19. Dear Gabby: Ghosted by an Instagram Contest — Help!

Dear Gabby,

How excited was I to win a prize on a sewing challenge? Err… I may have conducted a very energetic happy dance. But those Carlton-esque arm swings soon gave way to some disappointed Uncle Phil head shaking. The sponsors did not contact me for a loooooong time and I was left assuming the worst about the whole competition. I’ve been left to get the prize on my own, and no one is responding! Maybe the problem was me and my expectations. I am just not sure how this whole internet sewing challenge things works. Dear Gabby — help me!

Sincerely, Ghosted in Seattle


Dear Ghosted,

Stephanie Tanner of the American family television show Full House, exclaiming "How rude!", her catchphrase.

There are tons of shady people on the interwebs, and Instagram is no exception. It’s very disappointing for people to run contests or challenges, promise prizes, and not deliver. After all, they’re running on the backs of your images, your followers, your engagement to get attention, followers, and engagement in return. Ugh!

In theory, anyone who is running a contest or challenge will have chatted with their sponsors and have all their prizes lined up ahead of time, so once a winner is announced, goodies are en route (be it physical items, or web codes to redeem!) It shouldn’t be your job to have to chase sponsors for a contest you already did the work for. That tells me that there’s a good chance the sponsors weren’t aware of their participation in the contest, or that someone involved dropped the ball in a big way. Now, I personally don’t participate in Instagram-call-to-actions very often, simply due to time constraints, but the sense of community and fun they build is undeniable. So for someone to violate that trust is especially terrible. It’s a small world, my fellow Sewcialists, and on this, Emily Post and I agree: treat others as you would like to be treated!

That said, since you already posted your photos, used their hashtags, sewed your items, and were presumably announced the winner on their socials, I don’t see why you can’t publicly post something, using their hashtags and tagging them, and ask what happened. A contest isn’t a guarantee that you’ll always be rewarded for your participation, but it’s a pretty crappy thing to be promised a reward for your work, after winning the contest, and then not receive it. I definitely think others should be aware — the people who hosted the contest should have to answer, and either stop hosting challenges if they can’t run them properly, or reform their evil ways!

How about you, dear reader? What has your experience been? Best contest/challenge experience? Worst?

A note: Sometimes in my role as the Sewcialist’s advice columnist, I get questions that aren’t about fit and technique. Since they’re important questions, I want to make room in my column for some of these other issues — and I welcome input from the community about how you’d handle these tricky situations yourself!


How to submit:

Email gabby@starislandxo.com.

Send an explanation of your problem with a short video or set of photos, and your contact information. This can be purely for fit advice, sewing and technique questions, or really, any kind of sewing etiquette! Your submission will be edited into a blog post, so please note that by sending an email, you are granting permission for your video/photos and sewing problem to be shared online. You are helping the community see all-bodied individuals! There is no shame or judgment — the end goal is to help you *make* clothing that feels great and that helps you *feel* the same way while wearing it.

See more here.

xo gabby


Gabby is a technical fashion designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.


Dear Reader: Our goal is to build community and make everyone feel welcome. We support crafting as an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, genders, orientations and sizes. Regarding sewing challenge themes, we ask that you take each challenge as you see it fitting in your life, and express your involvement how you like, at the given time. Our challenges are for the pure enjoyment of participation and the love of community. Extended Mission Page Here.