I spent last weekend at the third annual Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City. Look at all these busy-bee sewers playing on those beautiful Bernina machines. I thought I’d give a quick recap of what I learned from attending the Sewing Summit this year.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to attend a sewing conference? I mean, at what other fancy conference can you sit and listen to lectures while hand-sewing? Be aware going in that sleep-deprivation is part of of the gain-cost ratio. (Think of it as a giant slumber party for grown women.) I’m normally not much of a soda drinker, but caffeinated stimulation was called for.
Quilters are Quirky. This hotel staff has probably never seen the likes of a bunch of sewers and their odd behaviors before. Here is my traditional grand arrival in the swanky lobby with my floral ironing-board. Also, you’d think the floor space of those giant hallways would be a great place to layout a quilt – and you’d be right! Until…the hotel staff has to ask you to pick-up the quilt blocks off the floor in front of the door to the ballroom where the Utah Truckers Association is about to start their fancy shindig. Whoops!!
Enthusiasm is contagious. This year the sewing machine sponsor was Bernina USA. Not only was it amazing to sew on fancy new Bernina sewing machines, but the support that came with them from both national corporate Bernina to the local Bernina dealer, Nuttals, was superb. This is Sylvain who helped assist everyone on their machines while I taught my class. He was so awesome, he even matched the quilt sample for my class! 😉
I learned to sew on a Bernina and have sewed on and loved my 30+ year-old Bernina Sport 801, but I have been feeling the desire to upgrade. Especially after trying these new machines. I frequently get asked for information about buying a new sewing machine, so I will keep you updated on that process and what I model decide to go with!
Bringing people over to the “dark-side” is fun. I LOVE showing people how fun and rewarding quilting is. (I don’t tell them right away that they will soon have a new addiction. I just let them enjoy finding that out on their own.) I taught a very simple class using giant half-square triangles, which allowed opportunity for a lot of personal creative expression. The pinwheel quilt I’m showing above was made by SewSara. It was great to see a bunch of people even finish their quilt tops before the conference ended! The one on the bottom right is by my new friend, Amanda. The quilts laid out on the aforementioned-convention-center floor are also from this class. These ladies made such fun group!
Act on your creative inspiration and do something bold. This year’s keynote speaker was Heather Bailey. She was fantastic. I heard Heather speak once a few years ago and have been a huge fan. She attended the whole conference and was very gracious and involved the whole time. The story she shared was amazing.
She talked about going to Quilt Market for years to help her mother-in-law with her booth and sadly watching the decline of the quilting industry. She loved to sew and wanted so much to connect with and encourage other younger sewers. And then in 2005, with only a month before quilt market, she had the inspiration to try designing a collection with contemporary colors and fresh designs. What she had created was so different from what traditional fabric companies were selling at the time. The response from the industry decision makers was an unexpected enthusiasm for what she’d brought. One of the unusual things she requested was that her name be on the selvage because she wanted to build a relationship with the people who used her fabric and she started a blog to do so.
I still remember when that collection, Fresh Cut, was first released. I was working in a quilt shop at the time and it was so new and different and modern. I remember it being a change in fabric styles and design, but hearing Heather tell that story, put those memories in context. That collection triggered a huge shift in momentum among the quilting movement for younger quilters and the way we interact with the fabric industry, designers and their collections.
Sewy and quilting friends are fun. I’ve said this before, but for years I felt like a sewing weirdo. None of my real-life friends my age sewed and I never talked about my granny-hobby. Enter the world of blogs and social media about 5 years ago and I felt like I’d found a bunch of new best friends. Women who liked talking about fabric and quilts as much as I did!
Then after interacting with many of these women online, I began to meet some of them in real life! The first Sewing Summit 3 years ago was the first time I’d met many of them. It has been so lovely to look forward to reconnecting with some of them each year – especially the ones that come from out of state. And at the same time, so fun to meet and get to know new friends each year! Thank you SO much to all those who came and introduced themselves! Each one made my day better. But there were so many people! At every meal I tried to sit with a different group so I’d have the opportunity to visit with lots of people, and yet I still didn’t get to meet and visit with everyone I would have liked.
Even if you can’t go to a Conference, find like-minded friends close by. This is a group of the local friends I’ve come to know through online social media who have become wonderful real-life friends. I feel immensely grateful for each one of them, as well as for others who are not pictured. (The Sewing Summit is held in Utah, so there is a high proportion of Utah folks able to attend.)
Abundance. This was my favorite thought and emotion of the weekend. There is truly enough creativity, opportunity, and friendship for everyone to have an abundant portion. I think we are often so prone to competing and comparing to the point that we see people tear others down thinking they’ll get more, and indirectly destroy their own opportunities and creativity. The greatest thing I took away from this was an appreciation for the people that came who contributed to that feeling of encouragement, celebration, and support. I stood on my chair and snapped this picture right after Heather Bailey’s speech because I wanted to capture a little bit of that feeling that was so palpable in the room. Thank you so much to all to came and contributed to that feeling. And to those who couldn’t come this time, keep connecting! There are so many opportunities now to find “your people” both online and in your real live community. It’s totally worth the effort.
And now, after 2 sewing conferences in 2 weeks, I am totally pooped and content to be a homebody for a long time. I missed my family (and my fabric.)