Me Made May 2016: Let’s Chat

By | June 1, 2016

I am so greedy for posts where people share their thoughts on sewing, creativity, and blogging. SunnyGal Studio’s Random Threads are always interesting and Kristy at Lower Your Presser Foot had a great post recently that had me all, “OMG ME TOO!!” And did you see the Me Made May infographic over at Scared Stitchless? Gold! Yet, when it comes to me, I’m like, “Dude, Self, nobody wants to read that shit. Stick to the finished garments!”

But Me Made May and the recent chatter about whether sewing blogging is dying have got me all stirred up. I have to dive (er, insert myself awkwardly) into the conversation!

First, let’s chat about Instagram versus blogging. It’s a thing. I have to admit, even though I’m a short-timer in the world of sewing blogs, it makes me bristle a bit. (I mean, if blogs are dying, how will I ever become internet famous? Who will peel my grapes for me?) The consensus I’ve read from other blog writers reflects my own thoughts: that kind of sucks, but really, I do this for myself. If I never had another reader, I would probably still blog, because it serves as a record and a reflective space for me.

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Also, I think there’s a certain population that is just really comfortable writing and reading, and I suspect that people in that community will continue to find each other, even as some people fade out and new voices show up. And to be real, I don’t think anyone is making a killing in sponsorships. Less than a handful that I suspect, at least. That leaves a bunch of intrinsically motivated people — in other words, people who probably aren’t going anywhere, but will probably be around on both a blog and on Instagram.

The real change seems to be a drop in engagement, in blog comments specifically. I totally get that. I mean, I’m stoked off one or two comments and consider that a rousing success. Is it that we all prefer to click a heart or a like button to show our appreciation? If so, I don’t think that’s a problem. My guess is that folks read blogs and scroll their Insta feeds and check out Snapchat, which means that our time for non-IRL stuff is being split in ways it wasn’t before.

I know I have good intentions about commenting on posts I read, but never get around to it. Seriously, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a post, marked it “unread” so that I would remember to go back and comment because I loved their garment or wanted to contribute to an interesting conversation and then NEVER EVER WENT BACK because dinner/laundry/actual sewing/etc.

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If blogs posts all had simple “like” features like Instagram, I’m guessing they’d be getting a lot of love that way.

TL; DR: Sewing blogging is dead. Long live sewing blogging.

Now, about Me Made May: what a rollercoaster! I’d never participated in the social media aspect before. I did not expect it to be so draining to take a damn selfie and post it every day. About halfway through, I was so over it (as, I’m sure, were nearly all my non-sewing friends). Still, there’s something about posting pics that made me value my garments and see them with fresh eyes. (And some garments I realized that need to move on and out of my closet! #byefelicia)

And checking out the #MMMay16 tag! Dude! So many people out there sewing! I pretty much wasn’t able to stay on top of that hashtag, and it was another area of my life where I started to feel like it was adding stress and eating time in a way I wasn’t totally comfortable with. It was definitely my least productive month in terms of actual sewing in over a year — by far! But how can you not get out there and see what folks are making and support them? I definitely think I’m not cut out to be a super-active Instagrammer, and I’m a bit relieved to find that out.

That said, I really did love seeing how diverse the community is, and found some great new peeps to follow. I also found out that indie patterns rule on Instagram. If you didn’t know otherwise, you would think that Butterick and McCall’s were some obscure, hard-to-find brands based on their representation. That definitely makes me an outlier, since I use Big 4 patterns almost exclusively. I’m waiting for one of the Big 4 to become cool in a Pabst Blue Ribbon kind of way, and then I will get to out-hipster everyone and be like, “I was sewing Simplicity before they were cool.”

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And to wind down, what did I actually learn about my handmade wardrobe by only wearing me-mades for a month? I learned how much I appreciate some of my RTW garments, to be honest! By the second week, I was wishing for my super-comfy stretch jeans and my flannel and my favorite blazer! Basically, I learned the opposite of what I expected: that there isn’t some great virtue in handmade, and that my best bet for having a satisfying wardrobe is by not placing weird, arbitrary rules around things.

It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of sewing: “I’m a craftsman and a creative!” “Everything I made is a custom one-of-a-kind masterpiece!” “I’m not a mindless consumer! I’m practically saving the world!” Okay; all exaggerations. No one actually thinks these things. But there is an ethos that can seep into the whole sewing experience that can make things… unbalanced. Me Made May encouraged me to take things to an extreme in one direction, and it was super useful in seeing whether my life was better, more stylish, more creative, more ANYTHING by going 100% handmade. From my perspective, that answer was a hard no, and now I can relax a little knowing that.

So, having destroyed the goodwill of my limited readership by blathering, I’ll sign off. If you have any thoughts you’d like to add, please share in the comments — I always read and respond. On the other hand, if your dinner needs to get in the oven or you need an extra 90 seconds just to breathe, by all means go for it. I promise I’ll still be around whether you comment or not.

18 thoughts on “Me Made May 2016: Let’s Chat

  1. Rhiannon

    One of the things I like about your blog (which I have been reading for a while now) is that you do see the non-indie brand patterns! I prefer the Big 4 patterns as well, because I like the variation, I don’t have to print them and I just find them easy, so it’s nice to be able to read a blog I can relate to!

    As for commenting, I think you are right. If there was a like button it would be hit often, but actually commenting for me is a pain in the bum because I use a blog reader on my phone to read blogs, but actually have to go to the blog’s website to comment! That means it doesn’t happen often.

    I am glad you plan to keep doing what you’ve been doing and not disappear 😀

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Rhiannon — thank you for the thoughtful comment! I think you’re probably not alone in reading blogs on your phone, and that this is a factor in commenting/engagement levels. I pretty much never comment from my phone. It’s not hard, but it’s just a few too many steps. Also, dude, the thought of printing and taping and tracing a pattern makes me shiver. I don’t even have a printer!

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

      Reply
  2. Lucy

    I enjoy reading your blog and always think of leaving a comment but never get to it… I also participated in Me Made May 2016. I laughed out loud at you being an outlier for your pattern company choices. My first post on Instagram for Me Made May was a Simplicity pattern. After a few days I figured out I was going to be in the minority because I mostly sew the Big 4. Keep sewing and posting, I always enjoy seeing you have created.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Lucy! I have to say, I felt a small bit of kinship to every Instagram Me Made May poster who used an unglamorous Big 4 pattern. It’s not that there’s anything bad about indie patterns and there were a toooooon of cool garments made from them, it’s just the Instagram demographics are so different from the general sewing population that it’s kinda humorous. I’m just over here with you buying my cheap patterns and cutting straight into them.

      Thanks so much for your comment and your thoughts!

      Reply
  3. Frenchfancy

    I don’t use Instagram and I only blog about twice a year, but I do read sewing blogs like yours over breakfast each day. I rarely comment mostly because I’m never sure a stranger wants to hear what I think.

    I started down the indie pattern, 100% homemade route, but have veered of the path somewhat. I didn’t do MMM this year mostly because I can’t stand taking Mirror selfies.

    Keep blogging – there are people out here reading.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Frenchfancy! I totally understand what you mean about not being sure a stranger wants to hear what you think! I think everyone’s happy to hear what you have to say, but sometimes I also worry that I’m inserting myself as a stranger into a pre-existing community when I comment on someone’s blog.

      Good luck to you on your 100% homemade and indie goals! My vote is that it’s not the 100% part that’s important, but the intention and the 60% (or more) that you do achieve that really matters and creates meaningful change in your/our/anyone’s life. Also, mirror selfies had me questioning my will to sew. Not doing something you know you hate = good decision!

      Thank your for taking the time to share your thoughts! I love hearing them. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jenni Wiltz

    I’m totally guilty of the not-leaving-enough-comments thing. Not just here, but everywhere. It’s probably not enough, but just imagine me leaving this comment on every post: “Dude, you are awesome and inspiring. I always want to see what you’re up to. Mostly here on the blog, because Instagram terrifies me. As long as you have fun here, keep posting so I can see all the pretty outfits.” And right there, that’s my chick-lit impersonation of Cormac McCarthy, except if I wrote that book, I would totally use quotation marks.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      You know, maybe we should all assume that a secret group of people is constantly cheering us on, even though we can’t hear it. I secretly and quietly cheer you on every single day in my head. Seriously. Are you reading Cormac McCarthy? Because that would be fun to chat about as well!

      Reply
  5. Dionne

    I mostly sew the Big 4. I’ve recently started to blog, including bad iPhone pics taken in a mirror, to keep a record of what I’m sewing. My husband doesn’t even know I do it. I read sewing blogs, and I never comment. This is a first. Keep blogging. You might think you’re talking to yourself, but you have an audience you don’t even know about.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Dionne — so many things about your comment made me giggle. I love this idea of a secret blog! I actually did the same thing years ago. I had a slightly successful blog that I refused to tell anyone about. (Except one, who I explicitly forbade to read it.) I’m looking forward to following your journey on your blog. (I love the running belt, and it never, ever crossed my mind to find a tutorial and make one!)

      Reply
  6. R Trittel

    Another guilty lurker here! I love your blog, and your great sense of humor. Please keep ’em coming. I always enjoy reading about your ‘makes’!

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      No shame in lurking! Very sincerely, thank you!

      Reply
  7. Lynsey

    I’m guilty too, been dressmaking for 18months and everything I have learnt has been from sewing blogs, I follow a LOT of blogs by email/bloglovin and also use Pinterest which helps when I search a specific pattern, I get to read everyone’s else views/changes and it really helps me to make my own attempts at it or find out what the hell is going wrong! If it wasn’t for blogs I would have given up soon after starting. I’m going to try and comment more 🙂 some blogs you do seem to need to have a specific account to comment too.

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Lynsey — Definitely don’t feel guilty for not commenting. I think anyone who chooses to blog should realign their expectations on commenting, since there are so many more channels of communication than just a few years ago. And yeah, as soon as I see Disqus is required, I’m like, later, no time for that! That said, it was great to hear from you — thank you for your thoughts! Just my opinion, but you being out there, learning to sew, reading, and continuing to make things, is a way of supporting the sewing community, even if you never comment.

      Reply
  8. Amy G

    Your comment about still blogging if you didn’t have readers really resonates with me. I think ultimately 99% of us are blogging primarily for the pleasure of writing and to keep a record of things to refer back to. That said I’m still always disappointed if a post doesn’t get many reads and I’ve given up even thinking about getting comments. I could change my style, content etc to ‘give people what they want’ but if my blog is really for me (and it really is) then I have to remind myself that reads, comments, likes are all a happy bonus.

    It’s months since I last posted but I’ve actually written several posts that are still in draft. Taking pictures to go with the words has become a chain around my blogging ankle so the idea of trying to do MMM on Instagram is one that makes me shudder!

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Amy G — so cool to hear from you. I also think about making changes on my blog (style, type of patterns I sew, better pics, etc) to see if it would increase my visibility, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s enough of a challenge just trying to (like you said) get photos taken and slightly edited and get it all out the door. At the end of the day, the actual sewing/knitting/crocheting/making is the important thing, not any aspirational documentation of it.

      I hope you go back sometime and read through your own archives. It can be a nice reminder of your creative journey, and in that sense, comments and perfect pics are not the most important parts. The writing, and seeing how you’ve grown and learned, is the really rewarding part! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective!

      Reply
  9. Lisa G

    Basically yes to everything you said here! I love blogs for the detail they can provide on patterns and just thoughts in general, but admittedly I’ve been blogging less and less because getting photos is such a chore! Also, writing up a post basically takes me forever, so I’ve let myself let go of the idea of blogging as much as I used to. One of the reasons your blog sparked my interest was the fact that you use Big 4 patterns so much. I had been on an Indie bender for a few years, but lately I’ve been more excited about Big 4 offerings. I still have a handful of favorite Indie designers that I love, but 9 times out of 10, I can’t justify the high cost. Sewing is expensive enough of a hobby!

    Reply
    1. Sara in Stitches Post author

      Hi Lisa! Dude, it takes forever to write a post! You think it’s going to take, like, 20 minutes and it’s really 1-2 hours. And yeah, the cost of indie patterns really does keep me from trying some of them. When people ask if I save money by sewing, it takes a while to stop laughing! Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts here!

      Reply

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