Saying Farewell: YOUR Memories

The Sewcialists community could never have become what it did without, well, the community! It’s all very well for someone to hold out a microphone and say “I want to amplify your voices” — but if no one steps up to the mic, then there’s just a deafening silence. It’s you, the readers, the “like”-clickers, the commenters, the guest authors, who have stepped up to the mic again and again. You’ve told your stories, asked your questions, celebrated sewing wins and commiserated about sewing fails, and above all you’ve connected. So we couldn’t think about wrapping up Sewcialists without asking for your memories! We set up a survey and you sent in the loveliest responses. There are a LOT of you, so grab a beverage and settle in for a long read.

(Note: we gave respondents the option to be anonymous or to have their comments attributed to them. The following selection of responses are attributed, or not, according to individual wishes.)

Do you remember how you first came across the Sewcialists?

It was heartening to see that some of you have been around since the very earliest days of Sewcialists — there were memories of the old “firehose” (a feed of participating blogs, now defunct), and lots who stumbled on us via Bloglovin’. There were also many who followed Gillian from the Curvy Sewing Collective or from her personal blog. A couple of clear memories shone through:

  • I had just started sewing and stumbled across the blog through the amazing Jasika Nicole when she wrote her powerful piece for Sewcialists.
  • Through @sewover50 — They recommended you. I was reading your “who we are” posts and they helped me dare take contact to you to write a post about my sewing journey through cancer. — @bricolagedk

Have you participated in any of the Sewcialists theme months or challenges?

Lots of you said no, you didn’t have time, but you loved watching others participate. Others said yes, and listed the various things they had taken part in. There was lots of love for All Chests Welcome and All Butts Welcome, in particular.

  • yes. and i forgot which ones. i’ll tell you this, though. no matter what, you always enforced sewing should be fun, sewing should be for yourself, who you are, no matter your skill or size or shape. i have absolutely loved that. thank you.
    • This makes us SO happy to hear!
  • I did not participate, mainly because my photo skills are super elementary so sharing does not meet the minimum criteria for photo quality. I read all the posts, though, and enjoyed all of them.
    • This makes us sad! We deliberately didn’t set out any minimum criteria for photo quality, but we definitely understand the sense of pressure to have beautiful pictures to share. We hope that the challenges and theme months inspired some enjoyable sewing, anyway, whether or not the makes were photographed. It’s the sewing, not the photo, that was the point of the endeavour!
  • “all chests matters”, your theme month on sewing for charities and sewing with chronic illness and your sewinclusive. They all helped me to feel part of a supportive community where there were other people in similar situations to my own. Your challenges and theme months empowered me to dare take my sewing one step further and share with other people@bricolagedk
    • Hooray!
  • I made my favorite pair of trousers (RIP due to thigh rub) during one of the 2019 possibly mini challenges, and it was great to know that sewists around the world were sewing with me.
    • Ack, farewell beloved trousers! But we’re pretty thrilled that they got made in the first place and that the shared experience was so positive.

Is there a specific Sewcialists post, conversation, or other “moment” that stands out in your memory? A skill you’ve learned, or a perspective you have gained? A garment from the community that just blew you away?

This is where the responses got really incredible. So many of you touched on multiple highlights, I can’t begin to cluster these responses thematically; I think it demonstrates that we did accomplish the goal of making our mission infuse all of our content, so that all the content is interconnected.

  • The adjustments need for clothing for to fit properly for transgender folks is something that I had never given any thought to. The various posts have broadened my perspective and I thank the writers for being willing to share their journeys. The information and ideas I got from reading these posts will be useful going forward as I have a transgender grandchild who is working out what clothing represents the person they want to be.
    • We’re glad to have helped provoke some thinking — and we’re delighted that your grandchild has such a thoughtful grandparent in their corner!
  • I have only recently joined IG and even more recently found you…..All Chests Welcome and All Butts Welcome were amazing — the breadth of posts and discussions. I also am so wowed by the breadth of topics and recommended your Accessibility series to someone who sews but is registered as deaf and therefore finds face to face challenging.
    • Again, we hope that your friend finds our content helpful, and we’re glad if the posts have helped make you a more informed ally for them!
  • What stands out is more an overall sense that sewcialists was not afraid to address difficult topics and cater for different bodies. I did really love the series on different “ethnic” fabrics. And also the all chests welcome and all butts welcome. I feel like you guys really shifted my thinking on gender and garment patterns with the chests series.@lint.behaviour
    • So great to hear, thank you!
  • Having discussions unique to my experience sewing and being able to tell everyone about it! I wrote about aphantasia while sewing. This post helped me open up to others about my experience and also listen to how others experience this. — Tanita Wierenga @sewtanita
    • Here’s that post!
  • The name’s play on words gives me a laugh every time. I’ve enjoyed the space this blog fills in the sewing blogosphere — Karey
    • <3 !
  • Interaction with the sewcialists team! The time taken to give thoughtful replies to so many commenters made me feel seen and important and like a valued part of the community. So often I find myself not commenting because I doubt the comment will even be seen unless the post is by someone I personally know, so my circle of virtual sewing friends rarely grows. But I never felt afraid of putting myself out there with the sewcialist team because I could see how kind and consistent they all were in replying to and acknowledging everyone. What blows me away even more is that I know the relationship between replying and valuing comments is not directly correlated, because I sometimes struggle to find the social energy to reply to even a small handful of comments, even when those comments mean the world to me. So over the years I have been so astounded by the commitment and effort the socialist team have put into comment replies and how much a priority the team has made it. And I want to acknowledge how much I notice and appreciate how much you keep this practice up on your personal pages too. So thank you for creating spaces, through engagement and replies, in which I have always felt seen, and feel everyone else is too, regardless of who they are or how big their following is. Sad as I am to see The Sewcialists go, I value each member of the team as part of the sewing community, and know that the sense of welcomeness and inclusion each of you curate exists beyond the Sewcialist blog and account.
    • Okay, this comment basically made us cry. A lot of the work in a site like this is invisible (and as much as we love it, it IS work) so knowing that it’s noticed is very touching!
  • OMG: measuring crotches! Watching White editors call out the racial micro-agressions so the BIPOC folkx did not have to — that was critical to creating safe space; same for fat shaming, gender role rigidity, and class belittling. I loved the happiness on the faces of folkx who did not look like mainstream models when sharing their makes; this told WORLDS about how we can see ourselves as beautiful and do not need to meet societal expectations for beauty. — Melinda Garcia, melinda @
    • Multiple people mentioned this recent post from Karey on crotch gusset measurements!
    • Crotches aside, we know that the core/lead editorial team here (including myself) are pretty darned privileged. We always strive to create safe space — but we know we’re human and we don’t always get it right the first time (or even the second or third)… But the community has been wonderful about offering course corrections when needed, and helping us make the space even safer. And YES, the faces we’ve featured have been diverse in all sorts of ways, but with a common thread of joy in making!
  • I appreciated the peek into the sewing industry/fitting with the Dear Gabby series, and also the “who we are” series.
    • Lots of you specifically mentioned Gabby and her technical wizardry! The Who We Are series is so central to our mission, we’re glad you loved it.
  • I just loved the kind and calm inclusiveness of it all, “here we are as we are”
    • Yay!
  • I have loved the acceptance and celebration of we sew! This isn’t a “you should strive to sew trousers next” sort of place. Rather, it’s a sew what makes your sprit sing! That can be a great dress, that delicious menswear, working with challenging fit issues, and even undies to hold it all together. I have loved the “no rules, just sew and have fun with it.” this has truly been a great ride.
    • Sew what makes your spirit sing! Yesssss! Feeling the need to embroider this on all the things.

Looking to the future, is there a particular sewing community you would like to see develop or gain momentum? This could be something fun (pictures of cats helping with sewing), helpful (left-handed sewists sharing places to buy left-handed tools), or it could be something at the very core of your identity (like #SewQueer or #ChronicallySewn).

Lots of you were very enthusiastic about the cats, so I’m delighted to say that @redleaf.etc has created @imfelinelikesewing just for you, following a suggestions from Gillian. And of course, #SewQueer and #ChronicallySewn are well established! I’m not aware of a left-handed-sewing-tools hashtag or account, but maybe one could or should exist? And please, if you know of communities or hashtags that fit with the responses below, share them in the comments!

  • Fitting. There’s always room for more tips. There is great discussion happening around fat sewists right more in the sewing community. It has opened my eyes to my issues. I’m a petite sewist who identities as fat but I’m still within most pattern ranges. However fitting patterns for my body is really difficult.
    • I think this illustrates just how everyone’s body is different, and every body is at the intersection of multiple identities: fat and petite, or tall and queer and Latinx, chronically ill and Indigenous and post-menopausal and and… Being part of, or at least following, lots of different communities can be really helpful for finding the different tips that will help you sew for your own body.
  • I’d love to see more long form content relating sewing to self expression, fashion and style. This would include fashion history as well as contemporary stuff. Things like the Pattern Vault blog, Carlos Correa’s Instagram notes on the sources for patterns he develops for Vogue, Doctor T Designs’ analysis of patterns.
    • This sounds fascinating!
  • This is a hard one. I’d love to (virtually or IRL) meet more sewists that are in my area and/or similar to me — brown woman in Africa, a mother, working in higher education… But actually what I’ve loved about sewcialists is the exposure to different people, places, experiences and feelings. Maybe something for sewists in underrepresented locations? Especially in Africa — we see so little of African experiences.@lint.behaviour
    • Yes! There is so much vibrant sewing culture around the world, but social media/the blogosphere is still often dominated by cookie-cutter whiteness. And the bits that do get featured are still mostly about the mainstream or traditional sewing in different areas, which ends up functioning like the ethnographic present*, making those traditions seem monolithic and uniform. Again, reality is much more dimensional and intersectional! Identities like “brown woman in Africa” and “a mother” and “working in higher education” run counter to that tendency to generalize and stereotype. We hope that series like Who We Are have helped break up stereotypes by being specific and personal. And we’d love to see lots more stories told!
      • *Nerdy definition time! The “ethnographic present” is the term for descriptions like “This tribe believes that…” or “This people’s economy is based on…” By describing things in the present tense, it lifts them out of historical context and makes it seem that the belief or practice has existed, unchanged, since time immemorial.
  • Cats with sewing! Yes! I would enjoy reading more about how older women manage their sewing for their changing bodies.
    • More cats! And many of the respondents were keen to see more older sewists. We love @Sewover50 and it’s the most active community, but there’s also #sewover60 and #sewover70 — even #sewover80! They’re not gender-specific.
  • Something about using the stash and works in progress (less focus on finished, insta-perfect stuff and buy-buy-buy)
    • Oh, I love this. We had #SewThePrecious but sewing from stash, reworking abandoned WIPs, and mending and altering existing garments are all things we’d love to see more of.
  • I would be most interested in finding people that fit my demographic — roughly my build (short, curvy but athletic, straight-sized), young (20s) and no kids, and have similar style interests. I feel like whenever I find someone on Instagram that seems to fit that mold, they end up getting pregnant and start a new sewing chapter whipping up maternity and baby clothes that I can’t relate to. Or their aesthetic is so aggressively conservative or heteronormative that it isn’t a decent source of inspiration.
    • I’m twice this commenter’s age and not the same shape, but I feel this way too. Finding people who share your body type and your aesthetic and your lifestyle is a challenge!
  • Feminists Who Sew. In my BIPOC Feminist circle, I am the only one who makes their own clothes. It’s like they do not care about fit and comfort and they all wear black “because it’s just easier” and do not care about the impact of their purchases on the environment. Professional women who are feminists ignore the sweatshop conditions of the women who make their garments in order to buy pieces featured in mainstream fashion. You can tell I can easily get on a soapbox about this! I wear COLOR because Native women all around the world love COLOR. Black is colonial. Ignoring the Earth is colonial. Thinking that you are too busy with “important” work to learn the art & craft that sustained our foremothers is colonial. Etc., etc. I sew to honor the craft and skill of my ancestors. I sew because it rests the language part of my brain that I use for my paid work. I sew because I have a short, round, curvy body that does not exist in ready-to-wear and I have a certain way I want to look. I sew because I like fabrics that I rarely see in ready-to-wear anyway. I consider that we could see sewing as liberation from colonial constructs of how people (particularly, but not exclusively women) should present themselves. — Melinda Garcia, melinda @
    • Wow — I regret that Melinda didn’t come forward to write a post for us, because this is such a powerful statement about sewing and identity! Someone give this writer a soapbox, stat!
  • I’d love to see some that highlight the experiences of the many groups that are typically marginalized within the sewing/crafting community. There are plenty of blogs, etc. by and for white, middle class women and very few by comparison that include LGBTQIA, people of color, and/or disabled folks. I’d also love to see and hear more from poor sewists across ethnicity, race, culture.
    • No disagreement here! I think, personally at least, I’ve seen more online presence and community-building amongst LGBTQQIP2SAA++, people of colour, and people with disabilities, than I have from people talking about class and sewing on a limited income/in poverty. I’d love to see more conversation about that.
  • Why just cats? Dogs help sew too! — ACraftyScrivener
    • Okay, I broke down earlier and went into a side note about nerdy definitions… It’s taking absolutely everything I have not to use this comment as an excuse to fill this post with dog pictures, too!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Honestly, when I added this question to the survey, I expected it to be a space where people could call us out and critique where we’ve not quite met our goals. As it turned out, we only had one person comment that they felt there was too much politics in our sewing, and that they felt under-represented here because they are white, cis, and straight-sized. (To that person: thank you for reading in spite of that!)

Aside from that one comment, all the comments were just so affirming and lovely that we are pretty much speechless. So I’ll wrap up this post with your beautiful words:

  • I am grateful to all contributors for broadening my horizon and challenging the way I think. Sewcialist for me became less important as a blog about sewing but more about learning about other communities and ways of being. I think I have become less judgemental, and that was about time too!
  • I feel a tad emotional about saying goodbye to the Sewcialists. It felt like a little haven where I could safely listen, learn, be an ally and develop an understanding of my own identities. I will miss this space!
  • Thank you for the energy and creativity you have poured into this project. I hope you can relax, sew what you want and enjoy being a participant in other sewing communities.
  • Thank you for ALL the hard work you’ve put in over the years. My views and understanding have been broadened in many areas, and the blog has helped me to connect sewing with so many other important areas of life. Plus I have so appreciated the humour and kindness you have brought to every situation. The teams you have put together have been simply amazing. Thank you for bringing a little bit of Canada around the world, and inviting so many perspectives into our sewing spaces.
  • Thank you all. Many of your posts have enriched my life, made me feel seen, caused me to re-examine my perspectives… I have laughed, cried, nodded vigorously SO many times! I have shared several of them with my friends and family. It is so much more than sewing. I truly appreciate what you have all given of yourselves for this group.
  • Well done on challenging my perspectives and giving me some interesting discussion points for dinners with friends over the last few years.
  • If I have one regret it is that I never took up the opportunity when Gillian invited me to write a post about sewing on a small budget/as a student/on a limited income, not because I think I could speak to that better than anyone else, but because I was honored to be asked. And again, I’m so blown away by how much each member of the team does when I couldn’t bring myself to write even one article that I really did want to. And thank you for never judging or harping on my lack of follow through.
  • I want to thank you so much for being such an inclusive and supportive community and giving voice to so many kinds of sewists. Being able to write that article on your blog, empowered me immensly, and made me feel part of something instead of feeling all alone in sewing for a scarred body — @bricolagedk
  • I have only been here a short time and I wish I had been here longer to have followed more of what you have done. So selfishly sad to see you go but at the same time I completely understand that a blog of this quality and calibre comes with a lot of hard work behind it. Thank you so much for the enormous contribution you have made. This type of quality I would happily subscribe to in a Patreon or other format, you know like a quarterly magazine subscription. The sewing community is such a generous, giving and sharing place — I really think this space will be missed but I wonder what inspiration you have given to others!
  • Sorry that you all are done now — I wasn’t done with you

Anne is the nerdy, wordy lead copy-editor and big sister chez Sewcialists. If you’re upset at the lack of dog pictures in this post, you can find her rescue mutt featuring prominently on her Instagram account at @anniebeeknits.