Thursday, January 2, 2014

What will 2014 bring?

I've been reading the many "top 5 of 2013" posts my fellow and most-often-read bloggers in the sewisphere have written, and felt a bit guilty that I haven't done one. I don't know that I could find 5 of anything that I'd want to list from the past year, because I also feel guilty about the extremely low number of posts I wrote. As I start out fresh for the new year, perhaps it's time for me to channel my usual resolution-listing into what I'd love most to see from my sewing and blogging.
A new direction for me, but still in keeping with the kind of new year's list I usually make. Who knows, maybe I'll even carry out some of these and be able to cross them off the list, for a change!

First, I want to delve deeper into some of the new skills I learned this year, and make use of some of the new toys I acquired. In October, I had two lovely days in a master class learning advanced draping, using a borrowed half-scale dress form a friend graciously transported to Nashville for me to use (thank you Evelyn!) I so thoroughly enjoyed the class and the results, I had to purchase a form for myself - so this year I welcome "Maddie" (for Madeleine Vionnet, at least for the time being) to my studio - wearing the partially finished gown we draped in class. I hope to use her and this new knowledge to create some new designs this year!
Maddie, partially draped in Vionnet #14 from Betty Kirke's book

She has an adjustable stand - here, about half as tall as she can go.

Another new skill was such fun to work on - making ribbon embellishments, using hand sewing and folding techniques. The results are gorgeous - and this has such potential for making my creativity wake up and push forward! The photo shows the samples I made during the 3 hour class, most unfinished - but you can see how colorful and luscious these look!

A November project for a client gave me a welcome opportunity to play with my embroidery machine - something I hadn't done in the 2 years I've owned it, other than to test a couple of designs to make sure it worked. The job was to embroider names on holiday napkins, so I tested the 4 built-in alphabets to see which one we preferred. I didn't take photos of the finished napkins, but here are my test samples done on the last day of my Veteran's Day sewing retreat - what better time to "play" with my sewing?

I did push myself in two new directions in 2013 - one was to actually finish a garment to enter in the Threads/ASDP Sleeves challenge. At the very least, this confirms that I should never consider backing out of a challenge again, since twice I've followed through and both times was rewarded with bragging rights as a finalist. The dress came together in my head once I relaxed and resigned myself to the idea that it wasn't going to happen - woke up the next morning with the image and technique full-blown in my mind.
Draped cowl sleeve
My Terraces dress
Cowl back (in spite of the wrinkles showing here, the dress fits nicely - at least, smoothly over the spanx I wore in the fashion show...)

The other new direction was to work with leather, as a trim. I'd made only one other leather garment years ago, a jerkin for my son-in-law's renaissance faire costume, but what I envisioned this time was a totally wearable garment highlighting the soft, lovely brown leather I brought home from work. The result is simply wonderful - the jacket, blogged about here, is very me, tailored and classic, with the slightly edgy (for me, anyway!) trim bands.

I'm so proud of the mitered corners, and the set of samples I created to determine the best width and technique for the binding. I'm not usually a great one for making samples - I'm only beginning to see the value in the failed attempts, and starting to love the process of trial and error. (If only I did a better job of documenting and keeping track of those attempts - I misplaced the samples, and didn't have them to photograph when I posted about the jacket, only found them last week during a major cleaning of the studio before a new client's appointment.)

Which brings me to what I'd love to accomplish with my blogging this year.
  1. More posts. I do so much more sewing for my clients than for myself, I often feel there isn't much of interest going on in the studio to blog about. I need to stop overthinking it, and just talk about what I've been doing - even if it only serves to help me see the process more clearly. For me, it's useful for problem solving if I talk about what needs to be done - as if I were teaching a class, outlining the steps in the process. If it benefits someone else to read what I've written, then I've accomplished something.
  2. More photos! I guess I'll have to replace my broken tripod and put my little Canon to work more often. It's hard to arrange a time when one of the boys can take photos of me in my garments (and the older son tends to be a bit slow in getting them back to me, wanting to edit and improve his work...) and my DH can't seem to take clear shots when I need them. I have several projects that never were blogged about, mostly because I failed to take pictures while I worked on them, and still don't have photos of the finished garment either.
  3. A wider reach into the sewing community. This year I've started a new board position for ASDP - its focus is on our website management, rather than chapter relations. One thing we have available within our site parameters is a blog page, and I'm formulating plans to develop that initially with links to members' blogs. Doing this, I hope, will increase the circle for both the members, their blogs, (my blog too!) and the association. 
On a personal note, this will also be the year for a family change - my daughter is in the process of choosing the program that's the best fit for her Psychiatry residency, so in March we'll know where she'll be moving in July. Fingers crossed that she, her husband, and Angel the dog will be back in New England and no longer halfway across the country!

Happy New Year to all - and I hope you'll keep reading and sewing!


  1. You have had a great year. I love those ribbon pieces you made. And on a side note, your studio is so clean!!!! Absolutely incredible!

    1. Wow, you're quick to find new posts! Thanks for these nice thoughts. And the studio is so clean, because I had an appointment with a bride last Friday - and have zero ambition to sew since then!

  2. So true, Janee. I agree with all of this, especially not post enough to the blog and not taking photos of projects. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Mary! Here's to both of us following through in 2014 -

  3. Janee, I must admit. I too must devote more time to blogging and commenting on others blogs. I too want to blog more in 2014. Wish me luck and Good luck to you!