If you've read this post, you know I've been blogging for a long time, no, like a REALLY long time. Back before it was called blogging (we had "online journals"). I met my two oldest internet friends, Erin & Jill, online in early 1998 (is that possible?!). Back then we hand-coded our websites with lines & lines of html code & they were pretty ghastly looking. But friendships were formed & cemented & all throughout college, marriages, kids, cross country & international moves, book deals, break-ups, the highest of excited highs & lowest of low lows - I've kept in touch with those girls & would consider them 2 of my closest friends. Still. Even though we've never met in person.
(Photo via Kristie at OCD, on Flickr)
Shortly after I got married in 2000 my mother in law gave me a sewing machine. It wasn't until 6 years later (ahem) I got it out of the closet & wanted to make something for the baby I had on the way - I was pregnant with Mason. When I discovered the world of sewing bloggers - well two worlds just collided for me. I had still been journaling/bloggging all along (at my own domains, at LiveJournal, at VOX) and when I found out there were sewing bloggers & whole communities & swaps & bees & quilt alongs - I was just in heaven. I joined a lot of Virtual Quilting Bees. I started sewing like crazy. I started a Quilting Bee Blocks group on Flickr that's gotten pretty big. I got addicted to the high of a new swap package showing up in the mail. I stalked Flickr for new photos of my friends' gorgeous creations. I gushed over the newest & best fabric lines with people on Twitter who just "got it". And I had a little seed of an idea planted in my brain of wanting to meet all these amazing sewing friends in person.
(Photo via Ellison Lane, on Flickr)
I wasn't the only person with this idea, not by a long shot. There was lots of chatter at the time about the need for a modern sewing/craft conference. I was lucky to stumble upon another amazing sewist that lived fairly close to me that had also had the same idea & thought that there was a need for a conference like this. I emailed her, and within days & a flurry of emails later, the idea & main business plan behind Sewing Summit was born. In the past two years, lots of other creative conferences & events have popped up, all of which I think are amazing & support whole heartily. (Craftcation, SNAP! the Conference, QuiltCon, Haven & The Creative Connection Event, to name a few). This says to me that we, the creative online community, want to get out & meet each other. Even more then that, we need to.
Being a blogger can be an isolating thing sometimes. We sit & type & are behind our computer screens so many hours of the day. This works well for a lot of us though, because we maybe have small children or busy schedules or are extremely shy (yup - that's me!). That's why I think it's just so FUN to be a part of the sewing community online, we get to combine two of our passions - creating & blogging - and when you post a picture of a finished item you've sewn, you get an immediate, positive reaction from other people that just GET it. ("That's the new Pezzy fabric!!" "Look at those awesome Heath prints!" "You used the new Tova downloadable pattern, didn't you?!!").
(Photo via notes of sincerity on Flickr)
But that isolation & alone-ness is exactly the reason I think that in-person events & conferences are important, maybe even more than that, they're crucial. It's hard to remember sometimes that there are REAL people behind all these blogs & beautiful creations, real people with screaming kids & messy houses & bills & deadlines. I got to experience a certain type of magic at Sewing Summit last year, when people met for the first time in person, and hugged & cried & laughed & hugged some more. I think a LOT of our attendees last year needed this magic, and a lot of people need this reminder that we're all human, all working towards the same goal of being the best we can be. (Read my wrap-up post from last year, to understand more about what I am talking about. Or check out some of these wrap-up posts, on the Sewing Summit 2011 Pinterst board.)
(Photo via amylouwho on Flickr - sorry V ;] )
After Sewing Summit last year when Amy came to me & said she had too much on her plate, was so busy & had to make the decision to step down from Sewing Summit, I was understandably devastated. We had been such a good team & worked well together, but I completely supported her decision & understood she was making a very difficult choice, but needed to make sure her priorities were in order for her. I then had to decide what was going to happen with Sewing Summit. If it was going to continue, it would be mostly a one-woman operation, with me at the helm. That, my friends, was scary, with a capital S-C-A-R-Y. I thought about it for a few weeks & talked to my husband about it & a few close friends.
I kept coming to the same conclusion - people needed Sewing Summit. They needed an escape, a retreat, a weekend to learn & grow & laugh. This sounds so cheesy typed out - but I am proud, humbled, excited & nervous to be able to be the person that provides that. My own personal online community & support system (including Erin & Jill) have helped me so much over the years, I am happy to be able to create a place that can foster & provide that same community feeling for others. Planning an event where I get to witness you all getting to meet these lifelong friends in person is amazing.
(Photo via theworkroom on Flickr)
I am working hard at making Sewing Summit 2012 the absolute best experience it can be. I keep explaining to people that it's kind of a cross between a sewing retreat & a blogging conference - the best of both worlds. I am keeping it fairly small (250ish tickets?) because I think that's the best way to provide people a real opportunity to network & get to know each other. It's open to all types & levels of sewists & bloggers. Even if you've never sewn a stitch or typed one word of a blog post - I promise you'll still have a great time & learn some valuable knowledge.
(Photo via Stitches & Scissors on Flickr)
I really suggest that you check Sewing Summit out, and try to come if you think that it sounds fun & you can make it work with your schedule and budget. If you can't, I encourage you to check out some of our competitors, the other conferences I linked to above. Because really, I don't view them as competitors when we're all working towards the same goal - to further the creative community that we all love & to help people grow & learn & get out from behind their computers & sewing machines & glue guns and meet each other.
I hope to see you in October, or in two weeks at SNAP! Conference, I'm attending that as well.