1 January 2015

Five Year Blogiversary!

My first blog header (yikes!); a redesign in 2012; and today's cleaner logo

OMG this blog is five years old today. Half a decade old!

Five years ago, sewing wasn’t really a thing that people did - at least, not in the UK, and not in my social circles. When I would tell people that I made my own clothes, they would look at me like I was, frankly, totally nuts. There were only a handful of sewing pattern brands to choose from, mainly aimed at a target audience who were older than me and only one that I found inspiring in terms of style, accessibility or branding – certainly nothing like the choice that we are lucky to have today. So when I discovered there were normal people online sharing their homemade creations, sewing tips and cute patterns, I felt so excited and wanted to join the party!

So, on 1 January 2010, I began writing this blog with the intention of sharing my love of sewing and connecting with other makers. When I started, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, and I certainly never imagined it would become such a big part of my life. But I kept writing, kept learning, and bit by bit this space has evolved, as all blogs should (I like to think for the better). It’s now a place where I share not only my own homemade creations, but also sewing tips, tutorials, design ideas, patterns from my own brand, plus the occasional peek behind the scenes into building a sewing business. Throughout the last five years, my original intention of sharing my love of sewing and connecting with other makers has remained the same. Gah I still just adore sewing and the sewing community! Isn’t it the best?

The last year has been a particularly big one for me, the first full year of working for myself. As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, for the first few years I was sewing and blogging during the evenings and weekends, while holding down a senior management job in the film industry during the week. Gradually over the years, I became more interested in maker culture than in my film career, and I started to realise that what I really wanted to spend all my time doing was making my own clothes for fun and inspiring other grown ups to make their own clothes for fun too. As you know, eventually I plucked up the courage to leave my job and build my own business to do just that.

The first full year was, well, full on! Some of my personal highlights were:

* Launching printed versions of our sewing patterns with gorgeous step-by-step photo instructions, including two new designs – Coco and Francoise – to join Mathilde and Miette.

* The publication of my first book, getting onto the Sunday Times bestseller list and having it translated into eight languages (yay for sewing books!).

* Getting the patterns stocked by 70 shops around the world, including a nerve-racking but successful pitch to Liberty at their British Design Open Call. (Did you see it on the first episode of the Liberty of London TV show? Not my pitch, I mean, the Open Call? And the #CapeDrape, of course!)

* Getting out and about and meeting lots of lovely people - at the workshops in our studio, at The Village Haberdashery, and for Janome at the Handmade Fair; giving talks on blogging, book-writing and start-up business for Crafty Fox, Blogtacular and the Clore Leadership Programme; at the party that Lauren hosted for my book; doing my first pop-up shop at Makegood, in Selfridges’ basement; and going to Paris with the other Lauren and a whole load of other lovely bloggers and readers!

* Behind the scenes, moving the office out of my flat to a gorgeous studio; hiring Laura as the company’s first employee; and starting a partnership with the lovely people at Janome - all of which is helping me to improve what we offer, now and in the future.

* Also behind the scenes, overcoming some yucky “challenges” along the way - because, of course, not everything is always rosy - including a major copyright violation (as in, someone literally copied and pasted my website and passed it off as their own business) and a horrible medical scare that forced me to stop working for ten weeks. The lessons learnt from those experiences are that I'm lucky to have awesome people looking out for me, and that sometimes you've just gotta stop working and rest up. You know?

* Doing some sewing - I made 14 Cocos, four Francoise dresses, two Delphine skirts, two Nettie tops, one Lola dress, one Picnic Blanket Skirt, one pair of (glow-in-the-dark!) Margot pyjamas, one Bruyere shirt, one Dove T, and a partridge in a pear treeeee.

* And the best part of all? Seeing the wonderful creations that you people have been making with our patterns. Love them! This collage still makes me giggle :)

After a whirlwind year I was pretty exhausted in December, but after a restful few days on the sofa I’m now getting very excited about 2015. It’s going to be a good year, I can feel it! I’m planning to create some wonderful stuff to share with you, strengthen and grow the pattern line, and, on a personal level, take good care of myself. Do you have any plans, goals or resolutions?

Whether you’ve discovered this blog recently or you’ve been reading right from the early days, whether you’ve ordered something from the shop, have recommended my book to a friend, have sent me a lovely email, or have supported my small-but-blossoming business behind the scenes, I want to say a heartfelt thank you. I’m very lucky that I get to do what I love for a living, not just in any field but in such a wonderfully inspiring, positive and creative community of makers. Group hug!

Happy new year – and here’s to the next five years!