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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sewing Summit Highlights - Part 3

In my last post, Sewing Summit Highlights Part 2, I gave a run down of the classes I took and a few things I learned in each session.  Today, I'll be discussing my Sewing Summit experience of

Networking with corporate sponsors and participating in open discussions with them on how they can better serve our online community.

As with any event like the Sewing Summit, there is usually no shortage of sponsors or swag. I felt that many of the sponsors' representatives at the Sewing Summit were there to not only promote their company or products, but they were there to learn something new on a personal level by way of participating in the classes.  Of course, they were also interested in hearing what sewers and bloggers thought of their products and what our ideas were on how they could improve these products to better serve the sewing community.

During the second class on Friday morning, I received a Facebook update that Riley Blake Designs had arrived and set up a booth to showcase their latest fabric collections.  As soon as the class ended, I rushed upstairs to get a quick look, and was pleasantly surprised to find that no one else was there yet.  Because everyone else was taking a break or finding a seat for lunch, I was able to get a personal tour of Riley Blake's latest collections from Paige, their Internet Marketing Manager.  Paige showed me several lovely pieces made using some super soft knits from The Sweetest Thing as well as quilting cottons by Happy Ever After and the soon to be released Flutter collection, by designer Amanda Herring (who, by the way, was there in person).

I loved all these outfits, but sadly, they didn't have any information on what patterns were used.

Later, Paige got Amanda to make a call and find out that for some of the pieces Olive Ann patterns were used.  My favorite was this wrap dress, but I never could find the pattern for it on their site.

I later suggested that it would be helpful if they had a tag attached to each piece that stated the fabric and pattern used to create the look.  Who knows? Maybe they'll do that next time!

Paige was interested to hear if I had used their fabrics before and how I learned about the new collections they were showcasing.  I told her I honestly hadn't used that much Riley Blake fabric before but not necessarily because I didn't want to!  Like most people, I love the chevrons that are so popular this year, and Riley Blake carries one of the most popular lines.  However, I've only seen them around locally in one shop in just two or three of the colors offered.  Paige happened to have some fat quarters that she graciously offered up for me to try.  I snagged one in almost every color she had to offer, for a total of 5 or 6!  I can't wait to use them!

Also, I told her how I follow along with Lindsay Wilkes' blog, The Cottage Home, who happens to be a a member of the Riley Blake Project Design Team, and I had recently seen her post on The Sweetest Thing collection. Lindsay has a talent for combining all these beautiful fabrics to make the most gorgeous dresses and rompers.  I just love her style and sometimes wish that I could just duplicate her creation.  Paige was excited to hear this.

Another great sponsor that I had an opportunity to network with were the friendly ladies from Coats and Clark.  At the Girl's Night Out Dinner, I sat next to Lynn and Michelle and had a chance to talk with them about the history of their company and how their recent 200 year celebration giveaway impacted me.  I came across their Share Your Sewing Stories Giveaway (which is still going on by the way) and decided to enter, but little did I know that the answer to the contest question would make me reflect on my childhood, the importance of extended family, and of course sewing in such an emotional way.  Lynn and Michelle said they were both surprised at comments they received, many of which were like my response and filled with personal, heartfelt memories that involved my grandmother, mother, and sewing or crafting with Coats and Clark threads.

Far Left are Michelle and Lynn from Coats and Clark at the Girl's Out Night Dinner
I then asked Lynn if Coats and Clark had a museum that housed some of their oldest products, display cases, advertising, etc., but sadly, she said that much of what they have is only stored in boxes and not available for viewing by the public.  I also inquired as to whether or not their plant allows tours, because I would love to see how spools of thread are made, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, tours are not a part of their operation.  Oh, well.

Anyway, after talking to Lynn and Michelle more, I discovered that Michelle once worked for Simplicity patterns, and she very kindly offered to put me in touch with her contacts there.  See, you never know who you will meet and who they will know!  I definitely plan on taking her up on her offer!

Sunday morning, I met up with several ladies in the lobby for a cup of coffee.  That's when I met Lisa Anne from Craftsy.  My new friend, Heather from The Sewing Loft, was discussing the Craftsy pattern site with her and how she wasn't receiving a lot of pattern purchases by way of Craftsy.  Lisa Anne and her associate immediately began investigating the situation and quickly discovered why Heather's patterns weren't showing up high on the search list!

Lisa Anne from Craftsy at the Opening Mixer
From there, Lisa Anne asked each other woman sitting there how Craftsy could help promote their business/blog or what classes would we like to see Craftsy offer in the future.  Someone mentioned how they would love to learn an efficient method for digitizing patterns, and I mentioned how I would love to learn how to grade sizes on clothing patterns.  She immediately made a note and said she would see what she could do.  I felt like I was a part of the Craftsy team sitting there and contributing my two cents worth!

I then told Lisa Anne how I enjoy making items for my daughter or sewing purses and then blogging a review of the pattern I used.  She then went on to tell me more about their Craftsy classes and how they often partner with bloggers to provide reviews.  She then asked if I would be interested!  Definitely!  She took my business card and said Craftsy would be in touch, and you know what, they have already contacted me!

When I signed up for Sewing Summit, it was mainly because I thought it looked like it would be fun and a great way to meet other women who share similar interests with me.  And without a doubt, that's exactly what Sewing Summit was.  However, my experience went a step further and made me start thinking about how I might be able to turn all this into more than just a hobby.  At any rate, I better get back to sewing!  Isn't that what this is all about anyway?

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