban roll for baby hems, all-purpose polyester thread, organza as a press cloth, slide paper under seam for crisp pressing, and underline a taffeta project with organza (cut them together).
- A couple techniques I want to try: layering chiffon over a cotton print and insetting lace by cutting pattern pieces apart.
- Sarai’s class was at the top of my list, knowing her tech background and having her book The Colette Sewing Handbook. I could totally tell she was in User Experience – her class was smooth, informative, and had just the right amount of detail.
- No notes for this class – it was a super-fast-paced hands-on class. The first foundation paper star block was especially difficult for me, just because it was way too fast. But the string blocks portion was easier and less stressful to learn.
Successful Blogging with Tauni Everett of SNAP! Conference
- Share bonding/real moments on your blog. People naturally identify with and comment on those kinds of posts, rather than just tutorials.
- When writing your blog post titles, think in terms of magazine headlines. Good for SEO to get found via web search queries.
- Facebook – upload photo, then insert link. The photo will be larger.
- Although I already knew most of what Tauni talked about, I really enjoyed her presentation. Her informal and funny style felt more like an intimate conversation than a topic at a conference. I could tell she knows social media and blogging inside and out, and she is a stellar speaker. She is also a stunning likeness to my little sister….could be even more of a reason I like Tauni so much 🙂
- This class had by far the most number of attendee questions – creative folks are thirsty for business info! I have a feeling that all would have loved for her class to be a couple hours longer.
Fabric Design with Thomas Knauer of Thomas Knauer Sews
- Everything does go with everything if you do it right.
- Inspiration from details – look closely in his fabric collections and you’ll see NBC peacocks, Trivial Pursuit game pieces, fireworks, St. Louis arch. Find your own inspiration out of details that may seem trivial but are meaningful to you. This was my favorite part of his lecture – I had no idea of the story behind his designs – it makes the fabric so much more meaningful to the consumer. I especially like the pink rhino fabric he designed with his daughter in mind.
- Big scale print – think of how it could be fussycut. Thomas pretty much slammed his first collection, showcasing the pitfalls of each design and how much he has learned along the way. His first big scale print is indistinguishable when it’s cut up.
- Design first in grayscale, then color later. Think how color advances the design.
- Do stuff that makes no sense. Do random shit. It could be fantastic.
- Design supporters first (he hates the term blenders), then featured.
- Unused prints could be starters for the next collection.
- The biggest repeat is not always the feature.
- Colors limited to 12-13 by mill.
The conference was held at The Little America Hotel in SL, UT. A swanky, nice hotel that plays Frank Sinatra in the lobby. A little old-fashioned for my taste, but it was very nice. Chandeliers and oil paintings galore.
All in all, I felt like a spoiled sewing princess at the Sewing Summit. I couldn’t get over feeling giddy each and every day, getting to talk to people that have my same passions and getting to learn so many cool things.
Thanks to the Sewing Summit founder Erin Singleton, for thinking up this whole event and making us all feel so special.
And thanks to my mom, Teresa Major, for watching my kids to make this trip happen for us. Love ya, mom!