As 2014 draws to a close, studio mornings of late have been spent reflecting on this years ups and downs, as well as putting together new schemes and masterplans for the coming year. Needless to say, 2014 has been one hell of a ride for us - four new patterns, one Kickstarter campaign, and a shiny new digital textile printer later and you can bet that we're all looking forward to a well deserved break over the Christmas holidays!
Cashflow projections and spreadsheets aside, I've found my mind pleasantly drifting off to all the things I want to be making in 2015... Now, I like me a good list writing session any day of the week, but there's no denying - and I'm sure all you sewists and makers will agree - that the King of Lists has to be the All-The-Things-I-Will-Make-In-The-Coming-Year list. In this post I'll be talking about efficient project planning, realistic list making and successful commitment keeping - notebooks at the ready folks!
Planning & organisation
Also known as the part where you get to plan out your dream wardrobe... Definitely my favourite part, although often the part I get most wrong. Probably because I focus too much on the "dream" bit and less on what I really need and what I can realistically afford - both financially and time-wise. And while there's nothing wrong with being ambitious, I feel like a more educated approach will help me to plan better and therefore produce more satisfying results.
Last year, Colette Patterns put together an epic blog series called Wardrobe Architect with the sole purpose of creating a personal and meaningful handmade wardrobe, refined by the discovery and understanding of our own individual aesthetics and lifestyle needs. Broken down into fourteen posts, Wardrobe Architect explores shapes and silhouettes, colour palettes, style icons and spotting gaps in our existing wardrobes, as well as providing fun little questionnaires and worksheets to fill in.
While I will not leave the house without some sort of notebook / Filofax / sketch book to jot ideas and plans down when I'm out and about, I've recently found that having a good online resource to compile lists and future project plans has become indispensable. Pinterest is amazing and ideal for an inspiration overload, but Trello allows for more realistic, personal and private planning. It works in a similar way to Pinterest with boards and cards for categorising, but the idea is to write your own to-do cards (as opposed to pinning other people's images), to which you can attach images, links, set reminder dates and even archive once done. I've been using Trello to keep track of all the things I want to make, along with relevant links to the pattern/tutorial I'll need, images of the fabric I'll be using or what inspired me in the first place.
Committing & tracking progress
Now that the planning side has been taken care of, time to get down some iron-clad re-sew-lutions! These (for me) are not necessarily specific garments that I must make, or projects that need to be completed by a certain date. Specifics are subject to the evolution of above planning. The re-sew-lutions are provide a structure for the New Year - in the same way that some may pledge to quit smoking and exercise more, I will be promising to keep my studio tidy and make more for others, for example. If you're struggling with yours, feel free to snaffle some of mine...
- One selfless make per month - I am just about the most selfish sewist there ever was, and my friends and family make no secret of the fact that they'd like more things made by me!
- One big make for the year - for me this will be a double bed hex quilt
- Learn one new major technique/skill - English paper piecing for above quilt
- Compile a list of essential techniques/skills I have yet to tackle, to work through and tick off throughout the year - for ideas, see Fiona's epic technique checklist here
- I am under no delusions that I will be able to get through 2015 on my existing stash alone, without buying a few metres of new fabric somewhere along the line. So, to compromise and avoid making resolutions I know I can't keep... Each new fabric make must be followed by two stash makes
- In the same vein as above - Each party dress make must be followed by two practical makes
- Keep sewing space tidy and organised - I can still dream, ok?!
There's an app for that
As you may have already guessed, I like a visual tool to keep me motivated. As I was writing down these re-sew-lutions, it suddenly occurred to me that in this day and age, where the smartphone rules all, there must be an app of some sort to track the progress of New Year's Resolutions. Turns out, indeed, there are loads. Whether you're the kind of person who likes spreadsheets and piecharts to track their progress (try Lifetick), the kind of person who needs the threat of losing money to spur them on (try stickk or 21habit), or simply a pretty checklist to keep coming back to (try Way of Life or Daily Goals), there's a resolution tracker for us all.
Keep the inspiration coming
When it comes to resolutions of any kind, the aim of the game is to never let yourself run out of steam! Luckily for you and me and our re-sew-lutions (but maybe not so lucky for all that dental floss I bought today), it's not hard to run out of ideas of things to make, especially with inspiration smörgåsbords such as Pinterest and Instagram on tap.
Now, I am - frustratingly - not as good as I would like to be at fashion illustration (something for the 2016 re-sew-lution list perhaps?). Which is why I am one of the millions of makers that has fallen deeply in love with Fashionary - a moleskine-esque sketchbook featuring the faintest of traceable figures throughout its pages. The perfect template for sketching ideas and outfits, but subtle enough that you're not exclusively limited to drawing people. Add to that an extensive glossary of fashion and sewing info and a choice of amazing colours and sizes (I got the pretty pink handbag sized one and a sensible A4 black one) and you'll swiftly find yourself in effortless fashion illustration heaven.
Sharing is caring
If there's one thing I've learnt since becoming a part of this wild and wonderful community we have here, is that only a small percentage of what inspires most of us comes from a fashion magazine. What seems to inspire us most of all, is each other. Whether it's sharing secrets on the best places to find fabric, how to fit a tricky bodice, or inspired ideas for pattern hacks, between us we've got it covered.
As with most things, the more the merrier, so if you haven't already, starting a blog is a truly amazing way to connect with likeminded sewists and document your own creative antics. What I loved about writing a sewing blog was the way I could scroll back and see my own evolution, and for the same reason I love the concept of creative community websites like Ravelry (for knitters and crocheters) and My Sewing Circle, which allow you to upload and share your finished makes, browse and plan future projects, and see what others are up to at the same time.
However, if the idea of blogging seems too scary and/or time-consuming, Instagram has become the perfect social quick-fix alternative.
I leave you all for now, feeling incredibly motivated and full of bright and shiny plans for 2015...
From all of us here at BHL HQ, a massive and resounding THANK YOU for all your love and support this year! We wouldn't be at such an exciting point in the life of our business without you guys. We wish you all the love, health and happiness for the coming year.
xxx Elisalex, Charlotte & Victoria