Periscope for Sewists?

PeriscopeDoes Periscope have anything to offer to modern sewists?  Share your thoughts with me.

A coworker mentioned Periscope to me one day when she would be traveling during a critical workplace meeting.  She asked if we could perhaps “do a Periscope“.  In my need to keep everyone happy, I did some research on Periscope.  The plans changed regarding that specific meeting and I never thought again about it.  Then, randomly, I happened across a tweet from Rit Dye announcing someone would be trying out a technique “tomorrow on Periscope“.

I was intrigued so I downloaded the app, created an account and began to follow other “scopers”.   I admit that Twitter is not my primary focus for social media especially not for my sewing and crafting business.  I am much more interested in a visual media such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.  I was unaware of any sewist tweeters much less “scopers”.  Periscope is young and has a less than sophisticated search mechanism so I was unable to identify sewist accounts.

So, after receiving LOTS of notifications of live scopes and lots or Trolls and way too much video of nonsense stuff, I am in search of sewists on Periscope.  I discovered the knitters of the world are all over this venue but I find the sewists are nearly nonexistent.  I find it to be very interesting and exciting! Trolls are an exception. I don’t like those but they are everywhere, I guess.  As I write this post, I’m watching some street musicians perform live in Times Square. The next scope I find is a live video feed from some river rapids in East Granby, Connecticutt providing a cool, fresh view and the mesmerizing sounds of running water on a Friday afternoon.

Give me your thoughts on Periscope.  Do you like it? Do you use it?  Do you lurk and view or do you create content?  I can see all types of uses for it but if there is no one out there listening, I wonder if it is worth the effort.



I Sew Because…

I am a sewist, a creator of clothes, quilts, bags, home decorating, and many other things. have sewn for over 20 years. My projects have changed over the years as my needs have changed.  I was sewing before sewing was cool.  I learned to sew during the last time period when sewing was cool.

At the age of 50, I began to do some self-examination.  I realize that IO do not need to do things simply because I have always done them.  I have the freedom of choice to continue or stop processes or habits in my life.  My time is valuable and I am making the conscious choice to d those things that are rewarding to me.  This decision has caused me to inventory my activities during my spare time as well as my professional life.  Sewing dominates most of my spare time. Why?  Why do I sew? The first step is to examine why I sew in order to make a more informed decision on whether to continue devoting so much time to it.

I wish I could say sewing is my artform.  Sewing is a means of creative expression for many people.  They consider themselves fiber artists. I can say I may create art and each project has my aesthetic throughout it, but I am no artist.

I wish I could say my sewing is the result of my inner urge to be a “maker”.  There is currently a huge Maker Movement underway.  I wish I could say I sew from a deep inner need to make things and create objects. Yes, I have a desire to create things and learn techniques, both traditional and modern. I love learning new crafts.  I will forever be a student of how things are made, but I am no maker.

I can definitively say, after much introspective, that I am a sewist out of necessity.  I would like to turn this blog into an art gallery or maker space, but it is a complete waste of time.  I have asked myself the hard question.  I have no doubt now that I sew because the goods I need are not readily available.

I learned to sew clothing because my mother sewed clothing.  My mother learned to sew clothing because her mother sewed clothing.  We made my clothing because garments were not available in my size.

There were no clothes to fit me in the late seventies and early eighties.  I suffered from being a healthy child from hearty Midwestern stock.  No one in my family fit within the standard size measurements established in the late forties.  I remember a school year when I was finally able to fit into husky jeans designed for girls much, much older than me.  For a few golden months, I was able to wear jeans from a mail-order department store.  I remember that being a year that I thought I was someone special.

Later, as a teenager and young adult, the fashion industry began to make clothes for my more-than-average frame. Unfortunately, the price tag affixed to those garments was beyond my meager budget.  The tops, pants, and dresses tended toward the matronly or the muumuu styles but nevertheless, I was finally able to wear “store-bought” clothes.

So here I am, a mature adult and my frame has not changed.  I am still larger than those original standard measurements that have not been updated since the later forties.  My clothing choices are more plentiful. There has recently been a revolution to acknowledge those who wear a size twelve or larger.  I applaud that movement.  I hope it gains more and more momentum.

The portion of my budget dedicated to clothing is not any greater than it was in my younger years, but I find I have a fabric stash, as do all sewists.  The temptation to walk into the sewing room, pick up an attractive yardage of fabric and craft a garment that fits me specifically in all the right places and is the right color or design for my body is a force that I cannot resist.  It feels good to finally have sewn enough that my skill level has progressed past beginner.  Many techniques are second nature.  Yes, I sew because I need it.  I need well-fitting clothing that suits my style and my pocketbook, as well as expresses my artistic personality and fulfills my need to work with my hands and craft something.

Tips for Fabulous Fabric Photos for Sewists

FABULOUSAs a #Sewcialist, it is inevitable that at some time in the future, I’m going to snap a pic of some fabric. It will be a fabric find that I want to share with my fellow sewists through my many social media platforms. Sewists often share photos of fabric. It might be a bargain find from a local fabric store or just the random yardage of the day from our stash.

Being a sewist does not mean we are all professional photographers. Learning to be a professional photographer would deprive me of precious sewing time. So, I searched the internet to find some tips and tricks to help me in my future postings and here is what I found:

  • No training is required. One only has to remember a few tips when taking the photos to achieve a nice photo.
  • No special equipment is needed. Many of the social sewists I envy are amateur photographers while focusing all their time and energy into their sewing. They are not professionals with photography studios and elaborate equipment.
  • No special camera is needed. Let’s face it, we all can not afford the latest digital SLR camera. I had a simple automatic digital camera and I can honestly tell you, it was never with me when I needed it. If I had an expensive camera, I can guarantee I would want to keep it in a safe place and that would not be over my shoulder or in my car. What do we all have in our hands? Our smartphones! Many of us use our camera on our phones to snap pictures of our fabric. These pictures can work. Today’s camera phones take much better pictures than last year’s automatic digital cameras. The smartphone also has photo edit capabilities that are good, along with plenty of free photo editing apps.

So when faced with a fabric that I simply must share, smartphone in hand, here are some things to remember:

  1. Light – Many of us don’t have the space or the money to create a white-box with lights. Natural light can be used for good photos. When at home, look for rooms in the house that have the most windows and allow in the most daylight. A single large window can work. Place your fabric near the large window out of direct sunlight. It doesn’t matter if it is in the kitchen or bathroom. On cloudy days, a large piece of white poster board or foam core board can be set up next to the fabric to reflect even more light. Photos can be made outside on a patio or deck as long as direct sunlight is avoided. Direct sunlight ruins any good fabric photo. The strongest light should be behind the camera. Caution:  with the light behind the camera, the light will be behind you so watch where your shadow falls. (We don’t want to see the outline of you in your jammies ……because that is what we all sew in, right?)
  2. Backgrounds should be considered if the fabric swatch is not filling the entire photo frame. Choose a complimentary background that will not clash or draw away any attention from your focal item.  A solid wall of neutral color works best.  Busy backgrounds make it difficult to distinguish the outline of your item. (The messy pile of fabrics in the background will draw my attention away from the single jersey print you couldn’t live without.)
  3. Interest – Add objects to the photo to provide followers with more information. If the fabric is intended for a specific pattern, place that pattern in the photo with the fabric and capture it as well. Tell the story with the picture, not just the accompanying post or comments. Sparkly fabric could include the bangle bracelet or clutch purse that was the reason you purchased the piece. The perfect apron fabric photo could include a cookie-cutter or cookbook. In one glance, we know everything that we need to know about your plans for that fabric. (It makes it easier for us to click “Like” because it is obvious that you were a genius in your choice.)
  4. Angles – Angles are an important part of both lighting and interest. I feel they are important enough to be mentioned separately. Things are viewed differently from different angles. Take the photo from different angles other than the straight on, direct approach. Light from different angles will highlight any texture in the fabric. These textures would not normally be seen when photographed straight on. ( I know it is hard but try sitting on the floor, standing on a chair or bending to the side at an angle your chiropractor would not approve. See if it makes a difference in your photo.)
  5. Wrinkles – This is the biggest complaint of many fabric artists. I know it will take a few more minutes and yes, it might dampen your glee a little, but we want to see your fabric looking its best. (Think of the credibility it will gain you in the sewing community. Not only do you take good photos and select awesome fabrics seams but you prove that you know how to operate an iron or garment steamer.)
  6. Out-of-Focus – Our smartphone cameras are all auto-focus. Yes, they will focus and provide a clear, crisp photo if we will but wait for auto-focus to do its job and if we will stand still. Point your camera at the fabric, tap the auto-focus and take a deep breath. Then snap the picture. (If you are like me and the pressure and excitement is too much for you, place the camera on a solid surface to avoid any shake of the camera.)
  7. Try some collages – This is my original idea. Use some of the wonderful free photo-editing apps to create a collage. I like PicStitch and Pixlr Express. Frames of the collage could contain a picture of the fabric, a picture of the pattern and a picture of the selected buttons or trims. One frame could include you in the finished garment, if you can wait for posting that long. (Next time you find yourself waiting in line and playing Angry Birds, flip open a photo-editing app and your image library. Create some photos that will represent you and your aesthetic better in social media.)

I am in no way a professional photographer,  I’m not even a good amateur photographer.  I try to find information that helps me and I want to share it with others.

Further reading:
Tips from Spoonflower designers: Berene Campbell on how to photograph your fabrics
Tips from Spoonflower designers, Pt. 2: KristopherK on how to photograph your fabrics