On April 16th – 19th, 2015, the Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago, Illinois opened its doors and welcomed 80 sewists.  Each attendee had a weekend of uninterrupted time to cultivate their creative side, ample time to work on their projects, and throughout the weekend we offered them other means to inspire them through sponsored challenges.

  • We are grateful to have these two women of the quilting and crafting world to be onsite in Chicago as teachers’ assistants.  We wanted to take a couple minutes to introduce them and tell everyone how much Sewtopia appreciates their efforts and hard work.  ......

  • United Notions, Moda Fabrics and Moda Home is a multi-line fabric, notions and finished product manufacturer and distributor selling to the trade. They offer a wide range of fabrics, notions, patterns, books, quilting supplies and finished product in their Dallas warehouse. They have been in......

  • For Chicago, Illinois we have chosen the best quilt stores in the area and around The Drake Hotel.  If you haven’t been on a Shop Hop, it’s like a pub crawl only you’re shopping instead of drinking.  The shop hop will be taking place on......



The first teacher is Latifah Saafir of The Quilt Engineer.  She pushed the boundaries of modern quilting by “coloring outside the line.”  When you look at her works, it’s not simply straight piecing.  She uses curves and color that makes the projects pop. Creativity has always been Latifah Saafir’s lifeline but, life got hectic and it got away from in her early thirties. Having sewn her whole life and with a lifetime love of quilting she stumbled upon modern quilting in 2009 and for the first time found her voice as an artist. She dove in head first. Having just finished her first quilt, Latifah co-founded the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild and subsequently the Modern Quilt Guild. Her engineering background lends a very methodical approach to design but, also gives her ammunition for figuring out how to put together difficult blocks. As a result you’ll find lots of challenging techniques and innovate designs in her work.


The second teacher is Rita Hodge of Red Pepper Quilts.  She continues to amaze her readers and followers project after project.  Rita’s works are bright and refreshing.  To what seems to be effortless work, her combination of fabric choices makes each project unique. Quilting is her passion and fabric is her obsession. Rita’s quilting style is fresh and modern using simple and often traditional design ideas to make colorful quilts. The blog Red Pepper Quilts was started in early 2009, it is a journal of her creative self.   Rita hopes to show readers that easy to make quilts can be really striking, and that by taking smaThe ll risks in fabric and color selection the final product won’t disappoint. It is all about sharing her knowledge.  She hopes to inspire and challenge other quilters to create without fear of breaking the rules, pick up the rotary cutter and use their fabric stash, as well as learn new techniques


Sewtopia’s Sewing Lounge opened on Friday April 17, 2015 at 9am in the morning for classes.  The Lounge was left open and closed that night at midnight.  It reopened on Friday and Saturday at 9:00am to midnight.  Sunday’s schedule was 8am to noon.

The room is locked up every night so participants bringing their machines would not have to worry about carrying them back to their rooms. This time was used to finish up class projects and other sewing projects.

General notions were provided. Irons, cutting mats, rotary cutters, even thread!


The best part of getting together for the weekend is letting us take you to the best fabric and quilt stores in the area.   A shop hop is like a pub crawl only you’re shopping instead of drinking.   At the time of registration, we reserved spots on the bus, where we had prizes and games.  The shops offered special giveaways and sale prices as well.


Enjoy the virtual shop hop for the week of the event.  Each shop offered special giveaways and sale prices as well.  Shop in your jammies!  After check-in, each participant received the list of virtual stores offering special discounts and prizes.  They had a whole week to take advantage.


Throughout the weekend, Sewtopia offered up sewing challenges to inspire your creativity and there were prizes.  After you registered, we emailed you more information on the challenge. Participation was not required.  Sewtopia teamed up with Michael Miller Fabrics for a fabric challenge {more information}.


Sewtopia had one official secret swap that attendees can participate in.  After registration, we sent out an email asking questions and then with those answers we paired folks up.  We asked that participants brought their swap item to the event and we swapped them Saturday night!

Smalls Swap | #sewtopiaswap

Here were the rules:

  • If you’re on Instagram, please use this hashtag so others can cheer you on and your creative process
  • $money limit was $15 dollars, don’t break the bank!
  • Bring your swap item wrapped to Sewtopia Chicago
  • Make sure there’s something saying who it’s from, like a label or a slip of paper
  • Smalls category would be anything smaller than a 24×24 pillow or mini, mug rug, pin cushion, something for a sewing area, or a pouch
  • Make something that you love, out of fabrics you adore.
  • The folks of Sewtopia will do the secret swap Friday night after the sewing lounge closes. The swap items will be at your sewing station for Saturday morning for you to open.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t do the swap. . . we will only hand out swap gifts to those that participated.
  • Questions – email me and I’ll collect them all in a FAQs email to everyone.

Sewtopia | Chicago took place at the Drake Hotel, Downtown Chicago.  A four star hotel that opened in 1920, the landmark building is on the Magnificent Mile and is close to the Gold Coast, Lakefront Trail and the El train station.

Closest Airport

If you’re flying in, the airport is Chicago O’Hare.