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Happy 2017 (my year in review)

Woohoo! It’s a fresh new year! Each year I like to take the first of January to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So while this post is a celebration of the new year, it’s also a look back at what I’ve been up to in the last twelve months, which I always find to be a helpful exercise!

The Sewing Weekender

It’s taken the better part of a week for me to calm down and recover after the stimulation overload that was the first-ever Sewing Weekender, held this past weekend up in Cambridge. It was organised by the ladies behind The Fold Line along with English Girl at Home after being really jealous of all the great sewing getaways and camps run over in America, and it seems they were right to want to replicate over here. Tickets went on sale (for a very reasonable £45) and sold out in literally under an hour. I credit my being able to buy a ticket mostly down to following these ladies on social media and jumping as soon as they became available (Pro-tip if you want to attend the next one when it’s announced!).

The event itself was held in one of the Cambridge colleges, with the option to stay overnight in one of the residence halls (dorm rooms), which I took advantage of after seeing it was cheaper than other hotels in town and less hassle than another set of late night and early morning trains between Cambridge and London!

Moving and redecorating

After 10 years, I’ve finally done something that I’ve been putting off for a long time – I moved this entire site onto a new backend. This may not sound like much, but I knew it was going to be a really painful process so I put off doing it for as long as possible.

When I started writing FehrTrade.com back in 2006, I set it all up on a great open source blogging platform called TextPattern, and for a few years it suited my needs well. But the web has evolved massively in the past ten years, and unfortunately, the contributors to TextPattern have not, and even doing seemingly simple things like tagging required a bunch of coding knowledge and a lot of crossing of fingers. Don’t even think about social network integrations – they barely existed when the site was created! I kept coming up against limitations in what I could actually do with the site, and eventually I realised I’d have to move everything over to a different backend in order to keep the site going at all (let’s not even talk about the security holes!).

Re-emerging

Thank you all so much for your understanding, sympathy, kindness, and support while I’ve been ill. I know some of you expressed disbelief that I could still possibly be ill after all this time (10 weeks!) but welcome to post-transplant life! I’ve been thoroughly checked over by the hospital and several doctors and the working theory is that I really ran myself ragged getting the boat ready to move to our new moorings in late January, allowing a nasty bout of sinusitis to take over. Then I had EBV reactivation for a few weeks (effectively fighting off mono/glandular fever), then at least two more viruses, culminating with a delightful flu that’s going round my office which involves constant headaches concentrated near the ear/jaw. It’s been so much fun, let me tell you.

For a lot of that time, I couldn’t do much more than watch Netflix (9 days straight in bed meant I watched the entirety of Orange is the New Black), but then I had to go into work, and the new mooring meant that I either had a 1hr+ public transport commute at rush hour with no means to sit down (costing me £8/day too I might add), or a 40min cycle ride. I’ll let you in on a little secret – cycle commute is made out to be some super healthy, exercise choice, but seriously, a 15min walk took way more out of me than the 40min cycling on flat London roads with red lights every few minutes. It’s unbelievably stressful, but not strenuous in the slightest (even on the days where I was falling asleep at my desk I could get myself home). But I’ve got an entire post brewing on this subject for my Riverrunner site. I’ve had a lot of time to think, and plan, but not so much desire to write.

In Waiting…

It’s never particularly convenient to be ill, but honestly, this couldn’t have been a more inconvenient time. Without going into details, I’ve been ill for over a month now, and it’s been really frustrating to watch the publication month of the Tessellate Tee pattern slip by without being able to show you all the finished garments I’ve been literally waiting months to show off (no really – I made most of these in October and November!), let alone share some fabric choices, great design features, and finished garments that are popping up around the web already.

This is my pile of Tessellate Tee samples waiting for me to be well enough to photoshoot:

And this pile isn’t even including the two I sewed for Love Sewing magazine’s feature, or the one I made my niece for Christmas! To some people, a month spent mostly lying in bed would be bliss, but to someone like me who already doesn’t have enough hours in the day and is very high activity, this is utter, utter torture. You can make up for a lot of things in life, but missed time is just gone forever…

I honestly have no idea when I’ll be able to pick up with normal activities again. But I can say that I’ve had plenty of time to think and devise new patterns and features and really cool things I want to do with Fehr Trade Patterns, so now it’s just a matter of when I’ll actually have the time, energy, and health to put them into reality.

Happy 2016! (My year in review)

Each year I like to take the first of January to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So while this post is a celebration of the new year, it also helps me to put into perspective the year that has just gone. Somehow I always think the year has been a bit low on finished makes until I put everything together for the year’s collage!


Click the image to see it better, or right-click here to see it in a new tab to get a better look!

Tip: If you’d like to skim back through the posts for the above projects, you can click Gallery in the top menu, which will only show you finished projects, without all the magazine reviews and in-progress reports getting in the way! (Though a few of the makes in the bottom row I haven’t blogged about yet!)

The Year in Stats

In terms of pattern companies used this year, I made:

  • 25 FehrTrade patterns (I put my money where my mouth is I guess!?),
  • 9 Seamwork magazine,
  • 6 Self-drafted (including traced from RTW),
  • 4 Jalie (well, the same sports bra pattern four times!),
  • 3 from the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion in Fabric book,
  • 2 Burda Style magazine,
  • 2 Style Arc,
  • 2 Orange Lingerie,
  • and 1 each from La Maison Victor magazine, Named, Paprika Patterns, Imagine Gnats, Simple Sew, and Kwik Sew.

By my count, I made: 21 tops, 19 trousers (including leggings & shorts), 2 jumpsuits,
2 dresses, 10 pieces of lingerie (bras, panties, slips, etc), 1 bikini, 2 jackets/coats/cardigans and zero skirts (!). I made presents for my mom, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, and James also received four tops and a pair of lounging bottoms this year, the lucky guy!

French and Dutch Translations plus Facebook and Pinterest, too!

Boy is this a whopper of an update post today! Truth be told, I intended to split it up into two posts as both things are big news but life got in the way of writing this week and I didn’t want to make you all wait any longer…

FehrTrade Patterns – in French and Dutch!

I’ve been wanting to offer translations of my pattern instructions pretty much from the day we launched, but I needed to get a bunch of the admin side of things in order to make it a reality. I started putting feelers out this summer to find out which of my patterns had the biggest demand, and for which languages (since at this point in time I can’t afford to offer translations for all my patterns in every language!).

It turned out that there was a lot of demand for my XYT Workout Top to be translated, since a lot of the advice on power mesh and stretch didn’t really come across visually. So I’m pleased to report that instructions for the XYT Workout Top are now available in both French and Dutch in addition to English! These translations were both done by native speakers who also sew, so they should make sewing your own activewear a lot easier if your English is a little rusty.

Furthermore, I was able to translate a further two more patterns into French, so les couturières francophones can also enjoy instructions for the Duathlon Shorts and Steeplechase Leggings, too!

A tour of my new sewing room!

I know I’ve been talking about my new sewing room for ages (and believe me, it feels like even longer to me!) but I’m finally moved in and so chuffed to finally share it with you!

My new sewing room is very small, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in cool points – who else has a sewing room on a boat, concealed behind a hidden bookcase door, eh??

This is the bit everyone loves – a modified Hemnes bookcase from Ikea, with reinforcements, casters (wheels), and a hidden pull latch to keep it closed. Our joiner is a genius and we’re so lucky to have found him!! The greatest thing about this is that my sewing room is at the very end of the corridor, and the way the various deck heights work means there’s a porthole just above the bookcase. So it really does look convincing, like there’s no boat beyond it!!

Once inside, I’ve put a corkboard on the inside of the door as a place to pin all my magazine clippings, sketches of designs past and present, and general mood-boardy stuff. You can also see how small the room is here – it’s only a little under 2m (6 feet) long by 2m wide at its widest point.

Also take note of the smoked oak parquet floor that I painstakingly cut, laid, sanded, and hand oiled myself. Loooouuuurve my floor! It was expensive, both in cost and effort, but so worth it.

When you enter the room, immediately on your left you’ll find Susan, my dressform (seen here wearing my Laurie King fabric collaboration VNA Top pattern), and my pattern rack, which I’ve had for quite a few years but came from the garment industry supply shop, Morplan. As you can see from the number of patterns on it, I find it unbelievably useful! Also note the cute sewing machine clock my mom sent over to me!

Bits & pieces

I haven’t got any finished projects or magazines to show you this week, so I thought it’d be a good opportunity to catch you up on all the smaller things I’ve been up to that maybe wouldn’t be enough for their own post…

The New Sewing Room

I know it feels like it’s taking forever (and believe me, it does to me, too!) but my new sewing room in the front of the boat is nearly done, so I’ve been spending a lot of time getting that ready to move into.

Most recently, I’ve been cutting, piecing, gluing and now sanding the beeeeeeeeautiful smoked oak mosaic panel flooring into place, which, while both expensive and time consuming, is something that makes me happy every time I see it.

The final remaining step is to put a few coats of oil on the flooring and tack the edge trim down and I’m ready to move in! And yes, at roughly 2m x 2m, it’s still smaller than most American closets! Our boat is heowge, but this particular room will be small, and hidden away, but it will be mine.

Seamwork articles

I’ve been a big fan of Seamwork magazine and a subscriber since Day One, and loads of you have written to tell me how much you enjoyed my first article, A Guide to Activewear Fabrics.

This month’s current issue is all about sewing knits (I know, right) and I’ve actually got TWO articles in it!