Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Can't Stand It!



The internet is a great big arena.  Pinterest is loaded with all sorts of crafty, artistic people of all levels. But anyone can touch a keyboard and claim to be an expert on anything.  But let's not propagate crap, OK?

First, I am the first to say I am not the expert on sewing. I have never claimed that. If I were I wouldn't be learning something new nearly every time I sit at the machine. But being at it for over fifty years can give you a vantage point, you know what I mean? And from this perspective I am seeing some horrible information out there.

I have seen people do major treatises on sewing, all the Basic, 101 style tutes. I love that and most are excellent.  At least as long as the tute is done by someone who didn't start sewing last week and who knows from lots of experience what they are talking about. Our young new sewists, and there are more by the day, are learning how to "sew shoddy" because info is being put forth in a hip, young way with hip, young colorful blogs and sites. Talk about salesmanship! If it looks cool, it must be right, right? Uh, not always.

And the poor followers, oy,,,,How long do you think it will take for them to realize that their outfit doesn't look that good and why?  It's what I call Walmart sewing. Is that what today's newer sewists are aspiring to?  Is this a different attitude, a generational thing, an all around sloppiness, any or all of the aforementioned? I know this is the age of instant gratification but does that mean we teach and make instant junk? Yeah, I know I'm old school, but please feel free to enlighten me if I am not getting something here.

And how did someone(s) feel that they had enough knowledge to teach potentially the world through the internet  when clearly they can't master the most basic of skills? Again, I have seen mucho misinformation on very very popular sites and blogs with over a thousand followers in some cases. Is it all about having a blog or is it about  passing along quality information? I do think it's the former, not the latter.It's one thing to say, "this is my way of doing it which works for me but may not for you". If the results are great, more power to you. But to just put out misinformation and clearly shoddy instruction is another.

FWIW, I love some of the blogs I have seen of eager beginning sewists. You follow their journey and see their hard work and effort. You watch them stumble and then learn to do it the right way that's needed. Some of their efforts are just amazing and they are to be commended. I really like reading those blogs.

In sewing there are many ways of doing things and many are correct for the same task. I don't argue with any of that. But please, please, don't pass yourself off as someone who can teach skills to others when you don't have them yourself. Learn to press seams open. Acknowledge that your garments could look better If the seams are lined up. Go shop and try on and look inside and take pics with your phone of quality garments at higher end stores. Don't think because it is for a child it needn't be properly made or look that good. Please do this before you decide you can teach. Stop me now. My BP is rising. I have just seen some unbelievable baloney  being put forth as tutorials from more than one who claims to sew.

This vent is put forth with the best of intentions. I want people to love to sew. I want sewists to be proud to wear their garments anywhere. I want newbies to access quality information, like on sites like Pattern Review or any number of fabulous blogs published by true experts who generously share quality experienced knowledge. I want newer sewists to take classes from pros, the likes of which are available at reasonable prices on Craftsty or PR. I want sewists to just plain SUCCEED, step by step by step, skill by skill. Many the fabulous sewist who is totally self taught but it takes study, and practice, practice, practice.  I want newbies to love to sew and be proud to wear and have others wear their efforts. I detest that bad, self proclaimed experts are taking them for a ride.Please tell me I am not alone in what I see here.Well, already some of you have and thanks for confirming I am not delusional. Off the soapbox and bless all the many, many sewists who work hard at their passion and seek great knowledge. Seek out quality sources and be open to learning from those who know what they are talking about, no matter how the information is presented. You will be glad you did and will develop a lifelong love of the art........Bunny

140 comments:

  1. You hit the nail on the head! There are people wanting to make a name for themselves, write books, make a video without the experience of those such as ClaireShaeffer, Susan Khaljhe, KennethKing, SandraBetzina, and on and on. Young people fall for it and the sad part is-they don't know any different!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so right!!! I have sewn for over 40yrs and I'm still looking to improve. I'm self taught so I go to books like those of Susan Khaljhe. Thank you for your blog. I know you know what you are talking about.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, this is true, and it annoys me, but marketing skills are valid too. How can someone making their first tailored jacket write a tutorial or worse, a book!? They have chutzpah, if not sewing skills, and the market rewards this sort of thing. I think they are at best over impressed with themselves, or at worst fraudulent and taking advantage of consumers if they are selling something, but there are no sewing police. Someone who really wants to sew will keep looking after these techniques fail, and fortunately there is a lot of good information on the internet as well as all the rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I dunno.

    When I was a young sewist, I was fearless and would try just about anything. Then I became paralyzed with perfection years later. I say, let them have a good time and develop a love of sewing without necessarily having to learn the "right" way. Different people learn in different ways, and their goals may be different as well. Plenty of room for all of it even if it doesn't meet couture standards. Perhaps with some success under their belts, they'll gain a desire to be more ambitious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I was also fearless when I was younger. I thought I could sew anything and... sometimes... I could. Now that I am older, I have more patience and am more cautious and am starting to seek out and learn the actual techniques. It was that young, impulsive, I-can-make-anything spirit, however, that engendered my love of sewing.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  5. Yes, I certainly know what you mean. I've seen tutorials by people who claim to know what they are doing that are not only poorly written but just plain bad. It takes an incredible amount of study and work to be really good, if not expert, at any given subject, and sewing is no exception. I've been sewing on and off for well over 30 years and still can screw up the most basic techniques, which is why I love good sewing books by reputable sewists. Still, it's really helpful to be able to look up a tute online but you really have to know enough to distinguish good technique from bad. I do try to document my mistakes, after all, that's valuable knowledge to pass on to new sewists. Learn from my mistakes! Thanks for your rant, I completely agree with it. I don't spend much time at all on Pinterest as I don't have enough time to do all of my sewing, embroidery, blogging, etc., etc., etc.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Can you give me an idea of where I can find good directions to make a ladybug tutu for my grandchild?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elliesue, I can't say that I really know what a lady bug tutu is. You may want to try the site www.everythingsewing.net. There are some very experienced sewists there who specialize in children's clothing. You will see some great examples of children's sewing to aspire to, very inspirational. They are not all heirloom and it is a welcome place for beginners as well.

      Delete
    2. A ladybug tutu is just a red tutu really with big black dots. I've seen many videos on-line showing how to make a tutu and they are very different. I'll check out this website. Thank you so much.

      Delete
  7. I've seen a lot of comments like this lately on FB and on random blogs that I respect. There must be a lot of this going on but I'm either oblivious or just too busy to read these bad tutorials. I wish I would see them because I think they would amuse me. I totally agree with your analysis though!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm with NancyDaQ here. I am a very new and inexperienced sewer - with a blog (doh!) and I love to see the blogs of experienced sewers like you. The quality of your work and the absolutely gorgeous garments and home wares you produce is absolutely awe inspiring. I love to look at them and drool and hope that in many years’ time I can reproduce similar quality. But I am not fooling myself. It is going to take a long time and lots of practice. If I had to do everything correctly and learn the long way - I might as well just give up now. Results is what drives us to continue and if someone can teach me a short cut (where perhaps it is not perfect or "properly done"), I would be happy as long as it works for me. While there is something to be said for learning best first, there is also something to be said about learning quick, producing results that you are happy with and perfecting once you are comfortable with sewing, your machine, your pressure feet, techniques etc. I mainly blog to have a journal of my experiences and - let's face it - it is always great to hear nice comments. I also share what I have learnt. It may not be right - but it is my experience. I don't put myself over as an expert - but have shown my FBA and other processes and I love to see how others do it too. And then I come over to see how it should be done by looking at the blogs of experts. Appreciate your thoughts though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you BeaJay! I am an extremely new sew-er also with an extremely new blog. And while my work may not meet up to the standards of some it is perfectly fine with me! And I do actually have a tutorial on my blog about how *I* made a certain skirt... Not how a skirt SHOULD be made but how *I* made it. ;)

      Delete
    2. Beajay, yours is the type of blog I love to see and I applaud your efforts and will watch you. Let me know when I can help. I think it is great that you and Stacy are blogging your sewing journey. I am sure you inspire many and encourage you to continue.

      The difference here is someone of your skills making tutorials that show sloppy work as the end goal and method. Enough has been dumbed down since the beginning of the milennium from books to politics to manners. PDFs are also sold of tutorials and patterns. I can only imagine. We are talking money here. I would hate to see you or anyone else pay for shabby information and patterns but I guess they do. The sites that do this seem to have more ads, FWIW, than most blogs out there as well, just an observation. Don't let anyone dip into your pocket without giving you a positive return on your investment.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Bunny, I see the difference now - I would certainly never charge or offer print outs or educational instruction - and I also make it clear that I am still struggling to find technique. I am just enjoying the journey. Thank you for your kind offer of assistance - your blog - and others like it - are a real inspiration to me as a beginner. I have looked high and low for a local teacher and hope still to find one. Until then I rely on the internet to teach me and the sewing community seems to be very generous with their knowledge and experience. Without this I would be totally lost. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Delete
  9. Sing it, sister!! There are definitely some good tutorials out there, but there are ones that make me wonder whether the author actually has a sewing library or not. (And yes there are a lot on Pinterest).

    On my blog, I definitely talk about the tools/techniques that helped me with a project and I try to be good about linking to tutorials that I found useful and how I used them. But I'm very selective. And after sewing for five years and taking on increasingly challenging projects, I still don't think that I should be writing tutorials myself at this point. Maybe in 20 years or so... but at this point, I'm still a learner and am just happy to be able to (usually) tell what is or is not a good technique. I guess the moral of the story is "buyer beware" even if it's free.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've been sewing for about 5 years now, and I finally have some sense about where to go to get good information. I love all the free information out there, but your right, some of it is actually counterproductive! That said, I am sure that the people posting mean well, even if they are causing distraction in their wake!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I share your thoughts Bunny - it is fine for anybody to write tutorials and sell patterns, as long as you indicate your level of experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should elaborate on this as I wrote it in a bit of a rush this morning! I actually don't think people should sell patterns unless they are an experienced patternmaker, but I have no problem with people offering them for free as long as they disclose that they are not a professional. Likewise with tutorials - I actually quite like seeing things from a beginner's perspective and think anyone should be free to share what they did online - as long as they don't claim to be an expert when they are not!

      Delete
  12. Well said, Bunny, and I have been thinking the same thing lately. However, there are some new Sewists who have achieved a lot in a very short time. I was unhappy with the quality of my shirts, and after lots of research on the Internet and in reputable books, I found the most helpful tutorial on Peter Lappin's blog. I notice that he hasn't cashed in on his popularity, which appears to be a common feature of the blogs I find most helpful. Like yours! It's interesting to me that everyone who has commented ahead of me is a blogger I admire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. That's lovely, Mae. I am a fan of Peter's blog, too, and he is quite accomplished. I agree.

      Delete
    3. I like Peter's blog, too. One thing that I respect about his work is that he never does tutorials that are out of his depth. For instance, he does not offer tailoring instruction.

      Delete
  13. I completely agree. I see the same thing in my local swing dance community as well. Someone who's never danced before, can't find the beat or stay on it to save their life and can only remember 2/3 of the basic will come in, take one 4 week beginner course and decide that they can now teach all of their friends (as well as other new dancers in the scene) how to do not only the basic, but also all kinds of "fancy" moves. The worst part is, some of these "walmart dancers" are even being invited to teach the beginners classes. Then we have to listen to people (including those who decided it was a good idea to let the newbies teach) whine about how the quality of dancer in our scene has taken a huge nose-dive. Slow and steady (and practice, practice, practice!) wins the race kids, not cockiness.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hear hear! I make historical clothing and we have double the problem. There are people claiming to sew correctly and authentically and they do neither. The best tutorials are when the seamstress can explain where she deviated and why (preferably with documentation).

    ReplyDelete
  15. Please do not stop speaking out against mediocrity, in sewing or anything! It is the bane of our society and with social networking inaneness it is rampant.

    The quality of your work, your tutorials, and your comments are what pull me to your site every day. Thank you.

    And if anyone wants a few comments on the current quality of literature, horsemanship, farming, or beef - just let me know! 8-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Can I rant in the opposite direction? Just because you are a profession sewer doesn't make you a good writer. As a professional writer with a background in writing how-to instructions, I am constantly cringing at unclear, wordy sentence structure! Many of these sites (professionals and amateurs alike) just don't explain things very well. This is not directed at you personally, but every writer (including me) can use a good edit. Less is more! Case in point, I just took out two sentences before I published this!! LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe Bunny's post is directed at the content of the tutorials, not the writing. As a freelance librarian, I share your concern with poorly edited works.

      I agree that "every writer...can use a good edit"; what is a "profession sewer"?

      Delete
  17. Well said Bunny! The quality of your work speaks for itself! Thank you for sharing all that you do with us and being so wonderfully approachable.

    ReplyDelete
  18. These days, if you have a distinctive look and are a good writer, you can teach sewing. I occasionally have to look away from some of the more popular blogs because I just cringe at some of the techniques that are flat-out wrong. I cry for all of that lovely hair canvas being wasted because people are sewing it into the seams of their tailored jackets.

    If you are going to teach shoddy techniques, STAY AWAY FROM THE HAIR CANVAS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeeze - I don't even know what hair canvas is - but now I am sure to stay away - scary stuff - and whose hair is it anyway?

      Delete
    2. OOOhhh. I learned this lesson the HARD way. Not good.

      Delete
  19. Oh, yes, this is so true! But why are there sewists out there like this? I think it's because there are hardly any sewing classes offered in school. I graduated in '81 and we had one short sewing section. It might have lasted two weeks. The teacher was a wonderful seamstress, but she came down with a stress-related illness and had laryngitis, missed school for most of those two weeks! I never had an opportunity to learn to sew from an experienced sewist, so I've struggled along teaching myself from TV, books, etc., for years. My daughters learned to sew a pillow in their Home Sciences class - that was it.

    Many beginning sewing classes (Jo Ann's, Hancock's) concentrate on operating a sewing machine and the advanced classes only go to sewing home dec. Very few places teach "real" sewing, much less proper fitting. There are lots of great teachers out there, but not everyone can afford access to them. Then along came Project Runway and now everyone thinks they are designers and they jump into sewing without any idea of where to start.

    I'm so thankful for the internet, because now I have access to other people who love to sew and show how things are supposed to be done. It's still not quite as good as having your grandma rip out everything you did and show you how to fix it, but it's pretty darn good. I took a class from Susan Khalje (sp?) on Craftsy and it was phenomenal. I learned so much and gained so much confidence.

    I've tried to get a local tech college to offer real sewing classes/fitting classes (not quilting and not home dec), but so far, no dice. There's one lady in my area that teaches, but I'm so afraid to pay for the class and then find out that the classes are bogus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just to let you know I tried to teach sewing at Joann's years ago, but the corporate designers wanted us to teach impossible beginner projects. In 6 hours they were expected to walk out with a completed blouse or jacket from scratch. As beginners,.they knew nothing about fabric choices, pattern sizes, fitting, and poor results were blamed on the instructor. Corporate thought that for $60.00 anyone could learn to sew. Who notices if there are sewing dropouts?

      Delete
    2. Just to let you know I tried to teach sewing at Joann's years ago, but the corporate designers wanted us to teach impossible beginner projects. In 6 hours they were expected to walk out with a completed blouse or jacket from scratch. As beginners,.they knew nothing about fabric choices, pattern sizes, fitting, and poor results were blamed on the instructor. Corporate thought that for $60.00 anyone could learn to sew. Who notices if there are sewing dropouts?

      Delete
    3. Just wanted to chime in and agree. I would LOVE to take a sewing class, but the only ones offered around here are for quilters. Until I find one -- or a good tutor -- I'm stuck with books and the Internet. Sigh.

      Delete
  20. Amen, very well said. I was once a beginner whose 2nd pattern was a Vogue Calvin Klein! While I knew my garment wasnt going to be perfect, I knew what good sewing was supposed to look like and I practiced and practiced for years learning new things as I went along. I had been sewing for over 20 years when I taught my very first class and worried that I didn't yet know enough! Teaching brings with it a lot of responsibility - how can you teach when you don't even know what you don't know?

    I think everyone should dive in with wild abandon and enjoy the journey but lets leave teaching to the more experienced.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh Bunny, thanks for saying what I have been thinking! I was very excited to sign up for two online classes, one with a well-known authority and one with an newcomer to the scene. I was dismayed, shortly after paying the fee, that the newcomer's pattern was fraught with errors and was poorly drafted. The well-known authority chose to use a commercial pattern and showed how to muslin it for fit....Since reading about the pattern failures for the newcomer's class, I have not even begun to view the online material. What's the point if where you are starting from is flawed? Not exactly the way to teach....now I have been sewing for over 40 years, and signed up for these classes as a personal challenge, thinking that I could use an infusion of different ideas in my sewing technique. I found that sticking with the tried and true worked better for me.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I also agree with everything you said. You say it so eloquently. My natural style is more blunt and non diplomatic so I don't comment when I see incorrect or poor advice given with great authority on new sewist blogs, or pictures of the proud sewist in a garment with puckered seams, and wandering topstitching. I wish there was some way to reward their interest and enthusiasm, but gently let them know there are better techniques and higher level of workmanship they could work towards.

    ReplyDelete
  23. kbenco hit an important point. There are 3 arts involved in a good tutorial: sewing skills, teaching/training skills and marketing. The problem is that all three are things many people feel they have mastered without really having any objective feedback. As a lifelong sewer and professional trainer I am often appalled by how good some trainers think they are without testing out their material and presentation skills to see if the achieve the desired effect. Explaining and demonstrating technical material accurately in a way that is understandable to an audience of diverse learning styles takes practice and expertise above and beyond explaining what worked for you personally, but the internet allows people to film and post without any filter for quality except personal opinion. The same is true of marketing (hence some pretty awful campaigns) and homemade clothing that is slapdash or poorly made.

    ReplyDelete
  24. kbenco hit an important point. There are 3 arts involved in a good tutorial: sewing skills, teaching/training skills and marketing. The problem is that all three are things many people feel they have mastered without really having any objective feedback. As a lifelong sewer and professional trainer I am often appalled by how good some trainers think they are without testing out their material and presentation skills to see if the achieve the desired effect. Explaining and demonstrating technical material accurately in a way that is understandable to an audience of diverse learning styles takes practice and expertise above and beyond explaining what worked for you personally, but the internet allows people to film and post without any filter for quality except personal opinion. The same is true of marketing (hence some pretty awful campaigns) and homemade clothing that is slapdash or poorly made.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Ok, Bunny, I'm relatively new to sewing, and I want to learn properly. Other than seams that are pressed and aligned, how do I tell the difference?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see how you'd have a problem. Let's say you sign up for that online Craftsy course that is full of glaring errors - how are you to know it's flawed before you buy it? Where is the authority that allows you to see standards? As a librarian who built a web-based directory that evolved into a successful public company, I can tell you that is one of the huge challenges of the internet - lack of authority. Traditionally, well-known experts will rate the usefulness of a reference material. Bunny, there's a business opportunity for you!!

      I wonder why Craftsy isn't fixing that class. It's one thing if the author sheepishly admits to an "oopsie", but are there no editors to correct the videos or the pattern?

      Delete
    2. Great question and thanks for asking it. Start with learning names by going to the library or book store and do a search on sewing. Once you get those names and books start reading and studying. Some may be dated but a notched collar is a notched collar and you will at least see how a quality finish is supposed to look. If some of the books look amateurish, move on. Don't confuse fashion with skill. They are very different and I would suggest concentrating on skill. You can validate your choices by going on to PatternReview.com for further feedback and great classes. There is a very generous group of very experienced sewists there who will help you with anything. Take advantage of that. Stick with the tried and true experts in the beginning, like Kenneth King, Nancy Zieman, Susan Kahlje, Peggy Sagers, Roberta Carr, and Sandra Betzina. There are more but anything by any of these pros will be a great foundation builder.

      Another thing you can do to educate yourself as to what is good construction or not is to take the lead of great bloggers like Erica Bunker or Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. They follow the runways, looking at designer clothing on line. This will give you a better idea of great construction and keep you on trend as well.

      Delete
  26. I saw the most egregious example not on a blog, but in a broadcast email from the Editor in Chief of a sewing magazine. She gave downright WRONG information on how to do a technique. And this is someone who has press credentials! At least most bloggers don't have the backing of a sewing publication. I can guarantee I'd never buy that magazine after seeing that. If the Editor can't get it right I wouldn't trust the content.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh Bunny, How right you are!! The good, the bad, the ugly, of technology.......I say find what is true, and right, and virtuous in all you do. And this includes sewing! As in all great teachers, I prefer face to face and hands on!

    May all be blessed with sewing,or whatever feeds the soul,
    Darby

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have nothing to add other than I fully agree. It's also one reason I do not post tutorials. If I say how I do something, I always reference the book it came from and note that it the way that I learned.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great post Bunny, and the discussion that follows is very enlightening. I see a lot of good stuff on line and applaud new sewists for making the effort. The only way to improve is practice. I certainly would not want to show some of my garments from way back when I was a beginner. I think the lack of good sewing classes is the main reason. If someone is sewing at home but has no "in person" critique or instruction, it can be hard to progress. There is no substitute for having someone really teach you, and I think for a beginner you can learn much more in 1 hour from a really good teacher than you can get from the web. As for books, I try to get my hands on any new sewing book, mostly at the library or in the store I give them a quick peruse. Amazing what gets published. I don't look at Pinterest, now I am curious. Seems like another web thing to suck my time away. Your tutorials are great and super helpful. THanks,

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank you for this post, Bunny. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have run across a few sewing blogs that I had to make a note of not to visit again - they were infuriating.
    I do wonder if one reason some of these young women have such low standards is that they are accustomed to mid-price ready-to-wear? I've seen some depressing things in department stores lately.

    Lana from Illinois

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have thought of that. If all you have seen or worn is low end then I guess that's what you know as fashion. However, in one post I saw some absolutely darling original children's designs. I mean really cute and unique. But they were so horribly made. It would behoove someone with such great natural design skills to get all the sewing skills they can under their belt to better market their great designs. They could also get a sample maker to do their ideas justice if they can't sew. It's really missing an opportunity IMO.

      Delete
  31. I think this rant misses an important point. Fundamentally, I agree with you Bunny. I value EXPERTISE in an area. There's a very popular sewing blog that I do not visit, because it is "all flash and no cash" as far as I'm concerned. However, this is one instance where like it or not looks matter. If many of the people with "expertise" are older and sewing styles that are out of the aesthetic of the younger crowd, that creates a disconnect. Many newer/younger sewers are much more motivated by FASHION rather than sewing as craft. Those are not the same thing. I see many beautiful examples of craftsmanship on PR and artisansquare, but would I call half those things contemporary and fashionable enough to appeal to a younger group of sewers? Quite honestly, NO! There are a handful of bloggers in my opinion that sew both contemporary, fashionable, and/or "trendy vintage" quality crafted clothes (like Erica B or MimiG). The rest are throwing together things that appeal to their demographic. While I may take issue with the methods, I'm not going to berate them for sharing the things that they like with other people in their age/size range. The styles that I like to sew, my teen niece turns her nose up on and that's ok. I don't expect her to dress like a "woman of a certain age" any more than I want to sew vintage knockoffs that many young people are drawn to wear.

    Those of you with expertise, why not reach out to these young seamsters? That way they can have the best of both worlds (craftsmanship and style they like) and pass on better information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. An eighteen year old should definitely not be wearing what I do and vice versa! I am talking skills here, not fashion. Didn't we all have a teacher in school that we thought was from another planet? But, dang, that teacher really knew her stuff and in the end you learned and valued her ability.

      Delete
  32. Bunny, you are not alone. I applaud your well articulated appreciation of those new to the craft. Like you, I love reading blogs by beginners, intermediates, advanced and everyone along the spectrum. Enthusiasm is contagious and growth is a beautiful thing. I don't sew nearly as well as you do and thank goodness for blogs like yours where I can always count on seeing new and wonderful examples of skill and talent.

    I do tend to think that things will shake out. I remember following advice, five years ago, from unqualified people. As I learned more, I felt duped and I never forgot who steered me wrong. I never took advice from them again. I did not criticize them online, my motto is to keep my mouth shut if I have nothing nice to say.

    But surely other people will have this experience, too, won't they? This is how things will shake out. People learn, grow and progress and they eventually learn what true quality is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great point, Robin, and really well articulated. Thanks.

      Delete
  33. I've been sewing for most of my life (but only for myself for a few years) and can't imagine myself writing tutorials, unless it's a great one that I learned from a master! I'm very picky about the blogs/instructors I follow and quickly forget the ones that are sub-par. I think and hope that these young sewers will learn quickly and gravitate towards to experts.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This reminds me of something that just happened at church. The girls are all going to camp this summer and the leaders thought it would be awesome for them to all have matching pajama pants. So they gathered everyone at one house with lots of machines and way too many leaders who don't know how to sew or barely know how to sew. There were two of us there with real sewing experience (and we aren't experts by any means). The fabric wasn't ironed, in fact it was still wet. They only had one pattern in one size. Then the girls started sewing without anyone sitting with them one on one. One girl sewed hers up using a satin stitch for the seams. Oh it was a huge mess! So many girls had to unpick their seams and start all over. No one wanted to finish the seams- and it was flannel that would fray. I don't know what they were thinking. If they wanted to have pajama pants made they should have put someone in charge who actually knew what they were doing, instead of just asking 2 more experienced seamstresses to come and help out.
    Basically the blind leading the blind. I've seen some blogs that are probably what you are referencing. I can't stand them. I get the feeling that all they really care about is making money. I prefer blogs without tons of advertising and real information that will teach me something new and improve on the skills I already have.

    ReplyDelete
  35. You beat me to it. I look at some of these so called experts and say the same things you do. How much misinformation is out there that newbies take as gospel and when it doesn't work they think it's their fault and not the fault of the dispenser of so called knowledge? You should hear Kenneth King of the subject of self proclaimed experts! It's not just blogs but these sewers then get book deals on the strength of the number of readers they have which then validates their so called expert status.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I've seen sooooo many bloggers getting book deals,and when you go to the bookstore and see the actual book most of the times the book is no good at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree and that's another post!!!

      Delete
    2. I can't wait!!!! And the worst part is how ridiculously expensive they are.........

      Delete
  37. I do think that a beginner sewer should be up front about their experience but (and it's a big but) just because something has been done the same way for eons does not mean that a faster/more efficient/generally better way to do it doesn't exist. Often the latter will be brought into existence by someone that has new eyes and isn't constrained by the "this is the way it's always done" or "this is the way it should be done" mentality. I've seen this in real life, a lot of times. That person may not be an expert but that does not invalidate their method (if it works of course). Sewing, like any other pursuit is constantly changing, modernising etc. All experts started out as beginners - I hardly think they waited until they were experts to come up with new ideas. I have no problem at all learning from people that have less (or more, obviously) experience than me if I think it will help me achieve my goal.

    There are a lot of techniques that I'm not a fan of in sewing: using sandpaper/bleach/files etc. to distress fabric (my jeans will get that way themselves unless I grow out of them, at which point I'll throw them away); using interfacing just because a pattern says to (I'll decide whether I think it needs it, thanks); putting zippers in knit fabrics; leaving raw edges on wovens; seam binding (I'm clearly not planning on couture workmanship but that's ok, my lifestyle is more of a serger lifestyle anyway); lining a silk/cotton dress with a synthetic etc. Some of these ideas are old, others are new but I've seen each one recommended by an expert at least once. There are also the new methods for clipping (thank you threads insider, I'll be trying that one next time), thoughts on whether to stay stitch or not, how to do this, how to do that. My point is, as in most fields, even experts don't agree with what's right, what's wrong and what is better in some instances. Something is only the best way until a better one comes along.

    At the end of the day it's all about the look you're going for and it's quite rare to see a tutorial that doesn't have an example of a finished product (ok, in all honesty, I just wouldn't bother reading it if it didn't). Do you want to end up with raw edges and puckered seams? Okey dokey, follow the tutorial. (I'll just leave out the fact that I have never made up a Big 4 pattern according to my measurements and have it look the way it does on the envelope, not surprising considering the excessive amounts of ease they put in them - there's a vote against only expert pattern makers being able to sell patterns if ever there was one.)

    Like anything else, you need to filter the information that is available to you - cherry pick what is actually applicable to you - With all of the information available on every conceivable topic it is a daunting task but a necessary skill.

    One thing that I think is a glaring red flag is whenever I read something along the lines of "You must ALWAYS ....." or "You should NEVER ...." - there might be things that I always do or don't do but who's to say that I won't find a work around at some point in time or that it is always going to be applicable to everyone in their particular situation? I have no problem at all learning from people that have less (or more, obviously) experience than me if I think it will help me achieve my goal. Someone does not need to be an expert in their field to come up with an ingenious or useful idea, I really enjoy reading the different processes people come up with - they're not all for me but nor are the expert techniques.

    Wow, I don't think I've ever written a blog post this long, let alone a reply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tigergirl, I totally agree that a new vision is always warranted in any craft or endeavor. That's often why companies hire new employees. Much of what I know came about in the earlier years from not having the constraints of any formal sewing education. It does make you think about a straight line way of handling a challenge! When I painted part of me wanted to get more formal training and the other part said that if I did it might spoil my interpretation of what I am trying to express. I totally get that. And if anyone has a new way doing something I am all eyes as I can always get to do something better. I think most sewists feel that way. But it is about the end results, isn't it?

      We should feel free to try any method to get the results we want but if the results are a notch below some of the worst RTW imaginable, why on earth would I want to use that method? I don't call it a method. I call it a botch job.

      Thanks so much for your comments. We definitely need to filter information, as you wrote. A newbie, who hasn't developed a filter yet, is getting poor information. I am seeing Robin's very good point that it will all filter out and someone who really wants to sew will eventually figure it out. The shabby work will eventually fall to the side and skills will improve. But until that time I don't think someone should profess to be expert enough to teach others if they don't have the skills.

      Delete
  38. Well Bunny you have certainly triggered a lot of comments lol. I agree with you that there is a lot of info out there in cyberland and I guess that people should "know the source" of the information. By this I mean that where I read a blog (like yours) that produces wonderful sewn pieces of work, I would listen to tips/tutorials that are given, because all the garments you produce are stunning, however that cant be said of all tutorials.

    I guess if other sites are offering tutorials, for a fee, and there is no recourse should the information not be correct, then I feel the responsibility does lay with the owner of the site. I haven't signed up for any on-line courses, so don't feel qualified to comment on the standard of the tutorials out there, but I suspect if I did, it would be with a "recognised" professional rather than someone I didn't know at all.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I totally agree with you Bunny. I do sometimes read them but then think, I know there's a better and neater way to do that. I have a bigger gripe with people that sell e-patterns with these same shoddy methods. I purchased a pdf pattern for ruffled butt baby bloomers that had instructions for turning a
    5/8" seam allowance around the very small, very curvy leg openings, then attaching bias tape to form the elastic casing. Having enough experience, I could think of two better ways to do this, but imagine a rank beginner trying to iron that curve!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi Bunny
    Wow, what a discussion. I agree with you totally that there are a lot of people out there who are offering tutorials when maybe they shouldn't. Some are even sponsored by fabric companies who frankly should know better! Then again, there are some very inspiring blogs from new sewers who are sharing with the world their journey and their excitement at discovering new skills. I would not want to lose that kind of blog as it is an inspiration to all of us, no matter how long we've been sewing.

    Maybe the problem is with the word "tutorial". It implies an academic study of a subject. When in reality many web based "tutorials" are more of a step by step "how to". Some are good, some are not so good, but if you are new at sewing and learning on your own, how would you know which was which?

    I have a bit of an issue with the anonymous post above (1:03pm) who suggests that older sewists reachout to youngsters... if only it were that easy! I have no family near me and no children of my own to pass on my needlecraft skills to. The local schools are not interested in helpers unless they are parents or registered guardians of children at their school.

    It isn't just blogs and online stuff though. Magazines - don't get me started on them... I look at some of the items in craft magazines and think "I'd have made that when I was at primary school".

    We have a magazine in England aimed at those selling crafts online (e.g. Etsy or Folksy). Some of the stuff they suggest making for sale I would have been ashamed to take home from school when I was five!

    I've also bought a few books online and been very disappointed with the amateur content. Even with Amazon's look inside options you don't always get a great idea of the book when buying online but when English bookshops don't even have one book on sewing on the shelves there's precious few other options!

    I admit I do sell PDF patterns. Only for dolls clothes at the moment, though I am thinking of making clothes for children too. I take great care to make sure that my patterns are clear and easy to follow, and introduce traditional sewing techniques albeit adapted for small doll clothes.

    I do not put my credentials on my patterns as I didn't feel I had any to speak of! Maybe I should start doing that. Like you I've been sewing now for many years, in my case almost 46 years. I was taught to sew by my mother (who had tailoring training before she married), then by nuns (ecclesiastical embroidery) and also at various evening class courses throughout my life. It all adds up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Genine, I can vouch that your pattens are wonderful and you put lots of care and effort into them. I love how you have them all tested out by reall sewists before even thinking of putting them on the market. Your work is impeccable. I have used your patterns and know.

      I didn't know the good Sisters taught you how to sew as well. We have similar backgrounds.

      Delete
    2. Hi Bunny
      I know you weren't meaning me! I was more thinking of the point about a designer putting their credentials on the patterns they sell. It is a good idea. Even if it's only a paragraph like AS&E used to put under the designer's name.

      Yes, I went to a Catholic secondary school run by Dominican nuns. Those who couldn't sew when they started at the school (age 11!) learned plain sewing. Those of us who could already drive a sewing machine learned the ecclesiastical embroidery. It wasn't much different from crewel embroidery, just silks instead of wool, and the patterns were more religious and less fantastical! I was forced to learn to use a thimble at this school - you weren't allowed to bleed on the church linens!

      Delete
  41. Yes absolutely! Both the Guilds and the Masters of many a trade are going bye-bye. Pride and superior craftsmanship seem to have taken a back seat to the fast, cheap buck. And some of the once decent quality clothiers, like White Stag and Bobbie Brooks have sold out to the likes of Wal-Mart just to stay in the game... and it's not the save the USA game either. And let's don't even get started on the lack of and crap quality fabrics being made in the USA... Thanks for the opportunity to rant with you Bunny.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Bunny - I wonder if this isn't a direct result of our dumbing-down of the quality of workmanship in RTW. The construction that passes for some of the discount clothing sold is really amazing that the garment is intact when it arrives at the store, much less when it's out of the store. People are so accustomed to this sort of workmanship that the idea of better workmanship is just not even known. When I learned to sew, I knew well-made items and the cost involved. This is what I try and teach - not only the techniques, but that what my students are creating are comparable to what you would find in a top boutique or department store like Bergdorf Goodman. When you compare the workmanship, price and quality of these garments, a person's sewing takes on a whole new level of workmanship.

    I wonder if students today would compare their finished products to the workmanship of Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Reem Acra, and many other fine designers, wouldn't have a different perspective about the quality of their sewing and what they would demand. They would most certainly have a better perspective of the time involved in making fine clothing, and therefore be more appreciative of the finer techniques they need to learn.

    I did an interesting comparison of this with one of my student's garments and compared it to a run-of-the-mill selection from Bergdorf's, but the store did not have the color she wanted, the fabric she wanted, the style she wanted (we just did a quick guess at the selection of style), and her outfit would have costs $3,000 if she would have purchased it, but remember it wasn't at all what she wanted. When you put it in this perspective, all of a sudden learning, practicing and using good sewing skills becomes a matter of what students want to learn normally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Claire. You are a recognized expert and leader in the sewing industry and I really appreciate your input on this. I agree with your "dumbing down" analysis. I enjoyed reading your compariason on your blog, Sewing Artistry.

      Delete
  43. I just have to comment...and my writing skills went out the window when I retired. Yes, there are new ways to teach, new things to teach. But the basics still need learning for good looking finished products. I think the younger people are looking for nice looking clothing for less money. If they wanted Walmart, old Navy etc quality they would shop there. So in that end they want a good looking garment and are trusting what they read. Learning it right and being proud of their work will allow them to carry on in continuing to sew is what it is all about, not placing blame on themselves for inadequate Finishing details in clothing or other items and stashing the sewing machine way back in the closet is not the final result we want to see. Bloggers and pattern designers need to be aware of that. Don't turn off this generation in your audience who are thirsty for the vast wealth of info that is out there.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I feel like I shouldn't even dip a toe in this water- my blog is more like 'cautionary tales from a gal with a sewing machine' than a guide to couture sewing, but I agree with you. There are alot of flashy pretty blogs and sites that endorse quickly dashed off techniques that do not give someone lasting skills or results. I gave up trying to help my nieces learn any basics- they just wanted instant gratification- not the work of building something they could be proud of and actually have survive a wash cycle. I stopped following a popular blog recently when the blogger mentioned that she used photo-shop on her pictures. I felt like I couldn't trust her skills- she was 'making things right' with a computer program- not thru work and technique. How many eager newbies are seeing that unknowingly?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I just want to take a moment here to thank everyone for their input. This has been a great convo.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I really appreciate your post and thoughts, and especially all the comments it brought. I have shared so many of these exact same thoughts, but could only admit them to some of my closest friends. Recently, I became so disappointed in many social media venues, and the poor sewing techniques and sometimes false information expressed through them. It caused me to almost cease reading blogs, and even limit updating my own blog. I am glad that I happened by your blog today, and learned that I was not alone in my thinking.
    What I often see are inexperienced, and not necessarily young, seamstresses who are hoping to find the same luck and fast road to success and popularity that a few other bloggers have. I also believe that blogging has become a way for many to connect with others. I am even surprised to realize that some of my closest and most valued friends are those met through blogging and message boards. They may live the farthest from my physically, but reside much closer to my heart. Some bloggers live in rural or less populated areas. Others may live in neighborhoods, such as mine, where no one really knows each other. We are a much more transient society now, in part due to the current economy. My neighbors move in and out so quickly, we hardly even have the opportunity to meet.
    I think some people are simply trying whatever they can during difficult times. Blogging may be one of those ways, and they share whatever they can -- even if it drives some of us slightly crazy! In the meantime, I am grateful for you and others who strive to teach and inspire quality sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I had concluded that some of these tutorials that you complain about are simply 'sewing porn' being made for and consumed by people who will never sew a stitch in their lives. I don't think they actually teach how to do something, so much as sell the daydream that at some point you will live the crafty lifestyle, and do that sort of thing. As such, they sell the idea that you are not the chump who does it the hard way. (I think the buyers buy a surprising amount of actual fabric and patterns, with no concrete plan for using them, too.)

    Some beginners must be getting deceived, of course, and some must cross over from looking to sewing, but with many of these tutorials the level of detail vs. assumed intelligence is mismatched for any normal beginner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the viewpoint you have expressed. I hadn't thought of it all that way but I think you are right about selling the lifestyle. And yes, don't we all buy fabric for projects we may never make? So money can be made. Appreciate your input.

      Delete
    2. That is really interesting, and obvious when I think about it, but this never occurred to me. Kind of like people who watch the food channel but don't do any actual cooking themselves. These sewing tutorials are for people who won't actually try to use the information. It's all clear to me now.

      Delete
  48. I'm thinking of my 19yo sister who loves to buy secondhand clothes and then she modifies them into fashion items - it is so much fun to see :-). Alot of her techniques are quick and dirty but she creates some amazing original looks and I bet that in time she will also improve and grow as a sewist but the most important thing really for her at this stage is to just jump in a make stuff, make mistakes, learn and have fun. She might be led astray by online tutes on occasion, but I think that she would pretty quickly move onwards and upwards. Maybe these tutes are more like peer to peer sharing rather than expert to student teaching? I haven't seen them so I'm not sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peer to peer sharing does not sell PDFs and patterns. While I haven't seen some patterns that trouble me on the sites, I spoke with a friend yesterday who had sent for some. She literally threw them away as unusable. I don't think it is right that inexperience takes advantage of wild enthusiasm monitarily. I am all for wild enthusiasm at any age and your sister's refashions sound like a great way to start. Go, Sistah! I just have issue with someone passing as authority when they clearly aren't and taking her money.

      Delete
  49. I have to commend you for a well written comment on the sad state of affairs that the internet has become in regards to all these self proclaimed seamstresses. I have also seen the shoddy workmanship (including pictures of tragic sewing examples) and cringe at the thought that there are many eager young women with a sincere desire to learn how to sew that are not unable to weed out the horrible tutorials from those that offer excellent techniques. Fast and dirty seems to be acceptable. Thank you for the reminder that just because someone posts a "tutorial" it does not mean that they have any experience or credentials.

    I echo the comments by others that your blog is inspiring and your tutorials, along with the accompanying pictures - step by step, are superb. I have enjoyed every one of them and point many others to your blog regularly. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy. That is quite a compliment from a published pro like yourself.

      Delete
  50. Hi Bunny
    Just wanted to weigh in to tell you how much I appreciate you and your blog. I've been following you for a few years now and I started following you because you give such excellent instruction and inspiration. I have been sewing for over 50 years as well, raised by a Mom who was a designer and professional dressmaker in her youth. I heard,"Rip it out and do it again" so often while growing up, I almost quit sewing all together! Fortunately, I didn't.

    I have noticed all you mention and I, also, am concerned. When I was in middle school, learning to sew was required in 7th grade. It was done away with long after I graduated due to budget cuts. My own daughter never had the opportunity to take sewing (or any Home Ec classes) in school. Nor did she have any interest in learning! She has her degrees in Physics and Philosophy...

    But now that she's in her 30's, she has 'discovered' she likes working with her hands! I have extracted a promise from her that once she makes the leap to a sewing machine, she'll come to me for help and instruction. That day can't come soon enough! LOL!

    All that said, I suspect there are different creative 'personalities'. One has no interest in creating their own & those who want to learn. Of the latter, there are those who want to learn the 'right way' and those who are drawn to 'the fly by the seat of the pants' method. (We all know those who never read the instructions!)

    I think those who are serious about learning the best way to do anything will be drawn to the better teachers in time. You, dear Bunny, are one of those precious teachers. Thank you so much! <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, everyone for the comments regarding my tutes. I never really set out to make a tute. I just make the garment, document it, and share how I did it. I'm glad some of you find them helpful. I am flattered that you find them inspirational. You all inspire me!

      Delete
  51. I agree with the majority of those who see the flaws of inexperienced people (I am not referring to them as "sewists") publishing tutorials and patterns. I think that shoddy results, or not being able to follow poor instructions, would discourage many people from doing more sewing once experiencing such. Any one can publish any thing via the internet.

    I can say this, though, after teaching for many years, mainly in the field of the visual arts, that I have had students come to me, even at the ages of 12 and up, who could not cut correctly with scissors. Just basic motor skills are not being emphasized and without such, attempting to work on projects needing those skills are almost impossible. So, I know that the same applies with sewing as that I also have sewn for many, many years. Now, I am working with my granddaughter, with her first project being yo-yos that will be connected for a throw or such.

    Let me add this, too: Genine's doll clothes patterns are excellent. I have tested some of the patterns for her and my granddaughter loves the style of clothes for her doll. I found her patterns to be clear and the techniques are what one would expect in finishing a quality piece of clothing for a person to wear.

    I also follow Bunny and look at the blogs that she follows as sources. I do the same for other experienced "sewistas."

    ReplyDelete
  52. Oh Bunny, I so agree with what you have said. It is so important to learn the basics and build on them. So many times I see pictures of a project proudly posted and I think sheesh, if only this person would have at least used an iron in the process....what a difference that would have made. For beginning sewers, we should encourage them to look at what is available in the high end shops and set that as a goal.

    I've been sewing for more than 50 years. My mother put a needle and thread in my hand when I was 4 years old, because that was how she learned. I continue to look for and learn new ways of doing things. There is no substitute for practice and experience.

    I really have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on this subject.
    Regards, Rosemary

    ReplyDelete
  53. AMEN! I have read such crap out there it makes me want to run screaming.

    ReplyDelete
  54. As a beginner (and a blogger) it is hard to know where to get the good info too. I stumbled upon Pattern Review when I was making (terrible) Halloween costumes and joined. From there I found you, Bunny!

    I do want to learn "real" sewing, but I also want to have fun and make stuff. Those blogs with their tutorials and PDF patterns, both free or for sale (that may or may not be well made) appeal to the beginner because they are presented with the idea that you don't need to have 30 years of experience to make something. They want you to not be afraid to try, probably because they aren't afraid.

    Without them I would never have looked to my sister and said, "Hey, I'd like a sewing machine." I would never have thought I could do any of it! If you'd said, "This is going to be a tedious process of learning technique after technique, slowly building to making your daughter a dress" I'd have passed. I realize now, of course, that sewing IS technique and do want to learn the tedious stuff, but I never would have started without that "cute-fun-easy!" incentive.

    Personally, I'm not trying to start a career as a seamstress nor do I have any desire for a blogging empire of sponsored posts, PDF downloads, and book deals. I could see why those who do would rub you the wrong way if they lacked the skills you've worked so hard to attain and that you share so freely! But don't discount their ability to inspire people who didn't grow up sewing- that has value as well. I don't want the art of sewing to die in a world where RTW outfits can be purchased for $7 so personally I appreciate the encouragement, even if it isn't always the greatest advice or pattern.

    Maybe more of those who are experienced should put it out there- flashy websites and all- with some patterns and easier, correct instructions? I'd buy a book by Bunny in a heartbeat! :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. Well, i would like to know how one take the term "masters class' and uses it as a relatively new sewer. And charges $550/person for one 7 hour class. And the enrollment is 8. Where are the credentials? Nowhere!!!

    Amazing,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been sitting on my hands for the past several days before posting, but after reading the "Master Class" course descriptions, I am now "over the edge"... One of the leading questions we need to look at is "Where does a person go to learn how to sew?" I was a Family & Consumer Science (Home Ec)teacher for 30 years until it was eliminated 10 years ago. Thus, for many, some of the current resources available to learn about sewing may be the popular internet sites where the product/image/personality is marketed as being a sewing "enthusiast" or "sewist". The term "expert" is perhaps not used, but someone may be led to believe that is the case.

      Many of us had teachers, mothers, 4-H leaders who "taught" and "critiqued" our skills and progress in sewing so that we could become better at what we love to do. Sadly, I cannot think of any place near me today where someone can learn to sew a garment with an instructor. Having said that, if a person's access to sewing instruction only comes from media, then it may be difficult to determine what a reliable sewing "mentor" might be.

      It was interesting to see the studio where the above-mentioned "Master Classes" are being offered. Now there's a niche to be explored! I wonder if they offer franchises??

      Delete
    2. It does seem that Gertie has touched a nerve with her terms and prices. She is addressing this however, so let's give her a chance. She does make the argument that in the internet world of sewing terms are used more loosely. My point exactly with this post.

      Delete
    3. Here's a measure for you on whether someone's tutorials or advice on sewing is worth following: a person knowledgable about a subject should be familiar enough with the language, or jargon, of that subject to be able to use it clearly with both beginners and experts alike. For someone who charges $550.00 for a "master class" to say "in the internet world of sewing terms are used more loosely" sounds like an poor excuse to her students for her lack of knowledge or expertise. Why doesn't she make the effort to use terms correctly and insist that other people, especially her students, do too? She does her students and readers a diservice by allowing them to use inappropriate terms.

      I am a very experienced sew-er (sewed in a factory, sewed for individuals for pay, have a B.S. in apparel design, have written professionally on sewing, and have sewn for 39 years, etc.) and I have experience teaching (classroom assistant, college tutor, personal instructor for hire, and taught for my alma mater and a local community college). As one of the experienced sew-ers who would like to pass on my skills to the newbies, I have to say I am discouraged: most beginning sew-ers don't want to put in the effort to develope their skills. As a tutor in college I got paid whether the tutees showed up or not, but only for the tutorial time, not for travel time or cost, and certainly not for time lost from my own studies or other job. I quit tutoring because most of the time the tutees did not show up and, even in this age of cell phones, usually did not bother to call to say they weren't coming. As an college instructor I found beginner students would take classes clearly identified as intermediate or advanced level (Yes, I would advise them to take the class after gaining more experience.) and by the middle of the term they would be floundering because they weren't following instructions or attending all classes, yet they'd be talking all the time about wanting to sell their garments to or through local boutiques. (I will never forget one beginner student cut a U-shaped hole in the undfinished hem of a full skirt, stitched erratically around the "U", called it a "vent" and wanted me to tell her how much she should ask a local upscale boutique for it. I was appalled, but politicly told her I did not think her style was what they were looking for. [Hey, for all I know their buyer could have loved the uncontructed, one-cleaning-before-the-rag-bag style.]) Another problem, even in adult education, was that students expected me to do the majority of their work. They seemed to have no inclination to try to do things for themselves. Pattern fitting was the worst. Even though it was explained to them that pattern fitting would save them time and money, some still wouldn't even try it and I'm talking about pin-fitting a straight or A-line skirt here. Several students told me they were paying for the class to have me do it for them. I told them I was teaching so that they could have guidance while they did it, I was not there to do it for them.

      I recently started a blog on advanced sewing and patternmaking skills because, while I want to pass on my knowledge to other home sewers, I don't want to waste any more of my time, effort or money on preparing tutorials, handout materials, lectures and classes for people who don't respect my time, effort, money, experience or skills. (And don't get me started on what people have offered me as pay for my skilled sewing! I often say that if I worked with wood instead of fabric, no one would argue with my rates.) With my blog I can contibute to the sewing community at my own pace and according to my own high standards. I am hopeful it will be of use to sew-ers who want to grow and are willing to exert themselves to learn information, skills and techniques that will make their sewing more productive and enjoyable. My blog is at http://sewyousaid.blogspot.com if you are interested.

      Delete
    4. I read Gertie's blog entry on her "master class" last week and went back today (Yes, I wish I'd updated myself before responding, but frankly I think I would have been harder on her above if I had.) to see what she had written in response to comments. I take exception to her defense of her use of the word "master" and her definition of it as "someone who is well known in their area". We have a word for that already in the crafter's lexicon (as she put it), and English: "celebrity". She is a home-sewing celebrity, not a master.

      I have thousands of hours more experience and more education than her and I know enough to know I am not a master sew-er. And I know she is not one either. Frankly, the most experienced/advanced/expert/professional sew-ers I've had the pleasure to know have generally been much more eager to emphasize how much they enjoy learning new things related to sewing (thus emphasizing what they don't know), than they have been to show off their expertise, and some of them are teachers.

      Funny thing is, if Gertie had used the term "expert class", I don't think it would have bothered me as much because a person can become an expert in an area of sewing without having mastered it. I was an expert at leg elastic application after applying a couple thousand leg elastics at the factory, but I did not have the hubris to claim I had mastered all elastic applications, let alone the field of sewing. I think the term "master" has a connotation of comprehensiveness of skills and experience that "expert" lacks. And the term "master" has a specific connotation in our culture when applied to the skill and experience level aquired in crafts, or arts if you will, such as sewing, that have long histories and traditions of training extending from apprenticeship through journeyman and master status. I find it hard to believe that Gertie is ignorant of this history, so I'm holding her to a high standard in her use of language. She knows the implication of her class title is that the class is taught by a master and/or the students will learn mastery of the topic of the subject... In one day, according to her class description. Hmmm... Gertie's going to get more flak from this, and deservedly so, for her lack of thought regarding her choice of words, because words, and their definitions, do matter.

      Gertie's lost my respect for her as a writer and seamstress because of her outrageous class prices (OMG! I paid that price for a term of 15 college credits! My students at one college paid less than a fifth of that for 20 hours of classroom work over ten weeks for a beginner's class on pattern making!)and her cavalier use of the term "master" in relation to herself and her work. I won't be reading her blog any more and I won't be recommending it to anyone.

      Delete
    5. 06/17/12. Just noticed Gertie has taken the post off her blog referring to the Master Class.

      Delete
    6. I know I'm a little late to this discussion but I'm amazed at the price of the 'Master Class'. In addition to weekly classes and other specialty workshops, my sewing teacher offers am intensive class that runs over a two-day weekend. 9.30 - 4.30pm with a class size of 4 for $190. She would be in her 50s and has spent her whole adult life working and teaching in the sewing industry. Despite all her years of experience, she still travels nationally and internationally to attend courses. Her knowledge and skills are mindblowing.

      Delete
    7. You are very lucky to have such a wonderful, experienced instructor, especially one so close by. Good luck on your sewing journey!

      Delete
  56. Bunny, I understand your position, and especially from one who is intimidated by the plethora of sewing experts in the on-line world. There's the other point of view of beginning sewists/sewers/seamstresses (what's the best name for a person who sews?) who feel discouraged and hurt by the non-constructive feedback for the work in which they invest a lot of time.

    I am one those that believe that I still have a lot of techniques learn and master before I feel comfortable "teaching" somebody to sew. Investing the time to learn from highly qualified instructors and from tutorials written by reliable experts is valuable for any person who enjoys sewing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather. If I ever give destructive feedback , please let me know. It will never be my intention.

      If you are looking for some instant, very knowledgeable and constuctive critiques to your work, go to Pattern Review.com. There are highly experienced and expert sewists there who will GENEROUSLY and POSITIVELY critique your work. It is well worth the visit. I think we can all say we have learned valuable information there. With over 200,000 sewists on line at this site you will not lack for great, professional and positive help.

      Delete
  57. Lordy! You have struck a nerve. A much needed strike IMO. I so agree with you and have enjoyed the ensuing conversation. I too have had this very same conversation with friends. It is a real conundrum for me to try and strike a balance with blogging. You want to encourage new sewists to strike out and try while at the same time encourage them to improve their skills. I had the good fortune as a young teen to take Home Ec and my mother who sewed, would help me. In my twenties and thirty's though I was mostly self taught. I shudder when I think of some of my early efforts. Later in my 40's and way beyond..... I try more and more to improve as I go. I still miss the mark, often. If I had one piece of advice to give to novice sewists it would be to learn how to use an iron! Even the worst construction can be improved with an iron. It won't make up for everything but it is a start. Thank you, Bunny for starting this conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Thanks for the discussion Bunny!
    I´ve been sewing for over three years, mainly for my children and know quite well what you´re talking about here. At the beginning I suffered with some of the ill named tutorials but at the end of the day any person who loves sewing will learn to differenciate the good and the bad.
    Flashy images are inspiring but bloggers who photograph the inside of garments are THE BEST.
    I´m learning most of my sewing thanks to blogs with dark photos and bloggers who post a few times a month (not daily!!!!)
    Having said that, I post tutorials in my spanish blog because there´s very little information written in my language but I don´t dare translate them into english!
    Thanls again for this post.
    María

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me encantarÍa leer tu blog. Es un placer tenerte aquÍ en la mÍa y espero que visitarÍas mucho en el futuro. Agradesco su contribución! Que lástima que estuvÍste aprender como decimos aquÍ, en la " manera dura".

      Espero visitar tu blog. Si puedo ayudarte and qualquier manera posible, lo gustarÍa.

      No tengo mucha oportunidad escribir o hablar en español y estuvo este momento para usar mis pobres habilidades. Gracias.

      Delete
  59. I hear you and feel the same.
    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2012/05/in-praise-of-nerds.html

    "They hit the nail right on the head. For years, I've been bothered by the "hip" and "modern" labels used to describe motherhood or traditionally female arts done by young women proclaiming that "this isn't your grandmother's knitting".

    Hip is an assertion of knowing more than the rest--the unhip. "Hip and modern" is a denial of the wisdom and experience of those that came before us. In my experience, motherhood is a journey into uncharted waters, where the outcome is uncertain. To proclaim hipdom--that one knows better than predecessors--is the height of hubris.

    [Note to hipsters: Your grandmother was modern in her time and she was likely too busy paving your way to assert her hipness. Think long and hard before you diss her like that.]

    So let's bury hip-dom and celebrate nerdliness. For example, check out how I clean finish the inside edges of Iris' and my shirts at the top. It's all done with nothing more than a straight stitch--the kind of finish that your grandmother might have used. It works, is durable, and feels much better next to the skin than today's serged seam finishes.

    Or check out how I sewed smooth and even curves for the scalloped neckline on Iris' top*. I want to be a nerd in the sense that I want to educate/convert others to share my skills and enthusiasms."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will! Off to check out your blog!

      Delete
  60. I think the sewing community is one of the nicest online! And therein lies our quandary. No one wants to offend by offering even the kindest of unsolicited critiques (see the discussion I started here: http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php/topic,16181.0.html). So we (experienced sewists) remain mostly silent and the purveyors of poor quality tutorials/blogs/books remain blissfully ignorant.
    Robin sweetly says it will all shake out in the end. True. But at what cost? How many newbies will waste time & money & hate the results without ever knowing what went wrong? They'll find another hobby and go back to making due with purchased garments.
    I noticed it took dozens of comments before a blogger was publicly disagreed with BY NAME, and I take it she wasn't the one that sparked your blog post to start with? Must we all be so reticent?
    No one wants to be the sewing police, for sure, but what if we directly (perhaps privately) addressed the authors with SPECIFIC points for improvement? Positive peer pressure can be powerful.
    I don't want to see our craft sink to the level of the ubiquitous, mass-produced garbage that most don without a second thought. Why not let our love for the art of sewing move us to kindly, but passionately, disseminate expert, quality sewing skills directly to the offenders?
    And herein I conclude with a quote from a darling elderly woman I used to work with, "You do it, honey. I stutter." (To any who actually stutter, this is not a joke at your expense. Just a gentle response from a dear old soul to my impassioned tirades. The most recent of which is now at an end.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't quite understand how the quality of one's blog could be of any importance, but that is neither here nor there. Sewing I do for fun and I made a blog to encourage myself to actually keep going with it. Unsolicited critiques can quickly suck the fun out of the whole thing. Unless you know the blogger in person, you don't know how they will take your well-meaning effort. What you call positive peer pressure might be deeply insulting to someone from a different culture. If someone you don't know takes you to task for something that you put a lot of heart in, you are much more likely to go back to simply purchasing garments. I mean you wouldn't stop a person in the street and tell them that they should really do the hem differently even if that would completely transform their dress.

      If they are selling something then as a customer I feel like you have a right to expect quality, but if it is something they do for free, then c'est la vie, the back button on the computer is very easy to use.

      Delete
    2. Giggles, please re-read the post. I am not talking about the quality of anyone's blog. This post is about people who are not experienced enough to be known as masters of a skill and yet they are putting themselves out there as experts and charging the the unknowing public for tutorials and patterns of poor quality. That is all. I think that you are tracking your sewing adventure with a blog is wonderful and I highly encourage that. I wish you the best on your journey and would love to help you in any way I can. As far as unsolicited critiques, anyone who has a public blog is open to that sort of critique, self included, and a thick skin is sometimes necessary. After all, we are putting ourselves out there to the entire world on the internet. Blogs can easily be made private if that is something that bothers a blogger. One can easily into settings and make a blog private and then won't have to worry about being critiqued.

      I would really like further elucidation on different cultures interpreting peer pressure differently than we do here in the U.S. I would love to be enlightened and also would never want to insult anyone so would really appreciate any help you can give me on this matter.

      Yes, there is a back button. This entire post is about charging for poor below grade knowledge, not free information. I would hate for you to be taken advantage of in that manner. Anything free and on the internet is a sure case of BUYER BEWARE.

      Delete
    3. Giggles,

      What you don't know is that you are coming in on the tail end of an ongoing discussion on a long standing topic of concern to experienced sew-ers: we don't like to see beginners get taken advantage of in any way. We're protective of beginners because we were newbies once ourselves and we know what happened to us and our friends on the way to becoming "experienced".

      It used to be we told each other when a sewing machine dealer sold a newbie (who hadn't even decided if she liked sewing yet) an expensive machine that usually intimidated/frustrated her so much she'd end up putting it in the closet and giving up, but she still had to make the payment every month. Then it was the dealers who didn't offer classes on their machines or charged too much for them. Then it was salesmen who sold newbies (again, people who hadn't decided they liked sewing yet) a serger and!!! a sewing machine. My grandmother told me a fabric store went under because it developed a reputation for shorting people's yardage purchases! Wow!

      Nowadays the big problem is people passing on free bad information, in the guise of helpfulness, that just causes problems and frustration. And sometimes the problem we talk about is middling to good info being passed off as advanced and taught by intermediate level sewers for exorbitant fees.

      In my hometown there is a sewing machine dealership that has been around for over 75 years and I'm pretty sure it is because of their protective attitude towards new sew-ers. They always ask how much experience a person has when they're shopping and they stear newbies to the least expensive machines, usually used trade-ins. I think they used to offer to buy them back if the person decided they didn't like sewing, but I don't know if they do that anymore. Anyway they made a customer for life out of one of my grandmothers (who bought three machines, I know of, there) and everyone of my family members goes there for machine servicing and, on occasion, classes. Frankly I wish I'd bought my machine there, but I wasn't living here when I had the money. I do take my machine there for servicing though.

      I see why it looks like we're picking on the less experienced, but we are really trying to protect and nuture them. We want the less experienced to get good info, at a reasonable price, that will encourage them to go on sewing. See we know that most the problems they run into are not caused by them, but by lack of good info because we were once there ourselves and sometimes were lucky enough to have someone experienced say "Hmmm... I see the difficulty. Here's how I do this and it works every time". (And she showed me and it worked every time for me, too!)

      Delete
    4. Hi Bunny,

      I actually replied to Becksnyc's post rather then your post, because as far as I understood your post it was about people charging for substandard tutes and I totally agree with what you said about it. I was about to post a 'whohoo, it would be really nice if as a newbie one could tell the wheat from the chaff there' reply, when I came across Becksnyc's post and I ended up replying to that one instead, because her's seemed more geared towards substandard sewing in general, but reading it again she probably didn't mean that. My comments should not be taken as a critique to your post, because I do agree with that.

      My personal experience with the Japanese culture has shown me that what I would consider a positive critique was actually considered quite rude, because outside of family you apparently don't do that in Japan. Although I suspect that it is very much dependent on each person. BUT like I said before that all goes out of the window when you are paying for substandard work.

      Chances are that experienced sewists like you probably don't even come across the dregs that are the beginning sewing tutorials. I usually learn better from reading books, but my friend is learning how to sew from youtube and I think that calling some of it wallmart sewing would be charitable. At least she is not paying for it. We would take sewing lessons, but it is very expensive over here, so I personally will muddle along and if I am still doing it in a year I reconsider :-)

      Delete
    5. Thanks so much for your reply. Greatly appreciated.

      Delete
    6. Yes, Giggles, my comment was directed at those who either sell tutorials or use their blogs, not as personal diaries of their progress, but as a means to promote themselves or their products.
      I am very unlikely to directly address anyone except my own students, as it does rather tend to blow up in one's face, no matter what the intentions. Thus, the gentle tongue in cheek conclusion to my original post.
      I'm passionate about sewing quality, but not sure there is ANY solution to quality control in the Internet Age.
      Becks

      Delete
  61. Good post. People will love to sew when they are proud of their garments. They will be proud of their garments when they are well made and they will be well made when the best a available resources
    are utilized....and every resource a available is not necessarily correct.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Oh wow... just read through this post and all the comments, and found all of it really informative, but kind of upsetting. Firstly, I'm really glad I found your blog! Hola!

    Secondly, I am a follower of Gertie's blog and have also taken both her Craftsy courses. I was one of the first to complete the Starlet Suit Jacket and found many of the errors to which the folks above may have been referring. I reported them to Craftsy in list form back in February, and even offered to be a test sew-er if they needed one... they thanked me, but I didn't check within the course to see if changes had been made.

    As for sewing experience, I am something of an in-betweener and I found Gertie's courses to be a huge inspiration for me to get back into sewing after years of not sewing. For both courses, I used her book recommendations found in her blog and absolutely love the Claire Schaeffer book on fabric and the Tailoring book from Threads. They were great supplementary resources for the courses. I followed the books' advice and not the video at some points.

    I think it behooves most novice-type sew-ists like me to have reference books to help with finishing, construction, and specialty techniques when the videos and online tutorials don't cut it. But again, it's really hard to know which books you'll turn to again and again, and which sources of information are really just superficial. Maybe it's a comforting thought for you to have that my friends new to sewing are already making more discriminating choices in their books/learning materials. It comes after sewing a couple of beginner projects and turning to a book/blog/etc for information and getting/not getting information. You eventually realize which books are really helpful, and which are just fluff.

    I'm also glad to know there are a lot of experienced sew-ists willing to share their expertise. I think it would be great to see a round-up of your favorite expert sewing blogs and/or good online sewing tutorial recommendations. What do you say?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Several great ideas here for posts. Thanks so much, Adri. You will see these in the future, not too far off. Again, thanks.

      Delete
  63. I enjoyed reading your post because I have been thinking too that there are an awful lot of tutorials out there that aren't really that great. I am coming back to sewing after about 30 years absence and there is a lot to relearn, so of course now that there is the Internet I am looking for advice and ideas -- luckily I have some foundation of the basics to get through some tutorials that are less than stellar, but I always appreciate a well thought out and documented tutorial/lesson. I look forward to reading more of your posts now that I have found your blog. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Hi, I was wondering which techniques or tutorials are wrong. I just want to make sure I'm doing things correctly. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's the sitch: I don't want to badmouth anyone. If we meet for coffee and have a private convo I would be more than happy to tell you but I will not knowingly put the names of these offenders up on the internet. Just take a cruise on Pinterest and you will find quite a few.

      I really feel some blog posts are necessary for great sewing books ( some awful ones are out there ), great blogs, great tutes, and a discussion of "master" sewists. I hope to tackle all of these in the not to distant future so stay tuned. I want to do this in an effort to help our newer sewists so they will have resources they can count on to be correct in information and inspiration. I want to go about this in a positive way bringing good information to light and not by damaging someone else's rep. The offenders will have their reps blown apart soon enough without my help.

      Delete
    2. Completely understood. I will look forward to your further posts. Hopefully I haven't picked up any bad habits.

      Delete
  65. I thought it was just me!
    I don't have a blog but have been sewing for over 40 years (was taught at a convent grammar school and hated it! But then went on to sew my own clothes and taught myself the rest by following the patterns and working it out over many, many hours)and have been interested over the last five or so years in reading lots of sewing blogs. One in particular, which is quite respected over here in the UK, I have followed, watching this lady literally learn to sew. And while she has an excellent eye for design, it irks that she is now such an "expert" that she sells "designer" clothes for girls and is featured in lots of lifestyle magazines. But when you look closely at the clothes, the actual patterns are very, very basic and the pattern grading/sizing is very odd, not to say ludicrous! It is only her choice of top-end fabrics (linen and Liberty) that make the dresses look so good. If your children are not exactly the same shape as hers and you don't use exactly the same fabrics, then there is no way that you could get anything like the same effect.
    I think that those of us who have more experience and knowledge hesitate to put our stuff out there because we have the knowledge and experience to know of the pitfalls and problems that can arise. Those who don't have the long experience/knowledge just jump in willy-nilly and don't know/care that others may follow their example and end up drowning with them

    ReplyDelete
  66. Thank you so much for writing this long overdue critic

    ReplyDelete
  67. Hello! Do you know if they maκе any plugins to safeguаrd againѕt hаckers?
    I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I'vе worκed hard on.
    Any suggestions?
    Here is my website : www.pikavippis.net

    ReplyDelete
  68. Excеllеnt pieceѕ. Keep posting suсh kind of informаtion on your site.
    Im rеallу imprеsѕеd by your blog.

    Нi there, You have done an eхcellent job.
    I'll definitely digg it and in my opinion suggest to my friends. I'm sure they'll be benefited from this website.
    Feel free to surf my blog : in broker

    ReplyDelete
  69. I'm gone to convey my little brother, that he should also pay a visit this blog on regular basis to get updated from most up-to-date news.
    Here is my web site ... samsung galaxy note 2

    ReplyDelete
  70. Hurrаh, that's what I was searching for, what a material! existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this web page.
    Also visit my page :: loans for bad credit

    ReplyDelete
  71. I blog quite often and I genuinely appreciate your information.

    The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.
    Here is my web page ... http://wiki.mikeodio.com/index.php?title=User:RosalynRos

    ReplyDelete
  72. Howdy would you mind letting me know which hosting company you're utilizing? I've loaded
    your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads
    a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a fair price?
    Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!
    Have a look at my webpage : order business checks

    ReplyDelete
  73. Hi, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your blog in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
    overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other
    then that, very good blog!
    Here is my webpage :: seo company india

    ReplyDelete
  74. This is my first time go to see at here and i am genuinely pleassant to read everthing at single place.
    My webpage: hair beauty products

    ReplyDelete
  75. Woω, awesome blog layout! Hοω long hаve уou
    been blogging for? you made blogging looκ eаsy.
    The oѵerall look of уour site is magnіficent, let alonе
    the сontent!
    my webpage: loans for bad credit

    ReplyDelete
  76. Howdy! This article couldn't be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!
    Feel free to visit my web site : diets that work for women

    ReplyDelete
  77. Definitely consider that that you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be
    at the internet the simplest thing to be
    aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while other folks consider worries
    that they just don't realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as smartly as outlined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

    Also visit my web page ... how to buy a car
    Have a look at my web-site ... how to buy a car,buying a car,buy a car,how to buy a car bad credit,buying a car bad credit,buy a car bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit,buying a car with bad credit,buy a car with bad credit,bad credit car loans,car loans bad credit,auto loans bad credit,bad credit auto loans,buying a car bad credit loans,bad credit loans cars,buying a car and bad credit,how to buy a car on bad credit,buying a car on bad credit,loans for cars with bad credit,auto loans for bad credit,buying a car with bad credit,how to buy a car with bad credit

    ReplyDelete

Engaging commentary: