I shared a room with Leigh and Tracey, and it was so much fun. We stayed up late talking, went out for drinks and ate every meal together. I made them needlebooks (I used the NanaCompany tutorial) and little packages of embroidery thread and chocolate; Tracey made Leigh and I the cutest little bags with chocolates (and ear plugs, hahahahaha!;) and Leigh gave us European lotion, chocolate, and wine. Very fancy-pants!
Instead of hopping on a bus with lots of other people for the shop hop, on Thursday, we rented a car and went on our own shopping trip around Salt Lake City. Leigh had never been to JoAnn Fabrics (she's British!) so our first stop was there. As we wandered the aisles looking for all the pieces for our Super Totes, Leigh kept stopping to stare at all the American products. The look of wonder on her face was priceless.
We also stopped at Pine Needles, which was of course awesome! They gave us the Sewing Summit discount, but I was super reserved and only bought a little bit. It was so much more relaxed than last year when I was on the shop hop--I felt like I needed to make decisions RIGHT NOW and BUY ALL THE FABRIC. This year I took my time and only bought what I thought I'd use right away (I did buy a little bit of fabric from JoAnn's--the blue and green herringbones and the ghosts.)
I also took part in the secret swap. I made a bag for Christina Lane, who also happened to be one of my instructors. I had taken her paper piecing class at Sewing Summit last year, but it didn't click until I took her class in Portland in August. I decided to use the feather I pieced in her class and build a big improv block, which I then matchstick quilted and turned into a box bag. She said she loved it, so I was super happy!
I received a cute purple clutch from Erin, which she filled up with purple and green thread, a cute magnetic pin holder, and Madeleintosh yarn--I felt so lucky!
I took awesome classes--Sew a Skirt (Caroline Hulse,) Foundation Paper Piecing (Christina Lane,) Personal Branding(Olivia Omega,) PJ Pants (Ellen March,) Brands and Bloggers (Bernina,) Drafting a Skirt Block (Elizabeth and Liz,) Equilateral Triangles (Jeni Baker,) and Photography (Melissa Esplin.) I seriously learned so much, I'm pretty sure my head is still spinning. But I took great notes in my lectures, and ended up with some fun projects from my hands-on classes.
Saturday night, I convinced Shawn to take me to Tissu, where I bought three knit fabrics to turn into skirts. This has yet to happen, but I have high hopes.
Now, for the part I'm kind of dreading, but which I feel is necessary. I don't feel like it's fair to leave everyone thinking that it was all super amazing and glorious. Last year was a totally different experience. I had never been, so I was unsure of what to expect. I was absolutely blown away by how much fun I had, how much I grew, and how much stuff I came home with. I (probably not realistically) expected that this year. I've gone back and forth with myself and my friends who were there, and we all agree that the experience this year was...different.
The event itself was not the same. It seemed less professional and I was super put off a few times by the (lack of) reception from the staff. Last year we were inundated with stuff, and it set the bar really high. So, I paid the $334 fee (which was higher than last year) and expected the same level of hospitality. Which didn't happen. The provided food was not great, and there was just less fanfare and excitement in all of our events. Last year, at registration we received swag bags and cute name tags/lanyards, and the staff seemed genuinely excited to see us. This year we didn't receive swag bags, our name tags simply had our names (they didn't even say Sewing Summit), and the staff seemed cranky. Last year, we went home with loads of stuff--people shipped boxes home. This year we went home with a rotary cutter, a couple of blades, three spools of thread, a bit of Pellon interfacing, and sewing needles. My instructors were all amazing. But several of my classes didn't have the supplies we needed to complete our projects. The machines we sewed on were great, but at $5500 and $7500, not accessible to me (though I know of at least a few people who purchased a machine there.) Heather Bailey was our keynote speaker, which was wonderful.
I'm hesitating putting this out there, but I really feel like anyone who is considering going should have all the information. I spent not only the $334 for my ticket, but also money for my hotel room and flight, not to mention all my meals, traveling around the city, shopping, etc. I spent close to $1000. Additionally, I was away from my family for five days, which of course costs us money and time as my husband had to take partial time from work and my mother in law stayed over to help him. I'm perfectly OK with this because I knew in advance that I'd be spending that much money, and took on a part-time job to help fund it. Plus, it was a much needed break from reality, which lets face it, is priceless for any stay at home mom. But, I feel like it's necessary to have truthful reviews, so there you have it.
All in all, I had a really good time, I learned a lot, and I have met so many people and made lots of new friends. I'm grateful to the staff for putting it on and for organizing it--overall it was a wonderful experience. It was totally worth it for me. But I've gone twice now, so I'm ready to let others take my place in the future. I'll save my (few and far between) weekends away for new experiences.