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2016 Year in Review + Looking ahead

2016-year-end

Here we are again! The end of another year. I honestly feel like the years are flying by faster and faster. There’s something therapeutic about reviewing the past year and seeing all that was really accomplished. 2016 was a weird year in many respects – in some ways I’m kind of happy to see it come to an end – but quilting-wise, it was a remarkable one for me. Looking back through the pictures, I’m a little stunned at all that went down this year. It was full of so many “pinch-me” moments – I’m kind of amazed. It also explains why I feel so tired. 😉

Last winter I loved participating in Winter Quiltfest with Jen Kingwell and the chance to spend time with so many other lovely people. This was also my first year to attend QuiltCon – it was a great experience to meet and be around so many other inspiring and enthusiastic quilters, and I loved getting to hear from quilter-extraordinaire, Gwen Marston. I totally recommend both a quilting retreat or QuiltCon, if you get the chance!

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It was also a year of a lot of hard work coming together. I try to put on a pretty face in the posts on my blog and Instagram, but behind the scenes are a lot of big messes! lol. In the spring I went to Denver to film my first Craftsy Class. Hind sight it was a lot of fun 😉 but in the moment and all the work to prepare, it was stressful. Like all things that stretch you hard and push you outside your comfort zone – it was scary, but so worth the experience.

Another treat this year was getting to visit the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, Missouri and getting a tour from Jenny Doan herself. Another experience I totally recommend if you get the chance – it’s like Disneyland for quilters.

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Another major goal crossed off the list this year was finally publishing 5 of my patterns into hard-copy versions. Sewing quilts is fun for me. Writing patterns and working on illustrations for hours is not on my list of fun things to do (even when I get help from people who know what they’re doing way more than I do!) – which is the reason it’s taken me years to get them done. But now that I’ve climbed that learning curve, I’m hoping the process will get easier. I’ll be releasing more patterns in 2017 including 4 this spring along with my first fabric collection (exciting! scary!) so watch for those in April.

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Finally, a huge thank you again to all of you for your kind words and encouragement. To find out more about any of the quilts in the collages above, you can find all of the projects and links to the posts, on my Quilts I’ve Made pinboard.

I do want to add one more thing. I’ve had multiple people ask me how I get so much done and expressing frustration that they’re not able to be as productive. In answering that, I have to point out the fact that I treat this sewing stuff as my job – it’s become so much more than a hobby. When my kids are in school, I treat it as work. I feel beyond lucky that my job is something that I really LOVE to do, but I don’t want anyone to feel discouraged that they don’t get as much time to sew, or feel as productive. It’s a choice I’ve made, and it’s a lot of real work, plus a lot of sacrifice of other things that I don’t have time for. In the past I’ve often looked at what other people are doing and have accomplished, and I know what it’s like to feel slightly jealous or like I’m coming up short. Over the past few years I’ve learned a few things in regards to this business of mine that I’ll share for ‘what it’s worth’ to someone out there:

  • Let go of perfection. One of my favorite mantras is “Done is better that Perfect.”
  • Save your best efforts for that which has greatest value. Say No more that you say Yes, and then only say Yes to the things that matter most. I’m still learning this one – part of accomplishing what you really want to do means saying No to a lot of superficial stuff that can distract you.
  • You can’t do it all. Especially not all at once. Trust me on this one – it’s a sure-fire recipe for burn-out.
  • Stick with your goals, but constantly re-evaluate them and make sure you’re not letting short-term clutter (i.e. Facebook, Netflix, etc. 😉 ) get in the way of the most important priorities. (I totally recommend the book Essentialism if you want more thoughts on this topic.)
  • Everyone’s journey is different, but everyone’s journey is exciting. DON’T COMPARE your journey to anyone else’s. Stay on your path and enjoy the people and opportunities that come your way. Focus on what is in your control, not on what’s out of your control.
  • Cheer other people on. Be happy for other people’s achievements and successes. I’m a big believer in Abundance – if your perspective is to see the world as a place where there is enough success and happiness for everyone, you’re going to find a lot more of it in your own life.
  • Finally – don’t fear adversity or struggling for something you want – sometimes that will change the direction of our lives in remarkable ways.

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I recently came across a blog post that I wrote 5 (!) years ago that I’d totally forgotten about and it moved me. In that post I shared the backstory of how I got started in this quilting-business world 13 years ago.  When I started working at a quilt shop 13 years ago I never would have dreamed where this path would take me. Heck, 5 years ago when I wrote that post, I wouldn’t have dreamed where this path would take me! I can’t wait to see what the next years bring. I have goals and plans and one of them is to do less. After all the work and stress of this year, I’ve decided I don’t want that for me or for my family. In 2017 my goal is to cumulatively do less, and invest my energy on what is really meaningful.

So find your path, stick to your dreams (even if it’s just to find a few minutes of sewing time a week), and remember that even with the bumps in the road, good things lie ahead.

Sending you all best wishes for 2017!

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrea_R
    January 1, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Sewing IS your job. 🙂 And a great one!

    I’m pretty prolific and have been ramping up my sewing and quilting, exploring if we could make a living from it. People ask me the same thing, and I tell them the two days off from my day job I treat as quilting work days. Two full days of sewing, heck yeah you can get a TON of stuff done.

    Many ladies I talk to only quilt a few hours a week, if they have time, and even mentioning simple things we take for granted, like “I leave my machine out and have a dedicated work space” hasn’t occurred to some.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      January 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      Good luck with your own endeavors! I’m excited for you!

      • Reply
        Andrea_R
        January 6, 2017 at 6:51 am

        Thanks Amy! That means a lot. 🙂 I’m pushing even more this year so I can cut back on my day job hours. Lots of changes in store but the waiting is the hardest part.

  • Reply
    Jan Altomare
    January 1, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Amy thanks for sharing. Since I am a fairly new quilter (a little over a year) I went back and read your story. Glad you took that journey and glad the your husband found his health answers. Looking forward to seeing what you do in 2017. Happy 2017 to you and your family!

  • Reply
    Paula
    January 1, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I retired from teaching in June of this year. My kids are giving me a little singer two years ago that I was finally able to break out of the closet in June. So after many many many years I am back to sewing and quilting. I really appreciate your experiences and your words of wisdom, because even being retired with no children home, I often don’t get to quilt all day or even much of the day. So I was getting a little frustrated with my progress. Thank you so much for giving me a better perspective! 😊

  • Reply
    Paula
    January 1, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Sorry! It should be, my kids gave me, not are giving me! English teachers forgive me!😜

  • Reply
    Hedy
    January 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    You are on the right track now. I see too many people following the fame track and forget about the joy in living today. Life is to be lived and enjoyed.

  • Reply
    Andrea R.
    January 1, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Amy, your year must have left us all in the dust! Sounds fantastic! My year improved so much once I found your blog and started making quilts for charity. I never knew making a quilt could be so fulfilling!
    http://www.gofundme.com/quiltsforholidays

  • Reply
    Jodie
    January 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Yes !!! To all those things – comparison is tricky and it is easy to think you are not keeping up. i am excited for the fabric, does it mean you will be at Spring Market ???

  • Reply
    Doreen
    January 1, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Amy, I so enjoy your quilt patterns your use of color, and your words of wisdom. Thank you very much for making the world a more beautiful place!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    January 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    That is exactly why I don’t sew quilts for money, it would turn into a job! This way when I give someone a quilt they are surprised and so very grateful. I love making quilts for the new grandbabies and children of my daughter’s friends and especially for my family and granddaughters!!

  • Reply
    Janet Taber
    January 1, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Amy, I love your candor! I always love your very practical advice and straightforward directions. I’m looking forward to whatever you share in the coming year, even if there isn’t as much volume-wise. Keep your focus on family and quality and it will be a good, good year for you.

  • Reply
    Leslie K.
    January 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Amy, This was a beautiful post that really touched me. When my children were in middle and high schools, I totally gave up sewing (and all other of my hobbies) because our lives were so full of teenage (sports) activities. As our 2 daughters entered college and my husband and I became empty-nesters, it took me a while to remember what I loved to do. In the last several years, I have returned to my love of sewing. I always wanted to learn to quilt, so I have learned everything I know about quilting from blogs. I have learned so much from you: thank you! And as you wrote this blog entry, I was reminded that I have purchased your Craftsy class but have not had time to watch it. I am now looking forward to watching it this month!

    Also, after reading so many blogs where people are finishing several quilts a week, I too have often become discouraged and frustrated about how long it takes me to finish a project. Thank you for reminding me that many bloggers sew all day and that I am not going to accomplish as much.

    I so enjoy reading your blog; I feel that we have quite a bit in common (including your style of quilting and color choices). Thanks so much for all the help that you have given me as I continue to improve my quilting skills. You touch many lives!

    Take the time to enjoy your family as they grow; the years go by so quickly!
    Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Dee
    January 2, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Although I don’t have time to quilt at present I love to see what everyone else is achieving and the beautiful colours and fabrics that are used and the craft that goes into them.
    One day I will go finish that quilt that’s half done and I know that it will bring me joy and a sense of achievement once it happens but until then I’ll enjoy reading your blog and being inspired.
    I love the words you wrote starting Everyone’s journey is different etc, for it is and this is what I believe .

    So I wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year and look forward to diving into your posts for one day they will make me reach for that unfinished quilt!

  • Reply
    Julie
    January 2, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for all the fun, quilty inspiration you share 😀

  • Reply
    Carolyn S
    January 2, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I copied them to share with my family. I wholeheartedly agree with them and realized a few years back these same things. Now that my life is less busy with fewer children in my house it doesn’t change the fact that I still have to use my time for the things that matter most. The journey is definitely more joyous when we choose wisely for ourselves. Here’s to a Great 2017 for you, me, and everyone!

  • Reply
    Rachel at Stitched in Color
    January 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Love your advice at the end, especially the perspective of abundance! Congrats on all your business growth and upcoming fabric line. It is indeed a blessing to be able to work in this industry!

  • Reply
    Sara
    January 4, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Such an honest and thought provoking post. I hope that the year ahead is one filled with quilts and family time. I love your blog and your honesty. It makes me feel less guilty about the lack of sewing time I have these days but determined to get back to some simple and fun sewing, just for the joy of it! Best wishes from Scotland. X

  • Reply
    Nicole
    January 5, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    This is a WONDERFUL post, and I thank you for it. The advice at the end is filled with wisdom, and I am taking it to heart. It’s so good to hear an honest view, that no one is doing it all no matter how it looks, and I can’t either, hence the need to spend my energy on what is most important. And I really needed to be reminded not to fear adversity or the struggle for what I really want. Thank you!

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