Stitch Room Reflections

How’s it going with you? I’m kind of forcing myself to write this blog, because I really just want to sew right now, I’m so full of inspiration!

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I spent the last two days at a new sewing event, The Stitch Room Sewcial.  This was organised by Anne (@new_vintage_sewing) and Lucy (@sewessentialuk) and held at Loughborough University.  I got an email a couple of months ago asking me to attend the event and, after a certain amount of negotiation with Mr RW around getting the children to and from school on the Friday, I found myself heading off down the M1 very early on Friday morning with a car boot full of sewing projects and fabric for the swap.

The whole weekend has been absolutely fantastic and so full of things to do.  We met up at the university at 9:30 with tea and coffee and then headed up to Anne’s domain, the Stitch Room, where we all claimed a domestic sewing machine to work on for the duration.  Having been a little worried about whether I’d know people or not, I found myself sitting between Kara and Joanne, both of whom I’ve met several times and who are lovely.

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After an initial introduction from the lovely Anne and Lucy, we started signing up for the embroidery and photo shoot sessions on offer.  We’d been told about these in advance and been given the chance to bring a couple of outfits to have photographed.  Hila and I signed up together for both the photo shoot and the embroidery on the Friday; at this point, I was so warm, I just wanted to get the photos done before my make up melted off my face!

Our morning then continued with a demo of some of the industrial machines in the workshop (the one that applied bias binding was my personal favourite!) and a lesson in using the steam irons without damaging ourselves, and then we were taken on a tour of the textiles workshops.  This was absolutely fascinating.  We were shown around the printing and dyeing rooms, and I was lucky enough to join Sal at having a go at doing a screen print.  We also saw the massive looms the students use for weaving, both manual and digital looms.

A swift coffee break was followed by Hila and I heading to the photography studio.  Got to be honest, I didn’t find this the most comfortable experience in the world.  I think in an ideal situation, the photographer would have provided a little more guidance, but it was still kind of fun having all the lights and background and things set out.  Another time it would be great to have some music or something going on; not that Hila struggled! She was, as ever, fabulousness personified.

After a little struggle to get my machine working (yes, Heather did have to tell me how to switch it on.  And find the bobbin.  And reverse the stitch….. I was wondering whether I should really be there by then!) we headed off for a buffet lunch and the all important goody bags!

The goody bags were amazing.  There was just so much stuff in there, including a good length of fabric, a hand printed fat quarter, threads, patterns and loads of different notions.  And also sewing themed nail files; the things you never knew were missing from your life! I also picked up a few beauties in the fabric swap, so thank you very much to whoever brought those.

The absolute high point of the afternoon was the chance to have something embroidered on the professional embroidery machines.  Because we’d be told about this in advance, I had cut out a pair of Ginger jeans, other than the pockets, and then brought the spare fabric in order to have the pockets customised.  Bee had organised a range of designs to have available to us; once you’d chosen one, you got to pick the colours from the huge selection and then the machines worked their magic.  Got to be honest, there was a fair amount of giddiness going on at this point and, should I ever win the lottery, I know what I’m buying! I am now feeling a certain amount of pressure to get this second pair of Gingers wearable but, thanks to Heather kindly helping me fit my basted pair, I’m optimistic that I will shortly have the coolest pair of jeans going!

In and among there was plenty of sewing time.  I’d had a flap earlier in the week about what to bring and ended up cutting out 5 or 6 projects and throwing them all together in a bag.  I ended up starting with the Sewaholic Pendrell top in a rayon (printed with flowers which I now know are Ginko Biloba – thanks Sue!), largely because it would give me the chance to try both the binding machine and the hemming machine.

This wasn’t absolutely the best idea in the world, as my drapey fabric proved to have a mind of its own and fought the machines with a will! Thanks to the help of Becca and Anne, I eventually got there and finished my top part way though Sunday.

On Saturday evening, tables had been booked at a local pub for a meal.  This was really nice, with good food and good company.  I was finding all the people overwhelming at that point, so it was actually nice to find that several smaller tables had been booked.  I spent a lovely evening chatting in more depth with Hila, Claire and Kara about all manner of things and it was lovely to get to know people better.

The number of people involved was actually one of the high points for me.  New people or lots of people all at once are tricky for me; this was a really good sized group in that it wasn’t overwhelming. Everyone was absolutely lovely and you had chance to have proper conversations with people, rather than just very superficial chat and on to the next person.  I still didn’t manage to say hello to everyone, but it was lovely to finally meet some people who I’ve been interacting with on Instagram for several years now, as well as meeting a few new faces.

On Sunday morning, we had the chance to tour the degree shows for the textile department.  I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this (my degree is not only science based but was taken at a science college so the Arts world was all new to me) but I was blown away by the beauty of the displays.  I would happily have taken most things home with me and spent far longer than I would have expected just admiring the creations.

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For me, because I’d chosen to have the embroidery and photo shoot on the first day, Sunday was mostly about sewing. And chatting. And laughing more than I can remember laughing in a very long time.  If I’m very unlucky, Lucy will be sharing on social media a video Joanne and I made about what we’d enjoyed.  I should tell you that at the end of filming, we literally shouted “bye” at the guy with the camera, ran from the room, and collapsed on the floor halfway down the corridor in stitches like a pair of giddy teenagers.  I’m prepared to bet that we both appear to be hammered or insane on that film.  I definitely wasn’t the former……

I’m sure I’ve missed details out; there was simply so much put on that the days flew by.  I have definitely not name checked all the lovely people I chatted to and laughed with over the last two days.  I came away absolutely exhausted but so inspired by these fantastic women and all the creativity that surrounded us.  Thank you all, not just the fabulous organisers but my fellow sewists who made the weekend so incredible.

All I can say is, if they run this again next year, I will be doing everything I can to be there. I feel incredibly lucky to have had this chance this year.

Becca x

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