We’re proud to announce that for our 13th event we teamed up with the most inspirational designers and pattern writers of our industry for Spring 2020, April 2nd – April 5th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sewtopia Las Vegas will be structured like our past spring events in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Included in your registration fee, you’ll have the opportunity to take classes taught by extraordinary and influential women from the modern quilting and sewing world at the Flamingo Resort located at the center of the Las Vegas Strip.
Alexia Marcelle Abegg
Alexia Marcelle Abegg is multi-disciplined artist. She designs fabric with Ruby Star Society, creates wheel thrown ceramics, sewing patterns, and hand dyed goods. She has taught sewing for over a decade. Her collaborations include Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Sewing, Queen of Cups Handmade, and Green Bee Patterns. She lives in Nashville TN with her husband and their two dogs, Olive and Soda.
Kimberly Kight is a fabric obsessive. She helped shape and influence the modern fabric and quilting scene with her now-retired blog True Up. From the time she started sewing, she has collected vintage fabrics and feedsacks. As a designer with Ruby Star Society, she mixes various vintage and modern design influences to build fun, narrative-based collections and quilt patterns. Kim is also the author of A Field Guide to Fabric Design (Stash Books, 2011). She lives in Dripping Springs, Texas (“the gateway to the Hill Country” outside of Austin).
Special Guest Speaker
We're excited to have Melody Miller as a special guest during our open reception on Thursday night at our Open Reception.
Ruby Star Founder and Creative Director Melody Miller is a goal-setter, and unlike most of us, the big, scary, long-term ones are her favorites. “The hardest part is knowing what I want, but once I’m clear, I go for it.” We’re lucky that those goals, once upon a time, pushed her down an entrepreneurial path – one that eventually wound its way toward founding a fabric business.
“I had to advocate for myself starting when I was a kid,” she explains. “My childhood wasn’t easy. If I wanted something, I had to make that happen, and it’s become part of my nature now. I'm just very driven to keep moving forward.” From growing up in the South Carolina Lowcountry and attending Furman University, followed by a time studying industrial design at Pratt Institute in in New York, to a crash course in branding while working at an Atlanta real estate office and endeavors selling curtains and pillows on Etsy, she eventually entered the fabric industry designing for Japanese manufacturer, Kokka.
Then in 2013, she dreamt up the idea of Cotton+Steel, a modern fabric brand that began with collections and collaborations from five diverse female designers – something fresh and new for the industry that no one else had done at the time. For Melody, it was the perfect amalgamation of her past experiences and skills, combining art, illustration, sewing, marketing and branding into one magical, creative venture.
Led by that same intuition, Melody – and the four other founding designers – left Cotton+Steel in Spring 2018, and she began working to form Ruby Star Society. “I had built my dream job. I knew what I could do, and I wasn't ready for it to be over,” Melody says on deciding to create the new brand. And it’s to continue a career path she’s built for herself, sure, but when Melody talks about what she wants for Ruby Star Society, it’s clear that it’s not really about her, but rather, the collection of artists she’s brought together, and the women out in the world they’re creating fabrics for. “Our designers have each grown in really beautiful ways, and I so strongly want this brand to accurately reflect the growth, wisdom, and courage of our artists,” she adds. “In a lot of ways, it's the same job, the same people. But it feels so different… I’ve learned so much, and we're all stronger. It’s been exciting to watch this new vision be realized.”
Make n' Take
Beginning at our Atlanta event in 2015, Sewtopia invites local designers and artists to do a small Make n' Take. The designer will show a small project that can be worked on site. First you make it and then you take it. For our Las Vegas event Ruby Star Society will doing three make n' takes. Participation is voluntary, but we wouldn't miss it for the world!
From summers in Japan with her fashion model mother to publishing two sewing books born of a wildly successful blog, Bay Area-based designer Rashida Coleman-Hale has lived a life brimming with excitement and inspiration. After attending FIT in New York, she ended up trading the fashion world for design, teaching herself Photoshop and Illustrator and dabbling in freelance graphic design, but she can actually credit motherhood for her segue to fabric design. “I met my husband and we had our first baby. She was so easy that it gave me time to get back into sewing, and soon after, I began my blog.”
What began as a hobby for a stay-at-home mom turned into a successful business venture, and a magazine soon reached out to Rashida about creating sewing articles for them, which led to the opportunity to write a sewing book. But Rashida soon yearned for her next adventure – designing fabric. Before Ruby Star Society, Rashida designed collections with Timeless Treasures and Cloud 9 Fabrics, and she was a founding designer of Cotton+Steel. A full-fledged member of the sewing and quilt community, Rashida’s favorite thing about her industry is the connections she’s made with her fellow sewers and designers. “It’s the warmest, nicest community,” she says. “They’re so welcoming and supportive… I was so shy at my first market, and they instantly made me feel comfortable and included.”
With a background in film, Ohio native Devon Iott knows what’s pleasing to the eye. However, her career trajectory completely changed when she picked up a seemingly simple part-time job at a craft store, and soon went from being a cashier to a teacher of the store’s curriculum, cultivating a serious passion for sewing along the way. “I thought I wanted to work in the film industry, and then this kind of just happened. I met and became friends with some great people, one job led to the next, and suddenly I was on a different path.” Since then she’s worked in multiple fabric stores and for companies like Singer-Viking-Pfaff sewing machines and Colette Patterns.
Devon now operates as the go-to, get-it-done, check all the boxes doer for Ruby Star Society: she reigns over social media, plans product photography and coordinates special projects with the designers. “I do a lot of different behind-the-scenes things, everything from coming up with kits to putting together catalogues and sometimes even sewing samples.”
Her personality is suited perfectly for the work she does for Ruby Star, keeping the company humming like a well-oiled machine. “I love organizing, and details, and projects,” she says. “I’d say I’m an ‘observer’ personality, where I don’t always need or want to be out front, but I love to keep everything moving in the background.”
When your means are limited, the most valuable weapon to have in your creative arsenal is imagination – something Atlanta-based designer Sarah Watts has in spades. “We were always drawing to pass the time,” she says of her childhood. “Making things, inventing things like playhouses and creating things out of nothing. Art was a very welcome and encouraging thing for us. It was a steady passion that helped me get through the toughest times." As early as high school, Sarah’s entrepreneurial spirit drove her to sell artwork and find ways to make a living off of her creative wares. “I had to help my parents with the bills at a young age. I would sell custom posters for people, draw them as characters, and even did window painting for the holidays. That’s how I first realized, ‘Oh, this could be my career.’”
Sarah graduated with a major in illustration from Ringling College and landed her first design gig at a children’s brand designing baby clothes, but soon yearned for freedom and space to develop a style all her own. When she received an offer to design her own collection for Blend Fabrics, she took the leap into exploring her personal style and design process, and soon after, joined the team at Cotton+Steel as a founding designer. “When I got into the fabric industry, I fell in love with it – hard. And then when I met the Ruby Star ladies, the energy right off the bat was amazing… The undertone of the whole industry is togetherness and working.”
Since then, Sarah has launched a new stationery brand with her husband and daughter called Craftedmoon. It has always been a fantasy for Sarah to own a paper goods company, and she finally had the guts to make it happen. (Cat lovers, sewists and yarn collectors rejoice!) Craftedmoon specializes in eco-friendly stationery and gifts for the crafty homebody that feature relatable threads of humor, inspiring quotes and an occasional touch of darkness.
People's Choice Award for Milwaukee 18 by Kristin R.
Prior to the event, Sewtopia will offer a fabric challenge that will be mailed out to each attendee. Each package will include 6 fat quarters from our sponsor. You’re encouraged to make something, and the only requirement is using the manufacturer fabrics