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