Best of 2017
Wow, what a year!!!
For those who don't know, this was my first year as a professional seamstress/builder. I've been a hobbyist for decades, but things happened in early 2017 that made me take the plunge into full-time pro small businessing. It's been an amazing experience!
First, I have to say thank you to every single person who supported me this year. Whether it was through encouragement, good advice, compliments, drinks, referrals, or commissions, I could not have made it through the year without you! Thank you <3
Second, this has been a year of learning and growth. I learned lots of new sewing skills. I improved on my old ones, and I discovered lots of things I don't know and areas I need to improve upon. I need to get better at time management and frugality. That's not new, I've consistently sucked at those things my entire life, but they've become so much more important now that I'm working for myself.
And third, I want to look back at some of my favorite builds! I started this blog fairly late in the year so I didn't feature as many builds as I would have liked - that changes in 2018!
The first thing I made this year was Thomas Jefferson, from Hamilton. This was my own costume that I'd been planning since before the business was on my radar, but I finished it just in time for the spring convention season and I used it a lot for promotion. I got the best compliment ever on this costume from an RPF member!
(and now you all know my RPF name!)
This was one of my very first commissions, from a super-supportive former co-worker turned friend. She wanted something to wear to a sci-fi theme party, without going full cosplay. These super glam glittery pauldrons and satin hood made her look like she could conquer planets AND dance all night! This was a fun build that required way more math and engineering than I expected!
This Jedi was my first commission from a stranger - word of mouth is a powerful thing! Thanks, friend who referred him! This was built to Rebel Legion standards, although last I heard he's still waiting on some other parts before he can get it approved. One of my goals as a seamstress is to be a known maker within the Star Wars costuming clubs. This was my first step!
This bag was my very first commission that I was paid for (although not my first commission to finish). This was another commission from a friend, and, again, I have to thank her for being such a huge champion of my work this last year! This is a Mary Poppins style carpetbag made of actual Atlanta Marriott carpet. If you've been to DragonCon in the last few years you know that this carpet is a BIG DEAL. She got a lot of love carrying this bag around! And I found a reason to buy a heavy duty sewing machine and new interest in bagmaking :) I plan on making lots of bags in 2018!
This piece was my first commission that, as far as I know, wasn't a word of mouth referral. This person found me on the internet and bought work from me! AMAZING!!! This is Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening, which I was not at all familiar with before taking this gig. This costume was all about bias tape and appliques, both of which I've worked with before, but never on this scale. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!
I finished these two pieces just before DragonCon, so they got photographed together. The white dress is worn by Codex, from the Guild. This was another early commission from an awesome supportive friend! She is a cosplayer and seamstress herself, but she'd made two versions of this dress already and wasn't happy with either of them. After lots of research and testing and pattern Frankensteining, I came up with this version. I think it's pretty spot on! Unfortunately Felicia Day cancelled her con appearance at the last minute, so she didn't get to see this, but my friend wore it and looked fabulous anyway! Maybe Felicia will see it in 2018!
The grey jacket was mine. I wore a Hugh Hefner styled Malory Archer as part of a larger Archer cosplay group for the DragonCon Bunny Hutch party. This was my second smoking jacket. Last year I made Holtzmann's red jacket from the alley test scene in Ghostbusters, and have worn it a thousand times since. I'm thinking about offering custom smoking jackets in 2018. They're fun to make and so easy to wear!
This was easily my biggest and most complicated build of the year. The Sanderson Sisters, from Hocus Pocus, were built to be part of a Halloween display. These costumes were, in part, hand dyed, hand painted, hand woven (by someone else), hand sculpted, 3D printed, beaded, heavily researched, and as screen accurate as humanly possible. I was extremely proud of them :) These were also the first costumes featured on this blog!
I did my first craft show this year! It was a Christmas-themed show so I sewed up a bunch of fun Christmas and winter accessories, and a few other anytime things. Like everything else this year, the show was a great learning experience. And making the inventory reminded me of how much I enjoy making stuff that I want to make. Don't get me wrong, commissions are amazing and I love them, but waking up in the morning and thinking, "I want to make a pencil roll" and then making a pencil roll? Magical :) It also reminded me of how good it feels to actually finish something. Again, commissions are great, but they are time consuming, and spending weeks on one project can wear you down. Starting a thing and it being 100% finished an hour later was such a feeling of win! The lesson I learned from this, which I'm taking into 2018, is to spend some time each week doing inventory builds like this. That will increase my Etsy stock, make me more prepared for shows, allow me to be more creative, and give me the happy boost that only comes from finishing a project.
Patches! I got an embroidery machine this year. It sucked, so I returned it and got a better one :) Learning to digitize has been fun and challenging, and something I'm going to keep working on throughout 2018. The Holtzmann patch on the left was the very last thing I sold this year! Thanks, Holtzmann Army, for all of your support this year! Which brings me to...
The Holtzmann pants. These go with the smoking jacket mentioned (but not pictured) earlier. These pants were what started it all! These were the first things listed and sold on Etsy, the first things sold to a stranger, and the first things I saw someone wearing in the wild! (I met one of my buyers at the DragonCon Ghostbusters meetup! It was the coolest thing ever!!!) And they were the last garment sold on Etsy in 2017. In addition to being such a cool, fun, crazy, badass, supergenius character, Holtzmann has become kind of my personal, unofficial, business mascot. I have her - and, more specifically, the people who love her - to thank for so much of my success!
So that's a wrap on 2017. I had some failures, I learned lots of valuable lessons, I've found things I need to improve upon, but I believe it was, overall, a success. This is, by far, the best, most fun, most fulfilling job I've ever had, and the only one where I'd rather work than do almost anything. I was always afraid that if I depended on sewing for money, I'd end up hating and resenting sewing, in the same way I've hated and resented other job skills. But so far that hasn't happened! I still wake up every morning excited for a big day of making stuff. Here's to more of that in the coming year!
And again, thank you all for your ongoing support! It means the world to me! I hope you all have an amazing 2018, and if you see me at a con, let's drink together!