Y’all, I’m still replaying this past weekend over and over again in my mind. It was simply wonderful.
Sew South is the modern sewing retreat that I host in Charlotte and last weekend was the second annual event.
And oh, what fun we had!
SEW SOUTH 2014
Really, as much as Sew South is about sewing (and we sew A LOT) it’s about the relationships and friendships that are made.
It’s a gathering of women, passionate about sewing, eager to make friends and connect with others, and taking time out to do something fun and special for themselves. It’s chatting late into the evening, hugs for friends new and old, catching up and bonding with everyone over fabric, playlists, and projects.
It started out with cocktails on Thursday night- lots of chatter and some serious swag from the super generous Sew South Sponsors!
See all that goodness, I’ll be sharing some with you!
After dinner we changed into pjs and comfy clothes for late night open sewing. Machines were zipping along while friends were made, handmade bags were ogled (some serious eye candy!) and everyone got settled for a great weekend ahead.
Friday we jumped right in and spent the morning learning hand embroidery from the ever- inspiring, super-kind and creative Alison Glass. Alison created a hand-embroidered needle book project exclusively for Sew South and everyone LOVED this class.
Alison’s creativity manifests itself beautifully in her designs, her fabrics and her patterns. She graciously shared her personal story, her inspirations and her creative process with us in this class and during her talk on Saturday night.
Sew Lux fabrics provided the perle cotton thread cards in a rainbow of stunning colors (you can pick up similar thread cards in her shop) and it was so fun seeing how everyone used those colors in different ways as their samplers progressed. I loved that hand embroidery is portable, lending itself so well to chatting and sewing with friends in groups around the room.
I think most people left Sew South with a new embroidery addiction! (PS: Those white frames you see are Q-Snap frames and they ROCK! I highly recommend them because they’re so comfortable to hold and don’t put any stress on your fabric.)
Friday morning we also learned tips on blogging and social media from the talented Christen Barber of Love By Hand. Christen, a professional online marketing guru, shared blogging tips and tricks and gave us actionable steps we can use to take our blogging and social media to the next level. Her presentation was full of great information and easy-t0-follow steps which we all appreciated.
After lunch on Friday we were inspired in a whole new way by Kati Spencer from The Blue Chair. Kati’s class and presentation on Improv Quilting was nothing short of eye-opening and liberating. The most powerful lesson I walked away with was that improv can yield beautiful results when embracing limitations and including thoughtful planning during the process. It’s true- improv doesn’t have to be a hot mess.
One look at Kati’s amazing quilts and you’ll agree with me. She was quite inspiring to us all.
Before long improv pieces had sprung up around the room, and I for one successfully tackled waves. Kati made the process so easy to understand, and I was thrilled with my result. I can’t wait to explore this technique further.
Saturday we jumped right in and got to work on two fun projects. I see myself making lots of more of both of these in the future. Kelly Bowser of Kelby Sews led the Boxy Pouch class.
Kelly has made tons of stylish boxy pouches and her Instagram feed is regularly stocked with images of her pretty bags. These were really fun, and I’ve been itching to make a boxy bag for just about forever. She ever so kindly shared her tutorial on her site (kelbysews.com) this week so you can make one too!
We used Shape Flex for the interfacing but I’m going to give Decor Bond a shot on my next one to add more structure.
After lunch Heather Valentine of The Sewing Loft led us in the making of a scrappy bucket. What I loved most about this project was the variety of finished buckets. Everyone’s had a unique style despite being the same pattern, and I loved seeing all of them come together.
Heather is known for her sewing tips and tricks along with her creative use of scraps which inspired this new pattern and project for Sew South. I made the large bucket, dug into my favorite, extra special scraps and used the ticker tape technique to craft my outer fabric.
My bucket now sits on my sewing table and is the perfect place to stash my WIPs. Plus I love getting to see those pretty little pieces put to good use.
So what else goes on at Sew South? Good food and good friends. Becoming buddies with the folks sitting next to you. Getting inspired by all the projects, bags, fabrics and talent all around the room.
Dinners out with friends that love to talk about their families, where they’re from (all across the country), their passions and of course, sewing. Sharing meals in the sunshine. Door prizes and secret sister swaps.
Spending time working on projects and sewing just for the fun of it. Taking a break from the daily routine of mom/wife/career/obligations and focusing on having fun, relaxing, creating and friendships.
Traveling handmade and swooning over the fabulous bags everyone brought.
Because by the time Sunday rolls around, the friends you’ve made and the relationships that’ve grown are what it’s all about. And now, when you see a pic on Instagram or read a blog post of a Sew South friend, you’ve got a personal connection to them and it makes the online world seem a little smaller, a little closer and a whole lot more meaningful.
I was feeling very blessed on Sunday when I was wrapping up the weekend and sharing how much it meant to me that everyone there had chosen to share their vacation time with me at Sew South. Then my mind was blown when the tables were turned and my dear friend Valerie, along with everyone’s help, surprised me in the most magnificent way.
You see they all made me a quilt.
And no one has ever made ME a quilt before.
They took their time and creative talents and made beautiful star blocks, in my favorite colors and sent them to Valerie who ever so graciously sewed them together into a fabulous, amazing, wonderful quilt.
Then she showed me the BACK!
It’s true- I did the ugly cry. Full on big tears and in total shock at what they had lovingly made just for me. The signature blocks at the bottom are just as special as the rest because I will always treasure this quilt and the friends that helped make it for me.
I’ve touched every fabric, every block and every name on that quilt as I’ve snuggled under it since I’ve been home. It’s a tangible reminder of the blessings I have in each of these friends, and the gift that Sew South is to me. Because as much as Sew South means to other people, it means just as much to me.
I love that Sew South brings us together- connects friends in a truly meaningful way, and it’s my hope that it will help those friendships grow. I’ve seen it happen within the past year and it’s just the BEST.
The weekend went by in a flash. I was definitely drunk on fun, and it’s taken me 3 days to recover from my #sewsouthhangover.
I can’t wait to do it all again!
To see a ton of pics from Sew South, check out #sewsouth on Instagram. Then check out the video recap below.
PS: Be sure to check back by on Monday when I’m giving away two boxes of Sew South swag! You don’t want to miss out on that!