1 Year Blogiversary

1 Year Blogiversary

Posted by Helen | June 14, 2016 | My Sewing Story

This blog has completely changed my life.  Over the past year I feel I have grown so much, made hundreds of new friends all over the world, and discovered what it feels like to be passionate about something.  Like, really, really passionate.  

I’ve had many hobbies and interests over the years, and I enjoy doing a lot of different creative things. I play guitar, I cook, and I like to draw and paint to name a few.  With all of these pursuits, I have wished I could be better.  I wish I had the time, energy, and motivation to be amazing at illustration like so many artists I follow, or to be effortless on the guitar like all the youtube videos I see. It is not just a desire to be good at these things, it’s a desire to want to be good at them.  The desire to be so passionate about something that it makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning.  Something that brings a smile to your face just thinking about it, something that you can do for hours without even noticing a second going by,  Sewing is this ‘something’ for me, and I am so happy to celebrate the first birthday of Helen’s Closet!

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Looking Back

When I first started this blog I was SO intimidated by all the amazing makers out there.  I was also inspired, of course, but I felt extremely nervous putting my work up and sharing my makes in the same community as so many (in my mind) sewing superstars.  I decided to start the blog after stumbling upon Lucky Lucille.  Rochelle’s honest and open writing made me realize that I should just go for it!   I fell in love with her Hollyburn Arrows skirt and decided that I would make my own as my very first project.  

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt by Helen's Closet

 

Being Consistent

Working in the web industry, I already know quite a lot about content marketing and how to run a successful blog.  My intention was not to ‘market’ necessarily, or get hits or make money from ads, but to provide a great experience to my readers and more than anything else, to be consistent.  I promised myself (and my 3 readers at the time) to post 1 garment a week.  This means sewing, photographing, and blogging once a week, which is really quite an undertaking!  I wanted to challenge myself to do this so I could practice sewing as much as possible.  The blog keeps me on track and since starting I have sewn over 52 garments – now that is a lot of practice!   For the first few months I was running myself nearly ragged trying to keep up, but, like with any adjustment period, it got easier!  Now I sometimes sew 2-3 garments in a week and have a backlog of blog posts 1 month long, so I don’t get stressed out anymore…well, not as often at least!

Reno Swimsuit Bikini Sewalong by Helen's Closet

 

Building Community

Like many home sewers, I am in love with the sewing community.  Seriously, it is the best online community I have ever experienced or ever even heard of.  It’s members are encouraging, honest, supportive, body-positive, and creative!  I wanted to contribute to that community and give back in any way I could right from the get-go.  I started the Wednesday Weekly almost from the start of the blog and with the exception of a few weeks here and there, it has been going strong for a year!  This weekly roundup post has helped encourage me to keep in touch with the community, promote indie sewing news, and make new sewing friends every week!  

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Support

I couldn’t have started this blog or maintained my output if it weren’t for Sam’s support.  Sam takes all my photos, patiently wanders around with me trying to find the perfect spot, and admires all my makes mid-project even though I’m pretty sure he has no idea what he is looking at, haha.  He never interrupts my sewing or complains about all the pins on the floor and the thread that is literally everywhere.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sam!

Closet Case Files Clare Coat by Helen's Closet

Also thanks to my lovely guest photographers, Laurie Best and Kristen McLaughlin!  It is always so great working with you and I love the photos you take 🙂

Simple Sundress by Helens Closet SewingHelen's Closet Sallie Dress and Hollyburn Skirt by Closet Case Files and Sewaholic Patterns

Thanks to my parents for receiving my many, many orders of fabrics and never questioning whether I’ll use them all or how much they cost (don’t ask, you’ll regret it!).   Thanks also for sharing my blog with all your friends and helping me to inspire more people to take up sewing!

 

Milestones

I can still remember my first comment from someone who wasn’t a friend or family member.  It seriously made my day, I was over the moon about it for hours!  Thank you, Andie, for bringing me that joy.

Romper by Helen's Closet Romper by Helen's ClosetScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.22.03 PM
I caught the bombshell swimsuit fever last summer and was so excited about how mine turned out and the pictures Sam took of me on Hornby island here in BC.  Heather loved it too, and included it in her Sunday round-up.  That day, my blog got 600 views and I cried, I actually cried it was so exciting.  Thanks to that, I got several more followers and started to get comments regularly from you lovely sewing folks.  Thanks, Heather!

Helen's Closet Bombshell Swimsuit

I started my instagram account at the same time as my blog, and I love hanging out on instagram still, so please follow me @helens__closet so we can be friends!  I can remember when Oonabaloona followed me, I nearly lost my mind.  SHE wants to follow ME?!?  That’s crazy….

One of the most exciting things about sewing regularly is challenging myself on a weekly basis to try new things! I took the plunge into knit sewing last fall and was stunned by how easy it was to make basic t-shirts and leggings for myself.  Now I no longer by ready to wear basics, I just whip up my own!

Lark Tee by Helen's Closet

Heather from Closet Case Files put up a call for blog writers last fall when she was going away on holiday.  I debated throwing my hat in the ring thinking ‘am I a big enough blogger?’  ‘can I make anything that people will like?’.  Finally I worked up the courage to email her and she said yes!  You can check out my guest post here, it was so awesome to get to do that and a lesson in ‘you don’t know if you don’t try’. 

sallie_dress_12

I love the indie pattern scene, and I wanted to explore making a pattern of my own.  I have always enjoyed making bags so I thought a bag would be a great place to start.  It doesn’t require grading, making it easier for me to tackle.  The Granger Bag was a labour of love, and I am so proud of that project.  From the design, to the test versions, to the instructions, and sewalong, I put my all into that pattern.  I love my Grangers, and my friends all love theirs too (I had to make lots, they were great gifts!).  I have seen a few out there in the wild and it fills me with pride every time.  The pattern is still available for free for a limited time, get it while you can!

FREE Granger Book Bag PDF Pattern by Helen's ClosetGranger Book Bag FREE PDF Pattern by Helen's Closet

I think every sewist is intimidated by projects they haven’t tackled yet.  Whether it is swimsuits, jeans, coats, or knits, there are always new skills to be learned and it can be hard to take the plunge and give it a go!   For me, I was scared to sew with wool.  I wanted to make a winter coat but I was afraid that I couldn’t do it!  When the Clare coat came out, it was just the push I needed. I bought the fanciest, loveliest wool I could find and I went all out!  The coat is stunning,  It gets endless compliments and really made me realize I could make anything.  I loved coat making so much I made the Cascade duffle coat shortly afterwards!  Fear, overcome.

Closet Case Files Clare Coat by Helen's Closet

Grainline Studio Cascade Duffle Coat by Helen's Closet

After conquering my fear of wool, it was time to swing in the opposite direction and try swimwear again!  I had success with the bombshell, but was still really apprehensive of cup and cradle construction.  I made two Reno swimsuit tops and was so thrilled by the process that I made a little sewalong to help others make one too!  It’s really great to be able to give back to the community by teaching what I have learned along the way.

Reno Swimsuit Bikini Sewalong by Helen's Closet

One of the things I knew I wanted to try was pattern testing for a designer.  I signed up a few times, but was not accepted.  Eventually, Beth from Sew DIY accepted my application to test her pattern, the Nita Wrap Skirt!  I enjoyed the process and have since tested for Emily from In The Folds and am currently running my own test for my upcoming pattern, the Winslow Culottes!  I love watching my testers celebrate each other’s accomplishments in our little Facebook group, it is so cool!  

Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt by Helens Closet

The Winslow Culottes were initially designed for a trip to Mexico that Sam & I took back in the fall.   I mentioned in my post that they would make a great pattern, and had several people comment excitedly about the idea!  It got me thinking that a garment pattern really could be something I could accomplish, if I put my mind to it.  Many hours of illustrator and 10 pairs of culottes later, I am finally reaching that goal.  I was floored by the response to the call for testers and I am so excited by how the tester’s versions have turned out so far.  I can’t wait to share this pattern with you all! Culottes by Helen's Closet

Winslow Culottes Sewing Pattern by Helen's Closet

I can’t reminisce about the past year of sewing without sharing with you one of the most amazing projects I have had the fortune to work on.  My friend, Kat, does incredible cosplay with a lovely group of ladies, Ellipses Cosplay.  She asked for my assistance with her most recent project because it was 90% sewing and she was a beginner sewer.  I said yes because I love a good challenge and we met up once a week for about 3 months to complete the project.  I am really proud of her for bravely tackling such a complex project!  Photograph by David Su. Cosplay Photo by David Su

Aside form Kat, I know a few people who sew, but not anyone personally who is into the indie pattern scene.  Caroline and I touched base on instagram and we decided we needed to meet in person.  It was so much fun hanging out with her and chatting about sewing for hours.  Last weekend I met up with another sewist in Vancouver, Rachel from Lavender Lane.  We knitted in the park and browsed fabric and patterns at spool of thread, it was so lovely!  I have another meet-up scheduled with Hanna from Cinderellis Sews in July, she is coming in from the UK and I am excited to meet her!   My anxiety about meeting internet people in person is subsiding, and I am really enjoying getting some face-to-face time with my community.   If you live in Vancouver or are visiting and want to meet up, drop me a line!  

That brings me to today, one year later!  If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and thanks for following along on my sewing adventure!  Now on to year 2…

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Blog Comments

I’m a recent visitor to your blog, Helen. And I really enjoy your enthusiasm and your sewing and your pictures. Congratulations on your one year blog anniversary! Here’s to a hundred more! 🙂

Thank you, Kay! I sincerely hope to be seated at my machine in 100 years, even though it is highly unlikely, maybe sewing will prove to be an antidote for old age?

What a wonderful year you had. Happy Blog Anniversary!

Thank you, Faye!

Congratulations on your 1st year blogging!

Thanks Meigan!

Happy blogiversary, Helen! What an interesting and inspiring retrospective. Longue vie à ton blog!

Thank you so much! You always leave such lovely and sincere comments, I really appreciate your support!

Congratulations on your Blog Anniversary 🙂 Blogging 1 garment a week (and even sewing one per week) really is quite an undertaking and such an impressive achievement! Looking forward to continuing to read your blog! x

Thanks Shauni! It actually sounds near impossible when I say it out loud..I’m still not even sure how I do it, haha!

Wow. I never would have guessed that you’ve only been at this for a year. Your sewing output is impressive and personal style is inspiring. I try to average one garment a month and feel like that keeps me plenty busy. Congrats.

Thanks, Carly! It has been a crazy year but my thirst for sewing seams to only be getting stronger!

What a wonderful year full of so many amazing accomplishments!! This write up is so sweet and made me all emotional. I can relate to so many things you described! You’ve come so far and your dedication and passion are truly inspirational and moving. Also, thank you for leaving my first unknown to me person comment 🙂 You really made my day and pushed me to get out there with my own sewing and start carving my own space in this wonderful sewing community. Thank you! Congratulations! And also, I am planning to come out to Vancouver sometime! Probably not for a bit since we have a couple big expenses coming up but it will happen in the next half a year or so! I will definitely let you know 🙂

YAY! that would be so fun if you visited, I will throw you a sewing party 😀 Your blog inspires me every week, I am so glad I found it! Between you, me, and Heather Gibson we could probably clothe all of Canada with our sewing output, lol!

Congrats on your one yearaversary!! One project per week as a beginner!?!???!?!? That’s incredible. I’m seriously inspired by this post. Thank you for summing everything up. It’s amazing what one person can do in one year. Great work!

Thanks, Brenna!

What a great post! I just recently started following your blog (maybe via Sew DIY? I can’t quite recall) but love your style (writing and sewing). I also find my favourite blogs are the ones that post frequently and consistently – something you’ve done really well (2-3 garments a week!? That’s awesome, you are a machine, lady!) 😉 Congrats on all the fantastic milestones in one short year – here’s to many more!

Thanks, Bianca! I feel the same way, I like when I can go to a blog and know there will be something new to see/read. It is challenging but so rewarding too. Thanks for following along!

Nice work, Helen! You’ve really made impressive sewing progress in one year. Your contributions to and enthusiasm for the online sewing community are awesome! Keep being great! 🙂

Thanks so much!

Wow! Your blogging journey is impressive and you’ve really only just begun! Brava Helen!

‘k….we will have to meet for tea one day…it’s always fun to meet other bloggers! AND…I am in the same city {well the ‘burbs for me}!

Thanks, Sue! I would LOVE to meet for tea, that sounds great. It’s always nice to chat about blogs and sewing with fellow sewing enthusiasts!

I just started reading your blog, but it was so fun to read about your journey! It truly has been an impressive first year, and I’m looking forward to many more good things!

Thanks, Laura! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it, thanks for following along on my sewing adventures!

Congrats on your blogiversary! Wow, you’ve had a busy first year. I did not realize you had begun blogging so recently, your blog is so beautifully put together.

Haha, When you mentioned how you felt being included in a Heather’s roundup it’s exactly how I felt when you included me in one of your roundups

Haha, that is awesome! I’m glad I could pass along the excitement 🙂 I hope to create more patterns too, testing with you and the group has been such fun. Thanks for all your support!

Aww, that is lovely! You sure have come a long way in building confidence and community in your one year of blogging. Every once in a while I read people saying that blogging is dying – I just don’t believe it! I think that if you put the effort in, people respond, as you have found out. Congrats on year #1!

Thanks, Gillian! That means so much coming from an amazing blogger like yourself 🙂 I definitely do not think blogging is dying, just evolving like all things. Blogs are such personal spaces, despite the public ‘display’, they are what you make them!

This was a great post! You’ve accomplished so much in your first year of blogging. Congrats on creating your first sewing patterns! Have fun with your second year of blogging!

Thanks, Teri!

I can relate to so much of the things you write, Helen! I remember when I was chosen as a pattern tester for the Cheyenne Tunic – I saw the email in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep for hours! Or when I found an email from Allie from Indiesew, asking ME to join a blog tour… or when April Rhodes started following me on Instagram… all these little mile stone that don’t seem important to others, but they can really make your day. And of course the feeling of doing something you never get tired of doing, sitting there for hours and hours, never getting bored. Hooray for sewing and the sewing community!

Thank you! Your story sounds so similar, it’s been a really fun year, hasn’t it? I love your blog, here’s to many more years!

Whooooop! Congratulations on your blogiversary! 🙂 I’m so impressed that you manage to make one thing every week, as well as blog and get photos of it! Excited about meeting you too, thanks for the shoutout!! 😀

Thanks, Hannah! It’s gonna be super fun 🙂

Happy blogiversary!! Though I only found your blog within the last couple months I thought you had been doing this for much longer. Either way, thanks for sharing your sewing with us :o).

Happy blog anniversary Helen! I love your little space on the internet. So inspiring. It’s commendable that you were able to sew one thing a week and blog about it for the entire year! That is not always easy but you make it look fun. 🙂 Congrats on a great year. I looking forward to following along for many years to come!

Thank you, Caroline!

Congrats Helen!! It’s been really fun following a long with you this year!! I think the first post of yours I ever read was your Yellow Granville post – I didn’t comment, but I think I’ve been following you ever since. I’ve always really loved your makes and your photos are awesome!!

I have very similar feelings to you about the sewing community too – we really are a great bunch of people and so welcoming – I feel so lucky to be apart of it. 😉
I also dabbled in many hobbies before stumbling upon sewing, and it does feel really great to have found a “thing”!

I’m really looking forward to seeing what you get up to this year! Here’s to another great year!

Thanks, Heather! And thanks especially for following along with me from the very beginning! I love reading your comments, you are so supportive 🙂

Words can’t describe how much I love this post. Your sentiments are the exact same reasons why *I* started blogging a few years ago. I remember all the women I looked up to who inspired me to start and I can’t tell you how much it makes me feel genuinely fulfilled to know that’s come full circle. Keep on keepin’ on! You’re doing all the right things for the right reasons <3

p.s. I still like your Hollyburn skirt better 😉

Thanks, Rochelle! It is really cool that is has come back around, and hopefully will continue on to more and more creatives! I like your hollyburn better, lol! I’m a sucker for pink though… Thanks for all your support and inspiration! I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

What a terrific year you’ve had. Your enthusiasm is lovely! Congratulations.

Happy blog anniversary 🙂
I recently stumbled upon your blog and I look very much forward to follow your future adventures 🙂

[…] into sharp relief is seeing other bloggers reach for and achieve success this year. Reading about Helen’s journey as she blogged one make a week, designed two patterns, and grew her following …, following along as Madalynne has teamed up with Urban Outfitters, Simplicity, and Pfaff to live […]

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