Behind the Scenes, August 2013

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s pouring rain as I type this, a sure sign that summer is ending here in Vancouver. Time to get cozy in sweaters, tights and coats, and break out the rubber boots.

hello there

Hello, everyone! Yup, it’s nearly sweater weather. Wearing my Happiness Cardigan and Chantilly dress. This neutral-print Chantilly dress is quite versatile!

What happened this month:

Saltspring Sew-along! Caroline has done a fantastic job of leading you guys through the making of the new Saltspring Dress. I love the fabric she picked and can’t wait to see the final photos of her dress. And I can’t wait to see yours too!

It’s reminded me how much useful information we can pack into a sew-along, and all the little tips we can share on the blog. Not to mention the great questions you guys ask that we can address, and have a record of those questions and answers for everyone else out there who may be wondering the same thing! If Caroline is up for it, maybe we can plan more sew-alongs for the future!

saltspring sew along

what a gorgeous fabric choice! it would look nice with my royal blue Robson Trench

Swimsuit! It feels already like a long time ago that I posted my swimsuit-clad self on the internet. And surprisingly, not one negative comment about it! You guys are awesome. It’s not like I expected any less from other people who sew and especially you who’ve also made the suit, but something about posting photos of yourself in a swimsuit makes you think it will bring a flood of drive-by comments, or something.

I guess I should stop thinking so much, right? Less over-thinking, more sewing. Stop obsessing about oh-my thighs and get on with life. Now there’s a good lesson for me in general!

bombshell swimsuit

Cambie modification. So, so excited to have my pattern chosen for the final challenge of the Super Online Sewing Match at Sew, Mama, Sew! I wrote a rather lengthy tutorial on how to change this pattern from a zippered back to a button front. It’s a pretty detail, all those buttons down the front! Like a shirtdress but a very feminine one.

button front cambie dress

My sewing space. Here is where I work! After reading all of your comments I decided to upgrade my table to a higher height one. I spend too much time here to be uncomfortable! To test the height I propped up my folding table on boxes, and it was so much easier on my body to cut that way.

Shortly after that I bought this table from IKEA – the legs are adjustable so you can raise them up to a comfortable cutting height, and if I ever want it lower again it’s possible to shorten the height. They’re at the max height (raised up to where the legs say ‘stop’) and it’s so much nicer to work on it now. Plus, the legs are A-shaped, so they take up less space visually. It’s really messy in here today so I didn’t take a photo but it’s this one. I’ll get one when it’s looking less cluttered in here!

Some of you asked where the fabric is kept… here!

fabric storage bins

There are bins piled up as tall as I am, behind me in this photo. It’s kind of claustrophobic having a mountain of bins to my right, so I think one day I’ll put those somewhere else and get more space. It’s neat to be able to see through the bin though and remember what’s inside.

I also got a ‘new’ monitor for the computer, not actually purchased but a giveaway from Mr Sewaholic’s office, and now I can work on two things at once! So fancy.

new monitor

Excellent news – Sewaholic Patterns has its first intern! Meet Corinne.


(photo borrowed with permission from her blog’s ‘About’ page)

Just when I’m feeling the weight of the day-to-day tasks on my shoulders, and thinking I should hire a student or some part-time admin-type help, she contacts me and volunteers to be my intern. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! Corinne is planning to take the fashion arts program at VCC and wanted to get some hands-on experience. She’s also started a sewing blog - The Sewing Affair – and when she’s not sewing or helping me, she does ambulance training – a very high-stress job! I can see how sewing would be an excellent creative outlet after long stressful days. I’m so happy to have her help!

This month, I bought a label printer for address labels! Instant label-making capabilities!

label printer

(And I am so pleased with my plant-keeping skills, that African violet has been alive since I moved into the office! Normally I’m a plant-killer so this is a major accomplishment in my world.)

I bet you’re wondering what I did before. In my shared office space, there’s one big printer that everyone shares, all 40 or so people that work here. I can print regular documents, but it’s too challenging to print on sticker paper, as there’s a good chance someone else’s document could come out on the sticker paper and they’d be pretty annoyed. So, I ask the office team here to print out my labels, once a day. It’s worked all right so far, but I try to wait till mid-day to send the label request to capture as many orders as possible, and inevitably right after I get the labels one more order will come in. I like to ship as soon as possible and since I’m in Canada and many of you are in the US, the UK, or even farther, the sooner I ship the sooner you can get to sewing! So this way, I can print labels any time, one at a time, as late or as early as I want. I can print them in the evening and have them all ready for shipping the next morning. It’s such a little thing but so far, it’s improved my efficiency!

I sure did a lot of little improvements this month. I think part of the motivation was having Corinne in here. It was time to clean up some of the less efficient systems and make it a better place to work. It’s not very nice to ask her to help cut over a low, uncomfortable table – so we fixed that! Explaining how we do the labels and order shipping made me think perhaps it was time to streamline the procedure a little. When it was just me, it was less important to fix things up, but having someone else in my little workspace was motivation to make it as efficient and organized as possible.

Top selling pattern in August 2013

Cambie, Saltspring, Renfrew. It’s still dress season, although the Cambie took first place this month in sales. (Last month it was Saltspring, Cambie, Renfrew, same three just in a different order.) They sure look nice together!

best selling sewaholic patterns

Report on last month’s challenges

Last month I thought about trying not to work ALL the time while still feeling like I get stuff done, deciding how to grow the business, and giving myself time to be creative and experiment. I think a lot of this challenge takes place in my head: after all, I’m the only one who is hard on myself, no mean bosses (or perhaps, the meanest one of all – myself!) So I tried to really work when I was at work, and really not think about work when I wasn’t at work. It’s funny how when you run a business, it can take over your thoughts for most of your waking moments, if you let it.


Thea brought up a good point in the comments of last month’s behind the scenes post … and this applies to any goal, really. She wrote:

I too love reading the end-of-moth reviews :-) and I’m glad it’s going so well for you! I was wondering with your challenges, or rather your challenge to not work all the time, maybe you need to make it more concrete? For example, say, ‘I don’t want to work more than two Saturdays’ or ‘I only want to work late three days a week’? I guess you would choose any aim that makes sense to you (being home for dinner would work for me, I’m quite simple!), and then at least it’s ‘countable’, and you can see how well you do. A bit like fun-fridays!

“Become better at sewing’ is hard to measure, but ‘Sew five new garments this year’ or ‘Sew my first lined jacket’ are easy to measure and probably will give you a greater sense of accomplishment when you get there!

What am I going to do? Well with Corinne’s and Caroline’s help, I’m getting caught up on a lot of things. So in the spirit of making a concrete goal, here it is: I am going to be home for dinner three times a week. The past four months I have been home for dinner maybe once a week. (And sometimes that dinner is at 11pm.) I made it three because once a week I meet with my knitting group, so that night is out. That means one knit night, one late-night, and the rest of the weekdays I’ll be home for dinner. Weekends are more flexible because sometimes I roll in here around noon and work until dark. Overall my goal is to work hard and efficiently when I’m here, then leave the office behind when I go home. It’s not the most ground-breaking goal but it’s something I think I can stick to.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Last weekend of the summer, hope yours is a good one!

Like this? Read more Behind the Scenes posts!


19 Responses to Behind the Scenes, August 2013

  1. autumn August 30, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    this was a super great month in review! you’re doing a great job from our end, lady, and i’m only going to bug you about ONE thing – i would LOVE to see more knitting! LOL. if you’re like me, you sort of take the spring/summer off, but i can’t wait to see some new fun sweaters from you! i wasn’t AS sure i’d wanted the saltspring, but the more i see it, the more i think i do!

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      You bet! I haven’t knit a lot this summer, but now that the weather is cooling down it’s slowly becoming knitting season! There will be sweaters, absolutely. :) So glad you enjoy reading about knitting projects as well as sewing!

  2. IngeMaakt August 30, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    That Cambie-modifcation looks so fabulous, I love the Cambie shape and I love shirtdresses so I’ll probably give it a try!

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 9:36 am #

      Thank you! It turned out pretty well I think, even though it is a bit of work to adjust the pattern!

  3. Loretta August 30, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    You are doing great, Tasia! This was surely a summer to remember here in Vancouver, weather wise! Just phenomenal. I love your updates. You are one busy young woman. Your sweater is so pretty. I’m not ready for sweaters or jackets yet, but boots might come in handy…

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      Oh I know, it was such a beautiful summer here! So glad you enjoy the updates. Yup, always busy here, never a dull moment! No sweaters needed today but pretty soon, it will be a staple item. Have a great weekend!

  4. Jeri Sullivan August 30, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Your month in review posts are always so interesting to read and congrats on the new intern!

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      Thank you! It is so nice to have help during the day – and company!

  5. Leigh August 30, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    Tasia, you’ve doubly inspired me. First, I will take a bit of this weekend and improve my workspace. I don’t sew as a business, but certainly I could use a bit of efficiency and organization. I laughed when you said you’d not do it for yourself, but you wouldn’t expect a helper to endure poor working conditions. It’s like saving the ‘good’ towels for guests. LOL Be sure to put in your goals to care for yourself as you would others. :)

    The second inspiration is knitting myself a sweater – yours is lovely and I want one for myself.

    I love reading your month in review posts. Here’s to a fabulous September for you.

    Cheers! Leigh

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

      Oh yay! Glad this post inspired you to fix up your space. Isn’t it funny how we make do for ourselves but make it a priority to make sure others are comfortable? I agree, we’re equally as worth it as the guests and helpers. Good towels for everyone!
      Yes! Make a sweater, it’s fun and the best way to get great-coloured wool sweaters that fit you just how you like. Thanks for the comment and have an awesome weekend!

  6. Nadia Lewis August 30, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I’ve got the same label maker on my desk! It’s honestly a life-changing device. Which sounds silly to say about a label maker, but it’s true.

    I was thinking the same thing about my new lunchbox I bought last weekend. I mean, it feel silly to buy a whole new bag just for lunch, when I have so many other totes and bags, right?


    Anything you use every day is worth its weight in gold.

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      Great to hear the label-maker is a worthwhile thing to own! So far it’s working out well, no paper jams and always prints down the middle.

      Love that – anything you use every day is worth its weight in gold. Enjoy the new lunchbox! It’s nice to get things that are designed for a purpose, rather than making do with something close enough. Like Leigh said, it’s like saving the good towels for guests but making do with whatever for yourself.

  7. Pamela @ Johnny Mango Seed August 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Oh my goodness you’ve been hard at work. Sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot and have some great goals set too. It might be too “out there” for you, but you might like Marie Forleo’s work. I recently saw an interview she did where they discussed a process of arriving at affirmations to help someone who was worried that success would infringe on her freedom [and that was holding her back].

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out! I’m interested in that idea, that success will limit your freedom and how to solve that feeling. I can see how that might happen, where you would hold back from making decisions that would force you to spend more time working or to be more deeply invested in the business. Or you don’t set up something that would be good for your customer base (say, a forum, or live chat) because you as the operator are worried about handling the volume. I will definitely look at her work and see what I can learn!

    • Tasia September 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      Thanks for the Marie Forleo recommendation! I’m watching her videos while I iron here. It’s not too ‘out there’ from what I’ve listened to so far. Thank you!

  8. Bella August 30, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Tasia, I’m just glad you’ll be having dinner with Mr. Sewaholic more. Your work is important, but he is more important! He needs attention, you need downtime, & it’s a good time to be together. (The Roommate & I love cooking together.) After 29 yrs, I’ve never regretted making him the priority!

    Love your wrap ups & your courage in showing your thighs.

    • Tasia August 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      That is so sweet! I will be sure to make him feel important and like he’s getting enough attention. I think (I know, actually) that even when I’m home sometimes I talk about work and think about work, and it’s probably annoying. Or makes him feel like I’m not fully there. I’ll try to be in-the-moment more and not stress about what work I have to do, when I’m spending time with him. Thanks for the reminder, he’ll appreciate it and we’ll be better together because of it!

  9. Karrie Smith September 9, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    You are the cutest thing ever. Believe me, you don’t have to worry about your body image!


  1. Quarterly Report: Now that we have three patterns launched… | Thread Theory - September 6, 2013

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