Welcome to the 2024 Winter edition of the FreeSewing newsletter.
Here’s what we’ve got for you on this new year’s day:
- 🎉 Happy new year to (most of) you (1-minute read - by joost)
- 🧵 FreeSewing evenings at De War (3-minute read - by Lexander)
- 👖 Announcing Otis and Lumira, two new FreeSewing designs (2-minute read - by Wouter & joost)
- 📷 We’re (barely) grammin’ (3-minute read - by joost)
- 🌎 Anyone else forgot that this newsletter is multilingual now? (1-minute read - by joost)
- 🙏 Thank you patrons and one-time donors for making it all worthwhile (2-minute read - by joost)
For those who consider the Gregorian calendar to be the one calendar to rule them all — which I believe to be the vast majority of you — allow me to start by wishing you a happy new year 🎉
I wish you the very best for 2024, and hope that at least in your book, this is going to be a great year. Perhaps there’s things you’re looking forward to, good intentions you’ve spelled out for yourself, or maybe it’s just a time to reflect and be hopeful.
Whatever floats your boat, I hope things work out for you in 2024. If nothing else, since you are reading this it seems you’ve made it through another year. That in itself is worth celebrating because living ain’t easy. So kudos to you, and keep it going.
You may or may not remember an article in FreeSewing’s Autumn newsletter of 2022 where I, Lexander, wrote that FreeSewing was invited to be part of an exposition, where we did the full FreeSewing garment making process with a small group. Well, I’m very happy to tell you that it wasn’t a one time thing: FreeSewing evenings have been part of their schedule bi-weekly for almost half a year now.
The same organizers from the exposition own a building called De War (named after a former owner of their former building) in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, where they create and encourage projects for art, technology, science, and sustainability. For example, it houses a FabLab and repair café.
The FreeSewing evenings are in their FabLab, where they have laser cutters to cut fabric with. We sit around the table and some take measurements, some sew, some get to know the site. I also sometimes write code for the Nicky pattern I’ve been making - so really, there’s room for any type of FreeSewing enthusiast to join!
Feel free to pop by if you have the time.
The FreeSewing evenings are on Thursdays of even weeks from 19:00 to 22:00. The upcoming ones are on January 4th and 18th. You can also find the dates on the FreeSewing Discord server’s Events tab (located top-left). You can message me at @lexander2002 on Discord or Diana (the main organizer) at email@example.com to let us know you’re coming :-) You can find De War at Heiligenbergerweg 34, 3816 AK, in Amersfoort. People are invited to make use of the facilities, but also to contribute to the livelihood of De War. The place works on a donation basis, “perceived value pricing”.
FreeSewing will also be part of their two-day event called Koppelting, where Diana will demonstrate how to use their laser cutter to cut a full pattern from fabric in one go. This will be on the weekend of 27 & 28 January.
One of De War’s ambitions is to find a way to make durable, sustainable clothing more accessible to people. FreeSewing makes made-to-measure accessible and (for those with access to a FabLab) the laser cutter simplifies the pattern cutting and assembling process. Screen printing can be used to add prints to fabric (also available at some FabLabs). Now there is still the complex problem of good fabric, because most options today aren’t good for the environment or they are yielded through labor exploitation, often both. Perhaps there can be found a way to make fabric from local harvest, like flax, hemp, nettle, or similar ones - because if they could do this in medieval times, why can’t we find a way now? But a good technique to extract the fiber and process it into fabric that isn’t environmentally heavy, labor intensive, and costs a lot of resources or money to make, hasn’t been found yet. Don’t hesitate to reach out with ideas! Until then, we’ll see what the future holds.
We’ve got two new designs up on FreeSewing.org that you may not yet know about. Shout-out to Wouter who signed for both of them, so let’s hear what he has to say:
Otis is a baby romper:
When my niece had a baby, I knew just what to do; sew her some clothes for the little one. And I had never made any clothes for infants. What they should look like was easy. I had kids of my own years ago, and the one-piece things should be easy to make.
What I did not have was a pattern. That meant that I should get one, or make one. That was not a hard decision; FreeSewing was definitely lacking in the infant-focused designs. Infants have the nice quality that while they are growing, they grow in each direction at the same pace. The only real challenge is that their head is a lot bigger in proportion than older specimens. A normal shirt with opening doesn’t work. But there are easy solutions to that, and these are used by all romper making manufacturers.
I incorporated the neck design with a simple body design, and a snap closure. Easy short or long sleeves completed the design.
and Lumira is a pair of leggings:
I started working on this design when I decided I needed more leggings to cycle in the fall and winter. My previous pair was made with a commercial pattern, and they have served me well. The easy solution would have been to just make some more. But if I need some of these, there should be more people that do.
I decided to make this pattern so it allows for a waistband to be part of it. This should make for a good fit on a wide range of body types. It can optionally create a gusset that is relatively large in the back. This is both a nice design feature, and provides support for the rear. To exemplify this, you could use a contrasting fabric for this part.
The pattern’s gusset can be extended to the front to allow for a bulge. And since I wanted this pattern to be able to be used for cycling, there is an option to use a chamois, the padding you find in most cycling shorts.
This is a pattern that has no outside seams, so interesting designs on the fabric will not be distorted.
I really appreciate Wouter’s approach where he has his own needs that are the instigator of these designs, but then is willing to go the extra mile to not only solve this problem for himself, but also for all of us. It is in a very tangible way the raison d’être of FreeSewing.
About that title: I think people younger than me refer to Instagram as the gram and so I took that and made it a verb because what better way to demonstrate that I have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s also a convoluted callback to a 6-and-a-half year old blogpost so if you got that then kudos to you, but I digress.
Instagram. I am talking about Instagram. Or more generally all the things we do (and do not do) to promote FreeSewing, raise awwareness, and so on. Let’s call it marketing.
For the last several months, our Instagram account has been managed by Natalia, who has been a fixture on FreeSewing’s all-star team for many years. Natalia has indicated her desire to step down as FreeSewing’s Instagram maintainer, so for the foreseeable future it will revert back to the usual neglect by yours truly.
The account itself is edging closer to 10k followers which makes it our largest communication channel, or at least it would be if we forget for a moment that this newsletter itself has over 12k subscribers.
Whether it’s our Instagram account, this newsletter, or FreeSewing itself, they are all somewhat popular in spite of an almost complete absence of marketing. Whereas many moons ago I would have made more efforts to spread the word about FreeSewing, for years now I have done essentially nothing to do so, because there’s just so much to do that this sort of stuff never gets to the top of the queue.
However, since version 3 we are also no longer publishing regular new releases, because we don’t need to. We are now utilizing what I tend to refer to as a release stream where updates, improvementsand new features are drip-fed to FreeSewing.org as soon as they are finished. Fresh out of the oven so to speak, rather than bundled together in timely releases. We still release things (like v3.1 last week) but we don’t need to do so for our own websites. We only do it for the benefit of those people using our software for their own purposes (and to be clear: we will continue to do so).
With a million things on my plate, any sort of marketing or even merely talking/writing about what we’ve been up to is always that can that gets kicked down the road. Releases were a natural stop to all that can-kicking. Whenever we put out a new release, it was a moment where I typically took the time to write about what went into the new release, what was new, improved and so on. Now that we’ll see fewer releases (not fewer updates) there’s even less nudging me to take the time to write/talk about what’s going on in FreeSewing land.
I feel like I should do better here, but I’m not entirely certain how to handle this. The obvious answer is to join the content creators who use these platforms to push their personal brand or side-hustle. But I know from experience that trying to compete in this space is something that tends to negatively impact my mental health, which is something I struggle plenty with without the need for all this. It’s the reason I (personally) left Instagram in the first place. At that time — now more than four years ago — I wrote the following in my goodbye-post:
I find that opening the Instagram app has a net negative effect on my motivation to invest the time and effort to make or build the things I believe are worthwhile. There’s a shallowness that permeates the platform, and that I seem unable to completely block out. Long story short, the bad is now vastly outweighing the good, at least for me personally.
So I’m a little trepidatious about joining the fray again, but I’m also concious of the fact that no amount of work really matters unless people at least can find out about it somehow.
So I’m not sure how I’ll manage this, and I’m afraid there’s no grand conclusion here. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the matter. Guess we’ll see how it goes. You can find out for yourself, we’re @freesewing_org on the gram.
Raise your hand of you kinda lost track of the fact that FreeSewing’s newsletter is now available in all 6 languages we support (English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Ukranian) and spent your new year’s eve and day frantically making sure that sending out the newsletter in all those languages actually works.
Ok, so here’s hoping it all went well in the end. But as a reminder: You can get this newsletter in any of the languages mentioned above.
2023 has not been an easy year for me personally, or for FreeSewing for that matter. The amount of time and effort that went into v3 is something that takes a lot out of you, and I am not ashamed to admit that more than any other year before I’ve struggled with feelings of why am I even doing this.
However, today I feel happy and proud because FreeSewing’s revenue for 2023 clocked in at €10.222,07 ($11.301). As you may or may not know, all of FreeSewing’s revenue goes to Doctors Without Borders, which means that’s €10.222.07 that went to helping some of the most vulnerable people on this planet.
I’m particularly happy that we’ve climbed above the 10k mark again, after having dipped below it a few years in a row.
That being said, inflation is also a thing so 10k today doesn’t do as much good as 10k yesteryear. I’d love to see us get to 12k as somehow 1k/month feels like a really meaningful number.
Since v3 we’ve switched from a fixed pricing patron system to a model where you can set your own price, as well as send one-time donations. It’s something to keep in mind as this season of gifts draws to a close and the days where we hear Do they know it’s Christmas time at all 25 times a day are behind us.
So, if you want to start the new year with doing some good, I’d appreciate whatever you can spare. And you can be assured it goes to people who really really need it.
Have a good one
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