Some thoughts for the new year

I’ve been slowly easing into 2018 rather than hitting the ground running, as you might have noticed from my lack of posts this past two months. Taking a break, evaluating new ideas and last year’s accomplishments, spending some time to collect myself. Considering that many people post their end-of-year roundups in December, it’s easy to feel like you’re already behind by the time the new year rolls around if you do this.

Studio clipboards

However, I recently stumbled across this post, which contains some good writing about pacing your life to match the rhythm of the season. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that winter should be more about cozying up and relaxing than galloping off to execute a million new plans, especially when you live in a cold place like Michigan. It also reaffirms my long-held suspicion that Labor Day is a more appropriate New Year’s Day, something I’ve privately been observing for the past few years. I’m happy to report that it works rather nicely, especially considering seasonal rhythms. Who’s with me?

Last month I intentionally took a break from posting or starting new projects, since I was filming with Creativebug the first week in December, and then we were traveling as a family to Seattle for Christmas, where I also taught a class at Dry Goods. I intended to return to posting in after the new year but I have to admit, it’s been tough to get my momentum back. Nevertheless, taking a step back is good. It forces me to think carefully about why I do what I’m doing, rather than just barreling forward because that’s what I’ve always done, and to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments.

There’s something quite pleasing about writing down your accomplishments, and once I’d made a list, I thought perhaps you might like to see it too. Understandably not all of you stay glued to your screens waiting for my latest post (and good thing too…imagine the wait!), so here is a rundown of some of the things we did here at MBR last year:

Gingham Cleo skirt

The Cleo skirt pattern was our first new pattern launch, which we followed in summer with the Cleo showcase (aka blog/IG) tour, a Cleo sewalong and the Cleo print pattern launch. Spending that much time on Cleo throughout the year meant we didn’t develop any summer or fall patterns, but I still think it was a good decision. It really helped focus attention on Cleo, which took a little while to gain momentum, as some patterns do. The effort paid off; Cleo grew more popular as the year went on, and it was really fun to see so many people making and rocking their own versions of it and including it on their #2018makenine lists.

Cleo in print

Putting Cleo into print also gave me an opportunity to give the print pattern covers a little facelift. I replaced the teal border with white, and for Cleo we introduced a stapled instruction booklet rather than the fold-out sheet. I think both formats have their advantages and disadvantages (the main disadvantage of the stapled booklet being cost), but I really like it and will definitely consider using it on future print patterns.

Big geranium in print

We also used the new cover design for a print launch of Geranium in bigger sizes (kids’ 6-12) and for a reprint of the Geranium in baby/toddler sizes (0-5).

The Geranium Expansion pack was our other new pattern launch for 2017, and I had fun working with Rachel Kovac, who did the sample sewing and photography for that shoot. I had been feeling dissatisfied with my own product photography and felt it was time to hire it out to a professional. Having had admired Rachel’s photos and blog for many years, I asked if she’d be interested in working with us. Gratefully she said yes, and I’m so happy that she made time for this project. The dresses turned out so beautifully, and the photos were fantastic.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

We also had a lovely showcase tour for Geranium Expansion Pack in the fall. I’m grateful to the talented women who participated for their lovely contributions to the tour.

GXP tour roundup

Interestingly, the release of the expansion pack also fueled a rise in sales for the original Geranium pattern, which ended up being our top pattern seller for 2017, making it the first year in quite a while that a children’s pattern has been beat out a women’s pattern for shop sales (though Cleo was a close second).

GXP samples

Other projects from this year include:

….the Starry Sky Skirt in Making magazine (a basic gathered skirt in both children and women’s sizes which I am considering selling in the shop),

…the Sidewalk knit showcase (many of these knits are still available, by the way — I just saw the flamingos in Annie’s shop yesterday),

…a reboot of the Buttercup Bag pattern, which is now available in two sizes for free when you sign up for my newsletter,

Pop up shop

…we had a quick pop-up pattern shop through my shop website (usually we don’t ship patterns direct-to-customer from my studio) in September,

…I traveled to San Francisco for a week to shoot three of my women’s patterns with Creativebug in December. I’m excited to reveal those to you when they launch this spring; I think it’s going to be awesome for those of you who enjoy having video tutorials as a resource to help you sew!!

…I posted two Beatrix’s for the fall Stylemaker tour,

…and I went to Squam for the first time.

That’s not all; there are still a number of projects we started but haven’t finished. I’m excited to share those with you, too.

Looking back on a full, productive year, I feel an immense gratitude to all of you for your encouragement and support. Thank you for showing up and sewing my patterns and sharing what you make with the rest of us. It inspires others, encourages me more than you can know, and it propels me forward. Without your energy and enthusiasm for making, my work would not exist, and I feel very lucky to be able to do something I love so much and grateful for the opportunity to help you sew things you love.

Thank you, friends! May your 2018 be even better than you hope for.

10 thoughts on “Some thoughts for the new year

  1. TOTALLY with you on the September new years! It always feels more like a fresh start (and I have way more motivation!) Than January!

  2. As a teacher, I totally agree with Labor Day feeling like the real start to the year. I am most productive in regards to sewing during break break for obvious reasons. Your patterns have become staples for me. I am planning to make a ton of Isla tops and dresses soon. I am a sucker for that style and it works perfect for the desert climate I live in. Great job on everything Rae!

  3. I wasn’t sure when Labour Day is, but looking at the comments, I totally agree – September always feels like a natural start to a year. Here in England, it’s the month when my children begin a new year at school, so it always has a shiny new pencil case feel about it for me (am I right in thinking US schools go back in August?).

    That sounds like a highly productive year -. I’m not surprised you craved a delayed start to this one.

    Also, the photography for your Geranium pattern! It’s so incredibly beautiful.

    Florence x

  4. What a full year! Isn’t it amazing to look back and actually list your accomplishments? And with three kids? Go you!

    I will always be grateful for the quilter who led me to the Washi pattern. Changed my sewing life 😊

    Wishing you only good things in 2018.

  5. I don’t know how I missed your “pop up” in Sept! Ironically I order your patterns from the UK (I’m in Canada) but certainly you’re a lot closer. I look forward to seeing what you’re doing on Creative Bug this year – love their format. I’ve just downloaded a blouse making class with them that I’m going to work on next. I agree too re Sept. We spend so many years in school that Sept just means new clothes, new friends and a fresh beginning – it lives with us many years after we’ve finished our schooling.

  6. I so agree with a slower start to the year. I felt super burnt out and slowing down for a bit has been a great feeling. I’m excited for your Creativebug classes!! Yay for a productive year for you! I forgot what else I wanted to say, ha. Happy new year Rae!

  7. Back to school time does seem like a second/alternative new year or new beginning, though I’m from the South so it’s well before Labor Day!

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