Last week I had the absolute pleasure of attending the first-ever Common Threads event hosted by Baby Lock. Baby Lock invited a group of educators, designers, bloggers, writers and editors from the sewing and quilting community to spend three days at their headquarters near St. Louis to sew, connect, brainstorm and learn.
photo from Baby Lock Sewing Instagram: http://instagram.com/babylocksewing
Baby Lock is famous for its motto “For the Love of Sewing,” and that sentiment ruled the event. To say that I came away inspired would be a huge understatement, as it was a truly amazing experience to be in the presence of such an enthusiastic and creative group of people who all really share that love of sewing.
Here’s a little photo recap of Common Threads since I wish you all could have joined us there!
One of the coolest parts was the great goodie bag that we received as soon as we arrived. Each attendee provided something that they work on for the bag, including patterns, fabric lines, magazines, books and much more. It was awesome to get to see an example of what everyone does and how each person contributes to the sewing and quilting world. I couldn’t wait to see old sewing friends, many of whom have contributed to Sew News and Sew it All, and make new ones!
Chock-Full of Sewing Goodness
To kick off the event, we all made our way to the Tacony Achievement Center, which is where Baby Lock dealers from around the country come to learn about Baby Lock’s new machines and products. I was excited to get to meet Amber Eden, editor of our sister publications Stitch magazine and SewDaily.com:
We started by getting a great introduction to the history of Tacony Corporation (parent company of Baby Lock) from Ken Tacony, whose dad started the company in 1946.
Baby Lock president Steve Jeffery also gave us an overview of Baby Lock, from the very first Baby Lock sergers up through the innovative sewing and embroidery machines and sergers of today. We also heard about the great outreach that Baby Lock does to encourage designers and young sewers, including the awesome elementary school program that our friend Connie Tkach heads up in Puyallup, WA.
Mr. Tacony also gave us a behind-the-scenes tour through Tacony Headquarters, including the offices and warehouse. It was really fun to check out the inner workings of the company and see where Baby Lock sewing machines come from!
Ellisimo embroidery machines as far as the eye can see!
After the tour, Baby Lock had a super-fun activity where everyone got to be creative and mix and mingle: a cookie quilt created by St. Louis Sweets for us to decorate!
We all got hard to work decorating our individual cookie “blocks” to combine into one big, beautiful quilt. After seeing so many awesome machines, I decided to pay homage on my cookie block:
It was so much fun seeing everyone’s personality and style reflected in such a sweet way! A cookie quilt would actually be a great get-to-know you activity for a sewing or quilt guild. Our completed quilt turned out gorgeous and ALMOST too pretty to eat.
What a fun evening! I couldn’t wait to get started sewing with everyone the next day. We started by getting to take the 8-thread Baby Lock Ovation serger for a spin. We tried different specialty settings on the Ovation and made pages for a lovely sample book that the Baby Lock staff had prepared for us.
Trying out the exclusive Ovation wave stitch
- Eleanor Burns stitching pintucks on the Ovation
Pretty wavy pintucks–made super speedy on a serger!
Fun coverstitching effects
As you can see, the Ovation is extremely versatile and has many very smart features and lots of room to serge. You can find out more and see it in action here.
In the afternoon, we got to play on the Baby Lock Unity to try out its sewing, quilting and embroidery features. I got to be machine buddies with the lovely Joi Mahon (Dress Forms Design), who has appeared in both Sew News and Sew it All. It’s always a pleasure to see her and even more fun to sew with her. Plus, we shared a sewing station with the delightful Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side!
My sewing buddy Joi!
The Unity has a lot of excellent tools and features, including a guidebeam that you can follow instead of having to mark straight lines on your fabric. We stitched cute little snowball blocks, and then embroidered them with a pretty birdcage design. Fun!
Next up, I made sure to get my photo taken in front of this gorgeous wall of words. Baby Lock asked all of the attendees to send in their favorite words of wisdom, which they combined into a super advice wall! The result is funny, touching and hilarious. And you gotta love the fabulous vintage fainting couch!
We also got to see a very heartwarming video about Enchanted Makeovers, a community service project that Baby Lock has partnered with this year to make over and outfit women’s shelters with brand new sewing rooms. Stay tuned for my blog post about that to find out how you can help!
The next morning we also got to try out the Baby Lock Sashiko 2. If you haven’t gotten to try this machine, I definitely recommend it! It’s really fun and inspiring to be able to produce the look of hand stitching so quickly and easily. I wrote a guide to Sashiko in Sew it All, Vol. 7, so it’s one of my current sewing passions. It was also quite a treat because Evy Hawkins, Baby Lock’s Sashiko educator, was on hand to help and inspire us with all the fun things the Sashiko can do, like adding trim or decorative thread or beads. I was able to stitch up this design in less than 10 minutes!
The Sashiko machine also works great for applique:
Last but not least, we played a very funny Rob-Your-Neighbor game with all of the awesome sewing supplies and notions that you can find on Nancy’s Notions and Sewing & Craft Club from Creative Notions, Madeira Thread and more. It worked kind of like a white elephant exchange, where everyone picked a bag and then you could “rob” people if you liked what they received. This would be a fun game for a sewing group too! Of any sewing tool, I LOVE scissors the most, so I was thrilled to wind up with these Gingher Shears!
After such a whirlwind, it was suddenly time to say goodbye! There were so many wonderful things I learned and so much to take away from the event, but more than anything, I was overwhelmed with the very real sense of sharing, friendship and love that exists in the sewing community. Common Threads really was the perfect name for the event.
Here are two of the lovely and talented sewing bloggers I got to meet (check out See Kate Sew and Melly Sews):
Kate Blocher of SeeKateSew and Melissa Mora of MellySews
And I just couldn’t leave without a photo with the one and only Nancy Zieman!
Nancy is just as kind, gracious and funny in person as she is on TV!
Getting to make things together and share that with others is such a gift. I’m sure you’ve experienced this feeling in your sewing and quilting groups or when you’ve taught a new sewer, or when you’ve been able to make someone a special gift. I love sharing that with you, too! Stay tuned for a blog roll of all of the Common Threads attendees, as well as a post next week about Enchanted Makeovers!