Sewing Industry Reflections and Predictions

Sew, Mama, Sew are currently inviting people to contribute to their posts on Sewing Industry Reflections and Predictions. They're welcoming anyone to join in and as I enjoy reading these posts coming from others so much, I thought I'd add my own (and just in case you're wondering, the above photo shows two of my favourite fabric samples from 2011).

Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?

Dress and photo by Wild Thing Dresses
Foxes stand out in every way as being a creature that skulked out from the beneath the bushes in 2011 to shine in all their red, bushy-tailed glory. Ever since seeing Jennifer Moore's wonderful foxy print for Mona Luna last summer, I've noticed them popping their noses up at every opportunity in both fabric designs and items being handmade by independent seamstresses. I've shown the dress above before, but it's too lovely not to share again. And this morning, I discovered that grown-ups can have their own foxy fun. While it's not something that I'd wear myself in reality, I must implore those with more of a sense of fun than me to go and look at Isabel Knowles' shop and blog as the staging of her clothes is exquisite, as you can see in the images below (her shop holds a dress similar to these ones dotted with Mona Luna foxes).

Dresses and photo by Isabel Knowles
What were some of your favourite things related to sewing this past year?

Image by Artisania
For me what's thrilling is almost equally divided between quilts and clothing. I've loved some of the more pictorial quilts that I've seen, as well as those that use fabrics other than quilting weight cottons (as pictured above); quilts that have used tiny, tiny pieces like Sarah Fielke's Hanging Lanterns quilt; and then those that seem to glow because of the incredible use of colour; and those that combine pattern and colour to seemingly create entirely new patterns and colours within the quilt.

In dressmaking I'm more than a little inspired by anything involving a Peter Pan collar, clean crisp lines and detailing that retains a chic, uncluttered look; anything that pins down the essence of Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Onassis tends to make my heart beat a little faster and inspires me to sew. For me this means garment fabrics are more about texture and drape than pattern. If I'm looking for inspiration in blog form, Sew Tessuti is the place where I love to spend time. Their blog is based around their eponymously named shop (which sadly for many of us is in Australia) and is an ever-changing parade of wonderful garments made and modelled by their dressmaking fashionista customer-base. Fabric details and pattern numbers are usually included in every post, making it a treasure trove of accessible makes.

Image from: Les Composantes
What did you make that you’re most proud of? (Share a photo in your post!)

At the risk of bizarre his and hers handmade garmentyness, I think it would be the Negroni shirt that I made for my husband and the toile version of the Miz Mozelle dress that I made for myself. The muslin isn't actually wearable as the keyhole was too big, and the inexpensive fabric smells oddly of chlorine and swimming costumes, but it made me feel fabulous the moment I put it on (in a slightly poolside kind of way), which is, of course, the ultimate dressmaking goal.

What sewn projects have you seen this year that you absolutely love?

On the dressmaking front, I adore most of the things made on the Little Betty blog - I often love both the fabrics and patterns that she chooses. Very Purple Person's Novita always looks completely fabulous in all her makes too.

I think I may need to seek out more dressmaking blogs in 2012, as I still find that I gain most garment inspiration from shop-made clothing and I love looking at the design details of Banana Republic, Boden, Orla Kiely and EmersonMade, and collect snippets of their loveliness on my Style board on Pinterest.

By contrast, when it comes to quilting I feel so overwhelmed by inspiration that I'm constantly forming and then re-forming what my own tastes actually are as I'm so easily distracted by the endless myriad of colour, pattern and piecing variables. You can see some of what I've found wonderful from 2011 on my Quilting Pinterest board.

Do you have a favourite sewing book or pattern from the past year to recommend?

From 2011, for dressmaking I'd recommend The Colette Sewing Handbook; for quilting, Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making may be a little basic for quilters who favour intricate piecing, but for pattern and colour inspiration I can't think of a more perfect book.

Are there any trends you’re over and done with?

Um, not really. I always favour what feels to me to be classic, timeless and lovely - be it a quilt, fabric or clothing. Some passing trends might be things that appeal - I'm all for foxes - but they're things I would have liked anyway but just happen to be more widely available, so it ceases to matter too much if they fade from popularity.

What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?

I read an article a few years ago questioning why we bloggers would transfer so much of our readership over to Facebook when it's a platform that could shift the boundaries without consultation, lose your way of communicating with your readership base overnight with privacy worries or suddenly claim rights over our images. This made sense to me, so I've kept things pretty much here on my blog. However, I really enjoy Twitter - I love how instant it is and sometimes it feels like an easier way to catch up on other people's most recent posts, as I often avoid my Google feed reader if it's overflowing with unread posts. I'm also fairly poor at inbox management, in part because I want to reply to everything at length which life doesn't always allow for; Twitter forces me to be concise in 140 characters and so means I'm more able to maintain a conversation with people.

Did you have a favourite fabric collection or print in 2011?

Not really a favourite collection, more the odd print that I fell for. The above is a Liberty print silk Georgette called Combe. At £45 a metre it felt a little on the expensive side...but I still think of it occasionally and wish that I had some in my drawer (it's now out of print). The Cloth House always has fabrics that I swoon over, but they don't tend to be on bolts that come from named designers. However, I did love many of Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi small scale voile prints and I'm still considering a dress made from this one.

What do you predict for 2012 in the sewing industry?

I think my expectations are similar to those I had last year: that fabrics will be printed on a wider variety of substrates, particularly ones that lend themselves to dressmaking or quilting in a more adventurous way...or perhaps that should be a more traditional way: once many of these substrates were widely available but it seems that we temporarily lost them for a while as the home sewing market shrank - it's exciting to see more voiles, lawns and shirtings being reintroduced in beautiful prints.

I also feel that generally, people probably have a little less money to spend this year and those that do have some to spare are being more circumspect in their purchases: it sits less comfortably to be constantly acquiring mountains of fabrics and I think there will be an emphasis on stash busting, rather than stash building (this isn't meant to sound puritanical: I'm all for splashing out on fabric that makes your heart beat faster, I just think that people's mindset may alter almost unconsciously, which will have the benefit of fabric houses only printing the very best collections).

Can you tell us what to expect from you in 2012? Any big projects or life-changing goals?

No big goals, just a wish to use my time more efficiently in every way, so that I can fit more of everything in: making more clothing and quilts, writing more sewing patterns and tutorials, blogging more frequently and sometimes more concisely...

What do you think? Do you have any dressmaking blog suggestions that you love to read? Do you agree or disagree with what I'm imagining might be a part of 2012? Are you going to add your own post to the SMS opinions collection? Can you recommend something to help me sleep?

I should say that the latter question comes as a result of my having had coffee yesterday (for only the third time in my life). It's now 10.20am and I still haven't been to sleep. Yes, I have been awake all night. I have got so much work done, which feels rather lovely, and I would now be entirely justified in sleeping all day long, but I'm yet to feel even the faintest bit tired and if my last run in with coffee is anything to go by (in which I was sleepless for several days could I have forgotten that?) I could be stuck like this for some time...lawks. Just think of the amount of actual sewing that I could get done if only I had a sound-proof room.

Florence x


  1. Hi - Great post. So glad you like reading about my sewing adventures. I am in the midst of a bit of a binge at the moment. Like you, I think foxes are cool, so is Tessuti and naturally I love great fabric. :) Love reading your blog.

  2. Oh Florence - no more coffee! I could hardly sleep last night because of the stormy weather.

    Your quilt links are lovely, especially that incredible glowing one. And I hope you're right about a return to a more old-fashioned mindset amongst stitchers and fabric companies - less impulse buying and passing fads, more quality and a wider range of fabric types (not so much different fibres, just different weaves).

  3. I enjoyed reading your reflections. One of my favorite blogs about dressmaking (and sewing and quilting in general) is Sew Sweetness. Sara really is sweet and she makes amazing clothes!

  4. Hello there - I stumbled upon your blog a while a go...and guess what I've ended up back here again which is great. Beautiful stuff you make with extremely neat stitching.

    Oh yes, I agree the fox theme was a surprising delight.

  5. Some of the blogs you mentioned look really interesting, thanks for that!

  6. Lovely blog, absolutely delightful.How great it is that crafting and in particular sewing has made such a comeback.
    I am loving the embroidery hoop art. Great to see and great to make. So many different things to do with them. Display favourite fabrics, embroider and leave it in the hoop ready to hang!!

  7. This year 2012, I would like to see the cost of raw materials come down. In all hobbies there seems to be a premium put on prices, yet all it is you are wanting to buy is a basic material like fabric, yarn etc. Often it is cheaper to buy something similar ready made into something. How/why should this be so?

    I hate the snobbery element that exists within all crafts. For instance I do not agree with your choice of quilting book as it depends purely on readers being fiscally advantaged enough to purchase the fabrics in it. The author provides very little know how. It is a book fully dependant on the use of designer fabrics in the hope we don't notice the lack of technique. The quilts I admire are those that take more thought and care than just cutting up and putting back together expensive fabric. There is more skill involved in the old style quilts. The only thing I liked about the book was that it encourages people to have ago but then sadly doesn't give the proper skills to do so. Huge wonky stitches do not hold all that much charm when what you admire is little hand quilted stitches.

    It is possible to make things of great beauty and with lots of skill using cheaper and more resourceful materials. I am endlessly perturbed by quilting blogs which only promote spending money. Quilting began to use up left overs. The idea of buying hugely expensive fabric and then cutting up would have been seen as an anathema. Some fabric is art in it's own right and is better shown off as a whole design. I think it is just symptomatic of this consumer world we live in that we know buy fabric to cut up, which results in scraps which in many cases are binned. In the past this is the material quilting would have utilized.

    I find the total lack of relating to people living in a world where money is in short supply (most of us), patronising and annoying. I find it strange that I see beautiful designs of all kinds on blogs and people who really have useful knowledge to impart, yet books are often so dreary and don't reflect this talent at all. The same for magazines. Book deals are certainly not the domain of those with the most talent. The whole publishing world seems very cliquey. I like to think I speak on behalf of talented un-published people who have wide readership and people clamoring for a book daily but no one bothers to pick them up. There are a lot of books out there that are style rather than substance for instance Kirstie Allsopp.

    Yes I am having a rant and I have wondered completely off topic, if I was ever on it. Most of what I say does not relate to you but what I generally find in the crafting arena overall. If only people who received hand-crafted gifts knew the true cost they would be amazed instead of feeling hard done by as I believe some people do. Simple domestic crafts have become the domain of the rich or at the very least the middle classes who still have some spare cash. I feel this left the poorer and working class crafter on the periphery wistfully looking on.

  8. i love the feeling of meeting a kindred spirit. That wonderful sense of achievement when scraps of fabric are transformed into practical things ... sometimes with a touch of beauty in a good light :)

  9. i love the feeling of meeting a kindred spirit. That wonderful sense of achievement when scraps of fabric are transformed into practical things ... sometimes with a touch of beauty in a good light :)

  10. i love the feeling of meeting a kindred spirit. That wonderful sense of achievement when scraps of fabric are transformed into practical things ... sometimes with a touch of beauty in a good light :)


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Florence x