Behind the Scenes, November 2013

 Happy Friday, everyone!

hello!(Oh yeah, it’s a mess in here…but isn’t my jacket cool? My sister made it. I’m wearing it over a striped Renfrew top. And in the background, I’m finally working on something with this gorgeous striped hemp-cotton I bought in Portland last summer!)

What happened this month:

This month was heavily focused on the new webstore. Even after getting it up and running, there was still a ton to figure out and learn! I attended 4 webinars on the new system in total, learning about these things:

  •  SEO (Search engine optimization, so basically, making it easy for people to search and find my patterns)
  • conversions (how to provide the right kind of information so customers have all the information they need to buy, making your store look professional)
  • holiday promotions
  • general how-to set up the store.

I really liked the conversion workshop because we learned online customers spend 5 seconds evaluating your store and if it doesn’t meet their needs or look legit, they’re gone! Five seconds, that’s it. I know what they mean, I’ve visited and immediately left websites that didn’t look right to me. (Playing music automatically, wrong kind of website, doesn’t look real – those are usually the reasons that I leave.)

Anyways, I love that there are free webinars available for people that need a little extra help getting set up. I’m using Bigcommerce and the support has been fantastic. I’ve used four different support channels: their live chat help, phone help, email help and the webinars, and all have been responsive and quick to find a solution. (Just in case you were wanting to set up an e-commerce store any time soon!)

new web store

The web store has a SSL certificate as well, a certificate that verifies my online store and protects your security. You can see it at the bottom of the store page. The SSL icon can only appear on verified sites. It will actually disappear if the site isn’t verified. (I learned this while testing the store, when I’d test it with a temporary URL, the icon would go away, but when I’d test sewaholicpatterns.com. the icon was there! Neat.)

what sewing patterns do you want to see

This month I asked what sewing patterns you would like to see. And boy did you deliver! I am overflowing with ideas now. You guys gave me some great design suggestions to think about as well as confirming some of the ideas I already have planned. Caroline and I got together one night, ordered take-out, and planned out a ton of design ideas for the new year. We’re both super excited about the new patterns coming up, and so is Corinne! If the three of us love them I bet you will too. 2014 is going to be the best year yet, if we’re able to put all of our plans into action!

This week, I turned on product reviews on the Sewaholic Patterns online shop… and my web store didn’t explode with spam and insults! Funny how the things we worry about are often all in our heads. Thank you to everyone who took the time to write a review. Already the product pages are going to be way more useful to new shoppers. Your experiences are important and helpful, please do share them!

product reviews for our sewing patterns

I knit a sweater! And matching mitts and a beret. I turned them inside out as well to show you what happens when you knit with multiple colours, and many of you shared your tips on colourwork knitting.

chickadee mittens to match cardigan

I have actually knit a LOT since, which is great, because it’s really cold out. Cold for Vancouver, that is, I’m still riding my bike but my toes freeze if I don’t wear wool socks. And my chin always freezes. What a strange body part to worry about – how do you keep a chin warm? My solution is to wear the biggest scarf I can and wrap up my lower face, or wear a snug-fitting cowl and tuck my chin into the loop.

sewaholic tape measures with inches and centimetres

Tape measures! These are super cute. I’m pumped that you guys like them, too! I’ve had a pink tape measure since college but there’s a cut in it, and it’s faded, yet I still hang on to it because it’s pink and different. Plus pink goes well with my branding, my business cards are pink. And I’ve always wanted to have notions with the Sewaholic logo on them, this is an excellent start!

Gift guide. Because we who sew usually have an abundance of sewing supplies on hand, so our loved ones might not know what to get us. Or, we have a hard time coming up with things we might want, so here’s a list of ideas! A couple of people requested that we post a list of gift ideas for people who sew, so here it is! Things that Caroline and I suggest for the sewing people in your life.

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I have this Fashionary and it’s awesome! Great for keeping your garments people-shaped, because there are faint outlines of bodies on each page. Even in school I tended to draw my women short and squat, this will keep them looking like fashion illustrations. (Which is a topic for another day, why are fashion illustrations so long and stretched when most of us aren’t shaped like that… but anyways, it’s a great little sketchbook!)

And last but not least, Gwen kindly offered another giveaway for her popular ‘How Much Fabric?’ reference cards. Giveaway closes today, get your name in the hat quickly!

how much fabric - skirts

Top selling pattern item this past month:

The tape measure! Awesome. My #1 selling item this month was the new pink Sewaholic tape measure. Second was the Renfrew top, then the Minoru Jacket.

sewaholic tape measures

Report on last month’s challenges

Last month, I mentioned that I wanted to spend more time SEWING and DESIGNING, and I’m working on that. I find it hard to let go, I feel really good about the business I’ve built and the wonderful people that buy my patterns. I don’t want to do anything risky that could ruin that. Yet risks have to happen in order to grow. And I do want to grow, because I have so many cool ideas! Business ideas, as well as project ideas. Sometimes I post a project and you comment ‘it’s so neat to see your personal projects!’ And then I think ‘aww, I wish I had more time just to make stuff!’ The ideas in my head far outweigh the number of personal projects I complete, for sure!

Anyways, the important part is, I’m recognizing that things are growing beyond the capacity of one person (and part-time Caroline) to handle. Stay tuned, because big and excellent things are happening. I will achieve my goal of freeing up my time in order to get back to sewing, designing, and experimenting!

Challenges

This has been a month of excitement and momentum. It’s a really enjoyable time in my business. I’m really loving everything right now! And just like the low points, I’m sure this high point will dip into a valley eventually. So I’m making the most of my energy while I’m motivated! Lots of work, lots of sketching out new ideas, lots of planning for the new year, lots of setting up good systems so the business runs efficiently while I’m busy developing new patterns. I’ve been working late a lot, but instead of feeling like the work drags on into the evenings, I feel like I’m riding on a wave of excitement and energy and I don’t want to go, I’m not done yet when the day is supposed to end. There’s a good vibe in my office right now and I’m taking full advantage of that and going hard!

Ok, so it’s been a month of fun challenges, rather than struggling with challenges. Really my biggest challenge is staying focused, deciding which of the hundred things I want to do is the most important to do right now, and seeing ideas through to completion. It’s really easy to come up with new ideas that I think are awesome. It’s harder to take that idea, turn it into a real thing, and keep on going all the way through the creation process when the most fun part is starting another new thing.

Question for you guys, do you like reading these Behind the Scenes recap posts? Would you like to see these these posts continue in the new year?

Like this? Read more Behind the Scenes posts!

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59 Responses to Behind the Scenes, November 2013

  1. Hanna November 29, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    yes, I really like these posts and would keep reading them if you keep writing them!

  2. Renee November 29, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    I love these posts so please keep them going! They are very inspirational!

  3. Andrea_R November 29, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    I love these posts!

    I’m at the other end of Canada (wave) and I’m in the early stages of planning my own pattern company, so it’s really interesting to see the different challenges out there.

    It’s not competing patterns – completely different market – but the business side is similar. I do have experience running a business and running one online, just not for sewing and patterns. Eeep!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      *Wave* right back to you! Good luck with your own pattern company business. Your quilts are beautiful! Free-motion quilting is on my list of things to practice and learn in 2014.

      • Andrea_R December 10, 2013 at 5:36 am #

        Thanks!

        Free motion quilting is addicting once you get the hang of it. Love the new designs!

  4. Carolyn November 29, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Definitely! I really enjoy reading these posts, as they present you as a real person instead of just a website or storefront. I think it’s easier for your customers to support you when they see what an awesome person you are! We all struggle with work and personal challenges, and it’s inspiring to see your success in overcoming them and growing your business. :)

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Thank you so much! I agree, I always click the ‘about’ or ‘blog’ tab to find out about the person or people behind a store. I love that I’m able to share my challenges and get advice and suggestions or even just encouraging words from you guys. I enjoy all of your comments and the interesting discussions that develop here!

  5. Lucy November 29, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    I really enjoy them too! You hit just the right balance between interesting detail and readable brevity.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Oh good! I always worry they’re too long.. and that I’ve rambled on about challenges and such. Thank you!

  6. Laura November 29, 2013 at 7:02 am #

    I love these posts :) Not just because it’s always fascinating to see behind the scenes, but because I love hearing about the people who make the things I buy. There are so many sewing websites and small pattern companies around nowadays, that getting to know the personality behind the product is a big influence on where I buy. I’m the same with shops – I deliberately shop in certain places because I’ve got to know and like the owners. And I love that you’re honest about both the hard work and the pleasure of it – your enthusiasm comes through so strongly, even when things are tough, that it’s always a great read :)

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      Me too, exactly what you said. I like buying from Tanis Fiber Arts (yarn dyer in Montreal) because I’ve seen her photos and knitting projects and she seems like a genuinely nice person. I like buying from Spool of Thread because they’re awesome and super nice people. So even if I might be able to find something similar, I’d still choose to buy from the person I like. I think more and more people are thinking this way, because we’re trying to spend smarter and vote with our wallet.
      I’m so glad that you like hearing about me and my business! I’m flattered, thank you. There is certainly hard work but I’ve always been OK with working hard, it’s even better now to be working for myself and be able to decide what my company believes in.

  7. Amanda Renea November 29, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    I LOVE reading behind the scenes! Please keep them going!

  8. Joanne November 29, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I love these posts! Time gets away from me so easily, and I really like having monthly reviews!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      I hear that.. time gets away from me so easily too. Near the 25th of the month I always think ‘is it time for a month-end post already??!’

  9. Jenny November 29, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Oh I love your behind the scenes posts! I’m always toying with the idea of creating patterns and/or my own business (probably for the plus size ladies) and it’s so fascinating to learn about how you run your business. You’re an inspiration!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      Thank you! I hope that I make it seem fun but at the same time, a ton of work. And best of luck if you do decide to create patterns, especially for plus size ladies. That’s an important market that needs someone who understands it, to service it! I always think it’s best to design what you know, or what means something to you. (Like they say write what you know.)

  10. Linda November 29, 2013 at 7:27 am #

    I LOVE these posts! As others have already said, you come across as such a real and relatable person. I feel that we are privileged to be able to follow your story – the highs and lows, the personal and the professional. It’s all interesting and inspiring!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      I am a real person, I swear! :) Thank you for your comment, that’s so nice of you to say. So glad you enjoy following along with my adventures, both the good and bad! The older I get or perhaps the more experienced I get, the more I like to support people I like in their businesses rather than companies I know nothing about. Staying relatable is important to me so I’m so happy to hear you say that!

  11. Ms. SpoolTeacher November 29, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    It’s wonderful to hear how you are mastering your successes. It is motivating for Ms. SpoolTeacher, because she too has tons of ideas but hasn’t quite been able to focus to get it processed all the way through. Easily distracted. Your “Behind the Scenes” posts are enlightening and encouraging. Thank you.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      Oh, me too! Easily distracted. It’s hard to stay focused, there are so many shiny and interesting things to do and touch and look at! Starting is easy. Doing is hard, and finishing is really hard. It just takes focus, and turning off or shutting out the things that are keeping you distracted. Like the computer. Sometimes I have to shut it off completely to get focused, no music, turn the ringer off my phone. All these modern conveniences are always interrupting!
      So glad you like these posts. :)

  12. Jacqui583 November 29, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    That Renfrew pattern is really pretty and versatile! I am curious though, in all the pics it seems as if you are pulling/holding it down, which makes me wonder if it tends to ride up?

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      I had to look at the photos to see what you meant – you’re right, it does look like I’m holding on to the bottom of the striped versions! I think a couple of things are happening: one, I’m trying to draw attention to the hem bands, two, the striped fabric looked really wonky if the top was allowed to wrinkle naturally, so I’m keeping the stripes open, and third, it does ride up just the teeniest little bit. The printed cowl-neck version you can see is sitting a little higher on the body and if you look at the midsection it doesn’t hug the body, it’s a little loose between bust and hip. The fabric of the striped versions has a little more drape and weight to it, so they ended up longer, therefore hitting at a wider part of my hip. So they want to ride up just a little into a smaller part of the body.
      I hope this makes sense! You can see the same shirts on the dress form here, where she’s not wearing jeans and is probably a little narrower through the hip – http://sewaholic.net/whats-a-stable-knit-fabric/

      • Jacqui583 November 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        Thanks for the quick reply! I have a t-shirt pattern that I bought a couple of years ago (that I haven’t sewn yet – I was on a sewing hiatus and it has lots of negative ease, not sure how that will work out with my over-50 physique) but I really like the looks of this one better. I’ll likely be ordering it :)

        • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

          The Renfrew has positive ease, and if you wanted an even more relaxed fit, you can draw a straight line from bust to hem, taking out the waist shaping. Try doing a google-image-search for Renfrew Top Sewaholic to check it out on people other than me! (I made a link I think, see if that works!) Or check out our Flickr pool – http://www.flickr.com/groups/sewaholicpatterns/ – it’s nice to be able to see it on different people to fully decide. Hope this helps!

  13. Madelyn November 29, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    These posts are so inspiring, please keep them coming!

  14. Sarah November 29, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I love these posts too! I usually check your website once a day for new posts and while it’s always nice to see any new posts, I do particularly enjoy these ones. You’re a very good writer, with a real gift for making the details of your business come alive – your enthusiasm just shines through.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Thank you Sarah, that’s such a nice thing to say! I truly love what I do and I’m especially loving it these days, I’m glad it comes across properly through the computer.

  15. Jo November 29, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I actually left my blog reader in order to post this (which is all too rare). Yes! I love these posts. They are very inspiring. And balanced. Which is very much appreciated. If its not too much trouble for you (you are the CEO, CFO, CTO and many other roles all wrapped into one after all) then I would love to keep reading! Thanks!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:19 am #

      Well thanks for coming by! :) Oh yeah, I am the CEO as well as the envelope-stuffer and seam-ripper! The fun of doing it all (mostly) by yourself.

  16. Marchelle November 29, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Yes! Keep them coming!

  17. Diane @ Vintage Zest November 29, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    I’m a fan of these posts too, and I even learned something about when I shop on any store with your bit about the SSL certificate. Thanks for protecting your customers, future and present! :)

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:18 am #

      Thank you Diane! Yes, the SSL is important because of the new webstore, because it allows you to fill in information on its pages. The old webstore took you straight to Paypal, which is its own secure site, so it wasn’t needed. I really had no idea what it meant before, either! Now you know what to look for on other web stores. Although posting the icon is optional, so they may have the SSL but aren’t posting the image of it. (I liked the image, it looks pro to me.)

  18. Allynara November 29, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    I absolutely love reading your recap posts! Not only to get a look in what’s going on with the business, but also: what has been posted this past month and have I missed? I used to get around reading all my blogs on an almost daily basis, but these last couple of months, I’ve found myself too busy to keep myself updated. When I do tune in, I sometimes miss something. And it’s really helpful to have your recap posts: I really know that I’m not missing a thing!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Ah nice! Yes, it’s a good way to read through and see if you missed anything interesting – and if it does interest you then you can click the link to read more! Thanks for the feedback!

  19. Susan November 29, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Please continue to post these! I don’t get to see all your posts during the month, but I always click on this one and it brings me up to date. Also, I love reading the nuts and bolts of what makes a successful business run.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks Susan! That’s interesting to know that you might not read all the posts during the month but you read this one to catch up on things. Yes, lots of nuts and bolts happening here! I always find it interesting to hear how things work and what actually happens, rather than just seeing the surface. (Kind of like those ‘behind the scenes at a magic show’ shows, where they show you how the trick really works. First the trick, then the facts.)

  20. Ybat November 29, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    I really enjoy these posts. I like that you talk about your challenges and how you get past them and how not everything is perfect. I find them inspirational. I hope you keep them up.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Thank you! Oh for sure, not everything is perfect. I think you would all get pretty sick of reading if I pretended it was!

  21. Leigh November 29, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I love these posts. Keep it up!!!

  22. Kyle November 29, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    yes! I really enjoy reading your monthly posts, and also your monthly picture.
    The pink tape measure is snazzy!

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Ah thanks! It’s pretty neat to be able to look back at a year of quick self-photos. Keeps a record of things! So glad you enjoy reading the recaps and that you don’t think the me-photo is cheesy :)

  23. Paloverde November 29, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I think these recap posts are a good idea for you too. In future years you’ll be able to come back and see where you were with the company and life. It’s a good record of each month without having to plow through all the blog posts or just try to reconstruct things.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      Absolutely, you’re exactly right. I looked back at the last year when I was writing this post yesterday and it was neat to remember how I was feeling, what I was struggling with and what I was excited about. And it’s only been a year’s worth of writing! It helps me remember the good stuff as well as the massive to-do list, and see how far I’ve come.

  24. Jo November 29, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    I love reading your ‘ behind the scenes ‘ posts , keep them coming please !

  25. Suzy November 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    The behind the scenes posts are my favourites! Although they always make me think “Wow, has it been another month already?” I hope you can continue them next year.

    • Tasia November 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

      Oh, me too, every time! Is it really the end of November? What happened to summer? :)

  26. Emmely November 30, 2013 at 4:53 am #

    I do find these posts very interesting to read and I read them each month. Good to hear that things are going so well for you at the moment. I do recognize the, “so many ideas, so little time to actually turn them into something finished” sentiment. I am currently trying to finish all the things that I started and left unfinished at some point and to actually finish the new things that I start. It appears to be working and somehow it turns out that this is more gratifying than continually starting new things when the old things are still only halfway finished. I have something to show now for all the time I spend sewing!

  27. Sewing princess November 30, 2013 at 5:37 am #

    I find these posts very interesting…like reading a story! Love those pattern ideas! Jeans especially! The tape measure is great…except I don’t like pink :( but they are perfect for the brand!

  28. Ally November 30, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Thank you for sharing these behind the scenes! I love this blog for its information and easy conversation style! Take care and happy holidays!

  29. LLBB November 30, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    yes I like to read these!

  30. Kelly November 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    What a full month you had! I admire your energy. I really like these posts – I think I would like them if anyone wrote them, but with your business it’s especially interesting!

  31. Veronica December 1, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    The behind the scenes post is my favourite one each month. It is always inspiring and informative. I find it very helpful to see how you manage to run and grow a successful business : )

  32. Catherine December 1, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Yes I love reading your behind the scenes posts – I love to see what you’re wearing in the pictures and where the items came from. (Talented sister too!) I don’t have any aspiration to run a business, but reading about yours is like reading a story. Most of all, I enjoy your personal projects – your knitting and sewing. I’ve learned a huge amount from your website overall, but these round-ups, where you take a step back, are really interesting – I can almost feel you taking a deep breath. Your knitting projects have inspired me to do more knitting, and I’m about to set up a knitting group locally as a result. The cardigan, mittens and beret are AWESOME! You’re a great writer. Thank you for continuing to share your precious time with us.

  33. Emily December 1, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    I would love to see some of your cycling outfits Tasia; I ride to work every day but haven’t a single pretty or flattering piece of suitable clothing (yet). This morning on my ride I was daydreaming about making some kind of attractive (if possible?!) high visibility jacket or waistcoat to replace the mens plus size vest thing I wear at the moment… necessary on the country lanes I ride on, especially as it’s dark by the time I leave work in the evenings. My bike is a vintage purple Raleigh Caprice and I want to do her justice by dressing as nicely as she does (was given a new huuuge wicker basket for my birthday which I need to get attached, and I’ve a new saddle and pedals in the post as I type! yeey) ;)

    I wear a Buff every day to keep the wind out of my ears; they can be worn in many different ways and the way I wear mine (balaclava style) covers my chin too, so I thought I’d let you know! They come in many different colours and patterns, link below. Apart from looking admittedly a little odd, they can flatten ones hair a bit; mine is thick enough and usually straight enough to not be too bad once I brush it though, but just a word of warning! Alternatively, can be good at ‘holding hair in’ and stopping wind blowing curls out. (http://www.buffwear.co.uk/buff-headwear/original-buff/bamileke-105655)

    I do enjoy reading your blogs and following your progress. I have two of your patterns sitting waiting to be made up, I’ve even bought the fabric, but have yet to take the plunge and sew my first garment. One day I’d like to have a mostly home-sewn wardrobe and your simple instructions and patterns inspire me to make a start soon!

    • Tasia December 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

      Hey Emily! Cycling outfits, good idea! Might be boring for the non-cyclists though. I’d love to design and make cycling-friendly outfits. I do find that I’m lucky in that pretty much anything can be worn on my bike, so bike-friendly to me might not be friendly enough for all bikes, you know? It’s dark when I leave too so I can relate. Visibility and safety is more important than looking cute, that and staying warm. Your bike sounds gorgeous! Get that basket attached! :)

      For winter I tend to go for short skirts and tights, shorter winter coats (about the length of the short skirt) and tank tops tucked into the tights so no air gets in. Work-friendly AND cycling-friendly is a interesting balance. I wear whatever, but in a more corporate environment it’s likely more of a challenge.

      Thanks for the link about the Buff – never heard of it! My hair’s curly and fine and tangles easily and there’s a lot of it, I arrive with wacky hair a lot of the time.. I have one of these cycling caps – http://cap.little-package.com/shop/plaid-wool-cap- and it’s awesome but does flatten the hair, so I save it for the coldest days or my ride home.

      Good luck with your sewing adventures! Best to start with one that has a sew-along if you can, that way you get a ton of extra photos and tips and comments.

  34. Ana December 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    I’ve never commented before, but I wanted to chime in as I’m another update-lover. I think these might be my favorite type of Sewaholic post even, which is saying something!

    Also, I want to second Emily’s suggestion about cycling outfits. I generally walk to work (one mile), so choosing outfits for that is a similar challenge, especially this time of year in the Northeast U.S. where I live. It’s interesting to hear how others manage to stay warm, safe, and presentable!

    • Tasia December 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks Ana! Great to hear from the people who lurk and never comment :)

      I’ll see what I can do about cycling outfits – so far my trick is to layer a lot! Tuck a snug-fitting camisole into tights, then long sleeve tee shirt, then sweater. Skirt on the bottom, wool socks on top of tights, boots. Higher boots are warmer than ankle boots. Cover every bit of skin – scarf or cowl, gloves, hat (or helmet in my case with hat under). Of course I don’t have to look as presentable as those in a conservative office environment but I still want to look nice :)

  35. Allison December 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m also a lurker – I really like the behind the scenes posts too.

  36. Rebekah December 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Please do keep these posts coming. I came to visit your blog today for the sole reason of searching out your November Behind the Scenes! I never miss one.

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