Monday, September 18, 2006

Support Your Local Sewing Enthusiast

This is National Sewing Month. So all us Superfantastic Sewing Enthusiasts should be celebrating our craft, right? And what better place to do that than in the great online communities that have sprung up around sewing in the past few years? Do you hear the irony dripping from my keyboard?

Sewing World, after declining for some time from apparent neglect, was hacked to death about a month ago and, despite hopes that the site owners might revamp it and relaunch it, as has happened in the past, it appears to be left for dead. I’ve decided I’ll leave my bookmark …and the sidebar link…alone until the month is over, and then if it’s still not back I will delete both. But not without a little sigh for the things I learned and the contacts I made there.

But, not to worry, some amazingly fore-sighted ladies took note of the decline of SW and began a new forum, Sticher’s Guild. And last week some troll signed up under a bogus name and proceeded to send nasty links via the personal message system to as many members as possible. Fortunately, this site is well patrolled by moderators and it got caught early on and steps were taken to minimize the damage. Yes, I got an email notification that I had a PM from the troll, but the site owner had been busy and that was all I got…the notification. Since I knew what it was, I deleted it without opening it. Dragonlady had already deleted the PM itself. But it really is sad that a sewing site would be abused like this. Incidentally, another sewing site that I haven’t visited was also hacked that week, according to reports on the SG forum. Also sad.

But probably the saddest of them all is what has happened on the Pattern Review boards. PR has grown from a start-up in November of 2001 to around 70,000 members now…that’s a lot of people. And anytime you get that many people together there are bound to be some with…issues…. There have been growing pains there in the past; I learned early on that it was usually counterproductive to join in a controversial discussion (on any board) and have, by and large, just stayed out of anything that looks like it might involve opinions about things that aren’t directly sewing related….although I will confess there have been several times I had a reply all typed up and then didn’t post it. And was glad…no, I was relieved…later to have stayed out of the fray. Yes, people type some unbelievably nasty things (it happened on Sewing World, too) and yes, some folks (understandably) are hurt by those things. So some of the folks whose posts and expertise I have particularly appreciated have decided to post about their sewing exploits elsewhere. I can’t fault them, by all reports the latest round was Not at All Nice. It started out as a legitimate discussion about finding the appropriate balance between freely sharing information, which everyone wants, and shameless self-promotion, which everyone finds exceedingly annoying. Stitcher’s Guild has been having a similar, albeit more civil (it’s a new site – no past history to drag up—and a smaller site—fewer, um, issue-oriented people), discussion, trying to find the right balance. It’s not an easy task. Unfortunately, what fits one Sewing Enthusaist’s definition of free sharing of information appears to be another Sewing Enthusiast’s definition of shameless self-promotion. And there began the problem. I quit reading the thread after about 2 posts that seemed to be heading towards dissent and I’m glad…I didn’t see what actually happened that caused the rift. But now I am seeing the aftermath and it truly grieves me that some fine…human…Sewing Enthusiasts have decided ‘enough already’ and won’t be back.

PR was my first experience into the world of Sewing Sites. I joined in the spring of ’02 and my first review was number 470 (my latest one…I’ve done 147… was number 15,747), so it has a special place in my cyber heart. And I think it still serves an incredibly useful function…the searchable pattern review collection. No place else has anything like that. If I buy, say, a Simplicity pattern, I can enter that pattern into my Pattern Review catalog and it will automatically link to any reviews for that pattern. How cool is that? Sure, some reviews are really helpful and some are, to use a term I picked up on A Dress A Day, lint, but overall it helps tremendously to be able to read other’s experience with a pattern I want to make. With independent pattern lines it’s indispensable…how else would I know that I should get Hot Patterns Slinky Girl size range? Going by the measurement chart on the HP site, I would’ve ordered Glamour Girl. But after seeing the other reviews for Hot Patterns, I realized I need to get a SG and alter it. Now, some of the more prolific and informative reviewers will not be putting reviews in the searchable data base; they’ll be in blog entries. I don’t blame them…there will be no controversy over ownership of their work, and no one can fault them for any links there-in. It’s much safer, from that standpoint. But it will make it harder for all of us to find the kind of info that a simple PR search yields now. And that makes me sad, for my sake…and I know that, for these folks to have walked away they had to have been hurt deeply, which makes me sad for their sake.

I know most of these ladies stop by here from time to time…I just want to publicly say ‘Thank you for all the knowledge you have so freely shared with me, the inspiration you have provided me and the encouragement you have frequently given me. My sewing ability and confidence level…and my fabric and pattern stashes… would not be where they are today without your influence.’ ;) Hugs to all of you.

And Happy National Sewing Month.


  1. Wow, that was a really thoughtful comment. Thank you. And until you mentioned it, I didn't even recognize the irony of it being National Sewing Month too.

  2. Thanks, Debbie. Sometimes you can't igonre the gorilla in the middle of the room. ;)
    BTW, I've got a bloglines link now...and I get to thank you for that, too! Hopefully it will make my blog browsing a little faster now...and, being on dial-up, every little bit helps!

  3. Very insightful. You echoed many reasons why I don't get involved on discussion boards, I'm glad I didn't at PR.

    I prefer to read great sewing blogs and glean the information from those with experience that way.

  4. Lisa, you express yourself so well. I am not real sure what the issues are at PR, just what I have gleaned through other blogs. I don't go to message board there much. I normally just read the daily digest of reviews.

    I have to say I learned some about blogging from the PR Message Board and found myself to your blog and then started my own.

    I will continue to check out reviews at PR and hope that by reading others blogs learn something along the way. I know Debbie Cook's blog is very informative as are her reviews. I am find helps at many and can comment, like here and get support.