MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



Sep 25, 2012

Honest Feedback



Consider the following:

1) Sometimes our projects don't turn out the way we'd hoped.

2) Often people can be satisfied with less than perfect results.

3) Sometimes what looks perfect to us doesn't look that way to others.

These statements all relate to the topic of online feedback.  I've read a number of comments here lately about the kind (and quantity) of feedback some sewing bloggers get: too much, too positive given the quality of their work.  I don't know the blogs in question (hopefully not mine), but I get the gist of what they're saying -- don't you?

If you write a sewing blog, or if you post your projects on sites like Pattern Review or Burdastyle, you open yourself up to potential negative criticism.  My experience solely as a blog reader, however, is that comments sewers leave for other sewers tend to be positive.  I believe most of us try to live by the maxims, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all", and "do unto others as you would have others do unto you."  Sometimes we want to say something nice because we like the person, or the project, or whatever; we want to be encouraging.

On the positive side, knowing my work is likely to be closely scrutinized makes me a much more meticulous sewer.   You can trust that anything created at MPB Industries has been carefully tested by qualified staff in our vast MPB laboratories.  Nothing is left to chance, and a great deal ends up on the cutting room floor.

Too much flowered linen makes a grown man look like a 6 year old.

Ix-nay on the erchief-kay!
A dirndl skirt WILL make you look fat.

Yes, there are times when I look at something someone has sewn and I'm aware of flaws in the sewing/fitting, etc.  Unless it's the kind of post where they've made a muslin and are soliciting feedback, I don't think I would leave a negative comment, even a constructive one.  If I thought my insight might be helpful and that they'd appreciate it, I might consider shooting them an email in private, but I never have.

I guess I just assume we're all doing our best and, ultimately, it doesn't really matter -- for most of us this is just a hobby and we're sewing for love.  Then again, I post a lot of photos of works in progress and appreciate constructive criticism.  I'd hate to think that there might be an obvious flaw in something I made and no one was willing to tell me about it.  So I take a LOT of photos, scrutinize them carefully, and also get Michael's take.

I think one of the reasons sewers often tend to reflexively point out flaws in their work (even if you just gave them a compliment), is that we live in fear that someone will point out the flaw first.  We want them to know that we know it's not perfect before they can say it.  Am I wrong about this?

I also think that while we're clear about what we see as a flaw in someone else's project, we're not always clear about out motivation for telling them about it. 

I'm wondering what you think.

If someone posts photos of something they made on their blog (or on a website like Pattern Review), are they fair game for any kind of feedback?  If you saw something -- a fitting issue, for example -- you thought they might not be aware of, would you point it out to them?

What's your own level of comfort with criticism?  Do you a) welcome it, b) press out every wrinkle and clip every loose thread to avoid it, c) try to learn from it regardless of how it's expressed; or d) never post any photos of anything you make ever?

How honest are you willing to be when giving online feedback?

Save!

68 comments:

  1. I give honest feedback if I feel it will be received in the spirit given. Some people can't take even the merest hint of critique. If you don't believe me, just watch an American Idol rerun. Some people retaliate with the "You shouldn't be so MEEEEEEEEN because they're just putting it out there and they are SO BRAVE!11!". Bollocks. When you are an artist of any stripe, you should expect criticism. Get a thick skin because people aren't going to like everything you ever do. And give people the benefit of the doubt.

    Obviously one should be as polite & courteous as possible when critiquing. That goes without saying.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I only leave constructive criticism if somebody is soliciting it — for example, if they need help with a fit issue, etc. I like sewing blogs for the positivity. So much of what is on the Internet is negative and critical. It's nice that we support each other as we learn to improve our skills.

    That said, I appreciated it when you suggested stitching down the lining on a dress I made so that it wouldn't peek out. That kind of suggestion is helpful and easy to do, and doesn't require a massive overhaul. Suggestions of the "Next time you could try this..." variety are also constructive without putting down the quality of someone's work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, I'll leave constructive feedback on a blog only if it's requested, although I have privately emailed/messaged people occasionally to point something out, but only if I think it would be genuinely helpful. And I do think leaving feedback anonymously is sleazy.

      Delete
    2. For what it's worth, Phyllis has assisted me by providing feedback on my projects and I am very grateful. It was done very pleasantly! To have someone with years of experience bother to take time to assist a new-ish sewist to improve, is a compliment in many respects.

      Delete
    3. K. I remember the post you mean (it was probably the first time I commented on your blog) and the back story is that I struggled a bit before I decided to say something (Should I? Should I not?) and then must I have re-written my comment at least twice to make sure it was interpreted the way I intended it because once a comment is out there on the web it really can't be taken back. (brief summary: it was about being careful not to over fit a muslin and to always add the sleeves if a pattern has them so the ease in the back and shoulders is correctly analyzed on the body)

      Delete
    4. Phyllis:

      I see nothing "sleazy" about writing an anonymous critical comment. Either the observation is accurate or it isn't, the identity of the writer is immaterial. Among other reasons, many people don't leave comments with their names because they don't want to be bothered with silly blowback by people who can't take criticism, despite haven't put their work out there for all to see.

      Of course the writer should be civil. But if you don't want feedback, don't take comments.

      Delete
  3. I would definitely tend toward being positive. Sewing is something that needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. Everyone is at their own place on the journey. Of course, I see less than stellar sewn articles on blogs. Articles that I, with 50 years of sewing experience, would have done "better" or differently. I also see things that are much more meticulously crafted than anything I would make. I wouldn't want someone who doesn't know me personally to critique my work from 1000 miles away based on a photo *unless* I asked readers to give me constructive criticism. I have read that type of feedback and it can be done kindly and with an attitude of helpfulness. So, no unsolicited negative criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm mostly motivated to leave the positive "you did great" feedback. Probably in the spirit of "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything" On the other hand, if someone is putting up a posting and asking for constructive feedback, if it's something I know anything about, I'll leave them a constructive, but polite comment. Then again, there's those posts that you do that are just aching for sarcastic comments galore. You know the ones...yesterday's open-ended question about the Project Runway pattern. Much easier to leave mean comments about corporate efforts than any one individual's work.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Extraordinary post, very thought provoking, totally hitting the nail on the head there !
    And, no, I'm not kissing your ass in order to appear so nice that no one would dare to go trashing me on my blog, ever. Or, am I ?



    ReplyDelete
  6. I fall into the positively constructive category when I give comments and feedback. I know how hard it is to 'put your work out there'. I want to encourage not cause someone to slink back to their sewing room in shame. However, if I didn't want comments and constructive criticism, I wouldn't have posted a photo for critique, it would go straight to my catalog. I do tend to point out my flaws, especially when they are pretty obvious to me, but I find that most people don't even see them. Maybe they thought the neckline was to be that wide, when really it was a rush job at 2am.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think we all frequent sewing blogs because of the positive and supportive atmosphere. Of course, there's always a bad apple in the bunch but overall, I think we all enjoy the comraderie of sewing. That's why throughout history, we've seen sewing circles, sewing bees and it's always been an activity on which people have worked together.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A lot of this is true not just of sewing projects but of anything in life. Most of us will criticize ourselves first, mostly to show that yes, we're aware of the problem so no, we're not stupid enough to think it's all great. But we rarely want to hear criticism even when we solicit it -- let alone when we don't. This is an area where it is generally best to be positive or not say anything critical unless you know the person well, and even if you do, tread carefully. Better safe than sorry -- you never know what scars you will leave.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I, um, actually have. A blogger I follow was asking about why something wasn't working--a fitting issue. The thing is, the issue aside, it was too tight overall, which was a contributing factor, so I told her. So I guess my answer is--yes, if it relates to a question they have.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I guess I just assume we're all doing our best and, ultimately, it doesn't really matter -- for most of us this is just a hobby and we're sewing for love."

    That is my philosophy exactly. Sure, we could all do things better, but do we have to? It's our hobby and we do it for fun, not for grades or points or karma or anything else. Do it as well or as sloppy as you want; you won't hear anything but compliments from me, if only for the fact that you are creating rather than just consuming by watching TV or mindless shopping.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said! I'm not sewing "academically" for lack of a better description. I sew for fun, because I love to make things.

      I look at blogging about sewing like being in a real life sewing club. You wouldn't show up at a sewing club and tell someone how they should have fixed the fit on something they just made. You would celebrate it and compliment an aspect you liked. We all know the time and effort it takes to make a garment. Don't give negative feedback UNLESS it is being asked for.

      Delete
    2. I agree with this and well said again.

      Delete
  11. As someone who has trouble taking criticism, and who endeavors to become less sensitive about it, this is a very interesting topic!


    Constructive criticism can definitely be a good thing. But anyone who is being malicious and unkind should keep their opinions to themselves, in my opinion.


    I think the sewing community is incredibly kind about their feedback most days. When asked for opinions, people jump in with helpful hints and suggestions which is a fabulous learning tool for all of us. But I suppose there is always going to be someone that wants to drag people down. Hopefully the overwhelming majority of feedback is positive or at least helpful and drowns out every negative Nelly out there!

    ReplyDelete
  12. If someone has something less-than-positive to say about one of my makes, then awesome. I think it'll help me become a more attentive sewer. However, I would never take to someone's blog with a critique. Mostly because I really do love that color on you or think your fabric choice is spot-on or so admire that little detail. There's pretty much always something positive to say about everyone's projects, so why not focus on that? If people want advice, they'll solicit it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The best advice about giving constructive criticism I've ever heard was this, deliver it in a sh*t sandwich. Two nice layers of palatable good stuff to contain the unpleasant middle. Example? Your construction is flawless! The wide waistband does add some visual weight and thickens your middle, but once you finish the belt (try narrowing it and using a contrasting color!) you will turn that area into a pleasing feature that highlights the rest of a very flattering design. Sh*t sandwich! It allows the critique deliverer to be honest with out being cruel, and allows the recipient to be able to swallow the truth without being humiliated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Toastmasters that is called CRC. Commend, recommend, commend. Same result, just a different, less discriptive name. Good practice either way.

      I don't generally comment. I'm big time Lurker. I would be really hurt if someone said commented negatively on my very new blog. Maybe I'm not really ready for blogging then?

      Delete
    2. I've never heard either of these and I think the easiest one to remember is the sandwich! But I love it.

      Delete
    3. Someone left a comment on my blog recently that was exactly this! Start with praise, give constructive criticism, give more praise. It's an excellent template! I was in awe of her diplomacy.

      Delete
  14. To me leaving a comment on someone else's blog is like being invited into their home - there is always something honestly kind that can be said. On a few rare occasions I have shared a positive personal experience if it seemed to be something that would be useful and not be mistaken for a criticism (at least I hope not!) *It's the school teacher in me - we just can't help it sometimes.*

    ReplyDelete
  15. I tend to offer feedback only if the blogger asks for it, or maybe if it's someone I know very well, and then I try to be nice. Well, mostly nice; it depends on the general tone of the article.

    I have on a few occasions offered unsolicited advice in instances where it appeared the seamstress was really struggling with something, but I was super-duper careful to be gentle about it. I think in one, the girl was complaining that her dresses never looked anything like the pictures, even with petticoats. After scrolling through several entries, it became pretty clear that she needed to shorten her bodices just a little--the waist seam was riding on her high hip, so nothing was hitting her at the right place. She actually emailed me later to say she'd tried it and it had helped.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have to agree with the philosophy that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. When people post a project I usually try to comment on what they did well even if there are flaws evident. If people are happy with what they made then I don't want to point out problems. With my own work I tend to point out flaws, mostly so I can have a record of things I want to improve in the future. Also, I feel like it is difficult to comment on flaws based on photographs, because sometimes things look very different than in real life. Contrast from flash can make wrinkles or creases look huge (especially on dark fabrics), when in fact they are not noticeable in real life. If someone is posting a muslin or asking for advice of course I will try to help, but otherwise I try to keep my comments positive and complimentary.

    Also, as for the complaint that poorly made garments in fun fabrics get more comments than well made garments in subdued colors - well, I have to admit that the more eye-catching garments or the ones with great photography will get more views and therefore more comments on project websites. I know that I often get more praise for knit tops I whip up in an hour than I do on coats that take a full month to make. Maybe it isn't necessarily fair, but I accept that that is just the way it is.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I once received a scathingly unkind comment from a person who thought she was being funny, because the item I made was not to her taste ( a bright sparkly bag for my niece). I left the forum on which it happened and had no communication with her again. Too sensitive? Probably.
    I wish I had messaged her privately to tell her I was hurt by her comment. BTW My niece loved the bag.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is all that matters, it was for your niece and nobody else.

      Delete
  18. I have left negative comments, usually not in response to the post, but to other commenters, most particularly on Fashion Incubator where, sorry and frankly, there are some snobby commenters.

    But not on blogs like this. This is art and hobby. If I don't like what you make, I unsubscribe.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I find this all very fascinating. I hesitate to leave any sort of negative comment, and if I do have a suggestion, try to give it in a spirit of enthusiasm for the process. As someone who's sewn in the public eye before people started blogging and putting their work out there for all to see, I can say my perfectionism has been completely driven by how someone else would critique the garment. I have found it interesting that people would put themselves in that position without some sort of reward. I'm now realizing through teaching classes and always having someone in the class who could teach it if they were asked to, that we willingly participate in this because it's our tribe. We follow you and each other because we like knowing that other people feel the same as we do about sewing, making, creating. We want to know we aren't just creating in a vacuum. The other day I said to someone "if a blogger makes a quilt in the forest and doesn't photograph it, did it really happen?" Back to the comments though, I agree, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If someone asks for constructive criticism, I will provide it. Otherwise, given that I follow over a 120 sewing blogs every day (yeah, I know) I only comment when a) I am compelled to tell someone that their make is amazing or b) they are a bud and I comment on almost every post because, hey, we're budz or c) they ask thought provoking questions that make me open their post in a new window and throw in my two cents just because I have something to say (cough *MPB* cough).

    ReplyDelete
  21. I also subscribe to the 'if you've got nothing nice to say...' rule. if I love something, I'll say it, and if someone says, hey, I don't think this quite works, I might give my two cents, but otherwise I don't want to rain on anyone's parade. For me, it often boils down to taste and design - which is so hard to get right. And so I think, so what if my taste or design sense happens to differ from someone else's?

    Also, lots of sewing blogs feature photos of women looking incredibly happy and accomplished with their garments, and I think, why would I ever want to step on another woman's feelings of happiness and self-worth?

    ReplyDelete
  22. My rule of thumb is only to offer advice to someone if they're pleading for it.

    I'm very sensitive to criticism, coming from a family obsessed with nit-picking, so I do tread warily.

    I had a great experience lately with someone with years of professional tailoring behind them helping me to fit the fourth muslin of a tailored jacket. (I have a bust size 22 and a waist size 16; to say it was a challenge to do it by myself is an understatement).

    She was great; I realised later that it was because she did the whole 'aren't you great for getting so far but let me just pencil in a few adjustments'.

    And as for blogging, I haven't put my toe in that water yet. Come to think of it, the only creative thing I've put up on facebook was the ongoing saga of an old bike renovation. Lots and lots of rust removal.

    I suppose I haven't quite reached my own standards of perfection so I'm not in any position to be commenting on anyone else's.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I only say nice things and only if I really mean it. Unless they are asking our opinion and I think I have enough knowledge in that area. Which is silly really because I only leave anonymous feedback because I am a commitment phobe and don't want to join any or the things usually listed. I could be a sewing blog troll and say awful things but I don't because your right we are all doing our best.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am a fashion and textiles teacher an I don't think praise help anyone improve their work. If someone post pictures of their work on a blog/website its no longer just about them and their work. The comments left by others also helps to inform/teach readers of the blog/website so if you have a constructive criticism of the work and the time to add the comment I think you should because your audience is greater than you might think and whilst the author of the post might already know the flaws in their work and the best technique to employ next time, the readers might not.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Well, I've been pretty honest on this blog because I respect the work you do and I think you want to hear my opinion.

    However, I would never be sharply critical of fit or style - or critical at all - if I felt the blogger in question were not able or willing to change his or her methods to produce (what I consider to be) a better product.

    Having said that, while I might praise the effort, I'm pretty careful not to imply that something is perfect if I think it could be improved.

    On the topic of my own acceptance of criticism, I really don't know if I'm "lay it on" or a wuss. I do ask people to be gentle, if I'm worried about what I'm posting about. And I do welcome feedback that helps me to make my muslin (or next project) better. I think it's all about how the feedback is provided.

    My readers are all very kind to me, for which I am grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Like most people I say nice things when I mean them. If I have expertise in an area (and there aren't many) I will try and help, but I usually leave that sort of criticism to those who actually know about sewing. I show crappy photos on my blog, unusually unpressed and threads hanging because I am too excited that I have finished and I want to show people. I have so few readers that the comments don't really matter to me. I blog for myself and I'm amazed at how much I look back at my own work for my own criticism. Things that I thought were great 2 or 3 years ago often look less so now as I become more experienced. I appreciate all the blogs I read as I learn from each and every one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  27. It is so true, if you don't have something nice to say...
    I see stuff that I wonder about, but really it is inappropriate to give unsolicited criticism. I really liked what you said about the critic's objective would be in "sharing". I think people who "share" this way have some social disconnect.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am more a lurker than a commenter however, when I was a diligent poster with my blog I wanted true and honest feedback and not just fluff. It's easier for people to be too kind or too harsh when it comes to the written word. Seeing this post has inspired me to leave more comments instead of lurking but I think I'll make mine more of a croissant sandwich.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I would rather have some honest feedback, and not fake pats on the back. I'm a perfectionist when I sew, and will take something apart a million times if it isn't right, yet I see things being sold on Etsy that I would be embarrassed to put my name to, yet it sells!!

    There is also a site that sells children's clothing(French) that has a huge following, and I'm so confused, since it seems that none of the seams are even pressed out. Yet they are on so many blogs, and getting such positive feedback. It is a real head scratcher to me.
    For those of us who are OCD with construction, we see more faults I guess than the regular eye.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, I like the flowered linen and to me it looks cool, comfortable and beachy. But then I do live in California and am married to an old surfer who has a MASSIVE Hawaiian silk shirt collection from Costco . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  31. I just started sewing about eight months ago and with my job rarely have time to do it. Because of this, I am still squarely in the camp of a beginner. While I don't sew often, I read many blogs daily and love the helpful, encouraging online sewing community. It gives me confidence to keep trying. I figure we all know when something isn't perfect but we have a sense of accomplishment for the 90% that is right (especially as a beginner). Leaving unsolicited, negative comments is just mean. Helpful comments, particularly when I'm frustrated by something would be much appreciated. Then again I have only a handful of readers and use my blog more as a diary of the sewing and cooking projects I complete throughout the year.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Not 2 days ago someone replied to a comment I left on your blog rather forcefully and I kept reading over my original comment trying to figure what I said that caused the diatribe that followed. The lady was venting her frustrations that some people's posts attract more positive replies then hers and she has sewn for years and made the dresses for her wedding and several more formal gowns etc etc and they get less comments then perhaps somebody making a badly fitted pillow case dress for their child.

    Everyone likes their clothes differently. Some like it really tight, some like the 4in wearing ease. Then everyones style is different, some people might like tailoring, whereas other might dress exclusively in jersey slub. It's really hard to judge from a bunch of little pictures (not always with the best lighting) what might be right or wrong with the outfit, despite all the sewing experience people might have.

    The thing is that people reply more to people they know and like. I don't see blogging as a popularity contest where the person with the most comments wins.

    I personally blog, because I had my sewing machine for months before even opening it and by documenting my progress (or lack thereof) on a blog I feel like I need to do something. I like people leaving comments and helpful hints, but I don't actually expect anyone to write anything. Negative comments telling me to do this or this wouldn't be positively received, because quite frankly I have got critical parents, if I needed to know everything that was wrong with me and what I do, they are only a phone call away :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brilliant response. Your last sentence made me laugh aloud - I'm 46, do you think this is ever going to change?

      Very interesting discussion thread, as always :)

      Delete
    2. I think that was my comment. I wasn't speaking about my own blog, as I don't really think people read it and I only consider it my record of what I make. I'd continue to blog if it had no followers. I think there are 8 but I could be overestimating it. I'm not looking to be popular.

      I'm sorry that you misunderstood where I was coming from on that previous comment. I was merely trying to illustrate what someone else may find frustrating about what is often found online when it comes to sewing blogs. It certainly wasn't directed at you, but meant to be a counterpoint. In an open forum, there is always room for debate, no? And both sides may have good points.

      I mentioned my wedding dress and my formal gowns as a way to illustrate that many times when people sew garments with advanced techniques, there is often less commentary in general - mostly because people don't know that it's handmade. I made my wedding dress 15 years ago, before the internet as it is today, and I've never blogged about it, so that garment would have only received comments IRL. And often those garments are the ones that I want people to see the inside of, but (obviously) I can't do that IRL when I'm wearing it.

      Anyway, we all like praise for our work. How does one get that praise if people don't even realize that a garment isn't store bought? Clearly one can't just go up to passers by and accost them with "hey guess what? I made this!" You have to wait until someone asks where you got it - if they even notice it. Then when you say that you made it, the average person who doesn't sew has no idea what to say, other than, "Really? Wow - that looks store-bought." And in reference to the post about couture, maybe that's not what we were going for.

      The real issue is whether or not failing to point out a fitting issue is keeping the author/sewist from reaching a new level of expertise. I feel like we should all support each other by helping improve our skills - particularly if we don't have any sewing friends or family nearby, and often that means constructive criticism online. I've commented on various blogs and given criticism, but I start it off with something like "I really like X about your garment. Have you ever considered doing Y with the fit?" When someone says that they keep cutting a larger size in the bust and still can't get the fit right, I look at the photos. Then I suggest that maybe the person needs an FBA if her bra size is C cup or larger, and I do it by saying something like, "I wonder if the reason the larger size fits well in the bust is because this pattern is cut in a cup size smaller than yours. Have you tried an FBA? It might help to use your high bust measurement and do an FBA."(this is something that I'm painfully familiar with) I try to word things very carefully, since I know that it's difficult to read nuance and tone online.

      But what I really don't get is why some people write as though they are experts when their field of knowledge is clearly narrow. One example would be giving fitting advice with general rules that only apply if you are smaller than a certain size or have a certain body type and not mentioning the exceptions to this rule, or not even knowing that there are exceptions to it. What is the correct etiquette, then when it comes to these blog posts? Should one comment and say, "Hey, your advice is great, but generally if you're bigger/smaller than X you should keep in mind Y and adjust for it." Or should one keep mum and let the readers who fall into that category of exception find themselves frustrated and tearing up their muslins because what is supposed to be 'the rule' isn't working for them? If I were that blogger, I'd welcome the correction/addition and edit the post to include it. Because I want everyone who sews to wear their garments and have people think that they're "store bought" because the fit is so good.

      Delete
  33. When I was teaching I had a firm policy in my classroom suggested to me by one of my mentors: never make fun of anyone's best honest effort. So I try to do the same here. If someone asks for help, I'm glad to try and puzzle things through with them. Sewing has a big learning curve and we all know how often we've made things that are less than awesome. I try to point out what's good and keep mum on what's not. I point out my own mistakes not typically as a matter of self-esteem but so that I can learn for the next go-round. I think blogging has advanced my skills way more than if I was just sewing by myself. Having to articulate what was good and what was not really concretes your learning.

    ReplyDelete
  34. If the person is happy with it, I'm inclined to leave it alone.

    If they're asking for feedback, I'll give it as politely as possible.

    If I see something I think is really glaring, I MIGHT say something, but again as politely and helpfully as I can.

    There's no harm in constructive feedback/criticism, but we have to remember there's one blogger (so to speak) and a lot of readers. A lot of unsolicited criticism can get overwhelming.

    Speaking for myself, I see ALL the flaws in what I make and will relentlessly try to perfect things.

    Which is probably why I get so little finished.

    I'm consciously trying to relax. My sewing time is very limited, and I'm trying to hit a happy medium between rushing through things (that never ends well) and relentless perfectionism.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nice save on the dress.
    I'm a supportive sewing blogger so that's all you'll hear from me.
    My local sewing friends are much more open with their views of what I make and the good thing about this is we can work on the issue and resolve it at the time. It's a bit harder when you try to blog a sewing issue and it can be taken the wrong way.
    So if you have local sewing friends, you're on to a good thing:)
    I hope this makes sense:))

    ReplyDelete
  36. Not only do sewing bloggers reflexively point out all problems with their project, but they (generalization) always point out all problems with everything else in the photo. Apologizing that their hair needs to be cut, their nailpolish is chipped, their floor neeeds to be vacuumed, taking photos of themselves after a bike ride and apologizing for being a disgusting sweaty mess. And I think they do it so that no one feels compelled to point these things out in the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Depends on the relationshipo you have with the blogger. If you are a regular commenter, and mostly you post positive comments, then an occasional constructive criticism is okay...otherwise...the lack of comments speaks a thousand words.

    ReplyDelete
  38. When I have posted garments I have made, personally pointing out all the flaws , I get kind comments,even if I know the garment looks terrible on me. (though quite honestly Im not sure how I would react if someone said I look terrible in it!) I personally leave good comments or if I have a similar problem give solutions or suggestions if known.
    We are all at different levels, and that has to be taken into consideration. Even though we dip into other peoples blogging lives, do we really know each other well enough to be so blunt and honest without offending.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think many people miss the point that criticism, when done properly, doesn't have to be negative at all. Or maybe we're using the word criticism here to only refer to negative feedback? I don't see it as inherently negative, so I'm a little confused.

    I fear that my comment on a previous post may have contributed to the topic here, and I think it probably didn't come off the way I intended it to. My point was that it is often more difficult to find people whose sewing knowledge encompasses those techniques that make garments 'couture' and therefore people who may be attempting more advanced techniques in their sewing would be frustrated at 1) not having a venue to learn and critique at that level, and 2) seeing what may seem like huge praise for something that is a beginning level project but not getting any feedback (good or bad) for their own garment, which was perhaps significantly more difficult and is perhaps in need of a critical eye. I wasn't necessarily speaking from my own personal experience, but rather trying to take a different look at 'haute couture' or the lack thereof in many sewing blogs.

    I personally love suggestions for improvements to my sewing. How can you grow in your craft without learning to take feedback of all kinds? As they say, you take what works and you leave the rest. The point of my comment was that maybe if all we're getting is positive feedback all the time, how can we really judge ourselves and our skills objectively?

    ReplyDelete
  40. EEk, this is a dilemma. I am a terrible know all anyway, but I really DO know heaps about sewing, and IRL, am constantly asked for advice on sewing. So, I WILL say if I can clearly articulate the issue and a possible solution, but I won't say if is is a finished project, because frankly the horse had bolted. Noone needs the downer of a, "Pity you didn't know to xyz when you were making this as it would have been SO much better" comment. Just Not Helpful. Now If the blogger has asked for feedback as to why the finished project isn't sitting right, then I'd say.
    You see, when I was 11 I used to go out in dresses I made myself, and I bet they were a hot mess. But I was very proud of myself and it gave me the confidence to keep sewing. To me the most important thing is not that THIS project is perfect, but that there will be a next project, and it will be a little bit better. But putting people off by finding fault with their projects out of turn is just mean.
    Context is so important. Just like: adult male in wickedly cool floral linen shirt AND styley subversive floral linen shorts AT THE SAME TIME = 4 year old's jimjams. :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I always try to keep in mind that there is a difference between the terms critique and criticism. A critique is an evaluation and not necessarily negative, criticism usually is. So if someone is asking for a critique, I would make sure that any comments I left were positive in tone. If I couldn't find some way to do that then I just won't say anything. I often critique my own sewing on my blog and people can get quite worried about that and tell me it's wonderful etc. and tick me off for being negative - they're confusing critique with criticism. It's a brave blogger that invites critique though, I must admit some of the solicited advice I've had at times has got my back up and left me feeling quite indignant! I'm sure they meant well but it's damn hard to give advice without sounding patronising. I've also seen third parties react very badly to less than 100% positive comments, even if the blogger has solicited them. It seems like these days there is virtually no understanding of the concept of critique. It's almost like you have to be unrelentingly positive about something or completely bitchy (critical), there isn't a middle ground. Coming from academia, critiquing of your work is just part and parcel of how it all works and an essential part of my progress in most things, but it seems as though that has fallen by the wayside in the general online world anyways.

    ReplyDelete
  42. SeamsterEast@aol.comSeptember 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    A lot of people suffer severely from cognitive dissonance. They think they see a piece of perfection in their own work (a stitch here, a color choice their, a texture over there) and generalize that individual piece to the whole. If they have the slightest narcissistic tendencies, they simply at base won't accept critique ("ah ... maybe you think the orange geometric's do not go well with the purple flowers?" "No, you don't know what you are talking about! That's PERFECT! Sooooo Cree-AYE-tive!").

    Such people are looking for adoration, not improvement. If I suspect narcissism, I leave the critiquing to others, because it is going to get bloody.

    Some groups (writers groups I've seen over the years come to mind, and others) tend to "dumb down" to pious smiles and platitudes in an effort to stifle comments not saccharine. Plain and simple, for most people the request on their part for critique is a request for adoration, not improvement. Many people believe THEIR personal opinions are KNOWN universal facts. Gentle suggestions otherwise bring immediate lightning strikes from the deities on high.

    Praise is easy to gratefully accept, while critique is often resisted strongly.

    I (usually) consider the audience mind-set before I critique. I say "usually" because sometimes I'm out of there anyway and don't care for the sure-to-come babbling no matter what was said.

    ReplyDelete
  43. If someone posts a garment on PR, or on their blog, I either say something nice, or don't say anything at all. But, I don't always comment especially if I am pressed for time. I give constructive criticism if people ask for it. If someone puts up a muslin and asks for fitting help,and I think that I can help I will. This can of course backfire anyway. I told a woman who was at least a DD cup that the jacket pattern without any fitting seams or darts that she was using was a poor choice for a curvy woman. She thought I called her fat. My size 4 dd is a curvy woman with her DD cup bust. If someone is asking for help it is still not always appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  44. THE WORST comment I ever saw on a sewing blog was someone being wildly cruel about the blogger's weight. This was completely unsolicited and out of the blue. I hope that person is now in jail -- if she isn't, she should be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly - there's no call for personal attacks on someone's blog. There's a difference between being mean and truly trying to be helpful, as Nancy K mentioned.

      Delete
  45. There are two things that occur to me. Before I post a comment, I try and remember the difference between communicating by commenting on a blog, and communicating in person. When you are not communicating face to face, the majority of your message is lost. You can't deal in nuances. The difference between constructive criticism and malicious unkindness is sometimes impossible to discern. Secondly, it seems that the audience for sewing blogs (where I've never actually seen someone deliberately trying to generate a reaction by saying something rude) is probably very different than the audience for a TV show blog or a political blog.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I was an art major in college and one of the first and most difficult things I had to learn in freshman drawing was to listen to critiques of my work without taking it personally. But it was absolutely necessary to learn that lesson-- how else to ever improve?
    I rarely read the comments on blogs because most of them ("great job!" "that's beautiful!") are a waste of time. If the blogger really has struck perfection, sure, go ahead and say so, but I wish that rather than "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," more people would just not say anything at all!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I have gotten burned for giving constructive feedback in the past, so now I usually just click away if I feel the urge. People nowadays have lost the ability to receive it...apparently. I think older generations are more able, but the current system of "Everyone's Fantastic and Deserve a Medal for Everything They Do!!" ideology has warped people's self-image. I am diligently working on my piece of the younger generation to make sure they realize they are not perfect. Wildly cute and good learners, but still...not perfect.

    Just looking at things people pin on Pinterest, they are usually a hot mess. I look at tutorials, the fabrics they use and construction techniques, and just shake my head. They have 100 comments on what a fantastic tutorial it is and how Cuuuutttttteee!! Most of those people have never sewn a stitch in their life and have no idea that item probably got worn once before it ended up in the donate pile.

    I amiably point out my flaws in construction. I know my stuff isn't perfect and I could have done better. If someone wants to give me valuable advice I'm all for it. My response likely will be, "Yes, I know, but thanks. I had 2 hours to make this after the kids went to bed, so it is what it is." After 20 some years of sewing I've made most of the mistakes, but I'm always open for new ones! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad that someone else other than me has this view.

      Delete
  48. On the subject of pointing out flaws in your own work (usually immediately following a compliment!), I have worked very hard to learn not to do that. I believe most people who comment genuinely do not see even the most glaring errors, so why point them out!? I also make stained glass, and the one thing I learned that truly cemented this policy in place for me was seeing an exhibit of beautiful Tiffaney lamps one time. The soldering on them was just as "ugly" as mine! I'll bet the artists in Tiffany studios would never have pointed out how lumpy their solder looked!

    And a comment on critisism. If you feel compelled to offer a critique -
    say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean. ;)

    ~Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  49. When I chime in with compliments, they are sincere. If I don’t like something, I try to be quiet.

    If the blogger is asking an opinion, such as which possible design choice is liked better, I’ll give my opinion and know that the artist will go with their personal choice regardless of anyone else’s opinion. It’s their garment and they should do what they like.

    I like helpful hints from the community – but of course it’s not my work that is being critiqued. I’m the coward who does not show photos for others to blow up to 400%.

    I appreciate all the hard work that people put into their projects and blogs. I think it’s great that they allow us to follow them on their journey.

    Everyone is at a different stage of their journey. What seems like a hot mess to one person is a great achievement to another.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have absolutely no problem with people being in different stages in their sewing life...we were all there. What I have a problem with is them showing tutorials and putting themselves out there as some kind of expert on the subject. You know they never come back and say, "Wow, that was the wrong fabric and stitches for that design. It fell apart and I had to fix it!". No...they just listen to the adoration and let people think they know what they are doing.

      Delete
  50. I don't critique anyone's work as I am a fake sewer so to speak. I just cut and re-construct and make crafty useful things.

    I usually go to You Tube for tips and techniques and search the internet. If someone asks me what fabric I would like better I will not give my opinion unless it is someone I know in the real world. People make what they like.

    ReplyDelete
  51. "We want them to know that we know it's not perfect before they can say it. Am I wrong about this?"

    No, and it's important that the blogger indicate that s/he knows it's not perfect. There are people who post things that are terribly fitting and unironed and they act like a 5-year-old who baked a mud pie.

    "I also think that while we're clear about what we see as a flaw in someone else's project, we're not always clear about out motivation for telling them about it."

    Very true. That's why I rarely leave negative comments. And at least they're sewing and progressing and taking the time to take photos and put them up on a blog. I might post info about a method I've read about, or a source for supplies.

    ReplyDelete
  52. There have been a couple of bloggers who were looked on as great teachers and who said things that were completely wrong or ignorant. I admit to being less patient with them.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails