My 2021

I’ve always really enjoyed writing an end-of-year blog post, as an opportunity to remind myself what I got up to over the last 12 months and reminisce about the best bits. I also really enjoy revisiting those post a few years later on, as a neat encapsulation of my year.

The most notable thing for me in 2021 was launching my first two sewing patterns, the Barberry Jacket and Teres Dress. Starting a pattern line involved finding collaborators I enjoy working with, learning lots of new-to-me skills and processes, plenty of trial and error, and enormous amounts of time. I have loads of ideas and I’m excited to see how my pattern line develops in 2022. I have a full-time job (as a project manager in Higher Education) and will actually be moving to a new role and new employer in February, so I’m planning to carry on developing the pattern line in a sustainable way around my day-job, without pressure to release a set amount of patterns or achieve a set income.

In addition to my two garment patterns, I also released a digital (PDF) advent calendar in 2021, called Stitch Advent. As someone who very much gets into the Christmas spirit, I was excited to create an advent calendar, and to collaborate with some favourite indie sewing companies on its contents. I’m already planning bringing it back for Christmas 2022, with increased sewing for those joining in, and am really excited about it already.

The two sewing events I (jointly) organise, the Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) reached their sixth and eighth years respectively! The Sewing Weekender took place online for the second year, was attended by over 1,600 sewers and raised over £1,800 for charity. This year’s SewBrum was a mixture of in-person and online and raised over £1k for charity via this year’s raffle. Moving the Sewing Weekender online two years has been a positive from covid, as it’s allowed the event to become so much more inclusive and reach a much larger (and international) audience. I’m glad that moving online/partially online allowed SewBrum to keep going for the last two years, but I am hoping that – as a local meet-up event – we can get back together in person to shop next year, as running it online is much more time consuming and really ate into my evenings and weekends this Autumn.

One exciting event from 2021 was getting my very first pattern featured in Threads Magazine! My Barberry Jacket was reviewed in the Winter 2021 issue and it was fantastic to read “The pattern instructions, illustrations, and layout are outstanding” and to see the beautiful tweed version made by Threads reviewer Janith. It was also lovely to be back on the Sew Organised Style podcast during May, alongside Kate & Rachel to discuss the Sewing Weekender.

After five years, my term on the General Purpose Committee of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers ended this Summer. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Association but it was definitely time for a change and perfect timing, now that I am developing patterns, to step down from one role. I’m still acting as Programme Secretary for the Birmingham Guild of WSD and need to get busy working on the 2022 programme, after a couple of years of mostly online activity!

With everything else going on, I did a lot less (non-work) sewing this year. I made myself two new t-shirts (one Seamwork Jane tee and one Free Sewing Teagan tee, above) and one skirt (Peppermint Magazine Pocket Skirt). I finished more knitting projects, knitting 12 Easter Eggs as part of an Arne & Carlos KAL, a beret, a handful of baubles, and a knitted skirt which has been on my to-make list since 2016! I’m on holiday from work for another week and have two knitted cushion projects well underway, so am expecting a productive January 2022 in terms of my knitting!

Outside of knitting and sewing, I started learning a new skill – millinery. I attended three online millinery courses with Morley College this year (and would highly recommend them) and made 8 hats in and outside of class, including a heart shaped pillbox especially to wear on Christmas day. My brother 3D printed me a vintage hat block as part of my Christmas present, so I’m looking forward to trying that out very soon. During 2021, I also had the opportunity to attend a second week-long weaving course as part of an Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School. During the week, I warped my loom twice and wove two samplers with Janet Phillips. I still haven’t got the hang of preparing a warp and warping a loom here at home, but if I make enough time during 2022 I’m sure I’ll get my head around it. If not, there is always summer school 2023 – as they run every other year!

Finally, Phil and I travelled to Dubrovnik (for Phil’s birthday), Paris (for my birthday), and to Devon and Norfolk for family holidays during 2021. We were also able to start attending gigs and comedy shows again, and highlights included seeing Rick Astley and the Blossoms perform the songs of The Smiths in London, which had one of the most positive fully engaged audiences I’ve ever seen, and to see Billy Bragg again here in Birmingham, always a great night out with comedy, politics – and music.

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to a great 2022 x

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