We have long been fans of Sew4Home. Their smart project tutorials never fail to impress and we love that they always have an educational component, be it for a new technique, a favorite product or something else entirely. Over the last 7 years, they’ve built a strong following of sewists and quilters with an eye for quality and an undeniable creative flair. It was only a matter of time before they made a move and took the education offline. Introducing Sew4Home’s Sewing Escapes!
The very first event kicks off in a few short weeks and there are over 20 events currently planned through early 2017. To get a better idea of what to expect and to learn what these workshops are all about, we talked with Sew4Home Senior Editor, Liz Johnson.
Can you give us a bit of background on Sew4Home? What were your initial goals in starting the site back in 2009?
One of our main slogans is: Want it? Make it! When we started Sew4Home in 2009, our goal was to encourage people who’d never even switched on a sewing machine to become avid sewers. We wanted to give our visitors the confidence to produce projects that looked as good, if not better than, the items they drooled over on the shelves of stores and in the pages of catalogs and magazines. If someone was online searching to buy a pillow, we wanted them to find Sew4Home and consider making their very own pillow instead.
You’ve quickly become a key online destination for product highlights and project tutorials with a strong educational focus. Can you tell us a bit more about how you select your content?
We’ve created our active visitor base by not following the traditional quilting and garment-making emphasis of many sites. We focus on home décor, personal accessories, like our signature bags and totes, and really, really clear instructions. People turn to us for the latest trends, the hottest fabrics, and the best tools to put them all together. They want the kind of things they are seeing on the shelves of Anthropologie and Pottery Barn, as well as on Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram. They want designer fabric and cool embellishments. This is where Sew4Home stands out; we are always out there; watching, trend-spotting, and gathering the ideas from all kinds of sources: from hottest products at Neiman Marcus to textures and colors of the nature outside our windows. When we plan a project, we have three goals: 1) our original concept and design must be on-trend and beautiful, 2) our presentation must be professional and striking, and 3) our information must be thorough and easy to understand.
What do you love most about your readers and the community that you’ve built over the years?
As I keep going on and on about (because it’s so important – not just because I’m annoying), we dedicated Sew4Home to providing the most detailed, step-by-step project instructions and accompanying techniques. The kind that make you shout, “I finally get it! I can do that!” And we do it without ever sacrificing style or flair. So if you make one of our projects, your friends can shout, “Wow! You made that?!” We absolutely love it when we hear from our visitors that something finally clicked – that our instructions allowed them to finally have success. We call those: “lightbulb moments.”
How did the idea to take Sew4Home offline and into the retreat setting first come about?
We’d thought about it for awhile but it always seemed a bit too overwhelming to tackle on our own. Then, Janome America came to us with the idea of partnering. It was perfect, and it allowed us the support of a large, professional organization. Janome really focuses on education. In fact, they are one of the few machine companies that still maintains an in-house education department. Since they are so dedicated to education, we knew it was the perfect pairing.
What are your hopes for the retreats, both from a business and personal perspective?
We’re excited to be able to move from behind the virtual screen and meet up with our peeps! Hundreds of thousands of people visit Sew4Home every month from around the world, and we do get lots of comments and feedback, but it’s not the same as reaching out in person. And, with these Sewing Escapes we have a very strong goal to encourage NEW sewers to attend the retreats. We want to meet the twenty-somethings who are excited to “discover” sewing and see how fun it can be to create something unique. They are the foundation of the explosion in the DIY arena, they’re a huge part of our online audience, and we want them to be exposed to the fun in person, using great machines and tools and fabric… and thread :-)!
What can attendees expect from these retreats? What types of content will be covered?
Soooooo much! They’ll spend three days with the expert guidance of professional instructors and educators, leaving with three finished projects: a patchwork pillow, a designer bag, and an embroidered pouch. They’ll learn the tools, tricks, and techniques to create beautifully finished results from putting in zippers to in-the-hoop quilting and monogramming to how to box the corners of a bag. All in the Sew4Home style of true step-by-step instruction. We want to give people the confidence to not only make things for themselves, but also to be self-assured enough to possibly start that DIY or Etsy business they’ve been dreaming about.
Will each retreat have the same classes, or will they be specifically catered to each individual location?
The retreats are the same. Attendees get everything they need. All they have to bring is their enthusiasm. Each attendee will get his/her own brand new Janome Skyline S7 to sew on for the entire retreat — they even get to name their machines :-). We provide all the tools and the cutting and pressing stations, and the projects are kitted with all the fabric, interfacing, trims and notions to complete them. There’s even a pillow form for the pillow! In order to put together all these amazing items, we needed to keep things consistent from event to event.
Can you tell us a bit more about the pop-up shops?
Since the retreats are happening in off-site locations for the most comfortable atmosphere, we wanted to be sure there were opportunities for the attendees to be able to go home with some the great stuff they’ve spent the weekend working/playing with… and likely have fallen in love with! The Pop-Up Shops will have all those things available, plus new stuff from our sponsors that’s always fun to see and learn about.
There are currently 23 nationwide retreats planned through March of 2017. Will that be the end of the Sewing Escapes, or are there plans in the works to extend the tour?
Well, that depends on how well they go! Of course, we’re excited to see them continue, and there are many areas of the country that aren’t covered yet — even with 23 events! Plus, our friends across the border in Canada have been very vocal about how much they’d like to participate. But, as with everything, it has to be successful in terms of the number of attendees, customer building for the dealers, exposure for the sponsors, etc. etc. Everyone has been very enthusiastic, so we have high hopes that Sewing Escapes will be around for quite awhile.
You’ve partnered with Janome America to bring these retreats to life. What do you most love about Janome sewing machines and how do you feel like partnership will benefit attendees?
Janome America is a charter sponsor of Sew4Home, which means they have been with us from the get-go. This has been an incredible advantage for us; being able to create all our projects on Janome machines makes everything faster and easier, with incredible stitch quality every time. One of my favorite Janome slogans is: “The easier the tools, the more creative you become.” It’s so true! When you know you don’t have to worry about a machine’s precision or power, sewing is frustration-free. The fact that Janome has such a strong independent dealer network gave us an easy way to roll-out the retreats across the country. The 23 dealers hosting these events are some of the best in the country. They know machines and know how to show people how to use them. As I mentioned above, each attendee gets to sew on a new Janome Skyline S7 and then attendees will be paired-up to use the Janome 500E embroidery-only machines for the embroidery and monogramming techniques we’ll be teaching. We truly could not have done this without Janome. It’s been a team effort all the way.
We’re thrilled that Aurifil threads will play a big role in the retreats. We’ve partnered with you to feature our threads and also have a brand new exclusive thread box that will be available for sale in the retreat pop-up shops. What first drew you to Aurifil threads?
We were first introduced to Aurifil by our friends at Fat Quarter Shop when they introduced their Master Collections of your thread. We received a set to test and review, and that was that. We were in love. The analogy we used was: As salt is to cooking, so thread is to sewing: a staple we rely on but may not think too much about. And yet, the thread is what holds everything together! If the quality is low or the color is off, you’ll notice it as quickly as a too-salty soup. We were immediately impressed by the variety of colors, the strength, and the smooth stitching. And we were thrilled by all the big-name designers who had built their own Aurifil collections. A bonus: everyone we’ve worked with at Aurifil has been simply delightful: helpful, fun, and always looking for the next new idea.
SEW4HOME SEWING ESCAPES DETAILS
(to learn more or to register for an escape near you, please click here)
April 28-30, 2016 – Wexford, PA
May 6-8, 2016 – Noblesville, IN
May 13-15, 2016 – New Tazewell, TN
May 20-22, 2016 – Leesburg, VA
June 10-12, 2016 – Redlands, CA
June 17-19, 2016 – Albuquerque, NM
July 8-10, 2016 – Colorado Springs, CO
July 15-17, 2016 – Arlington Heights, IL
July 22-24, 2016 – Albert Lea, MN
August 5-7, 2016 – North East, PA
August 12-14, 2016 – Jacksonville, IL
August 19-21, 2016 – Santa Fe, NM
August 25-27, 2016 – Sarasota, FL
September 9-11, 2016 – Mobile, AL
September 16-18, 2016 – Lake Villa, IL
September 23-25, 2016 – Olympia, WA
October 7-9, 2016 – Long Beach, CA
October 14-16, 2016 – Findlay, OH
October 21-23, 2016 – Bordentown, NJ
November 4-6, 2016 – Boscowen, NH
November 11-13, 2016 – Kansas City, MO
December 2-4, 2016 – Lockport, NY
March 2-4, 2017 – Austin, TX
MORE ABOUT SEW4HOME
Sew4Home is a daily website dedicated to stylish home décor sewing – we believe anyone can and should make their own home décor. S4H offers beginner-friendly sewing projects by making instructions clear and simple. At the same time, our creations are designed to appeal to all levels of capability for their to-die-for results.
Since launching in early 2009, S4H has attracted a rapidly increasing core group of devoted readers. Our step-by-step tutorials, tips & tricks, and inspiration are all free to the user. We feature today’s easy-to-use sewing machines, beautiful and readily available fabrics, plus clever notions and tools. The S4H team is an experienced group with long ties to the sewing and design industry. We hope you’ll be inspired by our tutorials to transform your space. (via Sew4Home)
(images courtesy of Sew4Home)