2014 Year in Review: Highlights of my year in sewing (and life)

Top 5 of 2014 - Crafting a Rainbow

Continuing with Gillian’s Top 5 of 2014 series, today I’ll share some highlights of my year in sewing, along with one fairly exciting highlight of my life outside of sewing.  Besides my actual sewing projects (check out my hits and misses post), this year I invested some additional thought, time, and money into this crazy hobby of mine, and I had a lot of great experiences as a result!  I’m glad to see that I’m learning, growing, and pushing myself (albeit slowly) to advance my craft.

Top 5 Sewing Highlights of 2014

#1 – Creating my personal color palette

Allspice Abounds color palette

I had no idea how incredibly useful this would be!  I’m so glad I stumbled upon Gillian’s tutorial earlier this year, because creating my own palette has really helped to guide my fabric purchases and build my everyday wardrobe.  No longer do I wind up with beautifully sewn garments that don’t match with anything else I own, and therefore hardly get any wear.  No longer do I give into that spontaneous impulse to buy that wacky print in the fabric store that I just have to have.  With every fabric purchase I now ask myself:

  • Does this color fit into my palette?
  • What do I already own that will match with it?

After about 6 months of incorporating my palette into my fabric purchases, I’m slowly building a wardrobe where almost everything goes with almost everything else.  And since I mostly wear separates, having pieces that match is key!  The palette also helps me to buy and wear colors that I love and that make me feel good, which just adds to the joy of each day.  🙂

#2 – Teaching workshops in sewing and crochet

Sewing workshop 1 Sewing workshop 2

Crochet class 1I taught a basic sewing workshop in January and an introductory crochet workshop in April, both hosted by my university and free to all participants.  I didn’t get paid and simply volunteered to teach these classes for fun.  And they were both really fun!  🙂  The top 2 photos are from the sewing class, and the bottom photo is from the crochet class.  I was really happy with the attendance at both classes, and I was excited to see so many male students in the sewing class!

Preparing for these workshops was a lot of work, but the payoff was well worth it.  I enjoy teaching any subject I’m passionate about (and sewing certainly falls into that category), and frankly, I think I’m naturally good at it.  I had a great time sharing my passion with other interested folks and providing a space for the students to learn a new skill and explore their creativity.  And because no money was exchanged, I didn’t feel pressure to provide a certain level of quality or expertise – I just did whatever I wanted!

Although I don’t have any other classes currently planned, I hope to do more teaching in the future.

#3 – Meeting other sewing bloggers

Pattern Review Boston-area meet-up - group photo

Carolyn and CarolThis year I attended two sewing blogger meet-ups, one big and one small.  Both were super fun!  In July I attended the Pattern Review Boston-area meet-up at Grey’s Fabric, and just last week I met up with Carol in San Francisco for fabric shopping.

I was so proud of myself for attending the big meet-up over the summer, mainly because I was terrified!  I tend to be pretty shy around people I don’t know, and going to a large event by myself is a little intimidating.  I’m so glad I went though.  I had a fantastic time chatting with other sewists about our shared obsession, and I met a bunch of wonderful local sewists, including long-time reader Ellen and new friends Ebi, Lisa, and Carrie.  Meeting Carol was wonderful too – she is super nice and so talented!

Meeting other sewists has been a great way for me to become more involved in the online sewing community that we all love so much.  I hope to meet more of you in the new year.  🙂

#4 – Buying my serger

Baby Lock Imagine - frontTalk about an investment in my hobby!  Thanks to a very generous gift from my family, this year I finally took the plunge and purchased a serger.  I still can’t believe how much money I dropped on this machine, but WOW is it truly an amazing piece of machinery.  I spent a lot of time this fall just sitting at the machine and learning how to use all the buttons and levers, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, I use it routinely on my sewing projects.  It has really elevated the craftsmanship of my garments and sped up my sewing significantly.

Ok, yes, I am still the slowest sewist ever, but now slightly less slow.  🙂

Another cool thing about getting the serger was that it’s made me feel more legit, more invested in my work.  I no longer feel like I’m just dabbling in a new hobby.  With this new machine, sewing is here to stay and is something I’m taking seriously.

#5 – Creating a permanent sewing studio in my apartment

I haven’t written too much about this on the blog yet, but this year I’ve been slowly creating a sewing studio in my apartment that is permanently set up and ready for sewing.  I now have a dedicated sewing table to house both of my machines, a large folding table for cutting, and a dedicated office chair with good lumbar support.  Everything is always plugged in, so all I have to do is sit down and sew!  The only thing that still requires set up is the ironing board, which, to be honest, I don’t think I will ever have room to leave out all the time.

This has been quite a challenge considering my tiny studio apartment is only 300 square feet!  It has required a lot of moving furniture around and even replacing some larger furniture with smaller versions.  It also required significantly decreasing my storage space, which I achieved by ruthlessly cleaning out my entire apartment in May.  This is dedication, people!!  My sewing obsession is for real.

Anyway, having my nearly-complete studio has been a great way to encourage more sewing and make it a more pleasant experience (such as it is in such a tiny space).  Photos to come once it’s complete!

Non-Sewing Highlights of 2014

My year outside of sewing has been pretty unremarkable and even a little rough, but there was one fairly exciting milestone that I’m happy to report:

I’ll be graduating with my PhD in 2015!

That’s right folks, it’s really happening!  I’m aiming for an August graduation date, which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  My advisor and I just decided this in October, and I still don’t think it’s fully sunken in.  Get this: I even have a job interview next month!  A part of me can’t believe that I will actually earn my degree after all the ups and downs of the past 5 years, but it’s satisfying to know that the goal I’ve been working toward is finally within reach.

I have no doubt you’ll be hearing me talk much more about this in the upcoming year.  🙂

Another work-related highlight of the past year is that I had the opportunity to help teach a class this fall, my second time teaching during graduate school.  While teaching is a ton of work, I really, really enjoy it.  Like sewing, science is a huge passion of mine, and I so enjoy sharing my knowledge with other interested folks.  Interacting with students is extremely rewarding and is something I’d like to do much more of in my career.

Other than that, my wonderful boyfriend John and sweet kitty Maggie continue to be the highlights of my day-to-day life.  Much love to them both!

I’ll be back with one final post in the Top 5 of 2014 series, talking about sewing reflections from the past year and goals for sewing in the new year.  Hope you all had a great weekend!

22 thoughts on “2014 Year in Review: Highlights of my year in sewing (and life)

  1. Congratulations on your impending PhD and your thoughtful year of sewing! Having a dedicated sewing space really walks the line between luxury and necessity, doesn’t it? (Whichever it is, it’s amazing!) Between that and the serger, it sounds like you’re ready for a killer 2015.


    • Thanks Morgan! It’s amazing how much space you really need to sew comfortably. My sewing studio is pretty modest, but even that little bit of space makes a big difference!


    • Thanks Lisa! That’s the goal. My sewing time is limited, but I think the dedicated space will help make the most of it. Who knows how much sewing I’ll be doing as I near the end of my PhD though!


    • Thanks so much! It’s hard to believe that I’ll actually be finishing up in the new year – it’s been a long and bumpy road. I hear that’s how most PhDs go though!


  2. Good luck with the last stages of your PhD! Personally, I found the worst part to be following all the guidelines for submission (margins, table of contents, etc, etc).
    I promise, defending is the most terrifying and anticlimactic moment of life. Years of work to get there, a huge push to
    the end, and, suddenly, its all over 🙂


    • Haha, I’ve heard that many times! I’m hoping it won’t be too terrifying, but I have no doubt it will be hugely anticlimactic. I’ve attended a bunch of defenses over the years, and it’s so funny how casual they can be. It seems like the defense is just a formality. Regardless, I’ll be happy to get there. 🙂


      • Don’t worry, its still totally terrifying, too! 🙂 Most advisors won’t let you pick a date for it if they don’t know you’ll pass! What calmed me the most was my boss razzing me, a tradition in our group. Nothing says casual like mocking you beforehand!


    • Thanks Erin! Reading about your defense earlier this year was really inspiring. It’s reassuring to actually see people getting out after so many years! Fingers crossed it will all go smoothly in the new year.


  3. Great post! How exciting that you’ll be graduating soon! Sounds like an amazing year! I really love your color palette. I do find mine so helpful to my wardrobe planning. I can’t wait to see pics of your studio, I’m jealous! Hope you have an amazing New Year!


    • Thanks Rebecca! I have a few more minor adjustments to make to my little studio before I post about it. Don’t get too excited though – it’s very modest! It’s always set up though, which makes a difference I think. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying your color palette too. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would make for me. Happy New Year!


  4. Wow. You’ve got some great highlights there. I’ve found having a colour palette and a permanent sewing space invaluable. Aren’t overlockers/sergers the best? My garments would look a whole lot uglier on the inside if I didn’t have mine.
    Teaching people to sew/craft is something I’d love to do, so it’s nice to read what the experience was like for you.
    Also, Hooray, hooray, hooray for graduating!


    • Thanks Rachel, it should be a busy but good year ahead! I study environmental microbiology and focus on fungi and how they mediate environmental processes. Fungi are truly amazing creatures!


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