Warning: Longest post ever is ahead.

Last weekend was the 2nd annual (it is going to be annual, isn’t it?) Sewing Summit. I’ve had the privilege to attend both years now, though, getting in was a lot easier last year before everyone knew about it and the tickets were so coveted. Heh!

As far as I can tell, most everyone had a great time, but everyone returned home flat out exhausted. I know I did. I didn’t sleep well at the hotel for some reason. I woke up over and over again all three nights. I think I should have just stayed in the sewing rooms until late every night rather than toss and turn in a strange bed. But there I go off on a tangent again…

We should start at the very beginning (a very good place to start*). Well, perhaps not the very beginning, that would involve boring you to death with details of registration and agonizing over which of the classes (out of so many awesome offerings) to try to attend. Rather I will start with the flight out. It was rather an uneventful flight (which is definitely a good thing!), until we were somewhere over Utah (I think). The clouds had finally cleared from below the aircraft, and the amazing landscape below was revealed. I’m sure I looked insane taking photos out the window of the plane with my iPad, but the views were just breathtaking.

Over Utah

One thing that I didn’t get a photo of because the “turn off all portable electronics” sign (have you noticed these replacing the no smoking signs in planes lately?) had lit up, was this giant hole in the earth. It was ah.maze.ing. I’ve since figured out that it is the Bingham Canyon Mine and is one of the largest man made holes in the Earth.  I also spotted a big spire on the banks of the great salt lake (I think) but I don’t know what it was, so if anyone could tell me… And lastly, just before we were to land the lake itself came into view. I have to say, I don’t think I realized it was quite that big. Views like these make me realize just how tiny we are. It’s mind boggling.

Little America

After meeting Veronica to share a ride over to the Little America hotel, and an uneventful check in, I headed up to my room to drop my stuff off and went down to the hotel’s coffee shop for a sandwich I’d been waiting for since the last Sewing Summit. Alas, it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. Isn’t that how it always works out?

Long awaited sandwich

Then I met up with a friend from Austin and her mom for some shopping. She and I live in the same city, used to work together about 9 years ago, and haven’t seen each other in almost that long. It’s ridiculous that we had to fly to another state just to get together. But we had a great time hitting a yarn store with a cute Yorkie puppy, and two awesome quilt shops. I picked up some of the Sarah Jane Children at Play On Parade yardage. On sale. Score! And we saw this adorable monster quilt at Quilt, etc. The prairie points for teeth is just killing me!

Quilts, etc

Once I returned to the hotel it was time to get ready for the opening reception. And here’s where I have a confession… I’m an introvert. Really. I hate crowds. I hate mingling. I hate approaching people I don’t know. I am awful with names. And I hate making small talk.  But I went, and I got my glass of red wine and I sat in a corner and talked to random people that came and sat at my table. It was quite pleasant actually. Until it wasn’t anymore, and the noise got to me. Then I left to go back to my room to get ready for dinner.

Back in my room I was clearing my pockets to repack my bag and discovered that my driver’s licence was not in my pocket. Oh. Shit. I hightailed it back down to the reception and started looking for it. I was practically crawling on the floor underneath tables trying to find it. I finally found Erin (oh wonderful Erin who busted her butt the whole weekend making everything go so smoothly!) and was going to have her make an announcement, but guess what? Awesome as she is, she already had it on her! Phew. I thought I was going to have to have Chris FedEx my passport to me so I could get home!

I had organized (ha! it was rather more chaotic) a group of ladies to go to Red Rock Brewery for dinner. It was within walking distance from the hotel and was a great time to chat with some new friends (in small groups — yay!). When the ten of us arrived we asked for a table, but then were informed of another large group. Were we part of that group? We asked if they identified themselves… The hostess says “Well, they have hand sewn name badges… ” Um, yeah, that’s our group!

So we sat, had way too much food and giant beers and all exchanged Moo and business cards. Then we walked back to the hotel for various swaps and open sewing. I didn’t last long since I’d been up since 4 am Utah time. By 10 I was done and headed to bed.

Sewing Room

I think I’ve discovered that mornings are among my favorite times at Sewing Summit. Heading down to the lobby early to grab a giant cup of (actually better than decent) coffee and just hanging out with all the other sleep deprived sewists is just so pleasant. Last year I spent a lot of morning time with Faith and her sister, but this year when I headed down I didn’t immediately see anyone with a handmade bag or stitching or blogging or whatever it is that makes a sewing summit attendee so obviously part of the group. So I grabbed my coffee, had a seat and started checking instagram. And there, posted 15 seconds earlier was a picture of Jessica’s feet. So against my very nature I went over to say hi. And I’m so glad I did. We had some great chats, and also some great “just sitting there in silence” moments, too. After that, other people found us quite quickly and before I knew it a whole group of people had come to sit and have a light breakfast.

When 9 am rolled around, it was time for classes. I have to admit I was pretty excited about most of my classes, and most did not disappoint! There were a couple where I felt guilty for taking a spot since the material covered was really things I already have plenty of experience with. Interestingly, this year my selections had a lot more to do with sewing clothing than quilts.

Mena’s Handmade Wardrobe class was a riot! She told some great stories of fabric acquisition and kept us generally entertained with her quips and anecdotes all while inspiring us to make our own clothing. Her blog stats slide was pretty funny as well.

Mena's Stats

The rest of the day was filled with more classes. Zippers with Sara (who had the most awesome dress!), English Paper Piecing (which was funny because I insisted on doing everything the exact opposite from the way the instructor, Katy, was telling us — yeah I’m such a rebel), and Children’s Pattern Making with Carrie. That last class was one of my favorites! I had such an ah ha! in the middle of it. I’ve tried my hand a few times at making clothing patterns, and I’ve been pretty successful so far, but now I have a real understanding of how and why pieces are shaped the way they are. I can’t wait to get drafting again.

After classes, I participated in the zippered pouch swap, picked up my i-spy charms from that swap and received my swapped fat quarters. A nice haul for about 30 minutes of time. Then I went shopping down at Pine Needles Quilt Shop in Gardner Village with my Austin friends. What a great time! There was a bit of a festival going on. Lots of people were dressed up as witches, and kids were running around having a great time despite the fact that it was 47 degrees and raining. There were also sales going on in every store. Seriously, I left Pine needles with 4 fat quarters and 2 yards of other fabric for less than 19 bucks! After all that commotion the three of us had dinner at a quiet local Italian place that I forget the name of. It was a perfect end to a long day.

Saturday morning I was up early again and found my friends in the lobby rather quickly. After lots of chatting and even more coffee it was time for another day of classes. This year we had two full days of classes and I think that was a great decision.

First up for the day was a class I’d been looking forward to since I heard it would be offered. Shapes and Angles with Kati and Faith was all about some more “advanced” quilt piecing techniques. I say “advanced” because after the instruction and during the practice time it was like “Duh! why didn’t I think of that!”. Their class was one of the most organized classes as well. It was one of the few where we made it through all of the material during the (way too) short time limit. (Sorry for the goofy expression, Faith, but trust me, this was the best one!)

Faith Jones

Partial Seams

The rest of the day was consumed learning about Finishing Details with Anna, Blogging tips with Tauni (also completely hilarious), and finally Make and Take Knit Top with Sunni. Sunni’s class was great because it was very individualized. It was basically a start sewing and ask questions as you go class. And I finally got someone who knows what they’re doing to measure me, since I can’t seem to measure myself accurately. I was also sitting next to the amazing Katie (yeah, there were lots of Kat[y-i-ie]s!) who just was all around very nice and very knowledgeable about sewing and altering clothing. I finished up the knit shirt in open sew later that evening, but that’s for another post.

The closing dinner was up next, and the air was starting to have a bit of a sad-its-over-but-I’m-tired-and-want-to-get-home-to-my-kids/husband/cat air to it. After dinner I actually went to the sewing room (apparently the wrong one as the fun stuff was going on next door! Yeah, you guys know what you were up to!) and worked on a few things.  But all too soon it was time to go upstairs and pack for my way too early flight the next day.

Back in the room I crammed all my clothes and this:


into this:

Packed up

And the next morning, I was on my way home, but not without one last amazing sight. The sun coming up over the mountains:

Sunrise over SLX

I’m already looking forward to next year.

* a very good place to start according to Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music (yes, I am a nerd)

Remember I told you that I had another project keeping me from the quilt for the boy? I’m so excited to tell you that today Sew,Mama,Sew! has posted a tutorial I wrote for this Round Travel Bag.

It’s based on a bag I had when I was in college (and we won’t talk about how long ago that was!) and is really the most functional little toiletry bag I ever owned. I hope you enjoy it!

Round Travel Bag

I was going to write a big post about all that I’ve accomplished this year from a sewing perspective, but I’m afraid I’ll look back and realize that I didn’t do nearly what I had planned. Instead, I’ll look to Sew Mama Sew’s Reflections and Predictions challenge, and try to answer their questions for 2011 and 2012 here.

Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?

Owls. Definitely owls. And less so, hedgies. Hedgies are the new owls. I predicted it on facebook a while back. I stand by that. I think they will stand out more in 2012. I’ve already got my first charm pack featuring hedgies… from quilt market no less.

Another trend seemed to be a fascination with hand sewing projects like hexies and big stitch quilting. Hand sewing is something I love and have done a lot of over the years, and so while I was glad to see other sewers taking it up, I wasn’t sure where that left me. I can’t decide if that makes me an individual, a rebel or just someone who needs a clue.

What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?

This is the easiest question of all. Sewing Summit stands out foremost in my mind. What a wonderful event for all of us bloggers and sewists. Some famous and others (most) not so famous. As you’ll remember, I signed up at the eleventh hour and flew to Salt Lake City on a bit of a whim. What a fabulous weekend. I can’t wait for 2012′s Summit. Thanks so much to both Erin and Amy for putting on such a great show.

What did you make that you’re most proud of? (Share a photo in your post!)

I don’t feel like I finished that many things this year. I’m certainly no quilt-a-week quilter. I’m very glad (and I guess you could say proud) to have finished Alexis’ quilt. I do really really love how it came out. (I even sort of wish it were mine to keep… hehehe.) But, I think my favorite project is the Busy Book. I feel like it was solely my creation and my son is absolutely crazy about it. I hope to get a pattern written up soon.

I’m also very excited that I managed to make a few articles of clothing for myself this year. I’ve made countless dresses and pairs of PJs for the kids in my life, but have never really been successful in making any kind of garment for myself. I have only Simplicity 3835 to thank… and the sewing community that showed me the path to its greatness.

Aside from sewing projects themselves, I’m proud of myself for restarting the blog in May, keeping up with it, and also for writing a few new tutorials. I hope I can keep up the momentum in the new year.

What sewn projects have you seen this year that you absolutely love?

This question is almost impossible to answer because there are just so many answers. Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts is a big favorite of mine, and has made many quilts that I love this year. I particularly love her Prism quilt and her Wonky Wonky Little Star Mini-quilt.

Rachel of Stitched In Color is another of my favorite bloggers. Like Faith, I got to meet her in person at Sewing Summit and she is just as sweet and genuine in person as she comes across on her blog. I love her Retro Flowers, and I’m absolutely looking forward to her curves class in the new year.

But my favorite quilt that I’ve seen this year, is by Amanda of MrsMcPorkchop Quilts. Her mermaid Oregon Star is to die for. I can’t believe I got to see it in person at Sewing Summit. I think I might have stood in front of it drooling in fascination that fussy cuts could look so. damn. awesome. Seriously.

Besides all that, during Amanda’s class at Sewing Summit (Marvelous Minis, if you’ve forgotten) she actually inspired me to give paper foundation piecing a try. OMG. What the hell have I been waiting for? Talk about an awesome tool! My first paper pieced block was the block I contributed to the Beebolt charity quilt.

Are there any trends you’re over and done with?

I’m so un-trendy that I’m not sure I could ever be “over” a trend. But if I had to choose, I’d pick red and turquoise. Or owls (despite my recent stashing of some owl fabric — it was on sale!) or hedgehogs. I think I just don’t get it. I also don’t really get the Japanese fabric trend. Not that I don’t like the fabrics, but I just can’t see the need to import (at a great cost) fabrics from Japan when there are such great designers and manufacturers here in the states. But that’s just me.

What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, so we’d better get with the times. I hesitated and hesitated to start tweeting, but at Sewing Summit, I decided to jump on the band wagon and tweet away. I’m also trying desperately to keep up with my flickr account, and keep my photos up to date, but I still seem to forget about it regularly. (On the other hand, flickr is how I found do. Good Stitches. And I’m loving being a part of such a great cause.)

I also am enjoying Pinterest. It’s just completely porn for crafters. Admit it. You know it’s true. I love seeing what my friends (and idols) find fascinating or beautiful or just plain genius. I’ve gotten more selective with my pins recently. I’m not completely sure why. At any rate, pinterest is the social media forum where I have the most followers. (Which is still a paltry amount I admit. :) )

Did you have a favorite fabric collection or print in 2011?

Again, I’m so behind I don’t think I even realized there was a whole movement of fabric lines behind the scenes. I’ve almost always bought fabric from brick and mortar stores, and so I was limited to what they carried. Which I’m now finding out is extraordinarily limited. I had no idea that Anna Maria Horner even existed until this summer, and now some of her voiles are on my favorites list. (Not to mention that she is a super fun blogger who really allows you to get to know her in her posts.)

But, then again, because of my past experience in buying fabric from my LQS, I’ve never really been drawn to create whole quilts from a single line of fabric. For me, this is a new concept, and in 2012, I hope I’ll get a couple of these “mono-line” quilts finished.

I guess if I had to choose a favorite line, it wouldn’t be a spectacular print line, but rather Robert Kaufman’s Kona Solids. This year, my love of solids has just bloomed. I’ve worked with the Moda Bella solids, and while I think they are perfectly adequate, I just prefer the feel and the color selection available from the Kona. And I recently found that both JoAnn and Hobby Lobby carry some of the more popular colors… so that makes it even more appealing!

What do you predict for 2012 in the sewing industry?

We’ve talked (and talked and talked) about how absolutely oblivious I am to the entire movement of the sewing industry as a whole. I’m probably the last person to make any kind of predictions for the coming year. However, I suppose I can play it safe and say that I think the bright colors we saw this year will continue. I suspect that turquoise and lime green and hot pink will have an even bigger role in the fabric lines to come. I also think there will be even more organic yet primary shape patterns will come into play.

Will I keep up with it? I can’t tell you that. I go where my heart sends me. I love to make beautiful things, and I rarely let others define beautiful for me. So we will just have to wait and see if I can keep up with the trends or become decidedly more “unique”.

Can you tell us what to expect from you in 2012? Any big projects or life-changing goals?

My big goal this year is to get published in a sewing type publication or forum. (We can just all ignore my geekdom publications, can’t we?) So look for my name in print and let me know if you find it, kay? Because as I’ve already pointed out numerous times, I’m oblivious to these things.

Other than that, as I mentioned before I really want to keep up with the blogging and creating. I’m also trying very hard to remain true to myself and not get sucked down a path that is too similar to my bloggy idols because I want to attract more readers. Really, while a larger audience would be nice, I really just want to share what I learn and what I love with whomever is interested at the time.

Whew. I would say I can’t believe how long that got, but I know rather well my penchant for being rather verbose. At any rate, I hope that anyone reading this at least got a little insight into my 2011, and maybe a little foresight to what might happen in 2012. But as we all know, no one can predict the future. That’s what’s fun about it, right?

Here’s a little quilt that I don’t believe I’ve ever really explained. Oh sure, it showed up in my Celebrate Color intro post, but only in passing. It is also shown on my art page, but only with the tiniest blurb of detail. And so, in honor of amylouwho’s mini-quilt challenge, here is my collaged batik tree mini-quilt.

I made this little quilt way back in 2006. I only know that because I remember I was working on it when I went to Wichita to see a new doctor about my experience after a flu shot. I’m not really sure what inspired me to cut 2 inch squares out of a ga-gillion (yes that’s a number) different batik fabrics, and then arrange them to form a scene, but I remember sitting in front of the TV with a whole array of quilt squares in front of me while I prayed that the dog wouldn’t come up and step all over them.


I also don’t know why I decided to hand piece the whole thing, and with raw edges to boot. Each piece overlaps the adjacent pieces on two sides, so that every square has two raw edges. How edgy. <insert eye rolling and groans of agony here>

The blue border didn’t look quite right to me, and so I inserted (yet more raw edged) strips of black peeking out between the border and the main scene. It’s the only time I’ve ever done that. I wonder why, because I absolutely loved how it came out.


Not only was the whole thing hand-pieced, it was also hand-quilted. With less than a 1/4″ of space between stitches. Yeah. It took a while. But the result was completely worth it. I wish I had a better picture, but if you click on the one above, you can get a better (larger) view of the stitching. I was trying to capture the movement of the wind in the tree and grass, and the heat of the sun’s rays with my quilting.

So is it really a mini-quilt? I guess that would depend on your definition of “mini”. It’s smaller than all of the quilts I’ve made (barring the mug rugs) and is definitely too small to be any kind of covering, so I say it’s a mini. The whole quilt is only about 20″ x 25″. Alas, I can’t measure it as I gave it to my bestest friend for her 30th birthday.

What do you think? Does it fit the your definition of what a mini-quilt is?

So at the Sewing Summit, in the swag bags, we got a tiny little plastic zipper bag with 9 three inch squares of fabric from beebolt. The idea is to make a block, send it in, and at the next summit the resulting quilt will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Project Linus.

What fun! I knew I wanted the block to be perfect (because have you seen some of the work these ladies do?), and I’d heard that paper piecing would make it so… So I tried it. No, it didn’t work the first time. I’m not that lucky. I had to pick the first quarter of the block out about 3 times before I finally got it right. And they weren’t kidding, it really works fabulously! I never could have gotten all those points to line up in the center without cutting any of them off.

The only question I have is, if everyone participates, that’s like what? 200+ 8.5 inch blocks? That’s gonna be an awfully big quilt. So I wonder if they are going to just choose a few, or if they’ll make multiple quilts. Obviously not everyone will participate, I’m sure that was anticipated, but still…

On the other hand, if they make one giant quilt, think of what an awesome living room couch pillow fort that would make!

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