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Sewing Industry Reflections + Predictions

Sew, Mama, Sew! has invited readers to answer the questions posed in their Sewing Industry Reflections and Predictions series. I enjoy these posts immensely, so I thought I'd participate!

    Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?
I think the trend that struck me the most was the shift to using more solid fabrics in place of prints. At first I was against it, but then - like all trends - it grew on me and I experimented with it. Here are some of my Flickr favorites that really spoke to me.

Le Printemps
"Hot Mess"
Mug Rug
The only project I completed using solids was a mug rug of my own (another trend of 2011 I think).

I enjoyed the experience and have more solids-inspired patterns scribbled up (in more of a wall hanging size), but I don't know if they'll ever make that transition from idea to execution. I always have more ideas than time and solids - while interesting - aren't something that excites me.

The second trend I really remember from 2011, which I think was more limited in scope, was the sudden - to me! - prevalence of mug rugs. I thought they were brilliant and made tons of them. I kept some, sold some, and gave them to family. I made them long and skinny, short and wide, and square like mini quilts.

What I like about mug rugs is the freedom to try ideas and techniques that I don't necessarily have the patience to repeat for more than one small block. Also, they help reduce my never-ending scrap pile. Every time I think I have it under control, I make something new and it swells - overflowing the edges of the plastic bag it is confined to.

    What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?
I have really enjoyed the variety of colors I see popping up in the Flickr groups and blogs I follow. Color is not something I would say I have mastered (or even gotten a good handle on), but it is something I enjoy. I dislike when everyone is using the same fabrics and colors (as sometimes seems to happen as color trends peak - like turquoise/red and yellow/grey) and I love when The Modern Quilting Guild flickr group is awash in various color schemes.

    What did you make that you’re most proud of?

I am most proud of one of the least modern quilts I've made. I started with a small sample of fabrics that struck me and I built that into a larger set by very deliberately adding certain motifs, shades, and print sizes. Then I made a quilt which used techniques I'd never seen before, in a larger size than I'd done before, and which I hand-tied instead of machine quilting.

I'm proud not only because I think the quilt came out well, but because I think it was a set of challenges that made me a better quilter.

Blue & Red Pinwheel Quilt
I didn't want to sell it, so I priced it very high - but someone else loved it as much as I did and it has a new home. 

At my booth!
I plan to make another one in the same pattern, but in pinks and greens as soon as I get my courage back. Creating so much under a short deadline this fall really burned me out on large projects.

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

I love a lot of the stuff I see people doing, but my current obsession is vintage quilts and patterns. I spotted the quilt/tablecloth in the picture below while just surfing the web and following links. It is one of many pictures of a London apartment which is located in a converted school gym. It is a very cool space and worth checking out.

I am normally not a fan of large white spaces in quilts. It is one of the few modern sewing trends that hasn't grown on me. I love this all the same. I'm not sure why, except that the design reminds me somehow of water lilies. (And now you're squinting at it and wondering where I got that - and I can't explain it.) I've sketched out the design - blissfully avoiding the knowledge that it probably requires experience with y-seams and rhombuses (rhombi?) - and started playing with colors.

I can't even explain how I noticed it among all the pictures of the apartment. I wasn't looking for quilts or sewing inspiration. Something about it just struck me.

    Do you have a favorite sewing book or pattern from the past year to recommend?
I thought I had a lot, but I must be behind the curve because almost all of the books I've thought of were actually printed at the end of 2010! The newest books I have are very new to me because I received them as Christmas gifts, but of them I do really love Kim Kight's Field Guide to Fabric Design.

    Are there any trends you’re over and done with?
I'm personally not as excited by raw edge applique as I used to be. I'm sure now that I have written that I will immediately see a project using it that I absolutely love, but in general my interest in that technique has waned.

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

I'm loving blogging, now that I'm actually sticking to it. Also I decided not to try and keep my crafting secret and I enjoy showing pictures of the stuff I'm working on to my facebook friends and google+ circles.

I'm still incredibly intimidated by twitter. I read it and I follow a lot of people in the crafting and quilting communities who inspire me, but I simply haven't gotten the hang of posting to it or responding/re-tweeting other people.

Finally, I really neglect flickr. It isn't that I don't like it or the communities, but it isn't integrated into anything else I use and there isn't a convenient way to use it on my phone or tablet. Honestly I wish something else would start to replace it.

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

I didn't buy a lot of fabric in 2011. I was mostly trying to use up the massive stash I had built up. I think the collection that stuck with me even though I didn't buy any was Pernilla's Journey from Tina Givens.

Picture from True Up's Coverage of Spring Quilt Market 2011
Also, I'm a huge fan of Tula Pink and Prince Charming was as gorgeous as any of her other collections.

Picture from True Up's Coverage of Spring Quilt Market 2011

    What do you predict for 2012 in the sewing industry?

I'd like to see a continuation of more non-white neutrals and semi tone on tone fabrics. I feel like this is an extension - for me - of the popularity of solids. If I can use something that reads close to a solid from a distance but is full of detail and interest up close, that will always be my choice for background.

I also would like to see a continuation of the trend to release fabric collections on different base fabrics. I'm not a huge fan of voile (I bought some lovely Anna Maria Horner voile and then gave it away because I couldn't make myself use it), but I love the small smattering of cotton/linen blends and light-weight linen fabrics I've picked up. And I would adore more printed corduroys - I just love the texture!

    Can you tell us what to expect from you in 2012? Any big projects or life-changing goals?
For 2012 I have a couple big goals:
  1. Do more hand quilting!
  2. Learn to alter clothing patterns.
  3. Write up and print (at least one copy!) of one of my quilting patterns.
It would be great to also do more improvisational work, design a fabric and screen print or digitally print it, and perhaps do another craft show - but I think 3 big goals is a good start for the year. If I can check them off early, I'll make a new list!


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