Overdue

Wow. This blog is overdue for an update.

I apologize, blog, for leaving you neglected. My other social media outlets have been sustaining my online presence while you were left in the dust. I promise it's for a good reason. I've never been much of a blogger the way other people excel at it. To me it always hovers somewhere weird in between journal and editorial, and I haven't quite found the cozy spot where I want to sit.

I thought, in lieu of blogging for blogs sake, I'd give a bit of an update as to what's going on in the Blueprints world as I transition into Fall. A Note: I started out thinking this would be a light and fluffy blog post with fun updates but then, apparently, I wanted to dive into some real business and personal talk. So maybe blogs are a valuable part of my practice after all...

All the planties at the beginning of summer. I try to make gardening part of my practice when the weather is good because being outside around plants makes me a better human.

All the planties at the beginning of summer. I try to make gardening part of my practice when the weather is good because being outside around plants makes me a better human.

1. I've been re-prioritizing how I spend my time

I love teaching. I love designing patterns too. Though, in many ways, I have always wanted the patterns to be a vehicle for teaching and enabling people to sew (from afar rather than in person). I had the realization big time over the summer that I needed rethink the way I was looking at my business. I wanted to devote more of my energy into teaching and developing classes. At times I felt twinges of guilt for scaling back my pattern making goals because I was lagging behind.

But I decided: It's better for me and for you if I slow down and really take the time to develop patterns that I love (and hopefully you will too), packed full of cool information and back story. And a major part of the slow down has been allowing myself to focus more on teaching, an area that really inspires a lot of what I put into my patterns. I plan to keep making patterns, but I've come to terms with the fact that I don't need to keep up with fashion seasons and I'm not obligated to produce a certain number of patterns each year just because everyone else does. I prefer to think of each pattern as an artwork, an experience. That was my original intention and I've made my way back to that place after a few years spent growing my business.

Having this new outlook feels right for Blueprints and I'm excited to see what I come up with in the space freed up by letting go of what Blueprints 'should be' and instead focusing on what I want it to be.

2. I'm teaching. A lot.

Last year I started teaching in the fashion department of a local college. I love it. I've always wanted to teach college and I sort of can't believe I finally made it here. I've been expanding my range to teach classes I am interested in and have experience behind but had never taught before (history of fashion and graphic design to name a few). I've also been trying to develop new classes and workshop ideas with the hopes of traveling outside New England to teach. I'm not a half way in kinda person. I spend a lot of time developing assignments and lectures and activities and workshops. And this takes time.

IMG_0553.jpg
IMG_1166.JPG

3. I've been changing and improving my workflow

Real talk time: I don't talk about it much publicly, but I struggle with anxiety and what I'm realizing for the first time in my life could probably best be described as adult ADD. I've spent the last year or so really working on how to create a workflow that makes me feel productive and helps me stay focused without feeling disorganized, stressed or depressed. Part of this means I've tried to prioritize creating a better, more manageable workflow for my business (new, streamlined pattern development processes and biweekly newsletter) and holding off on other areas (I'm lookin' at you, blog!) until I have the bandwidth for them. This is as an alternative to trying to juggle a million things, falling behind, not meeting expectations, and then panicking or crashing. Life's too short for that.

Some of you may remember a certain pattern inspired by Southern Italian folk houses that was meant to come out in the spring. After running into unexpected issues - on top of struggling to balance a small business / job /personal life - it seemed impossible to have it ready on time. So I pivoted, shifted focus to my fall pattern, and tabled it for next spring/summer.

I'll admit that my fall pattern is not quite where I hoped it would be around this time (AKA, done and printed and in shops!) but I'm trying to channel my inner turtle and remember that slow (well, maybe a brisk walking pace) and steady works best for me.

However, I put a ton of work into creating an organized system for pattern development and I am already feeling it in action with my fall pattern. When you're playing all the roles (designer, digitizer, grader, illustrator, marketer, graphic designer) having systems helps tremendously in keeping organized. I've started using a system called Asana to keep projects organized.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 3.08.21 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 1.31.50 PM.png

4. I've been focusing on building a great newsletter

If y'all aren't signed up for my bi-monthly newsletter, check it out! It's sort of become my defacto blog, with a personal 'letter from the editor' in the beginning and special features like sewing tips, features showcasing your awesome blueprints makes, links to cool stuff around the web, etc. I was very inspired by other designers/bloggers newsletters and have found that it's a platform I enjoy. Plus something about the bi-weekly accountability is awesome. I love accountability (so much that I co-founded a business accountability group with some friends a year ago... there's a blog post about that in the works too, as promised.)

IMG_8895.jpg

5. I've become involved in extracurricular activities!

Some of these fall on the self care spectrum: Yoga, Gardening, Cookbook Potluck Club, etc. But I've also become involved in local town groups and issues. I co-chair my local cultural council and organize/participate in regional arts advocacy groups and programs. I've continued to work with the craftivist art collective I've been part of since 2010.

Now that I've got it all out on paper, I don't feel so bad about things like the blog falling behind. I'm hoping that as I work on my systems that I can carve out time and space for more blogging (and hopefully weaving? Basket making? Making shoes? Basically, all the crafts...)

How do you juggle multiple jobs/roles? Do you have good systems for yourself that work or have you only figured out what doesn't work? Do you try to make time for non work things?

 

 

It's Sewing Indie Month!

Today is September 1st, which marks the start of Sewing Indie Month, a month-long celebration of indie sewing patterns where designers collaborate to bring you fun blog posts and informative tutorials. It's accompanied by a sew-along contest with fantastic prizes.

All month, participating designers will be posting tutorials and interviews. I'm super proud to be kicking off the month today with a Ginger jean skirt tutorial over at Closet Case Files!

Sewing Indie Month HQ will be the Sew Independent site, where you can keep up to date with the latest SIM news.

But wait, there's more! We'll be doing another bundle sale including up to 10 patterns by amazing indie designers.

The sale will run from Tuesday September 1st through Thursday September 10th.

Just like the last bundle, you choose the price you want to pay. The more you pay, the more rewards you'll receive. 20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to Women for Women, which helps women dealing with violence, marginalization, and poverty due to war and conflict.

Click here to learn more, see samples of these patterns, and purchase the bundle on Sewindependent.com

This bundle features two brand new patterns: The Kinga Skirt by Kate & Rose and the April 1962 Coat by SomaPatterns. During the sale you can only buy them as part of the bundle. 

But that's not all...

We're also hosting a sew along contest for all of the patterns included in both bundles! There are fabulous prizes to be won in 3 categories

Want to learn more about SIM designers and the sewalong contests?

About the designers

Contest rules & Entry page

Contest prizes page

Blog Calendar Page

A Week of Peeks

The launch day of the latest BFS patterns is drawing closer! I'll be in California visiting family and have decided to use to the week to share more and more details about the new patterns until their launch the 2nd week of June!

This old drive in theater is somewhere on the coast between San Fransisco and Santa Barbara, though I can't remember where.

This old drive in theater is somewhere on the coast between San Fransisco and Santa Barbara, though I can't remember where.

I'll be spending a lot of time along the CA coast which seemed like a fun place to take some photographs of the new patterns! I grew up in California and I can't deny that it is quite beautiful. I take most of my photos in the New England country, so I'm keen on the idea of a 'location' for photographing the new pattern. I may have to wait until returning to Boston for the Saltbox photos - not a lot of colonial houses in the bay area...at least I don't think so. Too bad the next pattern isn't a Victorian!

Today I'll start by sharing some small changes I've made to the new pattern that I hope you all will appreciate!

One thing that I kept noticing when I visited shops that carried Cabin was that the tab closure didn't hold up well to the rough retail life of a sewing pattern. Nearly every 'display' copy had suffered some damage. Investigating other patterns showed that nearly all tabs tended to suffer the same fate. I like a nice neat little package, so some sort of closure was a must.

My printer suggested a low profile velcro - they have a lot of sample booklets using the same cover stock that close with velcro and they hold up quite well. I've seen some other patterns that include velcro in the past, so I know it's not a new idea. I also thought of having a sticker to close the folder that was resealable...like what you use on a bag of rice.

In the end, after testing both I decided that the velcro would be the way to go. It held up to 50+ openings and closings.  I'm sure it will be a drag to individually put velcro onto each envelope but I'm prepared to make it happen. My own labor is free, right? ;)

I also used a new method to create the illustrations for this pattern. I love the look of hand drawn, but I also feel like more technical or line-based illustrations don't communicate dimension, making certain instructions hard to understand. I used real construction photographs as a base, but drew the images by hand. Hopefully it achieves a nice balance.

The overall cover design - blue monochromatic - will be the same, but I'm looking forward to showing you the illustration for this cover. It feels kindred to the Cabin cover, but in a completely different style. Later in the week I'll be sharing an interview with the illustrator.

Last but not least, one of the major changes will be to my pattern production. I am a firm believer in the value of paper in hand, but at the same time creating printed patterns involved a lot of up front costs that can be tough on a small business.

I will still be creating printed patterns but I will also be releasing a PDF only companion pattern with each printed release as a way to keep my business more sustainable and balance out the printed pattern costs. Obviously with time, if a demand arises for printed versions of these patterns I'll do my best to make them happen. But for now I like the idea of a digital complement piece to my main pattern, and that where Saltbox was born.

I can't wait to show you these patterns during the week! They should be ready to ship by the week of June 8th and I'm beyond excited!

Be sure to follow @blueprintsforsewing on Instagram to see daily reveals of the new patterns! (and join our mailing list to get the scoop on upcoming sales *wink wink*)

February and March

Today's blog post is a brief and scattered one, but hopefully fun. I've been hard at work on the new BFS pattern which has taken up quite a lot of my mental energy.

This month I decided to try something new that's been a long time coming. If you guys can believe it, I've basically never done any quilting! Last summer I made up a patchwork bag sample for JP Knit & Stitch with some of their newly arrived fabric and it undeniably piqued my interest.

My first quilting/piecing project. Not actually 'quilted', just patchwork made into a bag. Here's the process (can't find image of the finished piece) but the pattern is great and you can find it here:  http://blog.misusu.co/p/archive/diy-projects-quilted-diamond-tote-bag/

My first quilting/piecing project. Not actually 'quilted', just patchwork made into a bag. Here's the process (can't find image of the finished piece) but the pattern is great and you can find it here: http://blog.misusu.co/p/archive/diy-projects-quilted-diamond-tote-bag/

I've been very inspired lately by Carolyn Friedlander's house quilts, as well as her general philosophy about sewing (savor each stitch!) Plus the domestic architecture connection is undeniable.

I've always been into house portraits and so I thought I'd try out some quilting with that in mind. At first, I was set to plan out a very elaborate paper pieced project, but the precision of it had me a bit turned off (I love overly technical things, but I needed a respite from pattern making at the time). A friend suggested I go the 'improvisational piecing' route, using my pattern as a guide. Though it's not finished yet, I'm pretty pleased with the result and I LOVED the process! Not sure what the final product will be, but I'm enjoying every bit!

Here's my house about 50% complete (still have some yard, a 2nd chimney, driveway, and garden to complete). I used a combo of new FQ's and scraps, including some prints from Friedlander's Doe line and the Denise Schmidt 'goth feedsack' leftover from my refashion rescue! I love using up scraps! The plan was to also do a portrait of our former condo and make throw pillows, but the improv method resulted in a much bigger panel than what would work for a pillow, so I'll have to go back to the drawing board. Lap quilt? Wall hanging? Eurosham? Table runner?

I'm excited to continue on this path and show you all the result. Any maybe even do some actual quilting to go with my patchwork!

I've also been teaching like mad! This month had me teaching a workshop for sewing Cabin, a few 1 day learn-to-sew crash courses, 2 sections of a long form clothing construction open workshop, an intro to clothing design class, and a shorter intermediate sewing open workshop. Next month I'm excited to teach a Learn to Sew with Knits workshop, where students will be making a sweatshirt using the greatly admired Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studios.

Here's a sample I made up in some french terry, aka the comfiest vintage-feeling sweatshirt material ever. I like the grainline pattern, though in the next one I make for myself, I'm omitting the bottom band in favor of a twin-needle hem, shortening the sleeves, and using a wider neck band.

Here's a sample I made up in some french terry, aka the comfiest vintage-feeling sweatshirt material ever. I like the grainline pattern, though in the next one I make for myself, I'm omitting the bottom band in favor of a twin-needle hem, shortening the sleeves, and using a wider neck band.

I love teaching and every time I work with students I learn more about how sewing works for different people, how different clothes fit different bodies, and how to prioritize time and skill when working with a range of student skill levels. My students are definitely my most valuable resource in building my skills and developing my business and I appreciate them tremendously.

I'm not ready to reveal the new pattern quite yet, but I'll let you in on the nitty gritty details of putting it together. I'm also excited work with a broader cross-section of pattern testers this time around. (Want to test a future blueprints pattern? Sign up for our mailing list...it's where I put out the call for testers!)

Flat fellin' on a Cabin sample!

Flat fellin' on a Cabin sample!

Nitty is the fact that the pattern has a lot of pieces, since it features two variations on the same item but without sharing pieces (the original intention, but the technical end of that didn't work too well). Gritty is the work that goes into grading patterns without special software. In fact, after grading two patterns on the computer, I think I may hand grade the next pattern and have digitizing be nearly the last step. I'm by and far very computer literate, but keeping track of layers and versions and if I deleted something by accident is a drag. I think hand grading may make more sense in the long run...

I'm pretty pleased with how Cabin turned out, but as my first pattern, there was a big learning curve. There are definitely some things I wish I would have done differently and tiny errors I wish I could go back and tweak. I have to remind myself that there's always room for improvement. I had to build my whole process and make decisions about all aspects of the pattern.

Cabin is sort of like my very wearable muslin of how I want my patterns to be. It's not perfect - though I doubt any pattern can be perfect - but it works and has been fun for many people to sew. I've already decided on some small changes to layout and format for the next pattern, though it will still have the same feeling as the first.

Any suggestions or things you'd like to see in the next pattern?

Have you every done any improv piecing?