We’re back from our U.S. road trip (we arrived home Friday afternoon) and I’m excited to tell you about all the sewing related adventures we had! I’ve made a page on our blog that includes a photo diary of the entire trip (for those that are interested) but I won’t subject you to dozens of scenery shots and the like unless you are interested. The post that follows is specifically sewing related since I know that you are most certainly eager to read and see anything that belongs to that theme!
Our first stop along the 3000 mile tour was Portland, Oregan. We found it to be a beautiful, walkable city, even with the rain and chilly temperatures. Our sewing related stops were numerous in this town because the arts and crafts community is thriving so thoroughly that there were too many fabric stores to choose from! We went to the Mill End and feasted our eyes on the huge warehouse of every fabric I could imagine. We enjoyed talking to the extremely friendly staff who were eager to take our pattern catalog to show to all their male customers. We know that they did just that because only a few days later we received an email from a male sewer who had seen our catalog in their store!
Our next place to visit was the Pendleton Woollen Mills store because I am a sucker for wool. We wandered in and were greeted by a lovely riot of colours and textures. The wools were gorgeously smooth and rich feeling and they also carried an eco-friendly wool that uses less water in production and can be washed without felting. We were surprised to see indie pattern companies featured all over the store and had not even thought to bring our samples in to show the staff. Matt raced out to grab them and we received a very warm welcome from the staff and managers. Our Goldstream Peacoat and Jedediah Pants will now be stocked in their store – so if you are ever in Portland and hope to make the most sumptuous tailored peacoat in the world, pop by Pendleton to get your pattern and fabric!
I thought it was neat that they sold all their scraps by the pound – one can imagine all the possibilities for those little colourful bits of wool!
They also had an antique mechanical display that used to be featured in their Disneyland Pendleton outlet. It was beautifully detailed and, when turned on, each wooden figure moved to demonstrate the entire manufacturing process!
Of course, we couldn’t go to Portland without visiting our wonderful stockist, Modern Domestic!
We met Lupine and Meredith who were very welcoming and let us wander the store endlessly to pick out little prizes for future blog contests (I think you’ll love them!) and ask all sorts of questions about Bernina feet for Sue’s new sewing machine.
The store had a wonderful selection of some of my very favourite things – a whole slew of Merchant & Mills products, a colourful selection of chambrays, pretty much every indie pattern you could imagine, and a huge selection of the best sewing-related books, including Colette’s new book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits. And these were only the things that stood out the most to me! Aside from all the sewing goodies and beautiful fabrics, if you are a Bernina lover, then this is the place to go. All the machines and attachments were beautifully displayed and Meredith, who helped Sue, seemed to know everything there was to know about each and every foot.
After a couple days in Portland, we headed east to Boise for a night (no sewing stops there as our driving schedule was quite demanding!) and then to Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake City, we popped in to see Sunni in her store, A Fashionable Stitch. It was great to meet her as I must admit, she is categorized in my head as a “sewing and blogging celebrity” so I was a little nervous! She was very friendly and jumped at the chance to stock our patterns (thanks, Sunni!). We’re really excited to have our patterns in her store as she has a really great thing going there. Unfortunately we forgot to take photos with her 😦 but here is a shot from her website of the basement classroom area under her store to give you a taste of how lovingly organized her shop is:
Her fabric selection is gorgeous (I especially loved all the interesting and unusual wools she had and couldn’t help but admire the stunning laces). Everything is meticulously organized, right down to her displays of colour coded zippers in pretty glass jars and prettily bundled ribbons. I picked out, as another future give-away prize, some brightly striped knits that will make super funky Comox Trunks! We met Sunni’s husband downstairs overseeing some awesome fabric swap tables. Matt left with a scrap of leather to make himself a wrist strap for his camera and I walked away with a burgundy ribbed knit to sew into a Newcastle Cardigan.
I left Sunni’s store on a sewing/creativity high after meeting one of my favourite bloggers and seeing just how awesome and beautiful a sewing store has the potential to be!
Later that night we happened upon an altogether entirely different sewing related experience – we witnessed the tail end of Comic Con! I’ve never read comics or, for that matter, really understood what Comic Con involves, but it was really neat to see all the lovingly created costumes being paraded about and to see how so many people, both male and female, had worked with fabric and all sorts of other mediums to create some pretty bizarre and amazing fashions.
The conference building was almost deserted when we walked in and everything was being packed away. We still got a kick out of seeing some of the straggling signs and people :).
After a couple days in Salt Lake City (Easter weekend in fact), we moved on to the day that seemed to loom darker and scarier ahead of me the entire trip – the day we taped the Sew It All TV episode.
You’ve probably figured out by various blog posts in the past that I am a pretty (read VERY) shy person. Matt and I were, of course, absolutely thrilled to be offered a slot in the Sew It All TV season 8 but it only really dawned on me as we drove south-east that I had no idea what was involved in taping a tv episode and I had also spent my entire life, up until the taping date, avoiding unscripted public speaking like the plague! I hid away in my hotel room the night before the taping to iron all our samples and steel myself for the day ahead of me while Matt and his parents went to explore Golden (Matt was nowhere near as nervous as I was, thank goodness!).
The morning of the taping we headed to the Creative Crafts Group studio and spent a whirlwind couple hours meeting all the super people and filming the episode. Our TV experience began by being made up for the camera (even Matt was powdered and prettied!):
And then we were introduced to Ellen and the team. Everyone was very friendly and incredibly professional and efficient. I needn’t have worried about my ironing quite so much because our step-outs were nicely ironed by staff. We were very well taken care of – we were given water whenever we needed it (my mouth was permanently dry from fear haha!) and people joked around with us to calm us down. We had microphones installed on our garments to suit our voices which was really nice. Mine was installed hidden in my dress’s collar (which, by the way, is Tilly’s awesome Coco pattern!) to block out other peoples voices and more easily catch my quiet voice…this was a relief because I was worried I would be told to speak up the entire time!
Ellen is currently pregnant with twins and was a total trooper. I can’t believe how hard she works and how tired she must have been! She tapes three episodes a day (on top of doing a billion other things I am sure) and I was exhausted for days after taping only one episode…
The studio wasn’t equipped with male mannequins (those aren’t something you find in most sewing studios I imagine!) and so the team got a bit creative and flipped the mannequins backwards to display the V-neck tank that we demonstrated how to sew. The waists looked a little curvy and the poor guy’s backs had two strange bumps 😛 but all in all, I think the you could tell the fit of the garment well enough.
Some of our other samples and patterns were displayed throughout the studio and they took some shots of them after we taped our episode and were having lunch. I look forward to seeing how the show looks once all the clips are put together!
I was surprised by how big the studio was and by how many people were involved in the taping. I made myself avoid looking at anyone for quite a while before the cameras started rolling because it was beginning to feel like I was embarking on the dreaded ‘group project’ presentation from university days…eek!
Matt ended up with very little to do during the actual episode. He introduced our company but the main focus of the episode was explaining and showing how to sew the Thetis Tank – something that Matt confessed he didn’t know anything about :P. We had him help with ironing but then, as the camera rolled, I found myself correcting his ironing technique which Ellen found pretty funny!
Rick and Sue got to sit and watch from the director’s room. They got some shots of the monitors as filming began. See how nervous we look?
Despite my fears and nerves it was still an amazing experience to be on Sew It All TV and we are so greatful to Ellen and Jessica and everyone at the studio for having us there! The season airs later this year (our episode will likely be shown on PBS in November) and I can’t wait to see how it turned out (though at the same time I am terrified to see what resulted from all my nervous babbling and shaky hands :P).
Later that same day, we rushed to Denver to meet blogger and fellow sewist, Sara who’s blog is An Elemental Life. She met us for a Mexican dinner (it was very nice of her to take the time to show us one of her favourite restaurants and it was great to meet another fellow blogger!) and then the whole group of us went to the trunk show that our lovely stockists, Fancy Tiger Crafts, hosted for us. I wasn’t 100% sure of what to expect from a trunk show (or what we were expected to do) but I must say, it ended up being my favorite part of the trip and, despite being super tired from the show taping, I had a total blast!
Jaime, Amber and all the staff at Fancy Tiger were really welcoming and wonderfully laid back (and beautifully clothed in an assortment of handmade pieces…I couldn’t help but comment when I recognized certain patterns!).
It was craft night, which meant that a huge group of enthusiastic crafters were enjoying chatting, crafting and a drink or two around a huge table at the back of the store. The store doors were open until 9pm and a table, mannequin, a selection of our patterns and a garment rack were all carefully set up and waiting for us to fill with samples! We brought garment tag packs to give away and I had tagged all of our samples with a story about who sewed it for whom and with what fabric. People seemed to really enjoy reading them and both men and women happily tried on Newcastles and Goldstream Peacoats.I had so much fun talking with all sorts of people who had exactly the same interests as me. It seemed as though most people I talked to had already been to our website and knew about our pattern selection. A few people had already sewn up some of our patterns! It was especially exciting to talk to male sewers and knitters who were thrilled by the style and fit of our garments.
The Fancy Tiger ladies generously provided us with a much welcomed glass of wine (and a craft brew for Matt). Matt’s dad got a kick out of the awesome wine ‘glasses’!
The whole evening was exactly as I had imagined the sewing world could be if I lived where all the other bloggers and sewers I follow happened to live. I could seriously live in Fancy Tiger Crafts and would certainly never miss one of their Tuesday night craft nights!
So that sums up the sewing-related portion of our trip! The next few days were mostly endless driving (and beautiful scenery) to get back home in time for work obligations. All four of us were pretty tired by the end of our whirlwind tour and were doing a lot of this:
Where would you go if you could have a sewing-themed holiday? What is your ideal ‘business’ trip? I must say, travelling for our business certainly felt more like an awesome holiday than work to me :).