People often toss out great ideas in blog comments—maybe even sparking a few pings of agreement—and then the ideas get covered up by the rapid, ongoing babble. Sometimes, though, the seed hits rich ground.
Kinda like the comments made after the 2010 BlogHer conference that many sewing/quilting bloggers had also attended. Word was they’d felt a little oddball because their blogs were craft-based. There oughta be a blogging conference for creative stitchy types, somebody said. A few commenters heartily agreed, including Erin Singleton and Amy Ellis. Quilty radio host and designer Pat Sloan, went a step further, telling them they would be the perfect stitcher-bloggers for the job.
Well, it stuck. And now, Amy and Erin are a mere 21 days away from the opening of the first Sewing Summit on Oct. 6-7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 200 quilty/stitchy/blogging folks are expected for a weekend of learning and networking (and probably late-night chocolate and wine) at this much-anticipated event. (A few spots are left, so if you’ve been dawdling, go to the website right now and make up for your bad behavior.)
At GenQ, we know firsthand about the thrill and fear of grassroots start-ups, and we love what these gals are doing. We wanted to know more about this daring duo themselves, though.
To say this 34-year-old mom of four (Ella, 11; Emmalie, 7; Sophia, 6; and Owen, 4) has been busy this year is a vast understatement. In addition to planning the Sewing Summit and keeping up with her own well-read blog, Amy’s Creative Side, she has also written her first book, Modern Basics (2011, Martingale).
Amy and her family have lived in Heber, Utah, a small rural community, for nearly 10 years. She and husband Joe moved there from California so Joe to take up a new position as a pastor in Heber. Sadly, the church dissolved about three years later, and along with it, Amy lost valuable personal connections, she says.
“I went from having this supportive community with the church to nothing,” she says. Also, being home with her four kids was very isolating at times. Blogging—and quilting—came to the rescue.
“I was browsing online and saw all these beautiful blogs…and found the community and the comments and the discussions happening very exciting and just decided to jump in,” she says,.
She started Park City Girl, which eventually morphed into Amy’s Creative Side. Her book deal with Martingale followed, and now she’s adding event planner to her resume. (Now, what was that about isolation?)
Amy’s been following in her mom’s needle tracks since age 10, but her mom, (an accomplished sewist in her own right, and thanks to Amy’s new book, now a newbie quilter,) didn’t teach her. “She’s left-handed and didn’t want to teach me backwards, so I joined 4-H,” Amy explains.
When it came to quilting, Amy taught herself, and freely confesses to mining YouTube for definitive help, especially on bindings.
Writing the book has really changed her quilting/sewing life, she says, leading her to really trust in her own abilities more. The online community, though, was really the catalyst for this big—but natural—move.
“It really inspired me to start sketching my ideas. And then I realized I had 20 (quilt ideas), and wondered how am I going to share these?”
Amy by the Quotes
On hand versus machine binding:
“I Iove doing bindings by hand. It’s the finishing touch, and I like to be able to sit and enjoy it. Unless I’m doing 12 (quilts) in two weeks. Then it’s a little bit tiring.”
On how she’s changed from her childhood days:
“I was a boring child, I think, and have definitely come out of my shell in the last 13 years since we’ve been married. I was shy and I liked to sew and no one else did that… My kids were teasing me the other day, saying ‘You’ll talk to anyone, mom,’ and I said ‘Well, it works!’”
On having the latest quilty gadgets and a big stash:
“I’m a basic girl. I don’t have room to store lots of stuff. I do have a bit of a stash, but in my (sewing area, which is in the) kitchen, I just have two drawers in a cabinet and a dresser. And I have some piles on a printer cart where I store my machine and notions.”
On what inspires her:
“Just about anything and everything. I was watching football last night and saw a graphic behind one of the players and quickly sketched it out so I could remember it and put it into EQ.”
On her biggest sewing mistake:
“I try not to make those. (When I was) making one of the quilts for my book, I decided mid-process that it wasn’t working. I re-engineered the quilt on the fly to make it attainable for anyone. The other design has never seen the light.”
Erin Singleton is one sharp blogger. For more than a decade, she’s been keying bits of her life for anyone to read. But when she became pregnant with her oldest son, Mason, now 5, like so many of us, she turned her attention to more tangible, immediate things, such as diaper bags and wipes. And sewing cute stuff for the baby, of course.
In the process of transitioning her life from working full-time to becoming a stay-at-home mommy (she also has Grahm, 2), Erin’s blog has transformed into a documentary of her creative life. TwoMoreSeconds.com got her smack dab into the quilting/sewing blogging community.
From there it is a very short hop to realizing that while women bloggers were being offered many opportunities to come together in real life at conferences and workshops, quilters and sewists from the blogosphere did not have similar options. Enter: The Sewing Summit.
In what she freely calls a “leap of faith,” Erin joins forces with Amy, a blogger she’s known only through her frequent posts, to create what is the first conference focusing on garment sewists and quilters; really anyone with a sewing machine. Taking this on with someone she did not really know well has been a good thing, Erin says.
“She’s been good for me. We’re both excited by how it’s going so far. And the potential for where it needs to go,” Erin says.
The most fun thing for her is seeing the response from people who tweet or blog how excited they are to come to this. There’s been a lot of hard work and late nights—between the two women, they have six kids and two husbands who each work at their own businesses.
“But it has been so fun. You can just feel the energy growing. That has been the payoff in planning this,” she says.
Erin by the quotes:
On the spelling of her youngest son’s name:
“I just could not get past the fact that my son’s name would have ‘ham’ in it. Graham was a family name. We just got creative and took out the “A.”
On how her blogging style has evolved:
“My blog has been changing. I started out blogging just a personal blog. I started right after I got married. It’s really fun to go back and read through my archives from 10 years ago. I was never a journaler on paper but I think the digital format has worked great for me.”
On becoming a sewist:
“One of the first years after I got married, my mother-in-law gave me a sewing machine for Christmas. She is an amazing seamstress. I thought it was a little weird to give me a sewing machine. (It sat in the closet in box.) I think it was definitely having Mason that propelled me to wanting to make something.”
On her relationship with Amy:
“Since last July, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t talked to her or emailed her….We’ve become great friends. We just work together so well. We finish each other’s sentences and we have the same dreams at night. We wake up in the morning and (one of us will) say ‘here’s this idea’ and we both had the same one.”