You know, when a person–let’s call her Jenny–takes a job as a writer on Kimberbell’s Marketing Team, one expects to do a lot of writing: product descriptions, magazine articles, even blog posts.
Never does one think, “If I accept this writing job, I’m finally on my way to appearing on a reality T.V. show.”
And yet, there I was on June 11, wearing a blue STITCHED shirt, nervously standing by my teammates and waiting for the camera guy to yell, “Action!” (FYI: He did not yell, “Action!” He just gave a subtle nod, which was fine. But, lack of Hollywood terminology notwithstanding, I do feel a tad let down that the gig didn’t come with a makeup artist, a hair stylist, and a trailer with a shiny, gold star on the door.)
Anyway, I thought you might have fun peeking “Behind the Seams” to see what the Spring 2020 STITCHED event was like through the eyes of a contestant. (We also wanted to give you a little something you’ve been asking for, so make sure you read to the bottom!) Wow. What a long, exhausting, super-fun, crazy, unforgettable experience STITCHED was. Part of me is so happy it’s over…the other part of me can’t wait until the next one. As a reminder, the ticket to view STITCHED is inside The Bella Box™. It’s not too late to buy yours today and enjoy the show!
As you might imagine, STITCHED takes a lot of time, effort, and planning. So, since I’m someone who doesn’t mind putting in a lot of time, effort, and planning, I volunteered…my good friend Becky to head the whole thing up. I do not feel badly about this. She was as detail-oriented and Becky-on-the-spot as I knew she would be and did an admirable job of keeping us organized. The Kimberbell staff really kicked into gear under her direction!
One of the many things Becky had to coordinate was a major, collaborative effort between the Product Development and Marketing Teams. You see, STITCHED was filmed in the Kimberbell Product Development Lab, which is normally filled to capacity with (I don’t even know how many) embroidery machines. As new designs are thoroughly tested on every single brand of machine, those babies are kept humming all day, every day. Turning the Product Development Lab into a film set meant moving the machines, moving the tables–everything. This was mostly done the night before so Product Development could set up temporary stations in the Marketing Room and continue their work. They were really good sports.
Speaking of good sports, it might also interest you to know that some friendly, competitive banter was happening between the teams during the hours leading up to the show. So when Erin (Captain of Team Grey) ended her “trash-talking” email to all of us by saying “BRING IT!” I (Team Blue) thought it would be appropriate to reply with a little poem:
Roses are red, violets are blue, and BLUE is the team who will win. (That’s not you.)
After which Deanna (Team Grey) replied something along the lines of, “Nice poem, but actions speak louder than words…just saying.” And Jayme (Team Orange) said, “If you need tips on how to be a winner for the next STITCHED…see Caden, Liz and me next week!”
And thus went the “trash talking” at Kimberbell.
On the morning of STITCHED, we all met bright and early to set everything up. And believe me, we wore our running shoes because there was a lot to be done! I spent a good chunk of time arranging Kimberbellishments and Kimberbell Blanks on the grid wall. I also mounted a big sign to the top, which looked pretty on the front but was a hot mess of packing tape on the back. (I did not want that sign falling during the show and may have been a little–um–enthusiastic with my tape usage.) As the morning rolled by, we all worked hard setting up team stations, hanging quilts, and transporting balloons until the set was ready to go.
All too soon, it was time to change and get a handle on my nerves (which were quickly building from a few butterflies to sheer panic). But I was also really excited to be on Team Blue and share the experience with two ladies whom I greatly esteem: Barbi and our fearless captain, Brielle. We decided to call ourselves the “Blue Bella Babes” (a totally fitting name, in my opinion).
I should also probably mention that because we had experienced some technical difficulties during the Winter 2019 STITCHED (the video freezing and not transmitting well during the live stream), it was decided at the last minute to pre-record this show. We worried that the freezing issues would happen again, and we really, really wanted viewers to be able to watch without interruption. So it was decided to film the show four hours early, at 3:00 p.m. (To a nervous contestant, 3:00 p.m. arrived awfully fast!) As the teams assembled and we all took our places, the room was palpably charged with excitement. We did the Macarena while we waited. (I’m going to blame my less-than-appealing dance moves on social distancing.)
Finally, it was time to start. The videographer gave Kim and Ryan the aforementioned subtle nod and STITCHED was officially underway! All I can really say about the next 30 minutes was that I have never–and I mean never ever–experienced a faster 30 minutes in my entire life. There had to have been some kind of shift in the space-time continuum. How do five minutes pass with the single blink of an eye? Because I’m pretty sure I blinked six times and the whole thing was over. Those 30 minutes were a total blur.
I can’t speak for the Orange or Grey Teams, but on Team Blue we definitely had the true “reality T.V.” experience with unexpected challenges at every turn. Somehow, our station didn’t have any pins, so we opened a pack of embroidery machine needles to use as pins (hey, the Blue Bella Babes can improvise). The machine had a thread break (which Jeanette helped us with solving) and as soon as that was all fixed, the bobbin ran out. (Hmmm. A sabotage by the other teams?) Looking back, all I remember is that the stitches were flying, the hot glue was flowing, and we just smiled through it all because one never knew when one was on camera. It was a furious, flurried frenzy and a focused, “Go! Go! Go!”
Then suddenly, the timer buzzed and it was all over. I was excited to show off our wall hanging, and particularly proud of our pocket with the Lace Zipper. I also couldn’t wait to see Erin’s reaction to her yearbook photo, which I incorporated into our project. In case you missed it, I had slipped Erin’s yearbook photo into one of the Sweet as Candy Colored Vinyl pockets for the world to see. Hey, in her trash talk she said, “BRING IT!” So I thought I’d bring it. (She was talking about her yearbook photo, right?) 🙂 And I’m so glad I did because the reaction was epic! Besides, if you ask me, photogenic high schoolers should simply expect their yearbook photos to pop up someday in their future career. Erin is photogenic. I do not feel bad.)
It was so fun to see what the other teams came up with, too. I tell you, the creative minds I work with every day just astound me. A skirt made from a Polka Dot Tea Towel? A diaper cover from a Denim Tote? (Well played, Team Grey, bringing Ammon’s darling baby in like that…) And how about Team Orange? A scrapbook from a Grey & Cream Buffalo Check Tote. Wow. I am without words.
Now, are you ready for your surprise? We have the scrapbook instructions to share with you! You’ve been asking for it, so…SURPRISE! Although we normally don’t give out STITCHED patterns (there usually aren’t any STITCHED patterns!), Liz, from Team Orange, was thoughtful enough to draw these up for you. So here they are! Please enjoy them, courtesy of talented, thoughtful Liz from the Orange Team. (And speaking of ORANGE, if you’d like to order that orange Bella Box and see the show, we have a few left so order today!)
Now, back to the actual event: once the camera stopped rolling, the cleanup began. Thankfully, it doesn’t take as long to take down as it does to set up (there’s a life lesson right there), so with everyone working together things came down in a hurry. Putting the Product Development Lab back to rights is another story, but Product Dev took care of that. (Have I mentioned how much we appreciate them?) As soon as the set was taken down, it was all hands on deck for the Marketing Team. After wading through a few technical issues and workarounds in uploading the video, we all spent the next several hours answering questions on social media. (Check out the Behind the Seams of STITCHED video!)
It was around 8:30 or 9:00 that night when I decided to call it a day. I thought it was time to remind my kids that they do, in fact, have a mom. So I ended my STITCHED experience just the way I wanted to: in my pajamas, watching the show with my family. As we watched, I couldn’t help but remember my job interview with Kim and Ryan some 16 months ago.
“You should know upfront that I don’t sew much,” I said. They laughed.
“Oh, you will!” they said. I laughed.
If they had told me then that I’d not only be sewing, but sewing on camera, I would have said they were crazy. Absolutely crazy. And maybe they are. Maybe we all are. I mean, who else in the machine embroidery/sewing industry decides to produce and broadcast a reality online competition just for fun? Kimberbell, that’s who!
I love my job.