We asked a big group of sewing industry leaders to fill us in on their reflections for 2015 and their predictions for the year ahead. Looking back helps us celebrate the beauty, the surprises, the fun and the big sewing moments. 2016 predictions get us all excited about what’s to come!

First up is one of our favorite designers (bags, fabric and more!) and an all-around lovely person. Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness, author of the new Windy-city Bags: 12 Handbags and Totes Sewn With Structure and Style (That Patchwork Place). Sara is also a Building Better Bags: Interfacing and Structure Craftsy class instructor! She tells us what she noticed and what she’s excited about…

Want to join the fun?! Answer any or all of our questions on your site. Tag us or add the URL in the comments of any Reflections/Predictions post and we’ll check it out! #sewingpredictions

Sew Mama Sew: Looking back on the sewing scene in 2015, what trends stand out?
Sara: I’ve noticed that bra-making and jeans-making were big trends in 2015. I didn’t notice people commonly doing that before, but it’s great that we’re now making everything that we wear! The Madalynne blog is a big proponent of bra-making. The Marlborough Bra was a stand out, as well as the Watson Bra, and lingerie patterns from Ohhh Lulu. Some shops are selling bra-making kits (Blackbird Fabrics, etc.), which is an easy way to get everything you need. In terms of making jeans I see another big trend… With Craftsy classes on making jeans to patterns like the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans and the denim kits by Workroom Social, it’s easier than ever to make a great pair of customized jeans.

I also noticed the Small World quilt pattern by Jen Kingwell (info on where to find it here), which first appeared in Quiltmania magazine and is now a pattern booklet from Jen Kingwell Designs. I saw a lot of people making it on social media and there was a hosted sew along for it.

SMS: Who knocked your socks off and why?
Sara: Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns. I think Colette had a huge year this year. Besides having their garment patterns (the most recently released was the Wren), I think this company is led by serious innovators and they are always thinking outside of the box. One example is Seamwork, their online monthly magazine that I’ve subscribed to since the beginning. Each issue has interesting and informative articles, and is also accompanied by two new sewing patterns (great basics, that can be sewn in a short amount of time). Seamwork Radio is their new podcast that shares personal stories about making and designing. I really admire what Colette Patterns is doing because I feel like they are a leader in their field, and besides being a leader, they are not content to just keep doing the same thing (although they do it well).

Sara’s new Windy-city Bags: 12 Handbags and Totes Sewn With Structure and Style

SMS: Favorite things? (i.e. Fabric collections, patterns, books, thread, tools, podcasts, classes, websites, events, etc.)

SMS: What do you think 2016 has in store?
Sara: I think 2016 will be the year of creative collaboration. There’s a lot that can be done when we work together to make great things.

Gorgeous bags from Sara’s new Windy-city Bags: 12 Handbags and Totes Sewn With Structure and Style.

SMS: Who do you think are rising stars in the industry?
Sara: I know they are already established, but I say Tula Pink and Alison Glass are rising stars; Tula, for constantly innovating and having so much based around her brand (her Bernina special edition sewing machine, the new hardware and of course– always– the fabric) and Alison Glass for making several items that appeal to both traditional and modern quilters (Handcrafted fabrics and Weeks Dye Works flosses to go along with her embroidery patterns).

If we’re talking about new designers, I’d have to say Karen Lewis has created the biggest buzz with her Blueberry Park line.

The sewing industry continues to glean the best for continuing careers. Notably Katy Jones (of I’m a Ginger Monkey) as editor of Quilt Now magazine, Giucy Giuce getting a job with Andover Fabrics and Amy (of Almond Rock) as editor of Love Sewing magazine. Hard work definitely pays off!

Sara in her Building Better Bags: Interfacing and Structure Craftsy Class

SMS: What did you do this year that you’re most proud of?
Sara: Two things: I fulfilled a big dream when my Craftsy class came out in October, Building Better Bags: Interfacing and Structure. This class talks about the behind-the-scenes of bag making. Interfacing is the most important part, but I also discuss other things that stabilize a bag and make it look more professional (false bottoms, piping, pressing, etc.). My second book, Windy-city Bags: 12 Handbags and Totes Sewn With Structure and Style, came out on December 1st. It includes 12 all-new bag sewing patterns and I’m very happy to have had a chance to write a second book.

SMS: What can we expect from you in 2016? Any big projects, life changes or goals you can share?
Sara: My first women’s garment pattern is slated to come out in January, called the Halsted Dress. Tula Pink had a sample of my new dress in her booth at Quilt Market in October. I’ve never worked so hard at anything in my entire life, but it’s been an amazing experience. I had a big learning curve to get around (from software to designing to grading to fitting). It’s been great, and even though I have so much more to learn I’m so grateful for this journey. My first pattern is for woven fabric but I plan on alternating between woven and knits, because I love sewing with both. The patterns will feature misses cup sizes A-D, because I feel that this will be the helping hand that anyone needs to successfully sew something for themselves, and I’ll also have plus-size in an E-cup. The patterns will be available in both PDF and paper format.

Another big happening for 2016 is Sew Pro. Sew Pro is a lecture-style convention for people who sew as a hobby but want to break into the industry in a professional manner (author, fabric designer, pattern designer, blogger). What surprised me most is that not only are people registering who have no previous professional experience, but we are also getting people to sign up who are already pattern designers, authors, etc. This tells me people recognize that the sewing and quilting industry is a changing business, and people want to be well-informed in order to make the best choices for either their brand new or existing business. 2016 will be the start of my third year in business; looking at the teacher and class roster for Sew Pro there are many classes I want to take that I think will be helpful for me. Sew Mama Sew’s own Kristin Link will be one of the teachers, which is really exciting!