31 December 2013

Looking Back on 2013


Tomorrow is not only the start of a new year but also my four year blogiversary. It seems like a looooong time ago now that I was dared into starting a blog. I had no clue how to write a blog, and no idea how much it would change my life – I simply wanted to share my passion for dressmaking with people who didn’t look at me like I was completely crazy (“MAKE your own clothes?! Why don’t you just buy them like normal people?”). I remember the sense of elation I felt back then of first connecting with other people online who share my interest; thoughtful, fun and generous people who spur each other along to keep creating. 494 blog posts and over five million views later, and I am still excited at the opportunities that blogging can bring to make meaningful connections, and I am still in awe of just how wonderfully supportive the online maker community can be. So I just want to take the opportunity of the eve of both the new year and my blogiversary to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has been part of my blogging life, whether as a reader, commenter, contributor or fellow blogger. You inspire and motivate me to keep doing what I do, and it’s brought me so much pleasure.

This last year has been a particularly exciting one for me, in which my blog has brought me lots of great opportunities. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, and there was a time this year when I nearly quit blogging altogether. At times like that you have to shut out all the noise and remind yourself why you do what you do. For me, I do what I do because I love making stuff and want to inspire other people to make stuff too. It’s as simple as that, nothing grand, and certainly nothing worth stressing over. Remembering this helped me pull it together and keep going. And I’m so glad I did.

As a workaholic, I have a compulsion to jump from project to project pretty quickly, always thinking about what I’m going to do next. One of my resolutions is to slow down a little and be more mindful of what I have already done and am doing. So in this spirit I want to take the opportunity of the end of the year to reflect on the Good Things that 2013 brought me.

In 2013, I…

… released some sewing patterns
After months of work, I released the Mathilde blouse sewing pattern for instant download. It was nerve wracking to put my pattern out there, and so rewarding to see all the lovely things that you’ve made with it! I still can’t get over how many people have bought the pattern. The Miette skirt followed, based on an idea I’d been dreaming about for ages of the perfect sewing pattern for beginners that has no fiddly fastenings and is super easy to fit. I also released the Marielle skirt in Sewing World magazine (and to the people who have been asking for that one, I do plan to release it wider at some point, it just takes a lot of work so please bear with me!).

… started teaching sewing workshops
Having designed and taught courses in my day job for so long, it’s been brilliant to combine that experience with my passion for DIY dressmaking. I love teaching – it’s so rewarding to watch people get stuck into sewing and to see their confidence grow as the class progresses. Upcoming classes in London include ‘Learn to Sew: Tilly’s Bow Belt’ at The Village Haberdashery on the evenings of 16th January or 27th February, and ‘Sew the Miette Skirt’ at The Thrifty Stitcher on Sunday 9th March.

… was on the telly
In April this year The Great British Sewing Bee hit our screens, and over night sewing suddenly seemed to become an acceptable hobby in the UK. We had such a laugh filming the show, and the experience of being part of a project like that and suddenly thrown into the spotlight was eye-opening and has taught me so much.

… gave some talks
In the Summer, I travelled to Sheffield to give a talk called 'Craft Your Blog' to 200 craft business owners at the amazing Folksy Summer School (you can watch a video of my talk here). More recently I was on a panel at an Enterprise Nation event in the British Library, speaking to people who want to turn their hobby into a business. I love doing these sorts of events, it’s great to get out and about!

… wrote a book
The seeds for this were actually planted in 2012, and the book won't be released until 2014, but this year I did the most important part, for me at least – writing it. Initially I believed that writing a book was meant to be the painful-yet-necessary part in between getting a deal and getting published. I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of the stresses, strains and late nights involved in putting together a book, particularly a craft book when you’ve got to design, make and photograph all the stuff too. I didn’t want it to be this way though, so I took the conscious decision to make the process of writing the book enjoyable and fulfilling. And so it came to pass! Now I can’t wait to write another book. (Okay, so maybe I can wait a little bit, I’m enjoying having the odd day off now and again!)

… quit my job
People always say this must have been so nerve-wracking, but it wasn’t at all! I loved my job, and leaving my film industry career behind me wasn’t easy, but I love making stuff and writing about making stuff even more, and was itching to be my own boss. So while I didn’t take the decision lightly, it made absolute sense to just go for it. You only live once, after all. So since the Summer I’ve been a full time… erm… blogger-author-teacher-business owner. Yip, I still gotta work on my pitch. When people ask what I do, I tend to shorten it either to “I’m a blogger” just to see how they react (“A blogger?! [Sharp intake of breath] THAT’s not a job!”) or to “I help people start making their own clothes” which also needs a slightly longer explanation…

… started writing a column for Crafty magazine
I loved Crafty magazine as soon as I first saw it – a publication for modern makers, creativity without the twee. So being given a regular column, alongside luminaries such as Mr X Stitch and Sarah “Craftivist” Corbett, is such an pleasure. If you haven’t already seen this magazine, you need to check it out.

… met some lovely people
People do give you funny looks when you say you’ve made friends on the internet, but more fool them! I've met some lovely people this year, both online and offline, including through the #SewingSocial Twitter chat (shall we do another one early next year? Any suggestions for a discussion topic?), fabric shopping/swapping meet-ups, hopping around the internet and discovering new blogs, ooh and Christine Haynes popped by from LA. Looking forward to meeting more of you next year!

… went back to school
In the Autumn, I started School for Creative Startups, an awesome business course for craft and creative industries people, with help from the HRH British Made bursary from the Duke of York. If all goes to plan, there is going to be an amazing event to mark the end of the course in the spring, which I will invite you along to - watch this space...

And that’s about it. Phew! The process of writing this all down has really brought home just how busy I’ve been in 2013. And now I’m exhausted! So I’m off to have a sherry, and if you’ve read this far, you definitely deserve a sherry too.

Thanks for reading, and wishing y'all a very happy 2014!

44 comments:

  1. Happy New Year Tilly!
    Enjoy your sherry. You deserve one. X

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  2. What a fantastic year for you! Well done!!!
    Happy new year! Hope you do as well next year too!

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  3. Happy New Year. Thank you for the inspiration you have given to get my machine out and to even start my own blog. Looking forward to more adventures in 2014

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  4. Tilly wow and woo hoo!! what a year it has been for you and such fun for all us fans to follow along with too......thanks for the ride.......wishing you the best year ever for 2014
    bestest to you and yours
    Daisy Jones
    ps want to be like you when i grow up!

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  5. Congratulations on a successful (if not incredibly busy) 2013! I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings you.

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  6. YAY! I loved this post so much! Happy blogiversary--you have been busy and it's so exciting to be a part of it!! Here's to an even more wonderful 2014! xoxoxo

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  7. Congratulations on all you have achieved! You also inspired me to blog and get back to my love of sewing and I'm having a ball! Happy 2014.

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  8. It was certainly an eventful year for you! I hope 2014 will bring you some more time to relax. ;-)

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  9. What an amazing year for you & I hope 2014 goes just as well! It's crazy to think 4 years have already passed by. Happy New Year!

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  10. Wow, this has been an amazing year for you! Hope 2014 will be just as wonderful for you!

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  11. congrats on such a successful year!

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  12. This has been an incredible year for you, Tilly! Can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for you :)

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  13. Congratulations on your successful year Tilly! I'm sure 2014 will be even better x

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  14. Looks like one heck of a year! I hope you have a wonderful 2014 too! x

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  15. Congratulations!! I'm so excited to get your book when it comes out, and can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for you. I'm also super jazzed to watch your talk - I didn't realize it was up on vimeo! I so appreciate your passion and the work you do to inspire others! Happy New Year, Tilly!

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  16. Happy New Year Tilly :)
    I love reading your blog and can't wait to buy your book in 2014!

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  17. Congrats on your 4th bloggiversary and here's to many more fabulously creative years!
    Wishing you all the very best for 2014,
    xx

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  18. What a great year you've had! That's awesome! Here's to many many more big moments in 2014! ;)

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  19. You've definitely had a busy year, love looking through peoples round ups of the year, congrats on everything.

    Hannah.
    http://surfjewels.tumblr.com/

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  20. Happy new year Tilly and thanks for the inspiration! :)

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  21. Such an amazing year for you, Tilly! You are an inspiration - keep up the awesomeness :)

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  22. Wow. What a year. Many congratulations.

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  23. It's been fun watching your blog grow over this past year, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store for you!

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  24. Thank you so much for your Blog. I always read but don't often comment.
    What an exciting year 2013 was and I am sure 2014 will be even better.
    Happy New Year.
    Hugs x

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  25. What a busy year you have had. I am one of the many, many people you have inspired to make my own clothes and it is so enjoyable. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  26. The biggest and bestest for you Tilly in 2014, you have been amazing and am I glad that I found you this year - you are my special inspirational person and always will be. Have a fab time tonight and enjoy your sherry, you deserve it Tilly. Big hugs, Dorothy :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  27. Happy 2014! You've had such a great 2013-- best wishes for the new year!

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  28. What an amazing year Tilly. All the best for a super dooper 2014 xx

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  29. Wow! This year was great ending for you, no doubt. dear Tilly. I hope that 2014 is doubly occupied, funny and full of creativity for you. Lot of kisses.

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  30. Good on you, Tilly! You are such a fun person and although I'm a quilter, I love to read your blog. Yes, I do sew the occasional clothing item too. First found you on the Great British Sewing Bee, just loved that show!

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  31. You have achieved so much, you should be very proud of all you have done. I've loved discovering your blog and following along. Wishing you every happiness and success in 2014 Tilly.

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  32. congrats on such a fabulous year Tilly! I hope 2014 is just as amazing for you! xoxo

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  33. Congrats, Tilly, you've come a long way! Happy New Year!
    xxx
    Mary @ handmadebymaryall.blogspot.com

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  34. a truly amazing year Tilly, I love reading your post and wishing all the very best for 2014!!
    poppyinstitches@yahoo.co.uk

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  35. Happy New Year Tilly! I found you through the great sewing bee and am so glad I did. You are an inspiration - what an amazing year you've made for yourself!

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  36. What an amazing year! Hope 2014 brings you everything you wish for, look forward to reading you blogging about it :)

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  37. Boy, oh boy...what a spectacular year you've had my friend! I've enjoyed every minute of following along, I'm grateful for the opportunities to pattern test for you and I am so excited to see what 2014 brings for you ;o)

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  38. I just started following your blog this year and it looks like I've picked a good one - you've accomplished so much! Can't wait to see what you do in 2014 - Happy New Year!!

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  39. Wow Tilly, this year has been so amazing! I wish mine will be at least a tenth as productive as yours in 2014. You're such an inspiration! Which makes me think I almost forgot to wish you: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
    May 2014 be at least as full of opportunities as last year. I wish the best!

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  40. Blimey woman, I knew you'd had an awesome year but when you see it written down like that it looks uber impressive! May 2014 bring you even more awesome things☺

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  41. You have had a great year, congrats! I need to make your Mathilde blouse very soon!

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  42. I love that we both featured meeting each other as a highlight of the year! Can't wait to see you again in the spring! And wow, that was quite a year lady! Nicely done. xoxo

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  43. Thanks Tilly, I just watched your talk at Folksy. That was really an inspiration.

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  44. Happy 2014 Tilly! Seems like it was an amazing year for you and congratulations on moving fulltime to this!! Something I would love to do. I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog over this last year, and felt now would be a good time to comment. I am a creative person and one of my new years resolutions is to finally start writing a blog in earnest and creating. But I was interested to know how you managed your blog alongside a fulltime job, family, friends and in my case my other half... I am trying to carve time in my week and struggling to find it/do it. Reading that you almost quit blogging this year, I thought maybe you might have some advice???

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