If you read Tilly and the Buttons (if you don't take a look!) you'll have noticed she's writing a paper on whether sewing bloggers are/can be cultural leaders and what impact that has on the artistic world and in specific Arts organisations.
Now, the really childish part of me goes 'Oooh Arts with a capital A organisations, yes you would want to come and try and organise something as lovely and organic as the sewing bloggosphere and claim it as your own!' But I won't. I love art and Art but sometimes I find it's it's own enemy. Ok, for example, my parents got to go to the Guggenheim in Bilbao whilst on holiday (yeah, I was really annoyed when I realised they'd gone without me...even if I'm closer to 30 than 13 and haven't lived at home for 5 years...). My parents although they love art don't always understand 'new' art, which is fine as everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they did try their best to understand each piece. What irritated me about the place was that my mother got told off for touching a large metal sculpture and the one piece that was supposed to be interactive that would have made more sense to my parents if they'd been allowed to interact with it was out of bounds also. I remember seeing that particular installation on the news and they were chatting to the artist about his work and he said it was supposed to be interactive, so why oh why wouldn't they let the visitors have a go like they were supposed to?
Anyway, back to the point in hand, 'Are Sewing Bloggers Cultural Leaders?' In my opinion, they can be if they want to be, but for me and I think for most bloggers they start blogging about sewing because they've got no one else to talk to about it and it's a way of getting useful feedback and ideas and help. The sewing circle culture has gone from many communities so we look online and get a world wide sewing circle, which has it's benefits and it's limitations also. I've joined the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle and love the camaraderie that you get there but sometimes feel like I can't keep up as I'm not always the fastest when sewing and don't have a large and varied pattern and cloth stash to be able to whip up the weekly suggestions, but it's good fun seeing what others do and bookmarking things for future makes. When I get a bit more proficient in sewing I'll probably be able to whip something up faster without too many mistakes.
The leader of that particular group is Mena as she set up the blog and then the circle but she's now spread the leadership with four other ladies. Now this provides diversity, but I also think this provides Mena with much needed time to keep up with what she wants to be doing, not what she wants to do for the blog. There's also the argument that within the sewing circle itself there are smaller groups of leaders or organisers, but it's a case of they've thought of a brilliant idea and shared it with the rest of us and we've followed suit. They're not elected and it doesn't mean that they will be a leader for longer than the duration of the project currently in hand. It's a great fluidity that I think a lot of businesses could take note from it, but I'm not certain it could work anywhere other than this sort of online community. We're not really competing with each other and it's a shared goal at the end, which is usually either a garment, notions like with the World travelling lace and notions swap, or a meet up to make friends in 'real life' like the London meet up a week today. Everybody gets something out of it, it's a bit Communist when I think about it as everyone is equal, there's no boundary that says someone can't take the initiative and direct the other group members to do something, but at the same time there's nothing saying that you have to become the leader for a particular time/event.
There are other bloggers who are leaders in their own sewing revolution like Gertie who has systematically gathered information and shared it willingly with her readers making sure every little detail of sewing is explored and explained to share the wealth and she has been rewarded in her work. She has over 3000 followers, a tv appearance and a book deal thus far, she's really going places and good for her! I really like how she's such a determined work horse and has pushed herself to achieve her goals and has let the sewing world see her on her one woman mission, she'll probably have a whole empire shortly. The key to her success I think has been her drive to constantly learn her craft and to challenge herself, but also to share that wealth of knowledge with others. She's a constant reference point for many many blogs. There are always the popular go-to reference guides that researchers have and for sewing Gertie is the one I see most referenced especially for vintage wear and techniques.
Now Gertie became a leader because she wanted to and because she has the good grace to share her pitfalls as well as her triumphs, like a similar discussion on Whipstitch recently, people who craft/sew are highly critical of their own work so seeing someone as successful as Gertie have a hiccup on a project lets us all remember we're all human. The interesting point that arose from the Whipstitch discussion was that we all enjoy the sense of community that we get from being on line and sharing our work with the world. There is a distinct lack of 'real world' communities like the ones on line for various different reasons so lots of us seek this sort of thing out or just get the community thing from joining in with shared goals like Me Made March or the Sewing Buddy Project.
Gosh you can tell I haven't written an essay/dissertation in some years can't you? Sorry it's a little disjointed, but what I'm trying to get across is that I think although there are definite leaders in the sewing blog world, it's not like they've seized the power, they've got there through sheer hard work and popularity for that hard work. Anyone can be a sewing blog leader if they choose to be, but I think quite a few of us like just having a place to share our work and thoughts and share encouragement with each other. I personally find this whole thing very refreshing as I don't feel pressured to get something sewn up just to meet a deadline rather than sew something because it's something I need/want/love/will gift to someone. I like how if something goes wrong I can hold it up, so to speak, on here and go 'what the hell happened? Can someone please help me!' and I'll get a response and it won't be derogatory or spiteful, it might not always have the answer but there'll certainly be a lot of encouragement to keep going and empathy for something that hasn't worked out right yet.
So what do you all think of this? Tilly wants to know what we all think so leave a comment here or on her original post or write your own theories and let Tilly know like I'm doing.
It's pouring with rain here and need to get my skirt for next weekend finished, just need to hem it and take it in a little on the side seams and then make a top as still undecided on what type of top I want. I also need to get my mum a birthday present as it's next week and had to give in and ask her was there anything she wanted as just couldn't come up with any ideas on my own! So busy weekend for me!
Happy sewing everyone!