By Editor Laurie Edwards Baker
I recently had the pleasure of attending Common Threads 2016, an event sponsored by Baby Lock that brought together more than 40 quilters, sewers, crafters, bloggers, and industry professionals. This was the third year Baby Lock has held the event but my first year attending. Honestly, it was way too much fun to call it work, but I was there representing the magazine, so we’ll just have to pretend that I suffered terribly for two days while Baby Lock allowed me to play learn more about their company and products.
Like many of you, I came from a garment sewing background. My first big purchase after graduating from college wasn’t a car, it was a serger—a Baby Lock serger. They were the first machine company to bring sergers to home sewers, and I had to have one. Being a poor, just-graduated college student, however, I had to pay for it over the course of a year through an installment plan. It was money well spent though (I built my credit score at the same time!), and I used the heck out of that machine. Several years later, Baby Lock came out with a machine that could be threaded with the push of a button, and I had to have one of those too. Both machines are still on duty in my sewing room. So, I’m not unfamiliar with the Baby Lock name, but this event gave me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the company and meet a whole lot of great people who enjoy making things.
The love Baby Lock has for the sewing community was apparent upon checking in at the hotel, where I was given an official badge and a bag brimming with goodies. Who doesn’t love a bag full of sewing swag?!
After I unpacked and freshened up, I headed across the hotel parking lot to the Tacony Achievement Center, our playground for the next couple of days.
It was time to get started! Steve Jeffrey, President of Baby Lock USA and Senior Vice President of Sewing Products at Tacony (Baby Lock’s parent company), welcomed us, and then we took a tour of Tacony’s headquarters. Tacony has four divisions: sewing, home floor care, commercial floor care, and ceiling fans and lighting. We were smitten by the rows and rows of boxed sewing machines in the warehouse, stacked from floor to ceiling, but the vacuum cleaner testing area ran a close second. They really put their vacuum cleaners, as well as all their other products, through the paces before deeming them ready for the consumer to use.
We returned to the Tacony Achievement Center after the tour, where we enjoyed a great meal followed by an ice cream social where we got to meet and mingle with the other participants and Baby Lock staff before going back to our hotel rooms.
Day 2 was FULL. We started by getting to know each other a little better using the speed dating model. Every three minutes the bell rang and we got to meet someone else. I only knew a handful of people going into the event, but I came out with a stack of business cards and lots of great ideas that I hope to share in the magazine.
After our getting-to-know-you activity, it was time to sew. I don’t get to sew nearly as often as I’d like, so I was thrilled at the thought of actually making something and even more excited that the Destiny [babylock.com/sewing/destiny/] sewing machines that were set up for us to use looked pretty darn awesome. I was also a wee bit panic stricken because they looked kind of intimidating. I shouldn’t have worried though, because (1) the machines are user friendly and pretty much tell you what to do and (2) my sewing partner for the day was multi-talented artist Jerry Granata, who also happens to be a Baby Lock educator and a natural-born teacher. Man, did I luck out!
The first project was a machine appliquéd and quilted purse taught by Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch [abitofstitch.com]. If you can lay the appliqué fabric in the hoop and press a button, you can appliqué with this machine. It was seriously that simple. The large touch screen tells you where you are every step of the way and what to do next. Pretty simple. But even more amazing was that the machine can be programmed to quilt around your design…and you don’t even have to be there. Isn’t this a cute bag? The fabric for all the projects was generously donated by Riley Blake Designs [rileyblakedesigns.com].
I have to admit though, that I really loved the automatic needle threader. It never missed! Take a look for yourself.
We started our next project after a scrumptious lunch (no one went hungry at this event). This time, Lindsay Wilkes, otherwise known as The Cottage Mama [www.thecottagemama.com], led us in making pillowcase dresses for the Little Dresses for Africa organizat ion. We learned a different method for appliquéing the sweet little bird motif onto the hemline of these cute little dresses and felt good about using our talents to help others.
The rest of the evening was ours to do with as we wanted. Some finished their projects, others worked on projects they’d brought from home, and some just hung out and got better acquainted.
No trip to Baby Lock would be complete without playtime on a serger, right? So, our last few hours before returning home were spent making a zippered pouch on the Baby Lock Ovation [babylock.com/sergers/ovation/]. I was perfectly content with the two sergers I owned, right up until I pushed the foot pedal and saw that beautiful cover stitch. And then there was the wave stitch we used to attach and embellish the zipper. Did I mention what a slick hanging loop the belt loop binder attachment made? Yeah, I’m going to have to have one of these too.
Everyone who attended has the opportunity to recap the event, so check out other posts here [www.babylock.com/commonthreads2016]. You might even win your very own bag of swag!