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Weekend Sewing Workshop at Blueberry Hill: Full Report!

in vermontHeather Ross14 Comments

barn? or sewing studio?? / photo by KELLY WILKINSON

I am so pleased to report that our first Weekend Sewing Workshop at Blueberry Hill Inn last weekend was a huge success. We were blessed with the perfect weather (sunny afternoons when we were at the lake or in town getting ice cream, small rain storms when we were sewing upstairs in the barn), amazing food, the sweetest Innkeeper in the North, Tony Clark, and most importantly: nine of the nicest, friendliest, and funniest ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Friday evening began with some really great local cheeses and a quick jump in the pond before dinner for me (which, if you take a look at my hair in any of the photos, is tragically evident). Goody bags, generously stocked by STC Craft, Denyse Schmidt, and Oliver & S, were hung on doorknobs, waiting for sewing ladies to arrive from literally every corner of the continent (Courtney gets extra points for coming from western Canada AND with a big pregnant belly), some of whom hit traffic and stumbled in a bit late but still, amazingly, itching to sew.

Karen gets her twirl on (Yard Sale Skirt, Weekend Sewing)

After an enormous four course dinner we wandered out to the barn, past Cell Phone Rock (the only spot where any of us could get more than a single bar), and claimed our workstations. Page, BBH's Girl Everything, kept our sweat-shop stocked with homemade cookies and big pitchers of icy lemonade with fresh mint, which came in handy considering the heat that 11 people, two irons, and a muggy evening can generate. We tried opening a window or two but when a moth the size of a small owl landed on my forehead we decided that we would ask for fans instead, which did the trick. We were up til after midnight, sewing and scheming and cutting and laughing. We finally decided it was time for bed when Kelly realized that she had been sewing for a very long time without any thread in her bobbin.

Breakfasts at BBH are huge. Bacon AND pancakes. Good thing we were planning a hike. Most of us were able to resist going back to bed and went back to the barn, where we sewed happily until Page came to get us for lunch. About half of us packed sandwiches (and enough cookies to bribe a hungry bear if necessary) and headed out to Silver Lake. Silver lake is a very rare gem: a secluded and extremely deep, clear lake. Not a single house sits on its shores, just miles of forest in every direction. But, because it used to be the site of a homestead and then a big rambling Inn (that once boasted, legend has it, Vermonts largest outhouse!), it still has grassy lawns leading to a sandy beach, an old apple orchard, and berry patches. After grazing in the shrubbery for a little while we sprawled out on the sandy little beach and had some lunch, then jumped in. The water was perfect enough for us to actually stay in for quite a long time, treading water. Working off that bacon. And those cookies. Kelly realized that it could be her last lake swim of the season, so she backstroked away from us as we headed back to the beach. I wasn't sure if we would ever be able to coax her back in, but then again we did have the cookies.

We were also lucky enough to find some wild Chanterelle mushrooms on the side of the trail. We picked them and left them in the kitchen for Tim. Inspired by our find (which hinted that there were many many more lurking in the woods around us) Tony took a few young guests into the woods later that afternoon and returned with enough to feed a crafty army. BBH and its chef, Tim, make every effort to serve locally grown and produced food, and grow their own lettuces and herbs in a little garden just outside the kitchen.

me and liesl, leading a serious sewing discussion / photo by KELLY WILKINSON

We made it back the Inn in time to do some more sewing before cocktail / cheese hour by the pond, where Tony joined us and told us the story of the Inn and how he came to be its keeper after growing up in France and England, and about the efforts to protect and conserve the land that surrounds BBH. He really could have been talking about anything, as far as we were concerned. A bit of cheese and champagne pondside and entertaining stories from a charming well dressed gentleman with an accent? Hello.

Dinner was ridiculous. The sewists formerly known as Karen and April (but now known solely as The Ric Rac Sisters) were a little unconvinced about eating crispy duck... until they tried it. Kelly and I drank a nice rose, which brought back fond memories of the Boons Farm we were both weaned on. After dessert we all wandered back out to our machines and our sewing projects, which were really beginning to take shape now. Laura and Kelly were both working on versions of dress patterns from Weekend Sewing, employing scooped necklines and inventive trims and finishes. Liesl and I geeked out completely and convinced Laura to make a shifted bias trim around the neck of her dress, which worked beautifully. Courtney was knee deep into her diaper bag, The Ric Rac Sisters were churning out lots of great stuff, much of it made on the little Singer Featherweight that April had brought all the way from Idaho. Diana was making excellent time on a camp shirt for her guy, despite those $%#@! instructions, and mom and daughter team Kathy and Becca were both working on lovely summer blouses, customized and coming along nicely. Rachel tackled the Flower Girl Dress, which made me think that perhaps I should do a video tutorial for, in that the bodice is a teensy bit tricky. She was quite brave...

Liesl Gibson, my friend and special guest teacher (and of disdressed and Oliver+S fame) and I were a very good team, if I do say so myself. We had a lot of fun designing and problem-solving together and jumping from project to project. I learned a lot from her, and can imagine everyone else did too. I have long suspected that her skill level sits far above the norm, now I am certain of it. Her patience and attention to detail (there was no skipping of steps when she was watching!) were quite humbling, her teaching skills inspiring. I can now see first hand why her pattern company, Oliver & S, is so successful, and has earned her such a high level of respect among both the new sewers and the experts.

Sunday was all about finishing up what we could. Check-out was at 11, but some of us were stll sewing at 2! We finally wrapped up and after a long relaxing lunch next to the pond, began saying goodbye. Then decided to go into town for ice cream. THEN said goodbye again. None of us really wanted to leave. Lucky for me, I get to go back at the end of August with a whole new troupe, this time with Denyse Schmidt as my special guest teacher. I am already looking forward to it.

For lots more photos of the weekend, go here, here, here, and more to come!

PS: I returned to NYC to learn that we have two newly opened spots left for our August workshop! These will go fast, so let me know sap if you want them!