Helen's Closet

HelenMy Sewing Story40 Comments

3 Year Blog Anniversary (and a sale!)

Helen's Closet

Three years ago I launched my little home on the web here at helenscloset.ca and it has completely changed my life (not an overstatement, I promise). I knew right from the beginning that I wanted to commit to blogging as a challenge for myself and to see where it could take me if I really went for it. Three years later, I have a mostly self-sewn wardrobe, I am running my pattern business full time, and sewing has become a part of my every day in more ways than I probably realize.

I am excited to share some highlights from this past year as well as celebrate with you by having a little pattern sale! All patterns are 15% off this week, no coupon code required. Sale ends July 22nd at midnight PST.

One year ago I was working as a user interaction designer at a tech startup here in Vancouver. I wanted more than anything to run my fledgling business full-time but I was scared. Feelings of insecurity plagued me day and night with questions like ‘will I make enough money to make this worth it?’ and ‘am I throwing away a potential career in the tech industry for no reason?’. I knew I wanted to do it, but my brain kept throwing up roadblocks and trying to pull me back. The saying ‘you are your own worst enemy’ rang very true for me at this time.

I managed to push through the self-deprecating thoughts and believe in myself enough to go for it, and with support from all my friends and family (including my previous employer), I quit my job!

For anyone wondering – I was not making equivalent money yet at Helen’s Closet. This is where the leaping comes in! To make more money at your side hustle, you need more time. To get more time, it needs to not be a side hustle anymore. Chicken and egg situation. There is risk involved in jumping from stable income to the unknown, but there is so much adrenaline and excitement, too! Having the time to focus on my work as a pattern designer was so liberating. I was able to really think about the big picture and execute my patterns the way I always wanted. I still had challenges, of course, but within three months of leaving my full-time job, I had one of my best months ever in terms of income and I was feeling on top of the world. My hard work was paying off and my gut instinct had been right. I can do this.

This year has been such a learning experience for me. I knew that working from home would have its challenges, and I talked to friends and listened to podcasts to get advice about how to make it work. Many say you need to have a certain personality to be productive working at home, but I disagree. Sure, for the first weeks or maybe even months, you may be tempted to stay in your PJ’s and watch a little too much Netflix, but eventually, those things lose their appeal. It’s not like a glorious staycation, because that feeling of being ‘off work’ goes away over time. With the responsibility of running your own business comes increased motivation and increased stress in equal measure. Working from home is a balance of those two. I sometimes find the stress and anxiety cause me to have less productive days. I want to rebel against the responsibility. Other days, I am a machine, turning out blog posts and pattern illustrations like nobody’s business. Much like work at a ‘regular’ job, you have good days and bad days, and you learn what makes you motivated and what makes you crazy.

In addition to moving full time into my business this year, I did a lot of sewing! I am feeling really good about my ability to execute my vision as far as sewing projects go. Over the past three years, I have posted about 136 sewing projects. 136! That is a lot of practice. I feel that my personal sewing output has slowed down a bit since taking on my new role as full-time business owner, and that feels natural. I am less exposed to fashion because of my working environment, so I haven’t been craving new looks as much as I used to. I still executed some really fun makes in the past year, including some garments for loved ones. I also took up knitting, which has been a nice respite from my day-to-day sewing life.

One of the biggest changes and accomplishments in my life this year has been the Love to Sew Podcast! Caroline and I started this podcast back in August of 2017 and we have put out an episode every week since. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding undertakings of my life and I am so glad we decided to go for it. Working with Caroline has been an absolute pleasure and we have both learned so much in the process. It has also had a big impact on both of our businesses! I am certain that Helen’s Closet would not be where it is now without starting the podcast. You get what you give, and I feel the support from the community every day.

The last thing I want to celebrate today is my partner, Sam. Sam has been my number one fan since the beginning of this blogging and business journey. He has taken almost every photo you see here on the blog, and he now edits and produces the Love to Sew Podcast with us every week. His role will continue to grow and we have been enjoying working together more than I expected! It was a HUGE step to bring him on board and have us both working on the business, but we have been making strides and I am so grateful for his support. He has shown the ultimate belief in me by deciding to leave his job so we can build this business together.

I hope you enjoyed catching up with me and hearing about my 1st year in full-time business. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t started this little blog and I’m quite sure I would have laughed if you told me I’d be sitting next to my partner running my pattern business in three years time. I believe in the power of reflection and gratitude, and I have really enjoyed writing this post. I am so thankful to all of you who continue to stop by my home on the web and share in my sewing adventure!

Don’t forget, you can grab any pattern for 15% off this week, no coupon code required. Sale ends July 22nd at midnight PST!

About the author

Helen

Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

40 Comments on “3 Year Blog Anniversary (and a sale!)”

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I really appreciate your lovely comments! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond and encourage me each week.

  1. What a lovely post, Helen. I am new to the online sewing community as I am returning to garment sewing after a 15 year break. I eagerly read all of your posts and enjoy each and every one. Thanks so much for providing inspiration and lovely patterns. I hope you continue to thrive in your business in the coming year.

  2. Congrats Helen! You definitely deserve all the success! I recently started listening to your podcast and I’m catching up on all the older episodes, love it! And now I’m just gonna spend the rest of the week wondering if I should buy suki AND Avery AND blackwood lots of love!

  3. What an inspiring post! My hat is off to you for believing in yourself enough to take the leap. Congratulations and much continued success.

  4. Congratulations on your first year! I love your patterns, so keep them coming 🙂 I have them all, and have made Avery, Winslow, Suki, and two Yorks to date, and Blackwood is on my autumn plan.

  5. Congratulations! I love the enthusiasm in your work . I admire your stick-to-it-tiveness . It is scary to follow a dream, but you are succeeding and that gives others courage. Love your patterns and the Love To Sew Podcast.

  6. You are an inspiration, Helen! So looking forward to seeing which great places the future leads you both.❤️

  7. I think many of us have this dream but you definitely have the passion! You seem like a very passionate, positive and hard working person. We are lucky to have you as a leader of our community. Thanks for all that you do and wishing you continued success.

  8. Congrats Helen!! I recently went back and read all the round up of new pattern releases of 2017. Your blog is a reference and a also love your indie darling serie. It takes lots of dedication and discipline to blog like you do and I admire you for it

  9. Helen, so many congratulations! You and Caroline have been influential to me this year on my own personal journey, and I wish you all the best for continued success! You guys are rock stars, and badasses, and all the great things.

  10. Congratulations Helen, thank you for sharing your experience and proving that hard work always pays off! I hope the coming years will take you further beyond and I look forward to see what that will be like!

  11. helen, you are a truly beautiful – and genuinely authentic – soul. heartfelt congratulations to you, to sam and to caroline as well. the podcast is always generous and fun and chock full of info, and your spirit shines through all the hacks you offer, the thoughtful patterns…congrats. here’s to many more years!

  12. Congratulations Helen! I love your podcast, and have made Avery and the Blackwood cardigan 🙂 I wish you all the best for the next 3 years and no doubt will make more of your patterns in that time!!

  13. Congrats Helen! I love your blog and your podcast. You and Caroline are such an inspiration for me. I listen while I’m working and daydream about having more time for sewing and other creative pursuits. I love hearing about people quitting their day-jobs to pursue their dreams. One day I hope it will be me! And thank you for the sale too. I picked up the Blackwood, Suki & Avery, all of which I’ve been eyeing for a while.

  14. I went through your closet pretty thoroughly. I saw your reluctance to jump onto the culottes train (before designing your own–grin). I understood your reluctance, and it was why I thought a while before buying the Winslow pattern. I like the fullness of Winslow, and it looks good in soft, drapey fabrics. I’m now going through the same thing (without the pattern drafting) with wide-legged cropped pants. I know people are loving them, and bravo for that, but I just can”t *ahem* jump into that trend!

    Anyway, congratulations on making the leap AND succeeding! I really enjoy your blog and podcasts, and have supported you (a little bit) with purchases. Keep it up!

    1. Thanks Rebecca! There is always that one new style that I’m just not sure about, lol. Then I try it and I love it! Sewing is so much fun that way. Thanks for the support and thanks for following along with me!

  15. Congratulations, Helen! It has been such a pleasure reading your blog, getting to know you, and seeing your business and confidence grow over the past few years (not to mention enjoying your amazing patterns). And wow, Sam is an absolute treasure!

    1. Thanks so much Michelle! It has been a pleasure getting to know you, too! Thanks for your kind words, ill pass them along to Sam <3

  16. Congratulations on your anniversary! I have only recently stumbled across your patterns and I must say I’m in love with them! As someone who works from home, I have to agree with your comments on that front! One of my biggest challenges is walking away from my work! My other challenge has been clothing. I went from professional wear (slacks, skirts, dresses, etc) to home wear. It isn’t a matter of getting out of the loungewear, I have 2 monsters that need tending, so respectable clothing is a requirement! The problem is getting out of the habit of throwing on a t-shirt and jeans because it is easy. The only people who see me at work these days are the family, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look and feel good! Two of my makes this summer were what I’m calling my new business casual wear of cute and comfortable skirts. A tunic lengthened into a dress just got wrapped up for my fall wear. The fabric isn’t breathable enough for Oklahoma summer, but it will be great with leggings for the windy weather we get in October. Just because we work from home doesn’t mean we have to dress that way!

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you come out with next and adding a few of your patterns to my work from home wardrobe!

  17. It’s been such a joy watching as you realize this dream, Helen, and always so exciting and inspirational to see where your creative vision will take you next. Pretty darn proud of your photographer, too. 😉
    Here’s to many, many more Happy Anniversaries of full of love and laughter,
    Laurie (aka “Sam’s mom”)
    xoxo

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