Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sew Frosting! and the Evolution of the Sewing Blog World

As a regular reader (I hope), you probably know already that I have been sewing for what seems like  forever. I lost touch with the sewing community for quite a few years when I started working full time in retail in 2005. I used to read some sewing blogs and follow some folks over on the Pattern Review website years ago but that was the extent of it for about 5-7 years at least. I am now fully back and immersed in the sewing world again for a while now. I'm still trying to catch up with the new trends and whats popular out there. A lot of things have changed while I was absent and I thought I might discuss the evolution of my own sewing and the sewing blog world in general.

I recently rediscovered the sewing blog world through Instagram. Instagram does seem to be the place where every fashion or sewing blogger has migrated to in the past few years, myself included. Instagram is a great platform to follow and discover new and older bloggers, however I do miss seeing all the pictures from traditional blogs and reading the long detailed posts. Maybe I'm just a Dinosaur? Who else misses this platform? There is just something lacking and impersonal about Instagram. Anyway, that's another topic for another day.

The biggest change I see in the sewing world is the rise of independent patterns. I have my favourite indie designers like Gertie (One of the bloggers I have followed since she first started sewing) and Sew Over It. I am happy to see how they have evolved their love for sewing into a full fledged career and business over the years. On the flip side of that, I find the sewing world has become much more commercially driven. Every where I look is an ad for either fabric or patterns. Just like in the fashion blogging world, there are influencers now. So even Sewists you follow just to see what they making are always pushing new products. It used to be really subtle but now its everywhere. A thousand voices shouting buy this! buy that! It can be really overwhelming at times to be honest. And they all seem to use indie patterns now. I sometimes feel old and outdated using the big 4 patterns (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, and Simplicity) still or self drafting my own patterns. I'm feeling the pressure to use indie patterns instead even though I have a massive collection of the big 4. If I'm being completely honest, I find most of the indie patterns too simplistic and basic. And besides that, I am just very used to using the big 4. I know them too well by now. So its hard for me to change that mindset even though I would rather support the smaller independent companies instead of the big corporations.

Its really interesting to see how different the sewing community is now compared to years ago. I already have a huge stash of fabrics and patterns to work from so I haven't fallen into the trap of buying all the latest patterns. What I did notice though is how so many of them were not only making the same patterns but also the same fabrics! Why? When there are literally thousands of patterns and combinations to choose from. Why not do your own unique thing? Why follow the herd? This is the main thing that stood out to me after following sewists on IG. I think it comes down to a clever and subversive way of advertising to a niche market. The same way YT fashion influencers make videos on the same brands of clothing. They are supplied the patterns and material to make those garments in exchange for the vlog or blog. As a small business, its a brilliant way to advertise. However, it makes our sewing community a little more boring in the process. Add to that, how popular it is to churn out quick and cheap makes instead of well thought out outfits or wardrobes. I personally am going back to the slow sewing method as well. I just enjoy making bigger projects. they are more satisfying in the long run. Why bother sewing tees or sweatshirts that are so easily purchased when you can make something truly unique and not common in the mainstream stores. Some food for thought...

The next big change I see is that sewing has become a bigger community through Instagram and YT. It wasn't that long ago that there were hardly any sewing vloggers or bloggers out there. And even fewer alternative ones at that. Mari Mortem and Goth It Yourself are the two alternative sewists that stick out to me that have been around for years. And Gertie was the first blogger I can remember doing vintage and pin up style. I still miss her pink hair! Now there are tons of sewists doing vintage and alternative style. It's amazing! I just wish there were more of us Gothic sewists out there. Maybe we need to start a new tag so we can find each other? #gothsewist or #alternativesewist perhaps? There are also unique sewists with their own style that I wouldn't exactly call alternative so to speak but they are different and fun to follow and I love their style none the less. Sewists like Marcy Harriell (Oona Balloona), The Crafty Pinup, and Wanderstitch.

That brings me to the tag #sewfrosting. The term came about when blogger Tasia of Sewaholic said she was sewing too much frosting and not enough cake. In other words she was sewing too many statement garments and not enough basics. Then True Bias Patterns and Closet Case Patterns decided to make the saying into a contest on Instagram. To see how many people would like to make statement pieces instead of basics. I love that idea! Sewing frosting seems to be my go to thing anyway. I don't like to waste my precious sewing time on basics like tees or leggings. Or even if I did make those things they would be different in some way. I would make sparkly or velvet leggings or lace tees! That's just me.

This contest brings up another trend I've seen growing in the sewing community lately. And that is sewing basics or everyday items instead of special occasion. I think part of why this has changed over the years is that fashion itself has changed to rather boring basics. Anytime I dare to look up new fashion trends all I see are the same looks copied over and over. A blond girl wearing boots, jeans, and an oversized sweater in beige. Really? Is that what is considered trendy now? That seems pretty basic to me...I digress. That mainstream fashion trend of basic items has trickled into the sewing world with sewists making the same sweatshirts, tees, leggings, and basic skirts over and over. All beginner level sewing and no frosting! When did sewing become so boring? When I first started sewing clothing in the 80s, it was all about being unique and standing out. No one played it safe. I think one of the first things I made in high school was a full length prom dress in taffeta. So I'm really hoping that this trend of sewing more unique items will catch on and we can give the sweatshirts a break for a while.

My basic sewing is almost always stretch velvet. Its my safe zone and its super easy to work with. I change the patterns up by altering a sleeve or skirt but its still pretty basic to me. When I think of #sewfrosting I think bigger more challenging sewing like an evening dress or perhaps a velvet coat or cape maybe? I don't know, but I feel like I have gotten myself into my own personal rut by sewing so much with stretch velvet. Perhaps I need to make a big Victorian outfit just to do something different for a change. I am going to try and challenge myself a bit more and I don't need a Fashion Show as an excuse to do it.

My final thoughts on this subject are don't get yourself into the mindset of where am I going to wear that? It's completely impractical to make a Victorian ensemble! Maybe it is for some people. I look for events to go to so I can dress up! I don't wait around for the occasion, I do the opposite by making the outfit and then finding an occasion to wear it to. I have a big event this weekend and I don't have to stress or worry because I have several pieces already in my wardrobe that will work. Its just a matter of pulling an outfit together. Some food for thought for my fellow sewists that are struggling with this idea!

I will end this post with some amazing alternative Sewists I have found through Instagram and whom I find inspiration in everyday!

Madame Absinthe
Scary Kerri
Anemia Adams
Mari Mortem
Sew Goth
Insomniacs Attic


  1. I may be half your age, and I do miss alternative and goth bloggers — the community and support that seemed to be around even compared to a few years ago. I miss the long and in-depth analysis of swirling ideas pacing the through the writers head. I like Instagram as a source for inspiration like Pinterest. I feel like you never get the full story of the thinking. Instagram partially fills the hole but never ass much a good blog post. do miss the alternative sewers and their projects, it feels like a like a missing hole

    I need to start sewing blog posts and do a full in-depth review since I sew a lot. I think I'll start there asp.

    In the UK we have a couple of independent designers called Tilly and Buttons, an indie designer, who got big through The Great British Sewing Bee. She's all the rage amongst the younger sewing community but for me too limiting offering little challenge and don't warrant the expense, especially if the big four has a sale.

    Hopefully, 2019 might be the year to rejuvenate the alt' blogging comm

    1. Oh yes! I have the Tilly and the Buttons book. I reall should make a few things from her book! Im looking forward to reading your sewing posts so please do continue. I might have to put together a new list of blogs that are still active so I can keep up with them again.

  2. Such a timely post for me, Mary! I've been noticing that my IG posts are getting longer and longer ... I guess I have more to say than what I can fit into just a couple of lines! Maybe this is my clue to start blogging again - however, I've been threatening to do that for a while now and it still hasn't happened. lol

    I've been giving serious thought to returning to one-of-a-kind sewing as well. I REALLY miss doing the beading, embroidery, smocking and more complicated sewing patterns. And while I know that sort of things seldom ever sells because of of the time involved, I think I'm getting to the age where I just don't care anymore. Maybe I'm just going to make what I really want to and then auction it off and hope to recoup enough to buy more fabric. Realistically all I really need is enough to buy materials for my next project, right? And also not to accumulate any more outfits in my closet that I personally wouldn't wear out here in the forest. Or to the saloon. ;)

    P.S. If you want to get out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend the Artistic Reform Tea Gown by Ravenrook. I made one that I use for Hallowe'en events - like you, I try to find events where I can wear the cool stuff! It was an awesome pattern and really forced me to think about how it all went together. I enjoyed it and learned a lot, and think I'd like to make another one soon!

    1. Yes! I would love to see some more posts on sewing projects. And I will definitely check that pattern. thank you.