Every year, on this day, I write about what happened in the previous 12 months, and look ahead at what you can expect in the year ahead.
This year is no different, but boy do I have a lot to talk about.
2017: the year freesewing was born
While freesewing was conceived in 2016 – that’s when I started working on it – 2017 was the year it saw the light of day.
Freesewing core v1.0.0 was released in March this year. For most people, that event passed under the radar. An open source platform for made-to-measure sewing patterns? What does this thing actually do?
A lot, as it turns out. Something that’s become more obvious since the release of freesewing.org at the end of August.
On Christmas day, it will (only) have been four months since this release. Yet in that time, we’ve signed up 2735 users for whom we host 1522 drafts, and 2359 models.
We launched with 11 patterns, and have since added 4, bringing the current total to 15. Half of those new patterns are a community effort, which is particularly promising.
Yes, it’s still early days. But I think it’s safe to say that the decision to reinvent makemypattern.com as an open source project was the right call.
Speaking of which.
MakeMyPattern.com is no more
Shortly before publishing this blog post, I’ve pulled the plug on makemypattern.com.
You can try to visit that link, but you’ll only end up back here.
MakeMyPattern.com saw the light of day in 2012. It went through a number of iterations since, and today is finally superseded by freesewing.org.
We had a good run, and I feel that for any project, it’s a good way to go when you get cannibalized by something better that you inspired.
Let’s talk money
Like every year on this day, I’ve transferred all donations into the account of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.
This year we came in at 673.14€, so that’s what I’ve transferred.
Why should we give you money in the first place if you’re just going to give it away?
I’ve also come to understand that people have a bunch of questions about this. Like Why are you doing this? and Why should we give you money in the first place if you’re just going to give it away?
These questions have led to some soul-searching recently. What I’ve learned is that it’s not easy to talk about money. Nor is it easy to put in words things that you know to be right, almost instinctively.
But I wanted to be completely transparent about what’s going on, so I made the effort to write about these things on our pledge page. And I’m copying them here verbatim:
You probably assume that we ask for money to keep the servers running. But that’s not exactly true.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the phrase noblesse oblige but it essentially means that privilege entails responsibility.
I am privileged, and thus I have responsibilities. I am very fortunate to have been born in Western Europe, have a good job, and a roof over my head.
Could I use the money? Yes I could.
Do I need the money? No I don’t.
The value of your support
The main risk to Freesewing is the same as any open source project out there: maintainer burnout.
While I no longer carry Freesewing alone — and I can’t stress enough how much I value the work of all contributors — that doesn’t make me immune to feelings of Why the fuck am I doing this?
When people become Patrons (or donate), they give more than money. To me, the main value is the message they send to me and other people working on this. And that message is: Hey, you’re doing a worthwhile thing. Keep up the good work.
The value of your money
It is not just about the money. But that doesn’t mean the money is not important. Much to the contrary.
Raising money by doing something I love and then passing it on to charity allows me to sleep at night.
I could volunteer at a soup kitchen, or teach underprivileged children how to sew. But instead I’m working on Freesewing.
Which is why all the money raised through freesewing goes to charity. It makes this project not only fun to do, but also socially responsible. And I need that to convince myself that yes, it’s OK to spend all my time doing this, because at the end of the year, I get to write a check to people who need it so much more.
Charity is not sexy
Here’s the tricky part: People donate less once they know the money goes to charity in the end. I wish it wasn’t the case, but it is.
So I’m not explicitly mentioning it on our Patrons page, which is presented like you would see on a business site.
Yes, everything is free, and the money doesn’t actually go to paying the server bills (because I choose to pay them out of my pocket for reasons outlined above). But that doesn’t mean that these contributions are not crucial to the well-being of the project, or at the very least its maintainer (that would be me).
Did you notice that in the text above I mentioned our Patrons page? That is because I’ve rolled out a bunch of changes today.
Having taken the time to reflect on the money side of things, I’ve realized that it’s an important factor in the well-being of this project. I also believe that donations – while motivating and appreciated – are not the best way to go about this.
So, as of today, we are calling all Patrons.
Become a Patron of Freesewing
To ensure a sustainable future for freesewing.org, our code, our patterns, and our community,
we need to build a bedrock of loyal supporters.
Patrons who support us in our core work; Developing an open source platform for made-to-measure sewing patterns.
We have different tiers of Patronage, each with their own perks. You can support us for as little as 2€, and it only takes a minute.
We are not changing the nature of the site. All patterns, and all our code, will remain free.
We are not changing the nature of the site. All patterns, and all our code, will remain free. What we are changing is the way we raise funds. From a system of impulsive donations to a community of caring Patrons. If you are someone who cares, then check out what we have to offer.
I sincerely believe we are doing a worthwhile thing here. If you feel that way too, then I ask you to pledge whatever you can so that we can write many more chapters in this book.
Become a Patron today
You can sign up for as little as 2€, and it only takes a minute.
Thank you, and have a great year.
PS: It would be a shame if there’s people out there willing to support us who don’t know about this. So perhaps you could share this image on social media?