I just got back from my favorite business trip of the year: Sewing Summit 2013. This was my second Sewing Summit experience. It was a whirlwind of travel, shopping, sewing, dining, and learning – my kinda of trip. Take a peek at my Sewing Summit 2012 Recap, too.
Even though I live fairly close to Salt Lake City, I opted to take the short flight there. I just don’t enjoy driving, and the airfare was relatively inexpensive.
I packed all my conference class materials in my carry-on, in the horrible event that my checked luggage got lost (it didn’t). Can you tell I like blue and Amy Butler?
The quick flight was majestically gorgeous. Blankets of puffy clouds everywhere. I don’t think I’ll ever not marvel at the view from an airplane, no matter how often I fly.
Rather than getting a ticket to ride the shop hop bus this year, I opted to do some shopping with my friends and hotel roommates: Claire and Lindsie. We took the Shop Hop schedule and reversed it, timing our shopping so that we had each store to ourselves. No crowds or waiting in lines for us! And we still got the Sewing Summit attendee discount
At one point Lindsie mentioned that we were near Ikea. After I said that I’ve never been, there was a collective gasp. We’re going to Ikea! Man, those girls were excited. I have to admit it is a very cool store – it’s massive!
Each night there was “Open Sew”, meaning there were thousands of dollars worth of sewing machines set up in two rooms for us to use. Find an open machine and sew to your heart’s content ’til 1:00am. These Bernina machines are top-of-the-line, folks. Bernina had representatives in the room at all times to answer any question we had.
If you were there, you’ll remember the Bernina employee with the black hair. You know, the one that’s petite like me and that looks like the Evanescence singer. We chatted at length one night about technology, the 80′s, and sewing costume ideas. Loved her! In the midst of a 99.9% female sewing conference, she got to teach a man how to sew. One of the evenings, a dude who was not part of the conference was hanging out in one of the sewing rooms. He talked to me a little while, asking me what I was doing later. Scammer dude. Ew. He took off, but then came back later with a brand new pair of shorts he wanted to sew on. The Evanescense Bernina girl took him to a machine, did some stitching, and handled this “smooth operator” in a very professional way. In the meantime, Erin (the Sewing Summit founder) and I went to get hotel security. As we were waiting for security to arrive, we second-guessed ourselves since the guy wasn’t being belligerent. He actually seemed to want to learn how to sew, and we girls LOVE it when a man wants to sew! We intercepted the two security guys in the hallway and told them to hold off for now. It all ended up ok – he left with not an incident. That guy will never have any idea how two sweet girls saved his ass from being tackled down during open sew!
The sewing rooms were great, but I just can’t focus on sewing with tons of other people around. I’m a loner sewer, I guess. But I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with everyone in there, seeing what they were working on. I had fun taking a little video of a few creative hands at work.
Claire and Lindsie, sewing away during Open Sew. I loved spending time with these two.
Meals at the hotel were accompanied by trinkets and swag, a very nice touch.
At one of the luncheons, I sat by Pat Bravo, founder of Art Gallery Fabrics. Turns out that one of the girls at the table was wearing something she made from one of Pat’s sewing patterns. How cool is that?
The talented Heather Bailey was the keynote speaker. Wish I had a better pic to post of her – my iPhone/camera with a cracked screen was on its last leg by the end of the conference (the iPhone 5s was released a week too late for me!) Heather shared her story with us, telling how she got started as a designer and business woman. I had already chatted with her earlier in the conference. A group of about six of us attendees talked with her for quite awhile about creativity and business, as we waited for our one-on-one class with a literary agent. A genuine and generous lady, Heather was very interested to hear each and every one of our stories. And yes, I bought some of her fabric during our shopping trip
I loved every. single. one. of my classes. Here are the classes I chose and my key takeaways:
Publishing a Book with Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency
- I have two whole pages of notes. This was an information-rich class. Every single bit of info was extremely valuable. Kate knows her stuff.
- I learned:
- What makes a good craft book
- What makes a good author
- What makes a good book proposal
- The book publishing process
- The numbers behind being a book author
- What’s Hot and what’s Not in the craft book world
Foundation Paper Piecing with Christina Lane of The Sometimes Crafter
- I think I really learned how to do this with Christina’s help! This is a complicated technique for me, and when she explained it and demonstrated her technique, I almost heard a little “click” slip into place in my brain. I can’t wait to play more with this technique.
- Sometimes it’s the tools that make the project pleasant, and this is one of those cases. A tip of the hat goes to the Add a Quarter ruler and an unassuming magazine subscription card!
One on One with a Literary Agent with Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency
- Only a dozen of these class spots were available, and I was one of the lucky twelve. What a great opportunity to pitch your book ideas to a literary agent!
- I shared my ideas with her and wow, it feels so good to have laser focus now. This chance to tap into her expertise and get her opinions made the trip worthwhile all by itself. Kate is a no-nonsense professional, very willing to share her honest and constructive feedback while keeping things friendly and laid back. She rawks at her job, I bet.
HST Quilt Top with Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter
- Even though I know how to make half square triangles (HST), I took this class so that I could meet the teacher, so I could actually sew using the rockstar sewing machines, and to see how other people make HSTs.
- Amy – what an incredibly sweet person who is easy to relate to. She called herself a quilter and then corrected that to a piecer, meaning that she pieces together the quilt top, rather than doing the actual quilting. She outsources the quilting step to someone who specializes in long-arm quilting. Knowing that made me feel so much better, since I’m not good at nor enjoy the actual quilting process at all (unless it’s straight lines).
Brands and Bloggers with Bernina USA
- Two ladies in charge of marketing and social media for Bernina USA gave a presentation on how Bernina handles blogger outreach.
- They loan sewing machines in exchange for blog content, offering an extendable 1 year contract with a purchase option.
- If you are interested in working with them, send them a media kit! Make sure it includes your bio and sewing background, including who taught you to sew. Tell them what your blogging objectives are and how do you envision working together. They are open to content ideas!
- They want bloggers that are organized and reliable. They said this a couple times, so it must be important to them. You organized and reliable sewing bloggers, go for this!
Taking Measurements for Garment Sewing with Elizabeth and Liz of Simple Simon & Co
- What a fun class taught by two ladies: sisters-in-law both named Elizabeth who now have the same exact name. They taught us how to draft our own skirt pattern, giving us a 5-page step-by-step handout, a posterboard, a yardstick, and a measuring tape.
- I immediately paired up with Kim Kruse, whom I just met in an earlier class. We measured each other with the measuring tape and drew up our skirt pattern. It really wasn’t very hard at all – really, quite fun!
- Elizabeth and Liz recommended the book Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong. It’s a spendy book, but they said to think of it like a textbook, something you’ll refer to for years to come.
- Also recommended was the yellow construction ruler you can find at Lowe’s for $6. The Elizabeths said it’s great for marking lines in pattern drafting.
Building Your Creative Business with Alicia DiRago of WhimseyBox
- Alicia DiRago’s “Makers Gonna Make” pencil hooked me in before she even said a word. Then as she began to talk, she used words like MVP (minimum viable product), iterate, and pivot. Her whole presentation was a great mashup of three of my favorite business books: The Lean Startup, Business Model Generation, and The $100 Startup. Needless to say, I loved it. She definitely stood out among the crowd. Super-smart, witty, creative, and completely collaborative.
- She built WhimseyBox, a DIY craft subscription service, beginning with a push from the startup accelerator Techstars. She is a process engineer turned DIY craft entrepreneur. Love it.
- Her message: Don’t let fear decide your fate. Talk to your potential customers – all the time. You can’t do it all on Day One.
- We had a beer together Saturday night, as a few of we bloggers offered our feedback to some of her business ideas.
Creating Paper Patterns with Diane Bohn of From Blank Pages
- I have so many ideas for designs that would be made via foundation paper piecing, so I was excited to see this class offering.
- Diane gave us a 6-page handout that went through the design process step-by-step. First, start with a design or picture, break it up into sections using straight lines, reflect the image, assign each section a number, add the seam allowance, print and piece.
- The handout included exercises for us to complete, which was actually very fun. In many cases, there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to design a pieced shape, it’s just what makes sense for you. For example, there are soooo many ways to piece a circle – do what makes most sense for you.
My favorite part of the conference? Making new friends
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 husband B for holding up the home base while I was on this creative business trip. Love ya, babe!