Criticism is Good (Part 2)

I didn’t mean to post and run, but life got in the way and it’s taken me a little while to get around to writing this follow-up post (although the ideas for it have been rattling around in my head for nearly three weeks).  I do apologise in advance for yet another wall of text post!

Before I post any thoughts, I must show you the amazing blog badge that was created by Sewing for Me!

I feel awful that I can only refer to the blogger as Sewing for Me! because I either don’t know or have forgotten her given name. I have a vague idea it is Theresa, but I hate to refer to someone by the wrong name so I will stick to the blog name for now.  In my defence I will admit that I mentioned to Mr RTS recently that I could never remember the first name of a particular actor, even though I have a huge crush on him, and when I looked him up on IMDB yet again, his first name is the same as Mr RTS’s – I am really rubbish with names.

Not Mr RTS 🙂

The reason for my original post about criticism was this post at Sewing for Me.  I know how much work went into the blouse having watched the couture course on Craftsy, and making a dress using a lot of the techniques taught, but I could see something that I thought could be improved. I wrote a comment and then walked away from the computer for about an hour before hitting send because I absolutely hated to be the one who said “nice blouse, but ….”.  I then realised that I would like to know if someone thought something similar about one of my projects and hit send.   That hesitation spawned the first Criticism is Good (Or BitchFest 2013) post.

I think I may have over-emphasised the Bitchfest part of my previous post. I was really just talking about honest criticism.  I honestly thought I might have been alone in my thoughts and really am just a bitch – but from the comments I received I now know I’m not alone.  Just to make it clear, I would never tell someone that their garment looked awful on them, or their sewing was a disaster, or their style choice is bad.  I would, however, suggest that a different colour might look better, or the fabric they used might look nicer for a different garment, or have they considered an FBA (something I still haven’t learnt after more than six years of sewing even though I need to), etc, etc.

I was criticised for picking out Tilly to be bitchy about – it wasn’t personal about her – she just happened to be the one blogger out of the hundreds I have in my reader who was most in the public eye at the time of my post.  If I’d written my post at a different time I have no doubt that I would have used another blogger who has become commercialised as an example.  Nearly every blogger who has turned their sewing into a business has become, for me, a blogger no longer worth reading.  It’s a hobby for me, and I like to read blogs written by other hobbyists.

I keep a notebook by my bed where I write things that I might want to blog about and the comments on my previous post gave me five pages of scrawled notes in my little notebook. I now think that a lot of my ideas aren’t worth writing about but a few have stood out for me.

Always believe it when a blogger says that a garment looks worse than the photos in real life. Over and over again I’ve seen a blogger post about a garment that they’ve made that doesn’t work for them (and I love those posts because it confirms that I’m not alone in making bad sewing decisions) and then half the comments are people attempting to convince them that it does actually look good.  I don’t believe that any of us are stupid and we already know when something doesn’t look good.  I do find it amusing when a post starts with photos of something and I think “Oh dear, that looks awful – I wonder if she knows?” and then a scroll or so down the page the blogger admits how awful it is.  I’m sure that on occasion it’s a bait and switch.  I think that unless you can see an obvious alteration that might make the garment look good then take the writer at her word – she doesn’t like it!  “Let it age in your wardrobe” comments are just advising someone to cram their wardrobe with garments that don’t suit them, or that they don’t feel comfortable wearing.

I would never tell a new blogger that her garments looked bad – I might, however, make some suggestions.  I did make lots of critical (but hopefully friendly) comments on one new blog a year or so ago because I could see that she was making exactly the same mistakes I made when I was a new sewist, and before I’d discovered the sewing community online.  I now have to officially hate her because everything she makes is amazing! 🙂

Obviously, if they say it looks better in real life, then believe that as well.  I’m a rubbish photographer, with a cheap camera and I know that many of my garments look better in real life (or on me rather than Dolly).  My brown stripey Vogue 8764 dress looks awful on Dolly, but looks pretty good on me. My mum, who is always honest, hated it on Dolly (and told me), but though it looked good when she saw me wearing it (unless she was lying – confess in the comments Mum :)).

My personal criterion for whether or not I like a garment I’ve sewn is – if I tried it on in a shop, would I buy it?  Sometimes my answer is “Yes”, sometimes it’s “Depends how much it cost.” and sometimes it’s “Hell, No!”.  Two of those answers get space in my wardrobe 🙂

Last thought – I don’t comment on most blog posts because I read far too many blogs and simply don’t have time.  However, given my last post, and this one, if I do comment that I love your garment I hope you now know that I am being 100% honest and I really do think it’s fantastic!

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12 Responses to Criticism is Good (Part 2)

  1. Mum says:

    No, I wasn’t lying – why would I?

  2. Helena says:

    Interesting topic. Your post, as well as the previous one, made me think back to two comments I’ve recieved on Burdastyle. One was “oh, the horror” and the other “I like everything but the colour.” the first comment helps me in no way, at least with the other I know fit, sewing, cut and style are good even though that person didn’t care for my colour choice – and that’s OK!

  3. Every Stitch says:

    I tend to avoid commenting if the garment looks really dreadful. I tend to try an imagine what effect my comment would have.
    If I am able to make a constructive suggestion that will improve the garment, then someone has to say it.
    If the writer honestly beleives that it looks great, who am I to burst there bubble?
    The hardest I find are bloggers who have no idea what suits them. A particular blogger springs to mind, she continues to sew styles that do absolutley nothing for her hour glass figure, other than make her look as though she’s stuck as a 13 year old, despite being a grown up. I really want to buy the woman a full length mirror and get her to actually look at herself, but there is nothing wrong with her sewing skills, and this is a sewing community, not a fashion critique. I’m warey for honest criticism for the sake of honesty. Criticism should be constructive and supportive, rather than just honest

  4. Elle C says:

    This post and the previous one, and all the comments have been so much fun to keep up with. So many opinions. Such fun.

    My pet peeve. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Drives me batty. Don’t people know about spell check? I have actually quit reading some blogs because the errors are so annoying. I do give leeway to people whose first language isn’t English though.

    Thank you for the entertainment. ♥

  5. Pella says:

    I appreciate receiving honest feedback (or any feedback really!) on things I have made, or am thinking about making, but tend to shy away from brutal honesty about other stitchers work, on the basis that if I can’t find something good to say I should shut up. Quite often photographs will not be a true representation either, it may be a super garment, flattering, but look hell in the picture – or the reverse. Many times I notice that commenters are swayed by the packaging, a brilliant photo on someone who takes a good picture of a fairly mundane garment well accessorised can get rave reviews and an interesting, different garment in a photo which looks less like a model shoot for Vogue is passed over.

  6. eumoronorio says:

    Yes, my name is Teresa! Good memory! And I am so happy you started the ball rolling on this. It has gotten me thinking about fit in a whole new way aka my backside =) I have been reading so much about it and I have gotten a few new ideas to try for the next round. Thanks again!

  7. I enjoyed your first blog post and it has made me consider my own sewing – in fact I chucked a few things out that I had “aging” in the closet as a result. I await with interest further posts about sewing!!!

  8. Pingback: Sunday Reading #4 | Crafting my own style

  9. meggameuf says:

    The internet seems to lead to an uneasy polarity of utter positiveness contrasted with very nasty trolling; those trying to occupy some middle ground get given a strangely hard time. There is a difference between constructive criticism, which is what I think you’re advocating, and being nasty, but that distinction doesn’t seem to come across very well on the internet. This ‘tyranny of positivity’ gives me the opposite problem, I avoid commenting on people’s makes because I’m worried I won’t come across as enthusiastic as every one else, or will sound sarcastic (like Ray from ‘The Mary Whitehouse Experience’). I only comment if there is something specific I can wax lyrical about (but, I’d love to be able to say ‘ooh, I see you have a problem pressing wrinkles out too’) Anyway, have you read ‘Smile or Die’ by Barbara Ehrenriech? It’s quite an enlightening read for anyone frustrated by this phenomenon.

    • I haven’t read ‘Smile or Die’ but have read ‘Bright-Sided’ by the same author which I guess deals with the same theme. I will add it to my amazon wishlist 🙂

  10. eumoronorio says:

    Hey you disappeared again? Are you sewing or taking a breather =D anyway, I nominated you for a blog award. You have been a great asset and friend in my online sewing group! Thanks for being awesome. I hope you are enjoying your springtime tea parties (at least that’s what I imagine you doing in cute dresses while I’m wearing sweaters =D)!

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