Sewing blogs vs. DIY blogs – the showdown

I have an enduring fascination with categorising different groups of people, especially online. It must be the frustrated anthropologist in me.

Something I’ve been pondering for a while is the difference between sewing bloggers and DIY bloggers. You’d think there’d be a big overlap, but no! They’re totally separate tribes.  I was reminded of this by a recent post from Karen, and thought it would be fun to pit the two groups against each other, Top Trumps stylee:

In the red corner, we have:


Here we have dip-dye, neon, studding and denim cut-offs. If only there was some chevron-ing involved it would be the Holy Grail of DIY

Leading Lights: P.S. I Made This, Park & Cube, A Pair and a Spare, I Spy DIY, Outsapop, etc etc.

Who they are:  100% female. Mostly thin, beautiful, and young.

What they do: Easy DIY tutorials recreating specific pieces or trends from high-end fashion designers.

Defining characteristics: At least two of the following in every post: studding, neon, dip-dyeing, chevrons, embellished collars, and cut-off denim. Huge images and tiny text. Heavy use of the phrase ‘pop of colour’.

Strengths: Gorgeous photos. A playful, fun approach to DIY and customisation. Accessible to people without a sewing machine. A way to replicate high-fashion looks without spending thousands.

Weaknesses: Too much Instagram, not enough text. Occasionally silly fashion blog poses. Unlikely corporate tie-ins. Sometimes projects look like they would fall apart after 5 minutes wear.

And in the blue corner, there’s the:


Ahh, a lovely reassuring vintage circle skirt pattern

Leading Lights: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, Male Pattern Boldness, too many more to mention (check my links list)

Who they are: 98% female. All ages, sizes, styles.

What they do: Sew things, take photos, put on blog. Repeat. Interspersed with occasional tutorials, sewing tips, and wardrobe planning posts.

Defining characteristics: A love of 40s/50s vintage. Circle skirts. A weakness for decorative buttons. Knitting often spotted. Have made at least one thing from Colette Patterns. Refer to other sewing bloggers by first name with no context.

Strengths: Interesting writing. A strong sense of community. Useful tips and tutorials. Real content (ie. not just ‘curated’ from somebody else’s Tumblr). Clothing which is wearable by those over the age of 25.

Weaknesses: Blog layouts not as professional as the DIY crew. Often small or badly-lit photos. Overuse of the word ‘make’ as a noun. Too many wacky fabric prints. Pattern crazes sweep through the community like wildfire, which can lead to distressing homogeneity.

So who wins? I think we’d have to call it a draw. Personally I read a lot more sewing blogs, and my favourites are those that take inspiration from fashion, like Erica BGrainline and DIY Couture. Maybe both sides could learn from each other – the DIY bloggers could get a bit more in-depth with their making skills, and the seamstresses could learn to love simple, fun projects (although I draw the line at studding everything in sight).

What do you think, gentle readers? Do you read DIY blogs, sewing blogs, or both? Are you interested in fashion or do you prefer to tread your own path? And do you share my love of categorising people into groups, or do you think its like, totally oppressive and unfair?

37 thoughts on “Sewing blogs vs. DIY blogs – the showdown

  1. Zoe November 2, 2012 / 1:00 PM

    I loved this post so much! I think categorising aids communication. I feel some of the sewing blogging community could learn a thing or two from the DIY youngsters about taking and editing photos better, and I massively include myself in this criticism. However, would it really hurt the DIY’ers to think and discuss a bit about the wider context of WHY they are DIY-ing?

    You are awesome and write fantastic posts! xx

    • yesilikethat November 2, 2012 / 2:07 PM

      Aw thanks dude! xx

  2. Sarah October 14, 2012 / 10:25 AM

    I just clicked through to PS I Made This and my immediate reaction was ArghHelpTooBigCan’tRead! That probably makes me a young fogey.
    I personally read both kinds of blogs, but I think there’s more scope for reading more sewing blogs as there’s much more of a personal element – the DIYs do get a bit samey after a while whereas I still like seeing Karen, Winnie and Shivani’s different takes on the infamous elephant fabric! Perhaps I’m just terminally unimaginative and need different ways of using things demonstrated to me?

    • yesilikethat October 16, 2012 / 7:54 PM

      I do think sewing blogs are more individual, there’s so many different styles out there. I am the same as you with regards to blog styling though! Some things seem to be made made for Pinterest, less for actual reading.

  3. debbie September 23, 2012 / 5:14 PM

    Great post. I like your categorising and analysis. I have to say I don’t read many diy or fashion blogs (they make me feel so past it anbd old) but what I do read are crafty/sewing mother blogs doubtless due to the fact I have kids myself. These too can be categorised for example, into Martha Stewart perfection mum blogs, hipster crafty mums, new domestic mum, oh…I can’t carry on but you see what i mean? I find there is at times more of an undercurrent of “Look how perfect my life is” with these blogs – a feeling I don’t get with sewing blogs.

    • yesilikethat September 28, 2012 / 2:27 PM

      Good point, I read a couple of those more crafty blogs which seem to have a lot more cooking in them (and tiny children of course). I agree that sewing blogs are more likely to show failures and works in progress, although I have to confess I keep my real failures off this blog so as not to get too depressed! 🙂

  4. Andrea September 22, 2012 / 3:29 AM

    Ha haaa! Great post. I’ve actually categorized my blog reader by those same two types – Sewing vs. DIY/Lifestyle. I rarely look at the DIY ones except A Beautiful Mess, just because the photos and colors are so aesthetically pleasing, but yeah, enough hand-stamped journal covers already. I like blogs that have a unique voice, so even though Kendi Everyday is a not-quite-my-style fashion blog with retail sponsors, I follow her because of her sarcasm and wit.

    There seem to be two different worlds of sewing, too: one that consists of those who often sew vintage-inspired garments for themselves out of fabrics with fun-to-say names like crepe, twill, voile, poplin… and one for those I call the Amy Butler types, usually mamas who tend to sew for their kids or make accessories and/or garments from printed quilting cotton. I follow Made by Rae but I guess I don’t follow her followers, because no one on my personal blog roll has made her recent dress pattern, but she did a photo round-up of a million women out there who have! Funny how it works.

    • yesilikethat September 28, 2012 / 2:28 PM

      Ooh thanks for the recommendations, just checked out Kendi Everyday and I love it. So weird about the Made by Rae dress, it’s like a whole other sewing world!

      Also, I totally agree that crepe, twill, and voile are fun to say.

  5. Alice September 20, 2012 / 7:37 PM

    Interesting post! Personally I LOVE the sewing community, as everyone seems to be so lovely and encouraging! I spend more time reading sewing blogs, as they tend to be more helpful (I’m always eager to learn!) than DIY blogs. Haha re badly lit photos – I am guilty for a few of those, and I do get very annoyed with myself when that happens. But then again, when we live in a country where there are more rainy/cloudy days than sunny ones (ok, that may not be entirely true), and when I spend most of the bright hours at work, it is more difficult and requires a lot more patience. I am so jealous of those seamstresses with beautiful photos though! x

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 7:52 PM

      Your photos always look great! It’s worst in the winter when you get home from work and it’s dark already. My knitting group once had a day where we all got together and took photos of each other wearing all the stuff we’d knitted. Maybe it would be a good sewing meet-up idea! We could lure some photography bloggers along with cakes. x

  6. Jenny September 20, 2012 / 7:00 PM

    Oh man–you hit on one of my sewing blog pet peeves: the poorly-lit photos! I particularly despise them when they are my own. . . oh, I’m so guilty. . . It is hard, though, trying to get a decent photo when you’re by yourself or you’re trying to post at odd hours. But you’re right–a tiny bit of forethought and natural light work wonders.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 7:27 PM

      I’m the worst at taking photos. I am too scared to go outside into the natural light most of the time, I think all those bloggers with beautiful outdoor photos must live somewhere a bit less population-dense than London! Or they are just less easily-embarrassed.

  7. nicoleneedles September 20, 2012 / 6:53 PM

    ‘Overuse of the word make as a noun’ – that drives me crazy! Love this post, made me laugh out loud on the train home.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 7:24 PM

      It is a major pet peeve of mine, a very silly one I know but we all have our grammatical oddities. Glad you liked it!

  8. gingermakes September 20, 2012 / 5:45 PM

    BAHAHAHAHA! “Pop of color”! Oh wow, this is so funny. I’m with you– I love the site design and style of many of the DIY blogs, but often their projects are a bit heavy on the glue gun.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 7:25 PM

      I have to confess I am a major glue gun addict (different from a glue addict). I love the smell of the old hot glue heating up (maybe not that different) x

    • gingermakes September 21, 2012 / 1:10 AM

      Haha, that’s awesome! I have too many bad memories of burning my fingers with one as a kid!

  9. Erica B September 20, 2012 / 5:21 PM

    What an absolutely great post. As a blogger, I try to straddle both the worlds of sewing and fashion. For me, I have to pull inspiration from somewhere.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 5:32 PM

      I think you have to be the most fashionable sewing blogger around. Your Pinterest inspired outfits are awesome. Wish I could sew half as well!

  10. Heather Lou September 20, 2012 / 1:45 PM

    Great post! (“Refer to other sewing bloggers by first name with no context.” HA HA HA. Busted.) I used to subscribe to most of those DIY blogs but now I’m down to 1 or 2. I find most of their projects to be kinda BS filler. Also, since I sew pretty well I tire of the really easy “How to make a skirt with a rectangle” posts. But I also get quite frustrated with sewing bloggers who post terrible photos of their beautiful projects. Get in some natural light people! Or worse, when they post their poorly lit photo in the smallest format possible so you have to squint to see what you’re looking at (I have often commented about image sizes but no one has yet taken the hint). Drives me bananas. Oh well. I’ll still take our community over anyone else in a fight ever. We would totally win a rumble against the DIYers, who would be too worried about breaking a nail or running in heels to be a real threat anyway.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 2:09 PM

      Yeah, plus they would be weighed down by all the studding and chains and shit on their hand-distressed denim. I find the worst DIY projects are on the lifestyle blogs, I guess there is only so much notebook-decorating and decoupaging you can do before you start to run out of ideas and get desperate.

  11. Molly September 20, 2012 / 1:06 PM

    Those fashion blogger poses are awesome and so true! I’ll have to try some out next time I sew something haha!
    I mostly just follow tons and tons of sewing blogs, and some style/fashion blogs but the DIYers are just too trendy. Sometimes I feel like they’re dumbing everybody down too.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 7:26 PM

      There was a thread on Pattern Review where people posed in the style of the pattern envelope, I’m so doing that next time I sew something!

  12. Law September 20, 2012 / 12:15 PM

    Hilarious post.

    I think the very concept of blogging is interesting (both being a blog reader and a blogger). Personally I use blogs as a source of inspiration, for ideas, tips and advice on sewing techniques etc and just because I am generally interested in sewing so enjoy reading them.

    Personally as I’m not interested in fashion I prefer sewing blogs, but I also love quick and easy tips on how to customize my own clothing, so may add a couple of DIY fashion blogs to my blogroll in future!

    Also one of the motivators for me to continue following a blog is that I can identify with the writer and am genuinely interested in their life. That’s why I love sewing blogs so much as they seem more personal, and things like slightly less professional photos makes them more real and endearing to me. I guess I identify with sewing bloggers more. But I do appreciate that a lot of people like more aspirational reading, and DIY fashion blogs do seem to give you a bit more glitz and glam and lots of pretty pictures to look at.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 12:40 PM

      Totally agree with you about identifying with the writers – I feel like I know lots of the sewing bloggers I read even though we’ve never met.

  13. CherryPix September 20, 2012 / 11:53 AM

    If they ever need a wry comedian for a sewing conference, your name will be put forward. Very well observed comparisons between the Fashionista and Sewing Blogospheres. You described both my DD (16 yr Tumblr Fashionista) and me to a T. I know how to take nice photos of other things/people….just can’t seem to apply to myself!!…. do those Fashionistas all live with pro photographers??????

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 12:39 PM

      Hmm, sewing comedian could be a left-field career move…I know what you mean about photos! I have problems trying to persuade my boyfriend to take more than one photo. My self-portrait ones are normally horribly smirky.

  14. byhandlondon September 20, 2012 / 11:32 AM

    Amazing post – you’ve hit the nail on the head!! I was sniggering all the way through! To add to the debate, I couldn’t agree more with the stereotypes and what each could learn from the other. I for one, never liking to be solely in one corner of stereotypation, have tried to cross over… My personal blog Stitch me Softly most definitely falls into the sewing blog category – although I’m trying to improve on my photography and avoiding twee impulses; and over at my work blog By Hand London we see DIY/customisation and nerdier sewing tutorials as part and parcel of the same hole – namely giving our community the tools to develop their own personal style.

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 11:41 AM

      I love what you’re doing at By Hand London, combining the fun DIY with the more hardcore sewing stuff! I probably shouldn’t have put in the thing about the photos – I was thinking mainly about myself. The weird thing about fashion blogs is that they all seem to have really expensive cameras and a super talented photographer boyfriend/husband to take all their photos. We should all be so lucky! x

  15. Kerry September 20, 2012 / 11:11 AM

    Very interesting – think you’ve summed it up beautifully and wittily. I see you have modestly used yourself to illustrate your points so as not to point the finger at anyone but I know that I definitely tick the sewing blogger boxes 🙂

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 11:31 AM

      Your blog is super awesome! I am v jealous of your recent New York trip by the way. Looks like an amazing time. x

  16. lizzylikescake September 20, 2012 / 11:11 AM

    Very funny Miss Green!

    urgh! I do hate the phrase ‘pop of colour’. I read Grazia on the flight back from holiday and they use that phrase roughly every page. Also they had an off DIY blogger feature with a ‘how to’ type bit with some items that looked like they would either a) fall apart or b) show your pants. There is of course a risk that I am just jealous of their young skinny prettyness.


    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 11:14 AM

      You are also skinny young and pretty! Just too sensible to show off your pants in Grazia. I know we have talked before about our hatred of the ‘fashion singular’ ie. ‘A chunky wedge shoe is essential this season’ etc etc etc blurgh

  17. didyoumakethat September 20, 2012 / 10:58 AM

    And THANK YOU!!!! for introducing me to Not So Lonely Londoners. That blog post is hilarious.

  18. didyoumakethat September 20, 2012 / 10:55 AM

    I LOVE this analysis. So interesting to step outside the community I am very much part of and see an assessment of how it operates. Wacky fabric prints? Decorative buttons? Occassional knitting features? I don’t know what you mean!!! I think this is really helpful and thought-provoking. I do sometimes worry that I am writing a blog aimed squarely at other people like me ie writing into a mirror. Because of that, I’ve tried to extend my reach by engaging with people like Teen Granny. Possibly it’s a strength AND a weakness that blogging communities are, by their nature, specialist. I can’t wait to read what everyone thinks. Wonderful blog post!

    • yesilikethat September 20, 2012 / 11:07 AM

      Aw thanks Karen, it’s not supposed to be critical, I do love the way these communities form, I find it fascinating! Totally agree about it being a strength and a weakness. There’s a niche for everything on the web (have recently been dabbling in the tech/start-up world for work, which is a bit of an eyeopener.). Also I think the sewing community is so welcoming and open to newcomers and different forms of expression. I read a lot of fashion blogs and they really do live in a strange bubble…

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