Looking back and looking forward

Happy January. Always mixed feelings – but mostly good ones – when January rolls around. The Christmas season seemed to fly by faster than ever this year. I tried really hard to soak it up and enjoy, but if I’m honest, I’m also partly relieved when January comes and the lists and running around are done. I feel a sense of excitement looking forward to a (somewhat) blank slate.

I also enjoy looking back on what I learned the previous year, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised to see how much has been cumulatively accomplished that year! I also like the feeling of looking ahead to see what I want to change and improve.

2018 was a busy year for me, both quilting and otherwise. Here’s a quick view of some of the things that happened this year.

You can read more on each of these photos: (Left to Right, Top to Bottom)

  1. Cake Mix Spectrum quilt
  2. Red Wonky Log Cabin quilt on tour in southern Utah
  3. Patchwork Forest Tree quit in newly painted rooms
  4. Pixelated Heart quilt for graduation
  5. Meet the Makers sampler quilt tutorials
  6. Meet the Gretel fabric collection
  7. Red Delicious quilt in Sunnyside Ave fabrics
  8. Keeping it real behind the scenes (sweatpants, messy buns, and squats)
  9. Granny Smith in Sunnyside Ave

To see more of what happened this past year you can also check-out the Quilts I’ve Made pinboard.

I released two new fabric collections for Riley Blake Designs: Sunnyside Ave last spring

Gretel fabric collection by Amy Smart for Penny Rose and Riley Blake Designs. Coming November 2018 and Gretel this past November. Wow. I’m seriously still pinching myself that I have this opportunity, but I also learned that I’m not sure I’m up for 2 collections in one year. It was rewarding, but also a lot of work. I need to figure out  a little more balance moving forward …

I published 5 new patterns this year including Granny Smith, Red Delicious, A Bushel and a Peck, Brickyard, and Fraulein.

Precuts-friendly nine-patch baby quilt tutorial

Tutorials: The most popular new tutorials this year were the scrappy-nines crib quilt, the Meet the Makers sampler quilt (below), Four Square, and the beginner-friendly Rail Fence.


Free Quilt blocks patterns + assembly instructions from Diary of a Quilter

I also hit 10 years of blogging. Whoa. 10 years. That’s kind of amazing. I don’t know that when I started in October of 2008 I would have thought I’d still be doing this 10+ years later. And I definitely never would have dreamed where these 10 years would take me. It’s been pretty amazing and I feel SO lucky. (I’m planning a belated 10-year-anniversary party soon, so we’ll reminisce more then.)

What I’ve learned and looking forward

Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of 2018 about what I’d hoped to learn this year. My main points were:

  • Cut back on commitments

  • Make more time to be creative

  • Focus on what I can control

  • Make more time to be still.

As I look at that list, I feel proud of myself. I made more time to sew for fun, not work. (The Round We Go blocks above have been a great creative outlet.) I’d say it took pretty much the whole 12 months to really work my way through goals, but as I look ahead at 2019 I feel like I made big progress in these areas and I’ve created more flexibility in my life and put myself in a position to simplify even more.

I also participated and learned a lot more about Sewing for a Good Cause (charitable sewing) with the Sew Goodness Challenge.

So here are my thoughts looking forward to the new year:

  • Simplify even more – declutter my space and my time
  • More creating for the joy and satisfaction of creativity, rather than a deadline or a job.  (Allison’s post on Contentment really resonated with me.) For a good part of the last 10 years, sewing has been my job (and a great one! no complaints!) but I’m feeling the need to getting back to doing it more for creative outlet, not an added stress.
  • Use what I have – shop my stash or pass it along to someone else. (I plan on donating and destashing a lot of fabric this year.) I’m also setting a goal of not buying any new fabric (besides backgrounds or backing – but only if absolutely necessary) for the next 6 months. I think I can do it! I have lots of fabric that I still really like and want to put to good use. (Caveat: I do cheat a little on this one. Because I work for Riley Blake Designs, they do provide fabric for me to create projects featuring their upcoming collections. So I will be bringing in new fabric from time to time, but I’m serious about not purchasing.)
  • Work toward finishing one old UFO (unfinished object) each month. Ooo. This might be the trickiest for me. I’m not going to force it (because I’m working on simplifying and creating with intention, not stress) but I’m also excited about this one. I have some great UFO’s that need to see the light of day and be finished!
  • Focus on my home – focusing on the house I live in as well as the people who live in it. A lot of home and yard maintenance has been put on the way back burner while I’ve been working on sewing/work deadlines. This year I’m looking for a little more balance between the two. The painting we did a month ago really got me motivated to take the time to update as well as declutter our house.

So, there you go. More than you cared or needed to know, but thanks for listening. It helps to write it all out to keep myself accountable.

And THANK YOU for your support and encouragement over the past year + the previous 8 1/2 years before that. I am truly grateful.

Finally, wishing you the best as you look ahead to your own new year. Don’t forget to give yourself a high-five for the many ways you learned and grew in 2018. I shared a great Old You thought that I really loved from Emily McDowell in my most recent Instagram post.


Looking for some practical tips for sparking your creativity in the new year? Check out this wonderful list from Samantha of Aqua Paisley.


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  • Reply
    January 2, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    I love all your goals Amy…I added them to my list because they are things I’m constantly slowly working towards but easily forget about (especially simplifying MORE all the time). I always love seeing what you are doing and working on! Can’t wait to see what 2019 brings you!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:46 am

      Thank you, friend. And thank you for your own inspiring post! I can’t wait to see what you create in 2019 – you’re one of my favorite sources of inspiration. xo

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Happy New Year Amy!
    The goals you stated I started back in 2011! I still am working thru my stash and only pick up what I need to complete a project. But the funny thing is my scraps have multiplied! ? ?

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Good for you! And, I know what you mean about multiplying scraps!! haha. I’m totally in the mood to do something with mine. Fingers crossed I can make a dent in them. 😉

  • Reply
    Susan Smith
    January 3, 2019 at 5:55 am

    Congratulations on 10 years! What a milestone!
    Your thoughts for 2019 are exactly what I would have written!!! Here’s hoping we both succeed in those goals!!!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Thank you, Susan! Wishing you success as well!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 6:56 am

    I didn’t get a lot of quilting done in 2018, but hope to hop on board this year. I really need to finish the UFO’s before starting on new projects. But you know how new projects call to you 🙂

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Oh, those new projects are always SO alluring!!

  • Reply
    Rachel at Stitched in Color
    January 3, 2019 at 10:38 am

    This is such a nicely organized, interesting New Year post. What a nice way to review your year and share your goals. Enjoyed! Congrats on all your achievements! Best wishes for a simpler new year.

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Thank you, Rachel! Wishing you the best for 2019 as well. Can’t wait to see what you create – I’m always inspired by you!

  • Reply
    Gayle Shumaker
    January 3, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your goals they really resonated with me. Most was the wording of what I wanted but just couldn’t seem to express. I’m looking forward to a year when I can be creative again.

    • Reply
      January 4, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Thank you, Gayle. I’m wishing you a creative year ahead!

  • Reply
    cindy harris
    January 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Great post. It is good to stop and think–about what we have done and what we would like to do. You have had a busy year! Sadly I struggled with quite a few health challenges. But—because I had seen your post about the English Paper Piecing when I had three months down–really down. I ordered the Round We Go pattern–it provided a much needed creative outlet. I spent hours with my fabric, making different combinations that would work with the Round We Go pattern. I think I finished about 30 circles. I also ordered some Lawn fabric and was so excited when the dreamy fabric helped me achieve perfect circles! It was life changing! You can bet I signed up for a monthly Linen and Lawn club!
    I was often grateful that I had this amazing hobby that kept me sane those long months. I also listened to many audible books. Happily I can now drive, walk and use my sewing machine. I’m looking forward to 2019.
    Thanks Amy for your amazing blog. I read it and reread it. I hope you will continue to post ways that we can use our talents to serve others. I love randomly giving a quilt to someone just because I want to. Life is good!

    • Reply
      January 7, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Oh, Cindy, I loved this comment! It makes me so happy that those Round We Go circles were good therapy for you during a time of recovery. I think the picking out fabric combinations for each block is one of my favorite parts of making them too!

      So glad you are on the mend. Thank you SO much for your kind words. xo

  • Reply
    Lana Manis
    January 3, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I’m worn out just reading all of your accomplishments this past year! Your goals for this year could have been written for me. Thank you for being such an inspiration! I sent my first dozen baby / toddler quilts to a children’s hospital yesterday. Have a blessed 2019. ❤

    • Reply
      January 7, 2019 at 11:37 am

      Good for you, Lana! That is awesome! Thank you so much for your kind words. Happy 2019 to you too!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    A wonderful post, Amy! I must add that that Red Delicious quilt is one of my favourites that you have made. It is indeed, “delicious’ and while I probably won’t make one; I wish I would. Why is there no double quilt pattern available in it?

    • Reply
      January 7, 2019 at 11:39 am

      That makes me so happy to hear! I already have plans to make that quilt in a new color combination. The large scale of the blocks on this quilt make it trickier to resize. But I think you could easily make the throw-size version a double-size quilt with an additional border.

      • Reply
        January 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm

        It helps, too, to see it on an actual bed instead of hung up or folded in a basket, or on a fence or clothes line, etc. I just love that quilt!

  • Reply
    Shasta Matova
    January 3, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    You’ve made a lot of gorgeous quilts this year. Love all your goals – they are very similar to mine. I hope you have an enjoyable 2019.

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