I’ve been reading and disagreeing with top ten lists all week–on topics ranging from best movies to best political quotes, everyone has an opinion about something.  Still, all the “best of the decade” lists really got me thinking about how much the sewing industry has changed in the past 10 years.  So,  for better or worse, I thought I’d throw my own opinions out there as fodder.   Here are some of the things that I found notable:

Most Influential Fabric Designer:  Amy Butler
Portland has one of the biggest fabric stores in the country, Fabric Depot, and yet there were times in the ’90s when I’d be hard-pressed to find a single design that I could get excited about.  Then one day I went shopping and I was drawn to one little rounder of Amy Butler fabrics that stood out like a tiny oasis in a vast desert.  Who was this?  Where did she come from?  Wow, the possibilities!  I still feel that way about Amy’s designs, although she has a lot of good company now.  We all owe Amy a big thank you, in my opinion.  Her vision, business sense and passion has had a tremendous impact on the industry.

Most Influential Quilter:  Denyse Schmidt
Not only is the book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts, one of the best of the decade, but her style has been inspirational to legions of quilters.  Simple, clean, bright and just a little bit wonky.  We still can’t wait to see what she does next.

Best Manufacturer:  Free Spirit
Amy Butler (before she left for Westminster, which later bought Free Spirit!), Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey, Heather Ross, Jennifer Paganelli, Anna Maria Horner, Tanya Whelan and more.  What can you say?  They have an eye for talent and are still at the cutting-edge of the industry trends.

Best Blogger-to-Author:  Amy Karol
Like her blog, Amy’s Bend the Rules books are instructional, approachable, and inspiring.  Whatever she’s currently working on is always the next thing we want to learn.

Best Base Cloth:  Home Dec Cottons
The “home dec” part is really a misnomer.  We use the sateens and oxfords from Westminster and Alexander Henry for bags, aprons, clothing and more.  The thickness makes everything just a bit sturdier without the use of heavy interfacing and the extra width adds to the versatility. The manufacturers haven’t been producing these as much lately, which I hope is just temporary.

Best Trend:  Zakka Style
The Japanese inspired us to make lovely, simple things for our homes and families.   Combining clean linens with beautiful prints and simple hand-stitching is a look that spoke to women all over the world and is a trend that will probably continue for awhile.

Best Technology:  Blogs
It’s hard imagine a day without a dose of inspiration from my favorite blogs.  Ten years ago I hadn’t even heard the term.  Quoting from Beth, blogs “really changed the community feel of sewing and in a way brought it back about a hundred years– Once again there’s a community of people making things/teaching things/communicating about sewing, it’s just that you might connect with someone around the world instead of in your neighborhood.”

Best Sewing Blog:  Sew,Mama,Sew!
It’s OK for me to say that, right? 😉  We owe it all to Beth, our fabulous board members, and many, many generous, creative contributors.  Thank you!

Best Pattern Company:  Oliver + S (how could I forget?!)
Fabulous children’s clothing patterns that are well-designed, well-written and well-tested.  Excellent support for both consumers and retailers.  Pattern designers-to-be would do well to follow Liesl’s example in running a business.

Sewing Trends for the Future:

Texture–We’ve submersed ourselves in pattern for the past decade.  I think the coming years will be all about different base cloths.  We’re already seeing the industry-leader, Free Spirit, take on flannel, voile, dobby cloth and vinyl, so I’m sure we’ll see more manufacturers doing the same.  Look for fun projects that combine a variety of fabric textures in the coming year.

Apparel–We’ve all cut our teeth on simple items for the home over the past few years.  I have a sense that many of you are ready to take on more clothing projects.  As a consequence, I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more fabulous patterns from independent designers. Brush off your zipper feet, ladies!

Less digital, more painterly–I think we’ll see more fine artists edging their way into textile design.

Quilting Bees–Not just quilting bees, but sewing groups in general.  One of my personal goals of 2010 is to have more “real life” encounters with other sewists.  The formation of small sewing groups is, in fact, something that we’d like to help facilitate on the blog.  Look for more information about this soon!

Custom Digital Fabric Printing–It’s undoubtedly here to stay.  We’re excited to see the ways it will be put to use in the coming years.


What about you?  What were some of the best aspects of the sewing industry in the past decade?  Personal favorites?  Least favorite trends?  Predictions for the future?   We’d love to know what you think!