A half-dozen rules for being a good sewing community member

I believe that if you are fortunate enough to be part of an online sewing community, whether it’s Pattern Review, burdastyle, blogs, or somewhere else, you should make an attempt to be a good member and not abuse other people’s helpfulness. I don’t want to turn this into a rant, but I’ve seen a lot of ill-mannered and self-centered behavior that makes me sad. (I’m not perfect myself, but I try to do the best I can each day.)  So here are some tips based on what I’ve seen – and I’d love to hear what you think of these suggestions.

1. Don’t expect other people to solve all your problems and answer all your questions. Everyone was a beginner once, but even beginners need to learn how to do their own research and try their own solutions.

Corollary 1a: Asking other people for help over the Internet is not the only source of sewing information. Try doing your own research, either online or (shocker) in books. Get a few basic sewing reference books, either to own or from the library, and check them first before you post.

2. If you have limitations on what you can do to solve a certain problem, disclose them when you post for help. Don’t, for example, ask for help finding a very specific kind of pattern, and then dismiss people’s answers because they are independent patterns and cost more than a buck at JoAnn’s. If you have a limited budget, or limited time, or limited equipment, mention that at the first, so people don’t waste time suggesting approaches that you are unable to use.

3. Don’t keep asking the question just because you don’t like the answer. Yes, we all wish that we had perfect pattern-sized bodies and didn’t have to make alterations, but few of us are that fortunate. If people take the time to explain an alteration to you, don’t keep asking for a simpler solution because you don’t want to do the work. You can either accept the current fit, or you can make the alterations; you can’t make reality bend to your will. (Or if you can, email me, because I wouldn’t mind a couple million dollars and a smaller waistline.)

4. Try it first. How many times have we all read a question whose answer is perfectly obvious to anyone who’s tried it a time or two? Sewing is an experiential art, and you’ll understand much better if you do it yourself, rather than just from someone else trying to tell you. I am telling myself this as much as anyone else. I tend to go research-first, and one of the things that a sewing hobby is teaching me is that sometimes you just have to try it, and most of the time you will muddle your way through and learn a lot in the process.

5. Honor other people’s time and energy as much as your own. If people are gracious enough to help you with your problem, make it as clear as possible and…

6. Say thank you. We all have lives and loved ones and things to do, and when someone else offers to help, they have chosen to give a little bit of time to you that they can’t get back. Thank them for their time, and try to pay it forward.

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