Seamless needs YOU

Things are looking a little different around here! My good friend and all-round talented lady Martha Moreno kindly donated some of her time and waved her wand of creativity to spruce Seamless up a little. Doesn’t it look great? I love how the blog has a real retro feel to it now.

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If you want to update the button on your blog, the new code is:

[a href=”https://seamlessblog.wordpress.com/the-pledge/&#8221; target=”_blank”>[img src=”https://seamlessblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/button.png&#8221; alt=”The Seamless Pledge” /]</a] (replace the [ ] with < >)

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She also created this schnazzy little card you can download and print off to fit in your wallet. The brainchild of fellow blogger Gillian, it’s a gentle reminder in your purse just in case you get tempted while out shopping.

It seemed right to go for a little redesign now – when I started the pledge as a baby journalist a little more than a year ago, I didn’t really expect anyone to pay any attention. 100 posts, 901 comments, 55,200 views and an amazing 150 pledgers later (give or take!), I think it’s safe to say I was mistaken.

I definitely don’t plan on quitting anytime soon – and here’s where you come in. I’ve got an idea for a little project to get people thinking about the pledge once more, but I need your help to get this ball rolling.

All I need are some willing volunteers who aren’t camera-shy. You don’t have to be from the UK, no siree. In fact, the more people from across the world, the better. You also don’t have to be pledging  right now. Perhaps you’ve done it in the past or you’re planning to. As I said, the more the merrier.

While I’m calling for volunteers, I may as well mention that if you’re interested in doing any guest posts, do let me know.

You can probably tell I’m wanting to keep this project under wraps until I get it off the ground! For more details (only if you can keep a secret!) just shoot me an email on elenamcresci at gmail dot com with the subject “Seamless project”.

In the meantime, what do you all make of the new design? Do you love it as much as I do?

Creepy comments and favourites on Flickr photos

Sharing photos of our creations on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts is almost second nature to most of us now.

From outfit posts to in-progress shots, our photographs add to the conversation and create inspiration for other members in the community. But the Internet’s not so clear-cut and, well, nice as that. Take the Reddit storm which erupted recently, regarding the unmasking of a user who championed the “creepshot” – posting compromising pictures of women taken unawares.

Obviously in our little community it’s a completely different kettle of fish. We willingly share images of ourselves and our projects. There’s nothing sexual about what we do, right? Well, as some of us taking part in Me Made May ’12 found, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

A couple of months ago, I logged onto my Flickr to find someone had added quite a few of my photographs to their favourites. For those not on Flickr, you’re able to add pics to your favourites or cultivate your own galleries dedicated to certain themes. In this case, my pictures showed up in a gallery cultivated by someone with a clear fetish for scarves.

Clicking through to their profile, I saw they had added any and all photos of me wearing a scarf to a favourites filled with clothed and half-naked women draped in the seemingly innocuous accessory.

I didn’t really know what to make of it. A huge part of me obviously felt creeped out. These pictures weren’t taken for that purpose, after all. Another part of me felt like I shouldn’t be judging someone else for whatever rocked their boat – but then, I didn’t particularly want to be involved in it. So, I blocked the user, which prevents my pictures from appearing in their feed.

Feeling “creeped out”

I’m not the only whose photos have ended up in unexpected Flickr galleries. Roisin of Dolly Clackett noticed it when she started submitting photos to the Wardrobe Remix Flickr pool.

She said: “I think the worst one was someone called TIGHTSFACE, whose profile had lots of photos of naked men with tights on their heads. None of the comments have been aggressive or anything but it does creep me out when someone comments to say ‘I’d like to smell your feet’!”

Then there were the knitwear fans. “I did get a number of knitwear fetishists favouriting my photos and adding me to their galleries – the strangest one being someone who favourited a load of totally innocent photos of me wearing cardigans and added them to a gallery that included drawings and photos of naked girls wearing cardigans, and people having sex in knitted gimp suits,” she said.

There’s a whole thread on the Me Made May ’12 group on this subject, started by Gillian, who wanted to know if this sort of thing was happening to other people too. As a teacher, Gillian is at pains not to post anything she wouldn’t be comfortable with her students seeing.

I contacted her for more information, specifically, how did these “off” comments make her feel?  “It’s very insulting, demeaning, and hurtful,” she said.

“The sewing community is generally so kind and positive that it’s a real shock to realise that lurkers and creeps are out there! Luckily, I feel relatively in control with Flickr – It’s easy to block someone, and I can delete comments as well.

“Once it’s dealt with, I forget all about it. It doesn’t affect what pictures I post.”

It seems almost harmless, really. Especially when you think that some people are posting demeaning upskirt pictures of women taken when they weren’t looking or  wishing death on each other via anonymous comments. Except I can’t help but think sexual comments and Internet catcalling is the next step – in fact, I’ve seen a comment here and there which definitely weren’t about how well the drape of the fabric works.

I think there’s a mentality on the Internet that if you post pictures of yourself dressed to the nines and in some nice make up, as many of us did during any of the numerous sewing challenges, then you “deserve” this kind of unwanted attention. But people say the same thing when I dress up in real life and get catcalls and unwanted comments. Not to mention, the reality is, the most successful blogs have this personable element to them which is difficult to achieve if you’re hiding behind your mannequin.

Gillian agrees with on this one. She said: “Sure, I could make all of my pictures “private”, but that defeats the point of social blogging. I could change what pictures I put up (no head, for example, or low res crappy pics), but again, why should I have to?

“Unfortunately, there is no clear solution to harassment and sexism in either the real world or the blogosphere… so until then, I appreciate the support and commiseration of the sewing community!”

I expect to be able to walk down the street in garments I’ve made without being called sugartits – so why is the Internet any different? It all comes back to this notion of the online world being beyond any sort of social conventions we expect in day-to-day life.

Also, as Roisin points out, there is a worry that by taking offence to our pictures being added to fetish-themed gallery, we’re being judgemental of someone else’s sexual preferences. She said: “I’m trying not to be too judgemental about the creepy things people comment about. I choose to share the photos in a public space and I don’t want to be judgy about people’s sexual practices, but it definitely does make me feel uncomfortable to know that there are people out there getting kicks out of a picture of me in a cardigan.”

I’m sure there are a few people out there who sew and maybe even read some of our blogs on a regular basis but don’t want to put themselves out there for fear of this kind of reaction. As much as I love the diversity of Flickr’s community, this mixture of the innocent and the more suggestive can be hard to deal with when the two collide.

Two sides

One of my Cardiff Twitter contacts Martyn Kelly, who’d also experienced some of this on his own Flickr page, probably put it best. He said: “Flickr is one of the few communities where it embraces the dualist nature of the web in terms of filth/underbelly and friendly/safe/social, and does so with grading/rating photo streams, mature audience flags, logged in only content, etc. and advice on how to manage that.

“But things break when: 1) Someone comments something a bit creepy… or 2) The Flickr-specific problem – if a creeper favourites a photo. Because a user’s favourites are public, you find your image has been curated by a man in a mac, erection wavering outside your digital window. It all gets a bit weird.”

I emailed Flickr months ago to ask what they’d advise users do if they’re uncomfortable with a comment, but they haven’t answered. But here’s what it says in their community guidelines:

Don’t be creepy.
You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.

Your thoughts, as always, are much appreciated.

SUPER EXCITING WALES BLOG AWARDS NEWS!

I am really really excited to announce Seamless has been shortlisted at the Wales Blog Awards!

 

I still can’t quite believe it! I found out last week but haven’t had a proper chance to sit down and blog about it because I’ve been a bit under the weather.

Seamless is shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog along with two other amazing candidates, Ryan’s Garden and Daisy Dayz. Please do check them out, I need some more people to snoop on the competition… Joking aside, it’s pretty clear Wales has plenty in the way of blogging talent when you look at this shortlist.

Really and truly, this blog wouldn’t be anything without you guys. A lot of you have stuck around through the exams, through the job seeking and the eventual move and some of you have even been pledging right along with me. But mostly, you’ve been commenting and contributing on so many of my posts over the past year, which means a lot to me.

I’m not sure everyone sees it the same way as I do, but my blog’s statistics rarely mean much to me if I don’t have some user interaction to back them up. So perhaps a post has been read a thousand times, but if it doesn’t have at least one comment, I’ll wonder why and try to write something more engaging next time. There are plenty of you who come back time and again which creates endless possibilities for blog posts from your feedback alone.

So if I win this thing, it’ll be down to you guys because I probably wouldn’t have bothered with posts about what we do with our old clothes, whether sewing a wedding dress is a good idea or even the Me Made May challenge if it weren’t for the wonderful community we’ve got going on here.

We kick ass!

I suppose on a final  note I should mention there’s a vote on the site for the People’s Choice award. Obviously it would be absolutely wonderful if you voted for Seamless, but there are some amazing blogs on there. If you have some time, check them out and maybe even give them your vote. (I’d be rubbish at poaching votes on the X Factor, wouldn’t I?)

Normal service will resume shortly! I found the cutest craft shop in Guildford town centre last weekend. What goodies did I buy?

Now that would be telling…

Featured Pledger: Vicki Kate (Vicki Kate Makes)

Seamless’ second featured pledger is Vicki Kate, who’s midway through her pledge and has some serious stitching skills. Can you believe her dress is made from two bedsheets? Have a read about her pledge experiences:

Name: Vicki Kate

Website: http://vickikatemakes.wordpress.com

One year, from 30th birthday to 31st on the 24 Nov ’12 – new decade, new lifestyle commitment!

Why did you take the Seamless Pledge?

It was a mixture of fortuitous timing in discovering the pledge and wanting to take more responsibility for our world just as I hit 30. Being a Mum has completely changed my perspective on pretty much everything.  I need to lead by example to ensure my son grows up with a sense of responsibility, not just to his immediate community but the worldwide one too. It also gives me incentive (which is now habit) to shop second hand, search charity stores and eBay rather than buying new.  My sewing of garments has gone up a gear too, which was part of the plan!

What impact has the pledge had on your day-to-day life?

I’m a much more thoughtful shopper and not just when it comes to clothing. It’s spread to my grocery shopping (with regards to origin rather than it being pre-loved!) and also made me go to my fabric stash rather than shops for my material. I am so envious of the estate sale and thrift store hauls our US friends score! There’s nothing like that in my experience in Norfolk, UK. A positive is my limited funds go further.

Any tips for someone wanting to give up mass-made clothing?

Examine what you wear! I bet it’s 10% of your total. Look for items that work with that 10% but limit where you look.  If you freak out about charity shops (my sister does), go for eBay as, while you’ll pay more, there is better choice.  Also, develop some patience as sometimes you have to look for a while to find what you want. I’m still looking for the perfect red Mary Jane shoes!  Failing that, learn to sew! But that in itself leads to other consumer issues.

I’d heartily recommend Zoe’s blog for someone wanting to know how to live sustainably and Miss P’s blog for refashioning tips to make those charity shop finds perfect. Finally, train yourself to look beyond a garment’s (or pattern for that matter) first appearance. With a little ingenuity that granny tartan skirt could be amazing! 

Make sure you check out Vicki Kate’s blog for more on her creations. Want to be a featured pledger? Get in touch. 

INTERVIEW: Tilly Walnes (Tilly and the Buttons)

If somehow you haven’t heard of Tilly, you’re in for a treat. Since she began sewing and blogging at Tilly and the Buttons, she’s been recommended in the Colette Patterns book, become a guru for sewing beginners and recently ran the first successful sewing social on Twitter.

Tilly kindly agreed to answer some questions for me via email, so without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the lady herself…

Continue reading

Me Made May ’12 – Jumping in at last orders!

I left this one to the very last minute, didn’t I?

Well, it’s that time of year again folks! Time to ditch the mass-made wardrobe and join Zoe for Me Made May 2012. Without further ado, here is my pledge for this year:

I,  Elena, from Seamless sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’12. I endeavour to wear at least one item of me-made clothing for the duration of May. I will attempt to avoid repeating any outfits, but as it’s exam time, I won’t stress out too much! I will also blog daily for the duration of the month.”

I know what you’re thinking… only one garment! Seems like a bit of a cop out, I agree, but to avoid unnecessary panic-sewing, I decided this would be the best route to go for to ensure I see the challenge through this time!

Also, as mentioned in the pledge, May is more or less EXAM HELL, as the pressure ramps up towards the end of my journalism course. By middle-ish June, we’ll no longer be trainee journalists, how surreal is that?

The blogging challenge seems contrary to this, but I’m hoping blogging daily will keep Seamless updated even while I’m neck-deep in revision. They’re likely to be short and succinct posts, mind you!

My plan is to focus on one garment each day, whether it’s me-made or not.

Zoe said it best when she explained how this challenge is all about achieving a better relationship with your handmade creations. For many people, clothes nowadays go beyond just a necessity – they make a statement about you, they have history.

Whether you’ve made something or not, most of you favourite items in your wardrobe have some sort of story behind them.  My only pair of jeans have been to Germany and back, I still treasure the very first scarf I bought as an employee at Lush and I’m still refusing to get rid of the jacket I bought especially for my Cardiff interview, despite having mended it about five times by now.

These clothes don’t exactly make my memories, but they play a fairly big part in some of them. Even before the pledge, I was the kind of person who would wear clothes to death and keep them for as long as possible, holes or no holes. If part of Me Made May is reevaluating your relationship with your wardrobe, I can’t think of a better compromise without panic-sewing!

Starting May 1 (gah! Tomorrow!), I’ll get going on my wardrobe’s story. I already know where most of it came from, maybe it’s time I let you know what they’ve done since arriving in the U.K.

So, who’s taking part this year? Do let me know, I want to make sure I keep track of the pledgers taking part. If you’re on Twitter, I’ll be tweeting from @elenacresci using the hashtag #MMMay12 (seems concise enough!) so do join in!

Let’s meet up! How about a crafting meetup?

WOAH – apologies for the ridiculous amount of double posts on this one! I was using WordPress’s new post thing and for some reason it decided I wanted to post this like 10 TIMES. Sorry if it clogged your emails!

Have you ever been to a blogger meetup?

I love a good meetup. Last week, I popped along to a Cardiff Blogs meetup, which brought bloggers from all over Cardiff to chat about, well, blogging!

For a while now, I’ve been wondering if we could sort something similar here in Cardiff, but for crafters. Lucky for me, fellow blogger Amy Davies was up for it too and now we’re getting cracking on sorting it out! Basically, we’d like to get crafters together somewhere in Cardiff to chat over a cuppa tea on around a monthly basis.

We know of some crafting evenings already in the city, so there’s some potential interest here, but I thought I’d extend the invitation to Seamless readers – I know you guys come from all over the place, but if you were able to come along, would you?

Amy has a poll up on her blog here to get the ball rolling. The basics we want to know are:

  • how often you’d like a meetup
  • where in Cardiff could we go
  • what day of the week would be best

Apologies for such a Cardiff-centric shout out this time around! I’m thinking if the Cardiff crafting meetup kicks off, we could organise some sort of Seamless pledgers meetup in the future?

Thanks for all your lovely comments on the Meringue skirt, I’m glad the disaster turned out well in the end! How’s Sew Colette going for the rest of you?