Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Which "Online Sewing Communities" Do You Like?

I've been thinking lately about the various sewing communities that exist around the internet. In my opinion, I would label Pattern Review, The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle, and BurdaStyle to be the " big players" in the online sewing community. I would consider group blogs, such as SewRetro, and various flick groups to be sewing groups, not exactly sewing communities.

Personally, I am a member of Pattern Review, BurdaStyle, and The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle, but I must admit that I have yet to post anything on Burdasttyle. So, why choose one over the other, or two and not the third? What makes a sewing community a place that one wants to visit and participate in?

I happen to really like Pattern Review. First, I find that Pattern Review is the best site to find information about a specific pattern, if that pattern has been released in the recent past (i.e. not true vintage). I find that most all of the reviews that I have read are informative and are beneficial to me when I begin my journey into a new pattern. The only downside is that most people, myself included, are only going to post a successful project, leaving the patterns that are total flops to strike another unknowing seamstress. I also like the message board feature on Pattern Review. Whether you have a sewing related question or a moral dilemma, someone there is bound to have an answer or some advice for you. There are a lot of really talented people on Pattern Review, who are generally willing and eager to share their wealth of knowledge with you.

Next, we have The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle, which if you haven't visited, is part of The Sew Weekly. I also happen to like this site, but for entirely different reasons than Pattern Review. I believe the point of the site is to be a "social network" of sorts for those who sew, as you can add people to your "friends" and maintain your own page. I haven't really explored all of the capabilities of the site though and have yet to "friend" anyone. ( Will you be my friend?) I enjoy posting photos of my sewing on the site as people seem to be quite friendly and generous with comments. The downside to this site is that usually the information provided about the pattern is slim to none (sometimes no pattern number is even given), and, unless those who post their work apply a tag to it, there is no way to search through the archives.

Next up we have BurdaStyle, the site that I have yet to post anything on. I do enjoy looking through the projects on BurdaStyle, but I have just never felt compelled to post my own work. Like the Sewing Circle, it lacks a good way to search for meaty information about a pattern. There also seems to be quite a few sewing minimal crafts that pop up in the picture feed from time to time. I have looked at the discussion tab on the site a few times, but it seemed to be a bit confusing to me. I suppose I could simply post pictures of my work on BurdaStyle and link back to my blog, but I am not 100% sure about it yet. I am in no way trying to make BurdaStyle seem like any less of a site than the other two, because that is not true, I simply do not know all the ins and outs of BurdaStyle since I am not a regular user.

I think one other thing to consider when looking at sewing communities is what demographic each sewing site is attempting to cater to. I would say that Pattern Review caters to those who want lots of details about specific patterns, are sewing mainly from modern patterns, and, generally, are probably a bit older than myself.

I think the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle caters to anyone who likes to sew vintage specifically.The Sewing Circle also seems to be designed, unsurprisingly,for those who participate in The Sew Weekly challenges.   I don't think the point of the site, at least in its present form, is to be a gathering place for technical sewing information. There seems to be a wide range of age groups and skill levels that participate in the site.

Lastly, we have Burdastyle, which seems to cater to new seamstresses and a younger age group. This site also serves the purpose of selling downloadable patterns from BurdaStyle. I have downloaded two free patterns from the site but it's not something I enjoy doing. ( For one thing, I don't have a printer, so I have to print them off at school where it costs four and a half cents a page, still a better deal than ink though.) Overall, however, BurdaStyle is still a wonderful place to go to find lovely garments for inspiration.

So, readers, I want to hear from you! Which online sewing communities do you participate in, if any? What qualities and characteristics make you want to be an active part of a sewing community? Will you be my friend on The Sew Weekly? Should I give BurdaStyle another try?

Happy Sewing!

P.S. Have you tried oatmeal cookie chunk ice cream from Ben And Jerry's? If you haven't, you should, and that's an order from the wannabe seamstress herself.


  1. I'm a member of PR but I very rarely go there, if there's a pattern I'm interested in I Google it and PR comes up but I always forget to go there first IYKWIM. I trust the reviews on PR and I've taken them into consideration before now. I'm not a member of Sew Weekly even though I check out Menas blog, I browsed through there a few weeks ago but didn't stay, as you say its geared towards the vintage enthusiast and although I subscribe to lots of blogs that cater for vintage that's not me. I'm also a member of BurdaStyle although like you never posted there. If I had to pick a group to be a member of it would probably be BS (!) as the clothes are more my cup of tea. I've made one or two things from there with some success but some failure although I'm eyeing up a pattern atm. I find the techniques on there a bit hit and miss, some articles are great but some are a bit confusing to my amateur experience.
    TBH I find it too exhausting to be 'part' of a community, I'm much better as a lurker (in the kitchen at parties etc!) and find that by blog hopping and Google I can find loads of ideas and techniques from regular blogs - Gertie being a great example. HTH

  2. I'm a member of all three, but the only one I really use regularly is The Sew Weekly, but that's also b/c I do some of the challenges. BurdaStyle didn't impress me much, but I haven't been a member that long. I do like PR so I can see other finished projects for inspiration, but I don't really use any of the other features.

  3. I've been a member of Burdastyle since I began sewing two years ago. It was the first sewing site I found and was my entryway in to the whole universe of sewing blogs. I really like Burdastyle, although I think it's changed a lot since I became a member. For one, there are waaaaayyyy more members than there used to be and as a result, more projects posted and less feedback. Which is fine- I still really enjoy posting things and also checking out what others are doing. It's definitely more commercial now, since they began incorporating patterns from the magazine. I think Burdastyle has the most variety.

    I like PR but I find the site a little hard to navigate. People are super nice and generous on PR. I check out the Sew Weekly site all the time and enjoy seeing what people are up to there, but I'm not a member.

  4. Wow, great post!I'm a member of Burdastyle and Sew Retro. Similar to liza jane, I post on burdastyle simply b/c it was (and still is, actually) a great source of inspiration for future projects and the first online sewing community I've ever experienced. Their blog post are very on-target with what's going on in the fashion world and their patterns seem to be as well (although I rarely download. Since I have limited time to sew I'm will to pay a few extra bucks for a pattern that's already together). Sew Retro is a wonderful and very welcoming community. Although every pattern I sew isn't vintage, I do love sewing that sort of pattern every once in awhile so it seemed like a good fit.

    I'm not a member of the Pattern Review community, but a always check that site before using a new pattern. Maybe I should check it out. :)

    Speaking of checking things out, that ice cream sounds fantastic!

  5. To show off my work I like Burdastyle because I can post more photos and link to my blog. They also have posted a couple of my articles on their bog whichbwas cool.To read reviews I like pattern review although I dont always post my projects unless it is a big 4 pattern.I have also taken some great online classes at PReview and received fabulous advice when I was stumped by my wedding dress project. The boards are full of really experienced seamstresses. I like to post my vintage projects on sew retro and sadly there isn't site I know of to show off home sewing. I post on Sew Weekly if I do a challenge. I'll be your friend on Sew weekly ! Find me as Justine/ sew country chick. Great article Rebecca.

  6. I'm only a member of PR. To be honest, I'm sort of over the whole "becoming a member" thing. It seems every website wants you to sign up, have a profile, and friend people. It's exhausting.

    As for PR, I only check out reviews and post finished projects. It's a bear to navigate, and each time I go it makes me upset that I spend $30 a year on a site that's stuck in 2001. I realize that sounds a bit mean, but there are so many free sites that have far better layout and navigation that it's odd to charge money for something so lacking. As a disclaimer, I'm a mobile app programmer and most of my job is focused on the "user experience", so I'm maybe a bit more critical :)

  7. Burdastyle is a new site for me among these < Ashamed >
    I mostly contribute to, and I also share my completed projects on and
    Like you say each of these communities have their own pros and cons. I love sewingmamas though just because there seems to be a lot of activity in their forums and all of it is sewing related ( unlike craftster)

  8. I really like PR because all types of sewist are there. I am a member of sew weekly but have yet to post anything because it does seem more vintage oriented. I have not posted anything on birds because I feel like it has to be either a project from a birds pattern or something you drafted yourself.

  9. Thank you all so much for your comments! I love hearing what everybody likes. :]

  10. Very interesting post! I tend to agree with your assessment of things - I am also a younger, newer sewer, and I am a member of PR and BurdaStyle, but I only post to PR. Burda was just so confusing to me, but I signed up to download some free patterns (which I haven't used yet). I really like Burda's idea to have a community surrounding their product line, but I don't think the implementation is quite there yet. It doesn't help that they only have downloadable patterns and don't really promote their envelope patterns or their magazines. I hope they can do something to make the site more organized, especially in terms of finished projects. It would be great to see finished Burda patterns in a searchable way, instead of just scrolling through the project pictures. It would also be nice to separate craft projects from garments, and Burda patterns from other commercial patterns, and self drafted creations from user created downloadable patterns.

    I think I liked PR better because it discussed patterns from lots of different companies, seemed to have a very knowledgable user base, and the patterns were searchable. It was more about sharing information about equipment and patterns than just sharing a finished project picture. It took a while to figure out the site, and I still have to think about what I am trying to do, but much of the information there I find very valuable. People tend to be fairly encouraging and post helpful hints for future projects.

    Sew Weekly just confused me as well. The website wasn't the easiest to figure out when I first found it, but perhaps I just didn't try hard enough? I also have less of an interest in vintage patterns at the moment, and I really don't have time to do weekly challenges, so as a community it is of less interest to me, although the stuff I have seen posted there seems to be very high quality.

    So, overall, I am mostly just involved with PR. I will say, however, I am really starting to like Burda patterns, so I might post (good) finished Burda projects on BurdaStyle, and post all of my projects (even the wadders) to PR. I guess the common theme is that all of these websites seemed confusing at first glance? I think when you are new, ease of use is important, and I don't know that any of these websites seemed "easy" in the beginning. It took me at least 3-5 visits to the websites to get comfortable with the navigation, and to really figure out what each website was offering to its users. I am, however, really enjoying having my own blog and reading the blogs of others. The community websites are nice for inspiration and finished projects, but the blog-o-sphere "community" has been much more useful in terms of techniques, sources for fabric, and learning about patterns that don't come from the Big 4. It is just as much fun to hear about fabric stashes and planned projects as it is to see the finished product. So, while I like the idea of sewing communities, and I think each of these websites has something unique to offer, I find that I really get more enjoyment from individual websites and blog posts.

  11. I'm a member of all of those, too. I like them all for different reasons. PR forums are great for content and getting very knowledgeable and helpful responses; I also like the pattern reviews, although I don't use a lot of contemporary patterns so they don't help me as much as they would some people. I must admit I prefer checking out projects on Burdastyle, as the thumbnails are larger, but people tend to post more detailed construction info on PR. PR's layout is definitely wacked. I don't frequent the Burdastyle forums much... I find the division into subjects not overly useful, and while there are a few people who regularly provide good responses to questions, it's just not as lively as PR's forums and doesn't feel as personal. Burdastyle has the best, most reliable range of free downloadable patterns I've found yet.
    I'm a more recent addition to the Sew Weekly sewing circle. It seems like a lovely and supportive little site. Definitely smaller, at least at this stage, which makes for a little less activity but also a greater sense of community. I kinda wish you could set up projects like on Burdastyle, but in terms of networking

    Colette Patterns now has a forum, which is also nice and can get you responses from the Colette team if you have questions about their patterns in particular; there's also more general discussions that go on. I haven't spent a huge amount of time there but there seems to be a nice sense of community and good discussion. I've also run across a forum called "Stitcher's Guild" that seems to be active with lots of quality information, but I haven't felt the urge to join particularly.

  12. I second Sophia's comment about PR's terrible user interface. I use it for free. There's a huge amount of information and help available. I dislike the newsletters hawking product, however.

    BS is not my cup of tea, I use it rarely. The server is very slow.

    Sew Weekly seems neat but is so graphics heavy it bogs down my computer. I also had difficulty trying to navigate the site and find things. So I don't use it.

  13. Thank you for posting this. I'm a member of PR and Burda Style, but I am looking for more. PR doesn't feel like a community, but as others have said, it is a great resource. I truly hate the site's look and feel. I'm not sure it has changed since 2004.

    While Burda Style feels like a community, I feel left out because I don't sew from the magazine or download the patterns from the site. It seems like very few on the site sew the traditional Burda envelope patterns.

    I'm going to join the Sewing Circle today.

  14. Try I joined this week and people are good at putting up their projects and often the patterns. Needs more of a community feel in my opinion, but the sewing sites will get there.