Final Reflections & Predictions ~ Yours Truly

on January 14 | in Interviews + Profiles, Sewing Trends | by | with 39 Comments

Whew! We’ve reached the end of our 2010 Reflections and 2011 Predictions! Thank you to everyone who answered on their own blog or in our forum. We’ve enjoyed browsing through your responses. We’ll be drawing the winners of the $15 gift certificates on Monday, so you still have a little time to put in your two cents.

Before I go on to the specific questions that we asked, I think it should come as no surprise when I say that the 10 people we chose to be our contributors in the series are people we think made a big impact on the sewing industry in 2010 and/or who will be influential in the coming year:

Susanne Woods: Chances are, one year ago you hadn’t heard of Stash Books. Now you probably have one or two of their books on your shelf. Susanne’s incredible eye for talent made that happen.

Shelly Figueroa: Shelly and her partner at Patterns by Figgy, Karen, are hitting their stride as designers of childrens’ patterns. Their non-fussy approach to real clothes for real kids of both genders is filling a significant gap in the pattern market.

Kathy Mack: Kathy has long had her finger on the pulse of the quilting community and has an amazing ability to forecast trends. You need only review her post to know that she has a genuine passion for everything about the sewing industry.

Katie Pederson: Katie and her up-coming book partner, Jacquie Gering, are wonderful and talented modern quilters who make quilting seem so…approachable. We love their style and you-can-do-this-too attitude.

Valori Wells: If you follow Valori on Twitter, you know she keeps it real. With everything from her art to her family to her home town, it’s all genuine and there’s nothing forced about her place in the sewing industry. She just does what she does and we love that.

Kim Kight: If you want to know what’s going on in the fabric industry you have to follow Trueup. Kim’s love and knowledge of fabric–past, present and future–are unmatched. (We can’t wait to find out about the personal and professional projects she alluded to in her post!)

Katy Dill: Katy has one of those blogs that makes you want to move into her life. (Yeah, I never wanted five girls, but  she makes it look so fun!) The winning formula:  family + lots of photos + sewing + style = A+  blog (still)!

Sarai Mitnick: Sarai of Colette Patterns is making a big impact in the sewing industry by creating timeless sewing patterns. We’re completely impressed by the way she’s always working to engage her customers by drawing them in with her passion for fashion and knowledge of sewing.

John Adams: John is smart, knowledgeable about the industry, and a very talented quilter. We hope he reaches his goal of making his passion his job this year. (I have more to say about John below.)

Michelle Engel Bencsko: Listen. There are people with great ideas, and then there are people with great ideas and follow-through. Michelle and her partner, Gina, fall into the latter category. Love them and Cloud9 Fabrics and all it represents. (I have more to say about them below.)

OK, now to my reflections/predictions! I could go on and on about this for days, but I edited myself and narrowed things down.

My Favorite 2010 Trend

Connecting Through Sewing in Real Life
I predicted it last year and for once, I was right! We’ve been witnessing a movement in which people are meeting in person to share their love of sewing and connect with one another. The Modern Quilt Guild has grown to over 96 chapters around the world, which is just incredible! In addition, sewing classes at spots like Modern Domestic in Portland, CityCraft in Dallas and Whipstitch in Atlanta are packed full of new and experienced sewists excited for the opportunity to learn among friends. Personally, my own small (12 members) sewing circle has become an integral part of my weekly life and I’m grateful for the chance to sew among such talented and ridiculously funny women. (If you’d like to connect with people in your area, we have a Sewing Circle board on our forum. If you want to be notified of posts on a particular regional board or thread, be sure to click NOTIFY in on the right-hand side.)

Portland Modern Quilt Guild

Portland Modern Quilt Guild members at the December swap.

2010 Fabric Trends

New Substrates
I agree with many of our contributors–it was really great to see so many new substrates! We loved the Anna Maria Horner velveteen and voile. Many of us ventured into new sewing territory with the Patty Young and Oliver+S knits. We saw several more linen/cotton fabrics and beautiful canvas and sateen home dec prints. It’s nice to have options, isn’t it? I think we’ll see more in the coming years. Wool? Bamboo? Silk? Looking forward to those and many others.

Solids and Smaller-Scale Prints
In addition to texture, we saw a movement toward solids, almost-solids and smaller-scale prints. Like so many of you, I’ve found that my own stash is full of large scale designs, so in 2010 I tried to find some balance with coordinates. I  loved Denyse Schmidt’s Hope Valley because it met my need for print, while filling in those small-scale gaps in my stash. I’m also hoarding Kaffe’s shot cottons and Moda’s Crossweaves. And there were a few random prints I loved that I’ve been using like these:

2010 stash

The Best Thing I Made

I’m proud of this baby kimono made with Kaffe fabric for Beth’s baby. I used the free Kimono pattern by Bettsy Kingston, modifying it slightly so it’s lined. I love the orange negative space on the main fabric.

Baby Kimono


I think Elizabeth’s Tokyo Subway Map quilt is quite remarkable. I’m not a quilter and not good with small pieces and joining points, so the whole thing kind of blew my mind. And the fact that there were so many people sewing along attests to Elizabeth’s skills as both a designer and instructor.

Tokyo Subway Map Quilt

Tokyo Subway Map quilt by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!

2011 Prediction: More Men!

I think that in the coming years the sewing community will welcome more men into its folds. There was a time when our shop rarely received an order from a man (or at least an obvious male name like Henry), but they are coming in more and more frequently. John Adams (Quilt Dad) has been an excellent ambassador, proving–with talent and confidence–that quilting is for everyone. I was also excited to see that Peter at Male Pattern Boldness (love that name!) is leading a Colette Patterns Negroni sew-along.  As this demographic grows, it will be interesting to see how the voice of the male consumer will impact the industry.

I admit, I’m done with owls.

Oh boy, I really opened a can of worms AND I stuck my foot in my mouth (how’s that for a disgusting mixed metaphor?) when I asked the question about whether or not you’re ready for any trends to pass. I fear that I may have offended some people when I admitted that yes, I am tired of owls! I plead over-saturation from living with an 8-year-old girl with owl jewelry, owl softies, owl clothes…and then I go to the shop and there are owls on fabric! I’m going a little hooty. No offense to anyone who designs owl fabric or makes owl things, but here’s hoping 2011 is the year of the piglet. Or perhaps the return of the pink flamingo. Armadillo, anyone?

Rising Stars

I think Michelle Engel Bencsko and Gina Pantastico of Cloud9 Fabrics have an amazing thing going on, so I hope 2011 will be a big year for them. Michelle is a great artist herself, but this new Designer Series they’re starting is brilliant.  I think the artists that they’ve chosen for their first three collections are talented and innovative, while fitting in well with existing Cloud9 aesthetic. I’m also excited about their new “price sensitive” cotton. I think many of us are interested in buying organic cloth, but it’s been out of the budget. Their new lines will make organic fabric much more accessible and easily-justifiable (like the organic apples that are 2.99 a lb, but not the organic apples that are 4.99 a lb.)

Cut Out and Keep

Cut Out and Keep by Heather Moore for Cloud9 Fabrics

The WORST of 2010

We didn’t ask you or our contributors to identify the worst of 2010, but I have to say something here because I think it’s time someone said it out loud (so to speak). Although we saw dozens of amazing and flawless books and patterns released in 2010, many more books and patterns were full of errors. I hear this privately from reviewers we ask to write for us. I hear it from real-life friends in sewing circles. I hear it from customers. I hear it from other industry professionals.  Again, privately. Everyone knows that books are being released with projects that are untested and patterns are being sold with bad grammar and procedures that make no sense. For better or worse, the sewing community is kind and supportive and polite and these things go unsaid out in the open. But people know and they are getting frustrated.

I hope that in 2011 we’ll see a shift toward more pattern testing, technical editing, constructive criticism and professionalism. I’m not, of course, talking about a blog post or a free tutorial–we all make mistakes when we have to crank out fresh content day in and day out. But if you’re selling a product, your customers deserve to know that your patterns and techniques have been evaluated by objective and honest testers, reviewers and editors. *End Rant*

That’s all, folks! I hope you have a great weekend!

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39 Responses to Final Reflections & Predictions ~ Yours Truly

  1. Paula says:

    I’ll add my 2 cents worth. I HATE buying an expensive book online that I’ve waited and waited for, only to find the dreaded ‘enlarge pattern by 200%.’
    I’ve just spent $40 on a book! Why do I then have to go to a shop and have a pattern enlarged when its against copyright to photocopy anyway!!!!!
    Arg it does my head in! Surely the publishers can add a few extra pages and print the patterns full size, or at least advise on the back cover that enlarging is a requirement. Then I just wont buy it.

  2. Heather says:

    Oh, forgot to say — I think mushrooms have a lot of potential as a trend. I know they are out there, like in Wee Woodland, but they have more to share I think. Snails would also be fun; their spirals have a lot of design flexibility on small and large scales. And guinea pigs have a great graphic silhouette.

  3. Heather says:

    I’m glad you were bold enough to discuss errors in books. I am mostly self-taught and have only been sewing for a little over a year (crafting and art has been a part of my life since birth, but sewing was “something my mom did” until I caught the disease, mostly from looking at sms). I have thought that it was my own inexperience that would cause me to have problems with some of the instructions in books I’ve used over the last year. I’d make it through some of those projects by figuring out my own ways of making it work or looking for tutorials with similar constituents. I feel better knowing that once or twice the problem may not have been me… 🙂

  4. Nancy says:

    My vote for 2011 is year of the flamingo or palm trees or something tropical.

  5. janet in jackson says:

    Great job to everyone! More men in our guild would be excellent.

  6. Rochelle says:

    Having lived through the first(?)owl frenzy in the 70’s, I too am through with owls. How about goats or some other farm animal that hasn’t been obsessed over yet?? Oooh!! that little pig is so cute, it brings tears to my eyes! Very much enjoyed the series!!

  7. AP says:

    Unfortunately, your worst of 2010 happens all the time. As a copy editor, it is appalling that authors and publishing houses (of any type of publication) don’t take the time (or care enough)to put out quality publications. As someone who is still learning to sew, it’s just downright frustrating.

  8. Thanks so much for your kind words about me and for asking me to share my 2010 overview!

    Yup- I heard that about books and patterns all the time. From a book perspective, my advice is to choose your publisher wisely. If you want to get a book published, you want your readers to be successful in what you are providing them with.

    Last year, after publishing over 50 titles on both our Stash Books and C&T main books, we discovered a total of 8 mistakes. TOTAL! We spend a ton of time and money on our technical editing, but it pays off. Yes, that may sometimes be at the expense of a spiral binding or a lovely little pocket at the back of the book, but we prioritize accuracy.

    Often, your reader doesn’t pay much attention to the publisher’s name on the spine of your book. They just know your name. So if you are looking around for a publisher, their accuracy should be a huge factor in your decision. If your publisher has a bad track record, then find someone yourself. It pays off in the end with happy, successful readers!

    Thanks again for including me in the 2010 round-up.

  9. sewkatiedid says:

    Awesome. It was a load of fun to read the thoughts! Thanks for including me this year.

  10. Rachel says:

    Nicely said. And I’m so ready for the year of the piglet 🙂

  11. Christine says:

    Cute, cute piglet.

  12. Cara Cesarik says:

    Thanks for sharing so much insight! This series was really fun to read.

  13. Aileen says:

    This has been a great series. Your participants have been so interesting, and I have found myself diving into new websites. It has also prompted me to give more thought to the industry that supports my sewing addiction.

  14. Amanda says:

    I bought a pattern once that was full of mistakes – I figured it out, but a beginning sewer would have had a great deal of trouble. Fortunately, after I contacted the seller, they fixed the mistakes and republished the pattern. They also refunded my purchase price and sent me the newly republished pattern.

  15. Bailey says:

    The year of the piglet…dear lord I clicked on the link and so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Samantha says:

    So is there a kind and tactful way to let people know which books or patterns should be used, perhaps, for inspiration only because they errors will give you and faulty product? In the past I have belonged to another online sewing community–a very narrow scoped group–and one of the things we did was post to the group when we tried a pattern that didn’t work or had mistakes. We were sure to ask the designer for help when possible and usually posted some solutions to the group so that if someone wanted to make it, they could do so without making the same mistake.

    I’ve bought several e-patterns and some of the new books this past year and haven’t used most of them yet, but plan to this year. But then I hesitate because I worry about having one with a problem…

  17. Jocelyn says:

    Thanks so much. And thanks to for sharing about all the mistakes in patterns. I’ve seen this happen with patterns, and it is very frustrating! In a way I wish there was a way to know if the patterns have problems, or maybe a website to list the corrections ( I know some designers do that on their own websites). There are so many beginner quilters out there, and this could discourage them from continuing to quilt.

  18. Your guests for this series were exactly the kind of people I love to hear from. Such a talented group! Great to have such hardworking individuals to look up to and look towards in this industry!
    Three cheers for sewing!

    Yours truly,
    Stitch Rabbit

  19. Lorrie Orr says:

    This has been a great series and you’ve tied it all together nicely, with lots to think about at the end!

  20. Asiyah says:

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more…especially about the owls and pattern errata.

  21. tracy_a says:

    Great series! I agree about the errors – as a semi-beginner, it makes it hard for me to want to commit to a pattern, knowing there could be errors in cutting or amounts that will screw everything up! If I wanted to wing it and figure it out myself – it’s not so hard – but if I see a pattern that I want to replicate, I expect it to be right!

  22. Meg says:

    This was a great series of interviews! Well done! I totally agree with your last comment as well. It is a very important step!

  23. Seanna Lea says:

    Errors in patterns are a common problem in most crafts I’ve done, but it feels worse in sewing. At least in knitting or other crafts you can usually fix what you’ve done without losing a ton of materials and a modicum of time. Poor pattern testing keeps me away from a lot of the more interesting looking independent sewing pattern lines, though I do not know if the larger commercial lines are more likely to have been thoroughly tested.

  24. georgia says:

    I think we should be cautious about hounding pattern makers about mistakes – I’ve found that nine times out of ten, the mistake is actually a user error, not a mistake in the pattern. It is hard being blamed for someone else’s mistakes, I’ll admit! Although, I agree – pattern testing is a must.

  25. Shannon says:

    i loved this series of posts. Great to get different perspectives from so many talented individuals. Thank you! I think a year of the piglet would be fun too!

  26. Megan says:

    This has been such a wonderful series. I always looked forward to each new post. Thank you so much for putting it all together.

  27. Alethea says:

    Male Pattern Boldness…love it!

    I’m still new to this whole online sewing community thing, so I’m not quite tired of owls (not that I ever use them…they just don’t bother me yet!). I’ve been seeing a lot of cute songbirds on things and I’d hate for them to go the way of the owl. Mhairi brought up that it’s the year of the rabbit, and I’d like to see some rabbits in sewing projects.

    I’m seconding Marjorie as well; I’d love to test patterns and I’ve been wondering if there’s some way to sign up for that.

  28. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for your last point! I spent my evening last night with a purchased from etsy pattern that was so poorly written as to be indecipherable–and it had nothing but good reviews. Am working up the courage to say something in the product feedback section. Seriously. My final product really suffered for the lack of clear communication in the pattern and I’m not sure I want to give the gift that I stayed up late to finish.

  29. Jenean says:

    This was such a wonderful and informative series! Thank you!

  30. Sarah S says:

    I can appreciate all of the time and effort that goes into creating a book or pattern. It’s a huge endeavor. And I can understand how errors would be easy overlook. But it’s pretty sad that my first step of any book or pattern project is not ‘pre-wash fabric’ but ‘check on-line for errata’. Designers and authors can’t feel great having to put together an errata page. Thanks for such a a thoughtful series. Can’t wait to see what is next to come on the blog.

  31. I do agree with you on some of the patterns not being tested. It is such a disappointment to cut a piece out, know that you stitched it correctly and then realized that didn’t get their calculations right. There are many of us out here that would be more than happy to test patterns out for designers if asked. Is there such a list for something like that??

  32. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for saying what everybody has been thinking regarding pattern errors! I buy these beautiful books, cut up expensive fabric, and too often have nothing to show for my work. Lately, I’ve been making my own patterns as I am nearly through with the hassle of other people’s mistakes!

  33. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this series! I am currently working on a project that has made me feel like the pattern was untested, thank you for verifying that it isn’t just me. I am looking forward to seeing the fabric and projects you have in store for 2011.

  34. Tez says:

    THANK YOU for saying that! Well, all of it, but specifically about having a standard of professionalism in the publications of books and patterns.
    There is nothing more frustrating, than being revved up to sew, with precious new fabric that I hold my breath as I cut…..only to find that 3 steps in, the pattern is full of crap!
    Test, test, test and retest! Then publish. Or as my father always says, Measure twice, cut once….same goes for publishing.

  35. Deanna says:

    Having written a few tutorials myself, I understand how easy mistakes are, but I TOTALLY AGREE with you about the need for professionalism in professional work. I would say to writers/designers: Don’t get in such a hurry that you produce something unusable. Thanks for the brave statement. We can hope writers and publishers listen.

  36. LisaC says:

    I absolutely agree with your rant!

  37. I completely agree with your final comments. I’ve tried my best to always be honest in my book and product reviews on my blog. In my predictions I mentioned “In 2011, honesty and sincerity will emerge online.” I hope those quiet comments come to light. As a community, we need to say that we will no longer accept the flaws. We need to say it outloud.

    I do love Cut and Keep Out, and I’ve let my husband know that he is expected to rise and shine this year. He said, “I can make bags. Should I make bags?” A positive step for our family!

    Thank you so much for sharing your reflections and predictions. I’ve really enjoyed this meme and the responses it elicited.

  38. Mhairi says:

    As this year is the Chinese year of the rabbit how about that – last year was tiger but owls seemed to dominate as did matroyshka dolls. Can’t wait for this year to see what you do on your blog and site.
    Happy new year.

  39. Well said. All of it.

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