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What’s Up With All These Sewing Community Sites?

August 24, 2012
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Warning: This is a long post with no pictures or links, so if you don’t care about sewing websites (or even if you do) feel free to skip over this!

I have yet to find a sewing community site that really appeals to me. I started out on BurdaStyle, that’s how I got into the interent sewing-sphere, and I thought it was awesome back then. Free patterns, good contests, totally open source. But things changed over time and it’s not open source anymore, barely any patterns are free (and member created patterns are hit or miss), and their contests are screwed up (always read the fine print. I’ve got some personal grips with them that I’ll tell you if your interested, but they’re nothing really bad).

Lately there seems to be lots of new sites popping up. Craftsy, the Sew Weekly, Colette Pattern’s Forum, Your Style Rocks, Kollabora, sew-whats-new.com, Threadbias, Stitchtalk, Sew and Share, and we can’t forget about Pattern Review; That’s just a few that I knew of and that came up when I searched “sewing community” on google. And I’m sure there’s more. Maybe one of these is perfect for you and you stick to only the one, like the perfect shoe, or do you surf and post in multiple?

What it says to me is that none of them have gotten it right. They all have something that works. Pattern Review has the biggest database, BurdaStyle is trendy and connects to the German pattern company(I’ve recently found that the newest incarnation of Russia Burdastyle is pretty awesome, if only I was fluent in Russian! Google translate and Pedro only help so much), Kollabora has a current site layout, and Your Style Rocks has free patterns. But none of them do it all, or if they try to it just doesn’t work.

Personally I’ve given up nearly all. I post on Pattern Review because the members have been the most supportive in comments (though PR has plenty of issues too). I quit posting on BurdaStyle awhile ago because it felt like the members cared more about crappy DIY and constantly designing your own stuff instead of just plain old good sewing (and I really wish all the differen Burdastyle language sites were connected). The administrators made a half-assed attempt at making it the official Burda pattern magazine English site… but they’re missing all of the stuff I’m interested in, and I’m pretty sure I’m in their target demographic. They sell the patterns digitally but they don’t keep a good archive like the German or Russian versions and they don’t show previews, both of which are what I like about Burda. It’s like they didn’t want to really be the English Burda site so did the bare minimum, like they were forced into it.

The best community I’ve found is just the network of sewing blogs, they’re fun, inviting and even collaborate on projects together. I don’t comment on everyone’s blog I read (it’s hard!), but I enjoy them all. I appreciate every comment I get, and try to return the favor, because this is supposed to be fun. I wish I lived in a more populated area because I get jealous that all those big city sewers get to have so much fun meeting up! I don’t really care how many people I “convert” to sewing or how many followers I have, I just like talking about sewing and no one in real life wants to listen to me that much haha!

Sorry this was such a long post, but how do you guys feel about community sites? Do you have a favorite, or one that you hate?

~Molly

(By the way, this post was prompted by an email from Craftsy titled “Are you just not that into us?” How needy/passive aggressive can you sound? The email wasn’t that bad, but still, why do you care if I’m not posting? I bought a class from you is all, I don’t care about the rest of your site.)

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2012 7:38 am

    I’m feeling the same way about most of th sites as you do. I use Pattern Review the most- becasue as you said, the people are supportive and I love the files.I love being able to easilly see what others have done with a pattern that I like. I’ve played around on the others, but have navigational issues on most. I think the little casual circle of bloggy folk that I have met have been so cool and helpful and funny that I rely on that more than anything.
    I too wish I had the chance to do meet-ups!

  2. August 24, 2012 9:14 am

    Burdastyle is the only other one I use. I have inactive accounts on a few others. Burdastyle doesn’t seem to be the same since all the staff mysteriously left! I agree that sewing blogs are the best.

  3. Whitney permalink
    August 24, 2012 9:47 am

    Have you tried Artisan Square? URL is http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php
    It has a more positive atmosphere than patternreview though for sheer volume of pattern reviews PR is more helpful. I dislike the layout of the PR forums so rarely read them. With several good forum software packages out there I don’t know why some sites still insist on growing their own.

  4. August 24, 2012 10:19 am

    I loved PR when I first discovered it back in 2007 but the internet has moved on and PR has stayed the same. I find it a bit old-fashioned and clunky to use now, although I still read (and occasionally contribute) some reviews. I have never managed to navigate my way around Burdastyle so that’s never been high on my radar either. I totally agree that sewing blogs seem to be the best source for information at the moment. Oh, and Craftsy drives me nuts because they keep sending me emails telling me about the “new” courses they have on offer – that I’ve already signed up for using the email address they are writing to!

    • August 30, 2012 3:42 pm

      Yes- same here… And there’s a certain snarkiness about blogs and blogging found on PR which is somewhat off putting… It strikes me that those who are most active on PR are the ones who don’t, won’t or can’t blog..

      Craftsy are pests, too.. Definitely.

      It seems like all of the community sites are trying very hard, but no one’s quite getting it. And that’s ok I suppose. I rely most on blogs and social media channels… But to each her own. :)

  5. August 24, 2012 10:19 am

    hahaha I wanna hug you right now. Yea most of the sites are sub-optimal to the purpose they claim to serve but they are businesses selling a product. I agree with you on all the issues (my main reason for not being on patternreview.com is that it’s so ugly-and it’s a fully paid, ad supported site which in my opinion is unacceptable-you do not make money off ‘creatives’ with a shitty looking site. That is plain lazy and or cheap and just not on). Don’t get me started on Craftsy-all these sites are out to make a quick buck while the ‘maker revolution’ is on and the sad part is, most of ‘em are targeted towards the kind of ‘makers’ that aren’t clued in enough to look up free tutorials and youtube videos for all this stuff online. I use burdastyle and am trying out kollabora (the latter is just maker targeted advertising disguised as community as far as I can currently tell and have heard great things about burdastyle ru.. But yea, overall, blogs are best XD

  6. August 24, 2012 11:13 am

    This really struck a chord with me. I only use Pattern Review these days, although I’ve dabbled with BurdaStyle and My Sewing Circle in the past. What I use PR for is the huge review database, the gallery, and for finding links to interesting blogs. I’m less interested in forums, competitions, courses, and acquiring new patterns (it’s not like I need any additional ways to increase the sewing queue :-) If only they would update the site design I think I wouldn’t look any further afield again. I could have sworn I read something about a new site design coming soon but that was ages ago. Anyone else remember that, or did I dream it?

  7. August 24, 2012 12:47 pm

    You are not alone. I still put up with PR, and its ancient site design, although I have been very tempted to flounce several times in response to their moderation policies, among other things, because there is a critical mass of people doing ‘real’ sewing there (bad terminology but hopefully you know what I mean) and the actual pattern reviews are useful. Blogs are great but less interactive. BurdaStyle ticked me right off in the way that they dealt with the patterns going from free to not free, and the forums there are hard to use and the members tend to be very young and as you say, interested in slapdash-ness mostly (I appreciate the slapdash on occasion, but the well-executed too). I have not tried several of the new communities mainly because of time constraints, but also because I’ve been burned by changing policies before, and I’m not sure I have the heart to go through that again.

  8. August 24, 2012 2:28 pm

    I think you’re right – there is no ONE source that is good for everything. I use PR for the reviews, and their huge database, as well as the fact that the community is pretty positive and helpful overall, but the website is AWFUL.. like truly, truly hideous!!! I like Craftsy; their site is clean and modern, and easy to navigate, and love the fact that classes purchased come with instructor support and are always available. I receive BurdaStyle email updates but rarely actually visit their site.

    But for interaction, I rely solely on blogs… I love reading other people’s experiences and I always try to comment whenever I can, and vise-versa; I love sharing my own experiences and appreciate and respond to every comment I receive. More than anything I am really motivated and inspired by the sheer number of other sewists out there, and the fact that despite our different walks of life that we can bond together on this common ground. It’s truly quite amazing!

  9. August 24, 2012 2:52 pm

    Blogs are the best, I agree. I have slowly stopped posting on Burdastyle, though not completely. I like to check in every once in a while to see what’s going on. But I don’t feel the need to catch everything that’s posted there anymore. I like PR in small doses, too. I feel you. None of these sites are totally perfect.

  10. August 24, 2012 3:08 pm

    I, too, started out with Burdastyle. That’s when I figured out people could sew “real” clothes, not just the sort of thing I learned in home ec class. But it kind of fell off my radar, mainly for the same reasons you mention. I like PR – the reviews are very helpful, so I try to contribute my own reviews, too. But blogs take the cake for the interaction they offer. I really like flickr sewing groups, too – they’re low effort. Upload photos and look at photos!

  11. August 24, 2012 3:32 pm

    I totally agree with a lot of the things you said in this post! I still use Pattern Review because the information people put there is really valuable, but I don’t spend as much time reading random reviews as I used to – I mostly use it to look up patterns I want to make now. If something looks really fabulous I will read the review though. As far as the website goes, I have a problem with the fact that you have to be a paying member to have features like favorites, because it would be so useful to be able to go back and look up really helpful reviews easily. The rest of the site is really clunky, so I don’t usually spend any time in the forums, and, while I would like to participate in contests, I didn’t even realize until recently that they post the year’s contest plans in the forums and that I could plan ahead a bit more.

    As far as BurdaStyle goes – I like some of the features (you can favorite things, you can be friends with other members, etc.), but I think their user gallery is awful. Honestly, it never made sense to me why BurdaStyle didn’t highlight or organize the Burda projects better? It would make more sense to have the projects be searchable in some way, to have a “Burda Pattern” gallery, a “User Drafted Pattern” Gallery for those designs created by members, and an “Other” gallery for all the people who want to post craft projects. I feel like the English website could do much better in terms of selling their magazines, or envelope patterns too! It took me several months of reading sewing blogs to figure out what Burda was, and how to get it. Not a great business strategy. Also, I feel like the featured member projects should be focused on Burda-drafted or member-drafted projects. If you are Burda, why would you want to help Vogue sell more patterns? Just sayin’… I use BurdaStyle to post my Burda projects only, but I don’t post everything I make there. I also work a lot harder to write a good Pattern Review, but on BurdaStyle I mostly just post pictures because I figure any additional information won’t be appreciated there.

    I haven’t really tried out too many of the other sewing communities – either they seem like a huge time commitment (sew something every week? Hardly.), or they seem based around buying something or sewing on another person’s schedule. I find I like sewing blogs much better – I have found a lot of like-minded sewing people that I would consider friends even though I have never met them in real life. People tend to be more encouraging and helpful when there are discussions in the comments, and there are more than enough talented sewing bloggers to spread inspiration and creativity around the internets, without need of a specific community to get us all motivated.

    (BTW, just found your blog through your Pattern Review post on your red sweater-top – so I guess I use Pattern Review to find new blogs to read too?)

  12. August 24, 2012 9:20 pm

    Wow so are you a mind reader or what? For ages I posted solely to BurdaStyle, way back before the current website design, back when there was an actual community and the staff seemed to actually care but now…don’t even get me started, I could talk non-stop for two days and still not get everything off my chest! Deep breath. I do like PR simply for the number of reviews for each pattern but their website design is so ancient and painful to navigate it gives me a headache just thinking about it! I agree with you that I get much more out of interacting with my circle of blogs that I follow. I’m not sewing right now but I have been thinking about when I next post a project, do I just stuck to my blog or do I multiple post to several sites and drive the hits back to my blog instead? I don’t know…

  13. Miriana permalink
    August 25, 2012 9:22 am

    if only ravelry would branch out.

  14. August 26, 2012 3:47 pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly! Blogs are the best, for sure. Btw, I found your blog through pattern review.

  15. August 28, 2012 2:17 am

    You are so right! I use PR for the same reasons as others have mentioned, but of course agree on their desperate need of a make-over! I love @miriana´s suggestion on Ravelry branching out. That would be so neat!

  16. September 5, 2012 1:17 am

    I have found a number of great blogs through PR though seldom go there other than for the pattern reviews really. I don’t bother with the other sites either for the same reasons as you and the other comments above. I am a blog reader through and through and my few excellent sewing books of course.

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