Friday, April 24, 2015

PatternReview: Plus Sized thread trainwreck

I hadn't planned to write this post, but I wanted to open a discussion about a trainwreck of a thread that happened in the PatternReview forums last weekend. I tried to let this go, but it's been bothering me. While I wouldn't normally post about a PR thread here on my blog, but based on what happened there, I felt that taking things off of PR was the best place to voice my concerns. I feel that the "trainwreck thread" is indicative of some bigger issues in that community.


The Incident


So...what actually happened?

I was browsing the PatternReview forums over the weekend, and a new thread in the low-traffic forums caught my eye. The title of the thread was "Plus Size Resources," and the thread was started by Madeline, a new PatternReview employee, who is supposed to be helping out with order fulfillment, customer service, and site blog posts, among other things.  Here is the original, first post (captured by a savvy reader and later re-posted on a GOMI thread):

I am collecting information that pertains to plus size pattern companies, online fabric stores that cater to plus size people, and other companies that provide things for plus size sewists. Please comment below and let me know what are your favorite pattern companies, fabric stores, etc who cater to you.

We all want to look like giant tomatoes, right?

Um, what?

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, figuring that she was either putting something together for a PatternReview blog post or for the upcoming "plus size" sewing contest, so I posted a few pattern companies with inclusive size ranges and asked what she meant by "fabric stores that cater to plus size people," since I, and all of the other plus size sewists I know, all shop at the same places that thinner women shop at.
  • A few other PR posters also posted in response things like, "You mean, where do I get my tentmaking supplies?" and other jokes along that line.
  • The OP then returns and states that she's a new PR employee and that she was trying to find some new corporate sponsors for PR that were more friendly to plus sizes.
  • The forum posters pointed out that she had asked some odd questions and that most of what she was asking could easily be found via Google. 
  • There was a bunch of weirdness where the OP edited posts, got argumentative, made a few "sorry not sorry" posts, and said some weird things about the Eiffel tower. As more people called her out on her actions and suggested more diplomatic ways to pose her questions, she appeared to get angrier. More apologies along the lines of "I'm sorry your feelings were hurt" without actually apologizing for what she said or how she framed her question, etc.
  • Finally a mod locked the thread.
  • The next day, Deepika posted something about the OP being a new employee who was learning.
  • Fairly soon after that, the thread was deleted, reminding us all where the "Deletka" nickname came from.
(For those interested, there's a funnier recap in the "Hate Read" thread on GOMI. No, I'm not a hamcat, but I do lurk.)


PatternReview, Inclusivity, Censorship, and You


I see two major issues with last weekend's incident: censorship and inclusivity.

PatternReview moderators have a long history of deleting forum threads when the threads get too heated. An overwhelming number of these deleted threads are political in nature. I can remember a handful of non-political threads getting heated and deleted though--there was a particularly infamous one on breastfeeding, and of course, a thread calling out the PR moderators for too heavily moderating the forums.

The only reason that I can think of for the "Plus Size Resource" thread getting deleted is that it made PatternReview look bad. The OP's responses lacked maturity and professionalism, and of course, that reflects poorly on PR. Unlike most deleted threads, the PR members participating in the thread weren't slinging insults at each other or otherwise at each others' throats. In fact, many of them wrote thoughtful and insightful posts as to how plus sized people are treated, both in the sewing industry and in society in general. I would have liked to have seen the thread remain open because it brought up some painful, but important points to many of us who fall outside of a Misses' size range.
I don't feel that PatternReview is a particularly inclusive community. The community demographic has gotten narrower and narrower in the ~8 years that I've been a member. Whereas there used to be a decent number of plus sized members who'd regularly post pattern reviews, that number has waned considerably in recent years.

For most "contests", most of winners determined by votes from fellow PR members. These winners are nearly always slender and are always well-photographed. If someone raises this concern in the PR forums, someone will point out that "Debbie won the such-and-such contest." Well yes, Debbie, did win a couple of contests...and I think those contest wins were probably about six years ago at this point. The "young, thin, and slim" contest advantage was brought up enough times that last year, some members nominated the idea of having an "Over 50" and a "Plus size" contest to level the playing field for those parts of the community.  There were actually then people who bitched that a "plus size" contest wasn't inclusive to thinner members.

Burda Plus Sack of Shame

The contests aren't the only part of PR where I don't feel entirely comfortable, though. While the forums can be great places to ask questions and get help quickly, I also see a lot of body snark there. The body snark doesn't just come from the size 6 "ladies who lunch" who complain "OMG, my thighs are so fat!" One woman wrote a post where she was clearly offended that someone had checked the "plus size" and "regular" boxes on an old pattern review, causing the "plus size" designation to persist to all future reviews, because she was NOT a plus size. Personally, I've had some rather rude comments posted on reviews that I've made (under the guise of "helping" or telling me what was "flattering"), and I know that I'm not alone in those experiences.

When the Curvy Sewing Collective launched last year, I'd hoped that it might become my new online sewing "home" and that I could leave PR behind. At this point, I feel like the CSC is still finding its footing, and the forums don't see enough activity to really be a viable replacement for PR yet. Many communities have growing pains, though, so I'm still holding out hope that interaction level will increase at the CSC, making the CSC will become a viable alternative to PR.

For those of you reading this post, I have a few questions:
  • Do you participate on PatternReview? Why or why not?
  • If you are on PR, does PR have issues with inclusivity (or lack of it) and censorship?
  • What do you expect and want to see in your ideal online sewing community?
Note that I won't delete your comments if you disagree with me. (The only comments that I will consider deleting here are ones that contain body snark, because hey, you've got most of the rest of the Internet for that.)


  1. I have a lot to say. Get a beverage.

    As you know, I was quite vocal in the thread. I wasn't offended. Honestly, Madeline was not interesting or smart enough in her snark to offend me. Her initial post was confusing and it took her awhile to be open and honest about what she was doing. That bothered me. I was bothered by the unprofessional comments she made, especially (in reply to comments that fully sewn garments aren't used in most fabric shops, but apparently are in Madeline's neck of the woods) the comment about having never seen the Eiffel Tower but knowing it exists. How immature is that. I don't think I've used that type of persuasive tactic since 6th grade.

    I didn't get angry in that thread until she started editing her posts willy-nilly, which resulted in a thread that made little sense. The edits also ended up misrepresenting the thread as a whole, making it seem like the commenters were attacking her and over-reacting. To me, and others it seemed, she came across as a lazy, immature, dishonest, size-ist double-talker who refused to take responsible for a lack of clarity and transparency.

    The thread was pulled because PR looked bad. But I'd also say with all of Madeline's edits, the thread no longer made any sense. Honestly, without her original posts, the comments about the Eiffel Tower, how confusing her opening post was, and so much else made no sense. And I also think Deleteka realized how inadequate and feeble her comment was.

    1- Madeline should be at last passably familiar with PR. She's been posting reviews there for about 2 years. The idea that she's new to PR is bunk. New employee? Sure, but 2 years should count for something. She might still learning about PR, but she should have had enough experience to know that generally, people prefer some clarity, honesty, and transparency when asked to provide info for someone to use. If she doesn't know that, she has no business being in customer service of any type.

    2- Going in and saying "Sorry your feelings were hurt" in light of Madeline's comments that she "regretted" some comments and especially the several comments that both she and Deleteka anticipated a "firestorm" means that on some level there was an idea they'd be offensive. Why is that? Seriously. If she had just said that PR was interested in having a sponsor for the plus size contest that was popular among plus size sewists, I doubt anyone would have been offended or even batted an eye. Asking where the fatties buy their fat books and massive swaths of fabric... it would've been rude not to call that out. It was too much of an invitation.

    More to come.

    1. The word "firestorm" was part of what set me off. At best, the whole incident demonstrated cluelessness and insensitivity from Madeline (and Deepika) and at worst, it demonstrated some pretty blatant sizism.

    2. I really did not get that part. You only expect controversial if you are wading into a controversial topic or going into something in a way to generate controversy-- assumptions, dishonesty, sneakiness, coercion, etc. If she had gone in and upfront said they were looking for companies that plus size sewists like to shop at, instead of the underhanded OP she did post--- BIG DIFFERENCE.

  2. There is a decision 'plus sized' sewists need to make: At what point is a sewist considered a 'plus sized' sewist? Because she is larger than Misses sizes? I think so. No one wants to be labeled. Should 'plus sized sewists' be an exclusive community? I, too, have been somewhat disappointed with CSC. I enjoy the posts though. Perhaps I was expecting something they never intended to deliver. I feel the same way about FB sewing groups--nice to follow, but nothing substantial. I am not a PR follower. I follow plus and non plus size sewists so I get sewing reviews from their blogs. This area is difficult to define. I remember a snarky thread on a CSC post --go figure. The sewist got defensive and squashed it. And lastly, there is fine line between mean spirited criticism and helpful, supportive criticism. Sewists who post their work must keep in mind the majority of their followers are sincerely supportive. Commenters should focus on the garment itself, sewing skills, and possible room for improvement. Maybe we should establish NBS (no body snarking) zones. lol.

    1. My blog reader has slender, curvy, and plus sized sewists in it. I will say that I tend to read the plus sized (especially the larger busted) bloggers' blogs a little more closely for inspiration just because their pictures give me a little better idea of how a certain pattern will work on my own figure.

      I don't necessarily think or want there to be an exclusively "plus size" sewing community--I really love the original idea behind CSC of creating a comfortable environment for curvy sewists of all sizes to post creations and talk about sewing. The mission of the site is around body positivity, and that's freakin' awesome.

      It's a huge contrast to the "plus size" forum on PR, where a lot of the posts involve 1. people asking for suggestions of "flattering" patterns for their plus size figure, or 2. slimmer women who want to sew for their mom or a friend asking for "plus size pattern suggestions". It's kind of a depressing place to hang out, IMO. I am REALLY glad that there are a few other alternatives now--between more blogs and the CSC--that I can go when I want to talk sewing with someone whose figure is closer to mine.

  3. That thread was a mess. I agree that the excuse that she is "new" is bunk--as someone in the thread pointed out, her entire approach to the question and her responses to posters (before her edits, of course) showed an obvious bias that she just was never going to get past. Her takeaway was something like, "I guess I just won't bring up sensitive topics again," as though she was saying, "This is why we can't have nice things--because all of you plus-size ladies are too sensitive."

    I read PR forums sometimes when I'm bored and have posted a few reviews. There are, of course, some very nice people who comment but my overall sense of PR is that it is very clique-ish, which I think speaks to the narrowing community demographic you mentioned. There's a lot of body policing that happens in that "not to be mean, but..." kind of spirit and not just around plus-size bodies. I've seen threads/comments related to age, gender performance, tattoos, etc. that all kind of devolve into implicit critiques of women and the way they inhabit their bodies.

    I do think it's reflective of a lot of larger issues in online sewing communities. I was just thinking the other day about how common it is to see sewing folks complaining about women dressing too casual, wearing leggings as pants, not picking flattering clothes, etc.--all stuff that basically amounts to body policing. I was also looking at Kollabora the other day and thinking about how much it privileges white, slender, young people taking editorial-quality images and basically serves as click-bait for blogs rather than a place for substantive info. I don't know what my ideal online sewing community looks like, but it doesn't involve any of these things.

    1. You nailed it on two separate points:

      1. The whole "I guess we can't bring up sensitive topics" thing. I didn't communicate it very clearly in my post, but that was a big part of what irritated me.

      2. The thin, young, white bias that seems to dominate online sewing communities as a whole (although I'd argue that on PR, there's a subset of thin, white, older women who give it its conservative slant...but I'm sure that the homeschooling segment also contributes to that, too). I didn't blog for a long time because I was so much larger than the other sewing bloggers out there. That does seem to be slowly changing a bit in that we are seeing a little more body diversity among the hobbyist bloggers than there was a few years ago.

    2. I HATED the thing "I have to avoid sensitive topics." Grow up. We learn and grow as humans by talking about the hard stuff. We create change by talking about the hard stuff. Saying let's not talk about a fat shaming or fat phobic culture is ridiculous.

    3. I felt like the only phrase missing from Madeline's posts was a "some of my friends are fat!"

    4. Or "I used to be fat. I feel your pain!"

  4. The thread was another example of the general size-ist and looks-ist climate at PR. It isn't just the numerous jabs about size, but an overall attitude of judgmental thinking about appearance.

    The nasty comments on reviews.
    Threads devoted to bashing sartorial choices as reflecting one's character.
    Threads devoted to perpetuating rape culture.
    Typically, if a plus size sewist comments to fitting issues posted by someone thin, and the suggestion notes that perhaps the garment is too tight, someone slams the comment as the poster doesn't understand body con fashion and being proud of one's body.
    Comments on plus size reviews that the person is brave for being photographed in XYZ type of garment.

    I could go on, but the record at PR is well established that it is acceptable to body snark and fat shame larger posters. in general, there is a judgmental attitude at PR that doesn't sit well with me as it perpetuates a socio-cultural norms that are damaging. PR is very into binary box thinking about humans. For example:

    Cis-gendered heteronormativity. Ex: a few years ago, there was a contest (the Pantone one, IIRC) in which entries had to use women's colors for a woman's pattern for a woman OR the men's colors for a man's pattern for a man. One entrant identified as female but noted she usually sews men's patterns for herself and wanted to know what colors she should use. The CM said she'd have to use a female pattern and a female color and I asked why. there are number of reasons why a woman would prefer (example) a man's T shirt over a woman's or think the men's colorways worked better for her extant wardrobe or coloring. So the qualification changed that a woman could make a men's top for herself but would have to use men's colors if sewing a men's pattern. Seriously. Who really cares if a woman make a men's shirt for herself in the Pantone manly-man colors???? It goes beyond that that some reviewers won't note a pattern is for both sexes if they only plan to make it for one or the other.

    Why does it seem modesty comes up every few days?? The focus on modesty promotes body shaming, problematizes certain body types, physical features, and precocious development, and perpetuates rape culture. And yet every time it is mentioned, modesty cheerleaders emerge from the woodwork and talk about how it is such a virtue, social good, or shows her good character.

    More to come.

  5. And last...

    More concerns:
    Christian bigotry-- several Misc. threads marginalize non-Christians and secular outlooks. Several years ago, one woman posted looking for comments on how to talk to her private school principal. The school had a religious affiliation, but it described itself as being open to all, having a secular curriculum, not having prayers or chapel requirements, and featured itself as a prep school with a high record of acceptance at prestige private HSs in the area. Woman learned that her child's teacher, despite all of that, was requiring specific prayers in class, incorporating religious instruction in secular subjects, and neglected the science curriculum. Several people did try to send suggestions, but many comments told her she should appreciate the teacher's efforts to give her daughter faith, that it was harmless, the teacher meant well, that as long as her daughter did well and progressed it was fine, that this was one teacher... and so on. The defense of the instructor's violation of the school's policies was justified because she was giving the girl the Christian faith. Would the comments have shrugged off or openly approved of a Jew or Muslin or Jainist introducing students to their systems? kihihbckjscbduchwekjbwjweg Sorry laughing so hard I smacked the keyboard.

    Given that another thread basically made the expression Happy Holidays sound akin to pre-genocidal religious persecution, I think I can say there is a climate of Christian bigotry on PR. Though it is usually called the Sewing for the Holidays Contest, it is often suggested in threads as Sewing for Christmas. Even when called Holidays, the listed examples almost always focus on Christmas and note other holidays as an afterthought. I remember one such list and an item for Festivus was listed along side something for Hanukkah. I love Seinfeld, and Festivus is a running joke and an excuse to have a dinner party in our house, but it is marginalizing to Jews that a centuries-old religious holiday with high cultural significance is treated more like a TV show's made-up holiday than other holidays with religious significance.

    So yeah. inclusivity and/or body positivity on PR. I don't know if I'd say most people there even pay them lip service.

  6. I'm here for the comments!

    So enlightening L!

    I'm not plus but have noticed the vast amounts of sacks marketed as plus sized clothing.

    I caught the thread before it was locked but after her edits to her comments. I am always wary of someone (Justine of Sew Country Chic comes to mind) who edits out what they said instead of sincerely apologizing.

    I haven't been around long so I can't speak to the change on PR. I am a very active forum participant though but lately even I have been on there less and less.

    I did shake my head at the well-meaning commenter who called me "brave" on my review for my swimsuit. Brave? Sigh.

    1. Oh god, yes, this did reek of the Justine SCC incident. Good call!

      You rocked that suit! I swear that when just about anyone who has any curves posts a swimsuit review on PR, they'll always get at least one "you're so brave" comment. I think that says more about their own insecurity than anyone else.

    2. I wanted to comment on that comment but forgot. "Brave? What? She's swimming with sharks?" You looked great!

      That said-- I do think it is brave to sew a swimsuit. Finding the right fabrics, getting the fit correct, using the optimum notions to handle the job... it requires more planning and thought than a knit shirt for running errands or even skirt for the office.

  7. I don't go on PR much, truthtfully because it's so ugly it hurts my soul. Brown??? Who chose plain brown? I don't like the user interface either. It's go some useful pattern reviews and i do occasionally use it for that. I agree that CSC hasn't quite hit it's stride, esp in the forum, but I do try to check in often and contribute for that reason. I'm on the cusp of plus size (I size out of some patterns, so I figure I belong?) Have basically burnt myself out running the Sewcialist group blog and challenges, I have a lot of admiration for the CSC team for doing as well as they are!

    It seems a shame that PR shut down the thread, though I hadn't heard about it until now - personally, I feel like there ought to be more middle ground between all-positive comments on blogs and more anonymous and therefore sometimes bitchier comments on GOMI. Middle ground, people! That said, everyone who came over and commented on my recent post from GOMI (stats tell me there was lots of traffic from there) were thoughtful and honest, which is exactly what I like!

    1. The funny thing about the ugly color scheme is that Deepika actually tried to change it a couple of years ago, and people protested. I'm sure the fact that the whole site feels about 10 years behind from a web UX perspective doesn't make it feel very inviting to new (younger?) users.

      That said, as much as I prefer the content, environment, and personalities at the CSC, I feel like the biggest thing holding that site back is web engineering. You need an account to login to the site and post comments to the blog posts, a separate account for the forums, and a third (flickr) account for the flickr group. My hunch is that if they could come up with a unified login system (even if it meant selling ads and paying for some web dev time), we'd see participation increase.

      I completely agree with you that I'd like to see more of a middle ground somewhere between fangurlism and the catty-feeling bitchiness that you sometimes see on GOMI. I *try* to do that here. I'm not sure if I'm always successful, but that's my goal.

    2. Oh yes, the interface....honestly I am tech savvy and cannot for the life of me figure out how to navigate that website.

    3. Michelle, you DO walk that line, and that's why I love your blog! Sassy enough to be fun, thoughtful enough not to be bitchy. Fab.

  8. I had no idea there is a limit to 150 PMs at PR per month.

  9. Hi Michelle.
    I don't even look at PR anymore. Never did find anything I wanted there that related to anything I could wear, so just didn't get involved. I find it a very unfriendly website, and early on figured out that people of my size were not treated well there.

    I do check out Stitcher's Guild frequently, but not a lot there for plus sizes either. This is my first inkling of GOMI so now I'm going to have to check that out. Thank you for being vocal about people just being nasty and snarky.
    IMO there is no reason for people to make nasty comments about YOU "plus sized people" as if we are a race apart. I haven't seen anyone anywhere with a "perfect body" so to slam someone because they don't spend every waking moment worrying about their weight and their food intake and their looks just shows how shallow and insecure that person is.
    Just my opinion of course.

    1. I've glanced at Stitcher's Guild a few times, but it seems like it's just a place to browse? Is there anything more there than the forums?

      The big thing that PatternReview has going for it is its huge database of pattern reviews. Although, it seems like those are generally getting less detailed and more oriented towards becoming click-bait for other blogs, sites, etc.

    2. I don't block anyone at PR, but there's a handful of reviewers that I no longer look at a thing they write because it is just click-bait. When the template has twice the content of the review, just blog and skip wasting my time at PR.

      Using PR as click-bait is why I dumped half of the blogs I used to follow from bloglovin'.

  10. I use PR for the pattern reviews and, occasionally, I post in the forums when I am in a real jam about fitting. I have to admit I don't feel confident in commenting or posting in the forums, for various reasons, one of them being I am fearful of negative comments (about body issues, skills, taste, etc.). For the record, I've never had a bad experience on PR, but I don't want to chance it. The Web is a really cool place for learning, but it's also a haven for snarky people.

    I was ecstatic when CSC was created, because it seemed for me to be a place of neutrality, respect and body confidence. As Gillian pointed out, it hasn't quite hit its stride, but it still has a place in my heart and I always read it.

    Among other things, my ideal sewing community is accepting and understanding, that's for sure.

    1. I too read at the CSC. I've grown somewhat disillusioned, especially after the advertorial posted today. One person has no record of posting at the CSC and appears to the featured testimonial at skirt program website. That whole guest blog feature seems to be nothing more than a pimp for her very expensive class.

      I think if they can get more diversity in the posters, get more discussion going in the forums, and streamline how to post reviews there is a lot of potential there. The focus on body positivity, coupled with some of the political-ish posts about size-ism, body shaming, and backhanded compliments, could be the foundation of a very welcoming and inspiring community.

    2. I also think that if they had a little more diversity in guest posters, they'd get a greater diversity in reviews and other content. Then again, maybe that's not what they're aiming for? I dunno.

      Again, I think that the overall message/mission at the CSC is fantastic. They've had some brilliant posts, as well. I've felt a lot more confident calling out body snark, etc, since that site started, and I don't think it's a coincidence.

    3. Would you like to do some more posts for us Michelle? We'd love to have you. Or do you know anyone else who you think would like to contribute?

  11. I wish there was an alternative to Pattern Review. It's an ugly site, hard to use, and difficult to search. It also seems like it's a fan club for pattern companies, especially independents.

    My impression is that lately that the site is being used to solicit (free) input and talent to draft patterns that are then sold to users at a later date. It feels different than a site that asks for constructive feedback in order to improve. Not sure if I'm articulating that well.

    I enjoy sewing, and love to see what others are sewing. I guess size-wise I'm on the larger end of "non-plus", or the smaller end of "plus". I am who I am, and struggle with it being good enough. Frankly, I have very few, and I mean very few, fitting successes. It drives me bonkers, and yet I keep trying. I don't have nearly as much trouble going to the mall and finding well fitting clothes as I do patterns.

    Here's the things I like to know.
    1. Did the pattern pieces go together well? Were there enough notches to match up pieces and did they all fit together well?

    2. Sizing: Were the sizes listed on the pattern accurate? Is there a lot of ease built into the garment or is it tight fitting? (sometimes that's by design and sometimes it's by bad pattern drafting) Something like: My high bust measures 36" and I made the size that is supposed to fit a 36" bust but it was so tight I felt like I was wearing a compression bra! Or it was huge, etc.

    3. Instructions: Were they all inclusive? Did they include things like which way to press seams, include when and where to topstitch, etc? Were they inaccurate, and left things out?

    4. Images: Are there images besides text? Hand drawn? Were right side and wrong side clearly labelled? I've bought a few independent patterns where this wasn't done, and it wasn't always obvious to me, grrr.

    What I'm trying to say is that the kinds of things I want to know have nothing to do with plus or non-plus. Honestly, I think just about every style can look good on someone whether they are plus or not.

    1. I agree with an awful lot of what you've said. Lately it does seem like fan club of the indie cool kid patterns and an experiment in crowdsourcing pattern design (so that PR can become one of the indie cool kids?).

      I have been around there long enough to notice that the popularity of certain pattern lines cycles quite a bit. When I joined, everyone was all about Jalie and/or sewing from the Burda World of Fashion (BWOF, as it was called then) magazines. Burda's popularity cooled off with the BurdaStyle rebranding and when they doubled the number of patterns per pattern sheet, making them much harder to trace.

      I think you make a really good point that pattern reviews (whether on PR or elsewhere) could be more useful if they answered a few basic questions. With the PR template being so free-form, reviews there are all over the board in terms of usefulness.

    2. "My impression is that lately that the site is being used to solicit (free) input and talent to draft patterns that are then sold to users at a later date."


    3. Yes. Just reference the post on Patterns and Notions for a call for Pattern Testers. How is this getting by the mods? It is clearly to benefit someone selling their own patterns. I don't feel it is my responsibility to report it if there are moderators doing their job.

  12. I've largely gone off of PR for the reasons mentioned in your post and on subscription is up in August and I'm not renewing.

    1. I almost didn't renew when my subscription was up last summer. I feel like I'm getting less and less value from my membership--I don't look at the old reviews all that often any more (plus there are so many more blog-based reviews online than there used to be), and I rarely use the classifieds. I'm guessing that the PM feature would be the main thing I'd miss.

  13. As mentioned in another comment, I cannot get past PRs interface. It is fugly as hell and utterly confusing. I missed the thread but it seems to be indicative of a an implicit fat-shaming attitude that is prevalent online (and in real life). Especially with the tent-clothing thing. Every plus size shop in town seems to specialise in sacks and the patterns are the same. It projects an attitude of "you must conceal your shameful body" and fat as "the other", which was the basic message of this moronic PR post. She should be fired for her incompetence. I wish there was a better online sewing hub, akin to Ravelry for knitters. I like burdastyle for its projects but it is lacking in discussion and organization.

    1. I'm also surprised that there hasn't been any alternate sewing hubs that have popped up in recent years. I think that the opportunity is there to replace PR if someone had the resources and savvy to design a site that was easy to navigate with a fun, inclusive environment.

    2. I personally believe in diversity, tolerance and freedom. I do find it extremely important to consider alternate viewpoints and to understand people - rather than judging people. I am not free from subconscious biases, myself - I think no one is, it's just that everyone has different biases depending on their past and current situation. Yet I do believe very strongly that when you are called out on your biased actions it is a chance to reflect and improve yourself - not shut down and blame everyone else.

      I'm working on a site that I hope will grow into a resource like Ravelry for sewing over the next years. I only learned about Ravelry last year and then started to learn web development from scratch in the course of building my site (before that, I got a PhD in computer science). Finding Ravelry and experiencing the spirit there has deeply impressed me. I still have a lot to learn and to add to the site, but it's a very interesting journey.

      If you are curious to see what I have come up with so far, I invite you to take a look. We have a pattern database, projects, stash and a few other things. None of it is really polished yet. You could help me greatly by guiding the ongoing development with your feedback. By the way, we are brainstorming to find a name for the site in Ravelry's Sew Obsessed group.

  14. Reading the thread that was deleted was like looking at a train wreck in slow motion. I keep think that this is the person that was hired and is a representative of PR? Her behavior and the fact that Deepika did not step in earlier said a lot about her views about this group of customers. If the goal is to provide excellent customer service, the thread would have stopped before it got started. Where is the oversight of Madeline's introduction to PR. Why did she start with the poorly worded question about plus size sewist? I was impressed with the thoughtfulness and restraint of the posters that responded to her comments. Deepika as a business owner failed her customers. She has build a business using the free contributions of the membership. Since her business is build on the involvement of the members, you would think that she would be more sensitive to her customer base. I have to ask myself if we are less important because we are outside of the "size range" for the patterns that she sells?

    I remember when Deepika was visiting the old Sewing World discussing the idea of starting PR. Many sewists were supportive and were great contributors at the beginning. If you look around, how many of the original and really experienced members have stopped participating? Now at times, PR reminds me of high school. It has become a fan club for popular members and those producing indy patterns that cater to the younger and thinner sewists. CSC is a nice site but it feels like it is catering to the younger crowd.There is not a lot of diversity in the type of garments or patterns companies reviewed.

    I love sewing and communicating with others about sewing. I read a lot of blogs with a focus on plus size bloggers. My blog sucks and I need to be a better blogger. I like Stitcher's Guild because the group is more diverse and thoughtful with their comments. I hope one day to find a place that is inclusive and welcoming that is easy to use.

    1. Agree with your CSC comments. I like the site but do feel like the old maid there. And I wish it was easier to contribute to and follow the forums. I also wish that the blog posts would start off with a byline. I can't tell who is writing when I read on my phone and that drives me crazy because I want to know whose voice is speaking.

      Which reminds me of another thing I hate about PR (hee hee) ... where is the mobile site?? I'm supposed to PAY for that AND contribute for free? Yeah. No.

    2. I really feel like a big factor in the lack of diversity (age-wise and racially) is the high barrier to actually contributing there. To post in the forums, you need a separate login, and on top of that, the forums are hard to navigate. There's no mechanism for posting reviews beyond submitting a blog post.

      And I absolutely understand why they screen actual guest blog posts, but on the other hand, sometimes it feels like the quality control needs to be a little more stringent on the guest posts. They're in a REALLY tough spot with those--you want to encourage participation and don't want to turn away contributors. On the other hand, questionable posts reflect poorly on the site.

    3. I really miss a lot of the old posters--plus size or otherwise. I miss their projects and I miss their contributions on the forums. I used to learn so much more!

      They did post a blog post introducing Madeline to PR a day or two before the Trainwreck thread, but you would have had to have read that (and not a huge number of people read the PR blog) to have known who she was before she made her OP.

    4. Debbie and Michelle, you should email CSC! I emailed and suggested the "project mentor" thread in the forum because I saw so many people saying "I'm a totally newbie and I need help!" (the thread hasn't exactly taken off, but that's fine and i appreciate that they were up for trying it.). Why not suggest a pattern review thread? And offer to write posts about whatever tickles your fancy? I've emailed Jenny with a few ideas, and they've either turned into guest posts or it's happened that someone else already had the same idea. Or start some threads aggregating resources about topics like really big boobs, lists of plus-size bloggers of all varieties, etc. Worth a try, perhaps? :)
      <--- Lordy, that all sounds fangirly, but I really think any sins of ommission are unintentional, and probably something they'd like to fix.
      PS. If either of you ever want to post on the Sewcialist blog or run a monthly challenge, I'd love it! Gotta get that thing rolling again!

    5. I think I need to clarify. I don't think the CSC ladies are hard to reach out to or that they turn down ideas. Quite the opposite. I have pitched a couple of ideas to them and they've been very open and welcoming. It's me that needs to follow up with that. But if you've noticed, my own blog has been neglected for a couple of months. I've just lost the mojo for the moment. It will return. But until then, I'll just have to be patient.

  15. I have thought of joining PR but never got around to it. From what I am reading it seems like it has it's pros and cons. I am ignorant as to what goes on there so I can only say so much. I read and re-read this post and parts of me keep thinking that maybe it isn't just the insensitivity of certain mind-sets towards plus size women. But maybe some of it lies in what we assume or experience as plus size women. Maybe I am ignorant to a certain point, but how did a very simple question turn into an ugly debate...especially if the person shows that they are ignorant to the plus size community or culture? I hope I didn't get myself in trouble for this.

    1. It got ugly when a few of us basically asked her why she was asking somewhat odd questions (ones that she could have easily answered via Google) and instead of her responding by giving us context behind the OP, she got defensive, argumentative, and eventually started editing and deleting posts. Basically, she was behaving like like someone who was guilty and covering her tracks.

    2. There really is no plus community or culture. There are various plus size communities or groups that have spaces for discussion and certain sub-cultures (like feederism), but neither really apply to larger people because there is too much diversity among larger bodies. Even though size and looks discrimination shapes numerous ideas and perceptions in US culture, and I do think we can say most people are familiar with those ideas, too many other issues of intersectionality matter in how any one individual navigates and reads her/his/zie's social location as related to body shape and size.

      To say that many participants took their experiences into how they read the thread is like saying the sun will rise in the East, if you're in North America. Everyone takes their various relationships to and experiences of systems of oppression, their identity groups, and their access to matrices of privilege into every situation they encounter. Everyone. Whether we read a situation based on our color, our religion, our size, our class status, our sexed, gendered, and sexual identities, we take those experiences and identities into every room we enter. We read the environment based on experience. So yeah. Did some posters interpret the thread through the lens of their experiences? Of course. Everyone does this. Every single day. It's called intersectionality. And it matters.

      That said, every problem that arose in that thread had more to do with the dishonest, immature, and underhanded conduct Madeline engaged in. Why did she edit her posts when people asked why she was being dishonest or immature (neither of which is about size)? Why did it take several posts for her to be honest about the purpose of asking where plus sizes buy their stuff, especially in relation to on-line shopping, in which most vendors have no idea the size, shape, or color of the purchaser? So yeah, her covert and overt size-ist attitude mattered. It mattered in equal measure to her childish and dishonest actions.

  16. "Well yes, Debbie, did win a couple of contests...and I think those contest wins were probably about six years ago at this point."

    Me? Definitely at LEAST 6 years ago. Probably more. I don't know. The site is so effed I can't even find what they were and when. I know one was for a bra and the other was for a photo of cupcakes. Yes, a photo of cupcakes. Some random "contest." I haven't sewn a bra in FORever and the cupcakes were made by Alex's high school girlfriend. He's 23 now, if that gives any timeline.

    The breastfeeding bruhaha is what ran me out of PR town. I used to contribute A LOT to that site. And then got sh*t on by Deletka (hahaha ... love that) and a couple of the moderator nazis both publicly AND privately.

    I'm extremely against GIVING that site its content and seeing such poor treatment in return. What's the point?

    There are PAYING members on that site who ask questions about bugs, site behavior and NEVER ever get an acknowledgement. What's up with that? I'm one of them at this point, but it's not hard to guess why. But the others I see getting that behavior ... WTF.

    I did see the beginning of that thread that is the subject of your post and then read the conclusion on GOMI. All I can say is I'm not surprised. It's just status quo on PR.

    I could go on because there's just so much wrong with PR but I'm trying to straddle that middle ground so I'll just shut up.

    1. That breastfeeding thread really was something, wasn't it?

      Maybe someone can correct me, but I honestly can't remember a plus sized contest winner outside of you or Sherill (she won a mini-wardrobe contest a while back, if I remember correctly). Granted, there are far fewer plus size/curvy reviewers than there used to be...

      As far as I know, Deepika is the only person doing web dev on PR. It's an enormous site. When you're under-resourced like that, of course, bugs don't get fixed, expected features don't get implemented, etc. But it makes me wonder why they don't bring in another web developer, or at least someone on a contract basis to start cleaning up their backlog of to-do items.

    2. Did you enjoy your bag for the random cupcake contest?

    3. Deepika's husband is a developer too and I think he probably helps out from time to time. But PR is pulling in money at this point (and has been for quite a while). She can afford to contract out some of the work. Hire someone for THAT instead of Miss Madeline the fattie snarker. :-)

      As to other plus sized contest winners - I have no idea. I just don't follow the contests. It's much too tedious.

      Another place on PR that plus sized sewers are mostly excluded from are the yearly "Best of PR" write-ups. Sure, some lip service has been given but by and large, we're not seeing all shapes/sizes/colors/genders in those round ups.

      *L* - I don't even know where that bag is.

    4. I looked up the cupcake contest because I random thinking how random it was in (what) 2009? 2008? Something like that.

      Also, I'm an L**, but don't mistake me for the *L* at PR. That ain't me. My PR handle is nothing close to this!

  17. Me me! I got second prize in the Travel Wardrobe contest. I'll put it out there now...yes I AM a plus sized sewer. Mind you, a few yrs ago someone told me I wasn't plus sized and I weighed 90kg (198lb) at the time.

    I mainly read PR for the Downunder thread. It's a great group of girls. Not sure how many are plus sized. Does it even matter? ;) I'm currently doing the wardrobe contest which IMO will make for interesting voting. There's 2 maternity wardrobes, a children's one, so-called "normal" people and some fatties. Fun!

    However, I am starting to get pissed with PR. Mostly due to the non-acknowledgement of stuff by Deepika. "Tell me how I can fix stuff" she says & then ignores everyone except some random who comes in with some ridiculous idea that she thinks is great. Sigh. Even an acknowledge..."hey, yeah, I've read your post and will think about it" would be good. But no.

    1. Congrats on your win!

      I strongly suspect that the lack of responsiveness from Deepika is due to her (and her team) being severely underresourced for the amount of traffic that PR generates. I'm not privvy to PR's financials, but with charging $30/membership, pattern sales, etc, you'd think that they could get some engineering help, on at least a part-time help or contract someone on a per-gig basis.

  18. And then there's that thread that I just happened upon one day (not a reader of the plus size forum). Jeepers! Madeline has no idea. Absolutely no idea. That Eiffel Tower thing made me spit my coffee. What the hell is wrong with her?

  19. I agree with everything you said about that post. But I have gotten enjoyment out of Pattern Review. I posted some fitting pics and everyone was gracious and lovely. (I'm a Vogue size 14). They gave me great ideas about what needed to be fixed. Also, I just posted a random question about what to do about piping bulk and invisible zippers and got an immediate response. And checking the reviews before making a pattern has really saved me more than once. But what I really love is the forums that talk about sewing machine pricing, since its impossible to just google how much that new Babylock or Bernina should cost, and you can map out what the lowest price/bargain someone got and come up with a reasonable negotiating point. So while I've had nothing but good experiences, I realize I may have just been lucky because I've heard about a lot of people's poor experiences (of which this latest post is just an example). But I wanted to comment so you would get the perspective of someone who is getting something out of Pattern Review. But I do cringe at the outdated design of that site.

  20. I didn't catch this on PR but just wanted to chime in on the CSC - we would very much like to have more diversity in contributors and we frequently put out calls for contributions, and approach individuals and ask them. We're trying really hard, but we don't get the response we hope for. I have literally emailed dozens of people about this topic but had very few contribute. Does anyone here have any suggestions for how we can get more diverse people to contribute? Or do any of you want to write for us? Just email!

    1. Anytime a group places multiple levels for people to participate, it will often look as though the group is not really interested in others' participation. Needing multiple accounts to participate is cumbersome and inefficient. I can't participate on the forum because I have a disqus account and can't for the life of me figure out why I need yet another log in for participating on the same site. It seems needless awkward.

      There are people posting on this thread that have sent suggestions to the CSC of what they'd like to post and have been told we'll let you know-- which doesn't sound fully welcoming of new voices.

      To post a review, one needs to send an email, basically asking may I review X for you? And then the CSC will decide whether or not they want that garment? That reviewer? Not sure what the criteria is.

      All I know is the more layers I have to peel through to contribute, the less it looks like a group really wants me to do so.

    2. Yes if you want to write a blog post for us, email us with your idea and we will almost certainly say yes as long as it's relevant! There's no layers: just email us (we've also mentioned this on the CSC multiple times)

    3. Jenny, thanks for shedding some light on the process a bit. I didn't think that there was necessarily anything intentional going on behind the scenes, but I was curious about the submission process, etc.

      In the interest of transparency, the "diversity" topic got brought up because a couple of us were wondering (offline) why we weren't seeing certain popular curvy bloggers (or seeing more of them) on the CSC, when to us, it seemed like a natural pairing (e.g. Debbie, Carolyn, etc.) So, now I think we know. ;)

    4. I don't know Jenny, I asked a question through, I think, your 'info' email and received no response. It was a question on center darts but your site perhaps does not provide that sort of interaction. However, a simple , no we can't help or don't respond to those sort of inquiries might have been helpful. OTH I didn't take it personally just got the impression that CSC is not that responsive.

    5. Hi Lozzen - we make a point to answer all emails so yours must have slipped through the cracks or ended up in spam, sorry. Can you resend? While we are a volunteer site and can't always guide people through every sewing challenge they have, we do respond to 100% of emails we receive.

  21. PR - I do occasionally write reviews and have for a few years, but I haven't really written many for a while. I've never received any harsh comments on PR. I don't participate in forums and as I did not read the thread by Madeleine, I can't chime in. I do find it extremely unprofessional for an employee to argue with forum participants. She could have done her research in regards to her question by googling plus size sewing and reading plus size reviews on PR.

    CSC - we are not-for-profit and are limited by what we share in our posts by who contributes. The plus size blogging community as a whole is small, and few seem to want to contribute to the CSC. I am not involved much with accepting and coordinating submissions, so I cannot tell you a lot about that process, but I can tell you that few people follow through with the submission of articles. With few people submitting content, the posts can be less diverse. The CSC is not trying to be inclusive, but we are limited by what we can share do to our participants.

    We run on WordPress which had faulty comments and had to switch to disqus, which is why there are separate logins for the forum and for the comments. I can try switching back to WP comments to see if perhaps the new version of WP has fixed any glitches. Flickr is separate entity and is a closed group, which does make it more difficult to become a member of it. We made it a private group in case our members wanted to share within that group and not make their photos or content available to the public.

    I do hope this helps enlighten to what is going on with the CSC. We strive to become a positive place where everyone is welcome. If we can make the site more user friendly, I am happy to try to fix any errors.

    1. "but I can tell you that few people follow through with the submission of articles."


      Just want to be extra clear on that before this turns into CSC bashing. I did contribute to CSC and it was a pretty easy process. I've also pitched a couple of ideas which were welcomed. Now it's on ME to follow through. (Although part of the reason for not following through besides my general mojo-less state at the moment, is being intimidated by not being able to live up to the general photo quality of the CSC editors. There, I said it.)

    2. CSC bashing is the last place where I wanted this to go! I hope that I didn't come across that way. I only brought it up because I think that the CSC has a TON of potential, and I wanted to see the community become more active.

      I actually think it's a great thing that the flickr group is private. If I ever sew a swimsuit, I'd be willing to post a pic to a private flickr group, but I can't see myself ever posting a pic on my own blog or to PR. Full disclosure: a big part of my job involves simplifying UI's and workflows, and sometimes it's hard for me to turn my brain off from wanting to do that on other people's websites.

    3. I also wanted to add that I'm guilty of flaking on posts, too.

      Like Debbie, I'm really intimidated by the photography aspect. I suck as a photographer, and while my husband has a DSLR and can be quite a good photographer, it's hard for us to get decent photos without getting photobombed by a 3-year-old or dog. Or look at when we tried to do a "real" photoshoot for my coat a few months ago--we'd left one of the settings on the camera set wrong, and I wound up with a blue face in all of the shots!

    4. No no I didn't think you were bashing the CSC at all. I just wanted to fess up to my own inaction to give a more complete perspective before anyone else misunderstood and to avoid going off the rails.

    5. No no I didn't think you were bashing the CSC at all. I just wanted to fess up to my own inaction to give a more complete perspective before anyone else misunderstood and to avoid going off the rails.

    6. Michelle - 3 year olds and dogs are more than welcome in the photos too! My dog tries to get in them all as well.

      Not sure if you wanted advice so if not, ignore the following: with photos, I don't do anything fancy - just set "auto-focus" on camera and make my husband take a bunch of photos (hopefully up to 50 so I can pick the best few). The thing that makes the biggest difference, I find, is using outdoor light (and the last few hours of sunlight are the best but tricky to time it right).

      BUT, so long as you can actually see the garment, it's fine. You don't need editorial quality photos!

    7. I agree with what Sophie says -- don't worry about anyone in the background, as long we can see your garment(s), it's ace! :) I like seeing pets and kids, btw, and I'm sure others do!! I think the only thing we wouldn't want on a review post would be selfies where we can see your camera/phone in the pic. They're fine for flickr, but we like a little better quality for a review post.

      Michelle -- I am the web administrator for the CSC and not professionally trained. T (who is a design genius and is a pro) and I put the site together and we are always working on it. I spend a lot of time working on the site and learning as I go. If you have any professional knowledge to help, please let me know. I'd appreciate it! We don't strive to replace PR nor be a plus version of PR, just a blog with contributors with the addition of a forum where members can interact. We also have the option of a forum of Flickr, which is private, but people don't seem to use it often.

    8. Honestly, I just learned that the CSC even *has* a forum, and I just went to the main page (via my phone, which is virtually theonly way I access the internet these days) & don't see any link to a forum. How does one access this forum? I know I'm not the only one who was unaware of a forum on the CSC...

  22. Hi, Tanyamaile! You post some of my favorite reviews at the CSC!

    I don't mind the flikr issue so much because I appreciate that it is a closed group. (I forgot my flikr log in, but that's another issue entirely.)

    I am curious by this comment from you:
    The CSC is not trying to be inclusive, but we are limited by what we can share do to our participants.

    I understand that what you post is shaped by a few factors: who is participating in general; what those people are interested in posting; do they actually send anything to post?; what they provide to post (number of pics, quality of them, length of text, quality of writing, etc.), and so on.

    But when you write that the CSC is "not trying to be inclusive" I gotta ask: whom are you trying to keep out?

    1. Thank you. :)

      From what I understand, those who have asked to contribute often do not send their posts/photos/etc. Therefore, it makes it appear that we (the CSC editors/community) are inclusive due to the content posted our site, but in actuality are limited to our participants. I don't believe that anyone who has sent in a post has been turned away. I hope that clears up any confusion. As far as keeping anyone out, I'd say we only want to keep out any one displaying negative comments regarding body shaming.

    2. I think there's a confusion in phrasing here. The CSC very much wants to be inclusive and diverse! That's why we constantly ask people to contribute blog posts. What Tanya is confirming is that though many people tell us they want to write a post very few actually send one to us. We are always looking for more people! L*, would you like to start writing for us?

    3. When I read Tanya's comment, I thought she meant "exclusive" in the sense that the CSC isn't trying to exclude anyone. I thought it was a typo.

    4. It is what I meant, although my verbage was lacking this morning.... I really shouldn't be typing comments at 4:30 in the morning. We don't want to exclude anyone and include anyone who wants to be a part of our community.

  23. Michelle, I didn't read all these comments, but I did read your post! Putting aside the specific topic for a minute, I just want to say that I love your blog posts. They are always interesting and look at things in a much more thorough way than I think about things...the cup sizing post and the recent one on the indie company that was scaling back were both ones where I was just impressed that 1. You put that much thought into things and 2. Took the time to write it down for the rest of us to read! I really appreciate it!

    Regarding the specific topic, I missed the thread on PR, but I do love PR for my purposes. Given my comment above, you can probably guess that I tend to jump in and get the info I need and jump out. :) If a somewhat snarky comment is directed toward me (and there have been a few), I try not to worry about it too much. Where any group of people are gathered, there is almost always going to be a bit drama. It is the nature of humans. :)

    Regarding your request about options we'd like to see in an online sewing community, I would like to see more people participate in the pattern reviews and more easily searchable patterns and tips. I get frustrated on PR searching for old Burda mag patterns and some of the indie patterns. I would also like to see tips arranged in a more logical manner. I find it really hard to find these things using the PR search and usually resort to google. I try to remember to read the reviews for every pattern I'm going to sew and they have helped me figure things out...without having to do it the hard way first! :)


  24. "Do you participate on PatternReview? Why or why not?"

    nope, never have. the interface is just too unwieldy, i don't have the time or desire to learn how to use it. If i am seriously researching a pattern prior to possible purchase i will read reviews that come up with regular web searches, but that's it. I don't even read the pattern of the year round ups anymore, as they tend to run towards too mainstream of a look for my tastes.

    Reading the comments to this post make me think i've been genius at avoiding wasting my time with that aggravating site! (ha!)

    I also enjoy Stitcher's Guild. It is fairly easy to use, and there seems to be more diversity in the age, shape, size, and tastes of people who post there. Even has a couple of mens!

    And again, part of the problem overall in the online sewing world is that producing quality original content takes time, experience, and resources generally. It is expensive. Most of the content out there is produced non-professionally. As Debbi Cook points out, these forums big attraction is the original content which comes from the *forum members*. I would appreciate more credit given to people who donate their time, energy, and other resources towards making these forums interesting, vital places to visit. No one who regularly produces original content which drives traffic to these websites should feel like they are 'freeloading' because they do not give money.

    Michelle it is so nice to see you back and posting and sewing :) Your pattern release roundups are a wonderful example of the type of unique, valuable original content that people produce on their own time and dime. An incredible resource! Have a great weekend.

  25. I was feeling a little shy about commenting that my (admittedly, limited) experience with PR has been positive, but now I see that I'm not the only one who feels that way, so here goes:

    I read pretty much only the plus-size-ish pattern reviews since that is my body type, and I actually have the perception (no data) that there have been an increasing number of plus size reviewers. Yay! I also have not read any reader comments that I would define as seriously body-snarking, and folks seem to be even kinder since the gentle PR conversation several months ago regarding how and when to make comments regarding garment fit/appearance. (In case you didn't see that thread, the consensus was pretty much in the vein of "if someone is happy, be supportive of their pleasure in their garment, and only comment on fit/appearance if someone specifically requests that kind of input". I have not observed any notable exceptions to this wonderful guideline.) I also really like it when reviewers give a link to their blog - several of my favorite subscription blogs have come from PR.

    I did read the initial post by Madeline, and was mystified. It didn't interest me, so I clicked out and thus missed the brouhaha. Lucky me, I guess! Sounds like, as a new employee, she needed a bit more coaching and oversight, but there isn't a boss in the world who hasn't had a newbie run off the rails. Ask me how I know! (Based on the comments above, it appears that Deepika didn't handle damage control very well, though.)

    And, maybe I'm just easy, but I love CSC, too. It's true that the posts are contributed by mostly younger folk, but the monthly photo roundup (which is great!) shows that a very diverse group of sewists are participating by sending in their photos. Yay and yay!

  26. I didn't see the topic on PR because I'm not online enough to be a meaningful participant in any forum's discussions, but I like this topic because I'm a plus sized sewer.

    Thinner people are often very uncomfortable with fat, especially younger thinner people who were raised to fear it like the plague, so I can see how this employee was not properly equipped to take on this particular task. I do feel sorry for her, but just as sorry that the thread was deleted. Silencing the very voices you want to hear is always a tragedy.

    As for community, I'm a slacker/lurker, so blogs that allow comments are best for me to participate. I've not really glommed onto the CSC because it didn't really speak to me -- just because I'm fat does not mean I have a similar aesthetic or similar values -- and I'm not sure I'd want to hang out in a fat-only setting, because in a way it perpetuates the thought that bigger people are a different species from smaller people, and need different things. As you mentioned, we all buy fabric and notions from the same place, we like the same patterns, and ultimately, sewers of all sizes have to do all kinds of pattern alterations. Why not learn from each other to see the similarities, and accept that there will always be differences and that's NBD?

  27. I've looked at PR on and off for many years. Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
    I don't like contests (I don't mind contests existing, I just don't want to participate)
    The interface has always felt outdated, bulky and glitchy to me
    On only two occasions was a pattern review helpful to me
    I quickly browse the review gallery to see new patterns, interesting fabric choices, etc; I find bloggers to follow this way sometimes
    I used to read pattern reviews in detail hoping to get information on a pattern that actually pertains to my body type, but I haven't had much luck finding many over the years. I’m not really "plus" and I'm not really "misses." I'm tall. I'm always very busty and sometimes average weight and close to fit, sometimes average weight, but squishy, and sometimes plumper. I'm not saying that there are no people shaped like me on PR, I'm just being honest that the reviews have not been very helpful to me in that regard
    Many times I would read a review for a poorly fitted or sewn garment, the comments would dishonestly gush about how wonderful the garment was. This is not fair to someone who is trying to learn a skill. I don’t advocate giving advice or feedback when someone is happy with the way their garment turned out, but you can say something nice without lying to them. I rarely read reviews or comments anymore because of this.
    I have never seen body shaming in comments on reviews, but that may be because I don’t read them often due to #6
    The search function was always, and is still, really difficult to use well
    I only recently started participating in the forums and I haven’t run into any of the negative stuff people have discussed here. That is, until the Madeline train wreck of last week. I followed that very closely and Madeline was asking people to do her job for her, she lacked transparency, she was very childish and quite rude, among other things. I understood why the moderator locked the thread, even though I didn’t agree with the decision. Deletion of the thread, though, was outrageous to me.

    I'm on the fence about CSC. Those who run CSC are volunteers and I'm sure that they work very hard. From their comments on this thread, I can see that they are actively trying to include diverse people and content, which makes me very happy.

  28. Hi, I'm the 'savvy reader' who captured the post from the PR thread. I captured most of the rest of it, too, including the Eiffel Tower 'discussion'.LOL

    1. Yes, thank you for doing that. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your posts.

  29. The conversation here is SO MUCH MORE enlightening and useful that what I saw on PR. I haven't had time to read it all, so I'll be back. Body issues hit so close to home. It's good to discuss it, and all the other ways we all differ. Personally, I feel queasy about calling out plus size as different. I feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of a spectrum. We all have challenges somewhere on the spectrum. The spectrum could be age, size, modest/expressive, or whatever.

  30. What a great post, Michelle! I've really enjoyed reading all of the feedback here. Lots to think about and ponder over.

  31. I quit going after 8+ years when I was told to go kill myself in a PM because no one liked me.

    I really think that PR has hurt the sewing community at large, both IRL and online. Generally, I no longer contribute anywhere in sewing discussions, and I doubt I am alone in that.

    What does it say for PR that GOMI is generally nicer then the ladies that post there? I also don't see PP allowing a fifth of the things Deepeka does and seemingly condones.

    So, no I don't participate on PR and it has made it where my involvement in the SBC is practically non-existent because I don't like to associate with cliquey mean girls. I graduated HS already, thanks.

    1. That's awful and inexcusable. I hope that the person who sent such a PM got kicked off the site.

  32. "I quit going after 8+ years when I was told to go kill myself in a PM because no one liked me."

    I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry that you experienced this. People can be real a******s.

  33. Honestly, it didn't make me feel like doing anything but disassociating myself with PR quickly.

    And no, the member is still there and a PR darling.

    1. When I first read your comment, I didn't know what to say. I've read some pretty asinine to rude to hostile comments one various online forums and cannot imagine ever shooting back to someone that she/he/ zie should kill her(etc.)self in reply.

      First, in sewing issues, who goes to 11 like that over a sewing issue? I personally don't like invisible zips, but there is no way in hell that I'd be so horrid to someone who does.

      Even in the political stuff in the misc., I may be an ultra-liberal progressive type, but I can't imagine a comment that would make me respond like that. And there has been stuff posted in misc threads that basically say non-Christians have no place in the writer's worldview.

      Did you contact a mod about such a comment? I'm not sure I would have, but only because I'm not sure which one to take such a comment to or if in a PM they'd care because it isn't public.

  34. I joined PR very early on (and remember when Deepika brought up the idea for it on Sewing World). Over the years I have contributed a number of reviews but since most of my sewing is now from European pattern magazines and not always Burda, I don't think my reviews would be of much use to others. I keep my membership only so that I can access the older pattern reviews and occasionally browse one or two boards. I stopped adding my patterns to the database and instead use one I built with OneNote - much better and I can access it from my phone. One peeve I have is that members don't get sufficient space to upload photos for use in the reviews. Having to use outside photo storage sites is the reason most photos for older reviews no longer exist. Annoying. Another peeve is lack of response to bug reports. And yes, I too find the site outdated. I've done some programming and written user interfaces and it can be difficult to get beyond your own idea of what is aesthetically pleasing as well as efficient and useful. That said, I'm still glad there is PR and people who submit reviews of patterns. I just wish it were better.

  35. I'm now on PR as Tolkienesque, but 13 years ago I was part of early PR as Melanie Dahms (my maiden name). I participated in the forums, made a real friend, posted some reviews, etc. This was back when PR was free, and it somehow came out that Deepika was going to try to make money off of us (gasp!). The forums exploded. I personally had the opinion that a For Profit company should not make money from user reviews submitted freely. I tried to distinguish between for-profit and non-profit organizations, but me and anyone else who didn't appreciate being charged to read our own writing was pressured out of the forums.
    I am a member again, and I do appreciate a database of reviews. However, I am not interested in being part of the PR "community" again.
    Coming back, one of the changes I find most distressing is the marketplace. A line that does not sell their patterns through PR (like HotPatterns or StyleArc) is much harder to wish for, stash, and find reviews of.
    I do love how much my hobby has grown in the last 10 years, and there are great reviewers on PR (like Michelle). But it is very flawed.

  36. Do you participate on PatternReview? Why or why not?

    Not anymore. I had the audacity to ask a question and got attacked for it.
    The mod closed the thread and did not go after the trolls. The trolls are still there. I used the site mainly for sewing machine reviews as I found some of the pattern reviews lacking or just there to famewhore the reviewer, their blog/upcoming book/future sewing diva money making venture. I was a latecomer to PR (it was four years ago I found it) but I am glad I did or I would not have found wonderful people like Debbie Cook, The sewing lawyer,
    you! who I respect and who have given me knowledge and sewing help just by giving freely of their time by blogging about what they love to create.

    If you are on PR, does PR have issues with inclusivity (or lack of it) and censorship?

    Due to the incident I mentioned above and the clique like community I am no longer a part of it.

    What do you expect and want to see in your ideal online sewing community?

    Anything that saves time and helps to produce a quality garment. I watch a lot of videos of professional garment industry work and try to glean tips. I find tips from professional tailors when they give demonstrations. Being nice counts for a lot these days. Thanks for all you do on your blog, you look great and are inspirational to me and others born without a size 0 body.