Tilly asked “Are Sewing Bloggers Cultural Leaders?”

Tilly has asked on her Blog the following questions:
  • What does the online sewing community mean to you? Why do you participate?
  • What are your favourite examples of projects initiated by sewing bloggers that capture this spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation?
  • Who are the “leaders” in the sewing blogosphere? Is everyone / can anyone be a leader?
  • Are you involved in any other network of makers, whether online or offline? What makes sewing blogs unique
There’s already some really interesting discussion in her comments on this and I thought I’d post my own thoughts on these questions.
What does the online sewing community mean to you?  Why do you participate?
The online sewing community is a place of inspiration and education for me.  No one else I know sews.  Simple as that.  To get the education and inspiration in any other format for me would be impossible.  It’s also eminently accessible at any time of day or night so I can peruse a blog when it suits me.  I don’t need to attend a class at a set time or follow a strict timetable imposed by someone else.  I fit my sewing – which is a hobby and a passion – around my 16 month old baby boy, my husband, my work and the other things we all have to fit into the 24 hours we have each day.  This means that I often sew, research, shop for supplies or look up techniques late at night, for instance I’m drafting this post at 9:50pm!
I participate because it is a way to learn and a way to get feedback so I can develop as a sewer / seamstress / sewist.  I’d like to be able to post more tutorials so that I can give back to a community that has given me so much already.  Being part of this community – either as a silent participant or as one who shares through a blog or comments on other people’s blogs allows us all to share something we love.  We’re social creatures and although we’re somewhat anonymous when sharing from behind a computer screen and keyboard, it is vastly preferable to being isolated.
In all honesty if it wasn’t for the online sewing community I wouldn’t be sewing today.
What are your favourite examples of projects initiated by sewing bloggers that capture this spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation?
My favourite at the moment is the sewalong.  Although I have no actual experience of completing one myself (yet…) I have read the posts by Gertie and Tasia where they have led sewalongs on their blogs.  These have provided me with so much information and inspiration.  The techniques shared are gems of knowledge I would be unlikely to work out for myself until I’d gained much more experience.  Also, seeing their honesty and difficulties gives me the courage to try something.  Gertie’s Lady Grey sewalong fascinated me and has now put that pattern at the top of my “wish” list.  Seeing others interpretations and fabric choices also opens my mind to what can be achieved with a pattern.  I’m prompted to explore avenues I may not have otherwise considered.  Tasia’s Pendrel blouse and her current Crescent skirt sewalongs have also inspired and bolstered my confidence.  Particularly as I know the resource is there so I can refer to it when ever I need it.
Who are the “leaders” in the sewing blogosphere? Is everyone / can anyone be a leader?
My “Go To” blogs are Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing, Tasia’s Sewaholic and Casey’s Elegant Musings.  I’ve learnt the most from Gertie and Tasia but Casey is a constant source of styling inspiration and education.  I pop in to other sewing blogs but the above three ladies are my regular reads.  They’re my leaders.
I would imagine that anyone could be a leader to any one now on the internet.  How you’d go about that I’m not sure though.  Regular posting would be one necessity otherwise people wont keep coming back, sticking to a certain topic is another (and not one that I’m very good at).  In a lot of ways I guess it’s what a Google search throws out when you first go looking and then following that person’s RSS or Blogroll to other blogs.  I found Gertie through Google (I can’t even remember what I searched!) and through her discovered Tasia and Casey as well as Tilly and a few others.  All in I have 16 blogs in my sewing favourites which is an insignificant percentage of what is out there.
Are you involved in any other network of makers, whether online or offline? What makes sewing blogs unique?
Simple answer is no.  There isn’t the possibility of face to face contact where I am – sewing your own wardrobe or anything else just isn’t mainstream (if that’s the right word – I’m not sure it is).  Whilst I get complimented on what I make and people are interested I haven’t come across anyone else who does what I do and is of a similar age, or situation.  Where I live there is only one shop that carries dress fabrics and it is a gem, but even Anglia Fashion Fabrics can’t provide me with everything and I turn to the internet.
Sewing blogs are unique in that people are coming together for a very specific purpose.  Previously people learnt to sew from their parents teaching them the skills they needed, and in some cases out of necessity.  My Nanny didn’t teach my Mum and so my Mum didn’t teach me.  I wanted to learn though so I’m teaching myself and the internet is an immediate way of getting answers.  The medium of a blog makes the delivery of those answers much more personal than a reference text.  The knowledge that there’s a real person that you could email is much less intimidating and a lot friendlier.
Reference texts have their place and I have learnt a lot from the ones that I have, but it’s the sense of community and collaboration that keeps me going back to sewing blogs.  I feel like I get to know the authors a little and that if we met up in real life we would have a little shared history and something to talk about as well as the common ground of a shared passion.
These are my initial responses to the questions.  Over time I will probably come back and add to them.  In some instances I’m not sure I’ve articulated what I want to say very well and my intention could be ‘lost in translation’.  I know there are all sorts of concerns about feminism and sewing, and interest in patterns and styling from eras where a number of sections of our society were oppressed and whether by using this styling we’re agreeing with the era’s social prejudices.
My take on the feminism issue is that feminism has given me choices – I chose to marry, I chose to honour my husband but not obey him.  I chose to work and when to have my child (within the limitations of my body’s capabilities and issues) and I chose to sew.  I chose what my style is rather than being told what is in or out or acceptable by any one else and this is a process I’m still working on.  I chose to adapt a style to suit me and my life – the fact that I prefer styling from an era when I imagine people had manners and a sense of decorum may be because I’d like a little more of that ideal in my modern world.
Somehow sewing gets embroiled into these arguments when you really think about the choices you make, but this is likely the case for any creative process and may in fact be true in normal, banal day-to-day life.  From the decision on which brand of tea or coffee you drink, whether you eat meat or not, whether you chose to marry or not, have children or not.  The fact that many of us have these choices now and that we’re free to make them is amazing.  I’d expect others to respect them even if they don’t agree with them, and I think there should be room for disagreement.  Debating these points only opens our minds to points of view we may not have considered and I think that this in turn makes us all richer as long as we’re prepared to listen.
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One thought on “Tilly asked “Are Sewing Bloggers Cultural Leaders?”

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! I found myself nodding along to your post. I haven’t yet followed a sewalong yet but the fact that they exist is so inspiring in itself! I really like the point you made at the end about having choices too.

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