Attending a (Virtual) Star-Spangled Celebration

Photo of three event projects together



I love everything about the Fourth of July. The parades. The patriotism. The fireworks. Tears in my eyes and pride in my heart--all the things. So, with my favorite holiday just around the corner, I was super excited to attend Kimberbell’s Star-Spangled Celebration!

The first order of business, of course, was to sign up through my quilt shop. As you may know, Kimberbell is allowing machine embroidery events to be held virtually through the end of 2020. This means that regardless of where you live, you can sign up for an event through your favorite quilt shop (wherever they’re located) and they’ll take good care of you. 

Star-Spangled Celebration Attendee Kit

After registering for the class,  I had a few to-dos before the big day: getting my Attendee Kit (shops will ship if you’re unable to pick up), making sure I had the right thread colors and stabilizers on hand  (the shop let me know what those were), stocking up on needles and prewound bobbins (just in case), and, of course, trying to contain my excitement as I counted down to the event! 

My shop was absolutely wonderful about communicating with attendees. Not only did they send fun and newsy emails about what to do and expect, they also set up a private Facebook group so we could participate in contests and giveaways before, during, and after the event. Zoom, a video conferencing tool, was used for the event itself and the link was sent out to everyone beforehand. (Remember, shops will hold their virtual events in different ways, so check to see what video platforms they’re using!) 

Attendees in the virtual classroomBefore the celebration started, I also made sure to transfer the designs from the CD to my USB stick and upload them to my machine so I’d be ready. (In case you’re wondering, I did this “by the dawn’s early light.” I thought this highly appropriate.) :) Finally, the time came for the event to start! I logged in with my Zoom link and blasted off to my Star-Spangled Celebration.

And wow, what a celebration it was! The instructors at the quilt shop launched the event by dancing to the song, “Party in the U.S.A.,” so I knew I was in for a great time with some fun folks. After working through a few technical glitches (par for the course with anything virtual), we got started! It was wonderful seeing so many attendees gathered from all over the country (from “sea to shining sea,”as it were), all excited to embark on the same creative journey together.  Within minutes, we were stitching our first project: the Sweet Land of Liberty Mug Rug. Sweet Land of Liberty Mug Rug

I have a confession to make: although I know a lot about Mug Rugs (heck, my kids and I are even in the Mug Rugs Volume 3 video), the Sweet Land of Liberty Mug Rug was the very first I’ve ever made. (But it won’t be my last!) Oh my goodness, no wonder Mug Rugs are so popular with machine embroidery enthusiasts. They’re darling and diverse and very, very giftable. Made completely in-the-hoop with pieced stripes and stitched stars, the Sweet Land of Liberty Mug Rug didn’t take long at all. Before I knew it, we were finished with our project and waving them proudly in front of our web cameras.

May I just say how fun that was? Although I’d never met my classmates, we were all stitching the same project at the same time. The camaraderie was real, even virtually, and it was rewarding to share our creations with each other and celebrate successes. It was also wonderful having instructors walking us through each project, step by step. They were true teachers, giving helpful hints throughout the day like why it’s important to pull your thread from the bottom, how to use a waterbrush for crisp folds, troubleshooting machines, and more. You just don’t get that kind of tutelage when stitching on your own.

Picture of fireworksThe next project was the Home of the Brave Pennant. As I stitched, I thought of a man who lived in my neighborhood years ago--an excellent man, a devoted husband and father. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army and had served in Afghanistan. One Independence Day, as I was getting ready to attend our big, community fireworks show at the stadium, I happened to ask this man’s little daughter if their family would be going, too.

“No,” she said. “My daddy doesn’t like fireworks. The boom noises remind him of Afghanistan.” 

That stopped me in my tracks. All that night, as I watched the beautiful fireworks lighting up the sky, I thought about how I was there, enjoying fireworks, and he wasn’t. And yet, it was because of what he did that allowed me, my family, and millions of other Americans to celebrate without fear. The Home of the Brave Pennant says, “Home of the free because of the brave.” I’ll never see another fireworks show without thinking of this man and sending up prayers of gratitude for him and others like him.Home of the Brave Pennant

The Home of the Brave Pennant includes sparkly firecrackers made with decorative stitching and a fun fringe technique. And here’s confession number two: I’ve always been nervous about fringe. There’s something so counterintuitive about clipping through bobbin stitches! (Didn’t I just stitch those--on purpose? What if I undo more than I’m supposed to?) But with the encouragement of our instructor, I clipped those stitches with confidence and my firecracker fringe is everything I hoped it could be. I couldn’t be any prouder of  my pennant, trimmed with red tassels and topped with a dowel and a loop of Kimberbell Twine.

All American Celebration ToteThe final project of the day was the All-American Celebration Tote. I love this little bag! We learned a lot of new techniques with this one, including  how to embroider with Vinyl and Mylar, how to sew on a button with an embroidery machine--even how to do box corners and add a lining. (I actually chose not to box the corners or line the bag, but the attendees who did had beautiful results!) It should be noted that Kimberbell’s Denim Totes come without the side seams sewn up, making them super easy to hoop. After the embroidery was finished, it took just a couple of minutes to stitch up the sides. You can bet I’ll be taking my All-American Celebration Tote to my next Fourth of July parade! 

Throughout the event, my quilt shop also invited us to take part in a scavenger hunt (which included some pretty sweet prizes)! The game included us finding things around our home that fit the event theme, such as historical items, something blue, a red food, and so on. As the game was played throughout, we’d occasionally stop stitching to scrounge for the requested items and show them to the group. This was such a fun way to spice up the day! We also were able to see the five coordinating designs included in the America’s Birthday Bash Event Bonus CD, which lots of attendees were very excited about. Scavenger hunt items

And then, just like that, my Star-Spangled Celebration experience was over. At the conclusion of the event, attendees were asked to post something new they had learned in the Facebook group. As I scrolled through the feed, I was amazed at the many diverse comments. Clearly, attendees walked away with much more than three patriotic projects; we also walked away with valuable knowledge, new techniques, ways to troubleshoot, and more. So here's a big, sincere "Thank you!" to my quilt shop for all they did to help me experience the joy of creativity™ at the Star-Spangled Celebration! And as you're getting ready for your own Independence Day celebrations this year, be sure to check out our coordinating product recipe: Star-Spangled Potato Salad!

by Jenny Lyman

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