Warning: this post contains excessive amounts of excessiveness. Readers hoping for the usual snarkiness or sarcasm should go elsewhere.

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our fearless leaders, Denyse, Heather, and Liesl

I am still a little exhausted from this past weekend but I had So. Much. Fun!!!

Blueberry Hill Inn was amazing, the surroundings were gorgeous and the other sewists who came to this weekend were wonderful.  We had the best group ever. Of course as I did not attend the other weekends I have nothing to compare it to but I’m sure it must be so.

For those just joining, I was attended the Blueberry Hill Sewing Weekend workshop hosted by fabric designer Heather Ross and co-led by Liesl Gibson of Oliver+S and quilting legend/fabric designer Denyse Schmidt.  I may or may not have excitedly announced that I was going in somewhat embarrassing post here.

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the pond where we went swimming and the sauna, right behind the Inn

I had never been to Vermont but you have to be living under a rock not to know that it’s beautiful. Yet this is such an understatement.  The cute little towns, the hills, the green green green.  It’s all breathtaking. I can’t wait to go back.

this actually looks very similar to Michigan, but with more hills

Most of us wasted no time picking the brains of the leaders.  It was so fascinating to hear about their experiences in the sewing industry. Of course Heather always had a random story in progress and her hilarious personality would make everyone within earshot stop talking to listen. If you read her blog you already have a good idea as she writes with the same voice; just imagine the words sort of lifting off the screen and coming from a real person.  And yes, she is just as friendly and funny in real life.

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Denyse showing us how to make a quilted purse

Denyse, Heather and Liesl were the most amazing, patient teachers.  It was crazy fun to watch them all converge on a garment that was being constructed and analyze it together, cocking their heads to one size and pulling on it, bouncing ideas off of one another, giving us a small glimpse of the vast technical knowledge represented by the three of them.  For the rest of us, who for the most part have no formal training in sewing or garment construction, it was great.  The skill levels present ranged from Never-sewn-before (Pauline!) to Brought-her-own-muslins (Molli!).

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Laura, Victoria, Liesl and Cheryl, hard at work

IMG_7134April and Kari, sewing away (check out that pile of Flea Market Fancy!)

The sewing was fantastic.  I know some of you are curious to see what I worked on, and to be honest I didn’t quite end up with a finished product, due in part to the fact that I ended up making multiple muslins for a me-sized version of Liesl’s Ice Cream Dress* (which is almost finished by the way, although I still have plans to embroider it as it is still rather plain).  In fact just watching Liesl make the pattern and adapting the muslins with input from all three leaders was a learning experience in and of itself.  Also, I am highly distractible and watching the teaching, seeing everyone else’s projects, and having that much fabric in one room was enough to keep me occupied.  I myself took an embarrassing amount of fabric with me, even after spending a rather humiliating five minutes before departure giving most of my Far Far Away II the old heave-ho so my suitcase would not be overweight. *looks sheepish*

*UPDATED Just wanted to clarify: the Ice Cream pattern was adapted to adult sizes just for fun this weekend, there are no plans to publish it in adult sizes at this time, and no I will not distribute my pattern as that would be a huge no-no not to mention pain in the butt.

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one of my muslins  
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with Heather; you can see my almost-completed Ice Cream Social tunic and Blueberry Hill Inn in the background 

It was lucky there were plans to have Denyse lead a mini-quilting activity on the last morning allowing those of us who had puttered around too much (read: me) to produce something cute to prove we had actually done something.  Denyse showed us how to make little quilted zipper pouches and they were so easy and fun. I loved the instant gratification of this project. 

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see how my toes match my quilted pouch? that was not planned.

We also had the opportunity to meet two lovely young brick-and-mortar fabric shop owners: Rhea of Alewives and Phiona of Nido in Burlington, VT who and came by to visit for a bit.  Ashley of Film in the Fridge also came by on Sunday to hang out with us for the morning and it was nice to finally meet her (she is just so sweet by the way).  Some of you may remember that she was one of the Spring Top Week 2010 judges.

It was so much fun to talk to the other workshop participants. Many of the conversations were definitely borderline sewing-geeky, if not completely so.  I kept having these moments of “I can’t believe you know what I’m talking about! Usually when I try to talk about fabric, people go into conversation-coma and their eyes glaze over!” Some people were new to sewing altogether and hearing their stories was fascinating too.

IMG_7201 our group; that is me in the back (forth from the left) wearing my Mendocino mermaid smock.

One of the things that is so important about this type of event is that sewing people get to meet other sewing people.  I know I’ve already talked about that a little bit already so I don’t want to beat on a dead horse but when you operate largely in online sewing communities, you miss out on the chance to make real life connections.  I certainly do not want to come off as undervaluing all of the amazing online fabric shops, blogs and online forums because for day-to-day interaction those are incredibly meaningful, especially since many of us cannot make trips or drive the distance to a decent sewing store. But there is a permanence to meeting people face to face that cannot be replaced in the virtual sewing universe.  And I fear that if we stop getting together in person to sew or shopping at small local fabric shops, we will lose something very important.  Of course it’s just plain fun too.  

So anyway, I’ve babbled long enough about this and it’s time to get sewing.  When I finish my top, I’ll post it.  In the meantime, you can browse my Weekend Sewing photos over on Flickr if you want to get a better taste of what it was like or see more pictures of the beautiful Blueberry Hill Inn.

Thanks to Heather, Denyse, Liesl, the staff at Blueberry Hill, and the rest of my new sewing friends for making it such a wonderful weekend!

Categories: travel
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41 Responses to Am back from Weekend Sewing in Vermont. Am missing new sewing pals.

  1. Maggie says:

    Looks like an AMAZING weekend. I would probably be so star struck I wouldn't be able to focus. Can't wait to see your ice cream social tunic!

  2. Bethany says:

    I LOVE this post :)
    Entirely my kind of weekend. We'd get along quite well as I get nothing done when there is so much activity around me. It used to take me forever at my sewing classes to finish something that took an hour or two at home….because I was chattering away.

  3. Seamore Tomato says:

    I'm hoping to go next year! (I was hoping for this year, but my three month old wouldn't go for it!)

    Any chance that you're allowed to share your ice cream social tunic pattern? I'd love to make it.

    lindasews2010@yahoo.com

  4. Jenny says:

    SOOOOOOOO JEALOUS! That looks like a fab time, Rae! I'm so glad that you got to go! I can't wait to see your finished tunic on you. I can't imagine how cool it must have been to sew with such talented women! I'm going to look at the rest of the pics now…

  5. beki says:

    I'm so insanely jealous! It sounds like an experience of a lifetime!!!

  6. Maggie says:

    Oh so jealous of you right now!! And I cannot wait to see your ice cream social dress, what a great idea to make it adult sized!

  7. Christie says:

    That looks like a wonderful and exciting weekend. I'm so glad that you got to go! I feel really lucky that Sabra is my friend because she does get what I am talking about. And she's amazingly talented. This weekend we got to meet Cheri from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar, and it was just so fun to talk with this person whose blog I like so much! Neat stuff. Making connections around the world:). Meeting them makes it so much better! There are quite a few people (you included!) on my list of crafters I'd like to hang out with!

  8. dana says:

    Awesome recap! It's so fun to see candid shots of Liesl and Heather. I mean, crazy! And wow, I need to go to Vermont. Every time I watch White Christmas, I tell myself that I'll go there some day. I'm so happy you had a good geek fest. And YES. Human connections are so important. You're next on my list for "human meet and greet."

  9. Beth says:

    Rae – It sounds awesome! I'm so glad you had a great time – how could you NOT?? I would be so distracted my eyes would be bugging out of my head and I would be trying so hard not to miss anything!!! Thanks for telling us about it.

  10. meg says:

    it's like camp, but super awesome (and with wine and a sauna)! I am completely jealous.

  11. ayumills says:

    Oh my goodness! It looks like you had a fabulous time there with those really talented seamstresses!! Thank you for taking the time to share beautiful pictures and the great story with us!

  12. Julie Link says:

    I want to sew…in a barn…in Vermont…with other lovely ladies. Sigh.

  13. Ellen says:

    Looks like so much fun. You guys had such beautiful weather- you never know when the snow starts to fall in Ripton! Every time I've taken a class around here (VT) I never see people my age… or generation for that matter. The photos were fun to see. Next year for sure!

  14. venus says:

    SOOOO COOOL! I'm sooooo jealous!!! I've never been to Vermont, but my hubby has and he loved it. Ah, the beauty around you and the creativity buzzin' about… sounds like heaven!

  15. luvinthemommyhood says:

    I'm so glad you did this post, I've been dying to know how it went! Looked wonderful – so fun! I agree with you about the personal connections…hopefully we'll get to meet someday too! Wouldn't that be a riot? You, me and Dana in a room? Muahaha! One day :)

  16. Three Lads and a Lis says:

    Wow – what an incredible experience. I have to agree with you about making sure we preserve human interaction in this virtual world, although a huge and amazing blessing to many – still, moderation in all things.

    And as for it being in Vermont, you are a lucky girl. My family called that place home for 4 lovely years, I still miss it each and every day with all my heart.

  17. Caroline says:

    Looks as though you had a ball over the weekend. Vermont looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing :)

  18. Alissa says:

    You have articulated exactly why we started the Modern Quilt Guild. There's just nothing that replaces face to face friendships with like minded people!

    What an amazing weekend you had!

  19. Sascha says:

    Wow! What a fun time. I am so going to make an adult size "School Photo Dress" in a tunic length when it is released. Or I should say i am so going to try to make one. Maybe for Spring Top Week 2011!

  20. Andrea @ Knitty Bitties says:

    :D :D :D
    Big Smile after looking through all your lovely photos. Are you saving those pennies for next year? Maybe I can join in?!?!

  21. The Vegetarian Hunter says:

    I love how your toe nail polish matches your quilted pouch.

    It looks like a fabulous sewing weekend! I am looking forward to seeing your embroidery on your tunic!
    I wish I lived close enough to make that adventure!

  22. Anna says:

    wow, looks super amazing. your top looks awesome too. That's so fun you got to work on it with her. And the connections are really cool, and yes, meeting people in real life and shopping for fabric in real life are not to be passed up! :)

  23. Sherry says:

    Eeek – Ashley too!?!
    I was a good thing I didn't go – you and I would have just sat in the back and giggled unbecomingly.

  24. Tilly says:

    Wow. That looks like such a perfect weekend. I'm so jealous!!

  25. Annette says:

    Looked like fun!!!!

  26. AlewivesGirl says:

    Hooray for this post!

    (I was waiting for it!)

    Is it just me, or do Denyse, Heather and Liesl coordinate beautifully in those photos?

    They must have planned that.

    I'll bet they planned that.

    They probably sat in their little cabin and planned that.

    Just looked at all you photos on flickr and loved them.

    It was such a treat to have dinner with you… let's do it again sometime and talk about fabric 'til we've gotten it out of our systems and are sufficiently geeked-out!

    XO,

    Rhea

  27. Tonya says:

    *sigh* I just enjoyed your weekend vicariously through your flikr pictures…. i can't imagine how awesome it was to really be there. One day i am going to have to make it a priority to go to one of these weekends. Thanks so much for sharing : D

  28. Desiree says:

    How fun! Love that someone was brave enough to go even though they were new to sewing. That inspires me to try more. :)

  29. mle says:

    I agree! It was "sew" fun!!! LOL! Thanks so much for sharing a ride with me! I enjoyed getting to know you and all the other ladies! I'm still working on getting my pics uploaded and blog updated.

  30. janssen designs says:

    You summed up the weekend quite well. It was truly an amazing adventure and such a pleasure meeting you Rae!!

  31. Kari says:

    Wow. I am so happy for you! The last couple years I have read about the weekend and always think, "One of these years…" Hopefully, I'll join in on one some time. And I second the meeting sewers in person! If there's ever a get together on a larger scale, I would love to meet everyone I've "met" online and just geek out sewing style. Ah…our strange daydreams.

  32. Sabra says:

    so.awesome.so.jelous.

    as for your last paragraph, i've read essays and the like discussing the loss of personal contact via internet. In my son's Diary of a Whimpy Kid Do It Yourself book it lists things to do before "you're old". One is to send a letter by mail. I totally did a double take on that one. But it really is true, this lack of real-life relationships. And I think it lends to a lack of empathy. And so on. Anyway, yes, I agree.

  33. Nena Nadine says:

    Hurray!

  34. Deborah says:

    Desperately envious and so, so happy that you were able to sneak away and have this amazing experience!! Wish I were able to be there–maybe next year we meet up and be roomies. No babies allowed!

  35. Jackie says:

    You lucky you, Rae spending an entire weekend with Heather. You adore her (i know, you blog about that A LOT!!) Its like Christmas come early for your.
    Have fun sewing and i cant wait to see what your come up with next.

  36. Ashley says:

    it was so fabulous to meet you in person Rae! You're just as I imagined you'd be – bubbly, energetic and fun! Wish we could have had longer to talk – maybe next time you visit VT!! :)

  37. PumpkinGirl says:

    Looks like a blast? What's a good source for finding out about this sort of event?

  38. Little Island In The Med says:

    So, so jealous. I'd pay for a trans-Atlantic flight to come, easy! Yeah and nobody I know in the flesh would get it AT ALL.

  39. K says:

    Thanks so much for the recap! I was hoping you'd tell us all about it. I would love to attend something like this.

  40. Nina says:

    I'm so sinking jealous :)

  41. Mary on Lake Pulaski says:

    It was so fun to read about your weekend experience Rae! It sounds like a blast and some day I would love to attend. You are right about everyone needing to occasionally be in the same room as other people sewing.

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