Well, I’m coming up on my four year blogiversary and today I want to share some things that I’ve learned about myself after four years of blogging.The sewing community is a really supportive place in general.
It’s fun being a sewing blogger. I’ve made loads of friends and many I’ve met in person at organized get togethers and conferences. It’s enriched my life. I was a little isolated when I started this blog. … I hardly know anyone who is into making clothes and to find so many people from all over the world who share my passion is really cool!
Finding people who really get this part of me is priceless.. Because my husband just says, “nice!” when I show him something I made. Which is.. nice. I need more feedback, people. Oh , and people don’t leave mean comments like they do on political blogs!
I don’t like sewing for people outside of my family, unless I find it a project that is really interesting.
Making a First Communion dress for a friend’s daughter from my friend’s wedding gown, a wedding gown refashion, and creating costumes for plays that interest me are a few projects I ‘ve taken on that I haven’t regretted. But I’ve found myself dreading saying yes to projects that didn’t interest me out of guilt. People who don’t sew have no idea how laborious some projects are. I’m basically a selfish seamstress, and unless I am getting paid very well, I easily become resentful and frustrated when sewing for others.
The exception would have to be sewing for charity. So please, never ask me to do alterations or make a dress for you to wear to a party because you think I love sewing so much. I’d have to charge way more than you are most likely willing to pay, to make it entice me.
Getting Free Stuff Isn’t Really Free
Free fabric in exchange for a blog post ! A company sends a couple of yards of fabric, I’m supposed to make something with it and blog about it. Well, what happens when I get the fabric in the mail and I don’t like it or it’s low quality? Once, I had an agreement with a fabric company to get free fabric every month and then I would make something with it. In the beginning it was fun, but it quickly became an obligation. ” When are you going to blog about our fabric?” I would get in my email inbox. The truth was, I made a mistake and picked out some fabric that was actually sort of …ugly. But I was too embarrassed to tell them and was expected to make something with it even though I didn’t like it after all. My fault, I guess…. I never made the garment and lost my relationship with that fabric company.
Remember, you the blogger are doing the favor for the fabric company, not vis versa. Whether your post gets 10 visits or 10,000 those readers trust you and getting a personal recommendation from a trusted blogger is much, much, more effective than a sidebar ad that the company actually pays for.
Since I buy most of my fabric in the garment district really cheap, and have tons in my sewing room already, I don’t want any more free fabric for the time being. But if any fabric companies are willing to pay hard currency to blog about their fabric, please let me know!
Be Careful About Agreeing To Do Blog Giveaways
The first time I was asked to sponsor a giveaway I was really flattered. A dress company named after a fruit asked me to give away a dress on my blog. I wrote a post with lots of photos from their site, gushing about their dresses, included lots of links to them, and then announced the giveaway to my readers. In return I got zilch. No free dress, no payment in return for the work of creating an attractive blog post, and no links to me from their social media. Now that I look back, I realize how naive I was and I can see how companies are only too eager to take advantage of new bloggers in this way. Four years later, if a company contacted me to host a giveaway I would either charge a fee or do a barter for free clothing or better yet, both.
Pattern tours and book tours can create a conflict of interest between me and my readers.
Then there are the books and Indie patterns I have been asked to review and after reading them or sewing them, I realized that maybe they weren’t that great. Even though I was not given any financial reimbursement, I felt obligated to do give a positive review anyway. How do you review and do a giveaway for a book or pattern you think is badly written or designed? mmmmm ….
It’s awkward and there is a conflict of interest, for sure. Do you sell out your readers to recommend a crappy product because you were flattered to be included on a tour? …. Food for thought.
Bloggers are excited when they get asked to be in blog series’, pattern tours, and book tours. It feels like they are being invited to an exclusive club, and I admit I ‘ve glossed over errors in patterns when I have been on these tours because I didn’t want to cause any waves. My own Ojai wrap had a mistake that I would never have even known about, had I not received a helpful and honest but humbling e mail for someone on my tour. No one mentioned the mistake on the tour, but the truth is, they probably should have for their readers sake. But I did fix it in case you want to buy it!
I need to learn to say no more to avoid burn out.
It’s important to know what my limits are. I can’t costume a play, design a craft kit, and have a pattern tour all in one month like I did in May. Just because I get asked, doesn’t mean I should say yes. It has to work with my schedule. I’ve made a decision to sew less, do fewer guest posts, and spend more time with my family. I may never be one of the “Big Blogs” but that’s OK. I’ve learned that having a “Big blog” is a full time job. Something has to give.
Contributing for other blogs also takes a lot of energy and I have to ask myself if it’s worth it? Am I getting new traffic from the blog or did I get some sort of opportunity from it? Because when you contribute, you are basically giving your work away to someone else and helping to grow someone else’s blog. So it should be worthwhile.
Tutorials bring in lots of traffic but are lots of work to write!
It’s easy to overdo it with tutorials. Tutorials are the main traffic source for this blog, but I think having too many can be a little much. People want to get to know the person behind the blog, too. At least, I do. All work and no play makes Justine a dull girl!
The more I learn about sewing, the more I love it.
I never get bored because there is always something new to be learned and a new sewing technique to master. There are new fashions I want to create and endless inspiration on the internet. There are always better ways to make things, and more couture sewing tips to try. And better sewing machines to buy! Like the Bernina 560 I just bought.
I can see myself doing this when I am an old lady someday. I’ll be making dresses for my grand kids and probably entering slightly out of date, but quaint hand made fashions to the county fair. One never knows. Maybe I will wear loose flowing caftans to hide my wobbly parts, but I will never shop at Chico’s, because I will make clothes for myself instead.
Having a blog has made me very disciplined and improved my sewing like nothing else.
I sewed a lot in design school over twenty years ago. But when I worked in the industry I didn’t sew at all. Then I quit and stayed home and only sewed for myself occasionally. I made things for the kids once in awhile. But I was a really sloppy sewist. Since I have started my blog in 2010 I have probably made an average of one to two articles of clothing a week. That’s a lot of sewing and it has helped me to get really good, if I do say so myself. Practice makes perfect!
Getting comments is a huge motivation to sew .
Yes it’s true. I will blog for comments. I need say no more.
I don’t want to make and sell patterns to sell.
After creating my Ojai Wrap I realized that I actually find making and creating sewing patterns for sale tedious work. I’m not very detail oriented, and while I love creating designs, the attention to detail required to create patterns and write instructions to sew them that beginners will understand is just not my cup of tea. Each time I go through one of my patterns I find a stupid mistake that I can’t believe slipped past me. Production pattern making was my least favorite thing in design school. I like to create something once and move on. I love to drape, not make flat patterns. I’m messy and disorganized!
Spending months working on the same design and wondering why it looks good on some people and awful on others sounds tiring and pattern designers earn every penny they charge. There is no such thing as a pattern that fits everyone and looks good on everyone so the pressure is intense. Designing for a size 4 model is easy compared to that. In the fashion industry, they don’t really care whether or not something looks good on a size 16.It sucks, but it’s true.
I know people are making a lot of money selling patterns, and now I can respect what they do more and realize that they work hard to earn that money. Because while I love making my own patterns, all the work involved in grading and digitizing and promoting those pattern is well…. lots of work !
If I could find someone to do the dirty work for me it would be perfect. I could design the sample pattern and they could do the rest.