Monday, April 2, 2012

Sewing Summit & Why It's Important

So most of you know that I'm one of the founders of Sewing Summit - a sewing & blogging conference that took place in Salt Lake City (my hometown), Utah, last October, and is happening again this October. What a lot of you don't know is why I'm involved in Sewing Summit, how it came to happen, or what it's all about. With our tickets going on sale tomorrow morning, I thought it was time for a little back story.

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.

Art Market
(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?!!").

dinner at The Blue Lemon
(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.)

V. stealing Leigh's hexies
(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.

Amanda H, Kait, Karyn, Amanda J, Katherine & Jeni
(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.

BFF's back together!
(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.


  1. Beautiful post. I for one, can't wait to come this year. You're amazing for putting it on for all of us. xoxo

  2. *Clap* *Clap* *clap*

    I seriously just almost cried.
    you are completly right! I am that person that lets to much of life keep from doing thing just like this. I am that lonley blogger behind the scenes wanting to know all these wonderful people I call my friends online.

    I am glad that it's going forward! I actually decided just days ago that I will be attending this year in hopes to do exactly what you created this conference for.
    Thanks Erin for your hard wok and detication!

  3. I'm so unbelievably proud of you! You are and continue to be a rockstar at everything you do and I feel incredibly honored to be your internet wonder twin.

  4. Beautiful post. Just what I needed to read.

    I'm so shy and going this year is a must. I'm late to sewing and finding a community that is so friendly, helpful, talented, and much more was something I didn't know I needed. A happy find.

    It'll be hard climbing out of my introvert shell yet it will happen...I hope. ;)

    Thanks for starting Sewing Summit.

  5. Yay! Great post. I can't wait for the next Summit. I hope I can manage to snag a ticket tomorrow morning... you know your servers are going to be totally pegged, right? :)

  6. As someone who went last year knowing no one (I knew OF a lot of people) and someone who still doesn't know anyone (SO painfully shy), I loved Sewing Summit last year! Everyone was so nice and I never felt left out, even though I was silent most of the weekend. I loved being around that energy and people who just KNEW.

    This year, I assumed I couldn't go, so I didn't bother to ask my husband about it (though I did say, "Man, I wish I could go" a few times). Finally, I asked him and he said I should go because he gets my need to be around people who just GET IT. So we worked it out and I get to go. I have set about a billion timers so that I remember to register tomorrow morning.

    Erin, you and Amy did such an amazing job last year. I can't wait to see what this year holds, too. And if you need anything, you know I'm close and super willing to help. :-)

  7. I am so so proud of everything you're doing here! You are a rockstar, my dear :) And I wish I could be there.... even though I'd be as likely to sew my sleeve to something as not these days...

  8. Wonderful post, thanks for the back story. I think I found out about Sewing Summit last year after the fact - either that or maybe it felt very out of reach for me. But after seeing the link ups and reading the recaps of those who attended I found the idea of being part of it simply irresistible. I even started my own blog. You are so great to be so giving of your time and talent to make it happen and I'm sure everyone attending shares my gratitude. See you in October!

  9. I love this post! All of the reasons you listed why you thought people NEED Sewing Summit are the exact reasons why I am coming! I want to meet these amazing people behind the screens and share my love and joy of sewing and all things fabric with them in person - meet my online/blogging buddies, and in general just share in this awesome community

    Thank you SO much for all your time and effort and vision put into creating this conference and thank you even more for having it a second year because now I get to come :) See you in October!!

  10. I can't wait, I have time blocked out in my calendar at work and the money to get both mine and one of my other international friends' tickets just burning a hole in my Paypal account lol

  11. This post sealed the deal for me! I've been thinking about registering for Sewing Summit...[wanting to /needing to], and reading all the posts I can find about last year's event. It really sounds phenomenal and inspirational. Now I know I'll be sitting at my computer tomorrow morning ready to register. I will know no one, but I'm so excited.

    I can only imagine all the work it takes to produce this kind of a thing. Thank you.

  12. I am SOOOO excited! As you know I'm planning Baby's 2nd birthday around Sewing Summit (and I'm going to even miss the actual birthday..bad mom?!?) Love Sewing Summit, love that it was created with HEART! And how the heck did I not know about your bee?? :( Well, I just fixed that..

  13. Can not wait for this weekend to hurry up and get here!!!

  14. Oh boy. I am telling you ... Sewing Summit was amazing. I had never experienced anything like that and cherish those memories!! Thank you so much for making it possible for so many. It was nice meeting you. :0)
    Sincerely. Trish xoxo
    "notes of sincerity"

  15. YAY Sewing Summit! I hope I can come again this year, it was so much fun last year. You're amazing for doing this solo! And I'm glad to hear you're keeping it small, I thought the size was really great last year.

  16. This was a great post Erin, you old pro you,! I can't wait to register tomorrow, my alarm is set to remind me to register. I have a feeling it will sell out in 10 minutes. We should place a wager on that. Thanks for all you do and continue to do to make this a fantastic event! I, personally, can't wait and I am one of those painfully shy people! hugs, di

  17. Great post, what wonderful friends and memories you must have!! One day I'd like to go!

  18. Wonderful post Erin- loved the SS and sincerely hope to be able to make it back this year. Such a great list of teachers and classes you have lined up.

  19. I've been blogging for what feels like forever (but not '98) and I am shocked that it took me so long to find the online quilting world! I can't wait til Sewing Summit. I'm so excited, even though I don't know many (or any!) People.

  20. I teared up reading this! We do need each oherin person just as much as online. Loved sewing summit last year. The deployment is going to make this year hard to do. Let's all get together next time I come to town to visit!!

  21. Thanks for your post and your efforts to put this all together!

  22. Great post Erin! I cannot wait to come this year. The 20 hour flight will be worth it (or at least... thats what I keep telling myself!)

  23. Such a great post! I am so excited for this year, so proud of everything you have accomplished and really honored to know you and be involved this year. :)

    And that picture of Vanessa makes me laugh every.single.time I see it.

  24. I am so excited for this event! I've loved sewing for a long time, but am brand new to blogging. Look forward to meeting you!

  25. Great post Erin! You are awesome. Thanks so much for stepping in to fill this need and for all of your hard work doing it. I was on my computer at 9:00 this morning. ;) Got my ticket!

  26. I am excited to go back to the SS! There will be old friends and new. Thank you for continuing!!

  27. Excellent. When you used the word "magic" you hit the nail on the head. It was truly magical and I can't wait for October when even more people will get to experience the magic :-)

  28. I stubbled upon blogs over a year ago (never had heard of them) and because of this wonderful community, I started quilting again. I've sewn for years but took a little break. I was always made fun of for my sewing abilities so it's so nice to find a place where you get encouragment instead. I just started my own blog and hope to meet some new friends and hopefully join everyone next time.

  29. looking for your festival of triangle post... today IS your day, isn't it??!!?

  30. I whole-heartedly agree that our community is better because of Sewing Summit. I'm so glad I got to participate last year, and I will miss all my friends this year. You've done a great thing, Erin.

  31. I'm DYING to go to Sewing Summit this year! I'm applying for a scholarship because I just can't afford it otherwise!!! I LOVE hearing about how it all started, and if I go, I'd love to meet you and say hey! :)



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