A Look Back at 2016 & A Look Forward to 2017


It’s New Year’s Eve and time to reflect on the year almost past and make plans for the year ahead.

Some popular ways of doing this over on Instagram are the “Best Nine” pictures that are automatically picked for you on the best nine website (just Google “2016 best nine” and enter your Instagram username). Share them your Instagram using the #2016bestnine hashtag, that’s mine just above and is actually a nice reflection of some of the achievements I’m most proud of this year:

  • Publication of my second book – “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts” including a successful move to a new publisher’s (Cico), I’m now working on book number three with Cico!
  • Fashion Revolution Day and Week – an important global movement that is really gaining momentum and challenging the way that clothes are produced in a globalised world. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and that I wrote about here.
  • Along that theme I found an amazing UK fabric manufacturer who agreed to collaborate with me on my new book, they’re called Discovery Knitting and they make beautiful fabrics right here in the UK, some of which are also made from organic fibres. I had a long chat with Simon one of their directors and he’s very much on my wavelength; passionate about creating skilled jobs and bringing sustainable manufacturing jobs back to the UK. Expect more from me on the company over 2017, but in the meantime check out their fabrics online.
  • I finally made time this year to have a go at painting and printing my own fabric designs, something I’ve been wanting to do for a good few years! I had a go at a few ideas under my own steam before enrolling on a 6 week screen printing course at Inkspot Press in Hove. I’ve built up a small library of good books on the subject (here’s a list of some of them on Amazon) and there are some great classes on Creative Bug, but I’ve got to say that actually attending a class was the thing that really got me moving on this one. I’ve found as a learner, that if I’m learning something completely new I much prefer to be shown in person first by an expert, only then do I find books and videos useful. A good insight for me when I have my teacher hat on. Here’s a video of me in action and deep in concentration!

  • And of course, the Refashioners – another brilliant challenge organised by Portia of the Makery blog.

Aside from my Instagram highlights I also managed to achieve the following in 2016:

  • my 9th year of teaching, the 6th year of writing this blog, the 4th year of MIY Collection and the 5th year of running MIY Workshop
  • started my monthly MIY Makers challenge to highlight your makes using my patterns
  • continued writing my monthly column for Love Sewing which has expanded to 2 pages and has given me the chance to write about some really diverse subjects from sewing and mental health to what it’s really like to work in the fashion industry
  • launched PDF versions of the MIY Collection Longley and Wisewood patterns
  • ran the second MIY March which exceeded all my expectations with sponsors on board donating fantastic prizes and almost 6000 photos shared by the sewing community on Instagram
  • finally started my own YouTube channel and as well as a couple of my own very DIY style tutorials, I filmed a brilliant series of tutorials called “A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing” with Cico my publishers, covering all the basics from how to start and finish sewing to how to understitch and staystitch
  • addition of a shopping checklist and measuring guide to all my printed MIY Collection patterns
  • I taught my first class in Sheffield and helped organise a dressmaking pop-up event with Laura of Running with Scissors, Fiona of Faberwood, Grace of Beyond Measure and Nick of Ernest Wright & Son Scissors
  • I cancelled my stand and my classes at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace and didn’t regret it for a second, partly so I could spend time with my parents as my dad had a year of health issues and partly for my own sanity (I could write at length about this decision and what it involved, but that’s for another post, not here)
  • a really enjoyable collaboration with local Sussex charity the Martlets which pushed me creatively and made me step out of my comfort zone – never a bad thing to do once in a while.

Outside of the sewing world, my highlights included:

  • getting out walking fairly regularly and enjoying the English countryside and my 2 dogs more than ever
  • overcoming the most terrifying attack of nerves I’ve ever experienced to get a merit in my Grade 3 trumpet exam
  • realising I can’t do everything which led to cutting back on my  teaching commitments, more realistic to-do lists and prioritising what I really want to do rather than what I think I ought to be doing.

The other way that Instagram users are planning for the year ahead is to share a “Make Nine” a sewing to-do list for the year ahead. Luckily for me, but frustratingly for you dear reader, right now a lot of the things I’ve been wanting to make will be covered by the projects in my new book which of course I can’t share just yet!

However, here are a few things I’m determined to make time to sew that I can share:

  • Marilla Walker’s Roberts Collection jumpsuit – I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve had this pattern for over a year now, but the fact I still keep dreaming about making it reassures me that I will eventually get around to it!
  • A recent-to-me find is Hannah Garr’s Paddleboat Studio patterns – as soon as I saw her new Mitchell dress and jumpsuit I knew I wanted to make both.
  • More samples of this new MIY Collection pattern that first saw the light of day over 10 years ago! I think I’ve now nailed it (no I haven’t been working on it for 10 years, it was languishing in my pile marked “eventually”) and am really excited to make more versions of it. I’ve a feeling it may become the knit version of my Fulwood pattern as there are just so many ways to make this one.
  • I made this pattern for a girl’s dress and top a few years ago for a “Sewing for Kids” workshop I taught. Ever since I’ve been dreaming of making one for big girls and I finally made a few toiles this summer that were spot on. I have just the right fabric for this for next summer and I can see myself living in it.

Aside from sewing and making, there are a few other things I plan to do in 2017:

  • Be kinder to myself – I’m really really hard on myself and push myself extremely hard to achieve my goals, it’s easy to constantly focus on what I haven’t done rather than what I have, so I’m going to try and shift my focus next year and this blog post is a good start!
  • If my teacher thinks I’m ready, try my grade 4 trumpet exam.
  • More screen printing and fabric painting.
  • Incorporate more art and creative endeavours (including more writing and journal keeping) into my everyday life, I’ve realised it’s essential for my wellbeing.
  • Make time to see more of my mum and dad and my friends that live in Sheffield.

And finally, here are some of my most popular tutorials and blog posts from this year for you:

So, how’s your 2016 been and what have you got planned for the year ahead?


6 responses to “A Look Back at 2016 & A Look Forward to 2017

  1. Wow what a busy 2016 you had! My 2017 seems to be lining up to be like your 2016, I’m already booked up every weekend until March and have more work than I know what to do with! I think rather than setting goals which I probably won’t get time to even think about this year I’m just going to aim to get some sewing time in amongst all the work.


  2. Pingback: Find me in all these sewing magazines this month! | Wendy Ward

  3. PsychicKathleen

    I was stunned at how much you had accomplished in 2016! You were busy 🙂 Happy New Year to you! I’m glad you are finding your rhythm and what you want to invest the lion-share of your time and resources into – self employment does that to us. I taught for 20 years and suddenly knew just at the moment I was retiring that end of my business and focusing on other things like writing. This coming year I hope to focus more specifically on achieving great fit! If I can get that right I’ll be a happy woman at the end of 2017!


  4. Lovely review. You have accomplished so much and inspired so many people to just have a go. I am looking forward to working my way through your skirt book in 2017. Best wishes to you and your family K xXx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.