We (Kate, Rachel & I) first began plotting The Sewing Weekender at the end of April, and last weekend our UK sewing holiday took place at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge. There were 59 of us in total (50 attendees, plus 9 organisers/prefects/speakers), over 25 sewing machines (as quite a few attendees brought along their own), 2 overlockers, 3 ironing boards & irons, and goodie bags and tea for everyone .
The (lovely) College porters seemed pretty amused by the arrival of 27 sewing machines, and 59 sewists. With the students away for the summer, we had the Murray Edwards campus practically to ourselves. The rest of the campus was sleepy, but our venue was a hive of activity. I failed to sew (or knit) a single stitch over the weekend – I’m not entirely sure what I did do, other than chat and drink tea, but I enjoyed every minute. Unlike me, other attendees were extremely efficient and dedicated – with newly finished garments being modelled on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
On Sunday, our lovely prefects and speakers each spoke to us on a different topic – with a common theme their willingness to be bold and try new things – whether in sewing, or design, or business. There were some nerves beforehand but they were such a bunch of pros once they started speaking.
Around the sewing, some of us strolled to nearby shops along the river to buy lunch at Fitzbillies (I chipped a tooth on one of their sandwiches – the fault is with my tooth rather than the sandwich – and it was still worth it), we took over one floor at a local pub on Saturday night, with some of us staying until (admittedly early) kicking out time, and of course we had a huge pattern and fabric swap.
I believe that meet-ups, in all shapes and forms, are important to our sewing community, and a perfect compliment to discussion online. I hope everyone who attended had chance to catch up with existing friends and to meet others for the first time. I first met fellow organiser Rachel at the 2014 London meet-up organised by Rachel Pinheiro; without which we might never have organised the Sewing Weekender.
If you’re planning to organise or create something new, I highly recommend doing it with people you love spending time with. Working with Kate and Rachel to organise the Sewing Weekender meant it always felt easy – and fun. Alone, I suspect it would have felt like work. And everyone who attended too – I’d like to spend a weekend with them every month, if there wasn’t quite so much planning and travel involved! Speaking of travel, the little map below gives an indication of where attendees travelled from – we had contingents from London & Birmingham (woo!), but also from further afield.