We just had denim month in February this year, so it’s a bit tough to revisit. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a bit of our behind the scenes process so our readers know how these months come together.
You may have seen one of our call outs for articles or pieces for this site — we do at least one for every theme month and mini call-outs for specific topics where we know the community will have more experience or a different viewpoint than the editors do.
You see, that viewpoint is critical to the Sewcialists — we acknowledge that we are not the most diverse group of people, with our diversity limited by who volunteers to become a guest editor, and the people who volunteer to write articles for us. This is why the call out process is so important, and why we work so closely with our guest bloggers to get their content on our site.
For denim month we had about 12 volunteer authors to start with, from a moderately diverse population. We then did some direct solicitation from BIPOC makers and others whose first language may not be English or who live in countries that are not Canada and the United States.
With our usual volunteer drop off rate of about 30%, that meant we had three posts a week from a population that spanned several countries, many age groups, a wide diversity of languages, and a moderate though not-high-enough number of BIPOC makers. We did have great representation on different body types and projects using denim, which was nice. We worked with our guest editors throughout their writing process to answer technical questions about how to post, and the copy editors work with them to ensure that the language quality meets the standards of the site.
We try to compensate for where we are too female, white, thin, straight, and privileged by highlighting diverse makers in our inspiration and round up posts. You may have noticed that almost all of the inspo patterns come in a minimum 55″ hip size, and I posted fuller figured and/or BIPOC pictures of models when I could find them. We also highlighted patterns for men or gender-neutral patterns. Emilia’s round up post highlighted a wide diversity in makers as well.
Why do I think it’s important to highlight our focus on diversity for my denim month review? Well, I’m sitting here wearing a size 14 $25 pair of jeans from Target and a $20 size XXL hoodie from Old Navy and it is the middle of Me Made May. Jeans are the ultimate in democratized clothing. There is a pair for almost everyone, if you only search hard enough.
I often feel when I peruse Instagram for my sewing mojo inspiration that jeans are the holy grail of sewing. The endless fit questions — the drag lines, the waist to hip ratio, stretch vs non-stretch, s-Gene vs Cone Mills. It makes me feel like an uncool sewist because I don’t want to make jeans, since they’re hard to make and if I fail, I’ll have lost days of sewing time on something that goes in the trash. And it is the ultimate in privilege to think that you can only wear handmade jeans to be cool.
And that’s why I spent a lot of time in denim month focusing on contributions from our Instagram and guest author community on non-jeans things to make with denim. I LOVED what our guests made — a chore jacket, a pinafore, jackets out of scrap pieces. One of our makers was working on a wall hanging from jeans that were in her dad’s closet when he passed away. I mean, come on. How can you not love that?
I have a pair of half made jeans that have been sitting in my WIP pile for four months. I’m not going to finish them. I’m liberating myself from the expectation that I’m going to be a jeans maker and acknowledge that I like making elastic waist pants and flowy shirts. I am hereby committing publicly to being okay with buying my jeans from fast fashion sources, wearing them til they no longer fit or fall apart, and moving on.
Kerry is a moderate level sewist who will defend her fast fashion jeans to the end. She can be found on Instagram @gymnauseous.