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Jan 14, 2013

So You Want to Write a Sewing Blog...



Friends, have you ever thought of writing a sewing blog?   Or maybe you write one already and want to improve it.

From time to time I read that blogs are on their way out; the new platform is _______Well that may be true and it may not be.  I think as long as people are writing on computers, there will be blogs.  It’s simply too good a format not to last.

Here are some of my blogging Do’s and Don't's, based on three years’ blogging experience (close to 1,000 near-daily posts).   If you have something to say about them, please do so below!

DO know why you’re blogging

Before you get started writing a blog, it can be helpful to ask yourself  a) Who do I want to read my blog?, b) How are they going to hear about it? and c) Do I care if no one reads it at all (or not a lot of people)?

It can take a very long time to build readership and much patience and determination.  A blog is a big time-suck.  If you already can’t find an hour to yourself each day, this might not be the best time to start a sewing blog.  Or maybe the blog is exactly what you need to prioritize your time and your sewing -- everybody’s different.

I started a blog initially to showcase my Cathy photo shoots, then it just grew from there.  Here are a few of the things that made it easier for me to draw an audience, particularly at the beginning:

1. I am a man, and there are very few male sewing bloggers.  Of course, a man’s potential male readership is also radically smaller.  However, I’ve discovered that there are many more women inclined to read about men's sewing than there are men interested in reading about women's sewing.  Sewing for both men and women is a plus!

2. When I launched MPB in January, 2010, I was already well-known at Pattern Review, where I had written many dozens of pattern reviews, along with a few sewing machine and book reviews.  Pattern Review (or any other online sewing community site) is a great place to create an initial following.  I also gave a lot of feedback to others and participated on the bulletin boards.  You have to give to get.

3) Within the first month, two very popular bloggers, Selfish Elaine and Gretchen/Gertie, wrote about me, which drew a lot of new readers.  I didn’t ask them to, but I am very grateful to them to this day for their generosity.  I link to blogs I like all the time.  It’s a great way to spread the word.

DO be yourself

People read sewing blogs for a variety of reasons, and the sewing projects themselves may or may not be the primary reason.  There are many popular sewing blogs written by people who rarely make anything more exotic than stretch knit separates.  It’s the way they talk about those separates, the writer’s voice, personality and point of view, that matter most. 

Not all of us are natural wits.  I remember a quote I heard once from the late great Quentin Crisp, which is, to paraphrase: “No one is boring who will tell the truth about himself.”

We all have unique insights, nobody’s life is exactly like our own.  You don’t have to live in a glamorous city or sew chic clothes or be young and exceedingly attractive.  Just keep it real.  You may not want to discuss your personal life, where you live or with whom.  But remember that, unless a blog is merely an archive of your projects, it is generally meant to be read by others.  Don’t be afraid to express yourself. 

DO post photos

Sewing is visual.  We work with colorful fabrics and often make beautiful things.  So a good basic camera and an understanding of how to use it and post photos is fundamental.  You wouldn’t build a house with a crappy drill, would you?  A blog is your public face.  What impression do you want to make?  (It’s a lot like getting dressed.)  That doesn’t mean you need to do yourself up like Ann Miller just to take a photo -- in fact, lack of vanity is a HUGE plus.  Lower the stakes and let your hair down.  People love that.

DO enjoy yourself

Do you like to write?  If you don’t, a sewing blog may not be the best platform for you, unless you’ll just be posting photos.  Your blogger “voice” will develop over time, but fundamentally, you must enjoy expressing yourself in words.  Not everybody does, and while writing well is not an innate talent but more like a muscle that strengthens through regular exercise, it takes time and discipline.

My favorite blogs take me places that are new to me.  My favorite bloggers are often nothing like me -- at least not on the surface -- but they have an ability to share their passions and challenges in a way that I relate to.  And they often make me laugh.  Fabulous Sewing Skills Not Required.

DO post regularly

It’s nice to have an idea of when and how frequently a blogger will be posting (once a week is plenty, imo).  Keep in mind, you can also blog too often.  I don’t want to visit a blog more than once daily (with a few exceptions) and if a blog appears at the top of my blogroll three times a day, I find it annoying unless the content consistently warrants it.

When blogging starts to feel like drudgery, take a break or blog less frequently.  It can also be fun to blog about something other than sewing -- we all have plenty of other things going on in our lives and it can be as refreshing to write about them as it is to read about them.  I don’t bake, but I enjoy reading about baking, especially when there’s a mouth-watering photo attached.  Same goes for pets, children, vacations, work challenges, chores etc.  I fast forward through the knitting, however.

DO be kind to your readers

Whether you have 10 followers or 10,000, your readers follow you because they like something about you. If they post a comment that sounds critical, give them the benefit of the doubt.  However, it’s better to delete what feels like an abusive comment than ever to engage in a public argument.  Your blog should feel safe and welcoming to your readers.  Settle scores privately through email if need be.  If you’re taking a long break, let your readers know.  It’s the same consideration most of us would show a friend.  Must you do this?  Of course not.  But it reflects positively on you if you do.

Should you respond to every comment?  It’s up to you.  I do not, unless someone asks a specific question, or I just feel like engaging.  (This is most likely when I’ve just posted, or days after.)

DON’T compare yourself to others

There are some very popular blogs out there, and these bloggers have worked hard to get where they are.  To make them the standard against which you judge your own achievements is a sure path to unhappiness; ask me how I know.  (This applies to everything, not just sewing blogs.)   We can only be who we are and do what we can do; we don't need to hear an inner voice asking, "Why can't you be more like so-and-so?"

That said, there are all kinds of ways to build your visibility.  Most take time.  I found that posting my projects on BurdaStyle and Pattern Review was about all I could handle energy-wise, and I hardly do that anymore, it’s just too much work.  But it does bring new readers to my blog.  Pinterest and Facebook help too, but they take time too (less so FB than Pinterest, the biggest time suck since soap operas).

Giveaways are popular.  Give away something you’d enjoy getting.  Leaving comments on other people’s blogs is another good way to build your visibility but be careful: if your comment is simply “Visit my blog (with link), I’m having a giveaway!” it could get deleted (by me at least).  Treat other bloggers as you would like to be treated and create good sewing karma.

Is your blog going to be primarily presentational or educational as well? I appreciate a well-crafted tutorial and I think others do to.  This is another way to contribute to the sewing community and draw readers.  Same with a sew-along, if you have the time and energy for it.

I’ve found, building what feels like a real sewing community over the past three years, that as much as I’m seduced by numbers of readers, what satisfies me most is quality: that my readers know what I’m about, check in regularly, leave thoughtful comments, are open to new ideas and discussion of unusual topics, and play well with others.  I get next to no spam other than the “buy Viagra” variety.   When I need Viagra perhaps I will come to appreciate those too.

***

And now a word about layout.

I’ve kept my blog super simple, using a basic Blogspot template.  For one thing, I lack the skills to add new features.  For another, I’m from the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school.  I don’t like fancy backdrops that take too long to load.  My posts are just little essays with photos; I’m not selling products.  If you are, you may want a more sophisticated platform or hire someone with the skills to help you.

And that’s my two-cents.

In closing, readers, what do you enjoy most about your favorite sewing blogs?

What do you look for in a sewing blog?  (e.g., inspiration, education, escape, etc.)

 If you have a blog already, what are your biggest challenges?

Jump in!

70 comments:

  1. Wow, another great post. I really enjoy reading blogs and writing, but I don't think I'm going to start a blog anytime soon. I think your comments on the amount of time seem true and my life doesn't have enought time at the moment. I think you have come up with wise advice that you seem to follow. I feel I know you and I think your other readers do too. (MPB seems to be a great success and without loyal readers that would not happen.)Thanks again for a blog post worth the time it takes to read it.

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  2. Love your blog! You are a great inspiration to the rest of the blogging community. Great advice!

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  3. What timing! I was giving much thought to this topic over the weekend. Great insights Peter, and you've confirmed what I've found to be true: you have to be yourself when writing, and writing well takes practice.

    I also appreciate a simple layout, such as yours. I'm turned off by crazy color schemes in the background.
    I've found it difficult to post regularly, but as you've said, it's important to establish a regular schedule. So, this year, more practice, and on a more regular basis!

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  4. I do have a blog, but it's not read much. I sometimes write about the Laws of Fashion (which apparently went out of vogue in the 80s) and sometimes I write about my specific sewing projects.

    Then I have my chatty blog about whatever I'm doing that day (different site). And then sometimes I get in a theological lather and write something for a group blog that I participate in.

    I wonder sometimes why I'm not blog-popular, but life is too short to get stressed out about it. :)

    More posting would probably at least *help*... lol.

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  5. Great post. I just want to reiterate what you say about photos. If possible, take pictures outside. Take MANY MANY phots. If you have $20 extra dollars, you can have a tripod. And many point and shoot cameras now work well with a remote. Pictures can make all the differnce in the world.

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    1. Agree with this! Especially if you are taking pictures by yourself, without someone standing back there looking at the camera. Take a LOOOOOT of pictures (seriously, sometimes I take like 75-100 if I'm having a "bad light" day), then it's easier to weed out all the ones with bad lighting, pose, derpface, etc. You don't need a super fancy camera to take good pictures - just go outside and use a tripod with a self-timer or remote. Easy! I don't think most readers are looking for ~amazing~ pictures anyway, as much as they just want something that is clear, focused, and shot in nice light.

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  6. Thanks so much for a great post! A do have a blog (diydk.blogspot.dk) but for the better part of 6 months, I haven't had time or energy to post. I hope I'll find the bloggin'-spirit again, but for now I have too much on my plate. I still get some sewing dne fro time to time.

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  7. I have a blog that I also started in 2009 (that was a big year for blogs, for some reason -- maybe it was because of "Julie and Julia"). It's about music, not sewing. I have a few regular readers, but they rarely comment. I've noticed that I get the most comments when I post a recording of myself playing or write about a specific event that some of my readers have also attended. The two most-read posts, though, involve neither -- they are simply on popular topics that people find through a search. I would like to have more of a readership, but it is what it is.

    I considered starting a sewing blog, but the photography aspect was too daunting. Plus, I don't sew enough to make it worthwhile! I am in awe of all of you sewing bloggers and your detailed photos and info about your projects.

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    1. Harriet, I think it requires a certain level of compulsion that may not be healthy.

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  8. The biggest challenge for me is also one of the soul purposes of my blog. It's a really good way to exercise liking yourself -achievements set aside- and give yourself a little less of a hard time, all the time. I'm proposing that having a crummy blog is a great way to practice not achieving 110% and try to be ok with that. It takes great courage posting photos of yourself if you genuinely don't like your body for example. Both sewing, reading other real-life bloggers and blogging a little bit yourself can help with that. Therapeutic blogging is more for the writer than for the reader maybe, I can't tell.

    I really think it's also important to NOT read blogs that get you down for whatever reason.

    Your blog always brings a smile to my face and adds to the silver lining that the blogosphere gives my everyday life. Thanks :).

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    1. I like your thoughts Erika about exercising liking yourself and appreciating what you do. That is a lovely thought. I think some people need that..It is very courageous having a blog.

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  9. Oh Peter, thats very appreciate two cents. I wish you could have met me with Clio when I was in NY.I really love the sincerity that comes across so well on your posts.

    now to your questions:

    What I enjoy most about your favorite sewing blogs is the mixture of the personally ( voice as you called) and the quality of the whole. I don't mean being a great writer( Im not and english is not even my 1st language) but I try to read many times before I release a post just to make sure. I try to get my english partner to fix for me but he started to hate sewing LOL.

    What do you look for in a sewing blog? Mostly Its creating friendships as people that sew have a special gene that make the so marvellous to chat.They are witty or caring or just plain creative. I love to feel part of a network that i can ask for help and can help too.

    I got my blog,http://houseofpinheiro.blogspot.co.uk and my biggest challenges is that since I create to consume time, now that I have less time, I find it hard to let it go. I could early post daily but started to phase myself out to only blog one day on, one day off.. its because I don't want my readers to suffer when I am back to the job market. I told them my goals and how it would affect my blog, and I still feel guilty..

    lots of love, Rachel

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    1. sorry I didn't spell check... lol im also a passionate brazilian that speed writes!

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  10. I have a blog that happens mostly to feature sewing, although it is by no means a designated sewing blog. I'd say I find it difficult to come up with quality content except that I don't really because I have no delusions about the quality of the material I am capable of putting out. My blog is, quite honestly, twaddle, but I am OK with that because to be a high-profile blogger is not one of my aspirations. I have a whopping 26 readers, which is 26 more than I ever thought I would get. It's project log for me more than it is for anyone else (project log plus: Sometimes it's recipes, sometimes it's stuff related to my zillion other hobbies, etc.).

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  11. Great post!! I'm learning the hard way that patience is ABSOLUTELY key in this process but I'm willing to give it a go (even though it seems like I'm writing to myself most of the time ha ha!). Thanks for the tips! :)

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  12. Great advice Peter! My sewing blog is a little over a year old, and I still think it was one of the best decisions I made to go for it. It's incredibly rewarding, and I think it pushes me to keep sewing and learning at a fast pace.

    I'm instantly attracted to other sewing blogs that have large, clear photos with detail shots to boot.I'm a nosy little seamster who likes to analyze things up close. I'm also a devoted reader of bloggers who have a sense of humor, are generous with sharing their knowledge & linking to other helpful resources, or can get creative with refashioning or pattern hacking. If someone posts too much, though, I tend to stop paying attention.

    If bloggers are looking to figure out how to gain readership, I can only repeat your advice: You have to give to get. Engaging in sew-alongs, posting on linky parties, and sharing thorough reviews of newly-released independent patterns also help.

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  13. Some great insights in this post! I find it very interesting to see why people blog and I love all the different perspectives. I started blogging because I wanted be able to read other peoples blogs without trawling around dozens of sites so I thought that if I set up a blog, I could have a blogroll - my own personal daily reading! As time went on I started commenting about my knitting and dyeing of yarn and then the sewing bug got hold of me. I had not really sewn for about 15 years and my blog seemed the perfect place to record my return to sewing and catalogue my garments and patterns.

    I really love knitting socks and use a site called Ravelry which is fantastic for logging projects, listing stash, following forums etc. Unfortunately I could not find anything comparable in the sewing world (I've got computer literate hubby working on it though!) and as I am a bit compulsive, I thought a blog would be a great place to put this information - it is my diary/notebook/scrapbook all in one. And then once I started getting followers I was absolutely thrilled! I take the time to read and comment on other blogs and as a result I have learned a huge amount and even been able to pass on one or two top tips to help others.

    I do get a thrill when certain blogs have a new posting (yours included) and I love seeing Cathy's photo shoots - inspired!

    And finally, I enjoy going off on a tangent and see who other bloggers have on their blog rolls and I have 'found' some fantastic 'reads'!! So pop on over!

    Love your blog - long may it last!!

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  14. Great information Peter Thankyou

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  15. Thank you! Having just re-started my blog this post was exactly what I needed to read at this point in time. Still pondering the answers to you questions, but you have really made me focus on what I am trying to do.

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  16. I like reading sewing blogs, both those with tutorials and those that are based in showing off finished makes. It's interesting to me to see how different people evolve stylistically and technique/skill-wise, so I'm apt to follow both extremely skilled sewists as well as relative newbies.

    For my own blog, I've found multiple challenges since starting out. The first is photography. I can usually get ok pictures of things I've made for other people. It's the getting pictures of myself that is difficult. My daughter is a very eager volunteer photographer, but she's only 5, so the attention span and eye/hand coordination is still developing. The plan is to get a better camera/tripod soon, but in the meantime, the photography is a work-in-progress. I do make sure there's some effort put forth to take the pictures. I wear make-up, do something with my hair, add accessories, and try to work with lighting/background, etc. I don't want to be that blogger saying "I just finished a project and I know this phone pic is blurry and has dirty laundry piled in the background, and I didn't shower today, but..." If others want to do it that way, it's their blog, so they are allowed, but I really appreciate it when they follow up with more staged pics in a few days. I also prefer to see the garment actually on the intended wearer. It's hard when someone goes into great detail about the fitting adjustments they made, but then only shows a hanger or dress-form shot to know whether the fitting adjustments were as successful as they should have been (unless, of course the reason for not wearing it in the pics is because the fitting adjustments didn't work and they can't get into the garment). I agree that posting timing is sometimes difficult to achieve a good balance on. Sewing blogs in particular need to have some time between posts because sewing takes time. It isn't like cooking where a meal can be made up in minutes and posted daily. A sewing blogger who posts every day or even multiple times a week likely is posting a lot of details about in-progress projects, or is blogging about things other than sewing. I tend to prefer to write about sewing, because that's what I prefer to read from others, but I know other stuff has snuck onto my blog too.

    The not comparing myself with others can get difficult. I have to check in once in a while with myself to try to gauge whether I'm making things that are "inspired by" or whether I'm becoming too imitative of someone else, especially very popular bloggers. Body image comparisons would be an entirely different post altogether. It helps to read blogs written with a focus on promoting positive body image; a posting about dressing well now or making clothes that fit rather than trying to make one's body be a certain size number is always appreciated in the mix.

    I'd love to be a high-profile blogger with lots of people looking at what I've made, maybe a book deal and free fabric and people giving me shoes where the only catch is that I have to wear them in a photo, but realistically, I'm still learning how to write a good blog, take good pictures, and sew utterly fantastic things that always turn out perfectly. I love the writing aspect. I love the sewing. I'll keep doing it as long as I'm having fun, and if others want to read, I love having them along for the ride.

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  17. Peter!
    Today's topic could not be more timely for me. After a year and a half of seriously considering starting a sewing blog and several months of concentrated work, I am within days of launching.

    And Male Pattern Boldness was, hands down, my greatest inspiration for attempting this. It was MPB that showed me what this medium could accomplish and spurred me to take the leap and offer my own perspective in the blog format.

    Here's why I've read MPB regularly for a couple of years and been so inspired:

    --Thoughtful writing. You handle serious topics with lightness and invest lightweight topics with seriousness. This takes sensitivity and skill.

    --Courtesy. I love that you address us readers. Just a day or two ago I checked a dozen other sewing blogs to see whether they address their readers and I think I spotted only one other than yours. I also like the way you portray Michael.

    --Whimsicality. In my last job your posts--and the parrot video!--just about saved my sanity.

    --Accessibility. Your blog is easy to use. I love the categories. (Former librarian speaking here.) The accessibility is another form of courtesy I appreciate. Thanks for taking the time to provide access points.

    --Skillful and droll use of images and video.

    --Opinions. You express them and also welcome those of others.

    --A balance between openness and privacy.

    --Cathy. What a wowser.

    --Curiosity. I like that you ask questions, and that you seem genuinely to want to know.

    --The community you've created.

    --You post regularly, or else you let us know when you'll be away. (I know, I feel like a bird that's gotten accustomed to coming to a birdfeeder and is alarmed when the feeder is empty.)

    --You have a lot of "there" there. How else to put it?

    --Oh, and I'm so impressed by your sewing progress!

    I'm not exaggerating: MPB has been a major source of inspiration to me, not so much as a sewer, interestingly, but as a writer. Thank you.

    I have a question for you: Did it take you a long time to decide what to put in your first posts, or did you just take the plunge?







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  18. I have read so many posts about rethinking or redesigning blogs recently, I feel as though I must have missed something! Maybe it's that January urge to begin anew.
    I definitely agree with all your points about starting and maintaining a blog. I don't follow any sort of guidelines, but my blog is only for my personal enjoyment (although I do get a big kick out of it when people stop by!).
    I don't have any challenges but I do have some concern that so many bloggers and bloggers-to-be think they are somehow going to become famous/rich/all-powerful simply from their blog. That may happen in very rare cases, but those people put in a lot of effort on self-marketing in addition to their blogs, plus they generally kept their full-time jobs, managed families, etc., at the same time.

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  19. I don't have a ton of blogs that I read - I just don't have the time. I always look for new entries from the ones on my blogroll who either have great photography (luzia pimpinella or capable of flying) or whose posts delve a little further into fashion than "this is what I made this week", like yours. I like people who go out on a limb with their sewing and aren't afraid to try something difficult, even if the result isn't what they envisioned. Wit is important, too. And I appreciate blogs that inspire discussions in the comments. I've learned a lot from some blogs because I read the comments. And speaking of comments, I really like bloggers who don't feel the need for all the comments or discussion to be in agreement; showing differing opinions always makes for a better discussion, as long as it's polite. I once had a comment deleted, simply because I offered a differing opinion from the author (not on a sewing blog). I found it strange only because I hadn't said anything personal - I'd only given some facts to show that her post was factually incorrect in some parts. I didn't disagree with her overall assessment of the topic. But I digress...

    I don't like blogs which have reviews that are paid reviews because that just seems disingenuous to me. But that's just my opinion, and I'm sure that there are people who appreciate those blogs and the product reviews that they offer. Another thing that I don't like to read is blogs whose authors constantly see the glass as half empty. I'm not saying we all have to be cheery and bright all the time, but there are blogs that I've found with posts that are such downers that I have stopped reading them. They generally aren't sewing blogs.

    My own blog only has a lowly 8 readers and while I'd welcome others, I don't post frequently enough for it to get any attention. I don't mind, though. I try to post as often as possible but I often just don't have the time. Or I haven't taken the photos of the garment. My blog is mostly sewing but sometimes it has other stuff like baking or writing about my kids. I try to be positive and not too bitchy because I don't think many people want to read that. I welcome critiques of my sewing as long as they seem well-intentioned because I don't have many people who can look at my work critically - my in-laws, for example, think it's all just too amazing and I prefer feedback that doesn't just fawn over my work.

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  20. Peter,

    Thanks for a really thought-provoking post.

    Back in August, I started my own sewing blog, then deleted it, then started it up again. I completely hear you when you say the blogging can be a time-sink; I have very little time for sewing and I really want to sew, not blog. But I started to realize that I'd also like to have a history of my sewing projects, if for nothing else than to be able to go back and remember what decisions I made and things I learned while doing them.

    And I also felt a little obligation to give back: I've learned a ton by reading your blog (I'm making my first men's shirt right now and your sew-along is a great resource). And because men who sew are such a niche within a niche, there are so few voices on the net devoted to it and I wanted to be a part of that.

    Despite that, even though I write the blog as if I have an audience, I don't expect people to read it and am not even sure if they would find it interesting/entertaining. I thought your comments about enjoying yourself and reaching out to your audience very interesting. Thanks.

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  21. What an interesting topic. When I started to blog it was out of a need to commit myself. I have a vague schedule of posting at least one new garment a week (which I haven't done for a month). By committing to that, it made sure I actually finished things ready to post on Sunday night. It works well for me. I also like that I have a tangible record of my work, which I doubt I would document otherwise. Like Mike P above I write as if I have an audience but don't expect anyone to read. I still get a thrill when I get a comment. I don't have a large readership; I'm not a master seamster, I'm not funny and I'm not an entrepreneur but I have a lovely relationship with the people who do read me. There is a lot of support when I need help and I've even helped a few people myself. I read lots of blogs for different reason. I read your blog because you're a bloke and I sew for blokes, too, so I get inspiration from you. I read some blogs because the seamsters make similar things to me and give me ideas or are a similar shape and give me fitting tips. I read others because they are so damn good I learn from them every time. I read some just because they make me laugh. In my opinion, joining the sewing blog community is the 21st century version of the sewing circle. 100 years ago, I'd have wandered next door to my neighbour to ask for help in fitting the halterneck top I wrestled with this past weekend. Now I go online.

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  22. Peter, I think I would read your blog even if I were not interested in sewing. Although sewing was the reason I found it. You have so many fun things to tell about that I enjoy -- living in NYC, your affinity to vintage finds at the flea market, your cute little dogs, Cathie, and the general cuteness appeal of you and your family.

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  23. Very interesting post - I've been trying to decide whether I want to start a sewing/crafting blog or not. The 'time-sink' factor has mainly been what's stopping me, but with my job as a medical writer I'm looking for a more creative outlet for writing in my own time.

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  24. I love that photo of Lucy! What I love in a blog is good writing: articulateness, humour and the ability to rivet me with a story. Of course, I also love instructional text, good photos, inspirational finished objects - but I'll take good writing any day. The rest is a bonus.

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    1. Lucy looks adorable! And I agree with you about writing. That's why I love your blog.

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  25. Very much appreciated and well timed because I, too, have been considering a sewing blog. And given the information presented, I have made my decision. I am not up for it. I enjoy reading and will continue to do so, but I'd rather spend my sewing energy with sewing, not writing. So, that said, BRAVO to those who do blog and I will faithfully read with enthusiasm, comment when appropriate and otherwise enjoy.

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  26. I so agree about the simple layout. Those that take extra time to load get under my skin. Thanks for a very thoughtful and helpful post!

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  27. Peter, I clapped my hands with glee when I read this post. I think you have read my mind, or at least anticipated an awful lot of questions I had about blogging. In other people's blogs, I often start out looking for answers to technical questions, and then stay for the ride because the blogger has other qualities-- mainly an ability to make me giggle. I appreciate information laid out in a simple, logical way that i can quickly navigate. If the blogger has a sparkling wit and looks pretty in photographs, it's a bonus, but not necessary. I know I enjoy your blog immensely because its snappily written, often hilarious, thought provoking, and you illustrate it with a vast number of very well chosen pictures. You are also not shy about showing the state of your living room ( I do love checking out your backgrounds). I would love to start my own blog, and this post is another push in that direction. Thank you!

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  28. One other thing: do you have the help of an editor? With so few spelling and grammatical errors I am sure you have some sneaky help there-- does Michael proof read?

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  29. I tried to post my comment earlier today but my ipad and blogger conspired against me to eat my post not once, but twice! Sigh!

    I started my little blog about 18 months ago, purely as a way for me to record and express what I was doing as I found sewing to be a fairly solitary and lonely hobby. I now have 49 followers! I never expected anyone to read or appreciate what I was doing, so the fact that people do, and want to comment about it means so much to me.

    I've never chased followers and the only blog related thing I do is have a facebook page. I always get much more interaction there than on my blog but I think thats just more about the style of medium that facebook is.

    I try to blog at least once or twice a week, and I agree that it takes a while to find your voice. My first few posts were BORING! But I soon found myself and now I think (I hope!) that my readers and I have fun...I know I enjoy it :)

    I enjoy your blog as much for your humour, writing and photos, as your reader's comments! You have created a really interesting community and I am glad to be a part of it :)

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  30. Nice post! I think it's also important to say that you should only blog if you think blogging is FUN. Same with sewing. If it becomes stressful or competitive, take a break. I really enjoy the writing and the sharing. I love the connections I've made with people all over the world. I also love having a record of things I've made. I think most of the reason I blog is selfishness!

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  31. I do have a blog, but not a sewing blog. My blog focuses on head-covering, and I find that one of my main challenges is connecting with other blogs that have related sorts of content, so that potential readers can find me. I read a wide variety of blogs (for example, this one), but only a few are likely to connect to people interested in my topics. I'm also still finding my "blogging voice" after too many years of academic papers. But I really enjoy blogging, I find fascinating, and use it to explore a topic that so I keep at it, and hope that I may find a larger readership eventually...

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  32. I have a blog that is a mix of sewing, knitting and quilting with the odd bit of spinning thrown in for good measure. There is also family stuff as I'm writing partly to let me friends and family know what's going on.
    The main thing I'm finding hard is attracting new followers, especially as I'm starting to branch out from using patterns and am now drafting my own so can't use Pattern Review for that.
    Despite my following being relatively small though I do enjoy the process of blogging, I never got the hang of a diary but this works well for me and means I can keep track of what I'm doing as well. Blogging is fun and when you get down to it that's the most important aspect for me.

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  33. I, like many commenters above, have a blog that nobody reads. I started it to keep my project notes and photos together. Now I receive large amounts of spam comments, and my boyfriend and sister read it. Maybe it's time for a blogging break!

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  34. The hardest thing about blogging for me is keeping my posts constant when life grabs hold of my hands. I don't get to sew as much and often don't have the time or (lately) energy to sit down and write or take photos of newly sewn or in-progress garments.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  35. Just a short note to you. I Looove your blog I read it everyday.

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  36. My 2 cents. I stated my sewing blog in 2008 and out of nowhere, gained 30 followers in less than 3 months (it grew even more). In 2010, in a so called effort to improve the blog, I lost it and had to start all over. I lost about half of those followers-even though I emailed, etc. I like to keep it simple, use stuff that's already out there. I don't sew enough (at least not yet) to do reviews on PR and BurdaStyle (although I'm a member of PR). I found out about you (Peter) via Burda a couple of months back when I saw your article on tips for beginners (which I posted the article in its entirely on my blog with proper credit, of course). I enjoy your style of writing and even though I'd been away from sewing for about 18 months (until last month), I'd still post something to let my few followers know that I missed them and was still out there and hope to come back soon.

    Good article! Thanks.

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  37. This is a good post, a damn good one. I could totally relate to what is being said... sewing Karma ..hmmm I am on my way of building it ... Happy sewing, happy blogging!

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  38. I don't blog, but I absolutely do love reading blogs. I like the ones where I can learn something. However, I must admit, if I want to know how to do something I watch You Tube. I have found for me that there is where I find all the techniques, skills etc I need to sew and knit. Blogs I like because people share their lives with you, their passions, their knowledge and they also have such great photographs. There is no way I could blog. What I would have to say would bore people into a coma. I really appreciate your blog. It has everything, comedy, drama, fashion, advice, education, you, and of course Cathy's lovely photographs.

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  39. Peter,

    Thank you for creating this wonderful place.

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  40. I find that blogs I like to read, whether they're sewing, knitting, etc., tend to blend their personal lives with the craft that their blog is about. It's nice for a blogger to share things from their personal life and not keep the blog strictly about their craft. I think it helps the reader feel more "in touch" with the blogger. You have a great blog here and there is not a day that goes by that I don't stop by to see what you've posted. As a newbie seamster, I'm in awe of how far you've come in such a short time.

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  41. Fascinating stuff. I don't really think about blogging (it's just one more thing I do), and stopping to consider it on its own is food for thought indeed.

    I have decided it's a kind of discipline, with the payoff for the hard days (what on earth can I write about? Whose birthday is it? Is there some old photo around I can riff on?) being the days when it all just falls into place, I can rant about something I find intersting or amusing or annoying, and I wake up the next morning and there are funny, insightful comments waiting.

    Over the past few years I've really come to appreciate the community of bloggers I've gotten in touch with (starting with the fabulous Thombeau, of Fabulon, Chateau Thombeau, Form is Void, and Redundant Variety Show fame - he really set a high bar for all of us gay/general interest/artsy-snarky bloggers), and it's icing on the cake that there seem to be a fair number of other readers who breeze through, some of whom comment and become part of the larger community (as you've done, Peter) and some of whom remain aloof.

    The best special-purpose blogs (like yours) write interestingly enough about their subject that even someone not necessarily a participant (I haven't sewed in 20 years) still finds it compelling. I hope that something of the same is true of my own blog - that even if one weren't obsessed by old movies, minor royalties, and odd travel, there might still be something there to appeal...

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  42. Agree totally. I do not blog because I have caregiver responsibilities, but to be able to read interesting blogs about my favorite hobby is a great escape for me when I have to sit nearby and just be there. Yours is so interesting, I just have to check in to see what everyone says. In other words you make my day and you inspire what happens in my sewing room. thank you.

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  43. Given that your blog is one of the few that I've followed from day 1 (day 1 of my discovering sewing blogs, that is), your advices are precious.

    I started a blog because I'm passionate about sewing and wanted to "talk" about it - but everybody I know find all this boring. Foolish people! I mean, since when are welted pockets boring ? And don't get me started on bagging a lining. Pure genius. There clearly should be a Nobel prize for garment sewing.
    I don't have much reader, but I love writing so it doesn't really matter.

    Anyway, except for the pics part (I hate hate hate taking pictures of myself, and no way I'm going to do that outside! I feel stupid enough as is), I can't wait to have time again to sew and blog.

    In the mean time, I read yours :)

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  44. I love, love, love this post and agree with everything you say - particularly about keeping things positive. My personal rule of blogging is that I never write anything that I wouldn't be comfortable with a friend's child reading. For me, this refers to attitude as well as content. So I don't have any serious swearing, no bigotry or prejudice (as if! ever!), definitely no bad moods or strops, and a general rule of 'If you don't have anything good to say...'. I hope this doesn't make my blog saccharine - I don't think it does - but if you're setting out on the joyful blogging path, it may be worth thinking what your parameters are. (And don't get me wrong - I love some of the bloggers who have very different approaches to me! I relish Lladybird's fruity language!) I also agree with your comment that the regular blogging compulsion may verge on the unhealthy! But I love writing, so just try and stop me. Thank you for this great post.

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  45. I am a mediocre typist who seldom has access to a nearby helper. My method for proofreading my own stuff is to wait until I no longer remember word for word what I have written. Otherwise I will be "reading" what I intended rather than what I actually typed and will not see my typos.

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  46. Oops! My reply was meant for Beth McKinley. I have not yet figured out how to direct a reply.

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  47. As usual and always a great post.

    I have had a blog for just barely over a year, I started it in order to encourage me to sew more, and it has worked, though not as much as I had hoped for. The fact that I have people who actually read my poor excuse for a sewing blog always amazes me, and I am truly grateful for each and everyone that does.

    What I look for in a sewing blog is:

    -make it clean, I really don't like a lot of clutter, like backgrounds and borders all over the place

    -humour, if you are the best sewist in the world and have the best tutorials ever, I won't read your blog unless you amuse me

    -silence, there are some bloggers out there who assault my eardrums with music they have embedded on their blogs, they get deleted from my bloglovin feed immediately

    Those are the things that can make me read or not, but then there are the things one can't define, I just have to feel a connection with the writer.

    Forgive me if this doesn't make sense, it is the middle of the night where I am 8-).

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  48. Good post. Blogging is really a job you must enjoy for free whether it's 10 followers or 10,000. Get it out and post it :-)
    I'm still figuring out how this blogging world works.


    NEC
    (a man who sews in BK, NY)

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  49. I love bloggers. I'm lazy and realize that a successful blog takes work! So what do I look for in the blogs I follow? Like-ability, relatability, amusement and a little education and inspiration. You fit all categories admirably.

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  50. Oh, Peter, I've been shyly lurking in your delightful garden of the blogosphere since my daughter sent me to you in search of Cathy.
    My own blog is like the Seinfeld show in that is it "not really about anything", except of course it's not a tenth so amusing. I blog simply to keep my far-flung grown-up children up-to-date on life here in the valley in the middle of nowhere. A blog is thriftier than messaging them pictures of everything that goes on here.

    I have four readers, and gave birth to three of them, which is a very slow way to build a readership. Works fine for me.

    Here's what I like about MPB:

    1-The title is clever and engaging.

    2-You sew. I mean, you actually SEW. There are "sewing bloggers" out there who really only buy skirts from the thrift store, shorten them ten inches, and post them as "Look I made another new outfit." To my mind shortening 50 skirts a year doth not a sewing blog make.

    I started sewing at age 4 when I got my first Barbie (ponytail, black and white striped swimsuit, straight smooth legs....yep I'm that old.) I am not a brilliant sewer, I'm a sewer who is always interested in learning more. I love that your sewing projects are actual sewing start-to-finish. I love it that you tackle things you don't know how to do instead of playing it easy and doing the same thing over and over.

    3-I adore Cathy. One of my dilemmas as a child was that when Ken wore Barbie's royal blue velvet Guinevere dress with the satin lined sleeves he always had to keep his back to the wall like Jo March because the dress wouldn't snap up the back over his broad and manly shoulders. When I get my pattern altering skills up to speed I will satisfy my inner child by drafting him some dresses that fit his figure properly. Cathy inspires me that it can be done.

    4-I like the blend of wit and affection in your writing.
    I like it that you live in NYC but you aren't angry at the world. (We wholesome mid-westerners get bored with the whole angry city dweller persona.) I love the way you march out your front door looking for good things and invariably find them, then return and report them to us. It's like your a spy for the good side!

    Thank you for brightening this corner of the world!

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  51. I completely agree about honesty in blogging. If the blogger feels a passion about the subject matter, it comes across. There is no sense in trying to please the audience without pleasing yourself first. As your example of Marlene vs Ginger, the writing appealed to you, a little tweak is enough to draw the reader in.

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  52. You have THE BEST readers ever, Peter! I have been a blog reader for many years, and don't know if I have ever seen such an engaged and thoughtful group of readers. Kudos to you, and your readers for creating such a wonderful community. I only discovered you last week, and I am hooked!! xoxo

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  53. Thank you for this post, Peter. As a novice blogger, these types of tips are really great for me. I love your blog!

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  54. I only recently pulled my sewing blog from my personal blog that I've had for over 10 years, and I find myself asking myself if the random sewing thoughts are "blog worthy", which is silly because the main reason for the sewing blog is to connect with people that are as excited as I am about sewing (and fabrics and patterns and everything that goes along with it).
    I think I sometimes feel a little out of my league as a blog newbie among wonderful blogs like yours , Gertie's, LLadybird's, and others, so I am going to try to take your "don't compare" advice to heart.

    In terms of blogs I love, I like to read about people's processes- the pattern they decided to make, the fabric they chose to work with, what they had trouble with and how they overcame it. I learn SO much reading this type of post, and even though I haven't been sewing very long, that's the sort of thing I try to share in my blog.

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  55. I don't have a sewing blog. I have a sewing machine obsession blog. I love it. I love to write it and I love to read it. It is FUN !!! I like to let others know about old sewing machines, how to fix them and how to use them. But honestly? It's all about me entertaining my readers.... I take LOTS of photos and photoshop them to make them more meaningful. All in all, the only reason I blog is because it is fun for me....

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  56. This is a great post, Peter! I have been reading your blog since Gertie announced it on her site, and even if I don't comment often, I have been reading along happily. So whatever you have been doing, keep it up! :)

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    Replies
    1. I thought you hadn't forgiven me for not sewing that men's tracksuit!

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  57. I've been reading your blog and others for the last few years, and have thought about setting up my own sewing blog, to the point where I've set up the blog address. But I haven't started it up mainly for reasons taht are really ridiculous : I don't live in a glamorous city (I live in rural NSW, Australia), sew chic clothes (seriously, where would I wear them?) or am exceedingly young and attractive (although I aint too bad!). Having read this post and the comments, I might just jump in. I like your advice to keep it real. That's what I tell my kids after all - be true to yourself and you can't go wrong.

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  58. Great post Peter, and I agree with the commenter who said you have great readers. The comments are as good as the post!!

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  59. Thanks, Peter! I've just recently started blogging myself, and while I could tell things were a little dry in my posts, you've sparked a few ideas on how to fix that :)

    I've been following along with quite a few of you for about a year, and am excited to officially be a 'part of the community' and hope to get to know you all a bit better!

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