If you don’t want to read this entire post, suffice it to say that Sewing Summit was downright awesome. Now, if you want more detail than that, read on.
I have surprisingly few photos from the weekend. I forgot my memory card in my big camera (#headdesk) and I had crappy reception in the hotel so I couldn’t post to Instagram. Plus, I was learning and taking notes and having way too much fun!
The best part, by far, was making new friends — expanding friendships of people I already knew from this area, meeting people I’ve blogged with over the years, and meeting new people who I had no idea existed on this planet in the first place. I could probably list fifty women, but here are the few that I spent the majority of my time with: Becky, Janice, Dee, Claire, Karen (who doesn’t blog), Laura, Charlene (who also doesn’t blog), Karen, Mary, Amy, Cat, Maria (who also doesn’t blog), MaLora, and Shannon, and I met some local(ish) quilters (California is a big state) who I can’t wait to get to know better, including Lorelei and Tracey. I know there are people I’m forgetting — forgive me!
I took eight classes — four workshops and four lectures. I want to finish up the projects for each workshop, and when I post them on my blog, I’ll talk about the class (all four were really great!). Here are the four lectures I took, and my thoughts on each.
Photography with Vanessa
This was probably my favorite class of the entire summit. I can’t tell you how much I learned about taking better photos of the things I make for my blog. Vanessa’s photography tips were indispensable. She would show the finished shot (her photography is gorgeous) and then zoom out to show the set-up for the shot. I loved her inexpensive tricks — a bit of wood flooring to mimic hardwood floors, paper that looks like the wooden slats of a picnic table, a piece of wainscoting as a background, and a lot of white poster board. I wish my camera had more manual settings, but I think I can work with what I have. She also gave me a lot of ideas for taking good photos despite our harsh California sun, and I felt so inspired after her class to take some seriously better photos of my projects.
Blog Design with Melissa
I walked away from Melissa’s class knowing my blog is on the right track as far as design goes. It’s not the greatest, but I was happy to see that I didn’t commit any of her blog design cardinal sins. I still want to do a redesign, so that I can break up the content a little. That way, readers can subscribe to different categories — if they love sewing, but don’t care about my book reviews, they can subscribe to just the sewing posts. Not sure if this is possible, but I’m looking into it now. I’m also going to start using larger photos in my layout, which means I’ll have to get out my big camera more often, and stop relying on Instagram so much! It will take a little more time, but I think having the bigger, higher-quality photos and more consistency on my blog make it more readable.
Finishing Details with Anna
Poor Anna was sick during our class, but she muscled through it and taught the whole thing. So much beautiful eye candy in this class! Overall, I think I came away from this class knowing I need to think more about the little details in my projects that I can add to make them special. I love the idea of hand-quilting, so I’ve used it on a project I’m currently working on. Anna also showed a talk from Ira Glass, which I’ve posted at the bottom of this post, about creativity and creation. I can’t tell you how deeply Glass’s words spoke to me. I almost wanted to cry (I’m pretty sure most everyone in the room felt the same way) because I feel like I am in that mediocre place right now. I’m doing OK work. I’m not to great work yet. But I need to keep pressing on.
Oh Thomas Knauer. I don’t really know how to describe this class. I was thinking we would get tips on using Illustrator and how to make repeating patterns and such, but instead Knauer spoke on his creative process and what he considers good design. Which I loved! He’s an academic and quoted all sorts of weird things, which was great, and he sort of validated my English/Art degrees (which sometimes seem a bit…useless). To make great design, you have to pull from myriad sources, so he encouraged us to read more, think more, and know more — and apply all of that to our work. I did learn some about submitting designs and the printing process, which was really interesting since I work in print for my day job.
The Other Stuff
The hotel and venue was great, though my room was down something like 37 identical hallways which had me wondering if perhaps I was in The Shining. My roommates, Claire and and her mom Karen, were beyond lovely — both from the south, both putting me to sleep each night with their lilting accents. They function sort of as a unit, much like me and my mom. I wish Texas wasn’t so far away!
There were two big sewing rooms — one room full of mid-range Babylock machines and one full of their inexpensive machine. The mid-range machines were great (they are very similar to my Brother I have at home), but I had consistent problems with the cheap one. Its tension issues gave me tension issues, and I wasn’t able to get anywhere close to finishing my Idea Pouch. And the Babylock rep made me feel like it was my fault (“Well, I don’t think it’s the machine…”), which I thought was pretty lame. I had very few gripes this weekend, and this was the biggest.
Rachael gave an awesome impromptu embroidery class late one evening, and I embroidered with pearl cotton for the first time. Yep — loved it! I also learned quite a bit from Dee, who is embroiderer extraordinaire!
We had two keynote speakers — fabric designer Joel Dewberry and the former editor of Country Living, whose name I can’t remember. Dewberry was very different than Knauer, but I liked to see where he and his wife are coming from in their designs, and how they get their inspiration. I didn’t love the editor’s talk, but I did find a lot in there that I want to hold onto as promises for myself.
The swag for the weekend was amazing. I think pretty much everyone in the world sponsored the event! I came to SLC with my purse and a carry-on suitcase, and I came home with one checked suitcase (I had to expand my carry-on) and two carry-on bags. I didn’t buy much fabric during the weekend (I just didn’t feel like hauling it all around!) but I did bring home tons of extras — scissors, fabric, books, notions, magazines, coupons, bags, etc. Even with all that stuff, I didn’t win anything over the weekend (there were giveaways galore), and I joked with Sukie that I might win the “least swag” award, and she pulled out the last solid charm pack in her possession for me. So sweet!
Mostly we ate in the hotel, but I did venture out into SLC a few times to eat, at the Blue Iguana and Plum Alley. Both were excellent and I recommend either (or both!) if you’re in town. I broke one of my molars the first day (I KNOW! Thank God it didn’t hurt) and so I had to eat a bunch of soft foods. I highly recommend the enchiladas at Blue Iguana and the pork steam buns at Plum Alley. I have since been to the dentist and everything is put back together again! Laura also brought me chicken chips from Australia, because clearly she loves me!
So yes! I had a magnificent time. Thanks to (the absolutely lovely) Erin and her team — they did such a great job! I feel incredibly inspired and can’t wait to get to work! But first, a nap.