Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reflections on Glamp Stitchalot 2016

I had the opportunity to attend Glamp Stitchalot earlier this month, hosted by the amazing and hardworking team from Pink Castle Fabrics, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Unlike most attendees (who bought tickets a year or so in advance), I only decided to attend a month prior when a friend needed to sell her ticket.  It was sort of an impulse decision, but come on, the teachers were Rashida Coleman-Hale, Carolyn Friedlander, Penny Layman, Monica Solorio-Snow, Violet Craft and Elizabeth Hartman.  Not exactly a bad line up, especially for someone who is relatively new to quilting and is firmly planted in the mania/hyperfocus/obsessive phase.  Give me all things quilty.  Right now.  (I know some of you understand what I'm saying).  

Glamp Stitchalot 2016 Review
Airplane Block by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  

Ann Arbor was an easy four hour drive for me from Cincinnati.  A bonus revelation, because I thought for sure it was more like five hours until I hopped in the car to leave and set the navigation. Only four hours - Sweet!   

Overall, I have to say, the event was incredibly well organized.  The staff worked so hard to present an amazing event weekend - a packed agenda with six different classes by amazing teachers, great meals and other social time, giveaways, support from vendors, a pop-up shop, machine rentals, etc. Because the team thought of everything and made it happen so seamlessly, all attendees had to do was wake up, shower (hopefully) and sew! Just show up!  The weekend offered a chance to learn from the best, have plenty of fun and recharge. There were all levels of skill and experience in attendance, so the environment was very comfortable and inspiring.

Glamp Stitchalot

Glamp is a "Choose your Own Adventure" sort of thing - with each attendee (Glamper?) choosing their level of intensity, the amount of sewing they'd like to accomplish, and also the level to which they want to socialize.  Some quilters may choose to approach Glamp truly as a immersive learning weekend, soaking in as much knowledge as absolutely possible.  Some approach it as a fun getaway to socialize with others who "get us" and speak the same quilty language.  Others may approach the weekend as an opportunity to speed sew and close down the sewing rooms each night to bust out as many blocks as possible.  And some do a little of each approach.  The point is, it's your choice.  There is plenty opportunity to socialize from an opening mixer to class time to lunch and dinners to a dance party (and probably a few after-parties)!  You can go all #fangirl with the amazing teachers, who are celebs in the sewing sphere, by asking asking for autographs and selfies.  Or you can stay more low key (I did, and it was a good recharge).  It's all up to you.

Glamp Stitchalot 2016 Review
Elizabeth Hartman's blocks.

The pre-event communication was great, with packing lists, a preview of the pattern and a very active Facebook group where we could pose questions and get information, make introductions and share information.  Brenda gave guidelines on how much fabric to bring and offered bundles to make things very easy for attendees.  I took a bundle of Kona solids that I already had (it was a quilt kit from 2014 and I absolutely love the colors), some Essex linen for background and a few of the new Indah Batiks from Me + You (which made fabulous shutters on my house blocks!)  I didn't do any prep other than last minute packing (the morning I left). Work and life is busy, so I really didn't have time to put a lot of thought into my approach and didn't pre-cut my fabric, although some did since we had the patterns in advance. I chose my fabrics and cut on-the-fly as each class began. It worked out great for me and I avoided some stress, too.

Glamp Stitchalot 2016 Review
One of Carolyn Friedlander's blocks.

Some tools that were especially helpful for me were a small cutting mat and rotary cutter to use machine-side (tip: mark your tools with your name or washi tape), a seam roller (I was shocked how well these work for paper piecing), an add-a-quarter ruler (so fast for trimming seam allowances during paper piecing) and a thread catcher.  And don't forget essentials like pencil, pen, sharpie (if you want autographs), etc.

A  pouch swap was offered for this Glamp and I participated.  Darci made the cute and colorful box pouch and threadcatcher above, which I love along with the extra goodies.  I made an Open Wide bag, by Patterns by Annie, shown below mid-construction, for Lisa who loves black and purple.  It's a sturdy and roomy bag with very nice finishing details.

Open Wide Bag Patterns by Annie

Finding your swap partner at the opening dinner/mixer helped some Glampers to break the ice. Another conversation starter was wearing a handmade garment or carrying a handmade bag. (I have mental notes of some things I'd like to make as a result! Inspiring!).  Some attendees swapped pins to make connections.   One of the members of my group, Jodi, made each group member and instructor one of the selvedge needle books shown above.  Super thoughtful!

I was able to finish several blocks and try curves, paper piecing and flying geese - all for the first time!  I knew not to expect a finished quilt top to take home. I'm grateful for the new skills, tips and confidence I gained, along with some new friends. Yay for staying connected on instagram!

Glamp Stitchalot 2016 Review
Progress shot.

My advice if you attend a future Glamp or similar event:  Be open to new techniques and step out of your comfort zone.  The next Glamp in November 2016 is all about improv and SO tempting!

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Sampler Pages

I added some pages that can be accessed in my header, to post progress on ongoing projects like sampler quilts. Currently, I am working on two samplers:  Modern HST Sampler and Summer Sampler 2016.  I link to both on their respective pages and show some progress pictures.  As a new(ish) quilter, participating in both samplers is helping expand my skills.

Summer Sampler 2016

Alyce's (from Blossom Heart Quilts) Modern HST Sampler, as the name implies, has introduced me to many different methods of making and arranging half-square triangles, such a staple for block building.  Also, working with a wide group of fabrics has challenged me on fabric selection for each block. My fabric pull includes over 10 designers, prints and solids, florals and geometric prints, and at least four different color families. It's been a great stretch for me to choose fabrics carefully for each block and maintain cohesion.

Modern HST Sampler

The Summer Sampler 2016 has allowed me to practice some additional techniques like curves and paper piecing.  For this sampler, I chose a very different set of fabrics - just 6 fabrics, mostly solids, in a limited and subtle color pallette.  This fabric pull is challenging me, too, in different ways. I'm loving the cool, calm vibe these fabrics are creating, still with a punch of color that I can't resist.

Summer Sampler 2016

Two samplers, along with my attendance at Glamp Stitchalot (post coming soon), are combining to make 2016 a year of skill building at just the right pace.  I'm loving it!