patchwork show santa ana spring 2013

in 2007 i had my heart broken. it was bad. the kind of heartache that makes sleeping almost impossible because your brain races through every moment of the failed relationship trying to figure out what went wrong. it was the kind of heartache that causes you to excuse yourself from the dinner table every 20 minutes to go to the bathroom and write it all down in your journal because you can’t bring yourself to repeat every sad feeling and thought again to the friends and family who were sweet enough to pull you out of bed and force you to sit down and eat something. it was the kind of heartache that found refuge not just in feelings and thoughts but in things. I recall a particularly humiliating episode of uncontrollable sobbing at my corner market when the beef jerky display next to the register launched me into a lengthy tear-filled monologue to the clerk about how once on a road trip to Big Sur my ex and i had eaten beef jerky. it wasn’t just beef jerky though. pretty much every item and room in my house held a memory that signaled weeping.

the first step to unbreaking my heart was getting out of that house and out of la, therefore eliminating the very real possibility of running into the ex. delilah (my aunt, friend and now business partner) offered me refuge from memory filled things and places by renting me a room in her house in orange county.

for the first time since i’d left orange county…leaving la and settling back into the conservative town i’d run from for college when i was 17, didn’t seem so bad. i packed a u-haul, rented a storage unit and moved only what was essential to a room in delilah’s house in irvine. truth be told, irvine is not the solution to a broken heart. i don’t suggest it to anyone. the architecture is beyond boring and the wide streets with perfectly placed shrubs are hardly inspiring. but, it worked for me.

i spent my mornings learning how to be alone again. i’d get up and take a walk, hoping but never succeeding to find something the least bit interesting to photograph with my polaroid camera which had become a jacked up version of a security blanket. these walks became a mission to find at least one thing to photograph each day…cracks in the sidewalks, fallen leaves and chain link fences. i began to give in to the routine sameness of living in a planned community. at night after delilah and her boyfriend gustavo went to bed i’d head out to the makeshift studio/office i’d made in our garage, which we named the garoffice and i’d paint and collage until the wee hours.

evenings were spent in our backyard with crickets, warm air, the sounds of sprinklers and a bottle of cheap pinot noir. delilah coaxed me back into the world of the living and eventually we began to talk about something besides my ex. unlike me, delilah had never left orange county. after high school i went to san francisco to live in a ‘cool’ place. after high school delilah stayed and did everything she could to make oc cool.

finally we were both living in the same place and wanting the same thing…community and coolness where we lived. i was frustrated with the lack of craft fairs in the oc but overjoyed with the abundance of oc crafters. we both realized these makers needed a venue and shouldn’t have to drag their goods to la or sf for craft fairs. they didn’t just need a venue. they needed a venue that was run by people who understood what vendors needed not just how to sell booths. we began to brainstorm and a few weeks later, set a date for the first patchwork show. i begged the la crafters i knew to trek out to santa ana. delilah worked her magic with local businesses to help with promotion. we had no money and drew on every resource we had to make that first show with 25 vendors wedged into the parking lot behind her store happen. and…it happened. the night before, i couldn’t sleep. i lay awake all night with that fourth grade paranoid feeling that maybe no one would come to my birthday party.

but…people did show up. the vendors pulled their ez-ups out and created stunning booths. before i had the chance to wonder if anyone would show up…people showed up.

now, seven years later we’ve not only expanded to other cities, more than quadrupled our vendor booths and pulled in great crowds but have also formed lasting relationships with our vendors, sponsors and attendees. patchwork shows have become more like reunions than events.

last sunday during our santa ana spring patchwork show as i walked the streets lined with booths and crowded with attendees i stopped and took a moment to be grateful. i was thankful for the creativity of our vendors, the support of our sponsors and attendees, the help of our volunteers and the partnership delilah and i have grown into.
after the show, i swept the streets accompanied by delilah, gustavo, our volunteers and friends and recalled those first few post break-up weeks and how people kept telling me that everything happens for a reason. i hated hearing that. at the time, i couldn’t imagine anything good coming out of my sadness. but, something did. that break-up led me back to orange county and if i’d never gone back i doubt patchwork would have happened. as i emptied the dustpan and put the broom away i added one more thing to my grateful list…heartbreak.

if you missed the show check out the photos below or head to matthew william’s album (our resident photo genius) or here to see even more images from the awesome day.

-nicole s.














  1. Nice. Lovely pictures. By chance do you know the name of the shop/vendor shown in the second set of pictures, laser cut/handpainted wood jewelry?

  2. thanks for sharing your story. i’m always in awe of the amazing things creative people do in times of chaos. thanks for the craft show love and for all the hardwork i’m sure goes in to putting on an awesome show like patchwork! you guys are pretty fabulous.

  3. Nicole! You are a much stronger person than you give yourself credit for first of all! We are very proud of the women you have become! I with all my heart believe things all happen for a reason and we may never make the connection or know the reason but there is one!!!! The way I can get through everyday is knowing God never gives you more than you can handle!!!!! Love the great job you and Delilah have done…

  4. Wow, Nicole…LOVE this post. So much so that I’m moved to share my Patchwork story with you.

    I first moved to Orange County with my fiancé after I was laid off from corporate job back in Seattle (well as corporate as a PBS station can be anyway…) I’d been working there since I was 18 and was well, crushed.

    Weeks turned into months and I was slowly but surely going stir-crazy looking for work and trying to adjust to things like driving everywhere and knowing absolutely no one. I felt lost. So i crafted. Like a lot. Screen printing, sewing, embroidery…you name it.

    I started a crafty meet-up group because I didn’t know a soul down here and if I had to listen to any more student film chatter from my fiancé’s grad school friends, I was going to lose it. We organized an outing to Patchwork and for the first time in a year, I felt there might be hope for this artsy city girl in Orange County. I was so inspired and felt like I’d finally found “my people”.

    As I brainstormed ideas for what kind of business I wanted to start, Patchwork was there in the back of my mind and when Front Porch Pops launched, I was excited and nervous to see how my little venture would be received when we first parked our popsicle cart in the middle of the show.

    Two years and 4 Patchworks later and I always come away from it reminded of the role your festival has played in my life, in showing me that I can make a living from my passion.

    I’ve done LOTS of shows since and your’s is still the best. Thank you!

    1. erin,
      thank you so much for sharing your story! that’s exactly what delilah and i hope people can get out of what we do. we all spend most of our waking hours at work and what a shame it is if we’re doing something that doesn’t feed our mind, passion AND wallet. i had NO idea how much patchwork was a part of you launching front porch pops! wishing you TONS of success. nest step for you… coming to craftcation so you can be surrounded by ‘your people’ for four days. it’s the most incredible feeling! i have never felt more accepted, inspired and excited. i really hope you can make it this year 🙂

  5. From heartbreak to handmade. Thank you for sharing your story! It was like a sad movie with
    a great ending that had a big blue sky at the closing credits. <3

    I just have to say that you and Delilah have made and created a huge impact for all us crafters with Patchwork. It is the best craft show in OC!!

    I had my first Patchwork show last week in Santa Ana and it was fabulous! It made all the
    hard work and late nights worth it. There were so many creative and friendly people there.
    The Patchwork volunteers, vendors and customers were amazing! It was such a wonderful environment and I have you two to thank for everything. xo

    1. hi monique,
      what an awesome and sweet thing to say – the sad movie with blue skies part—LOVE IT! so glad you enjoyed the show and looking forward to having you at patchwork again 🙂

  6. Nicole,
    I, too, never thought I would find myself in orange county after trying to make a life for myself in la…but am grateful for the little pockets of inspirational people and places. And I couldn’t be more thrilled and thankful to you and Delilah for the community/phenomenon that is patchwork. Thank you for all you do, and for letting me be a part of it! My heart is happy that there are people like you–and all the patchwork community–in the world. 🙂
    Cheers and love,

    1. thanks veronica! delilah always says-you don’t have to go to the cool, make the cool happen where you live! OC has more and more of those rad inspirational pockets–i feel lucky every time i find one 🙂 thank you for being a creative and for making it work in the oc! cheers! -nicole

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