Behind the Scenes, February 2013

I’m so glad you guys enjoyed last month’s Behind the Scenes post. It’s now going to be a regular feature on the blog!

Here’s a little bit about what happened here in the month of February.

new month, new do

Hello again! New month, new hairdo.

What happened in February 2013:

I was a guest speaker at Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam, BC. I’d visited their Home Ec class last year, but came back again this year to speak to a fresh new group of students. I actually spoke to two classes one right after the other, so I did my entire speech twice in a row! Which was pretty great because I remembered a whole bunch of things for round two. Can you believe I talked for three hours straight? (Perhaps that’s not too hard to believe. I do talk a lot on the blog, after all!)

me at Charles Best school

(here is me, talking with my hands! I think I do that the entire time I talk.)

I also spoke at a second high school this month (Archbishop Carney) in Port Coquitlam, which is just a little bit farther away than Coquitlam. I’d never been there before and enjoyed speaking to the home ec students there as well. This group of students was the most prepared, with questions all ready to ask me as soon as I finished my usual talk!

no hairy garments!

I had to snap this photo from the home ec classroom: “No Hairy Garments!” They’re talking about snipping your thread tails and loose ends, but I love it! Gets the point across while making people laugh, too. No hairy garments, you guys.

New retailers added this month: i k a s y r in Finland, Thread in Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA. Always exciting to see new retailers in different countries and US States!

Birthday sale! The birthday sale was a smashing success, with so many patterns going out the door on Monday, I had to make seven trips to the mailroom. Thank you all for celebrating my 31st birthday with me! (Missed the birthday sale? Sign up for the Sewaholic Patterns mailing list here and never miss a sale again!)

patterns - on sale!

I turned thirty-one, which just seems bizarre because it doesn’t seem that long again since I turned thirty. I thought I’d be reflecting on my life and such, thinking about my next thirty years, but nope. It’s been go-go-go since then, no time to navel-gaze for me! (Though, I still look young enough to be mistaken for a student at the high schools I visited! That really happened. It’s funnier now that I’m 31 than when I was in my early twenties.)

The new pattern I mentioned last month went through pattern testing, then to design, and then out to print! What happens during pattern testing is that a handful of people (15-20) sew up a draft copy of the pattern. It’s not the final pattern, but it’s pretty close. All of the instructions are written and the diagrams are drawn, fabric layouts are figured out, pattern pieces are nearly ready. Each tester fills out a survey with their feedback on the pattern – did they like it? were there any errors? what would make it better? Then I spend a day or more reading through all of the surveys, and noting down all of the things I’d like to change. The surveys are great fun to read. I get a range of responses from each tester, from brief  – ‘loved it!’  – to a multiple-page document outlining all of the suggested changes.

barely a sneak peek at all!

(I know, this is the same vague photo as last month. I don’t want to give away the surprise!)

Then I make all the changes, and prepare all of the bits and pieces of the pattern to be put together into the final pattern layout. Then it goes to the printer! Once the printer gets it, they make a proof for me to approve. This is a very important part – I have to review the proof and make sure there aren’t any mistakes before printing a whole bunch. I even visit the printers as they’re about to print the final copies to make sure the colours are good. All of these things happened this past month, and if all goes well I’ll be announcing the new pattern soon!

Remember the PatternReview Top Patterns of 2012 I mentioned last month? Sewaholic Patterns came up 3 times in the Top Ten! Thanks to everyone that took time to post a pattern review. I really appreciate it! Not only is it great to spread the word about my patterns, it’s a wonderful way for new sewers to decide whether to give the patterns a try. Check out the full Top 10 list here and see if your Minoru, Cambie or Renfrew was featured!

I’ve been able to take a bit of time to sew for me. I finished the Hazel Dress and have plans to keep on fitting sewing time into my schedule no matter what! (Even if it’s just a little bit here and there. Or a Saturday or two.)

hazel dress from colette patterns - close up

On the blog, we talked about Learning to Knit, which will be perfect next time someone asks me about how I learned! The first part of February was knitting-heavy (Chocolate Cake Sweater, Rubens Hat, Knee Socks) because that’s what I’ve been doing. Talking about knitting on a sewing blog is interesting, because inevitably someone will tell me they wish there was more sewing content. And yet, a blog is a journal of my crafting activities, so it reflects what I’ve been making and doing. I also wish there was more sewing that I could share!

We also talked about quilting – you guys either love it, or want nothing to do with it! Plenty of helpful tips and ideas on getting started. I also enjoyed the anti-quilting comments – from ‘sounds like torture’ to flat out ‘No.’ Love it! No point pretending you like something if there’s no attraction for you.

We talked about how much fabric we buy when we don’t know what we’re going to do with it, in which I said buy three metres and who cares if you have extra? Then I promptly ate my words when Gwen offered a generous giveaway of her useful and well-researched How Much Fabric reference cards. I like to be right, but even I can see the logic of buying closer to the amount you need, for one to reduce waste and reduce the small cuts of fabric in your leftover bin, and also to save money so you can buy more fabric later on! Thanks again, Gwen!

Top selling pattern of February 2013:

The Renfrew Top again! Second place goes to the Thurlow Trousers and third to the Cambie Dress. I’d say that the PatternReview article helped with sales, as did the birthday sale.

top patterns of february 2013

Report on last month’s challenges:

I failed on eating lunch away from my desk, but in my defense it’s been cold and rainy most days! I’ll do better when it’s nice enough to sit outside.

My office is much tidier, as you can see! You can see both the floor and the top of my bookcase (mostly) in these photos. Last month, I couldn’t have shown you the floor as it was covered with boxes and other clutter.

much tidier!


This month, I focused on taking action. My nature is to want everything to be perfect, which can stop me from starting. Even on the smallest things, I hesitate and re-consider my decision several times before proceeding. Some things just aren’t that big of a deal, and it’s better to act and move on than second-guess myself over and over. I have many projects on the go right now, and sometimes I can get caught up in wondering what to do next. Better to start, on anything, rather than sit there and get overwhelmed.

Here’s to a great and productive March! Warmer weather is just around the corner, I am very much looking forward to longer days and less rain – ok, probably not less rain, but warmer rain at least. The days are already getting lighter in the evenings, which I appreciate! What’s your month been like?

Like this? Read more Behind the Scenes posts! (Just one for now, but the list will continue to grow!)


50 Responses to Behind the Scenes, February 2013

  1. Mary February 28, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    I blame the cat for hairy garments.

    • Litchi February 28, 2013 at 6:47 am #

      I blame the bunny ;)

      • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:02 am #

        I have no one here to blame! Must get a cat or bunny…

  2. Carolina February 28, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Hi! This is the first time I comment your blog, even though I’ve been following it for a couple of months. It was fun to know you have a new retailer in Finland, and it’s not so far away from where I live. I’m also very existed about you new pattern, I’ve bought a few before and I love them! Your patterns are easy to follow and the garments look great when finished!

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Welcome and hello from Canada to Finland! I’m so glad you like the patterns and that we have a retailer that’s close to your house, how convenient! Can’t wait to share the new design with you all! :)

  3. Lazylinchen February 28, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Ooooh, finally a Finnish retailer! So far I’ve been ordering directly, but now I can support a local business as well as you!
    I’m also super curious about the new pattern!

    • Lazylinchen February 28, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      Oh, and congrats on making first and second place in the pattern of the year! What a great achievement!

      • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:04 am #

        Thank you! Very cool to hear from two people from Finland in a row :)

  4. didyoumakethat February 28, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    I love these round ups! Phew, I’m exhausted just reading. I really like the ‘No Hairy Garments’ mantra and that sneek of purple from your new pattern…

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Haha, yeah, when you read it all in one go, it sure sounds like a lot! No wonder I’m exhausted :)
      No Hairy Garments – I know! So cute. The students told me there are more gems, something about the Grainline is Boss. Those are the kind of rules you never forget!

  5. Diane @ Vintage Zest February 28, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    How fun to see everything you accomplished in a month! It’s fun to see a real home economics class in high school and the cute signs, I’m not even sure mine offered it at the time! We all took music classes, and never thought twice about home ec. In fact, in my adult sewing class I took last year, there was a high school student, so it’s possible that it isn’t offered regularly in my area.

    As for my month, I finally started to sew up some clothing. I started a Facebook group for beginning sewers (most everyone is advanced in the blogosphere), and we even picked our first challenge out. Exciting!

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      Some schools don’t, or they have a limited program. Or the budgets keep getting cut. I suppose that it doesn’t seem as important as sports or academics in the grand scheme of things. (Though we know how important and rewarding it can be!)

      That is great that you’re connecting with other beginners! I would imagine it seems intimidating to see so many intermediate and advanced sewers online. Even though I wouldn’t give myself the label ‘expert’ I often forget what it’s like to be a beginner. Best of luck with your first challenge!

  6. Andrea February 28, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    I love these posts! Such a fun month. I had my birthday last week as well! And that “no hairy garments” line is hilarious! I’m using that from now on.

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      Happy birthday! Yup, it’s a great line. Had to share it with you all!

  7. Jenny February 28, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    I love these roundups! So fun and interesting to see what happens behind the scenes. It’s pretty awesome that you are speaking to high school students ~ I’m not sure that they do that much in the high schools around me.

    I am so excited to see what your new pattern is. So excited!

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:11 am #

      Thank you! I like these round-ups because sometimes I wonder ‘what have I been doing all month when it feels like there is still so much unfinished?’ This helps me to see that I did in fact do a lot in the past few weeks.

      I really enjoy speaking at the high schools! I never had any guest speakers when I was in high school home ec either. There aren’t very many sewing pattern designers out there, it just so happens that I’m here and the schools heard about me and word spread, more or less!

      Can’t wait to post more about the new pattern!

  8. AnaJan February 28, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Hi Tasia, I was one of those people who were curious to find out more about your behind the scenes life. I enjoyed your post very much, and I hope March will be a sunny and productive month!

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoy the behind-the-scenes post! I hope March will be sunny and productive. As I type this, it’s pouring rain for about the twenty-fifth day in a row, or so it feels. Bring on Spring!

  9. Vicki Kate February 28, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    What a busy month! My Home Ec classes mostly consisted of cooking and some very very limited sewing which basically involved making an applique card. Nothing like what seems to be happening in the classes you visited! But then I’m considered a bit weird for making my own clothes which tells you a lot about my area of the UK’s attitude! Ah well, I don’t mind. It makes me happy.
    Congratulations on the Pattern Review results – that is amazing! I hope you had a fabulous birthday too. I find it intriguing and interesting seeing what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ and being cheeky, could your assistant do one every so often?!

    • Vicki Kate February 28, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      Sorry, I should have said Caroline, not just ‘your assistant’!
      PS, I love the fringe / bangs

      • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:15 am #

        Weird for making your own clothes? Never!

        Caroline is usually working on secret, far-in-advance stuff and handling email inquiries. I could see if we could work that into a future behind-the-scenes post! Technically. she’s more of a contract worker than my assistant, as she works when there is work, on her own time – though, I would like an assistant! Maybe an intern! (Then they could write about what it’s like being my intern..)

        Thanks, I am quite happy with the new hairdo! I love that you guys call it fringe :)

  10. lisa g February 28, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    how great that you have the opportunity to share your experience with students. you’re a wonderful inspiration, and what lucky kids to boot! “no hairy garments!” ha! new sewing catch-phrase! i’m dying to see your next pattern… such a tease!

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks! I think the students enjoy it, if it were me in high school I would have enjoyed seeing that someone could make sewing into a job/career.
      More on the new pattern this month! It’s a more involved design so there’s more work putting it together than some of the other ones.

  11. jessica February 28, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Is the new pattern the coat/jacket you’re wearing in the top picture (New month new hairdo)? It looks like the same fabric color from the sneak peek picture …
    Am i right??? Hehehe …

  12. Loretta February 28, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Tasia, one of these days, once I’ve lost another 10 lbs I will buy the Cambie dress pattern! I promise! I haven’t sewn for myself in ages. I’m too matronly looking at the middle age of 52 so I think in order to sew again for myself I need to lose some more weight. Ack! I so enjoy your blog posts and wish you a happy belated birthday. I see the back of your office building from my sewing room and it inspires me to think of you up there plugging away, while I plug away at my own small business. It’s such fun! I also love to read the blog posts up above mine, and check out the neat blogs, like “lazylinchen”. They are fascinating! Well, back to work! Congrats on your new upcoming pattern.

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Thank you, neighbour! You might even see me on my bike, huffing up the hill. (Hopefully not, that’s not my finest moment!)

  13. Stephanie February 28, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Enjoy your behind-the-scenes posts a lot, and am tickled to see that HomeEc classes are alive and well somewhere.

    23″ of rain this month, most of it in one week: normal winter in Hilo. Waterfalls are putting on a show, and everything is green, green, green, but I’m ready for a sunny day, too.

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      And here I always think Hawaii is sunny all the time! Hope you get to enjoy the sunshine soon.

  14. M February 28, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    Ok, I have to ask, where is that bookcase from? I LOVE it! Can’t wait for the new pattern to release, I just made another renfrew top, and I’m thinking about trying another cambie dress shortly.

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      The one with my patterns in it? It’s from IKEA, this one –
      I have two of them next to each other to store patterns, fabric and supplies. They’re a pain to build but so far they work well in here!

      • M March 1, 2013 at 5:27 am #

        I was worried they were from Ikea! I love them, but since Cleveland is never getting the Ikea we were promised years ago, its tough to get stuff from them. Oh well, your office looks great!

  15. Scruffy badger February 28, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Tasia, I love reading these posts, I’m so glad it’s a regular feature. I can imagine that you are a very inspiring guest speaker to students, and think its great that you give your time to make such visits.

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Thank you! You know, every time I commit, I think “oh no, I have so much work to get done!” And every time I finish a presentation I feel really good about getting out there, talking about sewing and maybe showing people that sewing can become a career, or that following your passion will lead you to the right job or opportunity.

  16. Amy February 28, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Great post! I love the photo of you in the classroom surrounded by your patterns. And, you do look great in that full skirted Cambie you are wearing. I love your patterns, and I have your Thurlows and another sleeveless Pendrell on my list of to-makes. Now to find the time…

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Thank you! I love the Cambie, it’s great for feeling instantly pulled-together when I have to present. It’s best if I can focus on what I’m saying, rather than worrying about my clothing! Good luck finding the time to sew more – I’m aiming to squeeze in 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there among my other work, just to get a break and get away from the computer screen.

  17. Tracey February 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Ohmygosh, how funny! I went to Archbishop Carney highschool (graduated in 2005), and I took Home Ec. in that very room! Probably with the same teacher :) I remember those “No Hairy Garments” signs posted all over the room, and written on the white board, as well. It’s my favourite sewing saying, and I’ve shared it with lots of other stitchers.
    I still have the projects that I made in that classroom…cloud-print flannelette sleep shorts, a chili pepper print apron, self-drafted black wool crepe skirt, floral chiffon summer dress, and sooo many more! In grade 11 and 12, Textiles class didn’t fit in my schedule, so I used to spend my study blocks there following along with the projects that the class was doing. I loved my teacher, and all my time learning to sew helped me to realize that I needed to do something with it after highschool.
    By the way, I’ve been following your blog for ages now, but have never commented before this…I just had to when I saw “No Hairy Garments”. Thanks for your wonderful blog posts and beautiful patterns! Maybe I’ll see you around a fabric shop one day, since we’re in the same city!
    Have a super weekend :)

    • Tasia February 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      That is too funny! It must have been weird to see those signs then on my blog, when you grew up with them! It sounds like you made some very cool projects, even drafted your own patterns too. So glad that you have good memories of your home ec days!
      Maybe we will meet around town at a fabric shop! If you see me, do say hello!

  18. Maggie February 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Loved this month’s edition as much as the first one last month. You are so productive, it seems like you must have more hours in your day ;) Great job and can’t wait for next month!

  19. nothy February 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Wow Tasia. I can tell you that the teacher and students must have really appreciated your visit. I never thought of finding a sewing entrepreneur for Career Day at my school but I will think about it from now on…..

  20. Tracy Revalee February 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Such exciting times for you! Have to let you know I just finished my second Hollyburn for my daughter. It’s a Great pattern. I made this one in black with large white dots and added a white 22″ zipper with little black polka dots. We are both mightily pleased! Thanks for all your good work.

    BTW, she is 22. You’re 31. From my vantage point, mere babes, with so many good times ahead. Enjoy your life; it’s a fast ride.

  21. Bec February 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Good work:)
    ps. Love the jacket in the top pic

  22. Thewallinna February 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    What an exciting and busy February! Congratulation on being nominated by Pattern Review: four patterns made it to top 10! I wish you a successful and fruitful March!

  23. Amy February 28, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    So excited to see you visit my daugher’s school!!! If only I had known, I could have been a high school student for a day! Love to see you passing on your passion for sewing!!

  24. Truly Myrtle March 1, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    I’m so glad you’re taking action. Feels good doesn’t it? It’s a great goal :)
    I love your behind the scenes posts – it did have a wee chuckle to myself wondering how my behind the scenes might compare… not very well … One child home from school for a week with a tummy bug, knitting into the week hours and sneaking sewing time when kids are in the bath. It’s getting lighter and you can almost taste spring, but the heating is still on…. I’m going to stick with yours.

  25. Renata March 1, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    I am loving the series, as I dream of selling patterns too. Can I ask you something about the pattern testing process? Oh, I think your contact link on the menu above is broken. Thanks in advance. :)

  26. Sue March 1, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Hi Tasia, Well done on such a productive month! Looking forward to your new pattern, and some warmer weather! Did you know that the Cordova jacket pattern was included in the Spring Pattern Showcase in the March edition of Sewing World? I just thought I would say that the pattern would look more attractive with a little picture of the made up garment on the front! (Just a thought for the future).

  27. Bridget March 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    As an educator, I’m thrilled to see that you are going out to talk to students at local schools. I’m sure you made both their day and their teacher’s. Home EC is rarely offered in my local schools, so I’m glad to see that it hasn’t completely died out!

  28. Carol Wagner March 2, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Hi, Tasia,

    How great to see home-ec students in Canada. The subject has been dropped from most schools here in the U.S., so I bought a good sewing machine (used) for my twin granddaughters this Christmas and began to teach them. The twins started with pillow cases and have graduated to pajamas and stuffed toys. They think you are nifty to design patterns…..and that you look like a princess.

  29. Sabrina B. March 5, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Slightly off topic, but I had an idea for a behind-the-scenes post that I would enjoy reading: your process for pattern design. I’m particularly interested in hearing about how you come up with the ideas, not so much the mechanics of taking the idea and turning it into a pattern. Thanks for a great blog!


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