I'm back from my second Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sewing Summit 2013 was amazing, and I'm going to tell you all about it (in detail) so you can decide if you'd like to go next year! The conference took place on Friday and Saturday, but there was an official shop hop and an opening reception on Thursday, so I flew in on Wednesday like I did last year. The conference is at the Little America Hotel, which is fantastic, affordable, and easily accessible from the airport for a $2.50 train ticket. I met up at the hotel with one of my roomies, Angela Bowman of AngelaB.me! She and I actually met through Talkin' Tuesdays, a Twitter chat group that meets on Tuesday evenings to talk about quilting. We walked from the hotel to the Pie Hole to to get pizza for dinner and spent a little time in the bar. We talked sewing and I showed her how I EPP my half rose star blocks before we called it a night.
Sewing Summit 2013 - Thursday
Angela and I started the day by welcoming our other roomie Lindsie Bergevin to the Little America. We stopped by the registration desk to pick up our badges, then the three of us set out on a shop hop of our own. We timed our trip so as not to end up at the three official shop hop stores at the same time as the official Sewing Summit bus. We started at Quilter's Haven. It was a great shop with fun, new fabric and even some older goodies available in the sale section. I was really impressed with their selection of notions and Aurifil thread. I loved that they had precut paper pieces and acrylic templates from Paperpieces.com in the store. This was perfect timing after I shared the magic of EPP with Angela on Wednesday night, and she picked up some hexagons to play with. I left with some fat quarters and the Bridget's Bagettes pattern from Atkinson Designs. I swear I've bought this pattern before, but I can't find it. That's why I love PDF patterns; I throw them in DropBox and can access them from anywhere with my computer, iPad, or iPhone. Paper patterns get buried in "to organize one day" piles.
Next, we went to The Material Girls Quilts. This shop is TRIM HEAVEN. If you have a project that needs trim, they can help you out. I bought some of that folding elastic that everyone is using for hair ties with a neon pink chevron design to wear as a headband. In addition to modern fabrics, they have lots of 30s reproduction prints as well as some civil war stuff. I enjoyed looking through all of their buttons and admiring the great sample quilts in the store. I left with some fat quarters and a magazine with a kaleidoscope quilt on the cover. Apparently there's an Accuquilt Go plate that will cut kaleidoscope pieces. I'll just go ahead and put that plate and the Accuquilt Go on my wish list ;-)
The last quilt shop on our hop was Pine Needles. This is my favorite shop of the three if you're looking for fabric. I love that they cut fat quarters of everything on the shelf and they have them stashed on mini shelves under the bolts. To be fair, Quilter's Haven had a similar set up. Pine Needles just seems to have so much of the colors that I need in my stash. Right now, that's yellow and orange. I like very sunny, lemon-colored yellows, and Pine Needles has lots of those. I find there aren't many shades of orange that I like, but I scored two different prints there. Yay! Pine Needles also has a fabulous selection of books and patterns. They have lots of notions in addition to cross stitch and embroidery projects. Plus, they are located in Gardener Village: a very cute shopping center with lots of fun shops to poke your head into. Gardener Village was getting ready for Halloween in a big way, so I embraced fall (a season which has not yet arrived in Austin) and enjoyed a pumpkin chai latte and some pumpkin desserts at Taste Culinary Boutique, right next door.
The final stop on our custom shop hop was IKEA!!! Angela mentioned she had never been, to which Lindsie and I responded "We have to go!" It was fantastic :-D Angela immediately understood our enthusiasm after exploring just a few of the furnished rooms., and she even bought five yards of fabric for a quilt back. I thought Ikea's new, little blue and yellow sewing machine was adorable. It's called a Sy, and it costs $70. Who knows what it's like to sew with, but it can't be any worse than the $30 Shark sewing machine that I bought at Target after college. I'm still using curtains that I made with it ;-) I left Ikea with some mini power strips. Hotels never have enough power outlets, so we even got some use out of them on this trip.
By the time we got back to the hotel, it was time for the opening reception. We redeemed our drink tickets and had fun chatting with other attendees and swapping cards. There were rolls of washi tape at all of the cocktail tables that we could use to decorate our name tags, and I had fun hopping around to scope out all the colors ;-)
The Bernina sewing rooms opened after the reception, and we all ogled the two rooms full of Bernina 350s, 710s, and 780s. If you thought the Babylock sergers at last year's Sewing Summit were expensive, the Bernina 780s were ready to set you straight. Those machines were upwards of $8,000 and didn't have the throat space of my Janome Horizon 8900 QCP. I love my Mom's 1996 Bernina 1630 Upgrade, and Berninas are great machines. It's just a lot of money, even if it is financed out over 60 months. I parked in front of a 780 to work on a half rose star block, and it turns out that they make great EPP workstations.
Sewing Summit 2013 - Friday
Classes began at 9am, and I started out the day in Kate McKean's "Publishing a Book" lecture. She's a literary agent who helps determine whether or not you've got a good idea for a book proposal and which publisher would be best for your book. She made it very clear that no one is getting rich off of a book, but explained how it fits into the big picture. She made a great case for working with a literary agent, and I'll be sure to reach out to her when that great book idea comes to me in the middle of the night. If you've got an idea for a craft book, be prepared with lots of projects to go along with it. 25 projects would be the bare minimum, but 40 would really turn some heads. Yeah, get right on that.
My next class was a lecture on "Sewing with Leather" by Lindsey Rhodes of LRstitched. I have dabbled in sewing with leather. I had this obsession with making a little crossbody phone purse two years ago. I still haven't mad a version of it that I'm happy with ;-) Anyway, Austin's Tandy Leather store is 3 miles from my house. I popped in looking for a leather strap. They didn't have a precut piece of what I needed, and the owner was all too happy to try to sell me whole hide so that I could get the necessary length of leather to cut a custom strap. He mentioned that the expensive kangaroo hide was especially strong. Noted. I wasn't looking to pay $90 or whatever it was for a whole kangaroo hide. Lindsey is solving this problem for us. Homegirl is starting the "where have you been all my life" online leather shop that will sell only weights of leather that are suited for home machine sewing in cuts that are suited for a project. She can also help you out with custom cuts if you need a strap but don't want to buy a whole hide. She's all about saving us that overwhelming trip to Tandy Leather. If there's one in your 'hood and you have a Tax ID, though, I did learn that you can buy from them at the wholesale price. Jackpot.
Sewing Summit provided lunch at the hotel. I'm sure it's super expensive for us to eat there, but it's not very awesome. Lunch was make your own sandwich, salad, clam chowder, and dessert. Being vegetarian is almost never a problem, and I did enjoy the salad and adorable desserts. My cheese, tomato, red onion, and mustard sandwich could've used some hummus, though. This also seemed like the easiest time every for them to serve a tomato, butternut, or broccoli and cheese kind of soup instead of clam chowder. Oooh, or maybe something with pumpkin in it :-D Sorry, hanging out in fall-like weather for five days has me thinking all pumpkin all the time now, apparently.
After lunch on Friday, the awesome lectures continued with "Personal Branding" by Olivia Omega. This is the gal who was like "7am yoga anyone?" on the Sewing Summit Facebook page and brought her Wonder Woman crown with her that she wears when she needs to feel like super woman. Note to self: start wearing crowns around the house. Ooh wait, where's my wedding veil? BRB.
Excellent! Now, where were we? (If you think I'm not actually wearing my wedding veil right now, you are mistaken.) Our first assignment in "Personal Branding" was to take a selfie. This was awesome. Watching everyone take a cell phone picture of themselves was too much fun, and we were just cracking up. What I liked best about all of Olivia's suggestions was how she talked about using a consistent photo treatment. She threw a photo from Meghan Bohr's site, Canoe Ridge Creations, up on the screen. It was instantly recognizable as one of Meghan's photos before she even identified it. Then Olivia told us why. Meghan's signature is all over the picture in her use of fabrics: black and white + a neon solid. Also, her wooden deck in the background is all part of her signature style. Olivia then showed some pictures from Meghan's blog that didn't have the same look. Because that consistent photo treatment was missing, you'd never know the cute quilt in that photo was Meghan's. Meghan was sitting in front of me and was maybe a little embarrassed by the whole thing, she just kept giggling, though, and handled it like a champ. This little exercise wouldn't have worked at all for photos on my blog, because I have no consistent photo treatment to speak of. Note to self: come up with a consistent photo treatment.
For my last session of the day, I headed off to a hands-on "English Smocking" class with Melissa Mortenson of Polka Dot Chair. Love her! I now have not one, but two smocking pleaters at my house. Both my Mom's and my Mother-in-Law's are now under my Clubhouse roof. I had seen this as a huge advantage until I learned on Friday that preparing a pleated piece of fabric for smocking is the hardest part. Suddenly all of those Ready-to-Smock pieces from Martha Pullen are looking like such a steal. The preparation of my practice piece is a disaster. Trying to tie knots evenly so as to create a vertical line is apparently not my forte. Spreading all the pleats out evenly while keeping them all vertical and straight was no easy feat either. Again, don't look at mine for an example of awesomeness. Once we got started with the needle and thread, though, it was just like any other needlework. You get a feel for what's too tight or too loose then rock and roll. We used three strands of six-strand DMC floss, but she also showed us another DMC product called floche which felt really cool; she said to use 2 strands if you're working with it. The needles we used were Cotton Long Darners. They're long, strong, needles with an eye that can accommodate all those strands of embroidery floss. Ultimately, I look forward to trying more smocking. My cousin just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl yesterday!!! So I can't wait to make more things for that little sweetheart and her full head of hair.
My roomie, Lindsie, and I got a great tip on a delicious Indian restaurant within walking distance, so Angela, Lindsie, and I headed to Copper Bowl for an amazing Indian feast. My In-Laws are from India (jackpot!) which has allowed me a great Indian food education over the years and many an opportunity for a delicious home-cooked Indian meal. I even know a few fun facts about which dishes originate from which area of the country. On the way to dinner, we think we saw a ghost, we definitely heard some, and then someone called us whores from a passing car. Seriously. Get to know us first before you make those kinds of assessments ;-) We died laughing over it during dinner and talked canning with Lindsie, who has expert level knowledge on the subject.
The Bernina sewing rooms were still open when we got back, and I'm so glad that we peaked in. I got to see all the cool projects everyone was working on and I got the chance to prepare my fabric pieces for my upcoming Leather Accent Tote class with Pellon Shape Flex and Fusible Fleece that was provided by Sewing Summit!
Sewing Summit 2013 - Saturday
Things got started at 9am again on Saturday morning with a "Brands and Bloggers" discussion lead by Amy Gutierrez and Alice Voss-Kantor from Bernina. They gave a lot of interesting info on ways that they can partner with bloggers. Sometimes they will provide a machine on a yearly contract basis for bloggers to use and write about. They mentioned that these contracts can be extended and there are options to buy machines at the end of your contract. However, they wanted to get the word out that they don't give away machines. They can't even get a free machine. Just in case you've heard rumors, they wanted to set the record straight. If you're interested in reaching out to a brand to partner with them, they suggested finding out who coordinates bloggers and social media for the country and reaching out to them directly. Putting together a physical media kit and dropping it in snail mail can sometimes be more interesting in this digital era, so consider that as well.
My next lecture was "Social Media" with Tauni Everett. I was really interested in hearing her speak after seeing SNAP! Conference info online over the past few years and after my Mom said her lecture last year was packed full of helpful tips. Her presentation revolved around improving your blog traffic over the course of 30 days. I was so impressed with her knowledge of SEO and how Facebook even ranks certain posts based on how they are formatted. Who knew? Bonus, she's putting all of that info on her blog, so go check it out. Her blog is replete with all kinds of tips for internet optimization, so brace yourself. Also, she recommends a paid Wordpress.org account over blogger or a free Wordpress account. So heads up on that. You can pay people to move your site over for you, and that's definitely what I would do if I ever decide to move.
Lunch was pretty limited again. I ate a giant iceberg lettuce salad and a roll. I had to pass on the meat soup. They put out a caprese salad, but it was kinda gross. I made sure to visit the dessert table, though ;-)
After lunch on Saturday, I attended a great lecture by Alicia DiRago of WhimseyBox on "Building Your Creative Business." I'm familiar with WhimseyBox, and her story of jumping in with two feet was definitely inspiring. Just because she jumped in with two feet, though doesn't mean that she had a straight shot to success. She was very realistic about all of the trials and tribulations that come with starting a creative business. It made me feel less bleak about the different paths that I've explored with Sewing Over Pins and more at ease with the fact that I haven't determined the next course of action.
My last class at Sewing Summit was a hands-on class with Lindsey Rhodes again, in which we stopped talking about leather and started sewing with it. In her "Leather Accent Tote" class, I whipped out my Ruby Star Rising Transistors in Pink to follow her pattern. We alternated between using leather needles and regular needles depending on which part of the bag we were sewing through. We also increased our stitch length to $ whenever we were doing topstitching, and that made some really beautiful stitches. We also had to adjust the tension on the sewing machines so that the bobbin threads weren't too loose. I had a spectacular time, and I almost finished my tote before I had to rush off to dinner where Heather Bailey was the keynote speaker.
Dinner on Saturday was definitely the best meal for me. There were a lot more meat options, but some steamed veggies and potatoes made an appearance, and that gave me more to chew on besides salad ;-) There were also rolls and tons of delicious desserts. Erin Singleton, who organizes Sewing Summit, came to the podium to speak, and she made a touching comment about how her favorite part of Sewing Summit is seeing all of us meet each other for the first time, running up to each other and saying things like "You're so tall!" or "I never knew you had an accent!" Adorable.
Erin introduced Heather Bailey, who was so approachable and modest when talking about her journey to where she is now. She definitely conveyed how you might wake up one morning with a whole new vision and how circuitous the path between two points can be. She's definitely circling back a bit with her line of hair accessories and doing something now that she couldn't do a few years ago. Everything doesn't necessarily happen on the timeline you want it to.
During dinner, they packed up one of the sewing rooms, so I grabbed a seat in front of a machine in the remaining room to finish my Leather Accent Tote. The SLMQG was having a mixer at a bar down the street, but my roomies and I wanted to hang out in the sewing room and get some stuff done. I finished my bag and was so pleased with the outcome. It was so great to count myself in the club of folks who have actually finished a project during Sewing Summit. People definitely brought some impressive WIPs to work on. Luckily there was great pop-up design wall from cherylannsdesignwall.com. They're $10 through September 30th, so get on it. We admired it before waving goodbye to the sewing room one last time and calling it a night.
Sewing Summit 2013 - Sunday
Lindsie had to leave early Sunday morning, and Angela headed off to the airport at 11:00. My flight was later in the evening, so I packed up, checked out, and left my bag at the front desk so I could poke around Salt Lake City for a few hours. It was a beautiful day, and the Trax train goes all over. Many stores are closed on Sunday in SLC, but Gateway Mall was open. I hopped into Barnes & Noble to get a book, had some lunch, and may have indulged in some delicious macadamia nut toffee dessert thing from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. There was a great Bettie Page shop with maddeningly adorable vintage dresses and accessories. I'll be saving up some clothing cash for a future splurge, because everything in the shop was adorable.
Top Ten Sewing Summit Tips:
10. Find a balance between hands-on and lecture classes: You'll absorb new sewing knowledge better if you don't take too many different hands-on classes. Plus, the lectures are fantastic. You'll get so much out of them.
9. Pack light: I only brought carry on luggage for my flight up. This was a first for me on any trip :-D I still didn't wear everything I brought, though. The classrooms are generally cold, so dress for that regardless of the weather forecast, and bring a light jacket.
8. Don't be surprised when you have to check your bag on the way back home: Shop hop purchases + swag + projects you made in class = less space in your luggage. Luckily, there was also the option of USPSing items back home. Since I would have needed a large shipping box, though, it was only $3 more for me to check my bag.
7. Book a Tower Room: Last year we stayed in a Garden Court Room that was a long walk away from the main lobby. My Nike+ app told me that it was a quarter mile walk to go from the lobby to the room and back. Yikes. It was annoying to have to walk that far every time I forgot something in the room, which was often. The Tower Rooms have great views and we were never waiting long for the elevator to take us up or down. The Tower Rooms might be $10 or so more expensive per night, but it's worth it over the course of your stay. You can usually change this around at check-in as well.
6. Bring your business cards: People will want to swap with you. Also, Olivia Omega made the great suggestion of getting your photo added to your card. I love this idea. Sometimes someone's outfit will leave more of an impression in my mind than their shining face. Once they change their clothes and put their hair in a ponytail, my foggy mind might not put two and two together. Including your picture on your card solves this problem.
5. Participate in Pre-Summit Chatter: Last year attendees were invited to a Google group to communicate before Sewing Summit. This year, we were invited to a facebook group. If similar arrangements are made in the future, pay attention to the updates and comment along. Getting to know everyone and participating in swaps is great fun.
4. Cinnamon rolls make a great breakfast: I'm not one to have a sit down breakfast before I start my day. That requires waking up earlier than necessary. Angela snagged a tray of cinnamon rolls at Ikea, and they made for a great grab-and-go breakfast. If you are an early riser, the restaurant downstairs has delicious breakfast options, but they're a little pricey.
3. Hit up the newsstand! If you forgot anything from chapstick to a curling iron to a six-pack of pumpkin beer, the little newsstand in the hotel was well stocked. I bought some fig newtons to nibble on, but the milano cookies looked mighty tasty, too.
2. Tote a handmade bag: Folks will recognize you by your bag, especially if you blogged about it :-) Plus, it's such a good conversation starter.
1. Don't try to do it all: Last year I stayed up too late for two nights before Sewing Summit trying to finish my Everything Bag. I was exhausted by the time I got to SLC, then the altitude change got to me. Get some sleep, and stay hydrated. This year I was better rested, booked flights at convenient times, and took a few less hands-on classes. That turned out to be a much better combination for me.
Modern Quilt Guild Webinar
I'm hitting the ground running now that I'm back from SLC. The Modern Quilt Guild is doing a webinar on Building Community within your guild and beyond, and I'm participating on the panel as I did at QuiltCon in February. We'll be touching on activities, swaps, challenges, retreats, donation projects, and more!. This all takes place online from 6:00pm to 7:00pm Pacific time (7-8pm Mountain, 8-9pm Central, 9-10pm Eastern). Sign up here for the webinar link!