Hands On Sewing School in Alexandria, VA last weekend (now a few months ago!) was so much fun. I was hesitant to attend alone, but I'm so glad I did! Everyone was so nice and I learned so much. The event started with a welcome reception on Thursday evening. It provided a good introduction of what to expect for the next three days and we also got our gift boxes full of fun threads, designs and more to take home. After a brief welcome and presentation, we went around to different tables to watch short demos on products and topics related to sewing, embroidering and quilting such as cutting, stabilizing, and software. After each demo, you received an additional ticket for the door prize drawings that would take place throughout the weekend. I was really excited to see that we'd be using brand new Brother Dream Machine 2s for our sewing/embroidery that weekend!
The attendees were divided into three groups (I was in group A) for the daytime classes Friday through Sunday. Each group had one session on the machines and two other classes each day. By dividing into groups, it gave everyone the chance to have a machine to themselves for the hands on portion which was nice. All the groups were together for a short time each morning and the optional evening sessions, as well as breakfast and lunch...which is also when they drew tickets to give out LOTS of prizes. I was not as lucky as some, but I did win a copy of the Classic Sewing magazine.
For our hands on project, led by Judy Fredenburgh, we made a small pillow. The first day we worked on the front which included cutting our appliqué pieces on the scan n cut, stitching the design, adding a stipple stitching using the built-in features of the embroidery machine (wow!) and adding the decorative border. The second day, we made the back of the pillow which included adding the zipper in the hoop, using the machine to scan in and digitize a handwritten "Stitched with Love" message (another wow!), and then using the camera to position it where we wanted it on the pillow before sewing (wow again!). The third day we trimmed the edges of our front and back, sewed it together and then embellished it with a fun glitter snowflake and some heat-set crystals. Did I mention the machine's sew-straight laser guide when sewing the pillow together? I could really use that!
Kay Brooks (the K in RNK) taught classes on Friday and Saturday that went into a lot of detail about stabilizing your work. We received packets with samples of each of their stabilizers and she talked about each one, what it's good for and how you use it. This is something I didn't have a lot of knowledge about before so I found it incredibly useful. I knew you had to choose different stabilizers depending on the type of material you're using, but I never gave much thought to the design itself. For example, if you're embroidering on a knit shirt, you may choose to use no-show nylon mesh stabilizer. This supports about 6000 stitches, but if your design is 10,000 stitches, it won't be enough. In this case, you can float another piece of stabilizer under the hoop to support the design. Check out the Stabilizer Workbook on the RNK Distributing website. It's full of great tips and information!
Trevor Conquergood taught classes all three days. Friday and Saturday he talked a lot about how embroidery designs are digitized including things such as stitch lengths, density, underlay, fill patterns, blending, etc, Trevor was an amazing teacher. In fact, I never thought I'd be interested in digitizing my own designs but after listening to him, I'm having second thoughts. He used the FTC-U Software during class which truly looks great..unfortunately, I'm a Mac fan and refuse to run Windows on my Mac just to run an embroidery software package. If they ever come out with a native Mac version, I'd be very interested, but not sure that will ever happen. On Sunday, Trevor focused on the Craft N Cut Software and using it with a digital cutting machine. The things he showed were great. I think a digital cutting machine may be on my Christmas list this year. :)
Friday's evening session was led by Debra Bonh and was about sewing bloopers we've all made and how to save your work..funny and a lot of great tips and ideas. Saturday evening was a real treat to hear Martha Pullen. Such a sweet lady and so funny too. I love how she gives God the credit for everything. After some hilarious stories, she talked about entrepreneurship, and finished up with a touching story about forgiveness. Martha also taught a class on Sunday about lace shaping. Not sure I will use any of that information as this is not the type of sewing I do. Nonetheless, it was still very interesting and I loved hearing her speak. I also had the opportunity to attend "Sunday School" with Martha before the day's activities started. She shared scripture, shared her testimony and prayed with us. It was a great way to start the day.
The event ended with optional software classes..they had classes for each of the major brands. I attended the Brother class led by Cookie Gaynor. I don't own their software, but was curious to see what it offered. She showed us how to use PhotoStitch to create a design from a photo--it looked easier than I expected and definitely could be a fun thing to do. From talking to people, it sounds like Brother is the only software that does this really well.
Throughout the event, they had all the Floriani products for sale at discounted prices. They even sold the embroidery machines we used as part of a discount package which included the machine, software, a scan n cut, embroidery thread, etc. Since I wasn't planning to get a new machine, I didn't get all the details. I did come home with a collection of new goodies though- mostly stabilizers and threads and a few less dollars in the bank account. Haha! :)
This post would not be complete without mentioning Ricky Brooks (the R in RNK), aka the Candyman...and yes, he did deliver chocolate to everyone throughout the event.
If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of these events I highly recommend it..but as I was warned by a friend before I went, go with a budget in mind because you will want to spend $$ on all the fun things you see! :)