Update and thoughts

Dear readers,

 

(Warning: this is a long one, so I’m putting some pictures from my Instagram feed to make it less heavy!!)

You may have completely forgotten about my existence and that would only be fair. Since moving back to New York 5 months ago, many many things have happened (some of them include sewing). For some time I didn’t have enough energy to blog, and there will be more on that later. I am grateful to have my energy back now but I haven’t figured out yet a way to take pictures that’s not too daunting.

My dress form stayed in Haiti, and that means all pictures of finished garments would have to be on me… Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I am still alive and sewing. But having a backlog of projects to show on the blog is adding to the paralysis. I do have a camera, a tripod and an apartment that gets decent sunlight (although only between 1 and 3pm). So that means little to no pictures, and really, what’s a sewing blog without pictures??

Are we still reading the sewing blogs in our feeds?

(she asks while typing and hoping that someone will reply…)

In addition, there are been several announcements recently of people quitting on their sewing blogs, sometimes to focus on Instagram, as you can read here and here. It feels like a recurrent discussion by now. Blogland looks like Real Estate sometimes, with cyclical highs and lows. From where I stand it does certainly look like we are hitting a low, but I may be wrong.

I currently have 294 sewing blogs in my Feedly. Granted, they are not all active, but still 294!! I enjoy reading blogs with my morning coffee, but can I really call this reading? It feels more  like skimming through repeated content. So why? I obviously don’t have an answer to that.

On the other hand, some  have also been implementing traditional sewing blog recipes for more than 5 years, and sometimes 10 and they are still going strong!! Through good writing and discipline they keep generating a lot of engagement, and I definitely don’t skim their posts… There are also new and not new gorgeous sewing blogs around that keep inspiring me to run to the sewing machine(s). But to be honest, both options require a lot of work, time and skills that I don’t have!

Enjoying the process

I’m a firm believer in that you should decide what you do based on how much you will “enjoy the process”. If I keep blogging in some form, it’s important for me that I enjoy the process of making it happen and not only the outcome of a pretty and up to date blog. Because let’s be honest, that is never going to happen. So let’s  start with lists, lists are FUN (you’re allowed to disagree) to see if it helps :

Things that I like :

  • Sewing
  • Thinking, Talking, Plotting, Reading, Watching all things about sewing
  • Changing my mind
  • Trying to take pretty pictures to emulate the bloggers I admire (and never succeeding)
  • Process pictures (because I don’t have to be in front of the camera, ha!)
  • Giving my opinion (I like that A LOT and probably too much)
  • Interacting with readers and other bloggers through comments&emails
  • Reading and sharing articles on things that are not sewing related

Things I don’t really like :

  • Getting myself ready to be in front of the camera
  • Taking pictures with a tripod
  • Reading my old posts and realizing my writing makes no sense (ugh)
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Restricting my opinions because I fear to be seen as not nice.

Are we allowed to disagree or to dislike ?

That last point is very important for me. For some reason, I don’t feel comfortable writing what I really think about brands, products and what is going on in the sewing world, because it’s often not going to be nice. Most of you don’t know me in real life, but if you did, you would know that “being nice” is not a very strong concern of mine!! So why here? Of course, there is a difference between expressing your opinion and being mean or disrespectful. The issue is that in order to avoid the latter, I also censor the  former.

This auto censorship is particularly striking to me as I literally have no ambition of having any commercial activity linked to my blog. I have no brand endorsements, nor am I seeking any. I don’t get asked to do reviews or pattern testing. Basically I can do whatever I want. But I don’t. I tried to be active on GOMI for while, but it also ended up boring and repetitive. The same “clique” impression it initially criticized appears to be re-forming there with the same people commenting over and over on the same things. I still read it occasionally but I don’t find the opinions expressed there as refreshing as I used to.

So, is this a space where i can say that I really don’t like what has been released these days in terms of Indie patterns? And then, am I allowed to change your mind later about a particular pattern (yes it happens, often)? Can you make an Indie pattern and find the drafting terrible for a somewhat  basic shape and then write about it? Can I once express excitement over the launch of a new sewing media, only to be disappointed one or two issues later? Can I comment on the fact that sewing podcasts seem to be restricted to the same 5 or 6 people being interviewed on different shows?

What to expect around here…

I read some opinions of people thinking that Instagram is killing blogs. I don’t think it’s completely true yet. For instance I feel self-conscious of posting repetitive content on Instagram. If I make a shirt, I don’t think I will be comfortable posting a picture of the shirt, then a close-up of the collar, another of the placket, a shot of the inside, etc. And yet, I love seeing those pictures on blogs. So I want to keep the blog active for now.

A lot of changes, obviously. I knew 2016 was going to be a year of change, I had just completely underestimated by how much! However, I feel that I have to make them in order to keep this space alive. I was never a long post type of blogger, but I really want to experiment with short-form content and I think there will be different type of posts :

  • I would like to do more process shots as I sew. A sort of a visual diary of a garment in the making  (but not tutorials) and blog them right away without too much commentary. I could follow them up with a wrap up post on that garment which would get written only AFTER it was worn for a day or two! Too often I made something, posted happy pictures, wore it the following day only to discover that there is something wrong with the fit.
  • I would like to share, inspiration, articles, podcasts and other reads that I found interesting. Some will be sewing related, some will not.
  • I want feel able to comment freely and constructively on what I think going on in our little corner of the internet, and hear what you think about it too!!

That’s it for today, I would really really love to hear your thoughts so please jump in the comments about what you think is still relevant content for sewing blogs, and let’s keep talking!!

 

 

 

 

Seamwork

Dear readers,

Apart from pyjamas made from the Madeleine free pattern, I never ever made a Colette pattern. They don’t fit my size, my style or my sewing preferences (too much hand sewing and beginner techniques). However, I do own the book, I’ve been reading the blog since the beginning and got on every email lists for sneak peeks…. To be perfectly honest, I even started a project from the book but I quit at the muslin stage as I got too upset with the pattern. Despite my lack of interest for the patterns themselves, I am impressed at how Sarai’s ideas for the community are always ahead. And she did it again with Seamwork (if you enter your email, you can win 1-year for free and you give me an extra entry, if you don’t want to give me an extra entry click here ;-)).

I strongly believe that sewing is underusing the possibilities of online publishing. An online magazine like Seamwork will be a good first step. Personnally, I cannot wait to see more ebooks/apps that make full use of the different type of interactive media that can be integrated: video, animated illustrations, text, pictures that are zoomable, samples in 3D, in-app comment/feedback… This is something I am passionate about, so I could go on and on. But I want to hear from you! How do you think sewing instructions, patterns, books, etc. could make better use of the available technology?

Slouchy white linen pants and thoughts on the online sewing world.

Dear readers,

Forgive me in advance for the ramblings. To ameliorate it, paragraphs will be separated by pictures from the white linen pants I made 3 months ago. Since then I change the waistband to the same rectangular waistband as my linen shorts.

The pattern is a very modified version of this Japanese book.
The pattern is a very modified version of this Japanese book.

I feel funny. I have pictures of finished garments to show and I don’t write the posts. I even love the said garments but talking about them is not as exciting anymore. The fact that they were all completed between 1 and 3 months ago may have something to do with that… So what to do? The blog is going to be 2 years old very soon. I keep enjoying it but I’m still looking for my “voice” (OMG that sounds so lame), or at least looking for something that sounds like who I am IRL.

Also, I just discovered GOMI… Such a relief to read what my little mean french inner voice has been saying!! Of course, I don’t agree with everything (who could?) but some points really resonated with me. Since sewing became so prominent online, maybe we lost something on the way.

The fabric is a linen blend from Mood NYC, extremely annoying to working (all about shifting and fraying)
The fabric is a linen blend from Mood NYC, extremely annoying to working (all about shifting and fraying)

When I started sewing, I also got internet access. But in 1999, not many sewing resources were available online, especially not in French! Everything was about forums back then and closed groups. I use to be part of one called affinitiz…

Thus to learn, I read books, bought burda magazines, took classes with an old lady and… I failed and failed and failed many projects. At least, there was no one to show them too. Except my critical French mom (hey mom!). Having them all around the blog would be kind of embarassing, with their unraveling seam allowances, blown seams from the absence of ANY wearing ease and their highly impractical sleeves.

However, since that day, I had the feeling that something was missing in the home sewing pattern industry. Something that would allow us to achieve results closer to high-end RTW: the ability to follow trends before they are translated in the mass-market, beautiful finishings, a focus on higher-end materials, etc.

Fast forward to the mid 2000s, this is IT! Burdastyle website has been launched, we are all talking about open source sewing, a website called “Inner French Girl” is around and awesome (do you remember??), fashion-incubator, the first sewing blogs . Such an exciting time!

White linen pants 3
I was very happy with my double welted pockets with flap, i took pictures of my pattern making and sewing process, but I don’t know if they are worth posting..

And now here we are, in 2014, and it’s all about pattern releases, book deals, fabric blogging networks, sewalongs and blog tours. I cannot say that I did not want to be part of it. I love shiny stuff! But I don’t have the time and the skills it takes to jump there. Plus, I miss the time when we were talking about collaborative sewing, when the Selfish Seamstress was throwing patterns at the world and when PR was a mandatory stop before spending 15 EUROS on a Vogue pattern!

Going back to GOMI, and to the pattern testing controversy, I’m not saying that bloggers should stop releasing patterns and getting book deals. As long as people buy them, they should keep on releasing them!! However, I believe that a collaborative approach could help the ones that are just bored with Peter Pan collar tutorials. The new sewing experts are here to teach beginners (and that’s great) or to underline stuff in silk organza (please don’t make me!! I promise I will be a good girl!!).

I don't think it shows in the pictures, but the (very) curved waistband I prepared initially made them slightly uncomfortable. So I ripped it off and put rectangular waistband. When pants sit that low, I think it suits me better.
I don’t think it shows in the pictures, but the (very) curved waistband I prepared initially made them slightly uncomfortable. So I ripped it off and put rectangular waistband. When pants sit that low, I think it suits me better.

So I’m offering an experiment. In the coming weeks, I will throw a free pattern on the blog. It will be a pencil skirt. Initially graded in 3 sizes, on the small spectrum of sizing range, because that’s the one I know. I will take pictures of my construction steps to put them here too. And then let’s all pattern test!! If people wants to tell me that explanations are poor, the pattern needs improvements, they can grade it to bigger sizes, the pdf layout is bad or whatever, let’s have it! And maybe, MAYBE, one pencil skirt at a time, we can work towards patterns fit (haha) our needs better. On the other hand, it is very possible that nobody cares, anyway, let’s at least talk about it!

Photography for sewing bloggers – My plan to improve

Dear readers,

 

First, hello from Panamá! In the middle of my holidays in Guatemala, i’m attending a work training and I will be back in Haiti next week. I used the opportunity of being in Guatemala and Panama to buy some sewing notions (nothing exciting), and I found a beautifully cheap washed cotton but the best part is that I BOUGHT A CAMERA!!

bodylens

I think you all noticed that photography for sewing it is a pretty popular topic these days. It’s something that I mentioned before, photography is one source of embarrassment and an element stopping me from starting a blog before. I knew, I would want to show pretty pictures but the whole things felt very overwhelming. However, after reading the great great posts from Amy and Heather about the mirror less cameras, I finally found the courage to upgrade from taking my pictures with an Iphone. I was always scared of DSLRs and there size makes me think that I will never carry one around, so the Sony Nex 6 felt like a perfect compromise for now. I am slowly working my way through a book (this one if you are interested) and I chose not to purchase a prime lens yet. This will be my reward if I go through the whole book AND put it in practice.

I also started using Lightroom about two month ago but I don’t know if you can already see the difference. My latest Lekala dress, the black Nettie and my linen shorts pictures were all edited in Lightroom. Obviously there is a learning curve, but as described by Heather, it makes the editing much faster. One other thing that I really like, is the LR/Blog preset that I bought. It allows me to automatically export my pictures to my wordpress media library. Totally worth 8 euros!!

I have several items to show. However, the pictures have been taken on my Iphone so do not expect to see changes too soon. I hope that within a month I can welcome you to a new and updated visual universe… (What? Am I being over ambitious here??)

Now I would LOVE to hear about your favorite (beginner-friendly) resources for photography and post-processing! Do you have a favorite book? Blog? Do you use any Lightroom presets? Let’s help each other!

Ramblings on 1 year of blogging. Asking for your opinion!

1. It’s been a year… Phew, I never thought I would make it! This blog is not my first try and all the others failed miserably after a few weeks so YAY ME!

2. After a year it is still very small, growing little by little and I like it. I cannot say that I have found my “voice”, it’s more of an experimentation. I’m not extremely comfortable writing for some reason. Which is weird because I write all day long (reports, notes, minutes and such…) and I read so much about sewing everyday that it could have imprinted (I can never say this without thinking about this creepy part from twilight, yes I read twilight AND saw the movies AND no I’m not 12…) but apparently not. Maybe I’m not dedicating enough time to it, it’s like I’m trying to write the post as fast as possible… Any advice on better writing ?

3. I’m still very uncomfortable in front of the camera. I think it shows (that’s what The Old Man told me when he saw my blog. Doing it by myself with the tripod helps a little, at least there are no witnesses and I can delete dozens of embarrassing pictures!! But my point and shoot camera was already very basic when I bought (in an airport on my way to Zambia) 4 years ago. So now my Iphone takes better pictures. Should I invest in something else or not, the question open for debate…

 

4. I would like to do more informative content (tutorials, uploading patterns, etc.) but I can’t seem to find the time. Also, I’m always wondering about my added value compared to all the amazing stuff already out there. What is missing really? I’m thinking about steps to make your finished results closer to nice RTW, information is available but sometimes hard to assimilate or to adapt to home sewing patterns users. I’m also thinking about how to make them all visual, no text (kind of the makeup/hair ones on pinterest) would it make any sense or am I just being lazy not wanting to write ?

 

5. I’m also reflecting on how to integrate better the blog with my Instagram account, I like Instagram a lot: pictures, no need to talk too much, nice small sewing community… I even toyed the idea of having an instagram only presence… I’ve read with interest this post by House of Pinheiro. I’ve been trying to interact more on other people’s blog, but using feedly to read, it makes it inconvenient to comment. FourSquareWalls also mentioned Instagram as a blogging supplement in her 2nd blogoversary.

 

6. Speaking of FourSquareWalls, her blog has been one of my favorite reads over the last year so I was totally shocked when she mentioned my Lagarfeld for Burda skirt as her inspiration for her Green Army Skirt (although the first commenter said I look weird. Don’t worry commenter, while having my picture taken, I feel super weird so I end up looking the same!). Other highlights have been to have the Ready-for-the-Office Dress and the Open Back Dress featured by Burdastyle.

7. I’m soooo bad at sewalongs… I completed my Thread Theory Jedediah muslin last weekend… Should I keep trying? I think I may want to limit myself to the PR RTW Challenge.

 

8. Finally, blog looks… Not much to say here, It’s extremely basic, sometimes when I visit other bloggers I get a little envious but then I remember that mine is not a business, I have no design skills and I should focus on the content…

 

That’s it! Loooong wordy post for my standards and I’m ready to listen to all your suggestions and advice !!