Wayyyy back in 2010, I launched an idea based on a simple survey: pair up willing volunteers with one another to serve as sewing pen pals and keep each other motivated throughout the course of one year. It was a means of helping all of us achieve our sewing goals, and I was very nearly overwhelmed with the number of people who signed on and took part, and so excited to see how they got on together! Every year since, I have repeated the process, matching up willing folks from around the globe who are looking to play along with a friend.
This year marks the FIFTH anniversary of the Sewing Buddy Project, which I had to triple-check to truly believe. Crazy, crazy town. Over those years, with the multiple iterations of the project, I have toyed with various methods of making the Project more interactive and exciting. We Buddies have had varying levels of success, ranging from some really excellent Sewing Buddy Challenges to, quite honestly, some real flops, which I’d like to pretend didn’t happen (everything in crafty land is lovely!! we never make mistakes or have things blow up in our faces, never ever!!) but it totally did and it was kind of a bummer.
This year, I’ve really labored over whether and how to adjust the Project to adapt it to the growing needs of all the former and future Buddies out there, to capture the enthusiasm we all have in abundance in these early days of a new year, when Janus is busy looking both forward and back, and to offer something substantive and of on-going value that would bring people together. I thought, briefly, about closing up shop on Sewing Buddies and letting it drift quietly away. I thought about keeping sign-ups closed and only working with existing Sewing Buddies to refine the Project, but not grow it. I considered, if I did move forward and invite new folks to participate, if more communication with me was the answer, or if I should just make a blanket statement that I was serving as a matchmaker only and after that, y’all were on your own. A sewing yenta, if you will.
From the 2012 Sewing Buddy Challenges
The folks who love Sewing Buddies, and who really connected with the people they have met through the Project, REALLY love it, and I didn’t feel good about saying “So long!” to those who had really gotten the vision and run with it. I get daily emails from folks who have stumbled across the Project on the web and missed the deadline to join, and who want to take part, so something was cooking out there in the virtual ether–something that made people want to reach out and connect with one another, and at least some of those people thought this was a good way to go about doing that. My gut and my heart both tell me that matching two folks up and sending them off to sew with no follow-up and no on-going infusion of ideas–to sew with the wolves, as it were–isn’t the answer. My mission has always been, and continues to be, to lead people to passionately love sewing. Part of that mission is my sincere and deep desire to champion the cause of the modern home, beginning with needle and thread–and a home is built with relationships much more than it is with ideas. So with that in mind, I made some lists and checked them twice, considering all my options, and made the decision to bring the Sewing Buddies with me into 2014. Not just that, I have developed a NEW FORMAT for the Sewing Buddy Project that I think will really, really get you excited. Because if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Or at least, enthusiastically.
You ready to hear all about it?
Sewing Buddies, Now With Video
Honestly, you know how sometimes you have ideas and you wonder why it took you so long to think of them? This was one of those times. Here I had spent months building a new blog and a new online class site (the sheer volume of work involved in developing those new sites is part of the reason that I delayed launching the 2014 Sewing Buddies last November, as originally planned), and it didn’t occur to me to USE that new format as a means of bringing the Buddies together! What better way for us to all play together than to give us our own online space, right? Once the penny dropped, most of the details fell into place.
In previous years, to become a Sewing Buddy, I asked that folks leave a comment on a blog post–I then sent out an email to all the commenters, asking them to give some details about themselves. Using each of those responses, I matched up Buddies in pairs, all over the world–over 200 Buddies last year alone. It is a time-consuming process, but one that I genuinely enjoyed and that led to some really stellar pairings.
THIS year, I’ll be taking advantage of the new class interface to create a home for us, an online group where Buddies can interact with one another and stay updated while sharing links and ideas and successes and failures with the rest of us. Plus, using the class interface allows me to add VIDEO to the mix! In an effort to keep all the Sewing Buddies active and involved and excited, I’m adding monthly video and project ideas as part of the fun. Each month, Sewing Buddies will be invited to view a brand-new just-for-you video to keep your sewing mojo cooking–with interviews, project ideas, free patterns, exclusive tutorials, giveaways, and discounts that only Buddies can share. You’ll also get opportunities to compete with your Buddy in challenges and membership in the Sewing Buddy Flickr group to share what you’re working on, year-round!
I have some really fun plans for incorporating not just video, but more communication into the mix, too–seems like, for nearly all of us, motivation falls off as the year goes on, and I want your Sewing Buddy to be your very best (virtual) sewing friend, someone who shares this fun thing with you and gets you excited and inspired and gives you someone to yammer on about every single one of your sewing plans and projects this year. Between video sessions and the power of a dedicated online space, Sewing Buddies are more NOW than ever before! Heck, you and your Buddy can even Skype each other to keep the fun going!
From the 2012 Sewing Buddy Challenges
What Getting (and Being) A Sewing Buddy Means for You:
Becoming a Sewing Buddy is a fun opportunity to meet other folks who love sewing. That’s it, in a nutshell. I hope you’ll find that the videos, challenges, giveaways and other fun stuff that comes along as 2014 unfolds add to that for you, but at the core, the Sewing Buddy Project is about making this virtual sewing community immediate and tangible for each of us, by giving us a friend to share ideas, make nerdy sewing jokes, challenge us to keep our goals, and to grow our sewing with.
As a Sewing Buddy, you’re agreeing to follow these (very broad) guidelines:
- Agree that you will leave no email from your Sewing Buddy un-answered. A Sewing Buddy is a pen pal who loves to sew, and pen palling with your pen pal is the best way to get that all going–remember what Gramma said: to have a friend, you have to BE a friend. Simply replying to each message as they go back and forth will build your commitment and resolve. If your Sewing Buddy-ness goes no further than encouraging emails once a week, that’s awesome! It will keep you on-track to meet some goals or to challenge yourself in a way you might not have otherwise. If you both decide to start your own Flickr group or joint blog or do some mail exchanges, even better. At a minimum, though, resolve to always answer your Buddy’s emails–any other participation in challenges or contests is completely voluntary.
- Branch out and get a new Sewing Buddy, even if you’ve already been rocking it with your 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or 2013 Buddy. You can never have too many friends who sew! You can keep your other Buddies and learn great stuff from a new one. Isn’t friendship awesome?
- Sewing Buddies can be at any skill level and do any type of sewing. We welcome beginners, intermediates, advanced and lots of mixy types at in-between-y skill levels. Don’t quilt? Maybe your Buddy can help you learn! Don’t sew garments? Maybe the two of you will start together! The only requirement is that you’re willing to communicate and interact with one another. That’s it!
- Sewing Buddies can be from anywhere in the world, as long as you’re willing to communicate in English. We’ve had folks from Britain, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Canada, Austria, South Africa, New Zealand and a host of other nations participate, and you can, too! I can’t promise you’ll get a Buddy who is geographically near to you, but isn’t that part of the fun, that discovery? Hooray for international diplomacy!
- Be on the lookout for contests, challenges, secret passwords, and even (gasp!) meet-ups designed just for Sewing Buddies! We’ll have our monthly Sewing Buddy video along with the discussions those lead to, but there is plenty more that we can do–and I’ve taken suggestions and comments from past Sewing Buddies very seriously as I work to make this the coolest pen pal experience you’ve ever had!
That’s it! I’ll begin matching names in the magic whirly-bin of Sewing Buddy Science on January 14, 2014. Sign-ups will close January 19, 2014 at midnight. Pairs will be notified no later than January 26, 2014 and the first Sewing Buddy 2014 video will go live on January 31, 2014!
To participate in the 2014 Sewing Buddy Project:
- To add your name to the list to be matched with a Buddy, register through the Sewing Buddy “class” page. For the first year in five years, I am asking for a nominal fee to cover the costs associated with hosting the video for the group–just $3 for the entire year. I’m hoping that isn’t too off-putting, and if there is anyone who wants to participate and doesn’t have the financial resources to cover the $3 fee, I have arranged a limited number of scholarships to make sure everyone who wants to participate is able to do so!
- Once you’re registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from me with a request for you to name a favorite color, and a number between 1 and 10. I’ll also ask you to suggest an “activity” for Sewing Buddies to participate in during one quarter in 2014–these suggestions are wide open, and a have no bearing on what Buddy you get; they’re for research purposes only, I promise. You will also have immediate access to the Sewing Buddy group on the e-courses site. There, you’ll find a welcome video along with a couple yummies to get this party started!
- I’ll use the responses in the emails I receive along with a super-scientific system here at the Whipstitch Labs to match you to the PERFECT Sewing Buddy based on a four-fold formula that’s much too complicated to write about here but that is really awesome and time-y wime-y space-y.
- I’ll send an email to the both of you giving introductions in proper Victorian style (a lady never spends time with someone to whom she has not been properly introduced), and then like a mother whose chicks are leaving the nest, I’ll step back and watch as the friendship flourishes.
- You and your Buddy will make the initial contact and see where it leads you! Contests? Maybe. Inspiration? Certainly. Life-long friendship? Golly, I hope so.
That’s it! I’m really looking forward to hearing more from all of you this year, can am so pleased so many of you are looking to continue the Sewing Buddy love. Hooray!