Creative Geniuses Jacqueline Sava Clarke and Karyn Valino
These creative business owners are now creative authors with the upcoming release of “Handmade Getaway.”
If a destination sewing weekend with a few of your friends sounds like a dream getaway, you probably need to pick up a copy of “Handmade Getaway.” The upcoming release by DIY-minded business owners Jacqueline Sava Clarke and Karyn Valino is a project-based book to help readers plan the perfect sewing retreat with like-minded friends. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to sewing or have been behind a sewing machine for decades — the duo’s book helps guide you from getaway idea to execution.
Karyn has been documenting the pair’s getaways since 2011 and has a resource of thousands of images from these semi-annual trips which helped fuel the idea for “Handmade Getaway.” Between projects, charts and tips, you’ll find these images. Karyn opened the workroom (a sewing shop and studio in Toronto, Canada) in 2007, dreaming of a place where the local maker community could gather. She didn’t realize that the workroom's doors would open to a flood of enthusiastic crafters, strangers who would become best friends, and families that would grow before her eyes.
Jacqueline is the founder and Director of Possibilities at Soak Wash. Her company makes, markets and internationally distributes Soak modern laundry care and Flatter ironing spray, a popular tool for sewers, quilters, knitters and crafters. She teaches design strategy and lectures on entrepreneurialism and business development. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Jacqueline is a talented maker who loves sharing her passion with friends who are fellow sewing enthusiasts.
Learn more about the new book, what makes for a successful getaway, and why time spent focused on making is an important, special treat all creative geniuses are sure to enjoy.
What’s “Handmade Getaway” all about?
“Handmade Getaway” is a project-based book that guides you through planning and creating a perfect sewing adventure filled with fabric, friends and food. It’s over 160 pages of projects, pro tips and stories from our personal handmade getaways. The book visually documents our years of getaways through scenic photographs, step-by-step instructions and dynamic design.
What prompted you two to write the book?
The idea for ”Handmade Getaway” came to life at one of our winter cottage retreats. It was the last afternoon. We’d just made a lunch from all our leftovers (one of our last-day tricks), and we were feeling pretty good about how smoothly the weekend had gone and how many projects we had all worked on over the last few days. We wondered aloud if we should document all the tools, charts and systems we had created over the years. We all started throwing out ideas and memories about what we had figured out through trial and error. Mostly, we knew what a special time these getaways had become for all of us, and the idea of sharing this part of our lives was really exciting. We’d learned lessons that only come with years of experience. And the biggest one was that a little planning goes a long way. We realized that we wanted to share the wealth of knowledge we had gained with our community, knowing how much these tips and tricks could help others have successful getaways. At that point, we decided to come up with a table of contents to see if we had enough to talk about for a whole book. Karyn, who photographed the book, had been documenting our getaways for years, so we wanted to see if we could tell the story that could go alongside her images. Creating the book was the natural next step.
What type of projects will readers find in the book?
Whether you’re just learning how to sew, or you’re an advanced maker, you’ll find inspiration in the pages of our book. Organized into five chapters, it covers everything from planning to execution — whether you only have a few hours to spend, or you’re planning a multi-day getaway. Each chapter covers fabric, friends and food, with tips and resources to help you plan.
You’ll find projects for hand and machine sewing, quilting, making accessories and textile crafts (like cyanotype, foil transfer and printmaking). The book includes:
- 12 individual projects
- 5 group projects
- 4 mini projects
- 4 group activities
- 3 planning charts
- tons of pro tips
“Handmade Getaway” was community funded in a matter of days. How did that response make the two of you feel?
Overwhelmed is the first word that comes to mind. It really feels fitting that this book has been funded by our community. Our biggest desire was to share the incredible experiences and friendships we have built with our handmade getaways so that others could do the same. To shoot past our goal in just 10 days and then to reach our stretch goal at the very last minute was a great affirmation that the idea really resonates with so many people. This book is being published with such a strong community effort in every way, and the significance of that carries us through all the challenges of publishing it independently.
How do your backgrounds as creative-based business owners pair with your new roles as creative-based authors?
There’s definitely a lot of parallels, and our individual strengths complement each other so well. Our backgrounds in retail, product distribution and design were very helpful when facing the learning curves of independent publishing and authoring a book. Our experience working on lots of projects at once was very helpful as we integrated this project into our busy schedules. We were also able to reach out to our community when we needed support, advice, editing or extra creative hands. Personally, our skills are very complementary, and we were able to divide and conquer as we moved through the various stages of the book. We both manage large teams, so we were quick to delegate tasks, trust each other’s strengths and move forward with confidence as the book came to life.
What kind of trends are you seeing in DIY workshops this year?
This year, hand work and embroidery are incredibly popular. People are excited by techniques such as Sashiko, embroidery, hand quilting and visible mending, especially. One of our “Handmade Getaway” projects is a modern Sashiko tea towel design. It’s something you can work on anywhere you are, whether it’s sitting on the dock or curled up on your couch at home.
For someone who might be new to sewing, are there certain supplies they should have on hand to use with “Handmade Getaway?”
We call out a lot of our favorite supplies throughout the book, like the edge stitch foot for your sewing machine, rolls of washi tape for marking your tools, hanging quilt blocks on the wall and your food chart on the fridge. One of our main practices is to pack more projects and fabric than clothes. The key insight is to plan your projects before your getaway, so you bring all of your supplies with you, as you don’t want to be away and missing something.
What would an ideal making-themed getaway look like?
Over the years, we’ve created our ideal getaway, so our ideal making-themed getaway would be what you’ll see unfold in the pages of the book. We sew outside in the summer, stay cozy in the winter and integrate lovely homemade meals into our days. As part of our Kickstarter campaign, we offered an all-inclusive getaway to Makers Luck in Austin, Texas. So, in this idyllic setting, we will have all of our favorite getaway elements, plus a custom, catered spread of exceptional food.
Here’s a dreamy list of what we love about our getaways:
- Sleeping in late
- Morning coffee (delivered by someone who woke up earlier than you did)
- Uninterrupted sewing time
- Cake for breakfast
- Hanging out with friends
- Large cutting tables
- Adventurous cocktails
- Beautiful sunsets
- Campfire nachos and margaritas
- Plenty of space to spread out and work
- S'mores and red wine by the fire pit
- Night swimming
Do you think today’s destination sewing retreat is a modern take on historic sewing bees?
That’s definitely a part of the attraction, but I think it also goes beyond the idea of community work and gathering for a common goal or project. It also speaks to the importance of self-care, and how much we need to carve out that time for ourselves to be creative, to unplug from work, to eat good food, and be taken care of by our friends.